Staycation Recap: Week One

September 20, 2014 @ 1:19 pm (Permalink)

It’s already been one week since my staycation has started, and I am having a blast! I was going to meet someone today, but that got cancelled, so I’m going to take the time to do a recap post!

Doll Free Market Display

Magic Knight Rayearth Dolls

Lantis and Eagle Vision Dolls

On Saturday, I met up with Chibi Toaster, and she wanted to go to the Doll Free Market in Setec Convention Centre near Daechi-dong, so I tagged along. She picked up her dolls, and I got to see some amazing sights. It was neat seeing dolls dressed up in contemporary and older clothings (like the dolls wearing hanboks), but the highlight of this trip was seeing the full cast of Magic Knight Rayearth as dolls. They were just beautiful. I took an extra photo of Lantis and Eagle Vision, my two favourite characters and OTP from the series :D

Gel Manicure

Harry Potter Doll

After the Doll Free Market, Chibi Toaster and I went on base to get some lunch at Pizza Hut, get our nails done (I got gel manicure!) at the salon, and then go to the Oktoberfest that was being hosted at the on base hotel. Then we went to Chansbros, my favourite coffee shop to relax, and I got to see her beautify her Harry Potter doll!

Thai Red Curry

On Sunday, I met up with one of my high school friends, Tina, and we had lunch at Trevia Pizza di Roma and cakes at by 92 (no photos, sorry!). After that brief meeting, I came home and read mangas and tried making Thai red curry, which I botched up on by adding onions. Oops!

Ansan Station

Nasi Goreng and Sate Kambing

Chinese Mooncakes

Monday came with me going to Chansbros for a bit before taking a 1 hour and 15 minutes subway ride to Ansan. I’d never been in the actual city of Ansan, so it was neat seeing another part of Korea. I met up with my friend Piotr, and we walked around in a loop looking for the multicultural street. When we found it, I felt like I’d went back to my childhood. Walking around that area was like walking around in Itaewon 20 years ago. Except there were like at least thirty noraebangs and 90% of the restaurants were Chinese restaurants (hence the mooncakes!), while the other 10% were Nepali, Indian, Indonesian, Thai, or Russian. Piotr and I both decided to try Indonesian, and we went to a restaurant called something “Bali”. But because the service wasn’t great, and the food was mediocre, I dubbed the place “Podunk Bali”. I did like the nasi goreng, but the service and everything else was just bleh. Afterward that meal, Piotr and I bought some mooncakes, and then I was back on the long subway ride home.

Cheonggyecheon outside Dongmyo Station

Cheonggye Plaza

Tuesday was a super busy day that had me do a lot of walking! I started off by going to the Cheonggyecheon stream outside Dongmyo Station. From there, I walked all the way to where the stream starts — at Cheonggye Plaza — which ended up being about 3.3 kilometres.

Seoul Metropolitan Library

Inside of the Seoul Metropolitan Library

Then I walked to Seoul Metropolitan Library, which was nearby. This building used to be the old City Hall building, but then they made it into the library. Aside from the library (of which they had several different sections), they also had an exhibition of the old mayor’s office, and had displays and information about the building here and there. I actually enjoyed this place, and it was free to go in, so that was a nice bonus!

Shinsegae Department Store

Payard Afternoon Tea Set

After the library, I walked to Shinsegae Department Store. That place made me feel uber poor. O_o; I felt so out of place, so I didn’t browse there very long. I found Payard, this cafe there, and even that place made me feel out of place. However, I did see that they do afternoon tea, and that’s something I’ve wanted to try for a while, so I may return just for that!

Afternoon treats from Bbang and at Chansbros

I ended up adventure by getting some treats (fruit stick and chocolate biscuit) at this bakery called “Bbang”, and then I went to Chansbros to unwind from that long walk.

Interior of Hell Cafe

Hell Cafe Iced Latte

Dear Leader Tongue Scraper at Hell Cafe

Wednesday was less intensive than Tuesday. I decided to go to Hell Cafe in Bogwang-dong, and I liked it! Their coffee is definitely better than some of the other places I’ve tried, and their classical music selection was great. I’d go back there again whenever I’m in the area. On the flipside, that tongue scraper made me go “WTF”. Of all things to find in a coffee shop, this is definitely the last thing I’d consider! Anyway, after Hell Cafe, I went to Jam & Bread to get some bread, and then I stopped by Chansbros. I came home and did a manga marathon with Cardcaptor Sakura.

