Seoul: Day 0

May 19, 2016
Thursday

The husband has been travelling more for work and as a result I was bitten by a travel bug. I am totally cool with the kids when he is away and I’m not burnt out or anything, but it has been a while (years!) since my last proper vacation and some me-time sans kids and husband seemed like a really good idea for a recharge for me. What with all the hype around Descendants of the Sun, which is a K-drama if you don’t know (seriously which rock did you live under?), I thought Korea would be perfect to test my newly found mediocre Korean language picked up from too many K-drama episodes.

I love to travel alone and that was the original plan: me + foreign country + foreign language = perfect holiday. I mean, isn’t it great to wake up everyday without having to meet someone else’s expectations and simply live for yourself? You can make decisions without worrying about affecting others. Then again… who goes to Korea and eats alone at BBQ places or eat chicken and beer at home alone at night? I wanted to eat so many types of Korean food, so the best solution was to ask a friend along to share tummy space for yummy food! 😆

Joyce and Dolly

We took Malaysia Airlines from SIN to INC. Everyone thought we were crazy, and I got comments like (quote unquote), “Not afraid to get downed by a missile or go missing over the ocean, ah?!” 😒 Anyway, aside from tickets being cheaper than SIA (Singapore Airlines), the flight timings were better. That said, 10 days after I booked the tickets at SGD$500 per person, MAS released a promo rate at SGD$300 per person. What poor timing! Because of this I was not an entirely happy customer, but I really have no complains about our flight experience. The 1 hour lay-over in Kuala Lumpur was a breeze to get through, in-flight food was tasty, we experienced little turbulence, and most importantly we arrived safe and sound. The only downside was that I could not use my KrisFlyer miles as MAS is part of oneworld and not star alliance.

MH066Goodbye Singapore…

IncheonHello Incheon International Airport!

We booked an Airbnb apartment at Chungmuro and it was really convenient to move around. There was a direct airport limousine bus 6015 which took us from the airport to Chungmuro. 6015 is a loop service and makes several stops at major hotels/stations. Tickets cost‎ 15,000KRW (SGD18) one-way, regardless of distance. You can purchase this right outside the airport along Gate 5 from the ticketing counter, or simply tap your T-money card (the equivalent of our local EZ-Link card) on the bus.

6015 luggage sticker

The driver will help you load your luggage and tag it with a sticker. You will need to present the other half of the sticker to claim your luggage when you alight. The on-board commentary when we neared a bus stop was announced in Korean, Mandarin, Japanese, and English. No worries about missing your stop, but I think it is still advisable to let the bus driver know your intended destination as he might skip stops if you miss the announcement and forget to press the stop bell. After a 1.5 hour journey (it usually takes 1 hour but 8am morning traffic was congested), we alighted at T-Mark Hotel and walked 5 minutes to our serviced apartment. Easy peasy.

I picked this apartment because it was more affordable compared to a hotel, yet has facilities such a kitchen, washing machine, bidet toilet, and boasts a view of the N Seoul Tower from its large panelled windows. Myeongdong shopping street was 1 subway stop away, and the subway (Chungmuro Station) was a 2 min walk from our apartment. Could not ask for better as it turns out we travelled by subway to almost everywhere we intended to visit. 👍🏻

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I was worried to use the machine for laundry because there was only an indoor drying rack and the clothes might not dry well, but my worries are undue. Probably due to the cool weather (~10 to 18 degrees celsius) the clothes dried indoors without a problem, even with the windows closed while we were out. Being able to wash our clothes came in really handy because when we returned to SG after a week’s trip we did not have to worry about the mountain of clothes to launder! The flip side is you have to keep the apartment clean but if you are comfortable with doing some light housekeeping yourself then this will not be a problem.

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The view was great, the weather was great, the food was great, and people were generally kind and friendly. Even when they don’t speak an ounce of english, body language works about 30% of the time! 😝

As I type up this post, I wish I was back here again. Unfortunately it is really late now and as I have got work tomorrow like the rest of you, I will continue this travel log later this week. I will be back, Seoul! Next time I will hit Jeju Island as well, 약속해요!

My cousin recently got hitched at a beautiful tropical destination… BALI! It really is an amazing place. The last time I was in Bali was for our honeymoon 6 years ago, and it seems that aside from the Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar) having underwent major improvement works, Bali itself has not aged with time. The taxi drivers will still swamp you at the arrival gates each offering differing rates to get you to your destination.  We took a taxi which cost us 100,000IDR to Best Western Kuta Villa (10min away from airport), and my brother who arrived the next day was quoted 150,000IDR!

