I need to stop wasting my time on the 'bad' girls and start paying more attention to the 'good' girls. It's a total time-waster to spend any seconds doing anything with the 'bad' ones. Ha!
I just realized I have been blogging for the past 3 years! Well it was quite a long time isn't it? Some of my friends just started blogging. Am I consider a pioneer in blogging then?
Anyways, lots of changes happened in my life. When I started blogging here, I was still searching for a full-time job in the bay-area since the economy wasn't good in '03. I was playing Final Fantasy XI MMORPG day and night :)
Then of course, I got a job at TechExcel and worked there for over 2 years. Lots of professional experiences and I got to travel throughout U.S. and Canada quite a bit. During those 2.5 years, I moved out from parents' place and lived in Walnut Creek and had my own apartment the first time in my life! It was a very nice place, except the parking was terrible :(
Then I got my Acura. Then I moved to Milpitas to my friend Patrick's.
We had lots of fun and he's quite a good housemate. And then I changed church
. And then I quite my U.S. job and moved back to Hong Kong in March this year. Now I
am into my 2nd job in HK. Wow, what a life. Maybe some of you think it's no big deal, but there are simply too many things happened for me!
Can't believe I am still blogging here. Life goes on after 3 years, blog still goes on. And I am always the same Chris you know :-)
DAY 1: A Walk Along The Path Of History
OK, finally have the time to sit down and start writing my trip to Korea this August. I have decided to use English this time instead to write it out because I am simply faster typing English than Chinese :) Plus, I have not been writing in English for a while on my blog. So this is a treat to my English-speaking friends as well!!!!
a. HK Airport -> Korea Icheon Airport (仁川機場)
On the night before the trip, it started having drizzles. I was praying that the weather will be fine but when I took the airport bus from Shatin downtown to airport, it started raining! Exactly one week ago there was Typhoon no.3. Would this be a continuation!? Would I get stuck in the airport and stay overnight? Oh no, I want to go to Korea!!
I met up with my travel buddy, Jayson at the airport yo check-in. Jayson is a good friend I recently know from my church. The moment I know him, I know he's a great travel buddy. Well, it turns out exactly as I thought. More on Jayson later (I call him J here). When it was time for us to check-in, the girl at the counter told us the plane is quite full. After about 10 minutes of back and forth, the girl finally got us 2 seats together - kind of, because they are an aisle apart. But rejoice, because the 2 are good seats with lots of leg-rooms! So I was bragging to J that because of my charm and talked to the girl we got good seats! Wahahahaa! There was a group of girl-guides travelling with us, probably attending some international girl-guide meeting in Korea. On the plane, we ended up being surrounded by these girl guides because they put us right among them. Fortunately these little girls were not very noisy because it was a night flight. And their lead told them to behave.
Food on Asiana Airlines was very ordinary. I was expecting some authentic Korean food like the food a few years ago when I took Korean Air from SF to HK. Now I know which airline I will take next time I go to Korea! The flight time was about 3.5 hours. Originally scheduled around 12:30am to take off, but because of the rain it was delayed for more than an hour. I was so thankful when the plane could finally take off, because I so wanted to go on this trip and please don't get me stuck in the airport! I had that horror experience a few years ago in U.S., ended up getting stuck in the airport and slept there. So when our pilot told us through the speakers that the plane would finally take off, I gave thanks to the Lord! Nothing could stop us from going!!
Our plane arrived at Icheon Airport around 6:00am. J and I got good spots at the immigration counter. J got through. When it was my turn, the officer asked me to show him the small slip I needed to fill out. What small slip? Turns out the Asiana air-hostess FORGOT to give me one. So instead of a 5-minute smooth imiigration check, I have to go all the way back and fill out the form. By the time I finished filling out the form, the girl guides marched in and occupied the lanes!!! It took 30 more minutes for me to go through. It really suck. Time-waster. Fortunately, this is almost the only 'glitch' of the trip! And fortunately we were in no hurry to catch a ride either.
b. Icheon Airport to Co-Op Residence
Icheon Airport is very big and very new. A little bit similar in
facilities and size of our great Hong Kong airport. It was still very
early when we arrived, so most shops were closed. We found the shuttle
bus counter and told the lady we needed to go to Dongdaemun. The lady
knew a little English and we got our voucher for boarding the shuttle
Our bus 602 took around an hour and we got off at the Dongdaemun station. According to instructions given by our HK travel agency, we can take a taxi from this bus station and it would take around 3 minutes to reach the hotel. We decided to walk to our hotel because we wanted to see the streets along the way. It turns out to be another unforgettable experience!
