making it easier to keep in touch with family and friends

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Magic Birthday Party

My family friend, whom I have known since young, came back to Singapore with his family from Melbourne. Since they are in Singapore, they took the opportunity to celebrate their daughter's birthday with family and friends. I guess I counted as both?! Haha.

We were the earliest to arrive at their place at 11:30am. It was okay as we took the time to catch up with his entire extended family (Friend's grandmother, parents, aunts and uncles as well as the cousins) whom I have known since I was a toddler. Haha. :P

The cousins' children and my children soon warmed up to each other and started to play with one another. I managed to take some photos of them. :) The children had lunch first with lots of delicious home-cooked food, such as baked macaroni, spring rolls, salad, kuah pie ti, glutinous rice, otak, mee siam and chicken satay. There were desserts too such as chocolate cupcakes and jellies for the kids. I always like getting invited to the family gatherings because of the delicious home-cooked food and the company. They are like my family. :)

After lunch, the Magic show started at 1pm. The children were most excited and attentive to the magician. :) I was seated right in front too, at the side. No, not because I wanted to be a part of Magic Show but that I needed to take the photos of the kids hahaha. Ok, I did participate in the show, sort of. The magician asked for a dollar note. I gave him a $10 after he promised to return it with interests lol. :P He turned my $10 into a $100!!! I was so happy, thought I struck it rich, hahaha. Alas, he turned it back to a $10. :( All the kids exclaimed with wonder with that trick and all the adults sighed with regret that the $100 was turned back into a $10. Hahaha. :P After the magic show, there was also a balloonist who twisted balloons into all kinds of things for the kids. Friend's wife also prepared lots of presents for the kids. Every kid was smiling most broadly after good food and show, after getting a balloon creation and getting presents.

We went home at 3pm with some of the party food haha. :)

PS I will upload the photos at a later time. Thanks for your patience.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Running Around

Thinking it would be good to have a change of venue rather than our usual Wheelock/ Isetan Scotts area, Juliane and I went to Vivocity.

We got there just a little after 10:30am. We went to Toy'r'us first because Juliane wanted to "turn-turn". Although she didn't find anything to her liking, she wanted to use her dollar. As her mother, I vetoed her decision and we went to PageOne. Of course she was pulling a long face the entire time we were at PageOne until I got her a little notebook, lol.

Around 11:30am, while I was at Esprit, Juliane complained that she was hungry and she wanted to have the Frog. Gosh. How come she is never sick of it?! So for the third weekend, we were back at Sakae Sushi, Wheelock Place for lunch. This time, the waiting staff definitely recognised us. Hmm, maybe should ask them if they are interested to have Juliane be their spokesperson since she loves their food so much.

After a quick lunch (Juliane was really hungry and ate rather quickly today, haha), we went to browse at Borders again, like last weekend, lol. Juliane is pretty independent. She would go round to look at the children's books on her own without needing me to accompany her. Often, I had to go look for her because I was worried haha. We were at Borders for almost two hours before Juliane declared that she was tired. Before we left Borders, we met a good friend and his wife. We chatted for a while before we went off. As we were waiting at the taxi stand, I met an ex-colleague who got off a taxi haha. What a surprise. We managed to chat for a while until my taxi came.

It was nice looking at books and meeting friends today. :)

Friday, 28 November 2008

Sepulchre by Kate Mosse

It has been a long time since I last wrote a book review. Well, that doesn't mean I haven't been reading, just that I have been kind of lazy, haha.

Sepulchre is the second book by Kate Mosse that I have read. I enjoyed it as much as the first book. The story in Sepulchre, like in Mosse's first book Labyrinth, is set in two different centuries in France. Although the story telling slips in and out between the 19th century and the 21st century, there is no jarring effect to the story telling. The story is superbly linked the two centuries together by secrets, mystery, murder and the occult.

