Seoul in the eyes of a non K-pop fan

This is the first time I’m travelling during festive season (Christmas and New Year) so this is also the first time I paid expensive ticket to go somewhere. I usually go to random destinations depends on the ticket price, so I would start a blog post bragging about how cheap my flight ticket is. Not this time. :(

We got a free one-way ticket to Bangkok to start holiday with and I didn’t want to be stuck in Bangkok for so long, so we decided to fly to Seoul, South Korea. We knew nothing about South Korea or Seoul in particular. There are only 2 things people tell me from their Seoul Trip:

One is everything related to K-Pop or K-drama. Two is how cheap their cosmetics are.

Both turned out to be the highlights of Seoul. I’m not a fan of K-Pop, I know nothing about K-pop and K-drama, so point number one is invalid for me; but point number two… oh boy, are they right about it.

Looking at Seoul from a non Kpop fan perspective, I must say that Seoul is interesting, Seoul is hip, Seoul is loud, but it is lack of personality. City is not an ideal destination for me, so I have certain expectation when I visit cities. I don’t say I’m disappointed with Seoul, no. Seoul has so many things to offer. I visited Seoul in winter, the most harsh weather of all, and I still enjoyed it. But if you want to talk about soul of the city, Seoul doesn’t have it. It’s not like London or Tokyo who will give you goosebumps when you explore them. Oh I really love London, London left such an impression for me. You don’t have to like a city to know its personality. Hong Kong for example, has a personality. Not the personality that I love though. I don’t fancy Hong Kong, I visited once and had returned yet. I will probably will return because my best friend lives there, not because I like it. But anyway, there is a possibility I found Seoul a bit boring because I visited during winter, it was super cold. Maybe I’ll visit again someday when the weather is warmer.

Cranky me, kept asking to go inside because it was super cold.

Cranky me, kept asking to go inside because it was super cold.

I don’t know if this makes sense. So to cut it short, Seoul has lack of personality. Contrasting to its name, Seoul is soulless. I just felt some of the part of it is artificial. It doesn’t make this statement true. It’s just my opinion.

I took a stroll at MyeongDong and totally understood why beauty products competition in Korea is very steep. There are millions of different products, you will get lost following the trends.

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Then I went to Hongdae, which is my favourite spot in Seoul, it’s full of hype and so alive. Youngsters perform in the street, clubs are loud during Friday night, Food is cheaper than the other hip neighbourhoods, beer is cheap and stores are full of promotion and discounts. Hongdae is the little sister of Orchard Road who is in meth.

But it is in Bukchon Hanook Village, I found a gem in this busy and loud city. This small village full of traditional hanook houses is just so beautiful and picturesque. It’s an Oasis in this newly developed country’s capital city. While walking around, I imagined how people lived there a thousand years ago, during spring when the flowers bloomed, must be a luxury.

Picturesque view. You have no idea the struggle I had to take this angle.

Picturesque view. You have no idea the struggle I had to take this angle.

A sticky tripod and an effort to get a good angle. Voila!

A sticky tripod and an effort to get a good angle. Voila!

We planned to visit Nami Island cause the place popped up repeatedly in everyone’s blog, so it seemed like a must-visit place. However after further reading about the small island which rocketed to fame out of a K-Drama and the fact that I couldn’t survive more than 15 minutes in the outdoor winter wind, we decided not to go.

The thing that I adore the most from Seoul as a visitor is their superb transportation system. One card for everything, just like in Singapore. Their MRT is clean, fast, reliable, just awesome. We took the bus 1 time and had the same good experience. While the best thing about Seoul is… THE FOOD, the spicy food to be precise. Just like so many Indonesians, Bandi and I love spicy food and Koreans mean it when they say it’s spicy. Their spicy is not a gimmick, it really is! If you know the famous Samyang spicy ramen noodle, there are a lot of Samyang’s spiciness equivalent in Seoul.

Dry trees during winter can be a nice prop too. The gloominess creates such drama.

Dry trees during winter can be a nice prop too. The gloominess creates such dramatic effect.

The only good thing about visiting Seoul during winter is the fact that you can go skiing, which we did. It was our first time skiing so we bought a package from Expedia for a day trip to Elysian Ski Resort which includes English speaking beginner’s ski lesson. The journey from Seoul to Elysian Resort took about one and a half hour, providing no traffic jam. Sadly we were stuck in the traffic when we returned to Seoul. It’s a big city after all, traffic jam is part of it.

This is so heavy, ugh! I was sweating inside.

This is so heavy, ugh! I was sweating inside.

