Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Have you heard the rhythms?

My new site, Seoul Rhythms is already up and running. There are still lots to do and tidy up but it's up and running.

So, I wont be updating on this site anymore. Seoul Rhythms will have alot more interesting things happenning, like shopping, tie-ups and giveaways. So I do hope you will visit that site just as often as you do here.

I've posted about Super Junior's concert as well as Korean New Year over there. So do drop by.

See you there people!

From tiffany in kimchiland @ Seoul Rhythms ^^

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shop@Seoul Rhythms- Secret Garden

Are you having Secret Garden withdrawl? Want to listen to the beautiful songs in the drama again? Or drool over Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won everyday? Or even relive the drama again in print? Well, you can get your fix here. Seoul Rhythms is pleased to organise the very first drama related merchandise sale direct from Korea.

Check out the merchandise on Shop@Seoul Rhythms

ONE presents Jang Hyuk on Seoul Rhythms

Finally finished my posting on Jang Hyuk's visit to Singapore. It's taken me longer than usual as I'm still trying to get used to wordpress on my new site. I thought it was supposed to be really easy to use but hor...I actually spent 2 nights trying to figure out how to resize photos, post youtube clips etc. Sigh..

Anyway, here it is-

ONE presents Jang Hyuk


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Moving house.....

Some of you may have remembered that I had mentioned changes would be forthcoming this year...and some of you (yup, some of you actually noticed...I'm so touched) that I have for the past few posts, there was a little line at the bottom that says:

Posted simultaneously on Seoul Rhythms

Yes, this Kimchiland site will be moving house soon...to

Seoul Rhythms

The new site is not quite ready. But I'm working on it and I really hope to move very soon. (I thought wordpress was supposed to be easy...haiyoh) So do bookmark that site.

Look out for exciting new developments there like shopping, giveaways and tie-ups.

More will be announced very soon, really, very soon.

So please mark that site ok?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wintery Korea- Day 5

It was the last day of the trip but 3 of us (Sarah and Carolyn) had extended for a few more days, so we would be leaving only on Monday. Still, the days seemed to have passed very quickly.

That morning, we visited Bukchon Hanok Village.

Hanok is the traditional Korean house and in Bukchon, the whole village has been preserved, much like some of the Siheyuan in China and shophouses in Singapore.

There are various Hanok villages in Korea but Bukchon was mainly for the aristocracy in the old days, hence the tiled roofs.

Some of them are still living there whereas the some have been turned into cafes, shops etc.

Even with the preservation, there are still changes in the village...modern mixing with the old.

And guess what, Son Yeh Jin's house in 'Personal Taste' was filmed in Bukchon. ^^ But no idea where though coz there are quite a few lanes and side roads within the village.

It took us about an hour of walking about but if you really want to explore the place, make sure you wear comfortable shoes...it's uphill most times.

It was really cold and we were in need of a place to escape the cold....so we went to this tea house. Now, I've spent half a day trying to figure out the name (I forgot to take the name card), so if any of you can figure out the name, please let me know? Many thanks!

It was very peaceful and calm inside the tea house. Great for refueling and or just having a morning chat with your friends.

And I couldn't resist taking photos of the toilet whilst errr....sitting on the toilet bowl. Wahahaha!

There is a great variety of tea with prices starting from 7,000won. But some seriously look more medicinal to me...

I don't have the exact address of the tea house, but I think it's near Bukchon-ro, 11-da gil. There are also Hanok Guest houses you can stay in for that authentic feel. Check out KTO"s site for a list of places to stay in.

To go Bukchon, alight at Anguk station, exit 3.

And then, we were off. There wasn't much time to say goodbye to everyone It was the end of the official trip. It has been an incredible 5 days. I've seen alot of places that I normally wouldn't haven't visited. I've also found out new places. I only wish it wasn't so rushed and I had more time to explore the various places. But the guie, Julie has been great with all the anecdotes (too bad I couldn't remember all of them) and the staff from KTO has been wonderful in making everything so comfortable for us.

