Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas 2014 in Korea

Have been keeping up with the news and updates for the missing Air Asia flight. I am usually very upset by news of plane accidents because the thought of having to die alone or die drowning scares me. During the Malaysian Airlines flight 370 and flight 17 tragedies, I was also in Korea. Right now, the last thing I want to do is to take a plane back to Singapore. What I was really sad about is that the Koreans who were onboard (the family of three) were Christian missionaries spreading the gospel in Indonesia. Why do God allow such things to happen to anyone, whether Christians or non-Christians, and especially to people who are doing God's work?

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I am back from my short trip to Taiwan and kimchi boy surprised me with a mini Christmas tree when I arrived home in Daejeon. Having a Christmas tree meant a lot to me because every year, my family would put up a huge Christmas tree together.. While in Korea, I don't think people actually celebrate Christmas.. At least not for his family. We even managed to find a log cake which was extremely difficult to find in Korea! I am really touched by his efforts to make Christmas special for me. 




Why do Korean ahjumas or ahjummas have curly hair?

So I asked kimchi boy: why do 99.9% of ahjummas (aka korean ladies who are .. older) in Korea perm their hair? It was as if all ladies went to the same hair salon to get the same exact hairstyle. 

I am not sure whether he was joking but he said that there is actually a sad story behind it - many of them are from post-war period and in those days, people were poor and they had to perm their hair so that they don't have to wash it so often and it was easy to maintain (it was the cheaper option). This does not make sense to me because.. Don't you have to pay money to get a perm -.- anyway he said that a perm is the cheapest in a hair salon, and sadly, there are a fair majority that think they actually look nice with permed hair.

Is this true?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Singapore to Seoul with Vietnam Airlines

Vietnam Airlines was fine. Decent service, decent food, cheapest flight available (paid about SGD600 for a December ticket).. But worst transit experience ever. The airport at Ho Chi Minh City was probably the worst I've ever been to. Unclear directions/signage, messy layout - everything you fear about when taking a transit flight. At least the transfer counter staff was helpful. Don't think I will ever use Vietnam airlines again unless it is really REALLY cheap. 


My two meals from SIN to SGN, then SGN to ICN. 

Anyway, I made it to Korea safely! Here are some pictures of my first few days in Korea:






Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December 2014

We are finally in December!

I will be flying to Korea tomorrow night and will arrive on Thursday morning.
Tomorrow marks the last day of my NUS undergraduate life. After taking the final paper, I will officially be part of the Singapore's "middle-class" (as soon as I find a job), have to manage my own finances, can no longer ask my parents for money etc. Quite depressing to think about at this point.. But first, I will enjoy myself in Korea till mid-February 2015.

This is going to be one exciting winter! Yesterday Korea received its first snow - which was something I have always looked forward to but never got a chance to catch, because Real Estate papers are always one of the last few in the NUS exam schedule. The exciting part of this winter is that my parents will be visiting us in late January!

Here's a pic of our baby. No longer a baby though. 
He now has a permanent home in Kimchi boy's backyard.

I will be updating more when I arrive in Korea. For now, I shall contain my excitement and attempt to revise for my final paper tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Kimchi Boy Military Update 1

Its been a week now. There is no news from him.

I've been texting with his mother but we have problems understanding each other. My Korean is really bad, and she cannot understand a word of English. Its amazing how we can still text each other. I'm still missing him, and still feeling the same sense of loneliness as the first day when he entered military. I wonder how he is doing.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Quick updates

As the end of semester approaches, I usually get busier hence the lack of updates!

1. Maxi, our "corgi" mix puppy is growing well. (we are still unsure of his true breed). He is now 6 or 7 months old, really playful and active! Luckily there is a garden in Kimchi boy's home for this happy dog to dig and run in.

2. Kimchi boy has finally been called to serve his military! He is 29 years old.. Can you believe the Korean system ?! So.. no contact for a month, but after the initially first month physical training, he gets to continue his service as a government worker (9-6pm job). Counting down to 15 Nov 2014!

3. Cannot wait to complete my undergraduate studies at NUS. Traveling 1.5 hours to get to NUS from Yio Chu Kang for the past 3.5 years is no joke!!! (3 hours a day just spent on traveling).

Friday, September 26, 2014

Getting an EMS from Korea!

Receiving EMS from Korea has been a huge part of our long distance relationship. Besides seeing his face on skype every night, it is possibly the only joy in this miserable LDR. When he sends an EMS, the package goes from Daejeon --> Seoul (Incheon) --> Singapore (Changi Airport) --> Singpost. The whole process usually takes 2-3 working days, unless its the peak periods like Chinese/Korean New Year then it could take a week. It has taken a week before - unfortunately this one time, Kimchi boy sent it during Chinese New Year and I went crazy and called Singpost like a mad woman everyday to demand them to send me my package. Can you imagine how horrid the package smelled when it arrived at my house? (it contained Kimchi, kept at room temperature for almost a week!!!). Was amazed the delivery man did not suffocate.

