DSC00509 (Edit)

Lake Toya, Japan

Spot of Tranquility.

IMG_8185 (Edit) (2)

Little India, Singapore

Spices, gold and splashes of colour!

IMG_7713 (Edit) 2

Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay

Garden City, City in a Garden.

IMG_6839 (Edit) (3)

Bryce Canyon, USA

Thor's Hammer

IMG_5531 (Edit) (2)

Chocolate Test, Singapore

"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." -Charles M Schulz

Sunday, April 26, 2015

School Food (Seoul)

One cold night, we decided to venture out to the places nearby. Too many places were ruled out as we couldn't understand anything in the menu (with no pictures).

Suddenly, the words "School Food" jumped out at us and we decided, yes, if the name of the restaurant is in English, there should be something that we would be able to understand in there. 

We settled down comfortably and realised that with the exception of the words "School Food", everything in the menu was Korean. 

Pointing, we asked the waitress what ingredients were there in the dish below. Looking helpless, she got another colleague to help and the only word we understood was "spam". In the end, we decided we would just go with the 스페셜마리2. So one of them was clearly spam, the other was fish and the last one was squid. They all had a crunchy piece of pickle in it. I would think that if I were a secondary school student, this place would be one of my favourite hangouts- simple, large portions and good for sharing.

Since we haven't got our dose of Topokki yet, we decided to get the 쟁반국물떡볶이 which was essentially rice cake in soup. The first bite was mild but the spice started to build up. The rice cakes were chewy and what was interesting was the vermicelli encased in flour then deep fried.

Both of us were very full by the time we finished eating. Friendly service here and pictures to aid you in choosing, if you do not know how to speak Korean. Average fare but good enough for the price we are paying.

53rd Jinhae Gunhangje (Jinhae, Korea)

The sole purpose of going to Korea this time was to view cherry blossoms. And if we were going Korea to see cherry blossoms, we might as well go to the most popular festival- the one at Jinhae.

We took the 1 a.m. bus from Express Bus Terminal to Masan (64,000 won for round trip, price depends on timing.) Barely recovering from the red eye flight the previous night, here we were taking the train at ungodly hours, hoping that we might fight the crowds expected at the festival. The seats on the bus were very spacious and comfortable (more comfortable than the economy class flight seats in any event).

We reached Masan bus terminal at 4+ a.m.

I was admittedly in a bad mood due to a multitude of factors. I hadn't slept well on the bus (despite the comfortable seats). I hadn't recovered from the bad sleep the previous night on the flight. It was raining and cold.

Soldiering on (after getting lost by public transport), we reached the stream at 6+ a.m. Except for a few avid photographers and joggers, we were the only ones around. The city was slowly rousing from its sleep, while the pink cherry blossoms fluttered gently to the ground after a heavy rain.

The first stop was Yeojwa Stream. This, alone, was enough to convince me that my decision to visit Korea in April was correct. The thing with cherry blossoms is that you require a fair amount of fate to view them. These delicate blossoms usually last no more than 2 weeks. The stars were aligned and my cherry blossom dreams have come true.

It was a peaceful walk along the streams, a drastic contrast to the scene when the crowds started flooding in after 9 a.m. 

After walking along the streams, we proceeded to Jinhae Inland Water Eco Park. There were no signs of colour in the park yet as spring has just begun to make its entrance. Instead, what we saw was this rather dream-like image.

We then walked to Jehwangsan Park. There was the option of a monorail or you could just walk the 365 steps up.

While deciding whether to take the monorail or walk up the steps, we saw this. 

My friend and I are now at a stage of life where we are no longer blessed by this wonderful thing called high metabolic rate. To slow down the process of transforming from the person on the right into the person on the left, we decided to take the steps up.

It was a leisurely and quick walk up the 365 steps.

There were interesting sights on the way up, including cartoon characters made of what seems like tracing paper material. We then took the lift from Jinhae Tower (which symbolises a Korean naval warship) to the top floor where we had a bird eye's view of the city- for free. 

