Hello, March

Hello there, March. Wanted to say hello before my blog grows cobwebs. Haven’t had a post since November last year! 

I really should try to write more often. Because I think writing in a blog helps me reflect, and when we reflect, we learn. Some highlights in the past few months:

1. Seoul trip with DR’s family (Dec 2016)

2. Birth of Jamie – Shumin’s little girl ( Jan 2017)

3. Learning how to manage less-than-ideal working relationships at the workplace, and in the process, becoming “thick-skinned”.

4. Learning basic Korean with DR – 안녕하세요 (I typed this using the Korean keypad, not copy and paste from online, ok!)

5. Embarking on a major work project that I would like to seek God’s wisdom on. It is exciting but the scale of it is rather daunting. 

Anyway, so my last post was my then upcoming trip to Seoul to DR and his family. It had been a good trip where I had my first skiing experience at Jisan Forest Resort! Skiing is fun, probably because I learnt how to stop my skis rather quickly (remember: adjust your legs in an inverted “V”, as if you want to pee). Hurhur. Photographic evidence below. 

This was me learning how to ski. The challenge for me was to go up the slope with those darn heavy skis… I really don’t mind going to a cold place to ski again though I must make sure I do proper warm ups. I had such bad aches after skiing… -.-”

Alright, signing off for now… I will leave you with a picture of my favourite drink in Seoul’s winter – hot sweet potato latte from Holly’s Coffee (about SGD$7+). You need to have it with almond flakes!

My Seoul Itinerary in Summer

December is coming next week, I can’t believe it! This means, in a month’s time, I will be heading to Seoul, together with DR and his family. It is insane how time flies. Well, I was on standby mode for the past three weeks due to work (major announcements and whatnots), so am thankful that it is now finally over.

To help myself familiarise with Seoul again, I shall post the last-minute itinerary DR and I put together in our last trip to Seoul. Then, so we went during the hottest time of the year, and was sweating buckets over there. But I guess the trip was not just for enjoyment, but more for us to get away from Singapore and just sleeeeeeppp. Have an undisturbed time, away from the stresses of work.

So, here goes this simple last-minute, on-the-go itinerary we put together from the brochures we got from the airport and Lady Iron Chef’s recommendations. Haha!

Seoul in Summer (August 2015)

Sunday – Arrive in Seoul, Myeongdong gyoja, grilled squid. Check in Days Hotel in Myeongdong.

Monday – Gwangjang Market brunch (kimbap 2k won, spicy rice cakes, fishcake, 3k won each) Edae (BeansBins waffles) and Hongdae (Myth Jokbal – pig trotters, basically – urgh, I am cringing thinking about it. We just walked in to try since DR likes trotters)

Tuesday – Hotel breakfast, Everland lunch (gangnam station exit 6, bus.5002), Yoogane dinner, skincare shopping

Wednesday – Brunch at Coffee Smith at Garosu-Sil (Sinsa station), Gangnam Underground Shopping (this is one place you can find so many affordable things to buy), Jordan Christian Book Center. Dinner at Myeongdong’s Two-Two chicken and Cass beer.

Thursday – Noryangjin Fish Market brunch – We had clams 8k/kg, 2 abalones for 5k, 1 live scallop for 5k, 1 king crab for 58k for 1.6kg! Shopped at Seoul Station Lotte Mart, then had seafood stew at Myeongdong followed by desserts at O’Sulloc green tea cafe.

Friday – Gyeongbokgung visit. Brunch at Tosokchon Ginseng Chicken. Headed back to Gwangjang Market again for the refreshing rice barley drink. Shopped at Gangnam Express Bus Terminal and Artbox. Dinner was at some random Myeongdong BBQ shop.

Saturday – Pack up and fly off. We took Bus 6015 in front of Myeongdong Skypark 3.

What to eat in New Zealand (South Island)

I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT IT HAS BEEN MORE THAN ONE MONTH SINCE I’M BACK FROM MY TRIP TO NZ!

