travel

Suspense while suspended in the air

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In response to Daily Prompt’s Panic

I am not sure if it’s part of aging, but trust me when I tell you that I am beginning to get panicky and scared on air turbulences. I have been on plane rides for countless of times where during my younger days, it wouldn’t really bother me at all if the plane gets shaky, maybe then, partly it was because excitement was still in my system that it simmers down any anxiety or panic that I may have.

Recently, it’s a different story. Yes I love to travel, having been in the airline industry for more or less 10 years, but now, I tend to get taken aback when air packets disturb an otherwise smooth ride.

I was thinking long and hard of when was the last time I panicked and it came vividly through me that it was in my recent trip to Cebu, Philippines. Midway through the flight, it gotten shaky, abruptly that is, a split second of a snappy and sharp descent and back up again where it shook my entire system completely and then the plane got back to descending again where then my initial thoughts were, what’s happening, are we crashing? (funny as it may sound when I start recalling it but it was a totally different feeling at that moment in time). I held tightly on to the arm rest and even held on to my friend. I began thinking about those documentaries that I saw on plane crash (I guess it’s my inclination towards documentaries like this and mystery and thriller novels finally taking its toll on me). My friend even got a migraine from the sudden jolt that we experienced. I kept praying that time and grateful that we got safe to the destination. Phew! Talk about panic.

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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. 🙂

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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Edinburgh

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I have been browsing my Picasa web albums and realized that I have quite few photos and topics that I haven’t made a blog post for. Seeeeshh, it backlogged now and I want to post all of it. Well, other then social media and blogging where else do I use my photos for, lol.

Back tracking to 2014, Edinburgh was also a pit stop during the UK trip. We were so famished when we landed via train and it was nearing late night. We spotted a kebab place near the Ibis hotel that we stayed in.

I WOULD NOT recommend going to this place. The staff were unwelcoming as if they never wanted to serve us food. We kept on telling them our orders and they would irritably wanted us to repeat what we said and they did not even try to carefully hear what we were saying and they would cut you off with what they wanted to say. It was stressful ordering with them.

We stayed at Ibis Edinburgh South Bridge which is just off Royal Mile. It forms the streets which is a through route to the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh. I could say that the location is pretty good and accessible.

The most famous local delicacy which I find exotic is Haggis. This is comprised of sheep’s innards which could be sautéed in onions, stock, spices and I don’t what else there is. lol. Anyway, since this is something similar to a dish back home called Sisig or Bopis, I do find it pretty nice, tasty that is. lol. Haggis is the one on the lower left below. But unlike home, they even serve this as a breakfast dish, which was quite surprising for me. Innards for breakfast anyone? I do also find that most bars and shops incorporate haggis in their dishes.

Breakfast with Haggis!

If there is one thing that I could succinctly describe Edinburgh’s architecture it would be Medieval. Having laid my eyes on it the first time, I felt like I was transported in some sort of a Medieval movie setting, add to that the overcast weather that hovered over during the entire trip. But, I am fascinated with victorian and historical architectures, and in the case of Scotland, it is specifically called the Baronial style.

One stop that I enjoyed is the Edinburgh Castle Hill. The views on the way was already astounding for me – cobblestone roads and streets, shop houses and fancy looking restaurants as well as medieval role playing characters on the streets!

Here are some of the photos that I took inside the Castle….

I also enjoyed walking around the shops and I find that their main product is the Lambswool and Cashmere scarves mostly in checkered prints.

Going back down…

I am fascinated by how locals live their lives here as I find that compared to other cities, there is really little things to do. Well, as a tourist, I was excited and all but if I come to think about the lives here, I tend to wonder. I think though, they may live simplier here compared to other people in a more urbanized city. But, they’ve got a number of pubs eh! =)) Talk about drinking and chattering with people rather than relying more on technology.

We tried this pub called The Royal Mile Tavern which is a traditional pub house that exudes a distinct charm. Their food was equally nice as well.

Talking about our gastronomic adventure in Edinburgh, one place that I absolutely enjoyed was the Viva Mexico Restaurant, a mex cantina with a festive, cheery and at the same time relaxing ambience that offers sublime mexican food. I love all of the food. Well, I am a big fan of this cuisine so it was really a satisfying one for me. Pardon my indistinct, hazy and disoriented shots, I was hurrying up to capture them so I can soon devour my food. lol.

One stop that some of our friends wanted to go was The Elephant Cafe where they said the idea of Harry Potter was conceived. A tiny, unassuming cafe it is but imagine that JK Rowling had her coffee there where her wide imagination started, resulting to a world wide successful book that is Harry Potter.

More food stops coming up…. =D

I chanced upon a patisserie which seems to sell fancy cakes and as it appealed to me, I did not hesitate to go inside and give it a try. Patisserie Valerie sells handmade cakes which has been in existence since 1920s.

Since we were lunching at a pizza parlor beside this place, I decided to just take one item and try as we got a bounty of orders to finish. I got the Mille-Feuille made with puff pastry, Saint honore cream and icing. I like that it was not too sweet and that it was very light. I am not really a fan of dense cakes, those heavy ones with layers of creams and icings.

Speaking of the pizza parlor, we went to Pizza Express which I find pretty popular there as there seems to be a number of branches in Edinburgh. I am an avid fan of non thick crust pizza, thin or even the skinny thin ones, cracker-like I would say. So I find that this one suited my palate and I quite enjoyed our orders.