Aside from seeing the cherry blossoms, we went to the Naval Academy. The Naval Academy is only open during the festival and we had to pay a fee to enter. There was a long queue to get onto the ship but alas, it was a rather patronising walk around the ship. If you asked me, I would say don't waste your time here.

By the time we got back to the main activity ground, the tents were all set up and the area was bustling with life.

Our last stop before heading back to the terminal was Gyeonghwa Station. Apparently, that's where photographers would take pictures of cherry blossoms being swept up when the train slowly chugs in. We didn't see the train in the end but we saw hordes of people where the train will supposedly come through. Instead, it was the journey to Gyeonghwa Station that was more interesting- it's like walking on the Rail Corridor, with cherry blossoms to accompany you along the way. 

One lesson I took away from visiting the festival is,  the early bird gets the worm. Wherever we went (minus the Gyeonghwa Station), we were one of the few people around because it was still early.  In exchange, you get moments of peace and more opportunities to soak in the charm of the cherry blossoms. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

73 Naesu-dong, Jongno-gu (Seoul)

Once upon a time, when we were poor students and didn't have much money to spend on accommodation, we looked at all the hostel websites for the best deals. Now that we are working and still don't want to spend so much money on accommodation, we resort to airbnb. And our experience has been pretty good so far. 

Click here for the link to this listing on Airbnb. $85 a night. 

(1) Location 

10 minutes away from Gyeongbokgung. 5 minutes away from Gyeongbokgung station. 1 hour away from Incheon Airport (where there is a bus that will drop you 5 minutes away from the apartment- 10,000.00 won) Around 7 minutes away to the famous Tosokchon. 7-11 right next door. Down the road, there is a bakery. Lots of food options along the street. Venture 5-8 minutes away and you have even more food options. Located in a business district. 

Here's a map of the subway. 

To get to the popular areas like Myeongdong, you need to change train and the journey is around 15-20 minutes. Around half an hour to Seoul Station (that's where Lotte Mart is- the place where people stock their trolleys with mountains of food.)

(2) Room 

The thing I like about apartments listed on Airbnbs is that these are places where actual people live. There are things in the room which are deemed unnecessary or unsightly in hotels, but which will appear in our everyday lives by virtue of their functionality. For example, a rack to dry our clothes. 

Cooking area and a washing machine are available as well. Fast and free internet access. No worries if you are coming in winter because the floor is heated. No worries if you are coming in summer because there is air con.

The toilet is clean and your basic bathing needs provided for. No trashy hotel-brand shampoo and conditioner that makes your hair entangle.

(3) Host 
We didn't get to meet the host but he was very prompt in responding to any queries. Prior to your arrival, he would also send you an online guide on how to use certain equipment in the house, how to get from the airport to his place etc.

(4) Conclusion 
We liked everything about this place (save that there was no television for the tv addict in me). Location wise, it is in a safe and peaceful area, though pretty far from the action in town. Value for money! 


It is my second time here even though I'm not a burgers person. You won't find your usual chicken or beef burgers here. This place is a specialised pork burger restaurant. 

We asked the guy at the counter what was good and he said that the Stevo was good. Apple sauce on roasted port belly slices. Mmmmmm! BUT it was sold out! We will be back for it. 

We settled for a Kaiju ($12), pork patty with mushrooms, with sauce made from a combination of shiitake, champignon and paddy straw mushrooms. I love mushrooms and this place didn't disappoint at all with its thick pork patty with a generous portion of mushrooms. Considering that the price includes fries and a drink, (and that the food is pretty good too), it is rather value for money.

Service was excellent. I seldom say that about a place, simply because there aren't many places with excellent service. But here, the people know what they are talking about, they are friendly, they are helpful- everything that will draw us back to this place.

72 Circular Road
Tel No: 6438 4410 

Saturday, April 11, 2015


This is definitely one of the more exciting dining experiences I have had so far. 