I enjoyed reading Sepulchre because it has my favourite genres all in one story. I thought it is rather refreshing with the tarot being a major feature in the story. It was almost like having the company of an old friend when I was reading Sepulchre, lol. The tarot feature in the book made the story all the more interesting for me as I read tarot cards. :)

If you like history, mystery, secrets and don't mind a dash of the occult (all in good fun), I think you will find Sepulchre a pretty interesting read. But a fair warning, Sepulchre is quite a thick book so it is not a book that you can finish reading in a matter of a few hours.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Happy Birthday, Dinh

Today is my lovely sister-in-law, Dinh's birthday in UK.

We want to wish you a Most Happy and Wonderful Birthday!!! May all your wishes come true. Have a great day. :)

Ma and Pa,
Sis, Bro-in-law
Marieann & Juliane

PS Hey, YM, remember to get your lovely wife a present. :) Hey, Dinh, it has been a while since we last chatted. Soon, ok? :) Hope to visit UK again, soon. :P

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Colourful Name

I am very appreciative of the fact that my surname or last name is that of a colour. A bright, sunny and cheerful colour at that too. :P My surname/ last name is Wong, 黄 (pronounced as Huang in mandarin), Yellow literally! It also means sulfur, colour of the earth and the symbol of royalty. :) There aren't many Chinese surnames/ last names that are of colours - 朱 (vermilion, pronounced as Zhu), 金 (gold, pronounced as Jin), 蓝 (blue, pronounced as Lan), 白 (white, pronounced as Bai). As such, I personally feel it is quite unique to have a colour as my surname lol.

Some information from Wikipedia about Wong/ Huang/ 黃:
While Huáng is the romanisation of the word, it may also be romanised as Houang, Hoang, Wong, Vong, Hung, Hong, Bong, Eng, Ng, Uy, Wee, Oi, Oei or Ooi, Ong, Hwang, or Ung due to pronunciations of the word in different dialects and languages. The surname is known as Hoàng or as Huỳnh in Vietnamese, and Hwang, Whang in Korean.

The use of Wong (黃; pinyin: Huáng) as a surname started in 648 BC when the Huang Kingdom located in Henan Province of China was sacked. The citizens chose to adopt the name of the Kingdom as their surname in remembrance of their origin. From Henan, they dispersed all over China and eventually to all corners of the globe. It is said to be among the top seven most common surname in China and one of the most common surnames in the world.
(Source: Wikipedia)

Do you know the origin and history of your surname? It might be fun to find out. :)

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

If I am a Cat...

If I am a cat, I would be a Ragdoll Cat hahaha. Well, that's according to a recent Blogthings quiz. I do know a Ragdoll Cat personally. I do think he is the most adorable cat, very laid back and sweet but also very regal and poise. :) But to say I am like a Ragdoll, that really tickles me, LOL. See my responses below.
You Are a Ragdoll Cat

You are extremely cute and cuddly. You are downright adorable.

Your personality matches your exterior. You are very laid back and sweet.
Laid back, Yes. Described by a good friend as having no ambition lol.

You don't really like the outdoors. You prefer to stay inside where it's cozy.
Why go outdoors when I can nap?! Lol.

Luckily, you are the perfect houseguest. You are polite and obedient.
Of course, I am the guest, have to behave. :P

Monday, 24 November 2008

Cool Website -

I found this website: recently. I thought it is pretty cool and useful as it provides gaming and entertainment resource for games, videos, movies, tv shows, dvds, music, etc.

I have been keeping up with my favourite tv series with it lol. The website provides the episode guides of tv series (for the different seasons). It is good as I sometimes missed out on certain episodes and I can read up on the website to keep up to date lol. :P

I think it is quite useful to gamers too as it has reviews, news, features, cheats, walkthroughs, etc for the different game platforms - PC, Xbox, PSP, PS, Wii, etc. Too bad, I am not into gaming now-a-days, otherwise I would definitely read up on the cheats and walkthroughs hahaha. :P Click here to have a look at the website. :)

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Books, Candles, Turn-turn

Juliane and I went out with a few things to get.

