Sunday, April 21, 2019

Reunion of Opahs - Gangnam Style

This is my long winded novel!

I am now sitting at the KLIA-2 airport before the sunrise, waiting for my 7.40am flight to Seoul in South Korea. My wife is waiting for her later flight at KLIA-1 airport to board her flight to Nepal for 10 days hiking trip with her gang of IRONMAN to scale the Everest Base Camp. Phew!

My head has been dancing with so much thoughts since she planned her Everest trip a year ago. My old left knee injury from bike accident would not be advisable to go for such tough hiking trips. My wife suggested that I should have a reunion with all my long lost Opah friends in South Korea. I have not seen them since we left the boarding school 2 decades ago. Good thoughts and fondest memories have always remained inside me for so long. We all actually lost touch completely as we had no facebook and nobody bothered to write letters during our 20s. We were all busy pursuing with careers and family life reality but we always thought of each other like a NATO. 

My Seoul best friend Joon Sung tried to locate me in the whole country by calling the Telekom Malaysia!! OMG! That fella just gave the telephone operator my name and asked her to find me. LOLOL. It was a fruitless search for him. 

One day, I was moving to another house and was busy packing up my boxes when I stumbled into an old address book. Bingo! I found Joon Sung's name and home address in Seoul. That was over 10 years later and I was skeptical that he still lived there. My good instinct told me to write to him a letter since there was no harm trying. Just a paper and envelope with 70 cents stamp to locate a long lost Opah was cheap. Fate was just perfect timing as Joon Sung had just moved back to his old family home when he found my letter! He had a horrible fright and disbelief to see my letter!!! He probably felt like he had won a First Prize Lottery. He quickly responded through my given email immediately. 

 Joon Sung and I visited Lake Erie in Pennsylvania 
together with my American classmate Mike. 
Behind the lake is Canada.

One thing led to another and he managed to locate all the other lost opahs who lived all over the big Seoul city. I was taken aback that they do not even keep in touch with each other in South Korea. Back in the typical boarding school at Point Park College, we lived on the same floor for international students where we had the all boys bedrooms for 2 with shared common showers and strict dining hours at the cafeteria. We were all seeing each other day and night! Later when another opah and I moved out to live in a swanky suburbs of Shadyside, they all still came to sleep over on most weekends. That's where I often had to cook and bake to feed all the hungry wolves. It was very fun and we partied like drunkard animals almost every weekends. Those were my happiest memories of having not to worry about money. Back then, money was just a phone call away to my mummy!

We all have been keeping in touch via the KakaoTalk apps on our mobile phones ever since. Now I have taken the initiative to make this long overdue trip with so much exciting plans for myself. I have once visited South Korea for a skiing trip but missed the reunion as I did not stumble into the old address book yet. So this trip will be like free and easy to explore other unseen attractions. My friend suggested driving me many hours on the road from Seoul to Busan with stops at little towns to my fancy especially at the ancient villages as seen in the Korean costume dramas of King Sejong. Yay!

He also proposed the idea to visit a UNESCO World Heritage site called Hahoe Folk Village in Andong to sleep a night at their ancient Korean homestead.  There is one Okyeon Jeongsa which was built over 430 years ago. This privately managed gem place belonged to a once famous Chief State Councillor who served the Joseon Dynasty in the 16th century. I checked the website photos and fell in love with the place as it sits on the green hill slopes, overlooking the Nakdong River. Good heavens! It would be exciting to sleep in a Hanok-style room on the traditional heated wooden floor with sliding doors. I look forward to meet the descendant Ryu-Seung Hwan to interview him and share with my blog readers across the world.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

The attractions of Edinburgh @ Scotland

This post is about our trip to Scotland which has been in my bucket list to see Edinburgh. Everyone told me that I would love their very old streets and I really did! It was amazing and interesting to see the whole city looking like Rome. So we took a train from London all the way to Edinburgh and admired the many miles of relaxing countryside farms and little quaint towns that dotted along. The many turbines and vast ocean view of the North Sea was worth every penny spent.

I must admit that it was quite tough for us to stay awake for the first few days upon arriving in London. The jet lag and different time zone made me doze off everywhere when it hit my head. I just could not walk another inch and had to use toothpick to keep my eye lids opened.

1. I went inside a cafe and plonked into the chair to sleep like a baby.

2. We booked the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus service which is the best way to see the whole Edinburgh. They have 3 different routes and we paid for all the 3 with big discounts! It was really an eye opener and made me want to retire in Edinburgh!

3. The famous Scott Monument along the Princes Street at downtown Edinburgh.

4. A closer view of the Scott Monument which is a very prominent landmark at Princes Street.

5. We always sat on the top deck of the Hop-On-Off bus. This was taken along the ancient streets of Royal Mile.

6. There is so much to see and do along the Princes Street. They even have a huge gardens to explore.

7. Statues and fallen benches along the Gardens of Princes Street. The wind was so strong and powerful throughout our stay. It blew and overturned the many heavy wooden benches! Some people fell along the streets too.