We had our hotel's address on hand, but we didn't have an exact map. So we asked the locals along the way, while carrying our luggage. The locals were very helpful in general, but they DON'T KNOW THEIR CITY :) Along the way and among our asked locals, there was this woman who came from China. She saw us asking her in English, and immediately she started speaking Mandarin to us! Delighted, she pointed us to a direction which turned out to be the opposite of where we needed to head to :( There was this local woman who told us she didn't know, and pointed to a young guy first. The young guy didn't know either, so the local woman pointed us to the phone and walked off! Okay.... Then, finally we encountered this local guy in his 50s. He seemed very knowledgable and reliable, and was motioning to us that the hotel was really close, and told us to follow him. We followed him a bit. Then I saw our hotel with my own eyes! Turns out the guy was still a little misleading and didn't know where our hotel is. But we're still grateful because we finally arrived at our hotel after more than 30 minutes walking on the street and got all sweaty. We put down our luggage and walked straight into the hotel's french restaurant for some simple breakfast. The food was beyond ordinary - sausage, scrambled egg, milk, orange juice. However, the restaurant is very nicely decorated and we took a few pictures with the restaurant as background. Since we couldn't check-in to hotel yet because it was too early, we then decided to go to the nearby Dongdaemun market area for some exploration!
c. Dongdaemun (東大門) -> City Tour Bus
Dongdaemun is an area around the Dongdaemun Stadium. The stadium
itself is quite old and host regular baseball games. Around the
stadium, there are street-shops selling cheap clothings. Recently,
there are several multi-storey malls built and they are mainly fashion
malls. I mean, the entire 10 storey mall is rented to individual
shops. Usually at the top of the mall there is foodcourt. There are
several of them - hello aPm, Doota etc.
It was still early, so most malls were still closed. We walked around the area and unexpectedly saw the tourist center! Delighted, we went in and to our surprise, most staff do not speak English. I walked up to a young lady and she started pointing to an old man, indicating 'I don't speak English but he does'. Turns out the old man doesn't speak any English as well. But he was so kind and indicated to us that an English speaking staff is on her way and told us to wait. He actually got two chairs and have us sat down to wait. He was so kind I didn't know what to do - an old man in his 70s moving chairs for 2 young guys! Agh! Anyways, there was free net access there so we did managed to check our emails, although Windows and IE are ENTIRELY in Korean. J and I are both IT folks, so no problem here!
The English staff came back and we asked her about the City Tour Bus we're interested in. Turns out there is a bus stop right in front of the tourist info center. We hopped onto the bus and got two all-day tickets from a sweet-look young college student (pretty girl!) Cost us 10,000won each (about HK$85). The ticket gave us the right to use the bus to take off and get on unlimited times at any of the 27 stops around the city of Seoul in a day. Our bus is scheduled every 30 minutes, so we needed to be at the bus stop at designated times. There is a headset on each seat, introducting each spot as the bus approaches the destinations. It has English and Chinese as well. It was very informational and we got to know the place a little more with its background and interesting facts. On the bus, there were mostly locals. Families use the bus to have weekend trips around town.
d. Dongdaemun -> National Museum of Korea 國立博物館
We decided to go on a historical tour on the first day. Learn a little more about the history of Korea. So, our first stop was going to the National Museum of Korea. The museum is built in 2005, and it is even very new to the locals. When we arrived at the museum, the place was quite packed with families and kids. We had our quick lunch at the FamilyMart (damn, still no authentic Korean food!) and got our tickets. With our City Bus Tour discount, we got our ticket for 2000won each (around HK$16). It turns out to be one of the best deals in my life! Why? Because this museum is actually the 6th largest national museums in the world, hosting a few thousand pieces of precious Korea national treasures and artifacts. The place was so huge my legs were cramped while walking through huge galleries after huge galleries. Of course, there were boring stuff like dirty pots and pans. But there were a lot of interesting artifacts to watch: huge figure scrolls, highly detailed and very long scrolls, documents written in Chinese, statues, big buddhas. We took nearly 3 hours just barely went through all the exhibits!