The next couple of days, Carolyn and I would be on our own and we were all hyped out to do shopping and mroe shopping. Good thing it was summer or we would be seriously broke at the end of the trip. hehe!

Anyway, Sarah went off to her friend's place and the rest of the group off to Myeongdong for a bit of last minute shopping before they board the plane. Carolyn and I went to our 'home' for the next 2 nights- Namsan Park Hotel.

After the royal treatment the last few days, Namsan Park Hotel of course pales in comparison. BUT, it is clean, the room is warm, it is at a very convenient location (minutes away from the train) and within walking distance to Myeongdong (about 15 minutes). Most important of all, it was very affordable- about S$70 per night. There were quite a few Japanese tourists staying there and the receptionist speaks a smattering of English, Chinese and Japanese.

No meals included but there is a free water dispenser on each floor, plus TV, a small fridge and even a hair dryer! Not too bad for S$70 per night.

I was however, fascinated with this. Can you guess what it is? Yes, it's a bathtub. You sit (literally sit) in it. How strange.....^^

Our room wasn't ready, so we decided to leave our lugguage there and go shopping. I suggested Sinchon or to be specific, the shopping area around Ewha Woman's University, one of my fav shopping area.

To shop at this little gem, you must be prepared to explore the nooks and corners because the gems lie in the little lanes and back alleys. From shoes to accessories to clothes to bags, there is a wide range here and at affordable prices. The people patronising these shops are mainly students from the university..so they would be keen to buy a variety..to change frequently to be trendy but cannot afford the expensive range. I managed to buy a couple of cute ear-rings for 1,000won. Of course, there are the slightly higher end shops but by and large, most of the shops are mass prices.

Besides the little individual shops, there are also your usual cosmetic chain like The Face Shop, Tony Moly, It's Skin etc. I find that the staff here tend to be less aggressive and more generous than those in Myeongdong (where it can get very competitive).

One of the pleasures of being in Korea is the street food.

Sweet corn, sweet potato, bbq cuttlefish....

Fruit candy...only 1,000won

By then, we had enough walking and wanted to take a break. But we didn't feel much like eating (seriously, we were overfed the last few days) too much and then we saw this. How could we resist it's calling? Hehe!

Cafe de Museum is one of the many small, cozy cafes there. Perfect for a girlfriends chatting session or a little holding-hands session with your BF/GF.

We both ordered a cake and a drink each and look what the staff did?

This truely made our day. ^^

Carolyn and I made our way back to the hotel in the evening for a much needed shower and to check into our room. I really liked the itinerary the last few days but I was also glad to have a chance to chill out and just do things at my own time.

Later that night, wew decided to go down to Dongdaemun and leave Myeongdong for the next day.

Dongdaemun is truely a shopper's paradise in terms of hours. It is open nearly the whole day up till the early morning hour. In factm the busiest time seems from 8pm to 2am. Shopping malls there include Doota, Migliore and Hello apM. Within the big malls are small individual stores, so prices can be very competitive. However, remember to bargain. You can usually get at least a small discount off.

Street food in Dongdaemun.

If you have all the time in the world, by all means start your shopping early there but I think even a shopping addict can only do so much and by about 9+, both of us were tired and hungry, which was early for me. In previous trips, I would shop with my group of girlfriends till 1am. I must be getting old...sigh...

Shop selling children's hanboks.

We had our dinner at the foodcourt at one of the mall. I wouldn't say the food is great but it did offer a decent place to sit down.

This strange looking devise vibrates when your food is ready, so you don't have to stand around and wait. Neat huh? I think the foodcourts here in Singapore should adopt it.

To go Dongdaemun, alight at Dongdaemun Stadium Station (in my opinion, it is nearer) and sort of walk straight. If you do get lost, ask. ^^

*Quirky note: Taxis become great in demand after midnight. Be prepare to fight for them.

