Monthly Archives: May 2015

I miss school

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I remember this:

On our first day as a Year 5 student, Jiawei casually texted me (on my BlackBerry) whether we wanted to have lunch because school ended earlier than expected. We met at the bus interchange, casually bumping into Jiawen and Jieling who were about to finish up their holiday assignment for Math together (Inequalities which I didn’t do, of course).

We ended up eating at Long John Silver eating lunch… And suddenly someone asked whether we wanted to catch a movie. After checking GV websites and everything we decided to watch Wreck-it-Ralph. I remember Venelope and Fix-it-Felix and how I dozed off in the movie, waking up to bother Jiawen and asking her every single detail about the movie.

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The ticket stub as memory. And I remember how someone tweeted, “if JC is like this, I don’t mind going to school everyday.”

These are little things about school I miss the most. I’ll always remember this day.

POP and OCS

So I died during the 24km march. I survived 12km and 16km well, but 24km was bad because I positioned my admin shoes badly, I died during the first 6km because my field pack’s weight was heavily slanted towards my right, it was so bad I placed my hand on it the entire march because it was hurting my shoulders very badly. It became okay only after countless number of adjustments when everyone was sitting down. I got blisters after the 15km mark which I’ve never gotten before on all my previous route marches. I nosebled three times during the march: once on the long airport route, once at ECP, once on the final 6km when the Singapore Flyer was in sight.

On board my KE641 while waiting for the plane to take off I was reflecting on everything I had done wrong during the march. And I felt really bad about myself- what made my exhaustion rule over my head, that I was so freaking lazy to help anyone and everyone. I allowed myself to be treated like a princess, allowed my blisters to kill me, allowed my breathlessness to get annoyed at everything. I will always keep this in mind from now on- mind over body. Everyone’s tired, suck it up and stop giving yourself stupid excuses like your height or your short legs and how you have to take 10000 strides more than anyone. Why not I work a little harder to make up for that shortfall, instead of complaining how unfair life is. Physical fitness can’t be helped, but combat fitness is different, and definitely works in our favour a lot more.

But overall really glad that I survived it all, that I didn’t fall out (in fact, none of us girls did). That I could proudly shed tears in happiness on two occasions that morning, when I finally got up the Helix Bridge and realised how freaking near we were to the floating platform (I was so embarrassed about tearing then I pretended to blow my nose from my sinus), and when they said “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, … … OUR TRAINED SOLDIERS”. I was tearing so hard because I really felt that I’ve deserved all these feelings of pride. 😉

That moment of ecstasy… Everything was worth it.

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Photos of the main people who got me through the 9 weeks- my family, and my dearest section.

I can’t be more thankful of my section- I knew it from Day 1. I’ve always knew that too many girls can’t exist together (too much experience from NCC), and this was the very reason why I really liked my section. We were small, and we were really close-knitted. It was an unspoken language on the table everyday: you knew which food belonged to who, but you would just take it anyway. On the table = free for all. You knew the unspoken rules about little things we shouldn’t do, (or shouldn’t have done), or simply how we needed to be considerate and not hang our hangers on each other’s beds. Or how we should never turn on the lights first thing in the morning because many of us were light sleepers. Or how we were to wait as a section to fall in together, because what’s the point of falling in early first? We were still going to be late as a whole anyway. Those 9 weeks taught me a lot about team work and how team dynamics could only be strong if all of us believed in it.

And sure I did. I can’t help but to miss our section so so so so much. This was a real team. This was the dream team. My dream team 😥 It’s so upsetting that I will hardly get to see my sectionmates ever again now that I’m moving over to MIDS tonight (and I haven’t even touched on how much I love Delta and their culture).

And of course to my family. For treating me llao llao even though I’m receiving regular pay, for sending me off on the car all the way to Pasir Ris Bus Interchange even though there’s no need to, for packing my field pack and unpacking my field pack for me. LOL.

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OCS Family Day was 3 days ago (SERIOUSLY???) and I guess it merely signifies the start to an extremely long journey. Officership will never be easy, but I think I’m ready to embark on this. I’m ready to work harder than ever for what I think I want. 🙂 May I find myself.

