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Unexpectedly Back

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You know those days when you are feeling nostalgic, of a place you fell in love with, of those younger days, full of innocence and vibrancy exploring a foreign place. I got that a couple of months back, dreamy about San Francisco. Back in 2008, I fell in love, of the cool crisp weather, the coastal side, its neatness compared to other US cities. And unexpectedly I am back. As I am writing this, I am on board a hop on hop off bus, under direct sunlight, on the roof top of this bus, in Sausalito. šŸ™‚ 


And while we are waiting for the trip back to the city, I decided to compose this, a simple ode to being grateful for moments like this. Oh you might ask why unexpected, it’s because I am here on an unplanned business trip to Las Vegas and they just told me about it a lil over a month ago. I’m actually glad I said yes. 


So yeah, just a couple of minutes of putting into writing the thankfulness I am having deep within. 

Watch out soon for this trip’s blog post. šŸ™‚

Seoul Strolling: Itaewon, Insadong, Ehwa University

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I wanted to have one blog post for the entire trip in Korea, but I dont want to bore the hell out of you =)) So I’d just section them out. There’s heaps of streets and avenues that you can visit in Seoul, but of course there are those inevitable lists in most people’s suggested itineraries. Among these being Itaewon, Insadong and Ehwa University. I find that they somehow look the same, selling korean fashion clothing, cosmetics, cafes and Korean restaurants, not that it wasn’t pleasing at all, as I truly enjoyed all the walks and strolls that we did. šŸ™‚

Insadong is crowd packed when we went. The street was just plain busy where everyone is walking, taking selfies, checking out the sidewalk stalls or like us, exploring and looking around for cool discoveries, cheap thrills or bargains. We stepped foot in Insadong, not directly at the street where most people flock in but we passed by narrow alleys with heaps of traditional Korean restos, it was like a maze!

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In Insadong, we also passed by Sszamsigil, a youthful shopping enclave which looks industrial and the colors that paint the place are the stuffs being sold and the artsy stickers on the walls.

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Youngsters flock and congregate on this place. You would see them chilling out on the steps, young couples being cute together, boy band like type of groups. =)) The place looks quite cool, selling mementos, tiny items, souvenirs, anything cute basically. But of course, I still find them pricey. Like $35.00 for a baseball cap, the quality of which you can find in Bugis street market of Singapore or Mongkok in Hongkong.

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Back outside, at the main street of Insandong…

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Coffeeholics that we are, we foraged Insadong to find where we can sit down and to have nice coffee at, as it was a seemingly nice and bright afternoon to just chill out. At one of the alleys, we find this establishment, I think about 3 floors of a cafe. Oh, we also wanted to finally try the Bingsu here, since we had the first taste of it in Singapore.

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I wanted to get the chocolate bingsu which we saw on the poster outside but they said it wasn’t available that time so we resorted to the red bean one.

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It was quite alright, not the type that I was expecting. The service crew wasn’t very pleasant too, they were not smiling and they do not seem accomodating. There’s quite a number of cafes to choose from in Insadong…

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Itaewon looks similar, reason why I put them together in this post, is that they are like sisters, they do look the same. =))

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Before going to Ehwa University, we went to Cheonggyecheon Stream. Though I believe this looks nicer in autumn or winter, we thought it might be nice to take pictures there.

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It doesn’t have that much of an appeal at this time around compared to other seasons but I was amazed by how people actually visit this place and sit down, some even lay out picnic mats and kids are playing in the stream.

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Continuing our walk to Ehwa…

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The vicinity of Ehwa University is actually such a shopper’s delight, there are also heaps of clothing and cosmetic stores and street food stalls aplenty. The strip is nice and laid back. I was impressed by how big the space is, right around the university itself.

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From among these three places in this post, Ehwa is the one that I fancy the most..

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Seriously, I have never seen a place as Seoul that has so many stores closely situated from each other, long strip having just clothing and cosmetic shops!

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I think a tourist can just come in Seoul without packing on anything since there’s a lot of stores to shop items at!

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Half Empty, Half Full

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In response to WordPress’ The Daily Post > Daily Prompt
Glass

I’ve perceived myself as a multi-tasker, I can somehow distribute my focus to doing different things at a time and ensure those get done. But lately, I am not sure if it’s part of aging or just the nature of changing, I tend to give out all my concentration to a singular task. Thus, the hiatus with blogging. Now I am back and I thought to kick-off my resume by slowly letting my brain juices work through thinking of instances where The Daily Prompt’s topic correlate. Hence, this post.

