Sunday, April 30, 2006

10 Things...

0010, 28 April 2006 :: Waiting...

Once again, I find myself waiting...this time around, I'm in my new shoes I got from Busan...

What have I been waiting for today? For my purchases to go through (Sorry Dad but I kinda did lots of shopping today).

Class ended this evening at 5pm and I headed down to Ewha Womans University's and did some shopping. There are plenty of shops just outside the university catering mostly to girls - I love shopping there.

A few days ago, I discovered I needed a pair of skinny jeans (i.e. leg-hugging jeans) and another school/hand bag (preferably in a different colour so I could alternate between my new green bag and the new one). So here I was, shopping around, looking for the best bargains.

I walked into one bag shop and looked around. The shop assistant approached me and started talking in Korean. I hesitated in telling her I didn't speak Korean well. You see, I know these bag shops give discount but if you are a foreigner, they would think they could cheat you of your money and give you a smaller discount. Anyway, I sort of understood her first statement about having further discount. I spotted the bag I have been eyeing since March, but the stated price was still around 35000 Won (US$35). I still don't think it's worth paying all that for that plain looking bag, so I moved on to looking at others. She trailed behind. Then she started talking in Korean to me again. I nodded at appropriate times pretending that I understood. It was too late to tell her I couldn't speak Korean. Then I think she asked me what type of bag I was looking for or something like that...who knows if that was what she actually said, but I said 'Ah Ni Yo' and left the shop. I'm now curious and want to know if she did have any doubts about where I'm from or she just thought I was another Korean who probably didn't like talking much. Haha...I'll never find out...I've always been curious. Sometimes I enter into a convenient mart to purchase an item or even into a store, and I ask 'how much is it' in Korean, and I pay saying 'here you go', and I thank them and leave the shop - can they tell I'm not Korean?? You see, so far, I've spoken to some Koreans and they all say my pronounciation is very good, they all thought I'm I don't think I have an accent in phrases that I've used countless of is there any other tell-tale sign that gives me away? Who knows.

I walked further on and bought myself a rather 'sexy' green singlet top - the top shows off some of your back, but I just found it cool. I don't know if I'll ever wear it but it only cost me 2800 Won (US$2.80). Then I moved on to another bag shop and spotted the bag I've always liked in pink for only 19000 Won. I was almost going to make the purchase though at the back of my mind, I was thinking it was rather plain and it was in a shade of pale pink which wasn't really fantastic...however, another bag caught my attention and as I looked on, I found the style quite similar to the one I have always liked, but with a little more design and pockets on the outside of the bag, making the bag look less plain. I didn't have to decide for too long and bought the latter instead. It was only 15000 Won...but (yep, there's a 'BUT')'s green. So much for wanting a bag of a different colour. Perhaps sub-consciously, I purchased it because of the colour...I wouldn't be surprised.

After all that shopping, I skipped along to meet Min Hee and Irene for dinner. It was Irene's farewell dinner. Irene only joined WorldLink Education Total Program for a month. Muji joined us later midway for dinner as well.

Irene, Muji and I all wanted to do something different to our hair. Muji wanted to curl it, Irene just wanted to get it trimmed and coloured and I wanted to straighten mine, so after dinner, with the recommendation of Min Hee, we went to her hair salon. In the end, because it was already 8pm, only Muji got to do her hair. Irene and I will just have to WAIT till Monday or Tuesday when we return. Sigh. I don't know if I can wait that long since I've finished my gel and I'm getting sick of maintaining curls.

Suddenly, we noticed Muji's hair being chopped off in terms of inches!! Apparently her ends were rather damaged so the hairstylist didn't recommend perming, so they decided to go shoulder-length short. However, I realise my hair is pretty dry and damaged at the ends as well - BUT I don't want my long hair to be butchered!! AHHHHHHHH.

Anyway, while Muji was having her hair cut, Irene and I went for more shopping again and I found a pair of skinny jeans. It's not in the dark Levi's colour I wanted but it was at a very reasonable price and the design was quite nice so I bought it in the end...definitely saved heaps of money as supposed to buying Levi's. Now I've finally got another pair of pair of blue jeans in Korea's cool spring weather isn't enough.

Min Hee and Muji finished with their cut and met us. Min Hee went off while us girls continued shopping around. I saw these 2 gorgeous earrings! They were so pretty, I couldn't decide which one I wanted. It wasn't too cheap either to purchase both, so initially, I purchased one and left the shop, but I kept on thinking about the other. Then a fantastic light bulb flashed across my mind. I went back and bought the other. If I can't have both, my best friend can have one and I can always borrow it...HEE HEE!! What do you think babe? I'm smart right!! Haha...hope you'd like one of them. If you don't like either, it's great for me too!! Hee hee hee. Buying one for you was just as excuse to keep it close to me instead of in another Korean's hands and regret forever.

After all that shopping, we decided to grab a drink first before going home. I suggested The Coffee Bean since it was right across the street and I had my most favourite coffee in the entire world - Coffee Bean's The Ultimate Mocha Ice Blended. YUM!!! I haven't had it in ages and I gave in to temptation even at 10pm, knowing full well that I wouldn't be able to sleep till 4am because of it.


0315, 30 April 2006 :: Learn to say 'NO'!