To avoid nasty surprises, always negotiate for a better rate and make it clear that there should be “no extras” charged at the end of the journey… and pull your luggage yourself lest they try to charge you for baggage handling fee. Traffic is pretty bad in the city i.e. Kuta. There are few or no traffic lights – vehicles rely on traffic wardens to signal stop/go only at major intersections. Still, it is not as bad as the unforgiving traffic in Ho Chih Minh, Vietnam. We had a great time nonetheless 🙂

Say hello to Tirtha Uluwatu Bridal!

Tirtha Uluwatu Bridal

This place is breathtaking. From the moment we alighted from the coach which shuttled us from the hotel (it was a bumpy 1 hour bus ride), it kinda felt like we were on a movie set. Simply surreal landscapes were beneath our feet. From the littlest detail of frangipani and bougainvillea trees entwined, the clear turquoise pools, the vast Indian Ocean seemingly endless from the top of Bali’s southern-most cliff. More pictures below…

Pavilion ChapelFlower Shower Chapel (inside)

I did not get a chance to take a proper picture inside the wedding chapel. There were 6 official photographers prancing about to capture memories of the day, I did not want to wave my iPhone around like a tourist so this is the one and only glimpse we have of the chapel’s interiors. Delicately adorned with butterflies, complete with a lovely view of the sea. The chapel sits about 60 guests comfortably. There was a choir serenading love songs which the newlyweds had artfully picked. It was hard not to fall in love with this place!

Indian Ocean Uluwatu Cliff Tea Ceremony Chairs Dinner on the Lawn

European wedding table arrangements. I squealed, “FAIRY LIGHTS!” and sobbed in my husband’s arms because this was the set-up we had dreamed of for our own wedding but did not accomplish. We both agreed we could do this for our renewal of vows at our 10th year anniversary… perhaps on a ship?

Absorbed by the amazing views (and accented with a lack of wifi) we neglected to take any pictures of the 5 course dinner. Meals were served fine dining style, very elaborate. We laughed that between every course the waiters served bread rolls to deliberately fill us up. I felt that the meal portions were just nice though, unlike our Singapore wedding banquets lavishly designed to make your tummies explode with 8 courses. It seems like the owners of the bridal establishment are from Japan and they might have had Japanese chefs in the kitchen, so the wedding cake had a light chiffon texture and was easy on the palate.

Dinner Menu Under the Fairy LightsimageimageRelatives Amelie and Miko

The latest generation of cousins. Amelie and Miko was supposed to be born the same week (imagine that!), but Amelie arrived 5 weeks early and Miko 1 week late. We thought putting the babies together on the lawn would make a nice picture, but Miko was tired from the long day. I wish they could play together more but Miko lives in the Netherlands. Maybe we should make a trip to Holland next year to visit our relatives. By then the kids will be older and can hang out together!

Thanks for inviting us to the most beautiful wedding. Wishing you many blessed loving years to come, Jun Yong & Tammy! ♥︎

Solid Amelie

March 27, 2016
Sunday

Amelie

Too cute @ 7 months.

Amelie has started on puree and has tasted apple, carrot, pumpkin, dragonfruit, orange and avocado (favorite). She loves meal times! She also weighs 8.6kg now. My mom would often jiggle Amelie’s larger-than-life thighs and say, “Amelie so SOLID, ah!” 🙂

Some days

March 27, 2016
Sunday

Some days are a little tougher. Six years ago I would never have thought that I would be the mother with a short fuse. Tonight those eyes look into mine with guilt and fear instead of love and adoration, and it makes me feel powerful but at the same time disgusted at the tone I chose to communicate the basics of right and wrong to a five year old child.

When my world is asleep, safely tucked into their beds after a bedtime story their father had lovingly read, I sit here looking for purpose and answers to my questions. Confounded, perhaps more deflated than defeated. Searching for meaning when the meaning really is just a product of my actions. Some times in response to an innocuous text verbatim, “Meaning?”, I feel the urge to launch into a contentious tirade about the meaning of life but it really was not appropriate to pose confusion and impose. Instead, I furiously hack away at the black keys beneath my fingers, still, in search of.

Paul would be proud, but Paul is not here. He would talk happy and talk sense and find balance and then some.

Some days really are a little tougher.