Sunday, June 28, 2015


The winter theme of Garden of Morning Calm (아침고요수목원) is lights; in spring, it is naturally flowers. Although getting there was not the most convenient, it was always worth the trouble.The garden does not disappoint as there is always something different to experience each season. Spring in the Garden of Morning Calm was a scenery saturated in colors of rhododendron, tulip and daisy amidst lush greenery. I cannot think of a better place to experience spring in the most natural way.

At the sunken garden of the Garden of Morning Calm

Slope adorned by blooming rhododendron. Every step I took seemed to have a bounce.

Early May is the season of rhododendron

The garden has a small stream

An open field in the middle of the garden

Spring is short so we have to remember it through pictures

Tulips and chapel

Visitors queuing up to take picture of the chapel

View lost in sea of tulips

Tulip field at the "Road To Heaven"

Taking in everything spring has to offer

Spring can be enjoyed in group ...

... or alone ...

... or in two. 봄이 사랑하기 좋은 계절이구나

Thursday, June 25, 2015

중앙로 - 대구

Daegu was not a destination but a stopover. I had been on the move for almost a week and needed some rest before returning to Seoul. It was my first time in Daegu; I never found any reason to visit it before. I knew nothing much about it except perhaps, it's the fourth largest city in Korea, the hottest and the city where the conservatives always achieve landslide victory with both eyes closed.

I stayed near the busy Jungang-no (중앙로, 中央路). No prior research about the place was done and no plan was made to stay there until I passed by it while taking a joy ride on a city bus. It is the "Myeongdong" of Daegu minus the maddening throng of tourists. I made several discoveries about the place after one evening walk.
There was a bakery with exceptional long queue. So I thought if many people are queuing, it must be good, just like if many people are looking at something, it must be interesting. They have a term for it, it's called "mob mentality". The proof of the pudding is in the eating, so I bought a few buns to try and one of them was the bestseller of the bakery - "Mayak" bun (마약빵, 麻药面包). To see how mouth-watering good it looks, watch the video below. For all the "빵순이" (bread lover) out there, Sam Song Bakery (삼송 베이커리), with almost 60 years of bread-making history, is a must-visit 맛집 in Daegu because many people say so, including me, and I am not even a bread lover.

Sam Song Bakery (삼송 베이커리), along Jungang-daero, near to Exit 2 of Jungangno Station. Quite ironic to post a picture of the bakery without queue. The picture was taken early on a Sunday morning when the shop has just open its door.

Another outlet that saw long queue was Cafe Bom Bom (카페 봄봄). The queue did not seem to die down no matter how many times I passed by. I did not come across similarly named cafes in other parts of Korea and wondered what's the buzz about. The price of its beverages ranges between 2,000 and 4,000won with most priced at an affordable 3,000won. What's more, all their drinks are sold only in large size. So I guess, their winning formula was simply big plus cheap, offering good value for money. I tried to queue but ended giving up. I was not sure if I want to spend fifteen minutes of my life queuing for a cup of coffee.

Long queue outside Cafe Bom Bom. Value for money beverages only if you can persist till the end.

I have been craving for omurice for a while after finding out the popular "Omurice" outside Kyunghee University was closed. Finally, I found one small basement eatery that sold omurice. It was called Gyeonghwa eatery operated by a middle-age lady. I could not believe for a price of 5,500won I could get a 3-in-1 meal of handmade omurice, donkatsu and 쫄면 (chewy noodle). The food quantity and quality were also up to mark. I knew I could not find such place in Seoul, so I ate there twice just to make sure I ate to my heart's content. Seoul is expensive and Singapore is ... worse.

A menu of reasonably priced Japanese food

3-in-1 meal of omurice, donkatsu and "쫄면" (chewy noodle)

How to get there: Exit 2 of Daegu's Jungang-no Station

The day I was in Daegu, spring was no where to be found. Everyone was walking around in summer clothing. That reminded me I was in the hottest city of Korea.

Friday, June 19, 2015

바쁜 아빠

Fathers are always busy with work. They work long hours and spend little time with family. On their rest day, all they do are sleep. They do not seem to care about their family, they like to make excuses for their laziness and they do not take promises made with their children seriously. In a way, "바쁜 아빠" (busy father) is also a "나쁜 아빠" (bad father).