I hate clubbing. I think it's the most useless form of leisure ever!! Why do I still put up with it? I am so put off clubbing for a long while as of today!! NO MORE CLUBBING FOR ME! Want more reasons to support my decision? Here's 10 things I hate about clubbing:

1) I'd rather spend the admission fee of 15000 Won (US$15) on a nice top in Singapore!
2) I'd rather be sitting in a nice coffee and cakes cafe putting on calories than constantly being bumped off my calories by sticky bodies.
3) I'd rather enjoy my own personal space, than being cramped into a tiny dance floor constantly brushing against strangers.
4) I'd rather have the hands of a friend than a stranger's wrapped around my waist - KEEP YOUR HANDS TO OURSELF (not from personal experience but from the number of strangers who danced with Irene - guess I'm not a good enough dancer to attract any attention).
5) I'd rather be able to converse with friends than shout over the loud music and hope they understood what I meant.
6) I'd rather listen to the original music than one that's been distorted into dance music.
7) I'd rather smell nice than feel absolutely disgusted with smoke perfume all over my body and weaved into my hair.
8) I'd rather meet guys who are geniunely interested in me than guys who are probably only interested in touching you (from observation).
9) I'd rather do something more interesting than bobbing around in the limited space you are given by people around you wishing for time to pass.
10) I'd rather be getting my beauty sleep than writing this entry bitching about clubbing.

I don't know if it's coz I'm too nice a person that I decided to accompany the clubbaholic Irene since Lydia had to go home to study for her exam on Sunday, and Muji had to wake up early on Sunday for a short day trip.

I need to learn to say 'No'! I need to learn to say 'No, that's enough'! At 2am, I was dead bored from all the bobbing and bumping, I honestly thought it could be seen from my face. But when Irene asked if I wanted to go, I said, "Anything, I don't mind going if she doesn't mind." JUST SAY 'NO MORE, THAT'S ENOUGH'! Of course to a clubbaholic like her, she'll want to dance more so we stayed on a little longer. Finally after a while, she got the message. Anyone could probably tell. I wasn't smiling. I was standing dead still on the dance floor. I gave dagger eyes to anyone who tried to push their way past me.

I feel so old when it comes to clubbing. Irene is more than 10 years older than me but is much younger at heart than I am when it comes to clubbing and pubbing - I'm antique!

Here's a good tip I picked up while clubbing...if you are ever bored and counting the minutes to when your friend(s) decide to leave, pray. You can pray to God anywhere - even on the dance floor. And so I prayed, for time to pass quickly, for Irene to realise I'm dying to go home, for God to protect me from those sleezy guys, and for God to teach me how to say 'no' next time.

1240, 30 April 2006 :: A good 8 hours sleep

I'm back after a good 8 hours sleep. I could have slept more but my host mum knocked on my door at noon and woke me up for lunch. That's good too coz then I can blog to you about my past 2 days...

On Friday evening after school (that was the last day of school for the month), I met Victoria and her friends for dinner. Victoria is a Korean, Alex's friend and she introduced me to another 2 friends of hers - one girl Chikako and a guy Juni - who are Japanese but has been learning Korean and studying in Korea for more than 5 years. They look Japanese, but when they speak, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference! So COOL!! I want to speak like that some day as well. Does it mean I have to move to Korea to live for about 5 years?

Anyway, Juni brought along a friend, Thomas who is an American-born-Korean. He speaks both fluent English and Korean, plus having grown up with strict Korean parents, he knows all the Korean customs - e.g. when drinking, you serve or receive with 2 hands. Chikako knows him as well and they seemed rather close. Throughout the night, he joked that they were a couple and Chikako played along as well. My theory on the matter: He really likes Chikako, but because she's Japanese, and he's in a strict Korean family, they can never go out and both of them know that so they can only act and pretend to be a couple.

After dinner, we headed off to a pub, meeting another friend of Victoria and Juni's. He's Japanese as well, but came to Korea a month ago on a business trip. He's learning Korean as well and he speaks fantastic...or rather, he practices what he learns so he's improving fast. I need to learn from him and practice what I learn!!

At the initial meeting with him, he was in a suit and was very polite as all Japanese are, bowing and introducing themselves. It was a little awkward and formal and I was a little scared of him because he was a business man and seemed a lot older. And you know Japanese with all their etiquettes, I was so self conscious around him. However, after a few drinks and food at the pub, he loosened up and I found him really funny and interesting. He made the conversations fun. I felt a little awkward with his bunch of friends I hardly know except for Victoria, but he made it much better. I could also talk to Thomas because he spoke English so it wasn't too bad until Thomas left to meet some of his other friends and Juni called another friend over. He's Korean but he brought along his Japanese girlfriend. Then it got a little weird for me again but not long after, we went to another bar and had another round of drinks. I didn't drink much though.

I found it weird but yet I stayed on...and I even called Muji and Irene along who were bored at Hungdae. They joined us and it was a little awkward at first coz the entire table of people hardly knew each other well...they were all friends of friends and from all around, but Humi, the Japanese businessman, eased the atmosphere with his amazing voice. I think he had a bit more to drink so he was pretty high, but he entertained us with Korean and Japanese songs. He said he was a judebox and we started selecting our songs. I said I knew a Japanese girl band called Speed, and he sang one of their songs. I said I knew SMAP and he sang another song of theirs. I said X-Japan and he knew one of their songs. And then he surprised us with Korean songs!! He sang them really well!!! Like a Korean!! I asked for Shinhwa and he sang was amazing!

That night when we all split, Muji, Irene and I found ourselves roaming the streets at 1am in search for a toilet, but we couldn't find one and ended up returning to all our homes.

On Saturday, I woke up at around 10.30am, got ready and met Irene at Sinchon for lunch. We went to 'The Twosome Place' (I love the name of the cafe) and ordered a scone, and 3 cakes...yes, we were greedy girls who didn't mind putting on calories!! Nevertheless, we reasoned that chiffon was light so it was alright - we clearly didn't see the layers of cream all over the cake. However, since I didn't like the cream, most of it was taken off.

