Sunday, September 17, 2017

Eulsukdo Island and Taejongdae

Spent Day 2 out in Eulsukdo for so-called birding and later to Taejongdae. We were supposed to fit in Heaundae and a seaside temple but it never happened.

We first headed out to Eulsukdo, using the tips given by the Tourism office and Mr Google. Managed to get ON Eulsukdo after some going back and forth; but failed to find a place to cross to the Wetland Reserve. Asked a man at an empty exhibition hall and after a rather difficult conversation on Google Translate, he put us in his car and drove us there!

At Nakdong Wetland Reserve, we didn't even get to the gate because we spent so much time photographing nonsense. Then we hopped into one of the informative tour vans with our friendly guide and another family. It was all right, I was VERY disappointed not to see any cranes. Apparently they are winter migrants, so no luck there. We did see many grey herons and black tailed gulls though. At some point there was a black kite, but our guide insisted there are no birds until winter. Sigh. She must not be a birder.

It was a nice place to visit. We went into the very interactive and well kept information centre, and spent hours photographing the golden orb spiders outside. After a long while, we walked out to the road and crossed the bridge on foot. Had a bit of a problem at one point because the walking path was closed for roadworks; so we had to make a rather long detour to (legally) cross to the nearby township and train station. Again, dawdled along taking photos along the way. It was quite late by the time we got into the train and on to Taejongdae.

The bus ride to Taejongdae was surprisingly long. And instead of going through forests, we went up and down hills through townships! Basically it's where many people working in Busan lived... It was already very late when we left Eulsukdo area, so we got to Taejongdae at 6 pm. It was almost dark and all the shuttle "trains" had parked for the night. There were a number of people still around though. I think some wanted to hang out until evening.

We were very hungry, so we had dinner at one of the roadside cafes before walking to the park. There wasn't much to photograph in the waning light, and we were actually very tired. So we half-heartedly took some photos of the famous cliffs and left soon after dusk. Needless to say, plans for Haeundae was scuppered.

We did stop near the river/ bridge on the way back to take photos. I got some nice ones of a busking trio and a fisherman near the bridge. Tried to be clever going into the subway via Lotte Mall but only found dead ends. We had to exit and re-enter in front of the building. Oh well.

Had dinner in our respective rooms and pottered around doing stuff. Unfortunately, I got so agitated about unfinished work that I could not sleep for more than a few hours. This led to a super cranky person the next day.... Poor Graham!

A bit on Busan

G & I arrived in Busan at 8.30 a.m., 14th August; having left KL at 1 a.m. that morning. We took the train to our hotel, with much help from the friendly locals.

We stayed at the Grand Motel, which ironically, is not grand AT ALL. We had a lot of trouble finding it, dragging our suitcases in the heavy drizzle that had started on our way to Nampo station. Something was wrong with the map, so we looked in the wrong direction as we came to a crossroad at the back lane. Headed up a hill (by escalator) and then had to pull our luggage down a flight of steps back to where we were 10 minutes earlier. The rain didn't help, and the steep incline forced me to control my luggage from zooming off while balancing on heels and holding an umbrella. We were lucky the owner of the place saw us looking around and asked if we were looking for Grand Motel.

We went in to a staircase and up a lift to the reception area on the 4th floor. If she hadn't been there, we would have spent much much longer looking for the place. I later realised they didn't even have a big sign that wrote the name in Roman letters!! I only made out the name written in Hangul on the second day. Lucky for us, the rooms were clean despite the shabby exterior. The bathroom fittings looked like the were from the 60s, but it's CLEAN. The towels were a bit of a joke, though.

I thought the Ojakgyo brothers had the small towels only for washing their face in the morning. However, we discovered that in most Korean hotels, they only supplied those small Good Morning towels for bathing too! We had like 6 per room, so there was enough. A bit weird not having a towel to wrap around you after showering.

Somehow the scale of the place was smaller than I had imagined from looking at maps because Jagalchi Market, which I imagined to be miles away, was actually right across the street from our hotel! A park which we initially didn't want to explore, was just up the street. Basically all the way up the escalators that we had taken that morning.

A quest to find local SIM cards took us to an underground marketplace connected to the subway station. Actually that was all we managed on day one, because after checking in to our rooms, taking a shower, resting (for all of 15 minutes), we just walked from one place to another to find a place that sold SIM cards. It was rather frustrating, really. Then the shopkeeper took forever to activate the SIMs, due to some complication with the systems. In the end, we had to take out our local SIMs and store them away because the Korean number wouldn't work properly otherwise. We were glad to have it, though, because it made communication so much easier. The data was ever so useful for looking up maps and getting directions to places.

Coming back, we walked down the shopping area trying to get to Jagalchi and find food. Somehow we walked all the way down to Jagalchi station, which was rather far down the road. Found food at the fish market and later walked around taking photos of people and the rather fascinating array of seafood sold.

Eventually we crossed the road to the shopping district and looked around the night market. We were already full, so we went for coffee to warm up and get out of the drizzle that had started again. Went up the hill to Busan Tower. We actually went UP the tower and took photos from there but I much preferred the park below. We went back just before midnight and rested for the next day.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Travel tips

As mentioned before, we had a lovely trip to South Korea. But afterwards, splitting the costs proved to be a bit of a nightmare...