This post has been published simultaneously on Seoul Rhythms

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wintery Korea- Day 4

The night before, we had booked into a ski resort- Konjinam Resort.

Opened in 2008, it is owned by one of the most well-known Korean company- LG. It is only 40 minutes away from Seoul, which makes it a great get-away option (especially if you are on a F&E tour). And yet, whilst I was there, it didn't feel crowded at all. In fact, there was a rather cozy feel about it. I've since found out that the resort imposes the maximum occupancy rule. What this means is that, there are no more than 7,000 skiers per day on the slop. No wonder it didn't have a 'busy' feel to it.

What I liked about the resort was actually the landscaping...I love how it didn't just feel like a ski resort. You could be in a spa resort or a romantic resort... don't you agree?

The room has a kitchenette and is spacious enough to accomodate 3-4 person quite easily without feeling cramped.

The kitchenette is great for nights when you have had enough of trying out the over 90,000 bottles of wine and just want that cup of instant noodles (there is a convenienvce store within the resort- LG25). Hehe!

*Quirky note: This resort does not provided bath towels. There are hand towels and if you ask for it, you can get bath towels BUT it is not part of the room amenities and you have to ask for it. Weird.

That morning, a few of us decided not to go skiing and instead try out the spa at the resort.

Spa la Spa has various various treatments and programmes to try. But if you are not keen, you can just take up the Family Spa package, which would allow you to use the indoor and outdoor pools.

I must admit, I was absolutely bowled over with the outdoor pool. Why? Can you imagine swimming outdoors in the middle of winter, amongst snowy mountains in the background? It ranks as one of the most memorable aspect during this whole trip for me.

There is also a Sahara Room (with hot stones and twinkling lights for effect) and a Hay Room (it really, really was full of hay. I felt like a horse lying in there but must admit it smelt rather nice) next to the indoor pool. Great for relaxation.

*Quirky note: You have to rent practically everything from the spa, including towel!!! By this, I mean the big, fluffy beach/ bath towels you often find in most hotel pools. Rental cost? Kr2,000won

Would I go back again? Yes! It has such a nice feel plus the food was pretty good too. hehe!

And then, it was off to lunch. And we were going to try one of Korea's most well known delicacy- Ginseng chicken!

Now, there are ginseng chicken and there are ginseng chicken. Some don't have the right taste, some- the chicken is not quite tender enough and some- well, you wonder where the ginseng is.

I'm very glad to say that the 삼계탕/ ginseng chicken we had passed with flying marks. Korean ginseng can be cultivated or it can be wild. Obviously, wild ginseng is very rare, much superior in taste and medicinal value and of course, very expensive.

The many bottles of ginseng....

ChonDoekBong Sansam Samgetang/ 천덕보 산삼 삼계탕 uses ginseng from the mountains (according to their namecard). Now, I have absolutely no idea if this means they are wild, or the shop itself plants them in the wild. If you can read Korean well, then click on the hyperlink to their website. But no matter what, ths chicken was delicious!

Almost all gone. *Burp*

The very pretty 'garden' at the restaurant.

*Quirky note: You are also offered a very small but potent ginseng wine. Drink at your own risk.

After this very full lunch, we headed back to Seoul for some skin care.

Frankly, I thought it would be done by one of those Korean cosmetic brand company, so you imagine my surprise when we ended up here:

Nu Plastic Surgery is located at Chungdam-dong, Gangnam-gu (yeah, that very hip and cool area). Many people do associate cosmetic surgery with Korea (including me). With the advance of Hallyu, people began wondering...does every woman and man in Korea have large eyes, double eye-lids, high nose bridge etc? It is pretty much a fact that cosmetic surgery is no big deal in Korea. I think they see it as enhancing one's look and many of these surgeries can be done under an hour- just enough time during lunch for a quick perk-me-up. And there are no ends to the rumours about which artistes had gone under the knife.