Korea Trip 2015

It’s been nearly 3 weeks since I had 3 hours to sit on my computer chair to type something… check out my Korea trip photos… gosh. I think I might actually really be acclimatized to military life, I feel odd being motionless and I’m getting hungry every 3 hours. So, I flew off the night of POP after catching a nap, and I returned one day before booking into OCS. Am I adventurous? I think so. Hoping that this will be a start to the life that lies ahead of me 🙂

and yes I went to Korea alone. I wonder why no one believes me so, is it my age, or is it me? Initially it wasn’t a solo trip, but I guess things turned out this way because they had to- and I was extremely glad to have sort of… “thrown” myself into this challenge. I have ALWAYS wanted to travel alone, I’ve read solo travelogues, I’ve read blog posts about solo wanderers and I’ve always envied them. For their guts, for how independent you seemingly become, and for how they can make decisions on their itinerary completely on their own. You do not have to worry or feel bad about getting lost in the country, you do not have to worry about someone else disliking the location you intended on going, you do not have to look out for one another, disrupting your plans just because someone else falls sick… or landing in an unfortunate circumstance (eg. diarrhoea and spending 3 hours in the toilet?). You’re completely on your own. You eat what you want to, you shit when you want to, you go where you want to. That was something I really wanted especially after BMT, after spending 9 weeks with people everyday. I thought I could finally take a week just caring about myself and myself only 🙂

But of course it definitely gets lonely. Meal times are the worst. I think I don’t need to say more: just imagine eating a Korean BBQ meal alone. I think I looked so lonely, the staff came over to my table to help me cut up my meat. HAHAHA.

1. Scenic spots

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This was the first place I went to upon putting down my luggage and settling my accommodation at the guesthouse. The National Assembly Station, where their Parliament House was. Situated behind the building was the Seoul Cherry Blossom Festival which took up the entire winding road 🙂 My guesthouse host, Bobby, recommended that I headed to check out the cherry blossoms because this would be the last day they were in full bloom: it would be raining the next day and the flowers were going to….. disappear. It was such a breathtaking sight! Couples were holding hands, young and old, walking through the closed roads in the raining cherry blossom flowers. The carnival was going on, young kids were taking part in the events, and people were queuing up for photobooths and fixtures to camwhore with. I thought it was a really nice way to start my trip, having seen what I will never see in Singapore. And to make it better, seeing happy families and couples. It’s really heartwarming to have caught these moments.

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I filled my first day with lots of cultural spots, which were the main tourist attractions in Korea. This was the Gyeongbokgung Palace which I took a while to walk around. Honestly, I’m pretty sure I’ve been to this place. Not because I remember walking through everything, but because I remember how the entrance ticket used to look like, and I was prety sure I once had a copy of it. It was a nice route though, complete with falling cherry blossoms from most of the trees. it reminded me of the Summer Palace in Beijing. I love cultural spots, of course. This is what makes me a difficult tourist: I want to go free and easy, but yet I still want to visit tourist attractions. LOL.

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and since I’m from the SAF, I couldn’t miss out on the guard-changing ceremony! I was glad to have caught it quite near, and I was observing all their drills, how they perform about turn in a combination of both US and Singapore’s footdrills, how they wheeled (and as usual, how some people were more competent with their wheeling than others). I guess being stuck in all that traditional costume sucks as well, but I think it was nice to know that these royal traditions were passed from generation to generation, and once upon a time, maybe 1000 years ago, these royal guard changing ceremonies were also taking place at the same place.

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Somewhere along Samseong-dong where I was trying to get my ass to the Bukchon Hanok Village. What made this place distinctive from other areas in Korea was what you see walking down this entire area. You could clearly see the juxtaposition of the two types of architecture: the modern buildings with glass windows, as opposed to the traditional wooden hanok houses with red roofs. This image was a guesthouse that would probably give you a more authentic traditional Korean experience, living like the residents you see in Korean dramas. Having tea on mats on the floor, lying on the wooden floor… I would have opted for such a living experience if the rooms weren’t so pricey. Plus, these areas weren’t exactly suitable for solo travelers I guess.