First, we went to Toys"r"us, Paragon. Juliane has been whining for the past month that she didn't get to do her "turn-turn". That's what she calls those toy dispensing machine where you have to drop in $1, 2 or 3 and then turn a switch for a toy to drop out lol. She "turn-turn"ed to her heart's content today. Two "turn-turn"s for herself and once on behalf of her sister haha.

We crossed over to Takashimaya because I wanted to get some unscented, coloured candles. But I couldn't find any. We walked to Isetan Scotts and it doesn't have such candles too. :( It seemed most candles are scented now-a-days which I don't fancy very much as some scent are too strong or artificial. I am sure there must be a candle shop somewhere in Singapore that sells coloured, unscented candles.

We had lunch at Sakae Sushi again. I think some of the waiting staff recognised us from last week lol. We sat at the same table as last week and ordered the same dishes too, haha. After lunch, we spent some time at Borders. There was a 20% discount promotion on. However, I used the Borders coupon for 30% off a full priced book. I managed to get two books for only $32, a savings of $13! :)

We both went home happy as Juliane got her "turn-turn"s and I got my books. :)

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Mediterranean and Japanese

For a change, we decided to try something different, Mediterranean food. :)

We went to Esmirada at Orchard Hotel for lunch.
The girls shared from the Ala carte menu: Kakavia ($10; Greek fisherman soup: seafood simmered with tomatoes, vegetables and herbs) and Spaghetti Ai Funghi ($20; spaghetti with mushroom, olive oil and basil). The girls really enjoyed the tomato-based soup but they thought the spaghetti was a tad too oily.

The parents had the 3-course set lunch ($26++).
The girls' father had Garlic Butter Mushroom with Crispy Pita Bread as starter, Smoked Salmon with Penne in Tomato Vodka Cream as main and for dessert, Pear Brulee with Almond Raspberry sauce. I thought the mushroom with pita bread was quite nice. The girls really liked the penne in tomato vodka sauce. The brulee really had the taste of pear in it which was quite refreshing and to my liking. :)

I had the soup, Kakavia as starter, which I totally enjoyed too. For main, I had Broiled Honey Mustard Chicken with Tzatziki, potato wedges and glazed vegetables. The chicken was tender and juicy, and the tzatziki (cucumber in yogurt dip) was really nice. For dessert, it was Warmed Melted Chocolate Cake with Ice Cream. The cake had a melted chocolate centre which was heavenly. :P Don't worry, I only had two spoons of the cake. The girls had the rest of it. :)

After lunch, we headed to Isetan Scotts to get a present for a friend's daughter whose birthday party is next week. The Japanese food fair is still on at the supermarket. We bought more of the rice cake to enjoy later at home lol.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Bittersweet News

I heard a bittersweet news today.

Another one of us is leaving. Sigh. We are really good colleagues and friends. This friend is always candid with me and that is why I really appreciate this friend. I am really sad to hear that my friend has decided to leave. I will have one less friend to talk to and to seek advice from at work. :( On the other hand, I am happy to hear that my friend has a better opportunity elsewhere. I wish my friend all the best.

I am expecting to hear more of such bittersweet news in the coming month... :( But I pray hard that I am wrong.

PS Some of you at my work place must be wondering who I am talking about. Well, you will know who it is when my friend decide to reveal to all in due time.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Korea... Frequent Flyer

Just when it seemed like I was in Korea a long time ago, I am reminded of Korea again lol.

I saw a letter addressed to me from Korean Air. Surprised, I opened it. I was given a frequent flyer card from Korean Air. Hahaha. :) It is nice to have the Sky Pass card from Korean Air. I can accumulate mile points from flying on Korean Air and its partnership airlines and from staying in accommodations in partnership with the airline if I travel overseas.

Now I am a member of both Qantas and Korean Air frequent flyer programmes. They do come in useful. :) I have accumulated enough points on Qantas Frequent Flyer to redeem a return air-ticket to a near-by Asian country. :P Should use it one of these days lol. :P

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Release of PSLE Results

The PSLE results will be released tomorrow.