Anyway, back to the story. Cosmetic surgery is increasingly gaining popularity outside Korea and these Korean surgeons have managed to gain quite a reputation for themselves for quick, skillful work at affordable price. But with so many to choose from, how do you differenciate the quack from the professional? Well, I guess you can start with a list from Korea Tourism Organisation. It is not exhaustive and you can definitely shop around but it's a start. Nu Plastic Surgery is listed in there.

Of course, we couldn't try any of the cosmtic surgeries offered (I would have loved to try the lipo suction. ^^) but we did get to try their facial and we were all offered free botox! Seriously! But only one person in our group and the guide tried it. Hmmm.. I must write and see how's the effect like. Me? I very kiasee...I didn't want to go home looking too different. hahahaha!

Btw, if you are aiming to do a nose job (like my friend), be prepare to spend about a week there as they need to do a follow-up. But the whole procedure itself should take no more than 3 hours (I think). Good luck to those who are going to try it out.

The director of Nu Plastic Sugery.

And after this exciting segment, we were off to tamer pleasure.

Lotte World has the world's largest indoor theme park. It has an outdoor section too but I think most people try the indoor theme park. I have yet to check out the outdoor section depiste having been there about 3 times. Just as Nami Island is best remembered for 'Winter Sonata', Lotte World is best remembered for 'Stairways to Heaven'.

We were there on a Friday afternoon and the place was packed. So I think be prepared to wait a little for rides if you intend to go there during winter. Then again, you will not be subject to the elements of nature unlike a outdoor theme park.

Take a ride on their monorail and get an overview of the whole place.

Everyone sing with me..'bogoshipta..bogoshipta'.

Now the best part of Lotte World? They have a big shopping mall and a huge department store and supermarket to boot. So I went off shopping. hehe!

They were having winter sale!!! Argghhh! So many things to look at, so little time. And people, if you ever have the time, do check out the supermarket. I took a quick pick. There was a counter with a variety freshly-made kimchi plus some other food stuff I would have loved to examine further. If you don't have the time to go all the way down to Jamsil for Lotte World and you can also check out the Lotte Department Store in downtown Seoul. No amusement park but it offers 12 floors of pure shopping.

After so many days of good food, to be frank, all of us were feeling like little stuffed piggies But they had saved the best for last.

Jin jin bara serves hansik/ 한식, which is traditional Korean fare.

Real traditional Korean fare consists of many , many side dishes and just one main dish- rice. The portions are not huge as there were not meant to be filling. But hor...after about the 14th dish, I pretty much give up liao. At the last count, there were at least 20 dishes, including the main dish of rice and deseert. Please go with a very, very empty stomach. And definitely with a group of friends. This should not be attempted alone.

The hotel we were staying for the night was Hotel Courtyard Marriott, a fairly new hotel and part of the new landmark that conists of 2 huge shopping malls- Times Square and Shinsegae. It is also the nearest hotel to the airport and minutes away from the nearest subway station. Pretty conveninient if you don't are there for an overnigher and don't really want to stay at the airport hotels. However, do not attempt to travel across the han river via car on a Friday night coz the traffic jam is horrendous. It took us over an hour just to get there.

Can't comment much about the hotel except it seemed nice enough. You can't go much wrong with the Marriott brand. I would have like a little more time to check out the shopping malls. I think there's a Kyobo bookshop in one of the mall.

This post has been published simultaneously on Seoul Rhythms

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Jang Hyuk- The Midas Touch

Mr Jang Hyuk is set to sweep into Singapore on Monday, 17th January. This will be his second time here. He was last here in 2007 for the filming of 'Dance of the Dragon'.

No,no, he is not filming any movie here this time. He will however, be talking about his latest drama- 'Midas', which is scheduled to air in Korea on 21st February, SBS. It is a drama about M&A, about shady deals, about the corporate world, about love, about morals etc.

