Sunday, December 21, 2014

Day 11 - Seoul: Insadong, Alive Museum, Samcheongdong

finally, last day of our long year-end trip!
we had a full day itinerary plan and all of us were showing tiny signs of fatigue by then but we did great this day too!
out the whole day and managed to do quite a fair bit of stuff!
we moved out of hotel after having breakfast there and took the subway to gyeongbokgung station (2 stops away).
having fun at the station
can you see the younger boy crying at the bottom right photo? I cant remember why but apparently the elder son thought its funny and I have this very zzz look...
first stop of the day was to tosokchon for its samgyetang of cos! personally, I still feel here serves the best samgyetang in seoul. yummmm. though the seafood pancake here is not really good.

we polished up the food easily
after our early lunch, we made our way to insadong. last year when we were here, we reached in the evening and this time round, i found the place much more interesting in the day.
and the hotteoks sold here are really the best in seoul. and random stalls serve much better ones than those frozen lots in myeondong.
gosh, i can eat 3 of them at 1 go by myself!

@ insadong
I had 4 free alive museum tickets courtesy of my coll who came to seoul in oct! :)
so we went to the branch at insadong and as with such museums like trickeye, we had a ball of a time taking silly photos!
here are some of them:

we left the museum and headed for samcheongdong. surprisingly, we realized its just a manageable walk from insadong with the help of a map.
and so im back in my fav. area in the whole of seoul - samcheongdong is so pretty and chill. absolutely lovely!
the husband and boys were tired in the late afternoon so they zonked out at cafe bene while I continued to shop around the region.
and so we ended the day with dinner at my fav. bbq place - maple tree house!
the unmarinated sirloin is totally yumssss!

spending a lovely time at samcheongdong
we took a cab back to the hotel after dinner and i spent the rest of evening packing the luggage. the boys were so tired that they were fast asleep by 9+ pm! :P
and hubbi and i didn't fare any better.. we hit the sack by 11pm for we have to wake up before 6am tomorrow to make our way to the airport for our 9am flight!
it has been such a lovely trip and the boys proved that they are more than capable to do long holidays and seems like they enjoyed most aspects of it.
even a simple cafe stop delights them and that is how I want them to see travel as - experiencing and seeing the new in everything.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

hobbit 3 (spoilers ahead!) & lovely weekend

weekend started early for me with a handful of us heading to bk's house for a mini gathering yesterday after work!
some of us left work slightly before 6 to grab tibits and what's not and reached his house well before 6.30pm. :P
the last of the group reached the function room booked by 7+pm and we were all ready to start the party with pizzas from spizza, bah kwas and home-cooked bee hoon. oh and not forgetting all the cocktails concocted by HW!
just recovered from sore throat and losing of my voice, I refrained from drinking too much and stuck to safe old cranberry & lime juices. :P

we were talking and laughing hard for the 3 hours we were at the function room. and after 10pm, we adjourned to his house for more chatting, drinking and cards playing. LOL.
this network of friends at work is really one of the reasons why I sometimes head to work with a smile on my face!
let's hope our bintan/batam getaway in jan will really materialize!

though I only manage to sleep after 2am yesterday due to the gathering, I was up awake and ready for the day by 8+am!
the ng family is heading out to town today to catch a movie! finally, both boys' enrichment classes have ended for the year so there will be no classes for these 2 weekends - leaving our mornings free - yeah!
so we moved out of the house to catch hobbit 3 at shaw lido at 10.45am! and it was such a great great show.

I started the trilogy not impressed with hobbit 1 & 2 at all. they were at best entertaining and from time to time I wonder if peter Jackson has lose the touch that he had with LOTR.
but he brings everything that I love so much about LOTR back in this last installment.

without giving away too many details (I try..), there are so many touching parts in this installment that it took all I have to not sob out loud towards the end. :(
while he may or may not did it right with Frodo and sam's friendship in the LOTR trilogy, he nailed it this time round for thorin and Bilbo.
and martin freeman is such a wonderful actor - he breathed life into Bilbo baggins.

don't read any further if you have not watch the show!
I started tearing at the part when thorin struggled with himself and finally surfacing triumphing over himself. and all the moments between Bilbo and him. so sad.
now I think I might start to understand a little at why Bilbo ended up the way he was at the start of LOTR 1. after the journey with the dwarves, after this great adventure that taught him about life more than he ever will know if he never leave bag end, after seeing the deaths of those he came to hold dear to him...
and thranduil, king of elves from mirkwood and father of legolas, was especially moving when he talked to tauriel about love.

