2019




 And just like that, it's a new year and a new decade.

2019 flew by so quickly and now I find myself refreshed and recharged from the holidays, starting a new planner with a new resolution, and getting the year wrong when I have to write down the date (you can't imagine the number of times I've written "2019" when it should already be 2020. Haha.)

I got to take a long break over the holidays (read: 2 weeks) and it's done me a lot of good. But maybe it's also because all in all, this year has been relatively chill.

NO BIG TRIPS - just lots of repeat visits to Japan and Korea (twice each). Slow travel for healing. They were great, memorable trips and were exactly what I needed.

LOTS OF FANGIRLING. I rarely mention my fangirling in my year-end posts, but after many years I've come to terms with the fact that it is a big part of my life, and I should talk about it more! For 2019 it was mostly, almost entirely fangirling for iKON, a continuation of last year. I owe my second trip to Osaka for the year to iKON, because we went to watch their concert - our first time to see them as just six members. I will only say this: I never thought I would get myself a concert ticket and book myself a flight to a foreign country just to be made to cry so much. It was a crazy emotional experience. But it's okay - iKON is still OT7 for me!

But at the home stretch I discovered a new fandom to get into: The Untamed, or CQL, or MDZS. Or two super handsome men who are each other's soulmates in magical ancient China. Haha.

I mean, look!



WORK IS WELL. There were some changes in my role but it's not work I don't know how to do. So far, it's going well. I think I can stay in this company and in this role for a while. I'm not too stressed, I am able to live comfortably, and most importantly, I have time to pursue my passion. For the first time in my corporate life, I am at peace with the fact that I am in corporate. No more angst, no more sarcasm, no more anxiety. Instead, a certain kind of calm and comfort, an inner peace.

MY PASSION. I say this year has been pretty chill but actually, I had a pretty amazing personal milestone happen this year! I finished two manuscripts - one I've decided to set aside for now, another I've been able to share with the world for free under a pen name, and the reception has been great! If there's one thing I'll take away from this year, it's the motivation I got from the fact that other people - people who don't know me, actual strangers - took the time to read my work, provide feedback, and even get to know me after. It feels like one big step in the right direction. Like this really is what I'm supposed to be doing. Building worlds and characters, telling stories, and sharing them with others.

So maybe it's not exactly a chill year, it's just that it wasn't a difficult one - pretty easygoing, single-minded in my goals, and definitely less drama compared to last year.

FRIENDSHIP AND FAMILY. This year I learned to step back from friendships in the hope that giving them breathing room will make them stronger in the future, while keeping and building on other friendships I know are for keeps. I also got to make new ones, and it's opened up my world a little bit more and made my bubble bigger, which I am so thankful for!

Also, family is everything. And I know now for sure how I want my family to be in the future. Again, that gives a certain kind of calm and comfort, an inner peace.

What do I hope for in 2020? I hope and pray for health and happiness, for myself and everyone I care about. That whatever comes our way, we will be able to come to terms with it.

I also hope and will strive to to achieve more life-long goals. Actually, just the one: to finally, FINALLY publish my books. For real this time. I am claiming it, owning it, and committing to working towards it. This year, I will publish at least one book. Four, if everything goes according to plan.

Wish me luck! Here's to an amazing 2020. :)



iKONIC Places to Visit in Seoul (A Guide to a DIY iKON Tour in Korea)





Get ready? TRAVEL!

Early this year, I went on a DIY iKON-inspired tour and visited iKONIC places in Seoul with a friend. We had so much fun and made so many memories!
  • We visited Cafe Platte, shopped at Colorful Title and met Jinhwan's noona
  • We ate at the Song Family Restaurant (twice) and met Yunhyeong's mom
  • We randomly saw Bobby's mom at our favorite bakery/cafe in Yeonnmadong
  • We saw iKON at a fansign event!
Here's a list of the places we visited and directions on how to get there + photos from the iKON Mexicana fansign event!

Where we stayed in Hongdae / Yeonnamdong

Hongdae Family Guesthouse

The place is affordable, strategically located (the closest station is Hongik University, exit 3), has very clean rooms, provides breakfast, and has friendly staff.

