Saturday, December 29, 2012

USA Part 1: Los Angeles

So I'm now on the other side of the country, on the East Coast, in Orlando, Florida! It's not much of a "sunshine state" at present. More of a """"""""""""sunshine""""""""""""" state if "ya nom tom b0ut". Okay. I'll stop with the failed slang. I probably don't own the right to be typing in Americanisms yet.

One day. One day.

Anyway, after about a week, I'm happy to be.. I don't even remember what I was saying. I tend to get caught up whenever I'm blogging. Ignore that. Now, the only places I really visited in LA were Chinatown, Downtown LA and Little Tokyo - Chinatown because that's where I was staying, and Little Tokyo because.. well, it's Little Tokyo. 'Nuff said. Oh yeah, we also visited Olvero Street, which was pretty awesome.

The old Chinatown is an almost-ghost town. Words of advice? If you don't believe me, go there and I guarantee you'll be out of there in less than an hour. Apparently there's a new Chinatown in Alhambra, but we didn't go there. Time was too tight, but we have another 3 days in LA on the way back while we're staying in Hollywood.

The old Chinatown is really.. isolated. Shops aren't very busy to begin with, and everything shuts at about 5pm. Total culture shock. The other things I wasn't so used to:

  • Exclusion of tax with prices
  • Tipping people (you get used to it really quickly..)
  • J-walking is totally illegal and no one does it and police actually care about j-walking
  • Driving on the right side of the road (well this is the same in Korea but still)
  • Drivers sitting on the left side of the car

Ahh well. It just takes time, I guess. Anyway, have some photos of Chinatown.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Korea Part 3: Gyeongbokgung/Hongdae

Greetings from LA! Apologies for the late post. I've been jetlagged and genuinely just exhausted. I'm still completely used to Australian time, so I fell asleep at 6am this morning local time which is about right.. midnight in Australia. Gahh, it sucks. ANYWAY, I should be complaining about LA in other posts. I hate being so behind and wanting to be up to date. Oh well. My fault completely.


It was a beautiful day. We were originally going to take a palace/temple tour but lol.. to be honest I don't mind visiting landmarks and monuments, but personally, if I've seen one palace, I've seen them all. Not the biggest history fanatic - all Asian palace/temples look somewhat similar. Sure, the architecture is beautiful but like everything else, I get sick of too much of it. I'm so thankful dad decided to just visit the biggest palace - Gyeongbokgung. God only knows how you pronounce it, but somehow we convinced the taxi driver that we knew what we were talking about. A+ for effort?

It was actually really grand. I'm glad we went. Despite the biting negative whatever temperature, it was a beautiful day. I still can't believe how cold it is. I said that I'm a temperature tolerant person!

We were fortunate enough to see the change over of the guard protecting the palace. I'm 100% sure that this is now just a tourist attraction, but it probably has something symbolic in there too.

-hours later-

I'm still jetlagged. It's literally like 5am in the morning and I haven't slept since I woke up at 2:30. I've had literally about 2 hours of sleep tonight and I'm actually dying. On a side note, I absolutely hate the internet here. Part of the reason this post is delayed is because the photos wouldn't upload. Like.. they did, and then the connection cut out.. and then along the way the photos disappeared from the uploaded list and blahblahblah just.. yeah no.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Korea Part 2: DMZ/Insadong

Korea has such a rich heritage and ongoing culture. Anyone who says otherwise is either totally ignorant or knows absolutely nothing (yes, I know they mean the same thing). I spent the morning and half of yesterday afternoon exploring that other side. My parents and I went on a tour to the DMZ (demilitarised zone).

My day started with a nice, 6:30am wake up call. Not. I'm totally not a morning person! :( We pretty much had to be out of the door at 7:30 and the tour started at 8:30. Our tour guide's name was Hayley. She was lovely and her English was pretty good, but she was quiet so I fell asleep for a good hour on the bus trip up north.

I forgot to mention that it was pretty much -10 degrees in the morning. Not fun. I was literally struggling to walk until it started to warm up ("warm" is a very relative term) a few degrees. The sun was so helpful, but I guess it's a double-edged sword. When the sky is totally clear, it's going to be absolutely freezing. No clouds means no heat trapping! I won't lie, I don't really know exactly where we went. I know we went to visit the Peace Bell and the station between South and North Korea, and also the very border between South and North Korea. Like, you could actually see North Korea from the lookout zone. We also visited an infiltration tunnel discovered about 20 years ago, which was an attempt to attack Seoul. It was so fascinating! Anyway, enough text, let's see some photos!

