Category Archives: Travel Bug

How to handle children in a group on holiday

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinteresttumblr

This trip, we are discovering the perks of large family holidays. We are in Bali with my husband’s cousins and all their children. The other kids are all older and are having fun minding the younger ones, namely my son and one other. When given specific instructions, they watched my son while I had some time to myself, to eat, to drink and to play. 

Give them responsibility

One of the younger girls has attached herself to my son as she finds him adorable. She has taken it upon herself to be his minder and follows him wherever he goes. This is great because my child is at the age where he loves to walk and explore. Not so great as the villa we are in is rather large and extensive and we didn’t want him to wander off. Also it’s not infant friendly with 2 staircases that lead to the 2 pools, and some parts of the main living area have drop offs that can be dangerous to a wandering child. So this little babysitter practically hooks her hands around his arms and walks behind him as he totters along. I tell her not to go near the stairs or the edges and she takes her job very seriously. 

Team work

One morning during breakfast, one of the children, after watching me feed my child some porridge, asked if she could feed him too. So I passed her the spoon and told her to make sure each mouthful had some rice and a protein. One of the more experienced parents got the rest to chip in; while one was feeding him porridge, another had to pat my child’s back to encourage him to swallow. Another was told to monitor his mouth and if it were empty, to announce it so another mouthful could be fed. The fourth child had to document the entire thing on her iPad with photos and a report. While the fifth child… I forgot what it was he had to do. But for a blissful 15 minutes I could eat my breakfast in peace while the experienced parent sat next to me and enjoyed his coffee. He looked over and said, “this is how you keep all 6 of them quiet and busy.”

I was in awe. 

Giving them something to focus on

I was in a cab with my son, 2 chatty tweens and one of the fathers. The girls were talking a mile a minute while we were trapped in a typical Bali jam. I was trying to keep up with their conversation when the father, who was progressively getting a headache, turned around to the girls and suggested a game. The girls were excited, who wouldn’t want to play a game? He suggested they count the number of motorcyclists that were female. Immediately the chatter of “who likes who more” stopped as the 2 9-year-olds focused on every bike that went by. Even I joined in, “oh look she’s wearing lipstick!” “Oh that one has a flowery bag! Must be female!” 

Selling it

My child Liam took a huge crap and the smell was glorious. The kids were all making peeyeww sounds so I went to change his diaper. Thinking I could con one of them into doing it, I announced, “who wants to change his diaper!” And was met with a chorus of EEWWWWW!! One of the adults laughed and said I made a terrible salesman. He announced instead, “who wants to make Liam happy??” And Liam’s fan club raised their hands and happily chirped, “ME!!!!!!” So suddenly I had a group of 3 little girls following me to our room and entertaining him while I changed his diaper. They were such troopers despite the smell. Although one did overreact and pretended to retch into the decorative vases in the room. 

Children love to help

After changing his diaper, I needed them to watch Liam while I washed my hands so I told them to help put his sandals back on. So 2 of the little girls each took one sandal and put it on his feet. My husband popped his head in and was greeted with the miraculous sight of our little helpers. The other parents may be used to getting the children to help out here and there, but this was a first for me! 

I’m learning something new each day. The children are amazing with one another. The adults have been so supportive. They watched without judgement, they listened without comment. They have no qualms entertaining my child while I eat or take a break. I managed to play half a round of Scrabble while Liam was being entertained by interpretive Balinese dance by one of the uncles. 

I’m already looking forward to Bali 2018.

All Girls Trip 2015 – Must See Seoul: Noryangjin fish market

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinteresttumblr

I have never heard of Noryangjin Fish Market until the day we visited it. Truth be told, I was at first hesitant about visiting a fish market, especially one that also serves as a wholesale market to retailers around Seoul. When we first got there, the outside of it looked a lot like Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market, which is really just nondescript concrete buildings surrounded by trucks and water puddles. I wasn’t feeling very hopeful about it.

However when I got inside, I was amazed by the rows and rows of seafood being hawked by vendors. The vendors are placed in order of the type of seafood they sell, so we were first assaulted, not just by the smell, but by amount and types of shellfish there were in the ocean. And the market extends for metres on either side of us. At one glance, I thought to myself, it’s obvious how the oceans are being over-fished by us humans.

