The World as I see it

My Life. My Views

South Korea: 7 days; 2 families; 3 kids; vegetarians — April 14, 2019

South Korea: 7 days; 2 families; 3 kids; vegetarians

Day 1: Seoul

We left hotel Nine Tree at Noon. We went to Geongbokgung. P and I wore Hanbok.. Had an amazing time :)) They even make your hairstyles 😀 Truly princess-y moment 😀

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Lunch here:

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Fabulous pizza and pasta here.. super vegetarian food!

After this we headed to the Hanok village in taxis. There we saw beautiful traditional Korean houses.. some of these had signs in front saying “Silence please. This is private property. Do not touch or climb”. Hahaha we peeked through one of those houses 🤣

We then sat down for coffee/tea at a nice cafe. It was called Trad Cafe Daon.

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It was a quaint little cafe hidden away.. with amazing views and beautiful interiors.

From here, we proceeded back to hotel. S, T and V’s stepped out to roam around a little bit. Junior S slept on the way back and slept through the night 🙂

We saw this amazing art while walking back to the hotel. It was all pots and pans conjoined to make this structure.

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Day 2: Seoul

Morning around 9 am we left hotel to catch the bus for Ever-land.

We found lots and lots of cherry blossom trees on the way. Some streets were lined with cherry blossom trees on both the sides of the street. Those made for some pretty remarkable sights.

I could not capture any of those because of the speed of the moving bus, more cherry blossom pics coming further down the travelogue.

After reaching Everland, we did a lot of rides.

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Most of them the kids found super fun and very short wait times (15 mins each). We also found a lot of rides closed.

We had steamed butter corn cob (which was terrible…chewy and bland). We also had cotton candy which was yum 😋

After this, we did bumper car and a few other rides. There was a holland exhibit of tulips.. just breathtakingly pretty!

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After this we had homemade lunch – yummy pooris with Khachri chutney. We all had a good meal post which we proceeded to Safari world. We had a really long wait but so so worth it! We got into a bus which took us into the safari area. We saw White tigers, Bengal tigers, Hyenas, Lions and Bears. The bears were pretty huge and they would come and stand next to the bus while the bus driver fed them some finger food. It was absolutely wonderful. After this, we wanted to do lost world (where we could feed giraffes) but there was 90 min wait, which we couldn’t afford. So, we went back to do some rides that kids wanted.

The kids got to enjoy a very unique type of Ice cream called “Dipping dots”.

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P and I did VR show where we were hanging in the air and getting thrown all over!! It was fun 😄

We got back to the city to eat dinner at an Indian place. We walked close to an hour to Jyoti Indian restaurant. Food was decent and tasty. We really ate our fill. I would give it 3* because Paneer was too less and too small. Stingy people! Dal makhani was amazing! And so was veg jalfrezi

Overall, a great great day!!

Day 3: Seoul

Left early morning at 730 for DMZ. Bus ride of 1 hour approx from the hotel.

We went to Imjingak to see the bell, the bridge with the ribbons

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We had a 30 min halt here post which we proceeded to the DMZ. We went to the railway station that was built to connect Seoul to Lisbon, Portugal.

After we were done with DMZ, we went to Plant cafe and ate a hearty lunch. It was a great vegan restaurant. Loved eating the rice with thai green curry, chilli burgers, tofu wraps and hummus salad. As soon as we got out, it had just started to drizzle. Luckily just after we reached our hotel, it started pouring. We just escaped being drenched. *whew*

After relaxing for a bit in the room, P, T and V came to our room. Kids just ran around and jumped on the bed. S and T, after about 15 mins, decided to roam around in rain. They stepped out and sat in a bar to have a drink. The cafe lady kicked them out since they were only planning to drink and not eat.

P and I watched “Zumbo’s just desserts” while Junior S watched Hindi movie songs and the kids hid all our stuff (shoes, torch, etc) under the beds!

Guys returned with drinks for all and some Pringles. We ate Thepla and khakhra with achar for dinner. Called it a night at 9 pm.

