Jeonju: Rooming Above The Hat Shop

When I was in Jeonju last year, I stayed in a room above a hat shop known as Luella, a French brand that designs and makes hats. It was a fun experience!

The entire three-storey building, located right smack in the Hanok Village, is occupied by Luella. The first floor is occupied by the hat shop and a really cool cafe. The second floor is used as an exhibition hall for hats and a room where they teach people how to make hats. The third floor contained several rooms which are used as living quarters used by the staff of Luella whenever they travelled down south from Seoul for work.

Whenever these rooms are unoccupied, they would be rented out to tourists who are looking for a place to stay in the Hanok Village (where there is hardly any tourist accommodation).

The room was very comfortable, clean affordable and conveniently located in the Hanok Village. The staff were very helpful (including carrying my luggage up and down 4 flights of stairs). When I wasn’t walking around the village, I hung out in the hat shop and the cafe, sipping coffee, surfing the Internet and trying to make meaningful conversation with the staff in English and a smattering of Korean.

I know about 6 Korean words which is clearly inadequate to carry out any meaningful conversation with a Korean.

I bought a hat from Luella as a souvenir to remember my stay. If I visit Jeonju again, I am definitely getting a room in Luella.

Explosion Of Colour & Grace

お久しぶり! O-hisashiburi! That is the Japanese greeting for “long time no see..!

And it has been a while since I last posted something here. I struggled to get into the blog because I have almost forgotten the adminstrator password.

I have not forgotten about the blog in my struggles to get through everyday. In fact, I think about writing a post everyday, or once every couple of days.  I make it a point to take a photo on my iPhone everyday because there is something that I want to remember about my day in this blog. I will be thinking to myself: “Ah, this is something I want to write about…” But as the Chinese saying goes – 心有余而力不足。

I was wondering what I should post today in my (yet again) “comeback” post. I decided on this photo which I had taken in Seoul last November.

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There are a couple of Korean travel blogs that I subscribe to on my Google Reader and one of them is Seoul Selection, an eponymous Korean travel magazine run by Robert Koehler who lives in Korea.

When the magazine asked readers to send in photos of everyday life in Korea, I decided to submit this photograph on a whim and it was published on the blog’s ‘Photo of the Week’ section two weeks ago.   I chose this particular one because the vivid colours of the dancer’s costumes, make-up and facial expression made the photo pulse with life.

I was also asked to write a simple caption about the photo and the first thing that popped in my mind was “an explosion of colour and grace”.  Anyone who has seen one of these traditional Korean fan-dances will know what I mean.

I remember stumbling on this performance on a very cold windy morning at Insadong.  It was the third time that I was watching this performance, having seen it twice before in a theatre.   Watching it close-up on the streets, jostling with throngs of people in cold weather made the experience totally different, not to mention the photo opportunities.

It felt good to see my photo on someone else’s blog, besides my own.  気持ちよかったです!  The question that many asked me was – did you get paid for the photo?  Of course not!  And I don’t expect to.

This is the other photo that I was considering submitting.

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Ahhh, I have nearly forgotten the nice feeling of writing here.

Japanese Curry

Yesterday, I had a Facebook discussion with an old friend about where we could find good Japanese curry in Singapore. We concluded that none of the curry which we have tried so far in the Japanese restaurants here were half as good as the ones in Japan.

I remember this Japanese curry shop in the Ikebukero train station which TBH and I frequented during our first trip to Tokyo together. Unlike most shops which served the ubiquitous katsudon with Japanese curry, this hole-in-the wall had a wide selection.

My favourite was the vegetarian option which consisted of eggplant (nasu), spinach and an egg. I don’t know what they added to the curry sauce – opium probably – because it was so tasty and unforgettable. I remember entertaining thoughts of setting up a Japanese curry shop in Singapore after I returned from that trip.

Now that I think about it, Japanese curry is farthest from my mind when I am in a Japanese restaurant here.

If I crave for curry, there is always Indian curry and Chinese curry to choose from. And if I crave for curry, chances are that I am wanting something very spicy, fragrant and lemak. Not the mild and sweet Japanese version.