Then Muji and Lydia joined us and we headed off to MBC - one of Korea's broadcasting station. We were going to watch a live mini concert, like those variety programmes with about 8 performers performing one song each. Last week, Muji and Lydia went - it's all free but you need tickets - and they asked the guy in-charge of giving tickets if they could bring more friends from overseas next week to the concert. He said yes, no problem, so when we went to MBC, we overtook the rows of school children and fans and found the most important guy. He gave us our free tickets. Lydia didn't join us as she had an exam on Sunday to study for, but before she left, she gave us important instructions saying that at the end of the concert, we were to find this guy and ask for free tickets again.

Here's our free tickets and the crowds of fans we overtook!

We were one of the earlier ones who entered into the set and we managed to get a seat 3 rows from the front. It was awesome!! This was my first time to such a concert and I was shocked how much things went into a half an hour performance. From where I was sitting, I counted about 70 staff members on the floor cameramen and their crew, lighting crew, props crew, security guards, and many others who I had no clue what they were doing.

Between performances, we saw how rush the crew were, one singer off, another on and the stage props is changed quickly. It was very interesting. However, cameras weren't allowed. I only managed to get one while they were getting their set ready for a 2-man group that I don't know.

Among the artistes, I only knew Lee Hyori (one of the most popular female singers in Korea), BUZZ (a 5-man boyband), May Bee (an up and coming female singer) and many others whom I have never heard of. Actually, I've never heard any songs by those performers, but it was just an awesome experience being there.

After the performance, we couldn't find our free ticket man and left. Like the crazy fans, we hanged around the place for a while and waited for them to drive out. The fans went ballistic when they saw their idols. It was rather hilarious because BUZZ came out first and all the girls who were standing near the front by the driveway chased after the car. The guys moved forward and occupied the space, waiting for their 'Lee Hyori'. It was just interesting for us tourists. Muji was enjoying herself though since she knew these singers and had her favourites. I think I've grown out of it now. Guess I am getting old!!

We returned to Sinchon and had some tea while waiting for Lydia to join us. We decided to have traditional Korean chicken ginseng soup called 'Sam Ge Tang'.
On our way for dinner, we saw this model in a box. He was advertising for a new Korean movie and it was a very interesting advertising concept. He wasn't the actor in the movie but I think I like the model so much more than the actor!! So many people stopped by to look and take pictures. We did likewise.

We went to a famous restaurant in Insadong to have dinner. You've got to have the best of the best! Muji didn't join us for dinner though. Before we started, we had to drink a small glass of ginseng alcohol. We had a whole chicken each to ourselves but it's a tiny chicken, stuffed with gluttinous rice inside. The chicken was delicious, but the rice wasn't.

After dinner, we went back to Insadong for a walk, and also in search for those 3 old ladies selling that delicious pastry I had a while ago but they weren't there. Apparently they used to sell every single day but currently, they are so popular they probably have earned so much that they don't need to sell it everyday. Now it just depends on your luck and if you do see them, no matter how full you are, you should buy one!

Then we headed back to Hungdae where we met Muji, went for a round of karaoke and then clubbing. Lydia bailed to study, and Muji didn't stay as well. It was just me and Irene and like I said above...I didn't like it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A long lost Korean princess...

Here I am, back into the routine of writing blog entries...after posting about my Busan trip this morning, I can now get on with telling you what's been happening recently (I.e. from Monday till today).

Life has been awesome so far...with lots of shopping, lots of eating and lots of drinking.

On Monday evening after class, I headed to Insadong alone to walk around, with the aim of eating this pastry from a famous road-side stall. I've always seen a long queue at this stall and there had to be a reason for it. I had to find out WHY!

As I entered into the street of Insadong, music filled my ears as a caucasian band played on by the side of the road. I stopped for a moment to listen to this quartet...

Then I headed on to find the road-side stall. I didn't need to look too far and too hard. There it was...the queue. I joined it, anticipation flowing through me. I was curious as to why it was so popular. I was lucky to catch them early in the evening. I was told if I went any later in the evening or night, the queue would be even longer!

3 old ladies ran the stall. One was in charge of filling the dough with some peanut paste, another was in charge of frying it while the other tended to the customers.

Finally, I got my 500 Won pastry and tried it...ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhh!

Cheong Mal Ma Shi Sors Sor Yo!!!!! It was VERY DELICIOUS (with a capital Z)!!!

The outer crust was crispy and light while the inside was juicy (wonder where that came from), sweet and so very hot it could burn my lips, it was an amazing experience! LOVED IT. I wanted more! But of course, since it was fried, I restricted myself to just one. Let me share with you my experience...

I want more!

After that, I headed over to Hyundai Department Store in Sinchon to check out a skirt I had seen on a model a while ago...I didn't have time then to stop and check it out. To my relief, I didn't like the colour and the look on me so I returned it to the racks happily and left the store. Why was I so happy? If I had liked it, lets just say there's going to be a big hole in my daddy's pocket...hee hee. I headed over to Levi's and tried on a pair of skinny jeans which I like, except for the price of course. It's heaps more expensive here in Korea. Just before I left Singapore, I saw this pair selling for a little more than half the price here...I wasn't as stupid as to pay that amount. Plus, I don't really need a pair of jeans in Singapore - it's too hot for jeans. I guess I just liked the colour. I'm sure I can find one of the same colour but three-quarters - that's more practical in Singapore.

