Thursday, March 31, 2011

A round of applause?

Hi readers,

Today is my last day writing under World Students in Korea (WSK), a program by the Korean Government. Throughout my half year writing for that particular program, it was really a one heck of an experience. I started blogging on July 2008, a long time back but I never expected to be blogging for Korean Government.

Autumn in Daegu

I started the journey in autumn

Continued through winter...

Tried and tasted...

Taking photos and telling my story

Blogging isn't easy when we were all given tasks to do - just blog and blog... So how did I do it? I travel, I write, I think, I photograph and I tell my journey

Travelling in Korea requires lots of guts. To experience the real Korea, It's always better to travel off the beaten track but sadly only the adventerous ones are the ones doing it. Try to be different.

So a few weeks ago, I wrote a travel blog in Seoul. However, my interests are always in Daegu (my city) and places rarely visited by foreign tourists, like Andong and Pohang.

I hope you readers too will enjoy/like/love my travel blog more than my personal rants. lol. But if you like everything, then you're just so cool :)

Nevertheless, anyone can be a blogger. I am always keen to read your blog too. Many thanks for reading.



Last week, Korean government scholars (of my batch) had a small meet-up after not meeting up for almost a year. We decided to have our lunch together and we chose a small but famous restaurant serving 볶음 밥 (something like fried rice).



In Korea when ordering dishes, usually they will serve them all for the rest of the people on the table together. So, if you prefer to eat separately, you'll have to tell the waiter/waitress.

We chose fried squid rice (because this is the only one, okay for my Muslim friends). The restaurant provided the usual complimentary coke. But a 500 ml bottle for 3? After lunch, we went to a cafe.

Cafe or coffee shop meet-ups are very common in Korea. After the huh hah there, we went back feeling glad as we were able to meet even when our classes were already started.


I will have an exam next week. Exams after exams.. Need to get lucky this time again. Hehe.

This will be my 173th post and counting...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Another Day in Korea

하루 하루

왜 자꾸 흔들리는지
왜 고개만 자꾸 숙여지는지
몸서리치는 내 하루하루는
끝이 어딘지 몰라

왜 서성이게 되는지
왜 어떤말이 쌓여 하고픈지
사랑도 인연도 운명마저도
이별이란말로 의미없는걸

너 스쳐온 바람 행여 날 스쳐갈까?
늘 조아린맘 밀어내지만
첫눈애 무너지는 모자란 내가슴이
꼭 바보같아서 눈물짓게 해.


나는 완전히 먼 곳에 있어..
가슴속도 멀어졌어
아팠을 때 고향의 냄새 생각한다
이제도 그런 것 같아

다음주에는 난 첫시험 칠거야
합격한지 안 한 지 모르겠어
그래도 나의 미래가 볼수없어서..
난 계속 지난 학기처럼

한걸음 한걸음 한다.. 힘내요

Monday, March 28, 2011

Korea? Strawberries? Night?

When I am bored, I will eat. In Korea, without self control, it is easy to overeat especially when we have nothing to do. Most Malaysians (especially the girls) that came to Korea tend to eat more. Ya ya, I am saying this because when the Malaysian exchange students arrived to my university, I saw them over-ate (just my observation lah) but it's okay considering they need to eat more. :)

Korean traditional foods are very healthy. However, these days, most western foods are readily adapted into Korean food lifestyle. At night, plenty of students in my university will be ordering pans and pans of pizzas. It is simple actually, just dial the number. Outside my dorm too, there's a few pizza shops that open 24/7.

I wholeheartedly love pizzas. Fortunately I don't take heavy meals at night.. Korean pizzas are cheap but why should I eat a whole pan by myself and gain at least 3000 calories in one shot? No No..

So, I resorted to eating strawberries as my late night snack. Well, Korean strawberries are really sweet! Not to mention, they are cheap too if compared to Malaysia. There are many "grades", the cheapest is 2000 Won per basket and is up to 5000 Won per basket or tray you may say. The cheapest one does not mean the strawberries were the rejected ones, it means the shape of strawberries are just unsymmetrical.

However, I always choose the 3000 Won (RM 8.15) strawberries to be save :)

How can you find a 3000 Won strawberries in Malaysia? And in a basket too. Really a cheap but underappreciated snack/fruit in Korea.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Palgongsan and Daegu

Korea is a mountainous country, with a majority of the flat landscapes available were used for agriculture and what's left were for the people. This is why in Korea, especially in certain cities (with exception for Seoul and Busan), we can see lots of tall buildings instead of houses with garden. Another reason is that landed properties are simply too expensive.