Myeong-dong: iPhone version

I took some more photos with my phone rather than the camera. I hope you're not all too overwhelmed with the number of photos I'm posting. Anyway, more is more, que?

Korea Part 1: Myeong-Dong

To this day, there has been so much hype about Korea. Korea this, Korea that. Korea is great! I love Korea! I was told on many, many occasions that shopping and food in Korea is second to none. The price is not even an obstacle.

Rightfully, rightfully so.

It's beautiful. The people are friendly, and to my surprise, I'm not having nearly as much trouble getting around as I anticipated. I knew that I had a lot to expect when I came here, but I honestly didn't expect this. I was sick the day before and thought that my days here would be miserable.

Boy, I was wrong.

The only real hang-up I have about here is the cold. It is so, so cold! Seriously. Anyway, enough of my bickering, and more recounting! Mum was still feeling pretty sick, so dad and I spent the day at Myeong-Dong. I didn't think we were staying so close to town. By taxi, it takes literally about 5 minutes (unless there's peak-hour traffic, which I fortunately experienced today..) to get there from our hotel. The concierge guy (I don't really know the technical term) is extremely helpful! His English is pretty great (just comparing it to my Korean, which is restricted to "anyeong ha seo" and "sarang hae yo"- not even sure about the spelling #yolo) and he showed us exactly how to get everywhere!

I only really wanted to see a cat cafe, but we ended spending the entire day in the complex. The first thing we saw was Zara. Right next to it was H&M in Noon Square shopping centre. The quality of Zara clothes is actually really good. I saw literally about 10 things that I wanted, and almost cried trying to restrict myself. I'll get things on the way back. I promised myself that much.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Brisbane to Seoul

A great, big hello to you all from Seoul!

It's been a gruelling however-many hours. From only being able to fall asleep at 2:30am, to having my mum shake me awake 3 hours later.. not good. I told myself that I'd sleep the entire way to Seoul, but that didn't happen either.

I could dedicate this entire post to my passionate distaste for crying babies on the plane, but that would be pointless. Long story short, I don't like children. However, ignoring that essential factor, the flight wasn't terrible. I was so exhausted that I just crashed, only to be woken up by some baby shaking their rattle. The food was actually pretty amazing for plane food, and I managed to watch quite a lot on the way there.

Firstly, I watched Total Recall (with Colin Farrel and Jessica Biel). It wasn't as great as I was hoping, but then it wasn't too bad either. I don't know what I didn't really like about it - it just didn't.. hit the spot, I guess. It didn't hit home and maybe it was a tad on the unrealistic side. I'm surprised though. Usually I like surreal movies. Oh well.. I'll blame it on my fatigue. I also watched an episode of Friends, Two and a Half Men and something else. My memory is terrible. I also started watching Vampire Diaries on my laptop but the battery died pretty quickly. With 90 minutes to go, I switched back and watched Celeste and Jesse forever. Not sure how I felt about that movie. Didn't watch the ending.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

New music is the best.

Reading through my Tumblr for the past week, I've noticed that my mood has really lifted. About time, too.

If you've been following me for a little while at least, you'll know that music is an inherent part of my life. It's been a huge part of my life since I was.. about.. 2 years old or so. It's funny how time flies. I remember when I lived in my old house. My brother was 11 at the time and had piano lessons. Every time he did, I'd recall the melodies of whatever pieces he practised and I played them by ear. The problem with me was the handspan. Well.. it's pretty hard for a 4 year old to reach an octave. It's still not a complete breeze for me to play runs with octaves. Not fun.

You never realise how much music means to you until you stop. I hated practising when I was preparing for my final piano exam. 4 hours a day of anything (besides being on the internet) becomes a real chore.

Anyway, back to the focus of this post. I've been listening to heaps of new music.

Firstly, I've become an avid follower of the US and UK versions of X Factor. Simply magnificent. I'll show you a video from each of my favourites. Some of them have been voted out already, which is a real shame. I almost actually cried when they got eliminated. Definitely did not deserve that.