as I mentioned to the husband, the part that I loved most about LOTR series is that evil can never conquer goodness. if you have that last streak of good in you, you will always come back to your senses. they always come back - thorin, boromir, Bilbo, Frodo etc
seriously the only pure soul in the whole installments has to be samwise gamgee!

and the song at the end when the credits were rolling is awesome. i feel like tearing when i heard it.
it's called the last goodbye and aptly sang by pippin (if you still remember who's who in LOTR)!

here it is!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

bday + early xmas gathering with the peeps

oh yes, before i forgot - met up with the gang for jx & my birthday dinner + early xmas gathering last Saturday.
dinner was at latteria mozzarella bar which serves crazy delicious food for the pricing - its macaroni & cheese is so sinfully good!
as usual gift exchange with pressies ~$20 but really an easy feat given how choosy/picky some of us can be.
and as usual, im not happy with my pressie like last year!! haha.
but the boys were more excited with it than me. hubbi and I decided to use it on x'mas - will post photos of it if we really come to that....
group pix and can you see who are the ones unhappy with their gifts from the group photo? ha

been so busy since my trip that I haven't been really taking shots of my outfits.. these are found in my hp, randomly taken over the last 2 weeks?

left: top & pants from gg5
right: peplum top & skirt from topshop
no, I didn't deliberately match outfits by brands..

2 movies + wang dae bak

i took the day off on Monday. supposed to go for a movie date with the husband in the afternoon but poor him had to cancel his leave in the midst of his busy quarter-end closing.
so I have the day to myself. I have the option of staying home with the boys or venturing out myself.
not really a very tough decision for those who know me.
but as im really in no mood for shopping (or maybe that's my wallet channeling its thoughts to me) despite the season, I decided to reward myself with my fav. activity - catching shows on the big screens. which is really a luxury for most parents..

so in the morning, I had breakfast with the boys and hubbi. after that, I made my way to town to catch my 1st show for the day (yes, by saying that it means I DID catch a 2nd show in the same day).
and so "interstellar" it will be! no brainer since this is 1 blockbuster I've been wanting to see since the day it was released.

the 3 hours long show kept me on my toes all the way, especially towards the end when the plot thickens and swept me along together with my bladder crying for release. @_@
maybe it was not such a great idea to buy that vitamin water to keep me hydrated for the show...

not exactly Nolan best film in my opinion (Dark knight is still my personal fav.) but still impressive not unlike how prestige is. throwing in some big questions for the viewers to ponder while sucking you into the drama of the characters at a personal level.
is it worth saving humanity if it means throwing away the very things that make us human?
and the father and daughter story threading through the whole show - gosh it wrangled so many tears from me...

McConaughey's performance was good but not really so good that it alone can hold up the whole show like how bullock did for gravity. but like any Nolan's shows, he was supported by a more than capable supporting cast. and as usual after watching a good show, I launched into a full descriptive mode with the husband when I saw him in the evening (despite him hasn't watch it yet) and he impressed me with his science knowledge just like when we first started dating.. LOL.
somehow he can explained relativity theory in layman terms though I cant seem to articulate it back to another being when it seems so easy and clear when I heard it from him... oh well.

after the show, I rushed to another theatre to catch my next show (all in 30mins!) - hunger games 3 - mocking jay part 1. and as with the general review, it's a pale shadow of its predecessors. :(
Lawrence seems to lose her magic here. she acted a bit hard here - I cringed abit at all the traces of acting.. lets hope part 2 will be better and its not like I can stop watching the series here....

and that was how I spent my leave day basically. it was well into late afternoon after the 2 shows so I walked a little in town before heading east to find the boys.
maybe a little incredulous to some on how I chose to spend my leave day but the reel world has always been some sort of solace to me from time to time.

anyway, yesterday evening I decided to do an impromptu dinner with gb and ching after chatting in line. we decided to meet at wang dae bak at 6.30pm sharp for yummy Korean food on a cold evening.
BUT I thought we were meeting at the amoy branch and proceeded there with them waiting for me at the china square branch!! argh! not funny walking from amoy to look for them in heels. @_@

anyway, either WDB's standards have dropped or the china sq branch CMI. service was slow and we had to press the bell for help like a dozen times, kimchi pancake was so-so etc.
the company was the only redeeming part. lovely catch up with the peeps and we ended dinner early before 8pm and I proceeded to send myself home driving gb's car. ha!
I was even home before the husband fetched the boys back from my mum's! what a nice way to end the day in mid-week. :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 10 - Seoul: Nami Island

