Friday, December 23, 2011

Seoul, Korea

Whenever someone asks me about Seoul, I am brought back to this one particular scene; 6 adults squeezed together in a really small table, the square table has somehow shaped us to a circle, edges blurred, knees touching, where none of us were Korean, a series of “odd-looking” foods were slowly introduced to the table, the giggling of the Thai girls at the sight of the moving, living octopus were infectious.


Now let me start off with this really bold statement, Seoul is the best foreign city I’ve ever been in. I love everything Seoul has to offer. The amazing people, the rich preserved culture in a huge city, the shopping, the travelling convenience are just a few reasons why I love this place so much. Everytime someone asks me about where’s the best city I’ve ever been in – I would answer Seoul, hands down.

This trip was immediately right after Hong Kong. Like I said in my previous post, thanks to the miscommunication between me and Suay (because of Rain), 


We flew to Incheon, Seoul a few days after 9 days in Hong Kong. If you thought I would be tired to travel after a whole 9 days in HK, boy were you wrong. I was all jet set and ready to go excited for all kinds of possibilities in Seoul.

Address:
100-62 Sam-ho Villa Ga-dong, Hoehyeon-dong,Jungu, Seoul, South Korea 

B. Hoehyeon-dong, Train Station


I highly recommend this place to youngsters with backpacks, strictly not those with massive wheeled bags. Reason being, the uphill to this place can be excruciating. Especially after you’ve walked 11 hours non stop for a day – when you’re walking up hill you probably won’t be laughing anymore. 


Our bunkbeds :) 



Other than that – everyone should choose to stay at this place, because Mr. Kim is awesome beyond words! He is VERY helpful, friendly, humble and very sweet. He helped us on the whereabouts of Seoul in detail and also invited all of the residents that week for a dinner party over the weekend. It turned out to be the best I’ve been in a really really long time. 


With really good company from our new Korean friends (they were so friendly, all of us literally made friends over tables), excellent food and most importantly all things grace that is Soju, the dinner party was a kick-ass.  
























 I remembered this moment throughout the trip the most because the whole room was filled with laughters and love. Koreans clearly are very hospitable; they’re very accommodating with anything too, but most importantly Koreans know how to PARTY. 





Most of us left the restaurant drunk. Happy drunk I’d say. Others woke up with bruises on their hand, after imitating ‘Superman’ and jumped forward to the road. Swee and I however – continued the night away. 


Nightclubs

There is only one place, one word to describe the nightlife in Seoul, and that is Hongdae. Ask a by passer, the aunty hawker, the taxi driver, Hongdae is where ALL the youngsters are; the kids and the foreigners. Hongdae is a central point, a meeting section for all the most happening kids in town, and it is a cardinal sin to not check Hongdae out if you’re in Seoul because you’re in for a treat. Polished, shaved, tanned and dressed to the nine, South Korean kids are almost all gorgeous. It’s almost impossible to find youngsters that are all gibb. Everyone’s well groomed!



When we reached Korea, I told Swee Wei that Hong Kong was really fun but we mostly partied with foreigners (angmohs and all). So I told her, that to really know the nightlife in Seoul, we must party with the locals themselves! The first club we went was filled with angmohs, about an hour danscing there we decided to find a more localized club.



And we did. The people there in that club (wish I remembered to let you guys know what it’s called) was friggin’ awesome. It was packed, everyone was dancing, the bar was full to the brim and music was excellent. We ended up dancing with all sorts of people, and ... yes we concluded that Koreans really can party their hats off. They’re so AWESOME. 

Food


Everyone knows Kimchi. Yes it is Korea’s national dish but Korea has other wide varieties, get to know ‘em and be surprised. Bibimbap is MY FAVOURITE! It has a mix of everything, especially veggies of all kind; it serves like a complete meal. Other than that, Korean BBQs are quite a hit too of course. 




 My American friends and I insisted on heading to one of the famous restaurant which serves Chicken Ginseng Soup – after almost half an hour getting lost looking for the place, we finally found it and it was really good. The chicken’s filling is the rice! And with that entire ginseng in the soup, it’s like you could almost actually feel healthy after finishing it. Credits to, Richard. 


The odd part about this particular Korean BBQ that we had was (as we swore), they served raw leaves, including raw Wasabi leaves! :/ So that was quite a surprise when we had it in our mouth.




And by far Seoul’s best asset to me. Known for being one of the most hardworking people in the world, they are quite surprisingly very, very hospitable, accommodating and friendly, South Koreans can really make you feel welcomed. 






