Selfie in goggles!

Selfie in goggles!

Overall, I enjoyed Seoul. I probably would love enjoy it more if I visited during spring because it was so cold when I visited (-5 degrees for the love of god, I thought I would die) and most of the trees were dead. I don’t usually go shopping when I travel, but there is no way you visit Seoul without buying their skincare products. And surprisingly it was fun to shop skincare. I am vain too afterall. Judge me.

Check my vlog about Seoul here:

Bandi and traveled to East Java during the Chinese new year break, together with Bandi’s family. It was one hell of journey. I hope I’ll have time to write it and edit the blog because Q1 is the busiest time of my work. For now until April, I will take a travel-off period because I really need to work. Help me god, I will have some time off here and there so I can do some simple blogging.

Talk to you guys next time!

Cheers,

May, literally typing this while sitting on the toilet bowl.

Encounter with Bromo

So it was just a regular day at work when my boss told me 11 September was gazetted as polling day, so it would be public holiday.

My first reaction was “hmm… Where should I go?”
I had a talk with my best buddy, Angel about some possible destinations and we decided to make our long-waited Bromo Plan to be reality. Yep, we talked about going to Bromo hundred of times. This time we really did it.
It was even better when Tannia had a flight to Surabaya for her roster (she’s the flight attendant) so we could meet up and sleep at her hotel (Shang FTW) but the dream was crushed when she realized, “guys, I saw the date wrong. I’ll reach Surabaya on the 13th, not 12th.” Arrggh! You have one job, Tannia! One Job!

11th September 2015

Angel and I flew from Singapore and reached Surabaya in the morning. We went around to Pasar Atom and met Angel’s relative. We did some shopping too and of course we aaaatttteeeee every hour. LOL. Renny and Fenty reached Surabaya in the evening. We picked them up from the airport and went straight to Bromo. We rented a car and hired a driver. We were so tired, we all slept in the car on the way to Bromo.
We also passed Sidoarjo and saw the high dam built by Ba**rie to keep the mud in the area. But the truth is… What we heard from our driver was the mud kept rising and rising and it’s just about time until it becomes national disaster. It’s so sad :( the mud drowned almost half of the Sidoarjo city. Can you imagine your home is just gone?! Puff! Just like that? :( sad.
We arrived in Bromo around 11:30 at night. It was freeeeeziiinng cold! We slept and woke up on 3 am for our Bromo adventure!

12th September 2015

Our jeep had arrived and we were going to see the sunrise from Penanjakan. I didn’t take a shower of course. Who would do that? It was super mega freaking cold! I told my friends that I will take a shower in Surabaya when the temperature came back to normal. Lol. The jeep ride was about 30 minutes. We passed the dessert full of sand and we almost couldn’t see anything it was scary.
When the jeep stopped near the hill (Penanjakan), the driver told us to go up. It was soooo scary since we couldn’t see anything. Nobody brought torch so we only relied on the people above us. The hike was short and difficult because of the sand, but we made it.
The weather was super cold, about 14 degrees, windy which made me even more shivering. The air was thin, it made us a little more difficult to breath. It was dark and quiet at first.
And then I looked up.
And I was stunned.
Universe.
Yes, a paint of universe.
A sky full of stars.
Such a beautiful dark canvas full of sparkly dots.
And then I googled the constellations and started to hunt for some constellations. The whole novelty experience was pretty romantic and dreamy. Sitting down in the edge of the hills, cold and dark with this great set of stars above your head. Unforgettable. I even dreamt about it the next night. :)
The sun is coming up! ((Sorry for the bad quality photo as we didn't bring any pro camera))

The sun is coming up! ((Sorry for the bad quality photo as we didn’t bring any pro camera))

So cold! Yet so pretty!

So cold! Yet so pretty!

Amazing moment

Amazing moment

These girls. <3

These girls. <3

We went down again and we were sooo cold and hungry. Baso Malang to the rescue!

We went down again and we were sooo cold and hungry. Baso Malang to the rescue!

We visited the Bromo crater after that and we rode horses!!! It was so fun!!! I never rode horse before and it turned out to be fun! I bonded with my horse, Jingo instantly. We made an instant love connection. He was shy and sweet and has very soft mane! I fell in love!

Me and Jingo.

Me and Jingo, ahhh don’t you see the sparks? LOL

We hiked up to see the crater.

We hiked up to see the crater.

All of us with our horses. Cutttee!

All of us with our horses. Cutttee!