Three places we visited below (Bobby's favorite soondaeguk restaurant, Cafe Platte, and Fave Bakery) are all walking distance from this guest house! I strongly recommend you stay here if you want to experience Yeonnamdong.

Click here to check for available rooms on your travel dates.

Around the area:
Fave Bakery
This was our favorite bakery and went there everyday for coffee, the chocolate-covered Madelines, the biscuits and the Mont Blanc!

More importantly, this is where we ran into Bobby's mom! She was out hanging out with her friends. 

Find this location on Google Maps here.




Must-Visit iKONIC Places and Spots around Seoul!

BobDong’s Soondaeguk Restaurant from iKON TV Episode 2
(aka Tobaki Sundaekuk Kamjatang)

Find this location on Google Maps here.

Directions / How to Get There:
  • Get off at Hongik University Station and take Exit 3.
  • Walk straight parallel to Yeonnamdong park.
  • Turn left on the third corner (you will see Innis Free to your left).
  • Walk Straight until you get to the large intersection (you will see a chicken restaurant called The Chicken Specialists to your right).
  • Cross the road and turn left on the main road.
  • Walk straight, and turn right when you find Olive Young in the corner.
  • Walk straight until you see the FNC Academy building to your right (it has an Ediya Coffee at the ground floor).
  • You will see the restaurant after you walk past Ediya Coffee (the restaurant will be right next to it).  



Café Platte (Jinhwan's Noona's Cafe)

Find this location on Google Maps here.

Directions / How to Get There:
  • Get off at Hongik University Station and take Exit 3.
  • Walk straight parallel to Yeonnamdong park (this will be a VERY LONG walk. Brace yourselves).
  • When you get to the 2nd intersection (you will see the Apartment Buildings numbered 103 in front of you), turn left. 
  • Walk straight (another slightly long walk) until you see Cafe Platte to your right). 





Colorful Title (Jinhwan's Noona's Boutique)

Find this location on Google Maps here.

Directions / How to Get There:
  • Get off at Sangsu Station and take Exit 2. As soon as you exit, make a U-turn, then turn right. 
  • Walk straight until you get to an intersection with Dongmak-ro 19-gil Street (you will see It's Skin and GS25 on your left). Turn right at the intersection.
  • On the second corner, turn left. 
  • Walk straight until you find Colorful Title on your left. 


Around the area:
Club Gabbia
Find this location on Google Maps here.

Pinkage (as seen on iKON TV)
Find this location on Google Maps here.

X Academy
Find this location on Google Maps here.



Yunhyeong’s Family Restaurant

Find this location on Google Maps here.

Directions / How to Get There:
  • Get off at Jamsil Station and take Exit 8. Walk straight and you will immediately come upon a bus stop. 
  • Take Bus Number 30-5. 
  • Get off at the 12th bus station (counting Jamsil Station Exit 8 Bus Stop as your first). As an alternative (or if you lose count of how many bus stops you have passed), after you stop at Olympic Park station, get off at the 4th station, counting Olympic Park Station as the first. The bus station is called "Baedari Seohanam Nadeulmok".
  • Keep on the lookout to the left side of the road to try and spot the restaurant so you know when to get off the bus if you lose count of the stops.
  • Once you're off the bus at Baedari Seohanam Nadeulmok station, cross the wide pedestrian lane and you will reach the restaurant. 



Finally, some photos from the Mexicana fansign event!





Six Instagram-worthy Locations Loved by Hong Kong Locals





The drone of your daily routine getting to you, but don’t have the time or money to spare for a long holiday? For a quick escape, I recommend a long weekend getaway in a city like Hong Kong.

It’s a compact city that packs a punch. What it lacks in land mass (at just 2,700 square kilometers), it makes up for in a plethora of things to do, attractions to visit, and food to eat. And everything is within reach a quick walk, MRT ride, or Uber away, which makes it the perfect destination for a short getaway!

You’ll also have plenty of content for your social media feed after a trip to Hong Kong, with its many picture-perfect destinations hidden in the most non-descript locations. So here’s a pro tip: if you’re short on time for planning and want to make the most out of your trip, booking a Hong Kong private tour with an expert local guide is the way to go.