See, the shoppaholic also knows how to save money!!

After shopping around, I headed back home, did some homework and caught my one hour of Daniel Henney in Spring Waltz. It's getting interesting now. After watching it, my host mum and I ended up talking in the living room for another hour till slightly past midnight, before adjourning to my room to blog a little about Busan (as mentioned in my previous entry).

On Tuesday, I skipped my 103 class in the afternoon for a Korean movie organised by Worldlink Education. We watched a Korean movie without subtitles. The title of the movie is "Dal Kom, Sal Bol Han Yion Nin" (direct translation: My Sweet, Savage (scary) Lover) Though we didn't understand the Korean dialogues well, we could put 2 and 2 together from their actions, body language and how the story was developing. I loved the was funny, interesting and sad at some parts as well.

The last few scenes of the movie was set in Singapore, and for a while there, I missed Singapore and wanted to be back home. Guess I have been away for quite a while now...maybe I'm feeling a little homesick, but I also haven't had enough of Korea yet - aren't I greedy?

After the movie, Irene and I split from Min Hee and headed to Hungdae to meet Irene's cousin. We met Lydia along the way and she came along as well. Irene's cousin had come to Korea for several days on business, and they haven't seen each other in more than 15 years as Irene lives in London while her cousin lives in Perth. Fancy meeting in Korea!

Her cousin Kim arrived and introduced us to 3 other colleagues of theirs, Adrian who is also from Perth, Shawn (Sung Chel) and this other Korean girl (I'm bad with remembering Korean names) their Korean counterparts. Lydia didn't stay to join us for dinner. We went to a Korean BBQ place and Muji joined us there as well. We chatted and drank lots of soju (Korean alcohol). It was a good dinner and everyone hit it off really well as everyone spoke good English, including the 2 koreans. Though Irene hasn't seen Kim for more than 15 years, they got along so well, catching up on the many years they haven't seen each other.

After dinner, the group of us moved on to the next location - a bar - for more drinks. I only had one more glass of Vodka Lime at the bar while the others had heaps more.

Muji was getting a little high and said she liked this waiter serving us. We agreed he was quite cute and Shawn said he'd help her get his number. And he did keep to his word. He called the waiter over and they conversed in Korean. We didn't have a clue what they were talking about. Finally, the waiter left and Shawn could hardly speak. I guess he was rather speechless after what he heard and we were dying to know what they talked about.

Shawn was appalled at the waiter. Apparently, the waiter had a policy that he wouldn't give his number out to girls unless they come back a second time to ask for it. What Shawn couldn't stand was his 'policy' as if the waiter was so popular and he wasn't even tall. Shawn, sitting down, felt like he had to look down while talking to the waiter. Of course we were on high chairs, but the waiter wasn't tall at all. He was probably my height. Shawn was just appalled by his arrogance.

After that, we noticed that 'boy' doing some little dance to the music and he did look very arrogant after that, as if he had scored. His ego must have grown so much bigger!! We were disgusted with it and immediately disliked him. Shawn just couldn't believe it and joked (but he was also partly serious) that he should take the boy outside and set him straight.

Anyway, I left the group earlier as I didn't tell my host parents I'd be out late, getting home at 11.30pm.

Today, I found out from Irene that after a few more drinks at the pub, they proceeded to a Nu Rae Bang and enjoyed a couple of hours of karaoke singing, dancing and lots more beer. I kinda wished I had stayed on coz they were a fun bunch, but then I kinda thought I was smart not to since I'd rather sleep than sing. Haha...

This afternoon after class, Irene, Muji and I went to Dong Dae Mun to do some shopping. I bought a couple of tops from there. I initially set out to buy a bag and a pair of three-quarter jeans, but I ended up with 2 tops! One is more casual while the other is meant for work.

Then Irene and I split from Muji and headed over to meet Min Hee at Chungmuro Station. Min Hee took us to tour the Hanok Mauel (Korean Folk Village). It was another pretty tourist destination with ancient Korean architecture and once again, our cameras went snap snap snap.

However, there was something different about our pictures...both Irene and I went back in times and became ancient Korean princesses...

Initially, I felt a little out of place and awkward to be walking around in my Hanbok, but slowly, I got used to it. It wasn't a big deal. Sometimes, I see Korean ladies in Hanboks in the trains as well - it's a rather common scene since a Hanbok is worn in most important occassions like a wedding, sometimes a formal business engagement and loads others.

Once I felt a little more relaxed and comfortable in my new outfit, I transformed into Princess Tae Hee playing in my backyard.

It was awesome! I applaud myself for bringing my Hanbok with me!

After touring the folk village, we headed back to Sinchon. Today, we had our weekly study group and Lydia had invited 2 other Korean girls to join us and we all had a good time at the cafe. Because I had missed 2 days of class, I had heaps of catch-up homework to do so I was busy studying while the others chatted away. They also helped me along the way. I still have a couple more sheets of homework to go but I'd do that tomorrow. I only got home around 11pm and here I am, typing away before I hit the pillows.

Another Thesis...

0045, 25 April 2006 :: Yak yak yak

I just had an hour chat with my host mum and I don't regret it one bit, even though it's past midnight and I've got to wake up tomorrow at 7.30am. Plus, having that long chat pushed back the time I finish this blog entry, but it doesn't matter. Perhaps I should have just gone to bed, but if I don't get started on this blog entry about my Busan trip, I fear that my blog will forever be stagnant because this would cause a 'bottle neck' effect. But before I enter into my long essay...let me share with you what me and my host mum talked about with her bits of English and my bits of Korean - I'm definitely practicing heaps more Korean when I'm talking to her coz we actually use minimal English since she doesn't know much.