I am anxious to know how my P6 counsellees did for their PSLE. I do hope their results are what they have expected or even better. :) I hope they can get into the school of their choice with their results. I also have a friend whose son is in P6 too. I wonder how he performed at his PSLE.

I pray and hope that all of them will get really good PSLE results. All the Best!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Notebook Problem Again

Sigh. My notebook is problematic again. This time, it was my email system. Somehow, a file has been corrupted when the email system was being reinstalled into my notebook after it crashed. I didn't discover the problem until today. Thank goodness, the IT department was able to resolve the problem. :)

I had the latest SPSS version 17 installed into my notebook as I was having lots of problem taking out the commuter license for SPSS 16. However, to my horror, when I wanted to look at an earlier SPSS version of data output, I couldn't open it with SPSS 17. DARN! What is going to happen to my PhD statistical analysis??!! Thank goodness, the IT department was able to resolve the problem too, sort of. Well for the newer version of SPSS data output files with the extension .spv, I will have to use SPSS 17 to open. For the older versions of SPSS data output files with the extension . spo, I will have to use SmartViewer 15 to open. Sigh. Very troublesome but that's the best solution so far.

Since its crash, although revived, my notebook has been acting very strange. I have been diligently backing up my data twice a week, just in case. Lol.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Winter Aji Matsuri

Juliane and I went to Isetan Scotts for its Winter Aji Matsuri. We both like Japanese snacks, especially the rice cake. :) I let Juliane pick out what she likes to eat and she chose Itokiri Dango Rice Cake with Red Bean and Kin No Mame (bean snacks). She also chose an Apple Daifuku (with apple paste inside) and a Pumpkin Daifuku (with pumpkin paste inside) for herself and her maternal grandmother respectively.

After buying our goodies, we went to Nanbantei Japanese Restaurant for lunch. We shared an Obento set. For dessert, we shared a Turkish ice cream. :) It was a really relaxing day compared to yesterday lol.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

P1 Orientation

Today is Marieann's P1 Orientation. She is totally excited about it.

Everyone got up early so that we would be in time for the orientation which started at 8am. We have to report at Marieann's assigned class. As we walked to her class, I met a number of my former colleagues. There were several "Har?!! Your daughter in P1 already?!". Hahaha. Yes, time really flies. :P

Once at the classroom, the parents had to fill up some forms while Marieann was at another corner of the classroom writing her name and drawing with the other girls. I guess it is a way to relax them. From 9 to 11 am, there was a briefing for the parents first, followed by a concert for the parents and the 2009 P1 students. As we were seated in the second row in the auditorium, we couldn't see Marieann walking in with her class from the back into the auditorium when the 2009 P1 students joined the parents for the concert. A pity. :( After the concert ended, Juliane and I went to collect Marieann from the amphitheatre while their father went to get the P1 textbooks. Thereafter, I was chatting most happily with my former colleagues in the staffroom lol. It is great that my former colleagues still remember me haha. By the way, a former student remembers me too. She came up to me to ask if I taught at the school before when I was speaking to Marieann's form teacher. Yes, I did and she said she was a student when I was teaching at the school. Oh my goodness. A former student is now a teacher in the school! Gosh, time really FLIES! :P It was 12pm when we left the school.

We went for lunch at Su Korean restaurant as I was missing my Korean food lol. :P The girls were against having Korean food but I veto-ed them hahaha. It was so nice to have my side dishes, my Ginseng Chicken Soup and my Seafood Pancake with Onions again. Yummy! :)

The side dishes with my Ginseng drink with Honey

After lunch, we went to the uniform shop at People's Park Centre to buy Marieann's uniforms. We didn't get them in school because it was too crowded. A good thing too that we decided to go to the shop direct because there were fitting rooms so we could try out the uniforms to find the correct fit. :) We had some desserts after getting the uniforms. I guess it was a just reward for everyone after such an exciting and hectic day.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Nature's Beauty

Today, I had a school visit with my PI in the afternoon. We had a really good and enjoyable discussion session with the teachers. :)

Just before we left the Science room, one of the teachers noticed that one of the students' Science project has yielded result. The student's Science project has emerged from its chrysalis and was drying its colourful wings.