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I visited Le Petit France! I wanted to visit this place mainly because of Kim Soo Hyun’s scene from You Who Came From The Stars, where he lit up the entire area and flew Jun Ji Hyun back to him for a kiss. I think I will never forget that scene because it was damn romantic omg 😥 can I opt to marry him too?

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After that, I took the bus down to Nami Island where Winter Sonata was filmed. It was a large hassle to get to Nami Island, I had to buy “VISA tickets” to get on the ferry because Nami Island was sold as a “different area” from the rest of Seoul (which was really true). I didn’t watch Winter Sonata when I was young so I didn’t really know where were the hot spots where they kissed and everything, but walking through the entire area was once again, extremely therapeutic. I think I appreciated all these moments when all I did was look at the world go by, shiver in the cold, look at couples taking selfies, look at families walking through all the trees (and by the way, the neat arrangement of the trees reminds me of my field camp site.) I can’t deny that it was a nice place, but I guess it would hold more significance for me if I had watched the drama (should have watched it instead of Autumn’s Tale damn). That hotdog was very well-appreciated by the way, I was freezing from the cold LOL. I couldn’t even squeeze my ketchup properly, HAHAHA.

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Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan, widely hailed as the “Santorini of the East”, tucked away in Busan. There were really people living in those little apartments- and to me that was just the perfect picture of “overcrowding” and “overpopulation”. People were living in really close quarters (and ideas about the easy spread of IPDs just occur to me), and it was really squeezy. Interestingly, despite the steep ascend to the top and continued climbing to the houses that were at the top of this village, many of the residents here were aged. It ties in with what we’ve learn from Geography: the elderly commonly has the strongest “sense of place”, and majority would choose not to move away, even if there were better apartments in other parts of Busan. This wasn’t quite the majestic sight you would have expected from the labels of “Santorini” having seen from photos of Greece, but to say the least it was pretty breathtaking. You see laundry hanging on strings, people sleeping on mats on the cold wooden floor, as you walked through the steps to their houses. This wasn’t just a tourist attraction, this was a village. This was an accurate display of the lives the residents led, and I’m glad to have able to seen the sights of such.

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That’s me at the Diamond Bridge at Gwangalli Beach, which frankly looked better in photos on Google. It strongly reminded me of the Sydney Tower Bridge though, which reminded me that I’m getting really old. It was a really cold day and I couldn’t tolerate being out for long, what more with the sea breeze. Taking a walk along the beach has always been considered a very romantic affair, but to walk along the beach alone was really… different. It was therapeutic to say the least, and I think your thoughts scream out the loudest when you’re alone and the only thing you hear is the wind breeze. I’m glad I’m not emotionally attached to anyone or anything, because it would have been a pretty painful walk. The only thing that occurred to me was how lucky I was to be doing this walk alone, and how fulfilled I felt with every step I have taken this year. My life has changed quite a big bit this year, and I’m really happy for that.

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Yonggungsa temple! Also in Busan 🙂 These photos were taken near the entrance of the temple. Initially, I was taking thousands of selfies to get the perfect angle to capture the structure behind me- then a stranger came up to me and offered to take a photo for me. HAHAHA.

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This was a really large temple and really nice to walk throughout. Or maybe it’s my inner religious self haha. I have never considered myself a devout Buddhist or Taoist, but I really loved walking through the temple, making small donations into the metal boxes wherever I went just so that I could contribute a part to the upkeep of the temple. Generally, I love visiting temples and religious places, because they display sides of their culture that differ among countries. It was a great walk, although there were thousands of steps to climb LOL.