today, we headed off to nami island!
we moved out from our hotel early and took the subway to yongsan train station (10-15mins by subway). from here, we took the ITX train to gapyeong station which we've already booked the tickets online back in SG. you can change the timing here at the station if you wish to take the train earlier or later at no extra costs.
the journey took us like an hour from yongsan. upon reaching gapyeong station, just hop onto the shuttle bus or taxi to the ferry terminal  for nami island.
for us, we didn't want to wait around for the shuttle bus so we opted for the taxi which makes more sense for our family at 4 - just a short 10mins drive at less than S$6.
at the ferry terminal, we bought the tickets (inclusive of both ferry ride and entrance fees).
clockwise from top left: @ yonsan station, on board the ferry to nami island, arrival @ gapyeong station, waiting for ferry at ferry terminal
remember to come to nami island early. we reached around 10+am and though there were people but its manageable and you can take some decent shots. by the time we left around 3+pm, it was swarmed with tour groups and what's nots. madness.

we reached nami island!
there were animals on nami island - some which roam free like squirrels, peacocks, rabbits etc. and others enclosed like ostriches so the boys had some close encounters with them.
don't think nami is at its prettiest the time we were there. most of the trees were bare getting ready for winter.. ha. 

the boys enjoying snacks like hotdogs, ice-cream along the way

nami island is very kids friendly as no smoking allowed on the island in general and it has playground and family bicycle rental etc

in short, an island which you can easily spend half a day on and great scenery for photo-taking
wefie by hubbi
we headed back to seoul city the same way - taxi to gapyeong station, ITX train back to yongsan station. from there we took subway to city hall area to walk around abit (more tea breaks..) before heading back to myeongdong for dinner.

we went back to the wangbijib which BBQ is good but I find it too pricey. tomorrow im going to my fav. BBQ place in samcheongdong!

left: tea break at Mangosix
right: dinner @ wangbijib

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Day 9 - Seoul

we checked out of LG Konjiam after breakfast and started on our long way back to seoul city.
1. 10mins shuttle drive from resort to Konjiam terminal
2. boarded local bus 500-1 from terminal back to seoul city.
luckily we waited only around 10mins in the cold wind *brr* before the bus arrived. then, it was an hour plus ride back to Jamsil area in Seoul.
3. at Jamsil, took subway back to myeongdong area where our metro hotel is located - 25 mins ride away.
again, our room was ready for check-in when we reached around noon time! *sweet*
after collecting our luggage previously deposited with the concierge before we left for LG Konjiam, and unpacking abit, we moved out for lunch at bonjuk - a congee place in myeongdong.
actually my preference is migabon congee place in myeongdong but we have no chance to revisit it this time round. :(
left: tea break at beans bin (their waffles is really good, we ate there a few times..:P)
right: lunch at bonjuk
we have no fixed itinerary for the day so we spent the day at shinsegae department store and walked around the whole of myeongdong!
sort of became a shopping day for mummy but no one is/should be complaining!
I didn't have much time to do any decent shopping for the trip so far!
more on what I bought for this trip later. :P
special request by the vain didi to take this photo

a relaxing city day for us. we will be heading to nami island tomorrow!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Day 8 - LG Konjiam

so what can we do at an off-peak ski-resort?
the good thing is there are nice walking trails around the resort that we can explore.
so for our full day here at LG Konjiam, we did quite a fair bit of hiking but also got the rest our tired bodies deserved now that we were entering the 2nd phase of the trip and the boys have been doing full day itinerary excursions with us for the past 1 week!
so how did we do that?
after breakfast in the comforts of our room, we spent the morning hiking up the mountain to a botanic gardens (which was closed.. LOL).
it was a good walk up and down the mountain which took us an hour plus.

can you see our resorts at the back in the top left photo?

after the walk, delicious lunch @ Mirasia

and guess what we did after lunch? for the first time for the trip, the ng family took a nap together! LOL. naps is such a luxurious thing even back at SG.
and all of us were actually abit worn down after a week+ into the trip where we were out of the hotel/resort early in the mornings and only back in the evenings...
so it was a good nap until almost 4pm. :P

after the nap, we tried another hiking trail which was really trekking on trodden sand/mud gravel path... @_@
half the time, I was worried about snakes and wild animals..
but it was a different experience for us.
not really my cup of tea - :P
we had an early dinner at a jap restaurant back at the resort. again, we were the only patrons! LOL.
the food was very good though. good to know that the chef was not slacking.. or maybe for his only patrons, he put in that extra efforts.. :D
we had desserts and coffee at the café next to it. the boys entertained themselves running around on the rooftop while the husband and I took the rare chance to just chill and chat.