I have never seen a butterfly broken out of its chrysalis and drying its wing. It was a wondrous experience.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Colours of My Personality

Long have I known that colours can be very telling of a person's character and personality. As for my personality, my colours are quite revealing lol.
The Ultimate Color Test

When you are at peace, you are:
Deeply stable

When you are moved to act, you are:
Giving and warm

When you are inspired, you are:
Spontaneous and adventurous

When your life is perfectly balanced, you are:
Light hearted and funny

Your life's purpose is:
To change the world

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Take Care!

Today is the last day of counselling for 2008.

It was with a heavy heart as I saw my P6 counsellees for the last time. I have grown close to them as I watched them grow over the year, or years for some of them. In a way, they are like my own kids too. I want to see them do well and live well. I am glad that all of them have grown a lot more mature since I first saw them and I hope I have shown them that they have the potential to be what they strive to be and to believe in themselves. I certainly do believe in them. :) I gave each of them a small token (a bookmark from Korea) and a little card with my contacts so that they can reach me if they want to/ need to.

I wish all of them well and all the best for their future. I will always be here for them, should they need me. Take care!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Knowledge or Junk?

I was taking a break from writing and tried this blogthing since it is about knowledge. Might be interesting to know how much I know lol. Surprise, surprise, surprise. Now I know, in my head, I have a lot of "knowledge" or more fondly known as junk, haha. :P
There Are 0 Gaps in Your Knowledge

Where you have gaps in your knowledge:

No Gaps!

Where you don't have gaps in your knowledge:


Monday, 10 November 2008

Notebook Revived!

I got my notebook back today. Yeah! :) My friends at IT department managed to save my data and transferred them into a new hard disk. :) It was my hard disk that crashed. I was very lucky too as they only had one last hard disk available. Otherwise I would have to wait while they order in new hard disks. :)

I also have SPSS 17, the latest version installed and I managed to take out the commuter license for that. I am really glad as I can now do stats at home too. I have had so much trouble taking out the commuter license with SPSS 16. Now, no more problem. :)

Hopefully, my notebook can work for another year at least. It has been with me since end 2004. We both want to go for long service award hahaha. :P

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Back to Weekend Routine

We are back to the usual weekend routine.

In the late morning, Juliane and I went to Isetan Scotts to walk around. I haven't been here for more than two weeks, lol. We went to Sakae Sushi, Wheelock Place for lunch since I haven't been here for a while too hahaha. Actually I wanted to go for Korean food. Somehow I am missing Korean food lol. Maybe next weekend, we will go for Korean food. :P

I laughed when I saw the photo I took with Juliane. It is so like her to do funny faces haha. :P

After lunch, we did some grocery shopping at Isetan Supermarket before heading home in a taxi. Spent the rest of the day just relaxing, reading and napping. Ah, life haha. :P

Saturday, 8 November 2008

High School Musical 3

I brought the girls to watch HSM3 at Orchard Cineleisure. The tickets were booked online yesterday and there didn't seem to be many people watching it. Boy, were we wrong, haha. The cinema (a medium size one) was packed! Not just families with children but also adults were watching it. :P

I thought the songs and dance were pretty good, as catchy as the previous ones in HSM1 and HSM2. As for the plot, well, it is a tween/ teen movie so don't expect too much. :P Below is the girls' favourite song, "Can I Have This Dance?" in HSM3.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Kid Movies

The girls have been pestering me to bring them to see HSM3 ever since they knew it would be out on 24 October. However, we were in Hong Kong then. Then I had to go to Korea immediately the next day after we came back from Hong Kong. So the girls had to wait till I get back from Korea.