Although I don’t eat Japanese curry outside much, I make it for dinner quite frequently. It is easy to put together, fail-proof and tasty. I usually use thinly sliced pork belly which I stock up whenever it is on offer at the Isetan supermarket. Plus onions, carrots, potatoes and bell peppers!

今日 夜ご飯に カッレを作りました。辛くなかったので、食べやすいです。食べてから、タイの映画を 見ました。とても 楽しかったです。いま 寝ればと 思います。

Peekture: Yummy Frozen Yoghurt

I have been spending heaps of money on lunch since I went back to work. Lunch options have shrunk with the terribly hot and humid weather.

Places without air-conditioning are not an option unless I am buying take-away or I have a masochistic streak of wanting to walk around the office stinking of perspiration after lunch.

Most days, I inevitably end up in some slightly pricier places for lunch just to avoid wilting under the heat.

Today, my colleague and I went to the Marina Bay Financial Centre Linked Mall in search of food. And we had frozen yoghurt from Red Mango for dessert!

I ♥ Red Mango – eversince I first ate it in Korea. I am really glad that there is an outlet so near my office which I can just pop by as and when I feel like having a yoghurt fix. They sell two specific flavours everyday and it was ‘original’ and ‘redcurrant’ today. I have to go back on Thursday to try their passionfruit flavour.

I really have to find little things throughout the work day to help me keep my emotional balance.

Red Mango was that one little thing for today.

Peekture: Neko No Shashin

Photobucket@Changi Village.

今日、Changi Villageで 朝ご飯を 食べました。朝ご飯まで、きれいな猫を みました。 とても かわいいね。 猫の写真をとりました。この猫はGarfieldのようです。

I thought the cat looks like Garfield.

The Best Curry

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….is Mom’s chicken curry.

Very lemak. Just look at the deep orangy colour of the gravy. But it could do with ALOT more salt.

As she ages, her cooking gets more bland because she uses very little salt. Or maybe her tastebuds have gone haywire. I was literally dumping salt into the curry with her screeching away that I’m killing the family with sodium.

Happy Easter

I don’t go to church so a good breakfast was where TBH and I headed to on Easter morning. It has been a long while since we visited Yong He for Taiwan meesua, soybean milk and dough fritters.

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I love the soybean milk at Yong He ‘coz they don’t add syrup to it. I don’t like the sickeningly sweet syrupy aftertaste in the soybean milk sold in many places. The meesua was yummy, as usual, but I was a little disappointed that my bowl didn’t have any intestines in it.

A good breakfast and a short stop at the Kovan nurseries where we brought home a new pot of yellow hibicus. H-A-P-P-Y.

Looking forward to Mum’s chicken curry tonight.

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Left Neglected

Left Neglected is one of those books that I couldn’t put down after I started reading it.  It is a depressing novel about  Sarah, a career-driven woman, trying to manage a demanding job, three young kids, two mortgages, multi-tasking every waking minute of her life.  She becomes handicapped after getting into a car accident because she was distracted by her mobile phone and took her eyes off the road for a second.

We probably know several people like Sarah who thrive in this sort of fast-paced, hectic life.  Busy with something every minute of the day.  Juggling many balls in their professional and private lives and  just do not know how to, or wish to, slow down.  Life is a whirlwind of activities, running from place to place, ticking off the multitude of items on a mental checklist.  The kind of life that ‘makes one feel important’ eh?

As a result of the accident, she suffers from a serious brain injury known as Left Neglected, a condition where her brain becomes unable to process left information.  In other words, her brain is completely oblivious to the left side of her body, including vision. She cannot see food that has been placed on the left of her tray; or anyone standing on her left.  When she reads a book, she sees only the right side of the sentence and not the left, so whatever she reads makes no sense to her.  She does not know how to use her left limbs – as far as she is concerned, those limbs do not exist.  Even something as intuitive as turning one’s head to the left is impossible for her. When she paints a picture of a house, the painting shows only the right side of the house – the other half is missing – because her brain does not ‘see’ the left side of it.

Half of Sarah’s world literally vanished overnight. Being Left Neglected, she is unable to carry out daily activities on her own, has to undergo rehabilitation to learn how to use the left side of her body, and learns to accept the reality that she would never recover 100%.