Glass….

I remember my final round of interview back in 2006 when I was fresh out of the university, where I applied and passed my supposedly first job / company (which I eventually turned down for something better), the director had asked a number of hypothetical questions, one being, how do I perceive a glass of water, which one would I prefer, half-empty or half-full. Hearing the question for the first time I found it odd. What’s the difference? Then I thought to myself, probably this is a trick question, that maybe I should focus on the positive side of things, empty or full? I answered with “half-full” and explained that I am comparing that to how I approach instances where I am being presented with challenges, should I treat it as something that will yield positive results in the end or consider it as a threat to my success. I know, I sounded like a trying hard applicant, pleasing her interviewer, haha!

But then, if you ask me now, what would I choose? I would choose half-empty. Life presents a lot of challenges and some of those, we traverse for the first time, without any prior experience. How we react to it and learn from it is usually a matter of trial and error. My “glass of life” is a gradually growing collection of good and bad experiences where I started out only hearing and reading life stories and yet now, I get to face some of those. I know that this glass would not ever be full because this world has a lot of pieces of stories and experiences that no one person can ever completely face. I guess it is a matter of learning from those and knowing how we can react and tread it the next time around. And that when that time comes where we have to carefully take a look at this glass, we will let out a grin, because we have made it through.

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Side Sickness

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I recently watched The Physician and I highly recommend that movie. In the movie, one man is driven by his passion to cure people out of his childhood desperation when his mother died of “side sickness” and with his siblings, they stood at the side while they suffer at the sight of their dying mother. That is back in a time, where the Medicine field was still in the trial and error stage and where no doctors of good medical practice can be found in all places thus they only relied on “barbers” who make things up and guess and amputate right away when a toe is in pain. All through out the movie you will hear about “side sickness” which could actually be a number of things in present day perspective. Appendicitis, Urinary track infection, kidney stones, what have you. I guess right in time after having watched the movie, unlucky me, I have been having that again. As of writing, I sit at one of Raffles hospital’s waiting chairs. It has been two days of going in and out for further and more thorough exams, but having that history of kidney infection back in 2010 and kidney stones back in 2013, I am not that so scared anymore. My fault is, once I get well, I tend to go back to old way of eating. Old habits die hard ya? I am waiting for doctor’s final reading of results and then the many packets of meds that I have to take to get myself well. I think at this point, I have to crack my hard head and give in to discipline in terms of eating and not to mention, drinking habits. 30 that I am, I think I need to stay on the healthy side now. Well, it’s a challenge but someone has to start with something to progress right?

Going back to the movie, at the end of years and years of the man’s journey where he had to travail to the other side of the world, he was able to put up a hospital and help out the sick with whole of this heart.

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Bali

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Bali was a bit overrated for me since then, and as much as possible I tried to veer away from it as I thought it was another hyped up tourist destination. But my mind that needed to be pacified and my body that needed to be calmed gave in and went for it. We initially stayed in Seminyak, in a private villa which exuded a zen, balinese interior.

We hired a private car service since we wanted everything to go smooth and spare us of the commuting hassle. Once we reached the villa, we freshened up and rested a bit before we carried on with visiting some tourist places around. There were a number of templesĀ that we paid a visit to.Ā 

Other than Vietnamese coffee, I also feel in love with Balinese coffee. I find that it is full bodied, rich in flavor and aromatic. It tasted well either as black or with milk. One place that we visited is a coffee farm where you also get to try different variations of coffee. The farm is free entry so you can only give some money at the end as a help to maintain the coffee farm and for those locals who will talk you through the coffee plants.

And there was also the famous Coffee Luwak, which honestly, I don’t find anything distinct to it and I honestly pity the weasels for putting them in cages, making them eat only the coffee beans and cherries and making them digest that. Seriously, I think it’s one of those that needs to stop. It’s a pity seeing them. šŸ˜¦

Ulun Danu Bratan Temple is another place that I fancy during the trip. The weather was really nice when we went Ā and it was actually cool so it somehow relaxed us up when we visited the place. There were a lot of goers at that time too, I think they have ceremony/prayer during that afternoon. I find that this is beautiful, placid place.

The best part about this place is the water temple itself. It was the first time I see something like it. It may be simple but the picturesque view of that temple on tranquil waters and misty backdrop giveĀ outĀ imperturbable vista which in effect, induces you a calming, composed mood.