Flight and hotels were not too bad, because there were receipts. Food and transport were a lot messier. Well, long trips were ok, because there were tickets. But small details like who paid for top ups and taxi fare were quite difficult to keep track of.

Meals were the worst, I think. We couldn't remember how much we paid for meals, coffees and snacks. I did try to keep all the receipts, but G, being male, hardly did. And sometimes I kept receipts paid by G just so that we had proof, but then I would be wondering who paid for it!

In the end, after much going back and forth, G mentioned the simplest solution - we should have had a kitty! Each puts in the same amount and all shared costs come out of it. Duh!! We can keep aside an extra bit of money for personal spending like cosmetics and souvenirs. Meals, top ups and taxi fares come out of the kitty. Easy peasy!

Oh well, lesson learnt. That's what we do the next time we travel together. For some reason, it was never so complicated before. This time maybe because I paid for the flights and most of the hotels while G paid for most of the meals. So it became messy to figure out how much he had to pay me back and stuff. Plus it was in a foreign currency for both of us.

In Malaysia and UK, it was easy to draw more cash if necessary. In Korea, we found that they didn't have the international withdrawal facilities we were used to, like PLUS. Also, food was frightfully expensive, so we couldn't simply ignore the costs like we usually did.

G already flew home yesterday and I think he should be getting home about now. I would miss him being around, there are few people I can share with about my difficulties in working life. He is much like a big brother or uncle to me...

That said, I don't generally share a room with my uncle or big brother, so the holiday costed more than I would have liked. So the next time I do a long overseas trip, I would prefer to go with my husband. It would be easier, cheaper and safer to have a man accompanying me. Although at this point, I don't have any idea where to find this elusive husband of mine.

My dad seems to attract women with incredible ease though. Barely 3 months after the demise of my unpopular stepmother, he has already found a replacement and they should be marrying by the end of the year. Amazing, huh? I don't really mind as long as she takes good care of him, but hello... can you spare a thought for your own children tak? I told him my wallet hilang pun, no response. Teruk betul.

Hrmph... nasib la labu...

Monday, September 04, 2017

Break over!

It's already the last day of a super long weekend and I'm feeling a little despondent... it's already 4 pm and I have NOT booted up the office computer yet.

Didn't do much on Merdeka Day but did go out for dinner with G. Had a coffee on him and bought fruits for Abah.

Raya day - woke up too late to go to the masjid. Then pottered around the house doing this and that. Found out Mak Ngah had passed away early in the morning. Made up a fruit basket for good old dad and followed him to Alang's place. Malam pergi Kg Pandan and then dropped Abah off at Sg Buloh.

Saturday, whiled the day away feeling sorry for myself because no one had bothered to get me a proper cake or gifts.

Sunday - suddenly realised that my wallet was missing just before i left to see the girls in Avenue K. Took the money K Ayu gave me and made do with that for the day. Petang continued looking for my wallet and failed to find it. It probably fell out of the car when I opened the door because Abah was in the passenger seat and my handbag was at my foot. I DID worry about that happening and somehow it did. :( So I cancelled my AEON card and made a police report in Sungai Buloh. Not much point of going to find it since anyone would have taken the RM100 inside and chucked the rest. Sad times we live in, really. Luckily I had the other credit card, and other ATM cards in the spare wallet. The rest are just promo cards so that's ok. Driving license just expired so it's easy to replace.

It was great to see the girls, though. I was really embarrassed because they bought such expensive gifts and all I had were bookmarks and face masks from Korea! All these special edition this and that is getting to me, though. Mana la I mampu nak beli benda mahal2 sangat... Some more terlupa about Inas' birthday present pasal it was in July and we didn't meet up. Eh... hang on... Didn't I buy something for her hari tu? OMG. Did I? Erk... tak ingat.

Today, FINALLY got to sorting out the electronic waste and vacuum/sweep/mop my rooms. The house belum lagi... the study floor still feels strangely sticky though. And the floor mat feels icky too. Mopped the kitchen and then discovered that my indoor slippers were tracking ickiness all over the floors. Took it to rinse and discovered the sole was covered with dirt and cat fur. YUCKS!! I'm seeing bits of cat fur with little flea eggs all over the house, meaning that it's high time I gave the cats their flea treatment. Right now, I just need to give the house a once over sweep and mop. Repeat every two days until the place becomes suitable for human habitation. Honestly, how did the place become so disgusting in the 9 days I was away? It didn't help that my energy levels were so low that it took forever to get things sorted.

Hope I can collect my paycheck tomorrow. I'm down to my last bit of reserve money and I need to pay for the car, electricity etc. God! I need to sort things out at work too. It's not easy to find another job right now :( 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Room mates? Where's the boundary?

I was chatting with a friend I barely knew last night, and felt rather disturbed by the turn of the conversation. I'm not a prude and I don't mind travelling with males, but I do draw the line at sharing a room with them. It bothered me also when he asked if our hypothetical future trip to South Korea would be just the two of us or with others. I was literally lost for words.

How do I tell this guy I barely met where my boundaries lie without sounding like a righteous prude? I DO travel around with G, but we are both aware of our boundaries. He is a gentleman and I know he will not try anything funny with me. We have also known each other for a long time. We were going out for dinner and coffee for yonks before we ever travelled together.

Anyway, I suppose I would tell him about my expectations soon. Directly, which is my preferred way. I'm too old to be flirting with young bucks looking to get lucky.