If I can't explain something in Korean, I try to use another Korean word to describe what I mean, or a lot of body language, plus a hint of easy English. If she isn't able to explain herself, she'd use easier Korean till I understand. It's fantastic, plus tonight I had my handy notebook with me so I'd be frantically flipping pages to translate and converse what I want to say.

Firstly, we started off watching another episode of Spring Waltz till 11pm. My Korean is definitely improving. I'm definitely understanding more dialogue than I can speak, but that's always the case! I'm so proud of myself that I understood a continuous Korean dialogue of about 2 minutes!!

After the show, we talk about it and whether it's going to be a happy ending (we both reckon so), and then it lead to many other topics like Hanglish (English in Korean), Seoul's transportation system and loads others. But I shall tell you about a little bit of Hanglish here and my funny experiences that I shared with her as well like...

Today in school (OH MY GOSH, I'M CONVERTING INTO A KOREAN! That's a terrible English statement, a direct translation of Korean grammar!)...What I mean to say is while I was in school today, a classmate was trying to convey something to our teacher in Korean and she didn't know how to say carrot, so she said 'Car Rott Te', trying to make the English sound as Korean as possible and we all cracked up. Our teacher knew what she meant and we had a good laugh. I have forgotten how to say carrot in Korean and I can't be bothered looking up in my dictionary right now. TANG KUM!! just came to me. Now I have to check in my dictionary if I'm right! Ma Cha Yo (That's right, spot on)!

Anyway, here's the funny part. While I was trying to tell my host mum what happened in class today, I forgot how to say 'carrot' (the most important word in this conversation context) in Korean. It was a disaster since the whole story was about the 'carrot'. But I was smart and quick. I pointed to an orange fork that was on the table and told her it's something you eat in that colour. She still couldn't figure out what food it was...and then I remembered I know how to say 'Rabbit' in Korean since I've got a pair of 'Rabbit' earrings that my teacher said was cute when she saw it a couple of days ago and taught me what 'Rabbit' was in Korean, and so did another sales girl who pointed to my 'Tokki' (Rabbit) and said it was I told me host mum that it's the food rabbits eat and she got it immediately - TANG KUM!

Oh and did you know, if you are ordering cooked chicken, sometimes, it's called 'Dak' (sounds like 'DUCK') but if it's fried, it's called 'Chi Ken'.

And here's another Korean way of saying 'fish'. 'Water' in Korean is called 'Mool' while 'Meat' is 'Ko Ki'...therefore, if it's a fish that swims in the water (I.e. a live fish), it's called a 'Mool Ko Ki' (direct translation: water meat). However, if it's a cooked fish, it's called 'Seng Sorn'. Why can't they be like English? Fish is fish, regardless if it's cooked or not!

Here's one more silly yet useful Korean phrase that I find insanely cute!! Lydia mentioned this some time ago and I've been meaning to blog about it but it keeps slipping my mind. This phrase is used in the south part of Korea, perhaps the countryside and not in a big city like Seoul. People in Seoul wouldn't understand this at all...but here's the phrase: "Ka ka ka ka ka?"

Translation? "Is she your girlfriend?"

And you have to say it with a tune as well and a short pause after the first 2 'ka's. WHAT THE? I KNOW! Here's the breakdown...

First 'ka': Refers to the subject of the statement ('You')
Second 'ka': Subject particle
Third 'Ka': Refers to the object in the sentence ('She')
Fouth 'Ka': Refers back to the subject whom we are asking ('Your')
Fifth 'Ka': Questioning particle

Therefore a direct translation would be "Is she yours?"

Jae Mi Yi Sor Yo?? (Interesting?)

Now let's move on to my wonderful weekend of fun, if not I'd never get this entry done! I've still gotta sort pics out to post along with the entry!!

Composition Title: My Trip to Busan

Over the weekend, I took a short 3-day-2-night trip with Irene to Busan. On Friday morning, I carried my backpack and lugged my handcarry all the way to class. An interesting account that happened while on my way to school was when I was waiting for the train to approach, 2 people came up to me on separate occassions to ask me directions! The first one said a whole bunch of Korean but I got the last question if the train went to Seo Dae Mun. "Ne". Yes. The second was an elderly couple who asked if the train that was arriving was line number 5. "Ne". Yes. They needed to transfer to line 6 though and they went on their way.

Do I look very local? Carrying a massive backpack and a hugh handcarry? I don't know but usually, I normally tell them I don't speak Korean well and they would ask someone else. I'm not sure what in me that Friday morning made me so helpful and answered their questions! I even gave directions!! WELL DONE RAINE!

After the first class at 1pm, I met Irene and we grabbed a quick bite at a toast stand before rushing off to Seoul Station to catch our train for Busan at 2pm. At Seoul Station, after purchasing the train tickets (with the help of Lydia over the cellphone talking to the ticket officer), we grabbed another small snack at Dunkin Donuts before hopping into line for the train.

The train left right on time - it was then I understood why there was such a rush to get on the train while we were at Seoul Station. The train ride was about 2 and a half hours since we took the express KTX train. It didn't feel like it but we were travelling at speeds of almost 200km/h! It was a comfortable ride with several stops in between to pick up and drop off passengers in other towns.

To Be Continued...the blogger nodds to sleep...

0005, 26 April 2006 :: The Essay Continued

We arrived in Busan and was immediately greeted by a pink man and many leg-less girls in skirts dangling from the ceiling...