Wherever you are, whatever you do – shopping or dining, South Koreans are famous for their hospitable personality. We’re greeted with smiles and humble conversations throughout the five days we were in Seoul. There was once for instance, around 3am or so at Hongdae quite a few guys came up to us and started chatting about Seoul and stuff. They’re a funny bunch as well. One mention of Soju, will bring you back to life. All kinds of life I may add ;P

 



Attractions
Some call Seoul a well-preserved city. With all the four major palaces preserved guarded as tourist attractions there in Seoul (you can even catch them in changing of guards!), one could not agree more. Imagine having massive palaces in the city! Not the ones where you’d have to go up a hill, or drive up or so to get to the palace, the kind that the train stations stops directly at kinda palace. Commercialized? Quite so, but they’re still in flawless condition so it’s still really nice.


-          

You know how some Korean dresses, blouses and shoes are really famous on blogshops internationally? Yeah, you can get the items in a cheaper price I guess here at Namdaemun and Myeongdong.   Among other places that we went were Cheongyeong Stream, Seoul World Cup Stadium, Palaces, Myeongdong and Namdaemun Markets. 

Namdaemun Market 
Enthusiast Kids at the Seoul World Cup Stadium 
Cheonggyecheon Stream

Massive market with all kinds of things sold, chances are you girls will go crazy over them. My favourite would most definitely be Insadong, such an artsy fartsy place. Sells all kinds of paintings, souvenirs among other things. If you like to collect things, you’ll probably really love it here.

Insadong

All in all, I really really fell in love with Seoul. I can’t imagine how the place looks like during Spring. The place will be covered with beautiful pink trees, uh – it will be so gorgeous. Everyone should go and visit Korea. A French friend of mine said that it’s like the Italian of Asia, gorgeous kids, cool hangout spots – South Korea is such an interesting country.



Love, 
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Albom's - Forgive

A couple of months ago I read, possibly, the most beautiful book I've ever read in my entire life - and that it has changed my life tremendously, and positively :) There were 5 lessons. Just 5 lessons, from the people from Eddie's previous life to tell him what life is (was) really all about. That thing we can never put our finger on. While each chapter represents a certain "lesson", those discoveries however are something you'd really have to be able to discover yourself by reading it in between the lines. The lessons are not underlined, nor are they in bold, they are lessons you'd have to figure out one by one by reading the entire book itself. So if you're expecting for shortcuts to know who these 5 people are (maybe in your life too), and what do they have to say about YOUR life, you'd really have to read and embrace it word by word. Because I did and I sobbed like a baby :(

My favourite was, forgive. Written in such a foreign, such a strange perspective, such a shocking culture - instead of beating yourself up, you forgive yourself for a loss, for peace of mind and heart. The idea was simple. That it is to forgive others, and most importantly yourself.

Forgive the guy who double parks in front of your car and tell him nicely, forgive your colleague that lied to you about his sick leave, forgive your mum who doesn't know you dislike the items in your room being re-arranged (because my mum does this heh), forgive yourself for losing a big account, forgive yourself for giving up on an old flame, forgive the police traffic, forgive the guy who knocked your car, forgive your terrible exes, forgive the ex that cheated on you, forgive the waiter who spilled on you and forgive yourself for not being able to get all the things you want.

Fix it, move on and leave all your baggage behind :)

Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Hong Kong, Macau 2011

LATEST UPDATE JANUARY 2014: 

For some strange reason, the photos no longer appear on this post. I am uncertain what has happened to them, but I reckon it's a Blogger issue. For photos of this beautiful island, please check out my photos on Facebook HERE


Last year, all four of us BFFs (Audrey, Swee Wei and Kerry) decided to go on an all girls trip. This was planned last year across the Malaysia Day holiday. 

At Mong Kok train station
Somewhere fun and exciting and I guess somewhere where no one would know us with a mission to go a little crazy maybe and explore exciting places together. Before the trip, we met up to discuss on a possible itinerary because we wanted to include Macau in one of the days. It’s good to have a brief itinerary, doesn’t have to be very detailed. The idea is to know what places to look forward to, but with no expectations of course. We were in Hong Kong and Macau combined for a total of 9 days! That’s pretty darn long if you ask me, but sometimes it’s good to have more days. The trip seems more relaxed. It was a very relaxing one too. We spent most of the time painting the town red till late at night (some days till early in the morning) and only sleep right before the sun rises.