What's strange is that he is actually here to promote a drama that is not even on air yet.

Hmm... well...

SPE Networks (Sony Entertainment Pictures) will be launching a brand new channel in Singapore very, very, very soon. Can't write more at the moment as there is no official press release yet. BIG HINT: it is Korean related. Of course.

So are the above 2 related, let's wait and see. Hang on toght to this site, I'll be back next week for more news on this very special event.

To read more about my previous contact with Jang Hyuk and the Dancing Dragons, click on the link below:
Jang Hyuk Dancing in Singapore
Latest update on Jang Hyuk
Dancing with Jang Hyuk in Singapore
Dancing with Jason Scott Lee in Singapore
Jang Hyuk dancing in a ....foodcourt
Jang Hyuk......dancing

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wintery Korea trip- Day 3

We work up bright and early the next day, we had a date at the top of the world. ^^

But first, this greeted me outside my window. Now wouldn't it be great if I can have this view everyday? The big structure, called Lumi Arte is lighted up in brightly at night. If I go back again in the other seasons, I can look forward to a spectacular musical fountain display complete with fireworks. Or maybe I could time my visit during New Year's eve for the fireworks? ^^

High1 Resort has 18 different slopes for different levels and according to their website, it's designed so that even those physically challenged will be able to ski. Now, that's what I call great designing. The highest peak is at 1,367m located at Baekwoon Mountain. How to get there? Via gondola of course.

Now the only other ski resort that I've been to is Young Pyong Resort, but it seems to take longer to get to the top at High1 Resort as there was even a stop halfway.

One of the many helpful staff ensuring people get off and on the gondolas safely. Cute isn't he?

We were busy snapping photos inside the gondola; all totally impressed with the skiers down below. I've been told that snowboarding is much harder. But don't they look cool?

It had been snowing the night before....

I can't quite describe the feeling when I stepped out into the open...everything seems so new, clean, alive and happy. Hmmm...think of a freshly washed clean bedsheet being hung out to dry in the bright sun. ^^

There was a red, heart-shaped chair near the edge, with the panoramic mountain view as the backdrop. And even little love messages at the side.
More opportunities to declare your undying love? I'm really rather amazed at this constant display of affection in public areas..

Top of the Top, a revolving restaurant at the top, gives a much needed break as we sat down for a cup of hot coffee. Unlike the one at Young Pyong, this one has no fireplace (and of course no photos of Bae Yong Joon and Choi Ji Woo). But it has a wonderful view of all the 3 moutains within High1 Resort. The design of the restaurant is clean and simple.

There are lots more to explore at High1 Resort but of course, there's no more time as we have to move on to the next destination. As a matter of interest, those of you looking for some thrills may want to check out the Alpine Coaster. Apparently, it's like a roller coaster ride. Imagine doing that high up in the mountains with the gondola just above or beside you.

Quirky note: My friend went Young Pyong for skiing in the middle of Decemeber. But she said she was there too early and they were still using artificial snow. Really? None of the snow at High1 Resort looked artificial to me. Hmmm... does that mean Young Pyong had less snowfall?

And then it was off for lunch. We seemed to be constantly eating, isn't it? hehe! Well, the cold weather is a good excuse.

So what did we have? Bulgogi + Banchan + beer!!!! A very good cobination and highly recommended.

The restaurant, 황소 해장국/Huang So Hae Chang Guk, prides itself on using only local (ie, Korean) beef. I am no beef connoisseur but it really did taste sweet... want some?

Or how about some raw beef?

On a side note...I'm really not too clear about this obsession with rae beef. Is it really better? Hmmm... I take small doses but I'm not sure about having it regularly.
*Quirky note: Apparently, you can charge more if you are selling local beef.
황소 해장국/Huang So Hae Chang Guk: 033-345-0402

And then a liitle snooze time before our next destination- more food!

