Lilypie - First Birthday

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Biking in Sasang

I've been going outdoors a lot to enjoy my last autumn here in Korea. Frankly speaking, sometimes I prefer outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling more than shopping, cos I don't have much money to spend here anymore. Going out also helps me relax, takes my mind off a lot of stuff.

Just breathe in the fresh, autumn breeze..............




Last Sunday it finally stopped raining after two days. And the weather was slightly warm. So I grabbed the chance and went to Sasang to cycle. There are free bicycle rentals down by the Sasang Park, but rental ends at 5pm. We took a nice route along the borders of the park lined with weeping willows, heaps of water reeds, and some marshlands with lily pads.  






The reeds were taller than my head! I thought of the giant reeds in San Francisco Golden Gate Park that were much bigger and taller than these.

Did you know my Chinese name means something like a reed? It bends and sways ever so gently according to the wind, but never ever breaks, even in a strong wind.



The cosmos flowers are still here. Walked along a trodden path, saw many families bringing their children and pointing out bits of nature to them.

I stood still for a bit and a dragonfly flew and rested on my shoulder. It had big, multiples of green eyes and I saw tens of my reflection back in them. I gasped in shock; the dragonfly stared back at me with its tens of eyes and flew away.

Saw grasshoppers mating in the nice weather.


I learned how to ride a bicycle after 28 years. 

Last summer, my friend taught me how to ride a bike. We have those free rental bikes in the university campus too. After starting and stopping for two days, I finally learnt how to balance myself without falling. 

Now I'm good. But I still fall down if I get too stressed from riding on a narrow path with someone beside me, or when another bike or joggers come from the opposite direction. And especially if I'm riding beside a busy road with many cars whooshing past. 

But I enjoy it. Especially during autumn, the biking season. 



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

BIFF & Prêt-à-Porter

October is the month of fabulous events - from the prestigious Busan International Film Festival (釜山国际映画展) to the fabulous Prêt-à-Porter 2012 Spring/Summer Collection. I missed both events last year, so no matter how busy I was, I was gonna catch it this year!

I have really only seen one real artist my whole life, and that is Cyndi Wang (王心凌) when she was filming an interview in Shanghai Haagen-Daz. And even that, she took a jacket and covered her face when we got close to try to take photographs at the window. Well, this October I saw quite a few of them! ;-)

Takeshi Kaneshiro (金成武), Tang Wei (汤唯) and director Peter Chan (陈可辛) promoting their movie 《武侠》!  

Takeshi looked really dashing in real life and Tang Wei looked very sweet and coy in her blue-green dress. Tang Wei was the more friendly of the two and answered many questions from the Korean interviewer. Takeshi answered very coolly to all the questions and sounded like he had a bad day, but he still managed to smile and wave to the audience. However Takeshi doesn't seem to be very popular among the Korean audience, maybe cos there are too many handsome and famous actors in Korea. So the only people chanting his name were the Chinese... and of course me! (Sarang haeyo, 金成武!!!) 

Side profile of Korean actor So Ji-Sub (蘇志燮) 

I also went to the BIFF opening ceremony held at the spanking new Busan Cinema Center behind Shinsegae, with my friend Faith. Didn't manage to see any celebrities walking the red carpet cos there was a human wall in front of us, but by a stroke of luck, we managed to catch "Always"  actors So Ji-Sub (蘇志燮) and actress Han Hyo-Joo (韩孝珠) doing the interview at the emcee stage! 

"Always" is the opening movie for BIFF this year. There are so many movies I wanna watch - "Always', "The Lady", "Tokani", but all of those will have to wait until after I hand up my thesis........... 

The emcee stage for BIFF which is shown live on TV

Last but not least, a few of us went to support the Prêt-à-Porter event at BEXCO where Jia Mei was one of the designers for the university-section fashion show. She had to design two pieces as a requirement to graduate her fashion design course. We were lucky to get there on time as the doors closed as the show started and they wouldn't let anybody enter after that. It was my first time sitting so close to a real, runway stage! The clothes were all very beautiful and well-crafted. Haha I really wish I could try to write a review just like in those fashion mags... a real, proper one. Will try it out when I have time after completing my thesis!   