Here are a few Instagram-worthy destinations to visit on your next trip to Hong Kong!

1. Choi Hung Estate

Everyone who’s spent an inordinate amount of time on Instagram (and let’s be real, who hasn’t?) would’ve seen the aesthetically inspiring photos taken at this unexpected location. The pastel-colored backdrop of the basketball court at Hong Kong’s oldest public housing estate makes for a great shot for your Instagram profile photo.

It’s a little ways away from the Hong Kong regular tourist route, so it’ll be good to have a local show you around.

Choi Hung Estate, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon East, Hong Kong

2. PMQ

Hong Kong’s coolest new creative hub is a great place to shop, eat, and take Instagram-worthy photos in. The site used to be the location of Queen’s College, the first school to offer a Western education to Chinese students. After the war, it became a dormitory for police officers (hence the name PMQ, which stands for “Police Married Quarters”).
Now the area is home to numerous cafes and shops selling local, handmade products. Our faves include G.O.D. (Goods of Desire) for the coolest and sometimes irreverent Hong Kong souvenirs you can take home, The HK room for home goods and other trinkets, and for food, visit Levain Bakery for their amazing sourdoughs and the PMG Taste Library where you can attend various food-related workshops and events.
pmq.org.hk

3. 65 Peel

Not far from PMQ is a great lowkey bar serving local craft beer in a beautiful space. If you like the aesthetic and visual mood of the movie “In the Mood for Love”, you’ll love 65 Peel. Try one (or two, or three!) of the twelve local brews they always have on hand, sourced from various microbreweries around Hong Kong.  

65 Peel St, Central, Hong Kong

4. Ho Lee Fook

Let’s face it, you really need to go to Ho Lee Fook for the food, first and foremost. But their wall of lucky cats and the local artwork that dot the restaurant’s interior are definitely worthy of space on your Instagram stories.

A self-proclaimed “funky Chinese restaurant”, you can’t leave Ho Lee Fook without trying the roast Wagyu short ribs and the grilled pork belly with Taiwanese caper salsa.

holeefook.com.hk

5. Quinary

Hong Kong is known as one of the cities with the best nightlife spots in Asia, sporting a number of bars that serve award-winning craft cocktails. Among them, a locals’ favorite is Quinary. Their imaginative cocktails are as pretty and visually pleasing as they are delicious. Don’t forget to snap a photo or a story before taking a sip!

My go-to cocktail is a whisky sour, so any place that serves an amazing whisky sour gets a check on my book. I’m happy to report that the Quinary Sour, their own unique take on the classic, gets my approval!

If you want something a little more fun and flirty, try the Lavender Meringue Pie, and if you want something a little more adventurous, try their seasonal cocktails!

6. Yumcha

Hong Kong is also a city that thrives on cuteness, no better demonstrated anywhere else than in Yumcha. Not only are their food delicious and a great introduction to Hong Kong cuisine, they’re also so adorably pretty! The dimsum are particularly overflowing in cuteness, they’re almost too cute to eat!

yumchahk.com

2018





I often use this time of year to reflect on the year that was, put those reflections into words and post them here.

I kind of don’t feel like doing that this year.

The reason is simple: I’ve done a lot of reflecting throughout the year about everything that’s happened: while they were happening, after they happened, long after they happened. Suffice to say, it’s been exhausting. My brain is tired and maybe I just need a break from all the thinking.

That’s saying something, because I like to think. It’s a weird thing to say, but I like to mull stuff over, analyze and overanalyze, come to conclusions, figure out what I’ve learned from all of them, and save them for later use.  

But I’ve done my fair share of that this year, and for these last few days as we wind down 2018, I’d very much like to take a breather from all the…thoughts.

The other reason is that many of the things that happened which ultimately defined 2018 for me were very, very personal matters that not only involved me but many others, and I’d rather not air them out in public here (to my 2 readers, haha).

The most I’d say is this: 2018 taught me to be there for friends and to be there for family. I was happy to be there for them through everything that 2018 threw at us, and if I had to, I’d do it again in 2019. 