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After that I went to the… Namsam Seoul Tower. Climbing steps on my way to the tower where I could take the cable car to the Namsam Seoul Tower. Crazy hell number of steps HAHAHA I just kept climbing and climbing and I got really breathless- I THINK I WAS PERSPIRING IN THE CRAZY COLD LOL. I guess the skydeck observatory wasn’t the most impressive thing over here- the main difference between Korea’s tower and the rest of the world (ie. Taiwan’s 101 building, Macau tower) is the love locks. I wonder if anyone is really interesting in checking out the skyline, anyway. It looks all the same from the top HAHA

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All the love locks that I could only watch, I mean I couldn’t possibly lock one and wish for eternal love for myself HAHAHA. It was nice reading all of it, especially for those written by Singaporeans. Many of the locks were very recent: 2014, 2015. I wonder where all the ones from 2008 went. I remember watching SHINee Reality Show in 2008, where Minho brought a girl to the restaurant and subsequently locked their love or something together. I was pretty upset when this wasn’t part of the itinerary back in 2008, but 7 years on I am finally able to visit this place myself. I’m thankful for that. 🙂

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and the Churros from the Namsan Food whatever which Edina strongly encouraged me to buy. It was nice to chew on it and walk around 🙂

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I went into Ewha University! It was a very very very nice place, roads were filled with flowers and tamed bushes on both ends of the road, cathedrals and museums made the whole place look like a castle. It was a garden walk to the other end of the campus, and there were lecture theatres in between, where students were wearing socks and slippers and running to the next class. Like I mentioned on Instagram, this made me miss school life and studying quite a bit. I miss the idea of school and meeting people I know everywhere I go, just being noisy and noisier everyday. I miss my teachers and how we could joke with them with ease, how we didn’t have to worry about insubordination and crossing the line. I think these are things that I really appreciate now that I am where I am.

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Lotteworld! I was lucky to be there on a day when there was some performance going on- little kids were running up and down the structures, horse carts. It was really magical, the music and everything made it really memorable. I think I never really knew how it felt like to be a kid again until I entered Lotteworld this once. I felt really envious to see kids holding big sticks of cotton candy, to struggle up to sit on the bench and be fed hotdogs. I wonder how it feels like to be a kid excitedly stepping onto the child rides (the spinning ride on the small chair) thinking that these rides were possibly the most thrilling adventures life had in store for you. I get older and more enriched with more experiences, and I realise that some things no longer seem that exciting as they were many years ago. For example, going out at night and arriving home after 10pm used to be some thrill. Now it’s just…………. lame… you mean you have a curfew?

I didn’t take any rides though. This was another one of the cons of travelling alone. It would be really awkward to go as a solo rider and queue amidst the 1000 couples who were in the 45-minute lines. So I just walked around, observed people, took pictures of people and got people to take pictures of me. That was enjoyable enough, and I think I liked it enough. 🙂

2. Mealtimes

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My first meal at Paris Baguette: where I sat by the railing and watched cars pass by, watched high school students climb up the slopes and down, holding on to cold drinks and ice-cream. At the same time, trying to get acclimatised to the fact that I will be having most of my meals the same way: alone and people-watching. I don’t know why student life in other countries always seem much more exciting than ours, the way they seem to have many more places to explore and go to after school. I think the weather plays a big part too, how nice it would be to be walking around streets knowing that you aren’t perspiring from the sweltering heat.

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My second dinner of the day because I returned to the guesthouse with people who haven’t had dinner sitting around. I wanted to interact with people to make it a more legit solo travelling experience, so I agreed to head out for another serving of dinner with these 2 people from Korea and Taiwan hehe. I was more than happy though, next to me was a guy from Busan and he knew how to speak Korean, as well as the famous eateries around Hongdae. We had traditional Korean food, and I had steamed eel which was really good and affordable. No wonder this store was famous in the area. Subsequently I went to eat corn ice-cream on a stick, which was something unique in Korea too. Undoubtedly, locals will know the place best. There’s only how much you can find out from tourists as a tourist.