We stayed at Dragon Hostel, perfect location and adequate for four us young girls. I’ve reviewed it here for your information. So what did we do in Hong Kong?

Lan Kwai Fong

Because our first night was a Saturday night, of course we figured the only right thing to do was to check out the nightlife in Hong Kong. Famously known as Lan Kwai Fong, to get there you can take a Subway to the closest street, and walk up a good 2 minutes of a small hill and witness expats and Hongkies partying along the street. 

Lan Kwai Fong
Stretches of people dancing and partying along the street, mingling and socialising, Lan Kwai Fong is a place for all kinds of people! The youngsters, the working adults!

There were tons of people OUTSIDE the pubs, probably because the pubs were too small to accommodate most while inside the pubs are for serious dancers. While some pubs and clubs could accommodate a lot, most of them still preferred partying on the streets.


The clubs were full to the brim!

Take note: *Try* not to wear heels to Lan Kwai Fong because after a couple of drinks, walking down a hill can be quite a show to some. You’d probably roll down the hill. Serious shit.


Arena of the Stars

Arena of the Stars is a stretch of walkway where you can check out local celebrities’ stars’ cemented along the way. It’s something like the Hollywood’s Hall of Fame in LA. 

Arena of the Stars
We manage to catch Jet Li’s, Bruce Lee’s and Jackie Chan’s among the famous few. 

People paying tribute to famous late actors

Not only is it an amazing place to chill and hangout, Hong Kong (Arena of the Stars) is also notorious for it’s gorgeous skyline. And the skyline from where we were at, was breathtaking! You can see ferries and boats passing by, with really really high skyscrapers colouring and lighting up in the night, complimenting each other. It was really pretty.  





Disneyland

I visited Movie World when I just graduated from Australia. While I could relate more to Movie World because everything there is a lifesize version of well, everything we’ve seen on TV and movies, Disneyland is a whole new paradise! I loved it so much, with the strangest feelings, I felt like one of my dreams came true just being there! 

Disneyland! 

Remember all the Disney cartoons when we watched as a kid? Goofy? Woody? Belle? Donald Duck? Imagine seeing it operated to life. I really felt like a kid again, and with all the all too familiar Disney songs playing in the background, you’d feel all fuzzy and warm thinking about the yesteryears and how we often could “relate” to all the cartoons, and how these princesses are the embodiment of kindness, sweetness and humility. Well at least I thought of it that way. My favourite Disney movie were Beauty and the Beast and Pocahontas. I thought Belle was such an awesome person and yes I'm a hippie like that. 

"Love makes everything beautiful" - all four of us adults nodded in agreement :'( 

Sorry there weren't much photos from Disneyland because my camera died on the spot. Audrey has them, but she hasn't uploaded them :( 

Shopping

I must say, I didn’t expect Hong Kong to be a good place to shop. I was thinking maybe most of the stuff here are expensive, comparatively much more expensive than in KL but I was really wrong. It was quite the opposite with Hong Kong and Seoul. Hong Kong was actually much cheaper than in KL and much cheaper than in Seoul. 

Ladies Market

All of us whipped out our calculators to figure out which was cheaper, and obviously HK was much cheaper by a minimum of RM 5. We went nuts at Cotton On, compared to the cottons that were sold back home (possibly because of a standard retail price to make money, import goods’ fees etc) HK’s was definitely much cheaper.  



The Peak Tram & Sky Terrace

Remember what we told you about Dragon Hostel being really convenient that we can buy all the tickets to the tourist hot spots at a discounted rate and that WITH THAT we avoided a really long queue? Yeah, you wouldn’t believe the long ass queue we avoided by buying the Peak Tram and Sky Terrace tickets from Dragon Hostel! We probably saved up on an hour or so!


Credits to : A Day Not Wasted 

Like I mentioned previously, Hong Kong is famous for it’s skyline, it is also reported that 25% of the world’s tallest buildings are in Hong Kong itself. And the place to embrace it’s gorgeous skyline and witness the gorgeous that Hong Kong is, Sky Terrace is the place to be. Promises to give you a 360 degrees view of the island, Sky Terrace is not for faint hearted (namely Yuen). You’d have to ride the Peak Tram which goes up about 45 degrees and pretty much see everything in that angle. The Sky Terrace is quite a place to be, almost like Genting (cool and windy) but it’s also like a huge mall, surrounded with shops so it’s a good place to shop as well (everywhere in HK is). But remember, the last train operates around 12AM! And if you miss it, you’d have to take the cab down.