We went back to Surabaya after that and hung out for a while, nothing was special because in my opinion, Surabaya is just like any other big city in Indonesia. Great food, traffic jam, overcrowded malls and hipster cafe.

13th September 2015

My flight was very early in the morning. Thankfully all of us could wake up on time and we rushed to the airport to meet Tannia! You remember I said she saw the wrong date? She arrived on the day we supposed to leave. But we didn’t wanna miss a chance to finally get back together in a complete set, so here we are!
Back together again!

Back together again!

A short trip to Bromo. A sweet and beautiful one. Added to my list of amazing things in my life. Looking forward to more amazing things to come!
Photo 12-9-15 6 37 23 am
P.S. I have a great news. Super great news. But it’s too early to tell. I will tell later when it’s time! Kyaa~~!
Cheers,
May, always happy.

The life we will remember

I went to Japan, three weeks ago.
It changed my life. :)

Yeah yeah yeah I always said that everytime I came back from a trip. Every trips change my life. True. I’m a drama queen. A drop of water could change my life. Lol.

But this trip is different! Bandi has always been my travel buddy since….. Forever. And this time I didn’t travel with him. I travel with my three best friends.

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You might know them from this post and this post and so many of other posts.
They’re my partners in crime, my soul sisters, my annoying friends.

For the sake of travel blog information, I would talk about the trip itself and the highlight.

1. Fuji-san
I went to Fuji on summer and it was climbing season! We met soon many people dressed in climbing gears about to conquer Fuji-san. It was exciting just to see them excited.

Angel and Renny were at Fuji-Q-Highland about to conquer their own version of Fuji, called Fujiyama – the king of roller coaster.

I’m not a daredevil so I chose to cycle around Lake Kawaguchiko. (Newsflash: I don’t enjoy going onto Roller Coasters or any daredevil things. Whatever has happened in the past were either stupidity or curiosity. XD)

Isn't it pretty?

Isn’t it pretty?

I cycled for about 2.5 hours until I hurt my bum, then I stopped in a park to watch people. Couples snuggling, kids playing baseball with their parents, dogs running around, tourist exhausted and needs a break (that’s me!)

Pretty Katsuyama

Pretty Katsuyama

And then I dozed off for about 15 minutes. Power nap! And continued with selfie sessions!

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Fun time, beautiful place. :)

Well, what about Renny and Angel? After queuing for 2 hours, they went through this:

Epic face, Renny!!!

Epic face, Renny!!!

2. Tokyo
Omg!!! I fell in love with Tokyoooooo!!! Did I tell you that London had an amazing personality as city? Well… Tokyo is her bff. In my imagination, London and Tokyo are two bff with amazing personality, Paris is also their friend, the bitchy one. Lol

Asakusa

Asakusa

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Asakusa

Epic Tsukemen!

Epic Tsukemen!

We went to Tsukiji Fish Market and met this cute uncle!

We went to Tsukiji Fish Market and met this cute uncle!

Fujiko F Fujio Musem at Kawasaki CIty

Fujiko F Fujio Musem at Kawasaki CIty

3. Shirakawa-Go
I LEFT MY HEART THERE.
Just beautiful. Just beautiful! When I travel, my favorite part is to go somewhere far away from city buzz, and Shirakawa-Go is just beautiful… beautiful… I lost words….

Photos incoming!

Get ready!

Get ready!

I loveee this photo! Himawari and Green tea ice cream! My list of favorite things!

I loveee this photo! Himawari and Green tea ice cream! My list of favorite things!

<3

<3

On an island in the sun.

On an island in the sun.

We hiked all the way up to see this!!!

We hiked all the way up to see this!!!

Another angle

Another angle

I made a simple video for our Shirakawa-Go Trip!

P.S. for my three girls: Never forget our epic moment in the cafe with the guitar and a girl asked for our photo! 10 years from now we will laugh our asses off again remembering this!

4. Kyoto
Well, as I already hooked up with Tokyo, no other city could amaze me more. But Kyoto has this feeling, especially when you’re in Gion and we saw a real Geisha!!!!
It felt like we were “kena pelet” by the Geisha inside the car!

It was raining when we went to Arashiyama, but it didn't stop us! :D

It was raining when we went to Arashiyama, but it didn’t stop us! :D

And then we spent 2 hours to do purikura (photo box) with costumes! Sailor moon and High School Project.

And then we spent 2 hours to do purikura (photo box) with costumes! Sailor moon and High School Project.

The next day we went to Fushimi Inari wearing Yukata!

The next day we went to Fushimi Inari wearing Yukata!

<3

<3

Tadaimaaaaa!!

