Updates, language learning and life in Korea

Hi there! I’m in Korea right now. I am not supposed to be sitting here and blog tonight but here I’m.

I just realised I haven’t been updating my blog for like almost two years? Maintaining a blog is easier said than done!

Let me give you a quick update on my life for the past two years. (it is mostly for my own record. When I grow old Ima come back and read this!) I’m a person who’s always hungry for some changes – which leads to the fact that I am always on-the-go, wanting to meet new people and when I finally get bored of a city I move on.

I quit my job, left Thailand in March 2015 and moved to Korea in April for the purpose of learning the language. Time flies and it has already been 10 months – clearly it is far from enough to master a language, but I was able to pick up the foundation and communicate with the locals without huge problems by starting from zero 10 months ago (of course there are slip-ups, quite a lot I’d say?). On the side note I didn’t plan to stay for 10 months even, it was supposed to be a 10-week short trip to immerse into a whole new culture, learn the basics of a language and recharge myself.. then turned out by the end of the third month I decided to stay a little longer because I didn’t want to be jack of all trades but master of none. Not anymore.

Since I entered my 20s I started to develop an interest in language learning – I was told by a lot that it would be a bit late but nothing could really stop me from it. I do regret the fact that I didn’t buried myself in learning English nor had I pay any attention in class back in secondary school. however as soon as I went abroad for my undergrad it came to my realisation that I should have learned a foreign language when I was young. I certainly have lost the competitive advantage compare with children at young age but that doesn’t mean there is no hope for adults to acquire a new language and master it to a certain degree. Take English for an example, as a Hong konger I was exposed to the English language on a daily basis, not through conversations since I went to a local school, but our text books which were written in English and the bilingual physical environments like road signs and public announcements. Thanks to that even tho I was never paying attention in class I did at least had the concept in mind of how English works – to some degree. There were phrases that I accidentally heard in class when I was young and I still remember them as of today. In the contrary, in recent years when I come across new English vocabularies and phrases it doesn’t go into my head as easy as it used to be! per se learning English is still at the top of my bucket list.

Going back to the Korean language learning journey here in Seoul… I am currently doing level 4 out of 6 (with 6 being the highest)-At the beginning I was very determined and motivated – but 10 months has passed and I’ve lost my motivation and tenaciousness. I came to a conclusion that it has to do with the slow down of my learning curve in the active part of the language (writing and speaking) while I am fully enjoying the passive part of learning (reading and listening). I call it an imbalance of the two functions and esp when I get writer stuck or stuck in words while speaking. That has become one of the reasons why I decided to take a break from learning it after finishing the intermediate course because I don’t think I will make any progress by taking classes every day, at least for now. (Instead I have enrolled in a part time course in Hong Kong – to make sure I keep practising the language! I don’t easily give up after all, just finding ways to solve problem)

The teaching system at Kyung Hee University (the school that I enrolled at) is great, the text books were well written, teachers are very qualified. Esp when it comes to grammatical skills, hands down to this school because we learn about 65-70 new grammars every 10 weeks haha. That sounds overwhelming but I was told by my friends how impressed they are with my grammatical expressions on kakaotalk. To be fair I have to say this school certainly puts less focus on speaking – which a lot of caucasian learners don’t fancy because it is an environment more suitable for passive learners and thus I also heard comments about how students straight out of Kyung Hee generally aren’t good speakers. Anyhow, I did enjoy my 10 months here and I’ve no regrets. I traveled, I’ve made friends and I had fun learning the language just like trudging up the hill. I am gonna have to write some blogs about the school before i forget.

As for now it is time to turn my computer off and do some work!

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**Naejang mountain Nov 2015** – fall foliage🙂

Dansk Hotdog – Copenhagen

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Hotdog is a must-try when you are in Copenhagen. A fine day at Torvehallerne Food Market, Norreport – we stumbled upon a food stand glued with a poster that says “gourmet hotdogs” on it. why not give it a shot? twice the price compare to other hot-dog stands, the sauce was about right, the concoction was tasty, but it is a shame that the bread wasn’t crusty, a bit chewy even, it would have been the best hotdog if it was crusty!🙂

[From Bangkok] Jim Thompson Farm, Khao Yai, Thailand

About four months ago, I met a group of Hong Kongers who also live in Bangkok.