Day 4: Seoul

We took an early morning 8 am bus to Nami Island, Rail Park and French Petit. I woke up super late and had to rush to take the taxi to the Eujiro station but it was raining and we did not want to get wet (also we were late!).

Our bus took off at the right time. The entire journey was surrounded by white/pink cherry blossom trees lining both sides of the roads. The bus journey was comfortable. Only downside was the absolutely horrifying guide. His name was Bruce. He was condescending, rude and kept flirting with all the women. Not to mention, he had no intention to answer any questions but he kept promoting people to ask them! Annoying!

Our first stop was Nami Island. It was drizzling a little bit and that made our fingers freeze. Even the kids were gladly wearing the gloves. We got a few nice pics and ate pizza for lunch.

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We saw some emus and the kids played at the slides. After this we set off for Rail Park.

That was a tremendous experience!! We got the kids into ponchos as it was continuing to slightly drizzle.

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We then got into the cycling 4-seater vehicle. P, Junior S and I were in 1 with 2 Korean girls. T, S and the boys in another.

Junior S was sitting on my lap which made it incredibly difficult to cycle. P and the other 2 had to do the major heavy lifting. Luckily, a lot of the path was slopy making it easier to not paddle.

The boys car was ahead of us. When we started, our car jammed into them. The organiser showed us the breaks again and the boys were worried we will ram into them again 🤣🤣🤣 They were so scared that everytime they saw us coming near, both T and S would start showing signals to break 🤣🤣

The entire rail track had some tunnels on the way… some had bubbles blowing inside with some awesome K-pop music playing, some gave the illusion of bright stars lining the tracks.

It was brilliantly cold but we had a great time 😀

Next stop was France Petit. It was quite okay. Some good scenic spots but not worth revisiting.

We took some jumping shots here. Lol. Even the guys jumped reluctantly 😀

We were exhausted on the way back so ended up going to Jyoti again. This time also we ate our bellies full! A super end to a super day. Icing on the cake was when we decided to walk back 😀

Day 5: Seoul

We left around 945 am to go to Yeouinaru metro station to hopefully catch some full bloom sakuras and get some pics!

As soon as we stepped out of the station, we were enamoured by all the cherry blossom around us. There were full bloom sakuras all around us. We got our hearts content of the cherry blossom beauty.

V even managed to climb one of the trees 😁

The beautiful flowers were on full display. The kids collected some beautiful flowers that had fallen off the trees.

Once we were done, we rushed for our appointment of the temple food at a place called “Sanchon”.

Our taxi driver lost his way and took us twice the usual amount of time to reach this place. By now, we were hungry enough to devour a bull! It was a nice place. They served us 20 different dishes and drinks.. some of which were super nice. The hot bibimbab and the fermented drink were my favorite. Kids liked the mushroom stick with special sauce and the lotus stem. They even got second servings of the same.

It was a calm and serene setting with birds chirping. Our kids absolutely ruined the serenity of the place. They screamed and howled and crawled and jumped… The other diners must be surely cursing us!!

After this, we went to the namsen tower. On the way to the tower, we realised all the flowers had gone missing! They collected and lost all the flowers in a matter of a few hours!

T was suggesting the uphill climb of 2.5 kms to the top to get the cable car from there. Luckily, we managed to get a bus all the way up. The steep slope made us thank the heavens we did not chose to climb!! Pushing the stroller up the slope would have been excruciatingly painful!

After reaching there, we saw a show by some performers. They were doing some stunts with knives and swords and some really big knives. They were amazing and I was just glad I wasn’t fighting them!

Now we started to make our way to the cable car. We saw tons and tons of love locks spread across the tower. P and I got enticed and bought our own (outrageously expensive it was!). They really know how to encash on people’s emotions! Anyways we were sold! We bought a blue heart shaped love lock. Wrote all 7 of our names on both sides and the date. Then we put it on the bridge.

Maybe when the kids are older and if they come back to Seoul, they will come find the lock!

On the cable car side, it seemed really boring so we chucked it and went back to the hotel. That evening P and V came over for some thepla dinner. S cooked maggi in the kettle. It was quite tasty! V’s had one more night of awesome fun! Then S and I finished packing to get ready to leave for Busan by 9 am train the next day.