The first stop we made was to the tourist information centre and while we were getting directions to the hotel Lydia had told us we were booked into, Lydia rang and informed us that we had changed hotels. After getting directions to our new hotel (with the help of Lydia over the cellphone talking to the lady helping us), we left the Station to look for the closest underground metro station.

The first sights of Busan was a big chinese temple-like shrine and lots of ladies in Hanboks (apparently they were celebrating Budha's birthday that weekend or something along that lines)...

A water fountain and many buildings...

The Busan subway is slightly smaller than Seoul's, both in length and also in width. But the system was similar and we arrived at our stop at around 6pm.

The next challenge was checking in. We found The Riviera Hotel without any trouble - it's above a department store!! But checking in was another story because Lydia did all the booking and we had no clue what name we had reserved it under. I gave them my name - no record - and gave them Lydia's but to no avail. That's when we resorted to using the cellphone again, ringing Lydia up. With her help as she spoke to the hotel staff, we got out room key and headed for the room.

The room was pleasant, not 5 star but it was reasonably comfortable so it was all good. The view from our room was even more amazing. It was a little disappointing we weren't able to get a sea view, but we were happy with what we got anyway.

After getting settled in and refreshing ourselves, we headed out for dinner again, stopping by at the department below to do some quick shopping first. We ended up spending a little more than an hour there and I bought myself a cute pretty pink and green shoes.

Then we headed for dinner at 8pm, walking into a restaurant whose display pictures of the food served looked reasonably delicious.

But when our food came, it looked totally different from that in the pictures...the lesson learnt was never judge a book by its cover, but nevertheless we weren't fussy and ate up...

Irene and I then took a stroll down to the famous Haeundae beach and walked along it towards the Westin Hotel. Apparently, that was also another hotel option for us but because all the seaview rooms were occupied, there was no point in paying so much. More money for shopping!

We were wide awake after a good stroll and headed to Starbucks for some warm mocha and ended up chatting till midnight. A big part of the conversation was about our Christian faith and it was just nice to have someone to share God with, the both of us didn't even notice time flying by till it was around midnight. We headed back to our hotel and rested our tired bodies.

At 8am the next morning (Saturday), our alarm went off at 8am and I reset it for 8.45am. Both of us were tired and so we allowed ourselves a little sleep-in. That morning, we had a good and very filling MacDonalds breakfast. They gave us a free hashbrown each aside from our order and so both of us ended up with 2 hasbrowns - who knows why!

After breakfast, we hopped onto the subway and made our way to Dongnae. The weather wasn't fantastic. It was drizzling but thankfully, it wasn't cold. Busan is definitely warmer than Seoul and both of us loved it though it was a wet and gloomy day. When we got to Dongnae, we decided to catch a cab to Kumkang Park instead since we didn't know our way around the city and it wasn't a nice day to be walking.

The cab driver was friendly but he dropped us at a tourist attraction that we didn't intend to go. We got directions and walked towards the cable car station. We took the cable car to the top of the mountain and checked out the beautiful view of Busan from the top - we could only imagine how beautiful it would be if the weather wasn't as gloomy that morning.

When we arrived at the top, we decided to go on a 1.3km hike to find the South Gate which was located somewhere on the mountain top. It was a long walk and we thought we'd never reach. However, we took many pretty photographs along our way.

Along the way, there were several little make-do huts lined along the side of the mountain path among the trees. I think there were mini rest stops - how interesting!

We finally reached the South Gate, took some photos...

And we made our way back to take the cable car back down. The sky must have fogged up quite a bit because on our way down, visibility reduced and I could hardly see any sights!

By the time we got back down and headed into the city, it was about 3pm and we had lunch then.

0800, 26 April 2006 :: Hopefully the last continuation

After lunch, we decided to go to the nearby Bokcheon Museum. Not knowing where it was, we grabbed a cab instead. It's so convenient with cabs around! Thankfully they aren't expensive either.

We discovered that the museum admission fee is free every saturday - good for us, though if you do go on other days, it's only US$0.80.

We should have known why it was so cheap - it was BORING!! I'm not one for museums but usually I'm pretty accommodating, however this was really boring and not foreigner-friendly so I didn't understand what those specimens on display was...

After touring the museum, we headed over to the Bokcheon-Dong Ancient Tombs, which was rather pathetic since there was only 4 tombs in this enclosed dome. But the scenery from and around the museum was beautiful and we ended up taking more photos outside then inside!

We then made our way back towards the train station, walking through a side-street market and asking directions from selected strangers along the way. Why selected? We only chose the younger looking ones who would probably know English a little better.

We stopped by at a cafe for a cup of coffee and to rest our legs before catching the train to Jagalchi Market - a famous market of Busan. As Busan is a beachside city, they are famous for their fishes so we had to visit a fish market!

It was rather interesting I have to admit, seeing the rows and rows of stalls selling fish, fishmongers in wellington boots and many disgusting weird looking fishes...

We also got to see the back of the market, where all the big fishing boats were docked.

Exiting from the market, we were attracted (or rather I was, Irene isn't a big fan of fish) to this restaurant with plenty of people. This is always a good sign and so, after observing for a while and picking up our courage, we decided to try one person's share of their most popular dish: Gom Jang was kinda disgusting to look at because the slices of fish was still wriggling when it was cooking. Irene was rather disgusted with it all...

But I was excited to try it!

The cooked product was rather dead (not wriggling anymore) so Irene gave it a try as well. It was tasty, perhaps because of the sauce they use to cook it. The texture was a little like squid which I love so it was delicious to me. I think for Irene, she took a while to adjust to the taste (had to get rid of the raw image from her mind and avoid looking at other tables who had just started cooking their raw wrigggling dish of fish) but when she got used to it, she agreed that it was rather tasty as well!!