As promised, I will be bringing them to watch HSM3 tomorrow. I don't think there would be a huge crowd as it has been in the cinemas for two weeks now. :)

There is another movie that the girls wanted me to take them to - Winx Club Movie "The Secret of the Lost Kingdom" which is about fairies. Ok, I don't mind watching that one lol. I used to read Enid Blyton's books about fairies, pixies, brownies, Enchanted Wood, Faraway Tree, Wishing Chair. I will get to relive my childhood memory. :)

Thursday, 6 November 2008


Crashed 1
Today is my first day back at work. After two weeks away, I am ready to start work again. But guess what? My notebook crashed! AHHHHHHH! On my first day of work?!! And I didn't had time to back up my data (two month's worth of work) before I went away to Hong Kong and Korea!! Sigh. There is nothing I could do except to send my notebook to the ER (IT department). Hopefully, they can help to retrieve my data.

Crashed 2
I am suffering from jet lag severely lol. I am sleeping and I am awake at the wrong times of the day. Maybe after a few more days, I would be ok. But right now, I am crashing badly too, not unlike my notebook, hahaha. :P

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Thoughts on My Korean Trip

I have many thoughts about my Korean trip. I have definitely enjoyed my whole experience in Korea, despite it being a country with different culture and language and the cold weather lol. I have gained in a number of ways just on this one trip to Korea.

First, I have gained a lot in terms of conference experience. It is the first time I was the sole representative of my project at an international conference. So there was a lot of responsibility to do my project proud haha. :P In that aspect, I think I did rather well by being awarded the Outstanding Presentation Award. :) As well as being given an invitation by the Editor-in-Chief of a prestigious tier 1 journal in Science Education to submit the full paper of my presentation for publication in the journal! :) I think these are the most wonderful kinds of encouragement and support being shown to a budding researcher like me. :) I am really appreciative. Not to forget, my PI and a good friend, K who were cheering for me back here in Singapore when I was at the conference in Korea. Thanks, guys. Love you guys. :)

Second, I have gained in terms of friendship. I have made a number of new friends from the conference as well as gotten to know two of the keynoters better through the outings organised after the conference. I will definitely keep in touch with my new-found friends in Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and UK.

Third, I have gained in terms of cultural experience. It is my first time in Korea. I am delighted to have learnt about Korea's culture, history and heritage through the visits to its palace, traditional village, through conversations with my new Korean friends and through Korean food. :) Through Korean food, I have also gained a different kind of experience - standing and eating at street food stalls on the cold autumn nights, lol. :)

Fourth, I realised that I am a risk-taker to some of my friends lol. :P They told me that I was very brave to have gone to Korea alone lol. Well, no "risk", no gain, right?! Hahaha. Seriously, if I had not gone to Korea due to fear of being in a foreign country, fear of language barrier, fear of travelling alone in a foreign country, I would never have gained so much and experienced so much.

Fifth, I have also learnt something about myself. I realised research means a lot more to me than I have admitted. I realised now that I am passionate and enthusiastic about research to the extent that I went to the conference to present the findings of my project despite the lack of funding for my trip to the conference. :)

I have indeed gained a lot from this Korean trip. It is a trip that I will remember and treasure for a long time to come. :)

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Good bye, Korea. I will miss you.

Updated 4 November 11:35pm.

I am leaving Korea today for home. Time always seem to fly when you are having a good time. :(
Before I check out of my accommodation, I will take a last walk around the area and take some photos.

I will update my blog when I get back into Singapore tonight.

As I walked around Gwanak-gu one last time, I took several photos - the subway station, the airport bus station, the accommodation I stayed in. Despite the cold, a differnt culture and a different language, I have enjoyed myself immersely in Korea. I will treasure my memories of Korea for a long time to come.