You know who you are – I love you guys. I’m here for you. I hope there won’t be a need for you guys to be there for me in 2019, but in any case, I’m thankful we’re all in this together, through whatever.  

Of course, there are things that happened that I am comfortable to talk about, and I will briefly mention them here.

In September this year, I closed down Love Monday Café. A brief passion project that taught me many things. It didn’t quite work out the way I planned, but I tried, and it was fun while it lasted. I have no regrets. I only remember the good times. 😊

As if it were a metaphor for my life this year in general, this year has been a year when I was able to come to terms with my life choices: career, passion pursuits, future path. I’d rather not dwell on them anymore because as I said, no more deep thoughts until 2019, but my friends know all about it. I’m putting this here more as a note to myself, if I’m being honest, so I don’t forget this memory.  


On a lighter note, then there are the usual travel stories: if this were a different year, I’d probably be raving about my 2 week-long UK solo trip on this year-end post. And maybe I should a little bit because it was epic.

I was there for a couple of days for work, and then I was there for a holiday. IT WAS LOVELY. It was the bubble I needed this year.

I stayed in the Cotswolds for five beautiful days where I lived in a converted old sheep wagon in the backyard of a lovely family’s quaint farmhouse. There was a stream nearby. I could hear the water flowing and owls hooting at night. The church bell would toll to signal the start of every hour. There would also be the occasional vroom of the fancy sports cars always zooming around because apparently, it’s a luxury to live in small, quaint English towns (I later found out my host is the daughter of a big-named former member of parliament).  

Every morning I’d wait for the bus at the Blockley bus stop that would take me to the other towns: Chipping Campden, Moreton-in-Marsh, Broadway. I’d be waiting with the same group of people, most of them Blockley residents in their 50s or 60s. The most memorable among them were a quiet man who was always impeccably dressed in a light-colored suit, slacks and a hat, who didn't say much but always had a smile, and a chatty gentleman and his wife.

On my last day in Blockley they noticed the luggage I had with me and, realizing I was already leaving, encouraged me to carve my initials on the bench we would sit on every day while waiting for the bus. The chatty gentleman even let me use his pocket knife to do it!

On the same day, my last in the Cotswolds, I decided to spend my morning in Broadway. I had a little bit of time to kill and came upon their village museum. Turned out that the artist Willard Wigan was there and so were his amazing microscopic sculptures. Literally microscopic - as in the exhibit was a table lined with microscopes you had to look into to see his work. That's one of his sculptures in the picture - created inside the eye of a needle. The eye of a needle! Can you imagine?

There weren't a lot of us, less than ten or so at the exhibit, and the artist was patient enough to answer our questions and tell us his story.

The most amazing thing is that he mentioned that he is actually on the autism spectrum. He said that even as a child he lived in a microscopic world, having been fascinated with ants and insects and all sorts of little things. He had trouble learning in school and often retreated to his tiny world (isn't there a Dr. Seuss book about something like this?).

It was inspiring, seeing him being so engaging, telling us his story, talking about his work. The incredible amount of focus, resilience and discipline it must take to do what he does! A testament to how one's difficulties are actually one's gifts, when seen in fine, microscopic detail.

After my adventure in the Cotswolds I spent a couple more days in London, in a log cabin in what my Londoner co-workers said was the dodgy part of the city, but it was a nice, quiet place, again by a stream.

I met my host’s neighbor, a guy taking his PhD on African studies and his Korean professor friend and her Korean student-friend. I joined their Saturday evening barbecue where they were talking about Grizzly Man, the documentary about Timothy Treadwell who was killed from an attack by the bears he loved – it was captured on video (but not shown in the documentary, don’t worry). 

ANYWAY, my host’s neighbor had an impressive beard, kind eyes and an eclectic taste in music.

Also while in London, I got to go to Wimbledon, a childhood dream. AND I GOT TO SEE RAFA NADAL PRACTICE! It was insane. I felt like a kid going to Disneyland for the first time. Rafa is a gladiator. He was gorgeous.

ALSO, I got to watch The Book of Mormon, which was hilarious. BUT I ALSO GOT TO WATCH HAMILTON! It was beautiful and I cried a lot.