Monday, October 10, 2011

A Korean Wedding

Last Saturday, I attended a Korean wedding. Not the traditional style Korean wedding which I posted up on Facebook a while ago, this is the typical wedding which young Korean couples go through. Thanks a lot to my friend for asking me to tag along to his ex-university coursemate's wedding, cos he knows I really really wanna see a real Korean wedding!

A Korean wedding is usually held in a wedding hall during the day time. In this case, it was 12 noon. I was really slow and late, thinking that the wedding would not start on time, just like "Malaysian-style" weddings. My friend was getting frustrated in the end so we took a cab and rushed there. The wedding was held at Marin Wedding Center near Busan Station. The wedding center is a tall building facing the marina, with a few halls on different floors which I guess had a few weddings going on at the same time. It was already 12 noon when we reached the hall. Took the elevator up to the 3rd floor, and was greeted by this huge, romantic sakura tree at the entrance!


Usually on such a festive occasion, the parents of both the bride and groom will be decked out in colourful hanbok, or the traditional Korean costume. 


We rushed to the small room next to the wedding hall, where usually the bride sits there and everybody queues up to take a picture with her. When we reached there, the bride wasn't the one we wanted to see! OMG... at first I thought the groom had a change of heart... haha... but actually the "real" bride had already entered the wedding hall. The bride sitting there was the next one to get married at 1pm.


The "real" bride... my friend's friend... hahahahaha... already on her father's arm, preparing for the wedding march! Although I felt very sorry for being late and making my friend not able to take pictures with the bride, but at least we didn't miss the bride walking down the aisle. In Korean weddings, there is always a "helper" helping to arrange the dress and suit of the bride and groom. Helpful indeed, but always gets in the way of the photographers!


After the wedding officer gives his speech, the couple exchanges their vows. The couple bows to each other, which I think is pretty cute. Reminds me of Taekwondo sparring, the contestants also bow to each other before starting to fight! Haha!



Then comes an emotional moment where the bride and groom bow and thank their parents for bringing them up and caring for them until they get married. The groom will kneel all the way down to the floor!



Then the whole wedding ceremony is over in just half an hour. Before the end, suddenly a violinist appears out of nowhere and starts to serenade the crowd with a couple of joyful songs. At first I thought it was a friend, (like in our Malaysian weddings sometimes a good friend will sing a song for the happy couple), but the violinist is actually prepared by the wedding hall as a celebratory gesture. The groom was really sporting and he started to dance to the violin tune... quite funny that part!


Then group phototaking session, the speaker will announce the relatives to take a group picture first, then the friends, etc. Lastly the crowd will disperse to the lunch venue (usually in the food hall upstairs) and the next wedding takes place......

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(Before continuing, I wonder if my friend sees this will he scold me for blogging about his friend's wedding... haha cos I think he will consider he to be somewhat rude...)

First of all, I just wanna say that after attending the Korean wedding, I felt very grateful and blessed that in Malaysia, I could take the time to have a proper celebration throughout the entire (day)night and have my family and friends share my happiness with me. We didn't have to feel rushed, we didn't feel like "going through routine" and that everything was prearranged. We actually had the choice to make our wedding special and put our personal touches to it. I especially appreciate the "fetch the bride" session where my family prepared a buffet-style dinner the previous night and all my relatives and friends came to stay with me and to see me off the next morning. And the "heng dai tuen" ("brothers" of the groom) and "ji mui tuen" ("sisters" of the bride) where it made the whole affair seem so lively and fun and really cheered up the atmosphere. Then during the night everybody had some time to mingle around and look at the powerpoint presentation on screen, reconnect with old friends, and going up on the stage to careen a few songs for the bride and groom. Looking back at our wedding, Leo and I always say that it was very warm and personal and we were very very happy that our wedding turned out to be so memorable because of our friends and family. 