It was quite an eye-opener for me about this museum. I never know there are such rich cultures in ancient Korea. The Korean history is actually only about a few hundred years younger than our 5000 years Chinese history. I learned to appreciate the rich culture of Korea through this museum. I am pleasantly surprised to see there are just so many kids inside the museum looking at artifacts. They are so interested in their own culture! Parents would educate the kids about the exhibits, and the kids always show interests to learn more. There are also computer booths throughout the museum letting kids play. Not any games, but a historical interactive quiz that helps kids learn more about the Korean culture. Every kid played it and enjoyed it. I can see that the Korean are so proud of their own culture. We Chinese should learn from them to educate our next generation and get them interested in Chinese history, instead of play video games or watch TV!
e. National Museum of Korea -> War Memorial Museum of Korea (戰爭博物館)
Next stop was the War Memorial Museum. When we arrived, we realized there were lots of actual war machine exhibits outside the museum for free to look at - tanks, planes, rockets etc. We decided to go in first and check out the museum.
We followed the path of suggested exhibits. First, we got to look at the details of the Korean War. A little background: After the end of World War II, Japan voluntarily gave up control of Korea. The COmmunist USSR took control of the northern part and U.S. took over the Southern part. The North Korean army made a surprise attack one night to the South and advanced a lot. Then USSR pulled out North Korea and stopped supporting. The South, led by U.S., fought back and got the North Korean army into brink of defeat. Then Communist China involved and gave a hand to the North Koreans. China uses 'sea of people' tactics to push back the frontline against the South Korean army. The Chinese even used cymbals and trumpets during the war to pretend there are huge sum of people. In 1953 the war ended and the 38 line becomes the separating line of North and South Korea until today.
The exhibit was awesome to say the least, detailing every major incident happened during the Korean War. It has a lot of wax exhibits to depict the warfare. I didn't take many pictures of them because there were simply way too many! The exhibit is in English and Korean, so it was easy for us to follow the events. It was very very interesting exhibits and i think any guy will love this place. After the Korean War exhibits, there are several exhibits talking about the UN, the Korea involvement in the Vietname War, involvement in Gulf War, assistance in Somalia etc. Every exhibits have wax models, as well as miniature event models describing the happenings. After all these exhibits, we went to a showroom where we could ride on and take pictures with some war motorcycles, tanks, planes etc. We then looked outside the museum, and saw 10 times more stuff than those in the showroom!! J was ecstatic, and I was.......tired!!!! We went out and did more pictures. There are some U.S. war planes where we can go into the cockpit. We can also go into the interior of some tanks and transports. When I think about it now, I should've gotten real excited too. But I was way too tired at that time because there were simply WAY TOO MUCH to see! Oh, and there is a...submarine, some rockets, classic tanks etc. Unbelievable collection. Since South Korea has good relationship with U.S., we could even see a few U.S. war planes and tanks and rockets. And remember, these outdoor machine exhibits are all FREE. So anyone can take pictures with these stuff!!
I think we have spent over 2 hours here. Our next stop is going back to our hotel to check-in and get brushed up for our night activities!
f. War Memorial Museum -> Co-Op Residence
Our hotel is unlike the traditional hotel. A lot of locals actually live at our co-op residence. It is more like a kind of service apartments. Our room is quite small, but it has everything even a kitchen! The bathroom is the same as the shower place, so when you shower it will get your toilet seat all wet. And then there is the electric plug problem: in South Korea you got to have the 2-leg round plug. J and I got ourselves some 2-legged ones, but not round plug. So it became impossible to get our plugs plugged in. Fortunately the front-desk was very helpful and lend us a few plugs. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to shave for a few days and everyone will see a beard Chris! The beds are extremely comfy. Also they provide sleepers and basic utensils. It even has a fridge and microwave, a TV (although bad reception), an internet connection but no computer (we regretted for not bringing our own laptops!). Next time I will remember to bring my gear!
g. Co-Op Residence -> Myeongdong (明洞)
After some quick showers, we decided to get some good authentic korean food. This time, we will travel on the subway to a place called Myeongdong. The place is like HK's Causeway Bay where young people gather for fashion and food. OK, let's go. I was starving!