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That’s me in Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan after desperately trying to find a place to eat. Busan’s people are less English-proficient, they don’t even understand that I want to “eat” and I had to desperately use hand signals to get my point across. One time I was asking about the cost of the menu- and the store lady got pissed because she thought I was trying to haggle the price. My god. So this was the 3rd store I went to that finally got what I wanted to say- and at a rather affordable price at it. My food actually looks good, right 🙂

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Eating Tom & Toms while waiting for the Gwangalli Beach to turn dark- also because I didn’t want to return to Seoul that early. It was a 2 hours wait and I think I ate the Honey or something toast that Tom & Toms was famous for. I finished it, of course 🙂 While I was waiting I was busy tapping on the free Wi-Fi and trying to work out Cheryl’s birthday, which I finally figured out. I think it was always nice to have company by my phone, I knew people were just a WhatsApp message away. I doubt I could really tolerate real solitude.

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Fried squid on a stick, which was damn delicious. I ordered the spicy one which really appealed to me in the cold, and munched so hard even though I was so full from my honey toast HAHAHA. I was telling the store keepers that I was feeling cold, and they allowed me to go into the store where the cooker (and all the oil pools) were. Stood there for like a good 5-minute to chill myself before I embarked on my walk back- it was really cold that day. They were just a few of the many nice people I met in Korea 🙂

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This tops the charts of all the meals I’ve had: eating Korean BBQ alone. This was Meat-ing at Hongdae, which was conveniently located near my guesthouse too hehe. The service staff kept coming to my table to ask if I needed any assistance, probably because I looked really lonely. Korean BBQ was supposed to be a shared experience, while you grill the meat over conversations with your friends, bonding while waiting for the meat to cook. I guess I ate Korean BBQ with my phone, and my camera. HAHAHA. I ate quite a bit though, even though I was alone. I think I might have surprised the store owners, given that Korean girls are like stick thin with tiny appetites. LOL.

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An entire pan of cheese pizza to myself for breakfast, which was like $7 or something? This was at Roscoco, right beside my guesthouse. I think that was really affordable given how filling it was 🙂

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At Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul, since I didn’t get to try live squid in Busan. 7 years ago I went to a fish market with my family in Korea too, and I was judging everyone who was eating live squid because it looked damn disgusting. Why would you eat that crawling black piece of shit- I wouldn’t view it as a delicacy at all. But after I had mine… gosh, it tasted really good man. Especially with the sauce. It felt like raw salmon sashimi dipped into soy sauce- that was how fresh it felt. Even though it was disturbing to see it crawling on my chopsticks before being painfully inserted into my mouth, it was an interesting experience. If I’m not wrong, it was about 10000 won (SGD $12) for 4 small squids. I think I finished most of it. I’m not kidding, it was really nice and fresh. I guess I am unable to upload the video because the file size is too large HAHA.

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Isaac’s Toast along the alleys of Ewha University’s streets, which were lined with pretty clothes that I didn’t have the money for. My sister told me it was a “must-try” in Korea, and I’m not too sure about that. Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten a savoury toast, the army habits of daily chicken eating are growing on me HAHAHA. I think chicken can never go wrong.

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Spent another 1-2 hours in Tom & Toms reviewing my trip photos and just watching the streets go by in Gangnam. I finished that bigass shit dessert by the way, when I usually wouldn’t even be able to finish it when I share it with my sister in Singapore 😦 The fat life chose me, army needs to stop increasing my appetite.

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Bibimbap at the store right next to my guesthouse- this is why I love my guesthouse so much. Convenience has always been a key when travelling, and I love how I was situated near the night life, near any type of eatery (Asian food, Korean food, really traditional food), and near the schooling life (Hongik University Station). My food was good and cheap, and I wiped it out completely. I nearly emptied the sauce bottle though, I think my every corner of my bibimbap was red HAHAHA. The sauce made it really tasty, and omg this is a meal (breakfast!) I really miss 😦 It was so good I wanted to go back that night to try it, but I eventually decided that I should try more types of food since I’m here in Korea.