OK I digressed too much. =_=''' After that I asked my friend, why are Korean weddings held in such a rush? As in hourly sessions, and everything is done very routinely. The wedding hall arrangement cost around 3-4 million KRW, I think inclusive of lunch? Then I suddenly realized the answers:

  • Korean population is double that of Malaysia, that means twice the amount of couples getting married each year
  • In Korea, land is scarce and living cost is expensive, which means they don't have the luxury of choosing from many wedding options unlike in Malaysia (hotel, beach, garden, etc.) For them to have a beach or garden-style wedding is almost unthinkable for the normal couple, it is too expensive!
  • Korea has four seasons, and not everybody likes to get married when it is freaking cold outside...

But nevermind, before getting married, "paktoh" / dating in Korea is so much more romantic than Malaysia anyway with all the beautiful four seasons........... heheheheheheh!

P/S: Feeling extra-romantic today cos today is my 2nd year ROM anniversary with my beloved LEO! Missing my hubby so much... yesterday we had a virtual "anniversary" dinner which consisted of him eating delivery pizza and me eating instant bakuteh noodles... hope that next year anniversary dinner will be better! But I know it definitely will... because by then we'll be back to our "happily ever after".................. :-)) 

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Andong Hahoe Village




Here comes October again, a beautiful month for travelling and sightseeing as the weather is not too cold yet, and there are many festivals held around Busan and out. Although I am busy with my thesis and paper, I still try to travel whenever I can because these are my last few months here and I simply cannot afford to miss anything! Besides, travelling helps me de-stress and I can finish my work better when I have something to look forward to... 

Last Saturday I traveled with a group of friends to Andong (안동), a traditional city in the middle of South Korea. Some interesting facts about Andong: 
  • Andong is a very old city, founded around 1B.C.
  • Being a very conservative city and a center for Confucianism, it produced many scholars.
  • Many people started their first family name in Andong
  • When Queen Elizabeth II visited Korea, she requested to visit the 'most Korean place in Korea'. Therefore she was brought to Andong for her birthday. 


From Nopodong bus terminal Busan, it takes 2.5 hours to reach there. Initially I had hoped to stay a night there as I was actually visiting the city to see the famous Mask Dance Festival (안동 탈춤 축제). However due to some circumstances (the journey took too long, went to the wrong festival site, places in Andong too far, couldn't spend the night, etc.) we missed the whole Mask Dance Festival, which was the whole point of me wanting to visit there, and that made me quite sad for a couple of days. But anyway, what can't a few videos on Youtube solve nowadays? :-)

After we got off the inter-city bus at Andong bus terminal, we took the No. 46 local bus to Hahoe Traditional Village - UNESCO World Heritage Site.   

 

There were miles and miles of flat terrain planted with rice which shone golden yellow in the afternoon sun. The surrounding low mountains and traditional houses in between made the whole place look like a painting... Also, the weather was beautiful, the sun was above our heads but it was not hot at all.

 

Walked around, taking pictures of the curious folk village houses, which people still live in today. Saw some traditional Korean playground with the very high swing, and played jumping see-saw with my friends... one of the guys even fell down cos he lost balance!

Some pretty autumn scenery...

Even bees come out to play - they had this magenta pink flowers all over the place which was so beautiful!
Autumn is persimmon season... many ripe ones dangling from the trees, out of reach!

A spider dangling from the bare branches.
A tame Jindo dog (진돗개) which craves for attention and instinctively turned around for me to pat it when I got close!

 

Caught the Farmers' Song performance....... although this was not the main event I wanted to see.......

 
Traditional cow - can you see the size of its dangling 'balls'? Hehe...
Planting of the paddy then harvesting...