Now that I've introduced you to this dish, I shall now gore you with pictures of the slimmy bugger we ate...

This is it when it's raw. After we ate, we stood and watched the cook rip the fish's skin right off it while it was still alive and wriggling! Then she tossed it into this bowl (shown above) and those eel-like creatures were still moving around in the bowl! And even when she cut it up into pieces, the pieces themselves were still moving - EEEWWWWWLLLLLLLLL!

Here's a picture of the fishes offered at this road-side restaurant. We couldn't figure out which fish it was that we ate (the original look of it while it's still alive and with it's skin) but we think it's these black eel-like fishes in the tank.

After that little bit of fish at 6pm, we walked on to shop in a night market around Jagalchi Market, had a cup of tea before heading back to our hotel.

We got back to Haeundae at around 10.30pm, I wanted to visit this shop because in it's shop window, I saw a top I liked, but it wasn't open, though the opening hours showed 11am till 5am! The other shops around were still open though. Guess the shop owner just isn't there...

We were actually a little hungry because all we ate was the fish for one person's share, so we decided to find a restaurant at 10.50pm in the night. It wasn't difficult though. We spotted a popular restaurant filled with people at that hour and went in, ordering dinner at 11pm in the night!! We decided that since we were in Haeundae, we had to try their famous raw fish since they get it fresh from the sea, so we ordered a plate of sashimi and shared a soup.

First, the side dishes came...

And then our main dishes came...

Could we finish all that??? We did our best...

We retired back to our hotel past midnight. Even at that time, people were coming into the restaurant for food! We also made a quick stop to see that shop but it was still closed. I couldn't believe that the other shops were still open though, at 12+am!

That night, after showering and packing, I didn't get to bed till around 2.30am in the morning.

We woke up at 9am on Sunday morning and checked out, lugging our luggage to Haeundae Beach to enjoy the day scene. There was also a marathon going on hear the beach. It was such a beautiful day, we started stripping of the jackets we had on.

We stopped at Starbucks for breakfast before heading back towards Busan Station to catch our train back to Seoul. We had quite a bit of time so we went in to the city to shop around at Lotte Department Store for a bit and catch a glimpse of the Busan traffic scene - not any different from Seoul's.

We got to Busan Station at around 1, initially planning to catch the 2.30pm train. However, the tickets we had reserved was cancelled, but the lady helped book us on the earlier 1.30pm train back to Seoul. We were back in Seoul Station at 4pm, had lunch cum dinner at Seoul Station since we didn't have any lunch on the train and were starving, shopped around a little before heading home.

When I got home, I unpacked, showered and slept, tired after a long but exciting 3 day trip to Busan.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Busy Me...

I've been so busy lately, I haven't had time to blog about it.

The day following my birthday was Lydia's and we went to a chinese restaurant for a full dinner before heading over to a cafe to continue the celebration with cake. Thankfully, the cake was green tea flavoured with cream cheese so I could stay away from it. If it had been chocolate or coffee...MMMMMMMMMM

We took some photos as well but I haven't had the time to upload it so there'll be no photos in this entry today.

I only got home around midnight and headed straight for bed, waking early yesterday morning, as per usual.

It was so freezing cold yesterday because of the strong wind, I went shopping after my first class for another layer. I found a pretty green cardigan from Giodano for only 10 000 Won, and I also bought a pretty leggings just coz it was so cold.

After shopping at 2pm, I decided to treat myself to a nice lunch (I was on my own today) and popped into a nice warm cafe near the school and had a healthy piece of sandwich, plus a nice warm cup of Mocha. YUM. It's so delicious on a cold cold day.

However, it took so much effort to walk with my new pair of stockings coz my feet constantly felt like it was slipping out of my shoes, so I removed it. So much for trying to feel a little warmer. But with all that 'trying' to walk without losing my shoes, I got a good work out there and was feeling much warmer when I got to the WorldLink Education's office in the evening.

Yesterday we had planned to go to Seoul Tower (again for me but it's the first time for the others). As a birthday present to Lydia from her brother, we had the honour to be chauffeured around in their car. He was our driver for the night.

The 6 of us (Lydia and her bro, Irene, Muzi, Tony and I) headed to Seoul Tower, only to realise that public cars are not allowed up the mountain to where Seoul Tower was located. This meant we had to walk in the freezing cold up the mountain - no way were we going to do that. Option number 2 was grabbing a cab up, however, there was a loophole in this option. Only foreigners were allowed in the taxi and it was going to be expensive. So the only real option is catching a bus up like we did with Min Hee last time. Perhaps we'd go to Seoul Tower another time.

We cancelled our Seoul Tower plans and decided to go for dinner. However, we didn't know a place that was posh enough for Tony (rich kid) and yet not as expensive as those restaurants he's got in mind. Driving around for a while, we finally decided to go to the outskirts of Seoul to a town called Yang Pion. There are heaps of cafes and restaurants in Yang Pion. Feeling hungry at 8pm and still having a good half an hour out of Seoul to Yang Pion, we stopped by a Macdonalds drivethru to buy some apple pies and fries to keep us going till we got to Yang Pion.

The restaurant we went to in Yang Pion was so secluded, it felt a little dodgy driving down that dark country road, but then when we got to the car park of the restaurant, there were many cars and plenty of people. I found out it was a famous restaurant in Yang Pion called 'Bon Juu Ro' (Translation: 'Bonjour' but you've got to say it the Korean way).