Day 6: Busan

We got up really early to leave for Busan. We were down to grab breakfast by 8. Left hotel around 820. It was a 10 min taxi ride to the station. We got the ticket validated then ran for the train track. Reached the train track on time and put all our luggage in #12 car thinking it was #11. We had 2 seats – 1 in #11, another in #16. We decided to settle down in #11 and occupy a vacant seat if nearby. There indeed was a vacant seat and fortunately for us, did not get filled the entire time.

On reaching Busan, we directly went to the Restaurant Bombay Braű. This was near the railway station. We ate our fill. The food was pretty okay!

From there, we got into a taxi for the hotel, Laon. Once we reached the room, the view from the room blew our minds away!

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The kids wanted to immediately hit the beach. Sia kept screaming boats and jumping. The kids were ecstatic. So was their mom 😁😍 She just wanted to sit there by the window and drink a hot cuppa chai! But we had only half a day so we got going!

First we went to the Buddhist temple, Haedong Yonggung temple. There were some gorgeous statues of Buddha and various small pagodas for the specific wishes. V went about praying and bowing to all the Gods 😁

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The entire place was built over a mountain so there were plenty of rocks for Kids to climb. They loved doing it but we were on high alert as falling on those rocks would not be pleasant!

On our way back, kids spotted a strawberry place and went crazy. It was just like when they were in Seoul 😀 We also bought a new wind chime for the new house 😊

From the temple, we asked the taxi driver where to go. He suggested we go to an APEC observatory just behind Hotel Westin.

It looked gorgeous but had closed down by the time we reached. Nonetheless, that entire stretch was amazingly beautiful with lovely stretches of sea in front of us.

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Throughout the day, V kept collecting flowers and storing them in my book. We called it the flower book. It has about 7 specimens of flowers.

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We hope these will make their way back safely to Singapore!

After this, we wanted to roam the area a little bit to see if we can find a nice dinner place. S went to the information in Westin to enquire. They guided us to try restaurants lining a road. We were walking towards it when we noticed a cruise liner docked. S went to enquire. He went in around 645 pm. The cruise was leaving at 7. We hopped in. It was brrrrrrrrr cold.

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We were on the top deck for around 30 mins before heading down. There was live music. The guy playing the guitar and singing some Korean and some English songs… specially Elvis songs. His Elvis impersonation was pretty spot on. The bridge was a sight to behold.

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This bridge changes light every few mins. It is a double decker bridge spanning over 7.4 kms. It was amazing to watch it from a distance. It all came together to create a magical evening 🙂

After the cruise, we headed to a pizza place for dinner. Pizzas were nice and we were hungry too. After dinner, it was a wrap 😊

Day 7: Busan

On our last day in Busan and South Korea, we decided to take it easy. We had a leisurely morning breakfast (which was a pretty average affair). After that, we went up and the kids took a longggg shower in the Jacuzzi.

After the long leisurely shower, we checked out and kept the luggage in the storage. Then we stepped out to go to the beach. It was nice cold but the kids did not seem to mind it. They got busy with the sand for about 45 mins.

After the beach, we tried looking for a Korean place but couldn’t find any that served vegetarian. Finally we decided to try out Punjab Indian restaurant. When we went there, it was deserted. We were the only customers there. That was our signal to get out. We decided to try the other branch of Bombay Braű across the street. The food was decent. One big negative- toilet had no soap and wasn’t replaced despite the reminder.

After lunch, V shot 6 out of 8 darts and won a small soft toy! Yay! After that, we were pretty much on the road or the air! We took bullet KoRail train back to Seoul. It was a 2.5 hour ride.

Tip to Vegetarian travelers: Korean Dining on the level B2 of the Seoul Station (which has the ticketing counter for Airport Express) has one of the best Vegetarian Korean food we had in the entire trip. The bibimbap was delicious, so was the cold buckwheat noodle. Icing on the cake: The manager there knows English very well and can help with customising the dish for your dietary preferences.