Noryangjin Fish Market is a thousand times better than Tsukiji Fish Market. Firstly it’s opened 24 hours, so we didn’t have to wake up at an ungodly hour just to see anything. Also, ever since the wave of tourists swamped Tsukiji and overwhelmed the fish traders with their itchy fingers touching the fish, they have since barred tourists from going near the action. The last time I went to Tsukiji, we popped into a sushi restaurant and had lunch, before popping out again. At Noryangjin, you’re at the heart of the action. You can also buy fresh seasfood, where you can bring up to one of the restaurants on the second floor, who will cook it according to your palate. However Noryangjin is not for the faint hearted. The floors are wet, the sights and sounds are an assimilation to your senses. If you have a weak constitution like my friend who kept complaining about the smell, it is not the place for you to go. It is a proper wet market, not Lotte Departmental store. But for those who do go, it is really an experience you’ll remember.

 

 

This stall keeper saw us and started speaking to us in Mandarin, which was most helpful since none of the other stallholders bothered with us. But of course that also meant in the end she probably charged us tourist prices. But she was very smiley, friendly and helpful in recommending the biggest (and most expensive) crabs, prawns and scallops. Guide books suggest that one bargains at the fish market for better prices, but I guess we were all too excited to care.

 

So we were all hesitating over what to buy when she handed this emperor crab over to us and encouraged us to take a picture with it, as if it were a pet. I guess that’s how you entice your customers into buying your goods, let the goods form a connection with the guest so they want to take it home with them. Rae first took a picture with the crab and he posed prettily for the camera. When it was my turn, he decided to drop his claw and I started screaming as if he had jumped on my face and started clawing his way to freedom. In reality, he just dipped his claw a little. The drama was all in my head.

 

Emperor crab (above) cooked with butter, iPhone 6 for comparison.
We ate at a restaurant directly above this stall, which had one or two staff that spoke Mandarin so it was a breeze ordering our food. The staff helped us cut the crab up in pieces, and took the body and juices off to fry delicious crab seaweed rice that we couldn’t get enough of (below).

 

There are certain styles to cook every type of dish, you can just ask the staff for recommendations. Or you could do what this group of Ahjumamas did. They ordered a hot pot and threw everything in. Looks so delish!

 

 

Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market (노량진 수산시장)
688 Nodeul-ro, Dongjak-gu, Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-814-2211

Open 24 hours

Noryangjin fish market

All Girls Trip 2015 – Must see Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Palace

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinteresttumblr

If you remember our very short list of things to do in Seoul, it wasn’t much of a list and didn’t exactly have any touristy spots in it. So I am not sure how we ended up at the king of all tourist places, the Gyeongbokgung Palace. It is THE palace you see in Korean dramas set during the Joeson dynasty, so I guess who could strike this off as “one K-drama filming location” from the list.

If you watched any period K-drama shows, you would think that Koreans only have one dynasty, which is the Joeson dynasty. Every show was set within that dynasty. It could be because the Joeson dynasty lasted a good five centuries, before it was renamed as the Korean Empire, and much of its history and culture shaped what is modern Korea today. I won’t go too much into detail about the history of Joeson Dynasty, which you can easily read in the link, but a lot of it was influenced by Confucianism and Buddhism.

WELCOME TO JOESON! jumping shot.

20151001-215824.jpg

The layout of Gyeongbokgung Palace is very much like the Forbidden City in Beijing, in terms of the large expanse of palace grounds, and the various gates you have to cross through to get deeper into the palace, and ultimately into where the emperor sleeps. There are various gates on all four sides which you can enter the palace from but the best entrance is really from the south, Gwanghwamun Gate, which is also nearest to the Gyeongbokgung Subway. This is where you buy your entrance ticket. There is also a changing of guards that happen a couple of times a day, which we were lucky to catch. And a costume shop to the left of the entrance, where for a fee, you can put on Joeson attire and take a picture for posterity.

Please check schedule before you go as it may change:

January 1-December 31 (Closed on Tuesdays)
Sumunjang (Royal Guard) Changing Ceremony
10:00, 13:00, 15:00 / three times a day / 20 minutes per ceremony
Gwanghwamun Gate Guard-on-Duty Performance
11:00, 14:00, 16:00 / three times a day / 10 minutes per ceremony
Sumungun(Gatekeeper) Military Training (outside Hyeopsaengmun Gate)
9:35, 12:35 / 15 minutes per ceremony

 

20150920-153924.jpg

This is the front court yard of the palace (above), where the emperor meets his officials for major events. On either side of the court yard, you see stone markers which marks the ranks of the officials, so they have to line up in rank order when they greet the emperor.