Tadaimaaaaa!!

Our last lunch together in Osaka before one by one heading home. :(

Our last lunch together in Osaka before one by one heading home. :(

I guess those 4 is the highlight.

I didn’t mention technical part of the trip because things might always change. My suggestion is to google! :)

And here’s another cute video to close the trip!

Fun facts about Japan:

  1. They broadcast different sounds in train station, for example in Tokyo we heard birds singing in the station, for Takayama we heard some kind of fun fair themed sound in the train.
  2. JR Pass is very useful
  3. Kids playing OUT in the park on weekends. A kind of thing I rarely see. :”)
  4. There is actually people who will steal your underwear. My host told me not to dry your underwear outside.
  5. We know Japanese toilet is awesome, but there is one button that amazed me. “Privacy” button that will create sounds to cover your poop sounds. Lololol
  6. Japanese people take a bow to each cars in the train and when the bus is leaving the bus stop.
  7. There is no place like Japan…. Look how grateful they are, how they always strive for perfection. I think we all should learn to be more like Japanese people. :)

Soo…. When people asked me “how was Japan?” it’s really hard to answer…

We saw two Maikos! Seeing Maiko is considered good luck, we met two! We hiked in Shirakawa-go for the best beef we’ve ever tasted. We sang and danced like no one was watching. We were mistakenly thought as celebrities, this was super epic! We were asked to take photos many times when we were on our yukata which was fun to have such attention! #attentionhooker We jumped into Onsen, we met so many nice people, we missed trains, we got lost, we were soaked wet in the rain, but in the end… what we only remember is… WE HAD FUN. :)
And for closing, please enjoy our video clip of Avicii Song: The Nights.
I’m so proud of my video editing skill! :D go watch! (This video might be unavailable on mobile phone due to copyright issue, so if you have time watch it on laptop – with sounds!)
Cheers,
Meitori <3

Impromptu

I woke up feeling awesome today after yesterday’s blue so I make a post about awesome thing today.

One thing I love the most about life is impromptu moments, of course I don’t like the bad ones, but I’m still willing to take the risk for such “Surprise me!” moment to a meal in the restaurant, a choice of cake flavor, or a simple “how do you want your eggs?”

The most awesome moment of life closest to surprises is an impromptu trip. I have done it three times in my life (and still counting).

First was in March 2009, I was renting a house with my two bestfriends, Strawberry and Avocado (I name them anonymously based on their favorite fruits. Why must anon? Dunno, just seem cool) in Bandung. We were finished college just months ago and Avocado was still looking for a job. She texted me and strawberry in the middle of our work saying that she got a job interview from an NGO’s that she was so excited about. The problem was that the job was in Jogjakarta.

So later that night, Avocado and me went to the train station and took the midnight train from Bandung to Jogjakarta while Strawberry (was in Jakarta) took another train from Jakarta. We met in Jogja the next morning and stayed in a freakin cheap hotel that didn’t even have proper door. We ate Lontong Sayur for breakfast that costed only about 50cents and it was freaking delicious! The three of us ended up having a blast and Avocado ended up getting the job. =)

Here’s a photo of them posing with random Bule.

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The second impromptu trip was in November 2011, it was Saturday morning and I was so stressed at work when my Strawberry told me that she’s going to take off to Bali to meet up with our other friends and have a holiday. She actually already told me about this Bali trip months before and kept asking whether I could join but I said I can’t because I had work and I didn’t have any leave left.

I’m texting with my Strawberry on regular basis so she usually will tell me almost everything (I know this sounds like lesbian relationship, especially when I said my strawberry). She texted me, “Ok, I’m off to Bali now. Talk to you later.”

And I replied, “wait. I wanna come.”

She knows me so well to know that I’m serious. “Buy a ticket now and I’ll wait at the airport.”

Then I did the craziest thing ever, I opened Jet Star website, book  the flight on 3pm that day and costed me about $300. Well, not so bad for a last minute flight. I went back home from office in noon in a rush, met Bandi to kiss him goodbye for the weekend and off to Changi Airport, 2 hours later, I was already in Bali. Four friends were there waiting for me at the airport and it turned out, it was one of the best holiday I had ever had!!!

Five of us stayed at my Cininta’s house, the one on the far right in the picture. She’s a Balinese, she’s one hell of lucky bitch, Bali is her hometown!

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We were five single girls having carefree time on one of the most beautiful island in the world. We spent afternoons on the beach and nights on bars and mornings on beds. And that, my friend, is the kind of holiday a girl must have at least once in their life.