After an awesome dinner, we took the train to the airport. Junior S slept on the way and slept the entire way through 😀 Check-in, security, boarding, flight… woke up on the taxi ride back home. This could not have gone better for us 🙂

All in all, a great trip, which we will not forget for a long time to come! 🙂

Life is so precious! — December 17, 2014

Life is so precious!

A few days back, I witnessed a very gruesome incident. I was walking up the stairs after getting my breakfast. I saw some huge thing fly. At first I thought it was a bird and then I heard a thud. My first instinct was that some luggage or a big bag fell down from one of the top floors. I peeped down from the railing and saw a young man’s limp dead body! I looked around stunned and called for help. Soon there was police and ambulance!

Later on we found that he was a young man of around 30 with a wife and a 3 year old daughter.

His dead body keeps floating in my mind.. I am unable to take it off my head. But what bothers me the most is a thought that I wish I could have reached him earlier and stopped him from taking this extreme step.

A look at his daughter’s face made me cringe on the cowardly and gruesome act! We face lots of hurdles in life and will have lots of challenges… suicide may seem like an easy way out sometimes but the problem that led you to end your life doesn’t resolve on its own… not to mention the tremendous pain you subject to everyone who loved you! That little girl for no fault of her own is now an orphan at the age of 3!!! She will never know her father! His wife is now a widow at the age of 30! She will spend her life taking care of their daughter on her own!

I hope and pray for his soul to find peace but I also wish he hadn’t done this. Life is too precious to end like this… It is beautiful! Yes there are sad days but also ones full of bliss! To concentrate only on the bad is unfair!

Always remember to face life’s problems head on and fight like a brave soldier!

You are with me, Always! — December 5, 2011

You are with me, Always!

Sia woke up with a jolt… She was sweating and found herself crying profusely. In the last few days, she had felt the restlessness she had never felt before… She gazed out of the window, the world was fast asleep… everything seemed peaceful and calm… almost like the peace before the storm..

She woke up the next morning and narrated this to her husband. He kept a loving hand on her shoulder and told her not to worry.. It was little consolation to Sia, who kept thinking of her Nani (Maternal Grandmother), who hadnt been keeping well for the past 2 years. Sia remembered hurriedly paying her a visit 2.5 years ago. Fragile, yet warm as ever, she could remember Nani gently brushing her hair and asking her “Khush to ho?“. She had been married for 6 months then and she could see the concern in her Nani’s eyes. “Main bahut khush hun, Nani. Mujhe dekh ke nahi pata chala aapko“, Sia chided with her Grandmother gently prodding her to take care of her health and not worry about her. She left the next day with a promise to come back soon. It had been 2 years since and Sia had not had a chance to go visit her Nani. She would write her letters and try to talk to her on the phone, but her heart ached to meet her.

Her heart sank when her mother told her to drop by and visit Nani during her planned Diwali holidays at her in-law’s. Nani’s lungs had started giving up on her. Mama (Maternal Uncle) being a cardiac physician was beginning to get worried. They had already revived Nani a few times. Everytime her lungs gave up on her, she would be plugged onto a dozen machines and brought back… Mama was not willing to give up on her… Nor was she willing to give up on life… Such was the strong-willed Nani

Sia had just landed in India… all happy that she would be seeing Nani soon… until that fateful call from her sister that promised to tear the world around her.

Nani was no more…

Sia had heard in fables and folk tales that the very pious at heart have the boon of ‘Ichcha Mrityu‘, the ability to leave their body at will. She saw this when her Nani decided to pass on… She chose the best day and time to do the same… Sia was shattered… Not just because Nani was no more… but also because she couldnt meet her fav person… “It was probably the best”, she told herself… her last memory of Nani was the same cheerful, effervescent and strong person she always was… She wouldnt have been able to see her get weak…

Today, almost a month since Nani moved on… Sia always finds her presence around her… She knows her beloved Nani will always be around her… guiding her… protecting her…

Moon time of the year :) — October 27, 2010

Moon time of the year :)

As eventful as the last Karvachauth was, this one turned out to be pretty smooth! 🙂 I hear from friends back home that spotting Moon was a difficult task, some women in fact ended up not catching a glimpse at all!! 😦

All in all, I had a great day and trust me when I say this, reading last year’s Moonlit Chronicles actually kept me gleeful and energetic throughout the day 🙂

On her birthday… — March 23, 2010

On her birthday…

… my sister calls up our mom and tells her “Congratulations mom!! It has been a whole 23 years since you gave birth to me“!!! 😀

Thats my sis!!! All crazy!! 😀

Happy birthday bachcha…!! I should also congratulate myself on having sustained you for 23 years now! 😉 😛

Infidelity: What’s the fuss all about?? — March 18, 2010

Infidelity: What’s the fuss all about??