 

20150920-153936.jpg

Video of the change of guard:

 

20150920-153943.jpg

The guard was really forbidding looking. Michelle was taking this picture and kept yelling at us to get closer. I told her it’s easier for her to step back and re-frame the shot than for me to get too close to his weapons. He might just lop my head off. If you look closely, you can see me gritting my teeth at her.

 

20150920-154001.jpg

20150920-154006.jpg

20150920-154122.jpg

20150920-154131.jpg

The Blue House, where the government runs the country. It’s located north of the palace, so when you finally get out at the end, you’ll see it from across the street. The street is guarded by a lot of Korean secret service so don’t attempt anything funny!

 

Gyeongbokgung Palace
161 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (Sejong-ro)
서울특별시 종로구 사직로 161 (세종로)

All Girls Trip 2015 – Must eat Seoul: Ginseng Chicken

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinteresttumblr

This trip to Korea has been wholly spontaneous. We’ve been discussing about going on an all girls’ trip for the longest time but years have passed since our last trip together to Bali and nothing’s happen since then, what with our busy schedules and lives.
So when two of the girls decided to just pack and go, Rae and I decided to hop on the bandwagon and it’s off to Seoul we go!

The decision at that time was Taiwan at first. Then my geography teacher husband said it was monsoon season. So we moved our plans to Japan, and Teacher said the typhoon may move to Japan. Seoul seemed then the next safest option. It was a good thing that we changed our plans because there really was a typhoon passing through Taiwan. One of my colleagues was caught in bad weather and narrowly escaped a crashing tree that fell onto the spot which she stepped out from! And then an earthquake, a volcano eruption and typhoon swept through different parts of Japan. So I guess marrying my husband turned out to be a lifesaving choice back then.

Apart from picking the city we wanted to visit, we didn’t do much planning except that everyone had one place they wanted to go or thing they wanted to do. So while we didn’t really do much in terms of touristy sightseeing, we did at least do what we wanted to do while in Korea:

The Korean must-do list:

  1. Eat fried chicken and drink beer
  2. Eat ginseng chicken
  3. Visit one k-drama filming location
  4. Visit Noryangjin Fish Market
  5. Midnight shopping at Dong Dae Mun

 

A very short list indeed, but we ended up doing more than we planned.

Our first stop the next day, since our plane touched down only the night before, was Tosokchon Samgyetang. A well-known ginseng chicken restaurant near the Gyeongbokgung Palace. It’s well established, judging by the systematic way they guided you to the respective rooms and giving out the language appropriate menus. It’s also well-known, judging by the long line of people waiting when we stepped out slightly past 12 noon. So the best time to go really is for brunch around 11am so you get a table quickly.

 

20150920-153840.jpg

20150920-153849.jpg

The menu is really simple. You have a choice of 5 kinds of ginseng chicken soup to choose from. For the novice, we really recommend the basic Tosokchon Samgyetang chicken. But if you eat ginseng chicken soup regularly, you may wish to opt for the black chicken option at the top.

 

20150920-153857.jpg

Ginseng chicken soup is really a nutritious chicken broth where they cook an entire chicken with ginseng herbs. Packed within the chicken is sweet rice (which is of a slightly softer variety than the Thai grains that we are used to), ginseng, medicinal herbs, dates and chestnuts. After boiling for almost an hour, what comes out is a milky white soup packed with all the goodness you can get in one meal. It is deeply satisfying and when we were done, we felt SO GOOD to have such a great start to our Seoul Good trip.

20150920-153906.jpg

Tosokchon Samgyetang
Hours: 10:00am to 22:00pm
Tel: +82-2-737-7444
5, Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울 종로구 자하문로5길 5 (체부동)

East of Gyeongbokgung Palace, 5 minutes walk away.
10 minutes from Gyeongbokgung subway.

Tosokchon Samgyetang Map

Potato Head Beach Club, Seminyak, Bali

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinteresttumblr

I see why this place is so popular.

20150711-004409.jpg

20150711-004420.jpg

20150711-004429.jpg

20150711-004444.jpg

20150711-004511.jpg

20150711-004520.jpg

20150711-004528.jpg

20150711-004543.jpg

20150711-004553.jpg