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Of course a fast food junkie like me can’t miss out on Lotteria, ordered a shrimp burger which was GOOOOD MAN and I love their fries more than anything else. No, fries don’t taste the same. I loved the strong taste of potato in their fries. If only there were Lotteria branches in Singapore 😦

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Having a yogurt smoothie down the road from my guesthouse which honestly sucked- it was tasteless and it felt like drinking white water 😦 not so much of a waste of money, but a waste of my endurance in the cold HAHAHA.

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My last meal in Korea with friends from my guesthouse. This was “pork bone soup”, forgot the term for it in Korean of course. Although we shared the cost equally, I would think I ate most of the meat HAHA. 3 of us didn’t finish our rice bowls (because it was my second dinner) and the guesthouse host was telling us “VERY RUDE!”. He was kidding of course, but then I learnt that Koreans tended to finish their rice bowls. Also, everyone at the table were to eat slower than the most senior person by pacing our chewing habits LOL. We can only go if the most senior person gives the go ahead to leave. I’m glad to have spent my last meal eating food that’s famed in Korea, with people from Korea.

3. Street views

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Bringing another BMT habit into Korea: munching on Quadratini while waiting for the Gapyeong City Tour bus. It was a very scenic location because it was really out-of-town, I took around an hour by metro to get to where I was. Holding a cup of yogurt that I had pretty frequently there: be it banana or strawberry. It always ALWAYS ALWAYS makes me shit after consuming it LOL.

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The second night when I went to Myeongdong. It was raining damn heavily but I refused to buy an umbrella because it was too bulky (and I was already carrying so much nonsense!). I bought nuggets which were greatly over-priced but I didn’t care because… you simply don’t bother to save like $2 when you have blew nearly a thousand on air tickets to get to this place LOL.

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Taking the KTX railway to Busan, and arriving at Busan Station of course.. Thank god for my research and my 18 years of age, I managed to get the 3-day youth pass which was significantly cheaper than getting round-trip tickets. The backdrop of Busan looks really stunning, and I guess what made Busan different from Seoul was the more “laidback” vibe of everything. People on the roads were walking slower, people on the streets were generally older, and buildings looked more run-down than Seoul. It felt more like I was in an overseas country in Busan as compared to Seoul. Seoul was a busy city and roads, things, and people were always moving. That’s the city life, which I would honestly opt for. I think I like life and people. I like feeling alive.

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Jagalchi Fish Market, filled with Ajummas who were screaming out for people, grabbing onto people’s arms. The funny thing was that 5 stores down the road would sell exactly the same thing, with the exact same arrangement of their fish. This was the epic shoutout of Monopolistic Competition LOL, but I guess I enjoyed being harassed by the ajummas, subsequently replying to them in English. They would then realise that screaming at me was pretty pointless, because I didn’t understand what they were saying at all.

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The Busan railways that looked a little like Singapore’s before the installation of all the glass panels. I’m too used to the glass panels that I was actually afraid of falling onto the railway tracks. Can’t believe we used to have such tracks once upon a time.

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The sight of the streets from the Gwangalli Beach, which took a 5 minute walk from the railway station.

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The fruit stalls on my way back to my guesthouse (Terra Guesthouse) in Busan, which sold this entire huge freaking tray of strawberries for only 5000 won (SGD $6.20). I couldn’t even finish after eating it for supper and breakfast, I had half the tray left and I just threw it all away HAHAHA. It’s not just at surface value, there’s depth to the tray of fruits LOL. Plus you got to keep the tray which was quite legit HAHAHA. In Singapore you could only get like what? 10 strawberries with the same amount of money?

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The night view from my guesthouse. Just imagine me sitting down, looking through my photos on my camera, chewing on my strawberries and occasionally looking up to enjoy the night breeze. I thought life couldn’t get better. Honestly, I think it really can’t.

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Chewing on spicy ricecakes on my way to another beach. I was enthusiastically looking forward to the parosol display, but there weren’t any. I guess the event only takes place in summer 😦 I didn’t do my research well enough!

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The streets and steep hill on my way to the Yonggungsa Temple 🙂 as well as a kiwi fruit juice I bought, which allowed me to request for this really nice photo of myself. LOL.