Reservations for the high tea ($45++) are a must here.

The afternoon tea menu is here.

There were two different menus. You could choose between the Anti:dote tea or the Oriental tea. The only difference is the starters. For the Anti:dote tea menu, there is the Anti:dote black truffle scrambled eggs whereas for the oriental tea menu there is a selection of steamed and fried Hong Kong dim sum.

For me, it was a no brainer to go for the Anti:dote black truffle scrambled eggs because I love the taste of anything with truffle (whether truffle or truffle oil which is essentially a chemical compound).

In any genre of music, the introduction matters a lot because it sets the stage for the entire piece. Make sure it's something original, refreshing and endearing and this will be the winning recipe for the piece. The Anti:dote black truffle scrambled egg was precisely this important introduction. Besides the fragrant smell of the truffle which hits you instantly, the deep fried breadsticks were a perfect accompaniment to the runny texture of the scrambled eggs. I scrapped every bit of the egg clean.

Next up was the drawer of food. Top layer contained the desserts, first drawer contained sandwiches, second drawer contained scones and the last drawers contained biscuits, together with the accompaniment to the scones.

Everything about this was picture perfect. Taste wise, I preferred the sandwiches more than the desserts. We decided that we needed a strategy when eating these beautiful dainty little things- alternating between sweet and savoury so that we won't get a sudden sugar rush.

The sandwiches were really the star of the show. While the waitress explained to us what these were individually, we didn't really listen attentively because we couldn't start feasting away. We started off the with Smoked salmon, lemon and dill cream cheese and ikura roe because it was probably considered the most conventional of the lot. Then we moved on to the Boston lobster roll with confit lemon and chervil.  Prior to trying this, I didn't know what chervil was. Chervil is a herb related to parseley which might have ruined my experience of eating this roll since I do not like parsley at all. But the juicy lobster served as a good distraction.

This was followed by the Iberico ham quiche, with mozarella and black truffle. I am partial towards anything with mozarella. The ham and mozarella was scented with truffle and laid onto a puff pastry. Then the Confit duck rillette with foie gras terrine with pickled onion- unfortunately, this tasted more like tuna to me. Of all the sandwiches, this appealed the least to me. We ended with the Coronation curried chicken with apple. This was a very interesting combination where even the pastry had curry powder added to it. However, the apple taste was non-existent.

The scones (raising and candied ginger) came together with your choice of strawberry jam, Devonshire clotted cream, lemon curd. If I didn't realise how much fats each scone contained, I wouldn't mind eating them all day long. Leaving aside the fat content of scones, every bite of the scone brings you a little closer to England. Imagine having scones on your patio on a lovely spring day.

If you are looking for high tea and somewhere refreshing, look no further!

Fairmont Singapore
80 Bras Basah Road
Tel No: 6431 5315 


We came to the unanimous decision that this was the best meal we had in Seoul. Don't be mistaken though, we found every meal in Seoul great, just that this was the best. 

Don't be intimidated by the queues because this place works like a well-oiled machine. The turnover of the diners is high and we got a seat within 15 minutes of queuing. 

The compound here is pretty big. Servers can also speak Korea, English and Mandarin although it's not even necessary to speak because all you need is a finger to point at the picture.

We ordered the most basic on the menu which was the Samgyetang (W15,000). Before digging into the ginseng chicken soup, we happily feasted on the addictive kimchi, which in my mind tasted superior to any of the kimchi I've had in Singapore.

A few sips of the chicken broth will steal your heart. Intense yet light on the palate. Once you tear the tender chicken apart, the strong ginseng flavours will seep into the soup. Enveloped in the free range chicken are glutinous rice, a huge piece of ginseng, chestnut, red dates etc. Essentially, this is what you call a nourishing meal and best enjoyed in cold weather.

This should definitely be included in your itinerary to Seoul!

5 Jahamun-ro 5-gil