The first half of the book describes her insane life before the accident while the second half focuses on how the life-altering accident gave her the time and opportunity to re-assess her life, tto rebuild a relationship with her estranged mother, spend quality time with her children and helping one of them deal with ADD.

The novel is an easy read.  The author, a neuroscientist, describes the medical condition, Left Neglected and the effects of the condition very vividly, in a conversational manner and without the use of “brain-damaging” medical jargon.  I enjoyed the writing in this novel so much more than Still Alice, the author’s previous book about a Harvard professor suffering from an early onset of Azheimer’s Disease.  Another depressing read.

Chiangmai: Botanic Gardens

Well, I majorly screwed up when going to the Queen Sirikit Royal Botanic Gardens. By the time I picked up my SD card from the hotel and returned to the park, I wasn’t in exactly the best of moods to enjoy the exhibits at the park. Also, the hot weather was threatening to give us heatstroke.

We didn’t see many unusual orchids at the park. Many of the orchids being exhibited were available in Singapore. In that sense, we were a little disappointed. We should have gone during the cool weather season as we might have seen orchids that bloom during colder temperatures. Went around sniffing at the orchids and hmmmm, no fragrant scents there.

Apart from orchids, there were also conservatories filled with cacti, begonias, carnivorous plants, bromeliads and a rose garden.

Depending on the weather, one can spend up to half-a-day at the park. It is huge and very hilly – walking around the park would involve climbing up and down rather steep and winding slopes. Not recommended for the unfit (like me). Better to just take the tram, which departs from the entrance of the park at 30 minute intervals, to the conservatories located at the top of the park.

Some of the plants at the park that caught my eye:
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^ I have no idea what this orchid is called. But I like the bright fushia pink colour, the shape of the petals and how they are tightly woven together.

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^ This is the first time that I’m seeing a white Paphio.

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^ The two-toned Mon Cherie Hybrid Tea Rose. Love the pink petals edged with red.

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^ Begonia. I found the contrast in colours between the top and bottom of the leaves interesting.

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^Cactus in bloom.

ColdStone Creamery Suki

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私は ColdStone Creameryのice-cream をたべるのが すきです。韓国で いつも 食べました。 とても美味しいです。 すきなice-creamは Strawberry Banana Rendevous です。

So glad that ColdStone is now in Singapore. But I like eating it alot better in cold weather than in our humid weather.

And I think I’m getting somewhere in figuring out how to use the GF2. The user can get the camera to focus on a specific area just by touching the LCD screen and this achieves a shallow depth of field effect in the image.

My guy friends would tell me – Girl, read the camera’s operating manual. That’s what manuals are for. I know, I know.

Pamplemousse

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^ Quite a pretty place. And it was rather quiet on a Saturday afternoon. Perfect for catching up with friends over a meal. Thought the food was decent but could do with a bit more punch.

先週の土曜日 わたしと主人と友達は DempseyのPamplemousseで 昼ごはんを たべました。レストランのなかは きれいだったで、しずかだったです。わたしたちは セトランチに した。それに ワインのボトルを注文。たかくなったんです。 私は セトゥンチのメニュから注文 salmonとuni taglioliniとosmanthus creme buleeです。全部 おいしかったですけど、uni tagliolini が 一番すきだったです。 私は うにをたべるのが すきです。

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^ Citrus-marinated salmon

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^ Uni tagliolini. The portion looks substantial in the photo but in reality, is so tiny I could have gobbled it all up in two bites. I thought this was the tastiest of all the 3 courses.

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^ Osmanthus creme brulee with lychee sorbet.

This bunch of photos were taken with the Lumix GF2 and edited with a photo-processing software.  I’m finding it quite difficult to use a compact camera now after getting used to the DSLR.  The angles that I shoot photos at with the DSLR do not produce the same results in a compact camera. I’m beginning to find using the compact camera a very frustrating exercise.

I think I should have just bought the iPhone4 instead of the Lumix GF2.

Char Siew Pork Ribs

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私は 晩ご飯に よく料理を 作りました。 おいしかったと 思いました。

Baked pork ribs marinated with char siew sauce for dinner. (A bit too salty this time….) Plus corn-on-the-cob, broccoli and sweet potatoes on the side.

I like this photo not for the food but because of the creamy bokeh which I rarely achieve in my photos.

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