Where did time go? Well, although one month has passed, I am still thinking fondly of that beautiful country. I had such a lovely time there, enjoying the crisp spring air and majestic mountains and lakes in NZ’s South Island. I think I may take some time to blog my trip itinerary down but it’s ok, I think I will blog about food first! So, people often wonder what they should eat in NZ. Is it going to be fish & chips all the way? Well, here are some recommendations!

1) Fergburger, Queenstown

Just try their classic – The Fergburger (NZ$11.50) and you will be an advocate! The lettuce and patty were so fresh, the aioli sauce so tasty and the burger buns so pillowy soft, I wondered “What food sorcery is this?” The burger was amazing. I wolfed the whole burger down on my own. Good thing is this burger shop opens till the wee hours of the morning. 

2) Taco Medic, Queenstown

At NZ$7 per taco, this is a hearty meal if you order 2. I ordered The Bushman (recommended by the staff) and The Stockman. Both were delicious but I personally prefer The Stockman. This meal is awesome when you sit at the lakefront and enjoy the sunset while eating.

3) Eden Alley (Korean food), Riccarton, Christchurch 

Riccarton is unofficially known as Chinatown of Christchurch due to its large Asian migrant communities. DR and I had our Airbnb stay for 2 nights around this area. Recommended by our Korean hosts, we trooped down to Eden Alley for some Korean food… The weather was cold so we needed soup to warm our tummy. And little did we know we would return again for the 2nd time because their oxtail and beef ribs clear broth (NZ$18) was sooooo awesome! I also enjoyed their kimchi jiggae (NZ$15). These soups came with rice and side dishes. Price-wise, I dare say that it is much more affordable than some Korean restaurants in Singapore! 

4) Kohan Japanese Restaurant, Lake Tekapo

Sushi. With a view. Of the gorgeous, oh-so-blue Lake Tekapo. Enough said. The Lake Tekapo Roll you see in this picture costs NZ$17. The portions are huge and I enjoyed having some rice, after eating steak, chips and burgers for the past many days. You can skip the sashimi (NZ$15) though because there is nothing special to shout about. There are better ones with decent portions in Singapore. 

5) Creme Brulee fudge at The Remarkable Sweet Shop, Queenstown

Sorry, no picture of the fudge but I find it interesting that the Kiwis like fudge. Fudge is soooo sweet but I understand people usually enjoy eating it with tea or coffee, like a dessert. I thought others might not like it due to its saccharine sweetness, so I only bought one. Never did I know the creme brulee fudge (NZ$6.80 per slice) would grow on me. I really enjoyed it after I brought it back to Singapore. The Remarkable Sweet Shop sells nougats too. I bought the nutty one which I gave to my mom. 

So, this is the introduction for now. I will add more to this list when I have some time. Hope this post has been useful if you are planning for your trip to beautiful NZ (:

Quick lowdown of our trip to Taipei

Here is a quick overview of my recent trip to Taipei, from 9 to 14 Feb 2016. Hopefully I’ll have some time (ok, more like motivation) to blog more in detail.

Hotels we stayed in
1. Smile Inn Taipei – 8/10. Points for the convenience as it is surrounded by a 24-hour McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, Uniqlo, H&M, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi etc. Good, strong shower. Too bad our room doesn’t come with a window so we can’t wake up with natural light.

2. Nine Plus Spa Hot Spring Resort at Beitou (also known as Lotus Spa) – 2.5/10. Points given only because of the private hot spring tub in our room and a helpful shuttle bus driver. The cleanliness of the room and breakfast were terrible. The dim room looked like some old Chinese movie set, that I dreaded to open the cupboards and drawers in the room, fearing that I will find a skeleton. The wooden bed frame had such a thick layer of dust, that according to the Hubby, if you rolled it into a dust ball, you could make it into a small pillow. The breakfast items, comprising Chinese food like plain porridge, veggies, stewed pork, were mostly cold and too salty. No proper coffee and tea as well. They seriously need an overhaul for this hotel.

