Those well-versed either in Chinese history (my mother) or Stephen Chow movies (the local Hong Kong public) would be able to identify the “ninth” rank as captioned above as the bottom level of a government official. Starting out life at the very bottom rung of the legal/corporate ladder for me has continued to be a box of chocolates, although the current selection has veered towards flavours such as anise-liquorice, artificial-banana and those of the like. Nothing has changed from work-life-balance-what?, and the incessant mental chatter in my head trying to grasp at the meaning of this all doesn’t help with the growing number of distractions and interruptions each day. There was an increased urge to literally fly away from the 0.5sq. meters of office space I occupy and eat, breathe, and have on some occasions slept. Thanks to the Easter public holidays which overlapped the weekend, I was able to hop on the everything-Korean-is-the-current-trend! bandwagon a.k.a a flight to Seoul.
Most of the days were hazy as with my mind and the occasional rain-shower…daily itineraries were planned around the myriad of restaurants, food stalls, cafes and bars that Seoul had to offer…and I don’t think there was a single moment I was hungry with something either savoury, sweet or caffeinated in my paw.
I was also quite struck by the alarming number of coffee shops and cafes dotted around everywhere… each with its own style and diligent attention to detail in its interior design. The one with the loft – doesn’t that look like where Colin Firth, in earnest Portuguese, proposed in Love Actually?
Bibigo – chain fast-food restaurant for bibimbap
Korean Fried Chicken and Beer. From anywhere. Nuff said.
Min’s kitchen – somewhere between traditional and modern Korean food
Osulloc – matcha roll, dessert and tea
Siwhadam – modern Korean fine dining; part of Relais & Chateaux
Two-Ppul, found at 532-9 Sinsa-dong, Garosu-gil – melt-in-the-mouth Korean Beef BBQ
Tosokchon (토속촌) – heartwarming ginseng chicken stew to warm up my insides after a whole day outdoors trekking on the DMZ tours
Woodbrick – Viennese coffee (where I burnt off half of my mouth), ice-cream macarons
*be on the lookout for all types of street food; I had this massive croquette-like item stuffed with kimchi for breakfast twice it was so yummy, not to mention inhalation of a variety churros, soft-serves, ice cream macarons… etc.
Changdeokgung Palace and the secret gardens
DMZ tour – a visit to the North/South Korean border
Shopping in Myeongdong (skincare), Dongdaemun (clothes)
Yeouido for cherry-blossom during April
Wander around Samcheong-dong – boutiques and cafes; art galleries
Travel / lifestyle blogs, which I reverently study before jet-setting, make it look all too easy; holidays too relaxed. When one’s pulling all-nighter after all-nighter for a month, and bringing a suitcase into work just so she can go straight to the airport from getting off at 12am, just to make those four days or so out of town possible…although I’m thankful for the out of town breather it seemed to add on another type of stress. Or maybe I’m just still incompetent/have anxiety issues. This trip was one that the highly-strung me desperately needed, and somehow I felt that it wasn’t towards the end that I was able to loosen up..which by then sadly of course it meant the inevitable office-life came looming up again.
But if I don’t stop trying…maybe one day I’ll get it right.