dinner & desserts for our last night here at LG Konjiam

again, we retreated to the room after some tidbits shopping at GS25 - their equivalent of our 7-11 - to nua the night away.
again, channel surfing is really the ng's family's favorite activity! tsk tsk.

and tomorrow, we will be heading back to seoul to spend the last 3 days of our trip! *wee*
my favorite city for now!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Day 7 - LG Konjiam

today, we made our way to a ski resort - LG Konjiam!
we checked out from metro hotel around 10am and deposited our luggage with the concierge. armed with only our smaller luggage, we were ready to made our way to LG Konjiam ski resort for our 2D2N getaway. lol. we feel like this is a mini getaway within our Korean trip.
once again, I think hubbi and I are very resourceful. as usual, with only bit of information from internet and a fair bit of asking around with the locals, we managed to make our own way to the resort!
it took us 25mins to travel by subway from myeongdong area to jamsil area (where lotte amusement park is located anyway). from there, we found the bus-stop to take a local bus which is supposed to take us to Gonjiam terminal (out of seoul anyway).
when the bus came, I was trying so hard to check with the driver if it's going to Gonjiam terminal and the way we pronounced "Gonjiam" was vastly different. lol.
in any case, we boarded it and for the first half of the journey, I was trying my best to look at road signs to see if we were travelling in the right direction.. but the further we moved away from seoul, the road signs with english words slowly ceased until all were in Korean. @_@
so I cant be bothered and retreated to watching show on my hp. :P
from the website, I was supposed to be a 2 hours ride but either its wrong or traffic was very smooth for a weekday, we reached the terminal in slightly over an hour time. and it was the bus driver who called out to us, he was shouting "oedi?!" repeatedly and luckily I know that is "where" in Korean so I shouted from my seat "Kon-jee-am" (the way they pronounced gonjiam...) and he indicated we have reached the stop so we quickly scrambled down.
and the bus stop was in the middle of nowhere in a sort of sub-urban town. we tried asking the receptionist of a nearby hotel only to be ignored for the guy seemed to understand no English. and it was way colder here than in seoul so in desperation, we seek refuge in a café. luckily, the waitress knew some English and told us that the resort shuttle bus pick-up point is right in front of the café! what luck!
so while waiting for the shuttle bus, we had our desserts break! :D
angel-is-us café with their yummy thick toast
the shuttle bus came and we reached the resort in 15mins time!

left: at the resort lobby
right: our very nice hotel room/apartment
and after touring the place, we noted that there was minimal snow on the slopes, definitely not enough for any skiing or sledding. so we went to check with the reception on when will the man-made snow be sprayed only to be told it will be done so on 1st of Dec. @_@
major face-palm moment. no wonder the hotel rates were so low as compared to a month later!!
it was like 150+ compared to a 300+ in Dec month and that was because the resort is operating as off-peak in nov with no snow-related activities going on! OMG.
still, the resort has its fair shares of activities to do in-house but I was a little disappointed for the boys' sake.
but the good thing is they enjoyed their stay here still doing other stuff. and I think that is the beauty of having no expectations! ha. for this trip, I promised them nothing and told them upfront nothing of what we will be doing. the way we positioned is more of a just come along and enjoy whatever we are doing kind of trip to them. :P
anyway, within the resort, there were gorgeous walking trails which we did for the first day there.
it was a good afternoon spent just walking with the boys and taking photos.
traces of autumn left before winter comes

much colder here than in seoul - *brrr*
we checked out some of the activities in the resort and the boys opted for the 4D rider which was surprisingly quite good.
in any case, i was a little scared when on it. YZ has chosen a roller coaster like ride for us. :(
the boys enjoyed this ride!

time flies and it was dinner time. we settled it in an Italian restaurant in the resort. and we were the only patrons! LOL. how off-peak huh...

but the food was really good. especially my roast chicken risotto! absolutely yummy!
yz got his pizza fix and the husband enjoyed his boring yummy spaghetti bolognaise so it was a good meal!

@ big-6ix restaurant
spent the night channel surfing! the resort tv has over 100 channels which is crazy. the boys finally get to cartoon characters sprouting english instead of Korean! and after they slept, hubbi and I were spoilt for choices for movies too.
so that is how they keep customers entertained during off-peak season. :P