The atmosphere was really nice. We had our meal in a nice cosy traditional Korean house, sitting on the warm heated floor. The walls of the restaurant were graffitted with messages from customers and we did likewise. From the 20/4/06 onwards, I shall now be called "Jang Tae Hee". Yep, I gave myself a Korean name on that day.

After dinner, we proceeded outside to the garden where there were several bon fire pits burning beautifully under the moon light. It was such a fantastic atmosphere, I was bummed I had forgotten to bring my camera. We ordered several drinks and sat around the fire talking. Sometimes, I'd get lost in watching the fire as it danced away. It was gorgeous!!! I simply fell in love with the place, except that there's no public transport there. We'd just have to contact our chauffeur whenever we want to go.

After the drinks, we headed back to Seoul and by the time we had dropped everyone off and arrived back home (Lydia and her bro lives in the next apartment block beside mine), it was about 1.30am.

And I didn't sleep immediately. Today after our first class at 1pm, Irene and I are going to Pusan (on our own which is a little worrying but we'd be fine coz there's heaps of foreigners there)!! So last night, I did packing all the way till 3am in the morning. Right now, I'm dead tired and in need of sleep, but I've got to get ready for class soon as well. Want to skip it but I guess I shan't be such a na pun hak seng (bad student).

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Like A Korean

Today, the birthday girl celebrated her birthday like a Korean, actually, more like a Korean shoppaholic.

After this morning's blogging, she got ready for the special day. The first thing on her list was shopping. Being the true shoppaholic herself, she headed to Hyundai Department Store in Sinchon. Even before she had stepped into the store, she had made up her mind that she'd buy something from her new favourite shop.

So that was the plan and she kept to it. She found a couple of tops she liked and tried them on. It came down to two green/white tops. One was more funky and more fitting, definitely more casual and young. The other was more like lose-fit stylish funky, a little more sophisticated. Both were different and she had to choose one. The birthday girl decided that the more sophisticated look was the way to go and made her purchase. Guess this birthday girl finally has an answer to this all-time question on everyone's birthday: Do you feel any older?

Yes. And it's reflected in the item she bought - the more sophisticated top.

After purchasing the top, the birthday girl left the department store and headed for school. After the 2 hours in class, she made her way back to Sinchon to meet the others at the Worldlink Education office.

6 girls left the office together, heading towards Hong Dae for Korean BBQ! The six consisted of Lydia, another Lydia (from Bulgaria), Irene, Muzi, Jessica and the birthday girl. They had an awesome dinner, cooking up a delicious storm. It was MA SHI SOR SO YO and they ate to their hearts content...

And like a Korean on their birthdays, the birthday girl treated everyone to dinner. It's a Korean custom, usually the birthday girl/boy treat friends to a meal and in turn receives presents. And that was precisely what this birthday girl did. As they say, in Korea, do what the Koreans do!

After dinner, the group headed towards the heart of Hong Dae, popping into cake shops after cake shops to purchase a cake for the birthday girl, and like a Korean on their birthdays, they then headed to a LUXURY Nu Rae Bang (Karaoke Room) to celebrate.

Here's the birthday girl, with her Mocha Cake from Crown Bakery...

And with friends...

And of course, the moment when she makes her wish and cuts her cake...

And the party begun.

Here's the birthday girl, making her song selection...

Everyone enjoyed themselves, eating the free ice cream provided at the Nu Rae Bang and the cake while others sung to their heart's content.

Here's Irene, copying the MTV's cartoon in the dance to the song...

And here's us, the backup musicians as Jessica took the stage...

There were also backup dancers doing the Y.M.C.A...

On her way home...the birthday girl was in the spirit of giving so she stopped by a nearby backery and bought a chocolate cake for her host family - just as a token of appreciation for all their hospitality.

Moreover, how can this birthday girl, who also happens to be a chocaholic, get through her birthday without a good old chocolate cake? It's...

Though she was in a foreign country with friends and a new family she only just got to know in the recent months, the birthday girl still enjoyed herself thoroughly on her birthday. She received many birthday wishes from friends around the world, a new top (from herself on daddy credit card), a delicious Mocha cake, a great Nu Rae Bang session with awesome company, Korean chocolates, a Bulgaria souvenier toy, and a pretty Anna Sui lipstick. Receiving calls from family across the globe was also a fantastic present. Her life is blessed with many riches.

God is good.


Today's my birthday and I'm in Korea!!

It is just so...amazing. I mean, after 7 years of liking Korea and everything about it...I'm finally here and spending my 22nd birthday (but according to the Korean calander, I'm 23 - SO OLD).

Let me give you an overview on what I have been doing today up until now...

7.25am : Alarm goes off, wake up and wash up
7.30am : Breakfast
8.00am : Go back to room and sleep
9.30am : Wake up and realise I'll be late for the morning class starting at 11am
9.32am : Decide to skip morning class
9.35am : Go back to sleep
10.00am : Finally woke up and decided to get out of bed
10.15am : Came online and have been online since...chatting and checking Es

It's all good...

And the plan for the day is still unconfirmed...I'd probably go for my afternoon class at 3 to 5pm, and maybe I'd meet a friend or a few for dinner and then head to a cafe for drinks, or something along that line...

Anyway...the moment I came online I was greeted by people wishing me 'Happy Birthday' on msn...THANKS EVERYONE...and also, I got several Happy Birthday THANKS THANKS THANKS. Makes me feel absolutely loved on this day while I'm in a foreign country...

Let me end with a picture-card my best friend sent me...THANKS BABE!