Ever since, my life in Bangkok has changed a little – weekend life doesn’t confine to spending time in the malls anymore. Other than fooding and regular gathering in the city, from time to time these folks organise road trips and interesting expedition which is worthwhile to visit and remember. The camera that I brought along can also be harnessed again.

So yea, my friends called for a trip to the “Jim Thompson Farm Annual Tour 2013” just before its closure. The farm is located in Khao Yai, about 250 kilometers from Bangkok, it opens for a month annually during the cool season, usually from mid-December to mid-January.

Entrance

The website of the farm:
http://www.jimthompsonfarm.com/JIMTHOMPSON_FARM/ENGLISH.html

The farm is the strollers’ paradise – thanks to the beautiful weather and pleasant temperature this time around, the greenery surroundings and beautiful flower fields have already beaten up the pretentious shopping malls and skyscrapers in the city.

This year the farm features flower fields, silkworm making, a pumpkin patch with gigantic pumpkins, and much more to be seen. The entrance ticket is only priced from THB 80 to THB 140.

The moment we hopped off from the car, we were already stunned by the amazing wallpaper-like view. My company couldn’t help but run towards the field with twinkle in her eyes! We all know there are something even more amazing in this world, but with a rather low expectation, this already blasted our eyes.

flower sea
flower sea

We continued touring the farm having had a bowl of noodle by the entrance. Special shuttles decorated colourfully with paints and patterns brought us around the five stops in the farm.

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As soon as we saw the flower sea/ field, we were running for it! I didn’t really take pictures of only the field of flower

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The pumpkin patch caught lots of kids’ attention so as mine!

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Performers singing traditional Thai songs

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Live portrait drawing – THB 150 for adults, THB 100 for children🙂 I sat on a bench for about ten minutes to get this done! my mouth went numb after a few minutes as I had to stay smiling. But everyone said the portrait did not look like me at all! *sob*

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Silk production room – look at the worms crawling on the leaves!!! gooooosebumps!😀 The kids around me got so excited.

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I craned my neck and see all these pieces hanging on the tree – as decorations all around the farm. I found them beautifully coloured so I’ve taken a couple of them to add to this collection.

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There weren’t many foreign visitors, only a group or two we saw, but I think if you long to see some flower field in a tropical country, bring your kids for some entertainment, or simply a getaway from the city buzz, it is worth the three-hour drive! – but til next year!

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[I ❤ BAKING] Lemon Cheesecake! (with recipe!!)

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I love cheesecake and I love the tangy taste of lemon curd, so I decided to make Lemon cheesecake the other day and it turned out to be so good!🙂 My friends loved it and always asked me for more…

I’m just a newbie in baking so of course, I didn’t invent this recipe but I merged a few recipe that I liked and customize into my own recipe :

Let’s start!

Preheat oven at 180 degree celsius.

Crust

200 g Graham biscuits or Digestive biscuits
110 g Butter
(You can add 50 g sugar, but I personally like sugar-free crust)

Grind the biscuits into very fine crumbs. Melt butter and mix with the crumbs, spread the mixture over the bottom of your springform pan (I used a 23.5cm one), gently press until the crumbs are evenly spread.

Put the springform pan into the oven for around 5 minutes, take out and let it cool down.

Lemon Curd

2 Small eggs
100 g Sugar
100 ml FRESHLY SQUEEZED lemon juice
50 g Butter
1 pinch Lemon zest

Turn on stove, boil a pot of water until it simmers, at the same time and Mix eggs, sugar, lemon juice in a heat proof mixing bowl. Place the mixing bowl on top of the pot and keep stirring the mixture with a wire whisk for about 5-10 minutes, until the mixture is hot enough to thicken. Remove the mixing bowl from the pot, then stir in the butter and lemon zest to smoothen the mixture, put aside to cool down.