3. Hotel Fun (formerly known as ‘TW1 Hotel’) – 9/10. New, clean, bright, has friendly receptionists and is conveniently located at Ximending. Right below the hotel is Ay Chung flour rice noodles shop (or ‘Ah Zhong meesua’) and it is 3-min walk away from Ximen metro station. Comes with a window so we get to wake up with natural light in the room. Only minor gripe is its shower curtain which makes the toilet floor too wet and slippery.

How much we spent for 6 days and 5 nights in Taipei (excluding hotel + plane ticket) – about $1,000 for transport + shopping + gifts + food.

Things to buy in Taipei
1. Umbrellas at the underground malls of Taipei Main Station. A decent umbrella there costs NT$200 (about $8.80).
2. My Beauty Diary facial masks. To me, they are better than the masks from Korea. 
3. Bifido gummies (also known as Yakult gummies) from 7-Eleven.
4. Winter boots (if you happen to be there during winter).
5. Chia Te pineapple pastry. Be prepared to queue for them.

Favourite food/drink from this trip (list from both the Hubby and me)
1. Mister Donut’s cinnamon maple stick
2. 卤味 (braised pig intestines + noodles + veggies + mushrooms + beancurd + quail eggs etc) from Shida Night Market
3. Grilled squid from Danshui Old Street
4. Sea salt + matcha soft-serve ice cream at Shin Kong Mitsukoshi department store’s B1.  
5. 茶番’s matcha drinks. They need to come to SG!
6. Roasted sugar cane drink at Tonghua Night Market. Drink it warm.

Night Markets we visited
1. Tonghua 通化
2. Raohe 饶河
3. Shida 师大
4. Ningxia 宁夏

Tips for our next trip to Taiwan
1. Change money at Taoyuan International Airport – they have better rates than Singapore.
2.  Fly there not during major holidays. We wanted to go to Shifen to look at the old railway and sky lanterns, but the trains to this destination were all packed as we were there during their long CNY holiday.
3. Bring a luggage weighing scale. I thought my luggage was overweight. Turned out that I could put 5 more kg worth of things. Would have bought more My Beauty Diary masks if I knew I haven’t exceeded the luggage weight limit.

That’s about it! I will leave you with a picture of Ximending at dusk, taken from the hotel we were staying on our last day.

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*wrote this post while on the flight back*

What skincare/cosmetic products to buy in Korea?

After my trip to Korea just this July, I’ve been wearing a little bit more make-up. I bought some products to try since they were relatively cheaper than many cosmetic brands from the US or those distributed in Singapore.

Mantra to Korea trippers – when in Korea, buy their skincare products!

So I googled and found a list of skincare products people buy when they head there. It was useful to guide me when I was tearing down Myeongdong in a race against time. Don’t judge – I only had 1 to 2 hours left to shop all the cosmetics I wanted to get for myself and others before the shops close! So I needed to get the essentials!

Anyway, here’s a picture of my loot first! It’s everything I’ve bought for friends, colleagues and family.

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Here’s my list of things cosmetics/skincare products you may wish to buy/stock up when in South Korea! Like buying clothes wholesale, the more you buy, the more discounts and exclusive freebie sets you get at these Korean cosmetic shops.
1. Banila Co’s Clean It Zero Make-up remover (the pink box at the extreme right of the picture)
2. Laneige’s Water Sleeping pack. It costs about SGD$25 when you get it from this shop called Aritaum. I also bought one at the airport before I flew back to Singapore. I thought it would be way more expensive but surprisingly, it only costs me about SGD$27 when I paid with my credit card! They give more discounts if you buy 8 of them! Still not too pricey considering the price it’s selling at in Singapore.
3. Innisfree Super Volcanic Clay Pore Mask; quite helpful in stripping dead skin cells.
4. Banila Co. Primer; cheaper than Benefit’s (it costs about SGD$24 if I’m not wrong) but has almost the same effect!
5. Tony Moly snail masks; I hear people raving about it so I’ll just add this on my list. On a side note, ever since I discovered My Beauty Diary masks, I’ve decided they are more effective than Korean masks. Hehe…
6. Étude House’s lip tints; cheap and good… They cost about SGD$4 for a handy tub.
7. Skin Food’s Black Sugar mask which is actually more like a scrub.
8. Laneige or Innisfree BB cushion
9. Pink lipsticks! From places like Banila Co., or The Face Shop.