Seoul is a different story because the land is flat. In my opinion, the reasons why it is so expensive to buy landed properties are because staying in single storey house in Seoul is not a commercially smart idea, by building a few stories more, the landlord can earn even more money through rental or even sale of the houses.

Seoul Mayor, Oh Se-hoon

Besides that, Seoul being a megacity is a center for commerce, the importance of the capital city makes housing expensive. Daegu is different, Daegu is surrounded by mountains and flat lands are scarce so the city needs more space for housing. This is why in Daegu, there's lots of tall crowded buildings.

At Apsan (앞산)

At Palgongsan (팔공산)

Palgongsan in Daegu is a mountain well-known to hikers in Korea. Besides Apsan (I wrote in this blog before), Palgongsan has several temples around the area. However, going up the mountain in Palgongsan is not easy compare to Apsan. In Apsan, we can ride on cable car and there's an ice-cream seller up the mountain waiting to sell her "wares".

We started hiking from Gatbawi (갓바위)

In Palgongsan, it's totally different. We have to hike and hike until our legs turn jelly. Last month, together with friends, we hiked Palgongsan. We started our hike (from Gatbawi or 갓바위) early but since the we hikers were more of strolling than hiking, we reached the peak quite late in the noon.

The view from the top was cool but as it was still winter, the mountain looked so barren. To get there, we took Daegu City Tour Bus from 동대구역 (Dongdaegu Station). The thing about taking city tour bus was that by paying for a single ticket, for every places we went, we did not pay a single cent. Of course, if we counted the money spent for the trip, it might be more but it was very convenient.

Palgongsan is a great place to exercise, photography and temple. If I am going there up again, I will ask "Aladdin" to build a cable car up the peak instead of me hiking up. lol. The hiking route is definately harder than in Apsan. Still, we made it to the top.

Ramyeon - the food for ...

There is always a time in my dormitory when the cafeteria will be closed. Though it is kinda rare in Korea because public holidays here can be counted with just our 2 hands. In Malaysia, we have King's birthday, Governor's birthday, Deepavali, Raya, CNY and this and that, sometimes more than a few weeks if counted in total.

When the cafeteria is closed, I will usually go to nice restaurants but sometimes due to the importance of certain festive holiday in Korea like the Lunar New Year (same as CNY in Malaysia), the whole stetch or restaurants (expensive and cheap ones) will be closed.

Of course, certain shops like Baskin Robbins and Dunkin Donuts were opened but I couldn't be eating donuts and ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner all the time, right? So in those miserable times, I will opt for ramyeon. Usually, in the cafeteria, I always avoid eating ramyeon..

열라면 ("Fever" Ramyeon)

신라면 (Shin Ramyeon)

짜장 볶이(Jjajang Bokki)

In those times, I tried a few variety of ramyeon. The first ramyeon I tried was the one called 열라면 ("열" means either "Fever", "Open" or "Ten" in Korean while "라면" is ramyeon). It was okay but if compare to the next ramyeon, it tasted better.

The next ramyeon was called 신라면 (Shin Ramyeon). Contrary to popular view that this is the best ramyeon in town, I find it as the worst among the 3 ramyeons I ate. Finally it was the Jjajang Bokki (짜장 볶이), it was a combination of black soy sauce and noodle. Taste was so-so.

I always accompany Ramyeon with canned Tuna, preferably from Malaysia (which is imported from Thailand). In the winter, spicy food never taste so gooddd...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Travelling around Korea

To travel means to see and experience new things. Though Korea is a great place for shopping, I think making new friends and doing memorable things (like charity) along the way are more self satisfying than just looking for nice things to buy.

It's good to be well-equipped for the trip and sometimes it's quite fun to travel out of the usual route travelled mostly by tourists. Just don't wander too far from the usual route and everything will be okay

When I travel, I always carry my trusty camera, it doesn't has to be a DSLR, even a normal point and shoot camera does wonder. Once we progressed to a stage where taking pictures had became a-must, DSLR cameras are quite useful. Lenses do not come cheap though. That's the problem faced by people with brand new DSLR cameras.

After I took the pictures, I had to "clean" the photos. Editing comes in. I used Photoshop but these days, I prefer using basic softwares like PhotoScape and Olympus Master 2. They can be downloaded free of charge on the internet and some of the them are included in the camera box when we buy a camera.

But I like my photos to look natural so I rarely photoshop them. I prefer cropping to remove unwanted distractions.

A basic T-Money Prepaid card (top) and Limited Edition Commemorative G20 Summit T-Money (below)

My Daegu Transportation card, only in Daegu

Travelling in Seoul means you need to have T-Money. T-Money is like a prepaid card whereby you can travel around Seoul with this card. You can pay for buses and also taxi fares with that card. Some convenience stores even allow payment through T-Money. In my city, I use Daegu Card. Functions are the same minus there's no convenience stores here that accept payment using this card :(

After T-money, get a right pair of shoes according to the season. Winter in Korea is bad and sometimes the roads or walkways resembled more of ice skating rings. So a pair of boots would be helpful. Then what should we do when we see nice things?