Actually, we were going to Choongga for some real insight into kimchi, Korea's no 1 food. No Korean kitchen would be witout this.

The company, Chongga (which means the 1st born son of the 1st born son...and is supposed to evoke a trustworthy feel), is one of the top Korean company in the process food but what really made it's name is the ready made kimchi that it sells in billions every year worldwide. No kidding.

A quick change and then it's time for some super quick kimchi making lessons-

Together with Jennifer from K-Popped and Julie of Leisure travel magazine. Otte? We look profesionalor not? Haha!

Th seasoning waa already done for us. All we had to do was to put on our gloves and cover the cabbage completely and thoroughly with the seasoning and voila! Now keep it in cold temperature for about a week and you will have some very delicious kimchi of your own.

I had it easy as the staff was standing next to me. So she was using mine as an example. kekeke! Ok..need live demo?

*Quirky note:If you do intend to buy some delicious kimch back to your home country, be warned that you are not allow to hand carry them. So either pack them into your lugguage or buy them inside the airport transit area.

Some interesting facts - to enter the restricted area (ie, the area where kimchi is made and pack), you have to be cleaned completely. This includes not only covering your hair, and washing your hand but also making sure your clothes is clean (they go through it with a lint roller- 3 strikes and you're out). The ingrediants are subjected to just as much rigorous cleaning and inspection before they end up at your table. And if you ever wonder why that pack of fermented cabbage is not terribly cheap, it's because the seasoning of the cabbage, the packing etc are still done manually as no machine can do this part of the job well.
*Quirky note: In winter, Korean familes tend to come together to make kimchi. Of course in modern days, with so many women working, there is less time to make everything from scratch. So Chonnga will make and sell the ready made suace and the familes can just season the cabbage at home. Cleaver no?
Btw, if you are keen to take up some kimchi making lessons, KTO Singapore organises classes regularly. Give them a call if you are interested. Be fast though, I heard these classes are always filled up in a snap.

None kimchi related... I was fascinated by this bus-stop that was near Chonga.

Our last stop for the day- Everland.
I went to Everland in 2003, my very first trip to Korea. It was autumn then and full of blooming, colourful flowers.

Winter Everland has a different feel, different look. It is full of twinkling lights.

It wasn't as crowded as I remember it. But then it was cold. I'm not sure I would have visited the park if I had come on my own. Mainly because alot of the rides would not be possible. But winter does provide a different sort of enetertainment...like taking pretty photos with pretty backdrops. I'm sure everyone from the young to the old would go 'awwww......' upon seeing the bright, bright tree.

Or perhaps some shopping...

Now this will surely tempt you to step inside the store...

I can't remember if a safari existed back then but this time round, I took the chance to check it out.
On my way down to the safari.

There are not many animals inside the safari (it was a fairly short ride too). Basically, lions, bears and their highlight for this season- white tigers. BUT they were really, really, really quite close, with no barriers. The white tigers only looked on lazily with disinterest at the bus as it rumbled on. No dount thinking what a bunch of crasy humans going all excited at seeing them relaxing. The bears provided the most entertainment...begging for more food from the driver and ambling after the bus. Too bad, it was rather dark inside and none of my photos/ clips turned out right.

I guess the highlight of the day would be the Moonlight Magic parade, where weather permitting, a whole parade or lights, performances would come by at about 6.15pm. We waited and waited...it was cold...it was dark...would it happen? Or would we leave without watching it?

Shelter tent with heaters! Bliss!

And then we heard some rumblings...and slowly, people started popping up and a sort of barricade was set up. Presenting Moonlight Magic Parade! Does it make you feel like a child again?

On our way out, we could see the central stage set up and a an exciting performance going on. I would have loved to stay on. Sigh..

Goodbye Everland till next time hopefully with my little girl. I'm sure she will love you as much as I do.

This post has been published simultaneously on Seoul Rhythms