Quick Notes: Seoul, South Korea

I visited Seoul last 07 to 12 April 2016 primarily for the cherry blossoms and it did not disappoint.

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Luckily, we were still able to catch the last few days of the cherry blossoms festival in Jinhae…

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… with trees scattered in Seoul also still in full bloom.

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As a bonus, we were also just in time for the Tulip festival in Everland.

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It was a successful trip overall and here are my additional notes and thoughts:

Favorite place among those visited: Nami Island

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Favorite food I tasted: Street foods, especially the fresh strawberries with chocolate (runner-up: banana chocolate crepe with cereals)

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Favorite experience: T-Express ride in Everland

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Pleasant surprise:
– Streetfoods in Myeongdong
– Yeouido park

Other notes:
– Efficient transportation system
– They love to walk (trip involved lots of walking)
– Loads of beauty products

I think we still missed a lot of stops so might visit Seoul again. After all, Nami deserves a return trip.

First Time: Sitting through an 8-hour movie

My family loves to watch movies. Our mall trips during weekends generally involves setting aside time for a movie. It is a shared experience and our means to bond.

Personally, I am inclined towards animated movies. Aside from being colorful, imaginative and playful, there are lots of lessons (and quotes) to be picked up in every movie. Not to take anything away from other movie genres, I just want the message to be delivered in a lighter way.

Curiosity got the best of me, however, upon hearing about Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis (Lullaby of the Sorrowful Mystery), which runs for about 8 hours (NOTE: 20 minute break was provided by the cinema after every 3 hours). First of, I was surprised that it was shown in cinemas given its run time! Thinking it will be a unique experience, I grabbed the opportunity and went for it. Prior to this one, the longest movie I watched ran for just 3 hours.

The experience

The first 2 hours was manageable, which I think was purely because it is the average runtime nowadays for a movie.

3rd to 6th hour was the struggle. Aside from being in the middle of the plot, my mind was already starting to wander elsewhere. It was almost as if my brain is telling me I have other things to do. Food is running low. Legs were getting tight. Thankfully there was a break in between. My friend was already inviting me to leave early.

7th hour felt like the longest especially since I knew it was about to end. Suddenly I almost become impatient and felt like minutes started to slow down.

8th hour was bliss. I knew the movie was ending and my brain was suddenly alert.

The movie

It was a black and white film with two key narratives: the search for Andres Bonifacio’s body and events after the failed attempt in El Filibusterismo.

Admittedly, I felt lost for around 5 hours of the movie. Its strength came in the last 2 hours, especially in the conversations between the two protagonists (Simoun and Isagani) and Simoun and a priest. The Kundimans (traditional love songs) at the start were also stunning.

Takeaway

Overall, I’d say I am not meant for this type of movie given my attention span, which has significantly grown shorter through time. Personally, I need to mature as a moviegoer to engage myself in this kind of movie both length and theme wise.

Nevertheless, it was a good experience and I am proud to say I was part of the 7 who finished the movie out of almost 20 moviegoers who started.

First Time: Painting (without numbers)

Last Saturday (March 5), I was at Sip and Gogh Kapitolyo to try out painting.  I do not know much about painting but curious enough to experience it.

Since it was an open session, we (me, my mom and sisters) were asked to select a painting that we would try to replicate.  I thought it would be a painting by numbers type of lesson but I guessed wrong.  The staff would really teach you how to mix colors and paint (my mind went blank and heart started beating fast).

But, I have to say the dedicated staff of Sip and Gogh to our group was very encouraging.  By the end of our two-hour session, I did have something presentable.

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My version of a Night filled with Fireflies

I chose this painting because I remembered two things:

(a) my fireflies watching experience in Loboc River, Bohol – a magical experience that I was not able to capture on camera; and,

(b) Fireflies by Owl City – one of my favorite songs of all time.

My brain went to overdrive upon seeing it and started day dreaming for a few seconds with the following thought bubble:

I know fireflies are not fairies or pixies that come from far faraway lands.  There is nothing magic about how they produce light given that is more on biology.

But, from time to time, I allow myself to experience a bit of magic through imagination.  A night filled with fireflies is definitely my kind of whimsy..  I could just close my eyes and let my imagination do the rest (cue Fireflies by Owl City).

So there… I am happy with the experience and my output.  Thank you Sip and Gogh since I can now enjoy a night filled with fireflies at the comfort of my home.

I also realized I am not that bad at arts after all. Still a lot to learn but something not to be afraid of.  As one of the Van Gogh quotes posted in the wall says:

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.

Coastal cleanup

I participated in my first coastal clean-up last weekend, 27 to 28 February 2016.

Though the worldwide clean-up happens around September, it was adjusted here in our country to coincide with the summer season.  We went to two dive sites in Anilao: Mainit and Dead Palm.

I enjoyed the experience. It was my means of giving back to the ocean, which was the venue for most of my wonderful memories. 

Looking back, it was a good thing that I had mastered my buoyancy given that most of the trash are wedged in between corals. No point picking up trash but destroying corals in the process.

I also felt sad. Seeing the extent of trash we leave behind is depressing… There are diapers, sachets and toys. Too much plastic! Given that these trash are foreign in nature, it disrupts the balance of the marine ecosystem.

Good thing that in Dead Palm, trash was minimal. A glimmer of hope that maybe tourists are starting to get conscious. Or, residents are exerting efforts to protect the corals.

Mental note to not be a contributor to ocean waste.  Looking forward to my next coastal cleanup activity.

Transferred Post: Our First Shark Experience

Original publish date:  11 August 2013 (daredevildivers’ wordpress)

NOTE:  To date, this remains as one of my most amazing dive experiences… well not just the thresher sharks but Malapascua as a whole.  There were  sharks, mantas, octopus, turtle, frogfish, mandarin fish, etc. Though the weather was not that perfect (rainy season), somehow we got lucky.

A return trip here remains on my wishlist (maybe when my sister learns to dive?)

Transferred Post: This time, I knew

Original publish date:  16 July 2013 (daredevildivers’ wordpress)

Wonderful memories are made each time a person dives. It may be the first time you went deeper than 60ft, the sight of a juvenile harlequin fish or the joy in discovering a swimming turtle. It may be a feeling or it may be a sighting… Always wonderful.

For me, one of my treasured memories was the first time I wore the regulator away from the surface… That initial encounter with diving in the first confined water pool session when the instructor assisted us going down the bottom of the pool.

I can still remember how conscious and paranoid I was in trying to equalize that it took me two tries (and a persistent instructor) before I managed to set my fins at the bottom of the pool. Somehow I thought equalization is the same as sneezing so I was not getting the intended result. (Good thing a person can swallow to equalize.)

Breathe in, breathe out… Breathe in, breathe out then it was love. I already knew diving will be worth all the money, time and effort. Now, I may be near broke but am always happy.

A lot has happened since then. 50+ dives after, I have to say it is still love.  Every single dive is just as wonderful with its own story to tell.  My happy temporary escape.