Reached the 삼신할매 (grandmother wishing tree) which grants wishes like abundance, harvest, child-bearing etc. We wrote our wishes on a thin strip of paper and tied it to the tree branches. 

Busy writing.......

Stopped to take picture of some souvenirs but didn't buy........ Andong mask magnet, straw-weaved bird house, straw-weaved baby shoes...





Friends :-)
Finally, saw the wide river terrain which Kok Shin, Nic, Xuan, Jo etc visited last spring! It was really amazing....... grandeur scenery in the sunset........ 

Tried to take some nice pose there...


Exiting Hahoe Folk Village, and its beautiful scenery...
 
Cute Korean baby on the bus

For dinner, of course we had to try the specialty braised chicken dish andong jjimtak (안동찜닭). There was a long street of andong jjimtak shops, and one of them had an impossibly long queue of people, possibly the most famous there. We were so famished, having skipped lunch, so we went to the opposite shop to eat. Hmmm... compared to the pongchu jjimtak chain restaurant near PKNU, this dish was too sweet and less spicy. But still, it tasted so great served with steaming hot rice! The gravy was thick and the chicken was tender, along with some vegetable strips and carrot and potato. Skipped the andong soju cos it cost 10,000won per bottle. Too expensive...   

Andong jjimtak

Lastly, called it a day and left by bus at 8.30pm! (Last bus back to Busan is 8.30pm...) Missed the nice fireworks show at Hahoe Traditional Village cos we didn't have time. Anyway, it was a good time especially to hang out with the new Malaysians and bring them around. :-)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Oryukdo Islets

Had a nice, relaxing 3 day holiday weekend. The Korean National Foundation Day (Gaecheonjeol 개천절/ 开天日) which literally translates to 'Opening of the Sky Day' falls on today. It celebrates the creation of Ancient Korea (Gojoseon) by the first king, Dangun Wanggeom in 2333BC.

Woke up late for the past two days, spent the mornings lying in bed and reading the book "The Girl Who Played With Fire", cooked some noodles with shrimp wantan in the room, snacked on peaches and green tea and mooncake bought for me by my parents whenever I felt like it, watched a sad Korean movie called "Come Rain Come Shine" by Hyun Bin, and took a hike to Igidae (이기대/ 二妓台) in the evening just now.  

At first I thought it would be an easy hike today, cos the walk uphill at Igidae and the coastal path is quite leisurely and more of a scenic walk. Then we reached the signboard and changed our minds. The two new Malaysians (one boy and one girl) I went with are very young and active. So the boy was like "Let's go! 3km hike to Oryukdo"... and I was feeling very excited too cos I had never been to Oryukdo yet. Oryukdo (오육도 / 五六岛) is a group of small islets which is named the 'five, six islands' cos sometimes when the tide is high we can only see 5 islands and sometimes we can see six. Oryukdo had always been kinda a mystery to me so I wanted to see with my own eyes how many islets there were....


Me & YK among a bunch of pine trees
Tired after hiking 3.8km uphill........

After following the sign for 3.8km, we reached a junction and again walked 1.5km to see the Oryukdo islets........... By the time we reached we had missed the orange red sunset............. but it was still beautiful, all the same. Had a stick of red bean (팥) icecream halfway through the hike, the feeling is so nice to eat a cold stick of icecream in cold autumn weather! *^^*

Oryukdo islets, from this view still unable to see clearly how many islets are there... There are some beautiful apartments called SK View, overlooking the coastal area.

Beautiful silhouette of the accompanying islands backlit by the sunset

Luckily we didn't have to hike all the way back cos we could easily just take bus no.22 back to the dormitory... was so famished by then... went to eat samgyupsal for dinner omg all the hiking effort gone...... :P

Anyway, it was a really enjoyable time... haven't felt this healthy in a long, long while.

P/S: Some fruits that I eat now... peach and giant pear. Peach is free, given to me by professor and giant pear costs only 1,000won, bigger than my fist!