Edinburgh for me is just right for a 1 to 2 days trip. I find that one can enjoy all the tourist places within 48 hours so it is advisable to make it a pitstop to your ultimate one. It is good to visit it once – although I enjoyed it, I think I will only visit it for one time. Oh, I forgot to mention that I find books here very cheap. 🙂

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Arigato Gozaimasu!

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Back in Singapore! Back to regular programming. Gahhh, I’ve just landed few hours ago and I am already missing Japan. I miss everything about it and already, I am planning which prefecture I will visit there next.  I am thankful that God has made the trip safe for me, that I landed back here in whole piece – safe and sound, and that He allows me to travel and visit places anew. Indeed, it was a good 5 day trip to Tokyo and Fuji.

The giddy me while crossing the busiest pedestrian, Shibuya.

It feels a bit of a down side getting back here, knowing that work awaits and I am back to routine. But then, He gave me this opportunity to work here and be able to enjoy the other aspects of life because of that. Thus, I should be more thankful than feel low in spirits.

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Bintan Spa Villa

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Had a weekender in Bintan Spa Villa. It was my first time where previously I only went to Batam.

We didn’t know that the travel time getting to the resort would take us about 1 hour plus! It seemed like the road leading us there, never stops! :))

The resort is sea facing so the view is quite relaxing. Our rooms are located on the far left portion of the resort.

There are also those nipa hut type of rooms that are on stilts.

View from the room

We arrived almost lunch time and we were already starving. There would be no other food choices within the vicinity but only the resort’s own. The food was quite ok, nothing special about it.

The resort is for those seeking relaxation, away from anything. I find the place as plain and simple, if you super duper want to get away from the city living and detach yourself from technology and all the hustle and bustle. There is only little, few things that you can do.

Sea facing Jacuzzi

We attempted to swim in the beach, but it was extremely low tide, there was nowhere to swim in. You can just soak up your feet, feel the sand and play with water. =))

Come night time, they setup a BBQ in the open area and we ordered for some. It included seafood, satay and some sausages. It was quite alright.

And what is best to pair it with? Beer!!

We wanted to try out the Jacuzzi, but from the look of it, it seemed too dirty so we thought it might not be a good idea, lol.

Later in the night, we sang our hearts out in the karaoke area while still drinking some beers.

To conclude, I find that this would be my first and last trip to the said resort. There are other resorts in Bintan area that are nearer to the port and that which have better beach and pool areas. Oh, when we went here, we didn’t see any pool. I am not sure though if it is very far from where we were (inaccessible that is) or under construction. In addition, as I’ve mentioned previously, the travel time was really too much for a resort such as this.

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London

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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 city 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 out… 🙂

The text in the ads says it.. yes, regent! Famous London Red Bus
St. Paul’s Cathedral London

A tourist attraction and a public area that was so crowded and right at a crossroad…. Trafalgar Square. If you are into people watching then this could be the spot for you.

Trafalgar Square

A principal symbol of monarchy of the United Kingdom, one’s trip to London would not be complete without a trip to The Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace

Right across the palace, we found these lovelies… and they were so beautiful!

Beautiful.. and they’re red.

Do you fancy Sherlock? I do! I am a huge fan! And so a visit to the Sherlock museum is a must!

The Sherlock Museum with a long queue of interested visitors

If you are an avid fan of Sherlock series (Oh yes, Benedict Cumberbatch), you would know Piccadily.

Crossing a pedestrian in Piccadilly, these screens can be seen in the opening of Sherlock series =)) yeah I’m a fan!

Other than actually visiting famous attractions of London, we also wandered through streets and alleyways within the city. And, I was fascinated by the rustic stone houses and cobblestones cinched at some of the streets and roads.

Just one empty, serene alley of London

Westminster Abbey! Who wouldn’t want to visit this famous place? The architecture is so sublime… awe inspiring, downright captivating.

Facade of Westminster Abbey
Capturing sections of Westminster Abbey
Capturing sections of Westminster Abbey

Are you a Harry Potter fan? I haven’t read the book though, but I surely adore the moviesss. So, platform 9 3/4, we went!

Let’s bump our heads into Platform 9 3/4!

Right beside is a merchandise shop of Harry Potter.. and the wands!!!

Expecto Patronum!

Heading back to the famous landmarks that make up the beautiful city of London…..

London Eye and Waterloo
I spy with the London Eye!

And the most iconic of them all, The Big Ben!

The Towering Big Ben
Enchanting Big Ben at night

We heard it from the famous nursery rhyme… London Bridge is falling down.. falling down, falling down. But this landmark is still standing and drawing visitors to its presence, like it did to us.

The London Bridge

That famous Abbey Road where you would see people queuing up and stopping at an actual road, halting passing cars, just to mimic that famous album cover photo by the Beatles – luckily, it seemed that most drivers who passed by were patient enough of those crazy visitors flocking at that road, we were!

Abbey Road

The city of London has a lot to offer to its visitors and there are many a ways on how to spend your vacation there. It is also a city that is so open to a melting pot of nationalities and I think this is the place where I found the most number of races be it city dwellers or visitors. Cafes, restaurants and of course, pubs also come abound and there are so much you can go to. I find that London is a place that I would definitely come back to.

Watch out for more posts about United Kingdom and soon, Scotland.

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Nostalgic about San Fo!

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It has already been months and I am still yearning to be back in San Francisco – one of my favourite cities in US. I miss sitting down on parks near the bay area and sipping a hot chocolate, people watching, or basically being in awe of that famous bridge. I miss the Seafood clam chowder that are on sour dough bread, the cold weather, walking passed the Victorian houses and going up and down Lombard.. arhhhh everything. Soon again….

San Fo Bridge (source: babson.edu)

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