I checked out of my accommodation just before 11am. Just as I reached the airport bus station, the 6003 bus arrived at 11:06am. What good timing lol. :) It took about 1 hour 45 mins to reach Incheon International Airport as there was some traffice on the road. Still, I was pretty early for my Korean Air flight KE641 at 3:55pm. No queue at the check-in counter. :) 10 minutes later, I was shopping at the duty free shops, getting more souvenirs such as ginseng sweets, and rice cakes.

I cleared customs and was having a light lunch of sandwich and milk tea by 1:40pm Korean time (12:40pm S'pore time). I bought more souvenirs - ginseng tea lol. :P I also had a try at making the traditional Korean pouch at the Korean Cultural Experience Centre. The centre has free events such as making pounches, paper tray, paper boxes, etc for foreign travellers and they have instructors teaching you how to make them and you get to keep your creation. It was fun. :)

I took a rest at the internet lounge (free internet usage) and surfed the net, checking and replying emails. At 3pm, I slowly made my way to my departure gate 15. However on my way from the internet lounge to the gate, I dropped my cardigan. I was most upset. :( Tried looking for it but couldn't find it. Reported it lost to two Information counters and hoped that my cardigan would be returned to me in time before my boarding at 3:25pm. Well, the chances of me getting it back before I fly off didn't look good at all. I was really upset and was lining up to board the plane at 3:40pm when I heard my name being called over the airport PA system. :P Yeah! They found my cardigan but bad news, it is over at the Info Counter at Gate 29 which was like 400m away. I have never ran so fast in my life before!! :P Managed to get back to my Gate 15 by 3:55pm. They were already paging last call for boarding. I was so out of breath, actually I thought I was going to pass out haha. :P But I was most happy to get my cardigan back. Thanks to the kind soul who took it to Info Counter. :)

The plane took off at 4:15pm. No I don't think I was the cause for the slightly late departure lol. :P I was initially seated next to an elderly man (2-seater). When we were taking off, the stewardess moved me to the empty 2-seaters behind. I had two seats to my self. Yeah! My good luck continues lol. :) I managed to have a little nap before dinner was served at 5pm Korean time (4pm S'pore time). The chicken was good! I haven't had much meat when I was in Korea as I couldn't take a lot of Korean dishes as they had beef in them so could only take vegetarian dishes.

Managed to sleep a little more before watching the inflight movie "The Dark Knight". Wow, I can understand all the rave about Heath Ledger now. He was really good!

The plane landed at 9:02pm S'pore time. The girls were at the airport to pick me up. It was nice to see them after a week. :) I managed to arrive home at 10pm. Did a little unpacking but will probably do the bulk of it over the weekend lol.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Insa-Dong, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Korean Food

Today is my last day in Korea. :(

In the late morning, I hopped over to the outlet mall that I saw last night. Mostly are still autumn/ winter stuff but I managed to buy a skirt and a dress for myself suitable for Singapore and something for the girls. I went back to the accommodation to have a light lunch before heading to Insa-Dong via taxi at 1pm. I wanted to take a taxi so that I can see more of Seoul city sights. I decided to go early to Insa-Dong so that I can do a bit more of souvenir shopping before meeting my Korean friend at 2:30pm.

The Raboum Outlet

I got a few more souvenirs and I also had the chance to dress in a hanbook at the Insa-Dong Tourist Information Centre. :) I became a photo opportunity for others haha. :D I soon met with my friend at 2:40pm and we walked to Gyeongbokgung Palace which was nearby, about 10-15 minutes walk.

We went on the 3:30pm guided English tour around the palace. I have certainly learnt some interesting information about the palace, about palace life and the history of Korea. :) I took many photos at the palace. Now my Korean friend knows why I can easily take 100+ photos on one day lol. :P After the tour ended, we explored the palace grounds on our own until closing time at 5pm.

Gyeongbokgung Palace at sunset. Goodbye.