Before reaching our destination, we have to take the subway. Since it's the first time for both of us to take the Korean subway, we got to study the subway map a little. There were English names for the stations so no probem here. It just took a little time to find out where we are, and where we should be heading to. Because there are hundreds of stations and several lines criscrossing each other. We got ourselves a stored-value passcard called 'T-Money' - Just like HK's Octopus Card. 2500 deposit, and you can add any value to it anytime through the ticket counter. I used my experiences with the subway system from bay-area, New York, and Japan, and we figured out how to get the T-money, and got onto the right platform. The Korean subway was simply awesome. The train is very wide inside, so you don't feel cramped at all. It is very brightly-lit so you feel very safe. Very clean and quiet and stable too, unlike the HK subway where there are sudden shakings. One interesting thing was that there are usually beggars walking slowly through each train compartments when the train is in motion from station to station. These beggars usually is 1 or 2 person, with sunglasses and playing their harmonica. The locals usually ignore them, so do we :)
We got off at Myeongdong station, and headed straight to the restaurant our guidebook mentioned. Unfortunately it was already too late and the shop we wanted to eat at was closing, so we got into another restaurant the tourbook mentioned and had some very delicious BBQ pork-stomach meat! The restaurant folks again spoke minimal English. So we just motioned our way to get our order and got 4 bottles of Coke. The menu had pictures all over so no problem ordering. Man, Coke with BBQ pork are the best companion in the world!! We had so much food and so full and the food was so good and the entire meal was only 22,000won (About HK$200 for two). Good deal! At the end of our meal, we saw a 3-people HK family and they were asking for directions to go back to hotel, I think. They seemed to know their way so we continued our great food!
After some food, I felt more energized. J and I walked around Myeongdong at night and encountered this 3 storey coffee shop called Pasccuchi Cafe. As we later found out, Pasccuchi is one of the largest chain coffee house in Korea. They're all over Seoul. Outside we saw a sign telling us this is the spot for TV drama "Heaven's Stairs". Cool, we decided to go in and check the place out. The cafe serves awesome pastries and coffee. We order two pieces of cake and two cups of coffee, and headed up to 2nd level to get ourselves a good window seat to overlook the street. It was an awesome spot and we spotted many cute and pretty girls on the street the entire time we sat there enjoying our cake and coffee :) We chatted a little and headed back to our hotel through subway and called it a day. By the time we went back to the hotel, i was ready to pass out!!!!!
Can you believe these are the things we did on just the FIRST DAY!!!?? I can't believe it either, but we actually did all these in about 12 hours time! OK, more to come for the rest of the trip!!
This weekend, I had chances to see many people especially at church. But I feel I want to be alone at the same time.
Yes, I do really enjoy spending time with the current group of people at fellowship. They are a bunch of lovely people whose spiritual lives touch me in various aspects. Their prayers, their caring words, even their craziness in UNO...I find them so cute!
I am being so quiet when I am among people. Maybe it is because work-wise, there will be changes ahead and I do feel there will be challenges ahead and in thinking mood. And there are things, I do not want to disclose too much at this moment and just want to keep it to myself and a few good friends. Things are progressing well, I must admit. And I have seen the Lord's mercy throughout the entire process. It is challenging me to rely on Him and let go of my assumptions and wants, and focus on what He wants me to be/become.
Today someone at church shared about her wants are not the wants of the majority of people. Hard to get peer-recognition. It gets me thinking: I am the same kind of people. Do we really need to be very rich, very successful in your field, buy a house etc? Can we have other goals in life? Do these goals count as successful as well? Can we have individual goals and wants and still be recognized by the society and others? It seems that the society has already defined what is 'successful', and everyone need to follow it so you will get recognized and be part of the elite.
But, I think, LIFE is much much more than just be an elite and earn a lot of $$. LIFE is about interacting with people, experiencing cultures, being close to God, filling yourself with knowledges, helping others in need......No, there are no contradiction with being elite. But being elite has a price to pay. This price can be heavy. Might need to do things that will hurt others, or do things that is totally against ethics. I can never do things against my will and my well-being.
I realized I don't like to give reasons to support my arguments while doing casual talking. Sometimes people get a little confused with what I said. It is because I assume people are smart enough to know what I am implying. I think I need to be a little more conscious with my arguments and give more reasons to support them and talk about the reasons. Yes, I am usually too lazy to try to explain things to people. Not that I don't like explaining, but when comments are casual or if the conversation is just random, there is no point to do explanations. At least that's what I believe. It works for some people but do not work for many others.
Yes, I need to be more sensitive. More sensitive to others' feelings; more sensitive to others' needs; more sensitive to my own words; more sensitive to how others perceive me. Oh so much to learn at age 29!