But…. I honestly don’t like the humongous, green, long snake that surrounds one of the structure.. arhhhhhhhhh

Walking around the place, we also chanced upon mild deer that grazed about.

Came lunch time, we were brought to a local restaurant, an overlookingĀ one and lunch was served buffet style. Nothing special about the lunch, it was just something to fill up a famished stomach.

Next is the famous Tanah Lot temple. A temple on the cliff, a pacifying view similar to the Ulun Danu, well it is probably because of the natural feeling that water induces – a calming feeling hearing the sound of the rushing waves.

It was difficult for me to capture through a good vantage point to picture the Tanah Lot as there had to be a bit of a walk to get one. Also, we didn’t go down further at the temple itself but just asked one of those camera guys to snap us a photo and print it out as a souvenir, quite cheap.

As we were in Seminyak we decided to to try out the local bar, drinking scene. We went to Potato Head as it is one of the most hailed ones. My photos could not do justice to the ambiance of the place as I was only using Iphone 6. I think that this bar is somehow posh, with trendy party goers dressed up well for the night, I actually find my look so laid back and casual compared to them, like I did not fit in. haha.

We went to this so called “Turtle Island” which entailed us to take a bumpy boat ride with a show off boat man speeding his way through the waters and trying really hard to shaken us up and frighten us or probably gave us a thrill, but sorry, I was steadily sitting, enjoying the waters and did not actually pay attention to him.

They were so proud to boast of their transparent flooring boat but actually it was just a small portion at the middle of the boat which was glass and to be honest, you won’t see anything in it. lol.

This tour was a bit of a downer for me. At first I was excited to see the turtles, big ones, small ones. But when I got there and saw the state they were in, I felt pity for theseĀ animals. They were confined in this tiled containers and some were on the murky waters which I think they were not supposed to be in. People just lift them around as they wish too and it imposes a risk for them too, what if they got mishandled and they fell off to the floor? Such a pity.Ā 

The turtle island is in Nusa Dua – a place that is a bit more laid back than Seminyak and there are many hotels lining up the street as well as water activities which are skyrocketing in prices. I’d rather just do those in the waters of Philippines which are more beautiful, with pristine, crystal clear waters and way cheaper prices for the same water activities.

We decided to dip in for a while at a beach where most hotels and resorts are situated.

Water is not so clean and clear, there were also some dirt and garbages floating around. I guess the place is also mostly for those who stay at the resorts, you will find it a bit difficult to look for a spot to stay since they would either ask you if you are dining or staying at the hotels. But we managed to secure one spot but we only swam for a while and went on to have our lunch. The driver and the guide bought us to a local food shop.

Some beef soup and pork strips and skin with some egg. The meal was quite ok, I cannot really complain given the very cheap price. lol.

Another that we went to was the so called “Julia Roberts Beach”, which got famous and still associated to the Eat, Pray, Love movie. This stop was also something that I did not like. Upon seeing that beach I wanted to leave it right away. Very dirty (yes, even the water looks murky) and crowded and I just hated the area. There was nothing much in it but just stalls selling sarongs and tourists basking under the sun and some people trying to get to know each other and join each other’s crowds. I definitely won’t go back to it.

On the way to Uluwatu and as we wanted a bit of snack and to freshen up, we chanced upon a quite serene lunch spot which is also a hotel/inn and we were delighted to have spotted some mex food in the menu, so we went for it.

Uluwatu is a place that I find calmly enjoyable. There is the view and sound of the ocean, with an amazing sunset, some people in deep devotion – busy praying, some meditating. We went to see the Kecak Balinese Sunset Dance and you can see the men’s efforts chanting and singing their voices away the entire show. Although I didn’t quite appreciate the storyline and the characters, I did appreciate the efforts put in by the locals to come up with that show. Though the venue was really another astounding one, with the gleaming sunset as your backdrop.

London

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The J Journal

The iconic Big Ben and The Eye, I would believe that most would easily identify which country they are landmarks of, or rather, they are perhaps included on the list of many when the travel bug itches. I had long been wanting to visit the Royal City of London, a cityĀ which makes color red so regal and that which made red now my personal favourite.

Red Telephone Booth

I personally adore the telephone booths. For me, it is like an icon representing how people connected back then, not via wireless mobile phones or chat, but that times were you had to search all your pockets for coins, insert it in the machine and actually phone someone. And that time were you had to panic and find few more coins because your paid minutes were already running outā€¦ šŸ™‚

The text in the ads says it.. yes, regent! Famous London Redā€¦

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