We headed back to Insa-Dong where we parted ways. We will meet back in Singapore soon enough lol. I browsed around the shops for a while before going into one of the teashops. It was rustic and traditional in decor. I wanted to try Korean traditional tea and snack. I ordered an Omijacha (Five Taste Tea) and Rice cake. The rice cake was toasted and served with honey for dipping. The omijacha was very sweet, sourish and pleasant in taste. It tasted a bit like hawthorn. The rice cake was nice, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. It went well with the tea. :)

After my tea, I tried out street food that I haven't had the chance to try like Eomuk (Skewered Fish Cakes), sushi roll, and Skewered Chicken. The fish cake was very delicious and the radish soup the fish cake was boiled in was very tasty. It is served in a little paper cup. It is really nice drinking the hot soup on a cold, windy night like tonight. :) Now I know why Koreans are always holding a paper cup in their hands when I was walking around Insa-Dong previously and at Hongik University area. I did the same tonight, talking a walk down Insa-Dong gil while sipping my hot soup from the paper cup. It was an enjoyment. :) The chicken was really nice too. Even though I asked for not spicy, the chicken was basted with a sauce that was still a tad spicy as in peppery. :P

I decided to go back to my accommodation because it is a very windy and cold night. I got back around 8pm Korean time (7pm S'pore time). Plenty of time for me to pack and update my blog. :)

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Heyri, Provence, Hongik

Today, I was fortunate enough to go to places where normal tourists would not be able to go. A post-doc fellow brought us (a keynoter, me and two grad students) to places out of Seoul city.

First, she brought us to Heyri Art Village. It is an artists' village where artists gather in one place to sell their creations - pottery, jewellery, candles, cravings, etc. Heyri, although far from Seoul city (about an hour's drive and near the DMZ :P), is a popular weekend outing destination with families and couples because there are many creative and beautiful things to look at, it is a great place to experience artistic atmosphere and the mountain scenery is beautiful especially in autumn with its reds, yellows and greens. It was a great place to me because I love handicrafts. :) Go to this link to see more of Heyri But be warned it is in Korean, lol.

We had lunch at Farmer's Table. I ordered a Seafood Pasta in cream sauce (19000 KRW). My goodness. It was really good and rich. I was surprised by the amount of seafood in the pasta - squid, baby octopus, prawn, clams, mussels and get this, crab, no, not crab stick, but CRAB! This is what I call seafood pasta hahaha. :P

After lunch, she brought us to Provence, where there are shops selling hand-made pottery and hand-made skin care products. The shops are housed in quaint and colourful buildings.

We went on to Hongik University area. It is a favourite hang-out place for the trendy, young and hip. We went to Coffee Prince for a drink. I didn't realise it is the cafe where the Korean drama serial Coffee Prince was filmed in lol. No wonder there were so many people taking photos outside the cafe and inside the cafe. :P I had a green tea latte. It was very nice and it came in a very adorable cup. My Korean friend met up with us at the cafe with another of her friend.

We proceeded to walk around the area. There are many shops. Unfortunately, they are all selling autumn/ winter stuff. Sigh. We stopped at one of the street stalls and ordered Tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) and another dish which is noodles stuff into intestine (it is a bit like sausage). Standing there and eating at the stall, doing what Koreans do, is a really fun and interesting experience. :) After that, we went to a sake house for drinks and yakitori. Throughout the day, we have been chatting about conferences, the interesting and funny experiences. Lots of laughter.

The biggest Husky I have ever seen. It certainly got the eyes of many passer-bys. :P

I got back to my accommodation close to 9:30pm Korean time (8:30pm S'pore time). As my watch is still on S'pore time, thinking it was still early, I went for a walk around the area near my accommodation. Saw many eating places and I found a fashion outlet mall just round the corner. Wanted to shop in there when I realised I misread the time. It was close to closing time for the mall (10:30pm Korean time). Well, I will just come back tomorrow then lol.

I really enjoyed myself very much today. I visited an artists' village which is not on any tour group destination. I sat in Coffee Prince cafe. I experienced eating street food. Most importantly, I had a great time with my new found friends, chatting and laughing. I am sure we will keep in touch, if not at each other's country, at least at one of the international conferences. :)