Korea Post has ALWAYS been on time, even during peak periods. As usual, Singapore's "efficient" services are always the problem. I know that because I track my packages and Korea Post never fails to get it to arrive in Singapore within 2 days, even during peak periods. Even a big country like Korea can be efficient, why can't Singapore?

Anyway, this time I got the package on time! It was my recess week so I was at home everyday to wait for this to come:



 Fruits, snacks, seaweed... 

 There were even chestnuts!! His mother is really sweet, always grilling seaweed for our family.

Huge Korean pear.

Tofu Chips!

Waiting for EMS can be really stressful because someone has to be at home. If not Singpost will gladly make you collect it yourself, no re-delivery is allowed.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Flying to Korea in December

It is a challenge getting a December air ticket to Korea.

December is the month where school kids are having their holidays and many families are traveling to winter countries to escape from the heat in Singapore. Tickets are expensive and many cheap fares are sold out. It is the only time I can visit Kimchi boy because NUS gives a one month break in December for all students.

This year is my final semester as a student of NUS, it will be the last time to have the freedom to travel more than a month in Korea. When I start working, I will probably only get a week of leave to travel and when that time comes, I will once again have to make the tough decision of choosing between seeing Kimchi boy in Korea, or visiting my family in Taiwan. I haven't been a very good grand daughter because for the past two years, I have chosen Korea.

This year, I have chosen to fly with Vietnam Airlines because they provided the cheapest fare and the shortest transit duration. I'd paid $600 for a return ticket (~2 to 3 hours transit time for both flights), while last December, it cost $1,200 with Asiana Airlines.

Can't wait to see Maxi & Kimchi boy!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 (See how much maxi has grown in 3 short months!)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Our pets in Singapore and Korea


Maxi, our four months old puppy whining. Kimchi boy and I adopted him when a neighbor's dog gave birth to a litter of puppies. We've no idea what breed he is, except that he is a mixed. Pretty smart dog that listens to both Korean and English. This is a video of him going crazy. Kimchi boy should bring him out more often!



This is Latte, my family's pet. She's with us for almost 10 years now.  Really sweet cocker spaniel mix.. (how cute is her bed!!) This is a video of me trying to surprise her but she surprised me instead.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mid Autumn Festival

Mid Autumn Fest is celebrated differently in Korea and Singapore/Taiwan. If I ever move to Korea the only thing I might miss (during mid autumn) are the moon cakes!

Baked moon cakes from Goodwood Park. (I like the snow-skin kind better)

A Korean thanksgiving meal - at Kimchi boy's house. The whole family would gather early in the morning and after some morning rituals(?), they will all have breakfast together. 

It is so funny how I always dread korean food when I was in Korea. Now that I am back in Singapore, I occasionally crave for korean food. Most convenient & cheapest way is to get it at Utown, NUS. Decent but not authentic.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Random

I've not lost my motivation to blog. 

Kimchi boy & I are going through a tough period right now.



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back to reality.

I can't believe its been two weeks in Singapore already!

I still can't get used to the humid weather, I crave for rice and seaweed everyday, and I miss my pup. The first two weeks were all about catching up with school work, meeting friends and dieting (again). I put on weight whenever I am in Korea because of the huge serving size compared to Singapore's.

Typical home-cooked meals consist of a mix of Korean & Taiwanese.

 Hua Nam Dim Sum at Upper Thomson Road.

Cheap Thai Food at Pasir Panjang Food Centre.

I miss our puppy alot T_T

I think he is waiting for me.

Kimchi boy sends me videos and pictures of Maxi daily. I feel sad knowing that I am missing out alot because puppies grow really fast and he is changing everyday. I'm probably not going to be able to see Maxi enjoying his first snow...

Friday, August 22, 2014

What to expect when dating a Korean


I survived 3 and a half months in Korea this summer. 

There were a couple of break-downs in between. 1st, In my 1st month there I was home sick and frantically looking for Southeast Asian or western food. 2nd, Kimchi boy & I broke up for 5 short minutes at Sinchon (Seoul) but quickly made up while eating Taco Bell. 3rd, We quarreled, I got angry and threatened to leave Korea.

This summer I felt the warmth of his parents' love towards me. I met so many of his relatives and they were so kind and made me feel like I was part of the Shin family already. I invited friends to stay over in their house in Daejeon City and his parents were so nice to my friends as if it were their own daughter's sleepover. When I had to go to Ulsan City for a summer program, they drove me all the way from Daejeon to Busan to Ulsan. The night before I left for Singapore, his mother prepared seaweed and other Korean side dishes so that I could bring it back for my family. I now know that I will always have a home in Korea too.