Cafe Comma Near Sangsu Station

Snoozing Kitty in an Accessory Store

Thursday had me and a co-worker go look for this book cafe called Cafe Comma near Sangsu Station. It took a while because the map confused us and we kept making the wrong turn, but we eventually got there, and I love it! The books are all in Korean, but I love the vibe of the place. Being surrounded by all these books made me happy. We stopped by this accessory store when we left, and there was a snoozing kitty . . . ignore that basket sign LOL. I spent that evening watching The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Cafe Comma Near Hongdae Station

Ice Mint Chocolate, Notebooks, and Writing Utensils

On Friday, I decided to check out the other branch of Cafe Comma near Hongdae Station. This one was bigger, but I think I prefer the other place better. There, I stayed for a while with some ice mint chocolate and wrote some in my letterbook. Afterwards, I walked around Hongdae and Sangsu area, and then came back to my neighbourhood where I stopped by Chansbros, ate pho for dinner at Le Saigon, and got some fish and chips for my dad. At home, I watched An American Tail.

Annnnnnd that’s it for now. I still have one more week left, and I know I’ll be just as busy, if not more than last week, with all the errands I have to do. Places to go, people to meet . . . Whew!

2 Comments » | Filed Under Books, Food, Korea, Materialism, Social Life

The Chronicles of Narnia

September 1, 2014 @ 11:16 am (Permalink)

The Chronicles of Narnia

When I was in elementary school, through the Scholastic book orders or book fairs, my dad bought me the box set of The Chronicles of Narnia. Back then I’d no clue about the publication order. I was only familiar with the chronological order that was displayed in the box set, with the The Magician’s Nephew being the first title. Needless to say, my foray into Narnia involved me reading that first book.

It. Bored. Me. I had no idea what was going on. I think I skipped it and then tried The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and that kept me a bit more interested, but not by much. I only know for sure that I’d never got beyond the first two books in my elementary, middle, and high school years. Even in my uni years, I just couldn’t really get into it, despite watching the film adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (of which I enjoyed!).

I finally read about how one should read the books in the publication order as opposed to chronological order, and that made me decide to tackle the series that way. It took a couple of months, but I’ve read the entire set, and I must say that the publication order made a lot more sense and it kept me interested. Here are my spoiler-free thoughts on the series.

The Goods
– REEPICHEEP. He’s the best character ever. That is all.
– Edmund also won me over. Going from a selfish little prick to a fine King is certainly a huge change for him.
– Puddlegum is about the only thing that made me enjoy The Silver Chair. His pessimism cracked me up.
– The entirety of The Horse and His Boy kept me fully interested. The plot was just amazing, with a good pacing for once. This is my favourite out of the series.
– My next favourite is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I love how it’s based off of The Odyssey, but I really love how it sets a major potential for Caspian/Edmund as a pairing, haha!
– Much like Tolkien did with his books, I love how Lewis created the world of Narnia. Everything about it fascinated me, and I just kept wanting to know more about the world. And I think that’s why I really liked The Horse and His Boy, because I got to see more than just Narnia — I saw how the world was like in Calormen and Archenland.

The Bads
– I know these books are for children, but the pacing drove me nuts, especially in Prince Caspian.
– I still have no love for The Magician’s Nephew. I mean, this time, I understood what I read, but I think the effects of my earlier attempt with that book remains lingering, so it’s affecting my bias.
– I don’t know how I feel about the ending. I do feel like I’ve been cheated, but at the same time the ending fits the series very much.
– As an Atheist, I didn’t care for the Christian themes, but I still respected them as being plot points.

The Uglies
– JILL. In The Silver Chair. I absolutely could not stand her. Thank goodness she improves in the last book.
– In fact, I enjoyed The Silver Chair the least. I think it’s because there weren’t any Pevensie siblings, and Eustace just couldn’t replace them.

The Conclusion
That was a satisfying read. It took me what — over two decades? — to read the series, but I’m glad I did. The world of Narnia definitely fascinated me to where I could overlook all the religious undertones. I’m not sure if I’d ever re-read the whole series, but I know I’ll re-read the ones I really liked, like The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

1 Comment » | Filed Under Books

Monotonous Life

May 19, 2014 @ 7:36 pm (Permalink)

My life these days is monotonous. I wake up, go to work, come home, and do my hobbies. Dun, dun, dun! Throw in hanging out here and there, and that’s my life.