My West End experience was quite an adventure and a story in itself, actually. When I watched Book of Mormon, I made friends with the lovely American couple sitting next to me who said they reminded me of their liberal, free-spirited daughter, and they were my adoptive parents for the duration of the play.

Meanwhile, at Hamilton, I wasn't able to get tickets online but I thought I'd take my chances at getting one at the theatre. I lined up for the resale queue and got lucky! So for the play I was mom to two teens from Glasgow who were twice my height. Their real mom wasn't feeling well and couldn't make the show so their dad, George, resold the ticket.

I thought the fangirling for the year would end in London over musicals but little did I know I would double down on it towards the end of the year, for an entirely different type of music: Kpop. Went to Taipei to watch iKON in concert in September as a birthday gift to myself and because I needed a break from aforementioned drama, and it was a great long weekend and a great show. THEN I saw them again in Manila in November WHICH WAS AMAZING! My fangirling hasn’t let up since. 

And I don’t think I want it to let up soon – Kpop might seem like a trivial thing, but fangirling over iKON has been the escape and little spot of untainted joy I needed this year. I’m so thankful I’ve been supporting them since their trainee days on Who is Next! Best decision of my Kpop life.

I realize I was quite the Scroogette at the beginning of this post, but it’s nice how it turned out quite happy in the end, somehow. Things always work out still, maybe.

I don’t have big wishes or dreams or goals for 2019. I’m on my way to finishing editing my first novel, and I hope that by the time this goes up, I would’ve already finished it.

On top of that, in 2019 I hope to learn how to bake scones, make clotted cream and learn how to play the ukulele. That’s it – plain and simple.

Happy New Year!

Visit Glasgow for a Weekend Away





For anyone a weekend away can really break up the regular routine, where ever you visit there will be things to do, but in Glasgow, there’s more. You could use it as a spa or golf weekend, or simply visit some of the wonderful sites that the city has to offer.
You might be thinking that you could do all that somewhere else, but there is no place on earth like the Scottish city. Below we have included a number of examples of just some of the activities that you can find yourself doing when in Glasgow.

Have a Spa Break

While you can go away to any place for a spa break, very few places have a relaxing atmosphere. With all the country views and relaxing areas Glasgow is the perfect place for a spa weekend away, you could even look at spa hotels in Glasgow.

If day-to-day life is causing you to feel stressed then some rest and recuperation in the relaxing environment of the spa might be the perfect thing. Wherever you go, there will no doubt be various treatments available so choose something that will suit you.

A Round of Golf

If you’re in to golf then there is no better place to be than Glasgow, surrounded by the picturesque Scottish countryside. Rather than going to your local course and playing a few rounds, a course in Glasgow will off you the opportunity to take in some beautiful views whilst playing your favourite game.

Compete with one another on the golf course during the day and visit some of the city’s bars and restaurants during the evening. You really couldn’t ask for anything better.

Sightseeing

If you’re visiting a new place, then exploring must be on your to-do list. Even if you only visit a few locations, you must get out of the hotel and see some of the wonderful sights that Glasgow has to offer.

Glasgow has a very rich culture and while you’re visiting you will surely wish to enrichen yourself by experiencing it for yourself. Immerse yourself in tourist activities, such as taking a trip around the city on a tour bus. Not only learn the history from the locals themselves, but you’ll find out what else the city has to offer.

Take a Romantic Trip

A romantic couples weekend away might be your idea of paradise, and why not? You can mix it up and have a romantic spa weekend away, or if you’d rather, why not visit some of Glasgow’s more romantic sights, such as the Royal Theatre or take a trip along the river on a Waverley Paddle Steamer Excursion? Whether it’s a blossoming romance or keeping the old flame alive, we are sure the stunning views will have you falling heads over heels in love not just with each other, but with Scotland, too.

However, if your idea of a romantic break is enjoying some of the finer things that can be found indoors, then you must at least visit some of Glasgow’s restaurants. There are so many, so you are guaranteed to find something to suit you, maybe even think about trying something that you’ve never tried before. What better city to do it in than Glasgow?
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