Filling

60 ml FRESHLY SQUEEZED lemon juice (I really do emphasize the freshly squeeze part.. haha)
700 g Cream Cheese
300 g Heavy Cream
75 g Sugar
3 teaspoons Gelatin powder
60-100 g lemon curd that you just made… (precise amount should be adjusted to your own preference)

Put together cream cheese, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl, use a hand-mixer or a stand-mixer, beat until smooth. Add the heavy cream slowly into the mixture, beat until it’s volumed and fluffy.

Meanwhile, heat up the lemon juice in microwave, add in the gelatin powder bit by bit, mix well until gelatin powder dissolves.

Beat for another time after adding lemon curd and  the hot gelatin mix.

Simple as that you can now pour your filling mixture on top of the baked crust🙂
Use a piping bag to decorate the top of the cake with lemon curd. keep it in the fridge overnight or at least a few hours before serving🙂

you can as well add some blueberries for decoration😀  (I trashed my box of blueberries by mistake..)

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enjoy

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[SHANGHAI EATERIES] GOGA @ YUE YANG ROAD

I went to this restaurant long time ago (August 2012) but I thought it would be nice to share since it’s my favourite restaurant in Shanghai.

The two-storey restaurant is a hidden paradise in Shanghai serving American-Japanese fusion cuisine. Recommended by an alumni during our meal at Cuivre, my friend and I have been so cajoled to venture this place, despite the typhoon that hit Shanghai harshly on that day.
Location is, once again, in Puxi, along Yue Yang Lu (岳陽路) near Dong Ping Lu. (I said once again because you can find a lot of eateries around that area)
There are only 12 + 5 indoor seating and I think there’re more seats available upstairs. I requested for the counter table so the munchies can sneak peek what the chefs are doing behind our table!🙂
we got to see Chef Brad and he treated us pineapple vinegar and some spanish canned clamps.😉 lucky cookie to have seated at the counter! muach!

Goga is a place where people sit on each others’ laps. tables squeeze together and only lil space is left to mobile in the resto. Business occasion/ romantic dates are advised to stay away from Goga but for munchies like us who love food adventures and don’t mind to pay for its price, Goga is highly recommended to you! NOM NOM NOM!

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Torched Tuna Tataki with soya miso mustard and furikake (Half portion)

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Pan-seared cape cod scallops with snow peas, porcini mushrooms, lobster sparkling cream and macadamia nuts.

The sauce was sinfully rich and the scallop was well seared. It also goes well with the asparagus and the veggies aside of it!

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Miso Broiled Black Cod with shrimps shitake salsa, endamame jus and truffle kabayaki.

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Lemon Curd! with blueberries

[SHANGHAI EATERIES] Shintaro @ The Four Seasons Shanghai (Puxi Weihai Road)

DID NOT BRING A CAMERA FOR THIS VISIT NOR DID MY PHONE HAD BATTERIES….

Address: 500 Wei Hai Lu, Four Seasons Hotel.
Number: 6256-8888
Opening Hours: 5:30pm to 9:30pm
Price Range: ~350 RMB

Munchie Cherie’s rating (5 NOM scale)
Food: NOM NOM NOM NOM
Service: NOM NOM NOM NOM
Atmosphere: NOM NOM NOM NOM
Value: NOM NOM NOM NOM

SHAME ON ME. Really. haha. But that’s okay. I am just ganna briefly write up my experience at the SHINTARO.

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It was a gathering of 8 at the Shintaro. This Japanese restaurant offers a la carte ALL YOU CAN EAT style with a price of around 250 + service charge drinks excluded. Price was reasonable and we were quite satisfied with it, there is also another price option which was around 350 RMB + service charge with a more succinct choice and lavish ingredients.

The seafood they used were fresh, orders came in timely manner. The must try are the hand-rolls, matcha ice cream and sashimi.

[SHANGHAI EATERIES] El Willy (Zhong Shan Dong Er Lu, The Bund)

El Willy is a mid-priced Spanish restaurant relocated from Donghu Road to the current address, 22 South Bund. It was awarded as the best Mediterranean resto this year by Cityweekend and it is always on top of the best restaurants list.