Last Saturday, I took my boss and her daughter to Hongdae area. I’m trying to expose them to more of Seoul while they are here. It’s good for me as well since it gets me out of the house and out of my own neighbourhood. But otherwise, if I’m not out and about, I’m at my favourite coffee shop or am taking takeaway from one of my neighbourhood’s restaurants. Or I’m home wasting time on the Internet, reading on my Kindle, or playing video games.

Gaming-wise, I’m near the end of Final Fantasy X HD, and I’ve started on Sweet Fuse: At Your Side yesterday. Book-wise, I’m reading a lot of non-fiction history books, with mangas on the side.

Really, I’m a boring person. And I’m a creature of habit who likes to escape with her books and games. I think part of the reason why I lead a very monotonous lifestyle is because my job is demanding. Most days I enjoy what I do . . . but I’m an introvert who has to act like an extrovert at work, so that takes up a lot of my mental and physical energy. One of my job requirement is to talk. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I have my days where I do not want to talk, but I’ve got to talk at my job. Well, I do grunt, too, but talking is more preferred in my occupation.

Anyway, that’s my monotonous life, everyone.

4 Comments » | Filed Under Books, General/Babbles, Korea, Video Games, Work

Tomoko the New Kindle Paperwhite

January 28, 2014 @ 7:40 pm (Permalink)

ETA: Found a dead pixel or something 30 minutes after I blogged about this . . . Looks like I’m returning this. Tomoko was not meant to be with me! :(

Kindle Paperwhite Kindle Paperwhite

Guess who decided to get the new 2nd gen Kindle Paperwhite? /o\

I couldn’t resist. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about since a couple of weeks ago when I saw them at the PX. I couldn’t really justify getting the new one because my 1st gen Paperwhite works fine, but I still wanted it just because it’s a newer model and the screen looks so much better. My co-worker finally said to me “It’s okay to upgrade. You don’t have kids. And consider this to be like your super early graduation gift to yourself.” Luckily, I already have two people who wants to buy my old one for $40, so that makes me feel better about this purchase. And oh, wow, the screen is so much brighter and better. No idea if it’s faster yet, but I imagine the page turn speed won’t really make a difference to me. But the screen, the screen is so amazing! asdfjkl;asdfjkl;

Anyway, I named it to “Tomoko”, which follows the trend of naming my Kindle devices with Japanese name :D I love it so far. Just whee! Too bad grad school is already sucking up my life, though. That certainly cuts into my reading time! Just gotta look forward to April!

10 Comments » | Filed Under Books, Materialism

Divergent and Legend Trilogies

January 21, 2014 @ 6:00 pm (Permalink)

Divergent Trilogy

In May 2013, I read The Hunger Games trilogy, and minus the third book, I was riveted by the dystopian world, something that has not happened to me since reading The Giver and “Harrison Bergeron”. I couldn’t stay away from the realistic portrayals of Katniss’ world, and I wrote a status update on Facebook expressing my awe on the books. Couple of people recommended me the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, and JJ suggested the Legend trilogy by Marie Lu. Hungry for more YA dystopian novels, I put them on my backlog, and last week, I began reading the books and finished both series yesterday.

To compare the two series wouldn’t be fair, but since I read them back-to-back, I can’t help but compare them. Overall, I really liked the Legend trilogy over Divergent. The former proved to get better from book one to book three; the latter went downhill after the first book. The world building was more believable in Legend, and I really could see the correlation to the Republic to North Korea, and I could only wonder if a similar experience is occurring there like what Day and June went through.

Legend Trilogy

Character-wise, I like Four over June and Day because something about him calls to me. I think I admired him for the way he was shown as a mentor. Tris and June were both strong female characters, but I ended up liking Kaede and Cara over them both. In fact, I really loved the secondary characters moreso than the main ones. I have a newfound love for Metias, Uriah, Cara, Johanna, and Anden. Seriously, I have this humongous crush on Metias, and I keep wanting him to be paired up with Day and Anden in an alternate universe, haha!

Which brings me to another point I noticed about the two series — the inclusion of LGBT characters in non-LGBT mainstream YA novels. Just, WHOAH. I swear that surprised me since I’d have never seen LGBT characters in mainstream non-LGBT YA novels when I was in high school! The inclusion makes me happy because it shows just how much time has changed to where it affects literature now. I am certainly not complaining about these subject matter being in the books!

But going back to the series, I really liked Legend better for the more believable plot and the better writing, and I am still struck by the possibility of the Republic being something akin to North Korea. Divergent gave me Four, and I did like the world building, but the series as a whole was just not as good as Legend. I do not regret reading Divergent, but I’d definitely recommend Legend over it.

4 Comments » | Filed Under Books