However, a commercial film (CF) by Everland attempted, quite successfully, to overturn the negative image of a "바쁜 아빠", leaving many viewers teary at the end. 

The plot: A daughter has a surprise for her father. Her father is a driver of metropolitan bus 5002, plying between Seoul and Everland. He has to make five trips to Everland daily. However, the last time he brought his daughter to the amusement park was when she was in kindergarten; now, she is a college student. On the day of recording, the daughter surprised her father by receiving him at the Everland's bus terminal and pleaded him to alight and join her for a day in Everland.

The most moving part of the CF is the tears in the father's eyes. There is no way those could be fake or acted. They were not sadness but tears concocted by a mixture of guilt and comfort. Even if you do not understand Korean, the father's tears are worth four minutes of your life.

To all 가족을 위해서 일을 열심히 하는 무뚝뚝한 표형도 못 하는 아빠들: Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 04, 2015

계명대학교 (성서 캠퍼스)

Keimyung University (Seongseo Campus) gave off an old college charm with its red-brick buildings, wine-covered walls and beautiful landscaping. However, the campus which is located at the western side of Daegu isn't that old; it was completed in the early 80s. In my view, the campus's remarkable landscaping makes it stands out from the rest. It has very beautiful garden where one can rest and read a book in peace.

A garden within the campus with man-made stream and spring flowers

A clear and sunny day. High above all other buildings in the campus is the Adams Chapel.

Picturesque setting

Beautifully landscaped path

The feeling of summer was in the air although it was still supposed to be spring

The main building or 본관 (本館)
Graduate School of Industrial Sports with its facade partially covered by vines

Keimyung University Station (Exit 1) - Daegu Subway Line 2

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

호미곶 등대

This is something inspirational and romantic about lighthouse. Mariners treat it merely as a navigational aid, but to non-mariners, we are more familiar with it being used as a metaphor. We like to think of lighthouse as a beacon of light that shears through the curtain of darkness, guiding and salvaging lost souls from the depth of despair. It's like a symbol of guiding light and beam of hope.

There are three lighthouses in Singapore but they are not easily accessible. However at Homigot, I could walk right up to the doorstep of Homigot Lighthouse (imagine my excitement). The rotating beam of white light that emanates from the lighthouse at night was the next best thing to watch at Homigot after its sunrise.

Homigot Lighthouse at the most eastern point of Korea with the East Sea as its background

Waiting for nightfall and the light beam to come on

Beams of light radiating out from Homigot Lighthouse with planet Venus in the sky

Monday, June 01, 2015

호미곶의 일출

I have not seen a proper sunrise, one which the sun rises slowly above the horizon. The sunrise at Yeongildae, a day before, was rather underwhelming as the horizon was obstructed. Two years ago on New Year's Day at Jeongdongjin, sunrise was blocked by an overcast sky. As surely as the sun will rise every morning, why was it so hard to even witness a proper sunrise?

Today, at Homigot, I was hopeful again. There was no landmass obstruction and the sky was beautifully clear. I waited with bated breath as the sky's hue slowly transited from purple to red. At the time of sunrise, my eyes were scanning the horizon eagerly for any faint outline of a rising sun. Suddenly, people around me shouted, "떴다! 떴다! 해가 떴다!" 

The sun has risen. The moment I saw it, I could understand why some people would cry at the sight of it. Between making wishes and saying my gratitude, I was more in favor of the latter. To be able to be at this part of the world to witness a beautiful sunrise, I am both lucky and fortunate.
Twenty minutes before sunrise
The Homigot Lighthouse at dawn
I have company
Moment just before sunrise
떴다! 떴다! 해가 떴다!
So overwhelmed at the sight that I was lost for words
Feeling hopeful today and everyday
Sea of morning calm
A truly memorable moment
Another morning has arrived without fanfare

호미곶의 일몰

Homigot is a quiet village. The time of year when crowd gathers is during New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. It is not served by any train or subway station and getting there can be a little troublesome. During the day, visitors were mainly tourists who came in tour coaches. They hardly make a din at Homigot because of its wide open space. There is no high-rise building, no 5-star hotels or franchise cafe outlets. There is nothing much to do other then eating seafood and watching sunrise. Although sunset is not the main event at Homigot, it was still worth my time taking a walk around Homigot Sunrise Square as the sun was setting behind the New Millennium Memorial Hall .