I’m so glad I followed my guts.

The third one was last Saturday, January 2013So it started on Friday night when I hung out with friends and they asked me to come along to Batam the next day. I told them I couldn’t because I had NDP audition in the afternoon and it was a very serious thing that I couldn’t miss or skip. However on Saturday morning, Bandi asked me, “why are you so grumpy today?”

I said, “I don’t know. Maybe because the Hougang Gang is going to Batam today and I can’t come along.” I have been living in Singapore for more than two years and not even once I ever went to Batam. So the idea popped up, “Hey, let’s just go there after your work finished.” (Because Bandi worked overtime on that Saturday) And Bandi said yes. So I called the ferry booking hotline and booked the same hotel with my friends who already went off to Batam.

I went for NDP audition that started on 2pm and only took about one hour, while my other friend who also went for audition was still stuck there for the next two hours. I was so lucky, I went straight to Harborfront and reached there on time like I promised to the ferry hotline, to take the 4 pm ferry.

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Again, my impromptu trip was a blast! I ate Seafood, nasi warteg, martabak manis, martabak telor, nasi padang, bubur ayam, lontong sayur and everything that’s still possible to go into my already-big-tummy. We were karaoke-ing for freaking four hours until we lost our voices and at last I went to saloon for a hair spa, after about one year! (I never go to saloon in Singapore because they are freaking expensive!)

The bottom is, I had a great time during my 24 hours stay in Batam. Good food, great friends and 4 hours non-stop singing? What could’ve gone wrong!

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Why impromptu moments are always a blast?

Impromptu, (not only a trip, it could be spontaneous moment like a dance, a movie night, hang out with friends or cooking session) is always a blast. It is because we don’t have any expectation. When we plan something, we must have an expectation, and if the moment turns out to be below our expectation, we’d be disappointed. That is why unplanned things are always the best. =)

im·promp·tu [im-promp-too, -tyoo]: made or done without previous preparation

The impromptu trip: How and When?

  1. Eliminate the excuses. It is surely appears at first, such as: But I don’t have any leave left, but I must do laundry tonight, but there’s a season finale of Glee tonight, or whatever. There are always ways to figure it out. You can always reschedule unimportant things, ask a friend a favor to cover something, take unpaid leave or anything! This might sound irresponsible, that is why I don’t do this every month (gee!) so once in a while, just live your life like today is your last day.
  2. Money matter. I used to think going on a trip must be expensive or at least will cost my allowance or my lunch for one week. Yes, it needs money, but again, you can always compromise. If you don’t have that much of money in your saving account, then don’t go so far or take the cheapest train, stay in a very cheap hotel. If you don’t want to lose any money at all, then don’t go on a trip at all, or find a sugar daddy. There’s always a way. I myself always spare some amount of money on my payday to be transferred to my travel account. (Yes, I have one bank account specially made for my travel purposes. Haha)
  3. It is always the right time. There is no bad time for an impromptu trip, trust me! It is always the right time. Don’t think too much! Regardless the people, the place and the season, If it feels right, then it probably is.
  4. Don’t look back. When you already book the ticket, don’t think twice for pack and go to the train station/airport/ferry terminal. JUST GO, don’t sit and think “what the hell did I just do?” JUST GO. Once you’re inside the train/airplane/ferry, there’s no way of going back. Yes, there is always the scary feeling once you hit the book button, it’s normal. Just don’t look back and go ahead with plan A.
  5. Tell at least one person. This is very important! Either you’re going with friends or alone, ALWAYS tell somebody about it. Just in case something happened, somebody would know where you were going. I know impromptu trip is a little reckless, but it doesn’t mean you must be stupid.
  6. No what ifs. When the trip is finally happening, don’t think about what is the thing you supposed to do on that time, like what happens with Rachel on Glee, or Is your dirty laundry being eaten by rats or any stupid worries. Just enjoy your time and get ready to have one memorable time when you can tell your grandkids all about.

Bandi said I’m the kind of person who lives life more of the moments I have than the things I’ve achieved, while he’s the other way around. I guess he’s right. Without Bandi, maybe I will be just living my life from one moment to another without motivations for achievement, and without me Bandi will just work work work without having real adventures. I guess universe had introduced the two of us for a reason.

There’s a silver lining that I’m holding Indonesian passport, because if only I held one of those black passport, I would probably spend my salary for the impromptu trip every month and live the rest of the month eating only Indomie. =P

So, any impromptu trip you wanna share with me? ;)

Cheering with kuah lontong sayur,

May.