Write it down. A pen and small notebook are more than sufficient to record the trip before you forget. I utilized my camera when I need to explain something that couldn't be written down on paper. It will help on your next trip here again. Then, taste the local food, Korean food are really one of a kind in Asia.

Some tourists came to Korea expecting Korean food to be okay but the food might not be tasty for some people. Some Korean food are really spicy while some are really smelly (like the 된장 찌개 with its fermented bean paste ^^). So don't be disappointed if you did not get what you like. The Korean food in Korea are really different from the ones we find back home. I like Korean pancakes.

Other than that, bring plenty of money and some sense of adventure! Happy travelling!

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Seoul - Universities before Daegu

Universities in Korea are like flesh and blood to Koreans. Without education it is impossible to get a job, live in an apartment, work in Samsung and even get married. Throughout my stay in Seoul, I had been to a few universities like the Ehwa Womans University and on my final day, we went to some other well known universities.

Visiting universities in Korea is very easy, all can be done by subway and the subway stations are themselves directly below the universities. The first university I went to on my last day trip was 고려대학교 or Korea University.

고려대학교 or Korea University

Getting there is by taking a subway to 고려대 (Korea University Station) in Line 6. It is one of the most prestigious university in Korea but in my opinion, education is very subjective. Good university does not mean good students and vice versa. University is a ground for a person to learn something and mature into a better person.

View in the afternoon

View of the administration building in the evening..

At Korea University

After Korea University, we went to 한양대 (Hanyang University). Hanyang University is well known for its engineering field. Lots of Malaysian Government sponsored students or JPAs are studying there.

한양대학교 (Hanyang University)

Exit 2, get out from this exit

Hanyang University at night

Students of Hanyang University

To get there, we had to transfer from Line 6 to Line 2 at 신당 (Sindang Station) and we dropped off at 한양대 (Hanyang University Station). It is very easy to get around universities in Korea.

By the time we went around, it was already late at night. Our final university was 건국대학교 or Konkuk University. Hanyang University is quite small by my standard but nevertheless bigger than the Konkuk University.

건국대학교 (Konkuk University)

Konkuk University is another private university in Korea. Though the university is quite unknown to many, it has great dormitories (but is very expensive..) with large rooms. To get here, we took the same line (Line 2) to 건대입구 (Konkuk University Entrance). However do note that we had to walk some distance before reaching there unlike in Korea University and Hanyang University (that were just directly above the stations).

At the station, 건대입구 (Konkuk University Entrance)..

That alley!

Areas around Konkuk University are really among the most "happening" places in Seoul. There's a street food alley frequented by many students and the place is just directly next to the subway station. According to my ex-Konkuk University friend, the food alley is well known for tteokbokki (똑볶이). Tteokpokki is made from rice cake and is always to be accompanied by sliced fish cakes, carrots, onions and spicy sauce.

There were many different variants though.

Well, after the whole journey. Sad to say, I had to go back. From here, I travelled back to 신도림 (Sindorim) and took another bus to my hostel to pack up my things. Travelling around Seoul for more than a week was a fantastic experience.

With so many bags from the trip, I almost resembled Santa Claus on the train. I should not bring my skiing jacket because I did not wear it. From Seoul Station, I waited until it's almost 2 am for my train because all earlier tickets were sold out.

And I only managed to buy standing ticket... 4 hours ride back to Daegu standing! Can you believe it??? I sat on a sink next to the train's bathroom most of the time after beh tahan (cannot stand it anymore) standing for too long. It was a great experience. Where can you get this elsewhere?

The End.

Nighttime in Seoul Square

Seoul is a beautiful place to see especially at night. With the lively sounds of bands, the buzzle of market crowds and electro of clubs from Hongdae to Itaewon. However, sometimes it's better to see how technology was incorporated to make a building looks livelier.

Seoul Square

Seoul Square is actually a building located just outside 서울역 (Seoul Station). At night, there will be colorful display of lights on the building. A nice place to see beautiful patterns and animations.

My next post will be the last of my Seoul Trip. I hope it did help to arouse your interest in trip to Korea and hopefully, my blog guide will serve you well. ^^ Though sometimes my posts can be devastatingly boring, honestly I am writing them under time constraint.

Blogspot has too many limitations and sometimes uploading pictures or embedding videos cause the whole browser to shut down! Not easy mate...

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"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning" ~Winston Churchill~