Good food in Hong Kong 

I would love to recommend you the places that I went that had really good food, but I figured it was too stressful for me to keep jotting down notes while enjoying my trip so I thought, giving you a general idea of what's good to eat would be good enough. Sorry :(

Chicken and Roasted Pork Rice

Beef Noodles

Dim Sum

Macau

We left to Macau REALLY REALLY LATE. Maybe around 3 – 4 PM, and it takes around an hour to reach Macau (you can either travel by ferry, helicopter or plane) and to move around to look for the places that we wanted to go was ANOTHER story itself.

#1 St. Paolo Ruins 
We reached St.Paolo Ruins after almost two hours getting lost! Bear in mind that no buses go straight to St.Paolo Ruins. It’s unfortunate because apparently, it is Macau’s biggest heritage sight but there were no direct buses access to it -__-

Sayang Swee was excited about it because apparently Rain has been there before -________- Look at her! 


We decided to take a bit of a hike because the public transportation wasn't that good I must say. It was a good walk, with all these gorgeous buildings around us. 

Macau Bridge

#2 Macau Convention Tower 

So after taking lots of pictures with the ruins, we went straight to the Macau Convention Tower where they were having a Fireworks’ Show Contest! The contenders for the night were UK and Japan. There were Disney-esque themed fireworks, to Irish music, nothing quite like a fireworks’ contest. They’re like battling it out for a grand show. Spectators enjoy it the most because not only were the fireworks huge and grand, it was also free entry!


 
#3 You haven’t been to Macau, if you haven’t visited the Casinos. 

If you spot bright, blinking, fancy lightings from a mile away, chances are you are in a hot all-casinos district, and Macau was evidently all that. Really tall buildings, gorgeous architecture, fancy lights that you’d be blinking them all night and you’d probably even break your neck just oogling at all the tall gorgeous buildings (from a cab drive), trust me Macau is gorgeous at night.

The Grand Lisboa

The Venetian 


This is the decoration inside the HOTEL. It's 10x bigger than what it seems like in picture!

#4 Portuguese Egg Tart and Crab Porridge 

Yes they are super awesome especially the egg tarts! :D We bought it from the first shop in Taipa Village, and it was REALLY GOOD. 



#4 The rest of the night was all kinds of discovery and exploration that none will be mentioned here :D Which leaves this spot blank as well! Instead of staying just till 12 AM that night, we stayed till 4PM the next evening.

Xiao Long Bao! 


Celebrating Audrey’s 22nd Birthday

Because Audrey’s birthday falls on the last day of our trip, and we had to rush down to the Airport, she told us that she had a really grand birthday celebrations all these while that all she wanted this time around was a quiet one with the people that she love (US). Hehehe. So we bought her little cakes and did the birthday singing tradition and gave her, her present :) 



There are a few things I’d like to advise you to becareful on;

#1 Cabs / Taxis

I believe most of the cab drivers or taxis here cheat their way through when it comes to foreigners or tourists. They have odd extra charges and because, we weren’t equipped with any useful information to argue with on the “additional charges”, we figured we were being cheated on. Sigh, it’s not THAT much since there were four of us, but please make sure you guys know how and what are the charges for, and if you must argue your way.

#2 Bargaining in HK 

I know it’s a universal understanding that bargaining is not easy in any part of the world, especially when you’re in a place where you can’t speak their language. But Chinese in Hong Kong are extra sensitive when it comes to bargaining, sometimes they throw a bitch fit if you bargained and left, so make sure YOU really know what you want, and know how much low you’d like to pay it for. Once you’re satisfied with the bargain that you’ve discussed with, it would be advisable to take it and leave. If they wouldn’t lower it down to your suggestion, usually you can just walk off and most of the time they take what you bargained for. But of course, be realistic with your bargain. You don’t want to tell an owner you’d like to pay HK 12/ RM 5 for an iPhone casing. I mean come on!

So that’s it. I love Hong Kong for it’s shopping and it’s really strong culture (hardworking people, food). Great place, good people (I really do not know why so many of you met so many rude Chinese in HK) and most importantly, just a plain good ol’ place. BUT REMEMBER, Hong Kong is not for those who are looking to chill, relax and want things at a really really slow pace, because everyone there seems to be rushing to somewhere and it’s always packed. Come to think about it, they actually remind me of ants. They’re so hardworking and always moving. I came with no expectation, so when I reached Hong Kong I had more room to learn how things ran there and dispute what I thought shouldn’t J

Well have fun!  


Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.