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While waiting for the bus to somewhere I’m not sure about HAHA.

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My final destination at Busan: the bus interchange. Retarded, I didn’t intend to end up here HAHAHA. I got really lost by the way, on my way to some Dalmaji Hill dammit. It was supposed to be a 30-minute ride but I was on the bus for nearly an hour and I wasn’t getting anywhere. Apartments and blocks were starting to fade, I was starting to pass by trees and ONLY TREES and I felt like I was about to go up a mountain. That’s the view you usually get when you are on a tour bus, BUT NOT A PUBLIC BUS. Realising that I was (very) lost, I rang the bus bell to alight. Guess what, the bus turned into a bus interchange next and of course everyone alighted. I wonder if the locals thought I was an idiot for ringing the bell. Following that I desperately tried to read the Korean alphabets at the nearest bus stop to see which bus I could take to the nearest metro station- and thank god for my last-minute Korean alphabet on the plane: I managed to re-orientate myself back to another metro station. But those were 2 hours wasted HAHAHA. A very interesting 2 hours nonetheless, glad I didn’t fret or anything. Everything still went according to the itinerary I planned, except that I didn’t visit the hill in the end HAHA. A plus point was that the bus interchange was situated in a very nice location, just look at the background in my selfie 🙂

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On my way back to Seoul from Busan 🙂

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The alleyways of Dongdaemun which only came alive at night. Shopping wasn’t my cup of tea so Dongdaemun wasn’t a location I would visit at night- so I merely walked through these streets 🙂

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Me in Myeongdong on a rainy day!!! When it starts raining, street stalls start setting up selling umbrellas from 3000 to 5000 won ($3.60 to $6.20), and you would easily find an identical umbrella anywhere. I threw away mine at the end because it was getting really irritating to hold it HAHA. Second picture is me having bought Jajangmyun along one of the street stalls, because someone told me that “If you haven’t tried Jajangmyun, you haven’t been to Korea”. LOL.

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That’s me walking down the Gangnam street which was filled with plastic surgery clinics HAHA. It wasn’t as crowded as you would have imagined, and not as fancy as I had envisioned “Gangnam” to be, especially with the Gangnam Style wave.

4. Star chasing

Edina says “If you go Korea don’t chase stars, then you might as well don’t go Korea”. Okay, so in my capacity as an ex-KPop fan I arranged for myself to go to MNet M Countdown. I arrived at the venue at 4am hoping to join the queue for the live show at 6pm or something, but VERY VERY VERY VERY unfortunately, the live show for M Countdown that day was cancelled in respect for the Sewol ferry disaster that took place exactly one year ago. I guess that was my only hope of getting into a live music show- because I wasn’t the biggest fan of any other group over there. M&D, EXO, I wasn’t even sure if Miss A was attending the show because I had problems reading the information on their fan cafe. So I guess I just cabbed back to my guesthouse disappointingly, knowing that I lost my only shot at attending a music show (with Key as the emcee!!!) 😦

But I tried my luck again! Chenxi told me that Jonghyun was the DJ for this nightly radio show called Blue Night, and fans were so sick of seeing him every night cause his nightly schedule was obviously, predictable. So I went to the MBC Garden Studio situated in the MBC Building…

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Tada! The coolest thing about this place is that speakers are situated outside, so you can see the show through the glass window and simultaneously listen to the radio show from the speaker. His programme starts at 12am while I arrived at like 9.50pm or something… and there were many many fans around! So I thought I was at the right place… and I managed to catch Sunny on her radio show hehehe. She was the first celebrity I saw- after that I just sat there all the way until 12am (walked away to buy hot chocolate from Starbucks actually, it was freaking 7 degrees). I wore both my coats because that was how cold I was HAHAHA. BUT GUESS WHAT. There was this radio show from 11pm to 12am again, and I just watched the celebrity inside with all the squealing girls… AND IT WAS 11.55PM. I WAS GETTING SO EXCITED.