Address: 5/F, 22 Zhongshan Dong Er Lu, near Jin Ling East Road (PUXI)
Number: 5404-5757
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-2:30pm, 6pm-10:30pm, closed Sundays
Price Range: ~400 RMB per person

Munchie Cherie’s rating (5 NOM scale)
Food: NOM NOM NOM
Service: NOM NOM NOM NOM
Atmosphere: NOM NOM NOM NOM
Value: NOM NOM

Concluding our experience in one sentence, ‘comme ci, comme ça’, El willy wasn’t as bewitching as what people have been posting and talking about, except the dessert really even up the downside of their tapas. I always browse a restaurant’s website before I make a reservation. Thanks to the quirky website and their extensive menu selection available to be seen up there, I was really thrilled before visiting, since I’m a sucker for Spanish cuisine, maybe due to its prominence and rankings on top of my Spanish food affection, my expectations has gone far off the top, and it does not match with the reality.
The restaurant is quite a funky place to begin with, the decor, the tablewares and its animated theme. Me encanta.
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Bar Area
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Restaurant Interior
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Tapas 1: Calamares a la romana – fried squids
The first dish has already let me down. Fried squids, overly charged, were thickly breaded and coated… I was a little weary already after a few pieces and couldn’t continue eating anymore. I still remember the best Romana calamares I have ever had was from Arola restaurant opened by 2* michelin chef Sergi Arola from Barcelona…
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Tapas 2: Gambas al ajillo – sauteed shrimps with garlic and chilli 
Another unimpressed dish. Shrimps weren’t fresh and by chewing the shrimps longer in the mouth gives a bitter taste, nothing to do with the garlic. However the sauce was brilliant and rich. The only thing they need to deal with is the quality of shrimps.
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Tapas 3: Crispy suckling pig cooked 12 hours, pear tatin, pistachios & port sauce
‘NOOOOOO…’ I literally moaned after I had a bite of the cochinillo asado (suckling pig). The sauce, once again, was amazing but the meat’s texture was really poor. The skin was chewy and it stuck between my teeth for a while…😦
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Tapas 4: Australian grain fed lamb cooked for 24 hours, eggplant, fresh oregano, tomato jam & lightly spiced relish
After the first three disappointing tapas we had, I almost gave up on trying already. I pick up my fork with my fascination put off and stuff the lamb into my mouth… nom nom nom. Que rico! the lamb wasn’t so bad, it was tender, and the saltiness not too provoking. Finally a better dish though not particularly spectacular.
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Tapas 5: Organic eggs with seared foie gras and truffles
The most expected dish came eventually~ Our best-loved foie gras. One can never go wrong with the blend of truffles and foie gras, or eggs. Searing brought out the magnificent combined taste of all the ingredients. HOWEVER. there’s always a however. There were only four tiny pieces of foie gras in the bowl, but numerous of tortilla chips. (as you can see from the pic) not worth the price of around 150 (can’t remember the exact price)
WOOOOOOT! Dessert time! There weren’t many choices, around 5 or 6 kinds of desserts available. We asked a Spanish lady for recommendation (((( oh and I think she is from Madrid? )))) we picked the following two and they were both very palatable.
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Dessert 1: Chocolate and hazelnut duo of coulants with raspberry sorbet & chocolate ice cream
NOM NOM NOM. The raspberry sorbet was really really enlivening after so much greasy food. The chocolate ice cream was just tasty, and the aroma stays in the mouth without getting fed up with.
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Dessert 2: Classic trio of Catalan cream, rice with milk & leche frita
Classic is classic. Each of us pick our most wanted dessert and I opted for the classic. I FANCY my arroz con leche (rice with milk) and leche frita (fried milk), really flavorful.
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La cuenta (The bill)
We paid 800 RMB for this meal. I don’t know if it was us who picked the wrong dishes. By only considering our experience this time, for the price we paid, I think El Willy needs more efforts on preserving its quality of food.