Tell me if I am wrong… please do… but I just cant seem to fathom behavior of common junta over a couple of things that have come up in the past…

When Monica Lewinsky came forward with an allegation that Bill Clinton, the then President of the United States of America had had an affair with her, people all over America went berserk – right from demanding a public apology to the death of his political career caused by his impeachment.

I somehow dont get it… What exactly was his fault? Did he commit a murder or force himself upon another woman? Did he embezzle millions of dollars of tax-payer’s money? Did his affairs in any way make him any less efficient as a President? What he did was definitely not acceptable – cheating on his/her partner is an unpardonable crime… But did it deserve the kind of National importance it got? Probably not… What transpired between him and his mistresses was actually no one else’s business.. It was between him and his family… They were the only ones he was answerable to… no one else! But, seems like suddenly the whole of US was full of morality preaching pundits. I would really like to know that out of all those people, how many had never cheated on their partner??… I am pretty sure that percent would be minimal… and yet, when it came to their President, every one conveniently forgot all that he had done for the nation… All that mattered was his infidelity.

Just the other day I was watching a Golf program… All they did was talk about Tiger Woods infidelity. Oh come on! Why cant people separate a celebrity’s professional and personal lives? Tiger Woods is an excellent Golfer. Period. What he does in his personal life should not hamper his image as a Golfer… but sadly, it does! I really appreciated Obama’s statement yesterday, where he admitted that Woods was still a terrific Golfer… Suddenly, people do not remember him for all his victories – the only thing they remember about him are his affairs! A very sad state of affairs, if you ask me! Why do we have to elevate all these famous people onto a pedestal and then throw them onto the ground if they even show signs of being “human”!?

People have, in the past, committed several heinous crimes much more gruesome than an extra-marital affair. Do we see people reacting wildly to that? Well… maybe yes, but not as much as they react to a moral crime!

Whats your take on this? Am I completely wrong in thinking this way? Go on… tell me…

Super talented bro!! — January 29, 2010

Super talented bro!!

My mom’s side of the family is super talented!!!… At times I look at the whole lot with such an awe, its almost too good to believe.. I sometimes even wonder from where does all the talent come from?!! The best part is every one of them is super successful in their careers, some well known doctors, engineers, IAS officers, MBAs and the likes… And yet, each and every one of them has abundant talent – They are all artists (pretty good ones at that!) in their own right!

I have always believed talent is something that you do not need to learn. Its something you have in your blood… Its like having a knack for something!!

This thought comes alive everytime I am surrounded by these naturally talented people! Most of them are musically oriented – singers, dancers, drummers, pianists, tabla players, bongo congo players galore!! Apart from that you have shayars (Poets), painters and writers too…

One of my mom’s uncle can actually play any damn song on any instrument within minutes!! He is usually the one in charge in any family function for getting everyone together and turning the evening into a gala musical one! The best part is, none of them wud have any time to practise (considering their professional obligations), and yet the evening would be rocking!! The singers in the family sing like that is all they have been doing all their lives… the instrumentalists play as if they practise every single day of their lives!!

Its very humbling and motivating to be around such incredibly talented people. Its an honor!

And here I welcome… son of my favorite Mama (Maa‘s brother) – Abhinav aka DJ Abhi Spinzz!

Apart from doing his MBBS, he has taken a fancy to DJing… check out his first creation. You will love it 🙂

[PS Did I mention my mom’s grand-dad was a famous Shayar? His collection of shayaris may soon translate into a book. Will keep you guys updated! :)]