…then I realised Jonghyun doesn’t go to the Garden Studio everyday #fml, there’s another MBC studio he goes to. Imagine my horror and shock when they started packing up, pushing in the chairs, turning off the lights and disassembling all the radio cables. I was like HOLY SHIT WHAT JUST HAPPENED??? So I went to pee in the MBC Building (bent on making my mark in this place!!!) and left disappointed, too… 😦 Luckily I’m not that big of a SHINee fan anymore.

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My final shot at star chasing one day later: I went to KBS to watch stars enter/leave music bank hehe. Unfortunately I woke up a tad too late so I didn’t manage to catch them entering, headed to do other things in the afternoon before arriving that night to catch them leaving HAHAHA. According to Edina I caught Red Velvet, Crayon Pop, Miss A and K Will. I couldn’t recognise anyone else. I didn’t even recognise the first 2 girl groups: I asked Edina who they were from what they were wearing HAHAHA. I’m the ultimate KPop loser.

5. Others

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The bed of my guesthouse!!! Hahaha. I think the cheapest thrill of this trip was the affordability of my accomodation, I paid only like SGD $25 per night… and accomodation totalled to only $150. The round-trip air tickets from Korean Air were $980.30, but I guess I had no choice. I refused to opt for transit which was $400 cheaper because I didn’t want to waste time, I already had little time to explore Korea and I wasn’t going to waste anymore time at the airport 🙂 Time is of the essence, especially when you’re in the SAF!

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Snuck into Hongik University along with the 100 university students who were crossing the roads, climbed up the slopes and hills to get to the vending machine. Got a cup of drink because it was too damn cold, and decided that I wasn’t interested in touring the university in the cold anymore HAHAHA.

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I had to use the amenities at my guesthouse in Busan. It was quite pricey HAHAHA Interestingly, my top was from Shenzhen; my pants were from Cambodia; my slippers were from Bangkok, hahaha….

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A selfie with Cambridge on my way to the Gangnam streets, I sent this to many people through WhatsApp, saying that “this was the closest I will ever get to Cambridge” HAHAHA.

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On my last night, I visited a public bathhouse (Dragon Hill Spa). That meant you completely stripped naked- and my gosh what a feast HAHAHA. It was unnerving at first, especially at the changing area when you were completely naked and seeing completely clothed people walking in because they just arrived. But after a while, you get used to it and everyone walking around, and I must say it was a really entertaining sight for me HAHA. I opted for a massage too, which was damn damn overpriced but aiya… I guess I don’t get much chances to go to public bathhouses all the time LOL. Especially in Singapore.

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Taking the airport railway home 😦

Korea was a wonderful destination to conduct my solo travelling for the first and definitely not the last time in my life, I’m glad everything went smoothly. Apart from getting lost, exiting and tapping out wrongly from metro stations at least 5 times, nearly not boarding my flight there because I didn’t book air tickets with my own credit card, not printing my youth pass document (and hence had to head to a printing centre), not managing to catch stars, nothing really bad has happened to me. Many things could go wrong: losing my passport, losing my wallet, losing my handphone, but none of these big things have happened to me. I had enough money for the entire trip, I had nice friends, I had nice guesthouse hosts, and I managed to settle all my accomodation even though I didn’t make advance payments for both places I stayed in. I’ve been a lucky traveler especially since it’s my first time, and I should be really thankful for that. I think I’ll always miss this trip, because first times are always the most memorable ones. I’ve done so many YOLO shit like eating live sotong (someone died before!), visiting a public bathhouse alone, walking around Hongdae (a night life district) alone at 3am just to hail a cab to the broadcasting companies… It will be a long time before I go to Korea again, given that I’ve already visited Korea twice in the span of 10 years.

I have no regrets, and I think my wanderlust just got stronger. I really really want to travel again. Maybe it’s the effect of having spent 9 weeks on an island called Pulau Tekong, or maybe because I have been stuck within the confines of SAFTI MI for the past 2 weeks (and the next 9 months). I want to get out and see new things, and aimlessly sitting in a cafe people-watching for 2 hours. I want to travel again 😦