I am now back in Singapore, completing my last semester at NUS. I remember almost two years ago before I agreed to be his girlfriend, I'd googled a lot on "Korean boyfriend", "Korean guys", "Dating a Korean"... hoping to find information on what to expect when dating a Korean man. I was worried about things like do I always have to bow whenever I see his parents? Are Korean guys shy to show their emotions to their girlfriends? Will we have huge cultural differences? I did not know what to expect as a girlfriend of a Korean guy. After almost two years of being with kimchi boy, I now know that.. You just have to be yourself, as if you were dating a guy from your own country. There is "nothing" to expect because each relationship, whether or not it is with a Korean, is different on its own.



Friday, August 15, 2014

Korean course meal

That day, kimchi boy brought me to a korean restaurant. These are not the restaurants that serve typical korean food like samgyetang, bibimbap, kimchi stew...

They are course set meals. For the amount of food we get, the price is pretty reasonable. We chose set B (₩15,000 per person).






I really like korean food prepared the traditional way. This reminds me of the time when I had traditional bibimbap in Ulsan:



It's my last few days in Korea.. Can't believe I spent more than 3 months this time :( 

Time to look out for cheap flights to Korea for December!





Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sundays in Ulsan

It's been so long I almost forgot I have a blog. I only have half of the summer program left, Kimchi boy just celebrated his 29th birthday, the news have been depressing with all these reports of air disasters (I have a serious fear of flying now but the fact that my maternal family is from Taiwan and my boyfriend is Korean is not helping)...

Before I came to Korea, I thought that I would blog regularly while in Korea. But now that I am here, I've been so lazy and my daily life consists of eating, sleeping & watching Korean drama (Hotel King, anyone?).

The only day I look forward to is Sunday. Because on Sundays, I go on dates with Kimchi boy.

Usually we hunt for cafes with good atmosphere and good food, or sometimes we do something interesting like go to a room cafe or a DVD room. (Room cafes are small tiny rooms the size of two study tables, where couples spend time watching TV, playing board games and eating snacks. DVD rooms are rooms where you rent a DVD and you can stay as long as the duration of your movie. Yes.. Korean couples want new options other than the traditional way of watching a movie.) & When we want something challenging, we hunt for Southeast Asian food. You have no idea how difficult it is to get it here.

Last Sunday, we finally found a western cafe/restaurant that serves some really good western food!!! It was nothing like the other western food I've had in Korea. As a Singapore (Asian), I am in no position to judge western food but I've been to America and it did taste like something I've ordered before in the USA.

The place we went is called Jeezle, a European style brunch cafe located at samsan-dong. It is very, very convenient and there is a bus stop right infront of the cafe. However, if you happen to live in UNIST, it takes about an hour to get there.

This website gives you directions to get there: http://ulsanonline.com/restaurant_guide/?p=1847


 
 
Literally in tears just looking at the menu.

We ordered a sandwich set and tomato-based pasta. This is my first time seeing western breakfast that actually looks good ever since I arrived in Ulsan.


One of the best pasta I've ever had in Korea!!!!! The tomato sauce was NOT the usual starchy, transparent sauce you get from most Korean-western fusion or "western" restaurants here.

We also had dessert at Paris Croissant, one of the french pastry shops with branches all across Korea.




Milk tea bingsu (Ice flakes) with fruits. There are many variations of this in Korea.

 
I am waiting for an available weekend to go back to Daejeon (where Kimchi boy is from)! Daejeon feels like home to me now & I can't wait to go back and see Maxi (our puppy), roll on the comfortable bed and just spending time with his parents. Hopefully next weekend!
 

Friday, July 11, 2014

(Ulsan) An Afternoon in the Bamboo Forest

Exploring the Bamboo Forest is one of the must-dos in Ulsan City. I've been in Ulsan for almost a month and in my opinion, Ulsan is nothing but mountains & lakes.

Today, I spent the whole afternoon with Kimchi boy in the Bamboo Forest. Bad choice because it was scorching hot (~33degrees) today. I would have enjoyed this place much better if the weather was cooler.






We are both very tan now because of playing too much under the sun. This is my first time actually enjoying summer. I've been fair almost all my life.



We had lunch in a Japanese ramen shop near Ulsan University. Kimchi boy stays near the university right now so that it is cheaper and faster to get to where I live (in UNIST's dorms). A KTX ticket from Daejeon to Ulsan costs about ₩28,000.. while bus fare is probably ₩1,200 from his place to mine.


He is waiting patiently while I take a picture. LOL

Shopping streets nearby Ulsan University.