8. My wife posed with the famous story of the Soldier and the Bear characters in their history.

9. Yours truly had better and innovative ways to pose with the Bear!

10. This old fountain looks beautiful with the Edinburgh Castle sitting on the mountain top in the background.

11. Random shots of the Gardens of Princes Street.

12. A keen photographer taking many photos excitedly from the top of the open deck.

13. We passed the University of Edinburgh.

14. I love the ancient streets of the Royal Mile. It looks like Rome.

15. A main boulevard along the Princes Street.

16. Look here. We will get off soon!

17. HM The Queen's Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. Our PM Tun M was here too.

18. Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. This palace will be closed when The Queen makes a trip to stay there.

19. Inside the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. Lots of royal artefacts and paintings of the English Royalties adorn all the big walls in every room.

20. Inside the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

21. The Queen and I inside the hall of the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

 22. Edinburgh Castle - We just hung around outside to take photos. The crowd was much lesser as it was cold Winter and the usual Mainland Chinese crowd were busy celebrating the Lunar New Year at home in China.

23. The Edinburgh Castle was closed to public for several days due to the very strong wind. They were worried that visitors might be blown and swept away while climbing the many steps.

24. It was very fun and tiring to explore the streets at night. It was not easy to walk on the cobbled roads up the steep slopes. I was gasping for my dear life and breaths.

25. We went to enjoy the traditional Italian coffee and cakes at a European cafe along the historical Grass Market Street.

26. This is the oldest high end department store in the world which was founded in the year 1838!!!. It is called Jenners and is located along the main Princes Street of Edinburgh. The interior looks like a mini Harrods with many displays of posh brand names. I bought a few items of Hugo Boss as they were having very cheap sales like 70% off!

27. Greyfriars Bobby is a famous Skye Terrier dog which guarded the grave of his owner for 14 years. How sad!

28. On our last night, my wife treated me to a yummy dinner. I ate their chunky delicious burger complete with buffalo wings, milk shake and ice cream! Burp!

29. Our 5 hour train ride back from Edinburgh to London was lovely to watch the sunset at the North Sea.

"A Thing Of Beauty Is A Joy Forever"


Monday, April 8, 2019

Mermaid Quay & St. Fagans Museum @ Wales Attractions

This is my 2nd and final post for Wales as it was a short but eye opening trip for me. It was my dream to see, feel and breathe the Welsh air besides drinking the pure sweet mineral water in Wales. I also had the chance to hear the Welsh dialect slangs in between the English being spoken by the staff at the Holiday Inn Cardiff and a restaurant. The 2 full days were not enough and I would love to return to Wales and explore other exotic places.

We stayed at Holiday Inn because of its central location within minutes walk to the Railway Station, Cardiff Stadium and the historical Castle. This is the best hotel for its location and very fabulous breakfast buffet spread that earned so many 5 Star ratings by the hotel guests. Sedap giler! Sorry no photos.

This Cardiff Stadium is famous for their rugby matches which has the biggest sports followers here.

I love the river banks of the stadium that overlooks the traditional Welsh homes. I was told that many foreign immigrants live there.

This red bus is so eye catching with their Welsh Dragon icon.

This is the traditional Welsh Cakes. It was freshly baked and so nice to eat them right away. The taste was familiar and reminded me of the English Scones. So this Welsh Cakes are just like smashed to flatten scones. Perfect to enjoy with coffee!

At night fall, my friend Yvonne from Swansea kindly drove us around the small city to look see. I love their neat and spacious looking city with a Mermaid Quay like an ocean front with lots of seagulls. The above is a prominent landmark called the Pierhead Building. It was built in the year 1897 with a clock tower that looks like The Big Ben in London. So it has been nicknamed the "Baby Big Ben" of Wales and it belongs to the National Assembly of Wales.

This is a unique and contemporary architecture which is the National Assembly Of Wales and it overlooks the panoramic Mermaid Quay and the Pierhead Building. In our native country, we would call this a State Assembly or Parliament. 

That night we walked around the whole Mermaid Quay to look for a place to have dinner. It was quite happening place and offers many culinary choices to pick. It reminds me of the famous Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco due to the sea frontage and wooden platforms with hundreds of big white birds gawking away. Finally we decided to eat at The Dock. The food was fabulous and we ordered few jugs of free mineral water that was served right from their clean taps! Their drinking water is very clean and has natural sweetness which was our first time trying after hearing Yvonne's bragging. Princess Diana of Wales had drank it, so have I. Please do so when you visit Wales someday.

Yvonne knows that I love to see anything very old, spooky and ancient. So she drove us to this ancient St. Fagans National Museum of History. It was an eye opener to see this unusual museum that was scattered across a huge piece of castle land donated by The Earl of Plymouth in the year 1946. It shows how the lives of the ancient Welsh and their native farmers were like.

It was cold, dark and almost closing time, so we had to hurry our visit to this museum and chose to see the ancient houses and farms instead.

The sheep and cows ran away when they saw a Chinese man armed with his mobile phone! I had a good laugh!

This is the interior of the old house. It was so eerie with so many shadows creeping all over the place. It made my hair stood up on its ends to see the rocking chair started to rock slowly by itself! 

I wish I could chop logs for the fireplace like how the Welsh do.


The cows and I.

I nearly dropped dead when I saw this flyer at the lobby of the hotel. It confirmed my fears when I saw so many shadows and figures walking all over the places. Now they even offer guided tours to scare the wits out of you. The flyer shares the same photos of mine too!!! Wooohoooo!!


The Day My World Ended

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