Leave me a comment if you know of any skincare or cosmetic product one must definitely get when in Korea! I’m keen to know (:

An answered prayer

The trip to Korea for the Asia Chinese Christian Conference was a break that I really needed after a hectic 7 months. Not only am I physically rested, mentally and spiritually, I am recharged. The quiet times at the prayer mountain, the worship, the sermons, the prayer meeting at Yoido Church… all helped to realign my whole being together again.

The last time I went, it was in Jul 2009 – the year before I was about to graduate (I graduated in Jul 2010). Then, I wanted to seek God for my next step after my graduation. I received my calling then.

5 years have passed, and I am now entering into the 5th year of work as a young adult. For the trip this time round, I wanted to ask God to reveal His directions for me next… to be one step closer to my calling. This is also a prayer I made on 31 Dec last year at the countdown church service.

For the first few days at the prayer mountain, I prayed. But answers did not come. I was expecting God to tell me where He wanted me to be in for my job (i.e. which organisation should I work for next). On the last morning, I decided I needed to go to the top of the prayer mountain (erm, in case you think it is really a mountain, it isn’t exactly a mountain but more of a little hill) to pray more. God indeed spoke… But what God revealed to me was my heart issue. He didn’t tell me where I was supposed to be next, but He showed me what had been stopping me from embracing my calling. I realise… I have been subconsciously avoiding it over these years. I lacked faith. God told me other things related to this, but I think that will be another story for another time.

So that morning, God graciously answered my prayer. I am now one step closer to my calling, and it starts by embracing it, and having faith that He will accomplish it although I am not sure when or how 🙂 Lord, sustain my faith!

Summer in Taipei & Hualien

A couple of days before our holiday trip, news came that there was a storm ravaging Taipei, forcing schools and shops to close. That got me worried. I know typhoons are common in Taiwan, particularly in summer. It is not a very good idea to be cooped in the hotel or get stranded in middle of the road with my elderly nainai and mom during a holiday….

Before we left for Taipei, I told God, no matter what happens, rain or shine, I believe the trip will be for His glory and we will enjoy it no matter what. With that, I submitted everything to God and asked that He graciously provide us with good weather and the capacity to enjoy no matter what the circumstance for the trip. With faith as small as a mustard seed, we can move mountains! It takes faith to enjoy a holiday!

Praise the Lord for His presence and grace every single day when we were in Taipei and Hualien! When we were there, the weather was great! It only drizzled on our second last day in Taiwan. God heard and answered my prayers! (:

Although we perspired a lot during our trip (it was scorching, particularly in the afternoons when were there in Taiwan), the picturesque Hualien in summer is worth all the buckets of sweat. I especially love Chisingtan Beach (七星潭). Gazing at the Pacific Ocean from the pebbled beachfront in the evening was so therapeutic… Sarah and I had fun taking pictures there. Here are some:

With my nainai and mummy

With my nainai and mummy

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PEBBLES! Best thing about Chisingtan Beach is that we don’t have to worry about getting sand in our feet, so we could wear normal shoes down instead of slippers.

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Sarah, with her cup of instant Tsujiri matcha drink! They actually have Tsujiri there… unbelievable.

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Enjoying the ocean breeze and fried fish and smelly tofu near the beachfront

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Sunlit mountains at dawn behind our hotel

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Crashing waves due to typhoon warnings on our last day in Hualien

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View from our room in Hotel Bayview

I would love to cycle along the coast there. We didn’t do so as we were with nainai and mummy. It would be too dangerous for nainai to cycle! So yes, I will go back to Hualien again.

It’s time to zzzz now. I will blog more about the places we went in Taipei and Hualien in my subsequent posts…

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