Best Apps for Seoul: Subway 지하철

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Korea’s subway system is kickass.

Trains that arrive on time, are clean, travel fast, have racks for you to put your bags on, segregated carriages for those who need seats – I was so impressed by their system while I was there. Taking the train no longer felt like a drag, I actually enjoyed my commute. (The bus system was something I didn’t try because it was mind-boggling to say the least) Their app is the cherry on top of the already delectable fresh cream cake, and it’s equally, if not more impressive.

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Best Apps for Seoul: Introduction

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WordPress.com has now officially implemented their paid plans – which means I have only 3GB of space for images on the free plan. What a bad time to be uploading image-heavy app posts!

In any case, all the apps pictured above are apps that I found immensely useful in Korea. I’ll be doing a quick introduction of Airbnb, Accuweather, XE Currency and Skyscanner in another post, but since they’re in English they should be simple to navigate. Daum Maps, Subway, and Yogiyo are apps that are in Korean, so I’ll be going into detail in the hopes that you’ll be able to use the app!

PS: Keeping the images on the post to a minimal to save space for the three Korean apps which will need more explanation! Bear with me.

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Eating in Seoul: 리골레토 시카고 피자 Rigoletto Chicago Pizza

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My friend Jasmine came over from Singapore last week, and we were walking around Gangnam looking for food when I remembered that my Korean teacher strongly recommended a pizza place in Yeoksam-dong. Turns out it was just round the corner from where we were! Couldn’t help but step in and try it – we sure didn’t regret it.

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96 | Healing

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Briny sea breeze. Chilly winds whipping up your hair. Gentle sound of waves lapping.

More often than not, healing has, for me, come from ocean views and warm sunlight. Truly, I am a sun, sand, sea kind of girl.

Fourth cruise with Royal Caribbean on Mariner of the Seas this Christmas. I think it’s going to take some adjusting to get used to normal life. Especially after you’ve been allowed to sleep until you wake up naturally, wake up to a sumptuous breakfast, settling back in bed for an afternoon siesta, waking up to exercise while enjoying the endless deep blue, then adjourning for a gourmet dinner. This is my idea of a holiday, where I can just kick my legs up and relax. The crowd was madness, though, and I wish we’d gone at off-peak. I shall settle for a smaller ship like one from Royal Caribbean’s Vision fleet – Legends, maybe, since it’s been refurnished – and just enjoy some much needed solitary time.

It’s been a great respite from the madding crowd, nonetheless.

EARWORMS: K-Pop Rapper x Singer Duets

I’m not sure why I’ve never blogged about this before but – these are really good earworms.

Given my strong liking of Korean rap, it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that these are perhaps my favourite type of K-pop Collabs. With strong rap tones and honey smooth voices, these collabs are the perfect meld of contradictions.

1. Gary x Jung In – Your Scent (사람 냄새)

When I was at Zinc Hair Salon a while back, my stylist Nicky recommended this to me, saying he loved this song more than any other Gary collabs. Which is saying something, since Gary x Jung In collabs are mostly earworms of mine. So I heard this and within the day I was hooked. Both catchy and sensible, the lyrics are not about mooning over someone, or being foolish in love. Hear it for yourself and see!

2. Drunken Tiget x Yoon Mi Rae x Bizzy – The Cure (살자)

This song totally caught my ear at the 2013 SBS Gayo Daejun and from then on, it’s been a favourite of mine. It’s really quite rare to hear Korean songs about things other than love, money, fame, they themselves, etc. Listening to these songs brings healing. I hope you get healed by this song too! PS: All David Choi fans – they had a collab with him too!

3. Soyou x Junggigo – Some (썸)

This song was all the rage just 1-2 months ago, with it being performed quite a few times on Yoo Hui Yeol’s sketchbook and Junggigo shooting from the unknown to known. Well, for the non-R&B fans anyway. They called this the Soyou effect, although to be honest he’s exceptional on his own as well. Not much explanation is needed for the national Ssome anthem.

4. Raina x San E – Midsummer Night’s Sweetness (한여름밤의 꿀)

Raina’s sweet and aegyo-filled voice is a good match for San E’s upbeat rapping. This song might possibly be the most well-known summer song of 2014, with it topping multiple charts. Definitely was on my playlist for over 2 weeks.

5. Swings x Yoo Sung Eun – TRAP

One of the few OSTs that caught my ear, I got this one while watching My Secret Hotel (it’s really not bad, Yoo In Na is as gorgeous as ever) and have been listening to it non-stop. Besides, I can’t possibly exclude Swings, can I? Yoo Sung Eun’s voice is perfect for Swings’ tone, and they really should do more collabs.

 

That wraps it up for now, a list of five rapper x singer duets I enjoy. People have asked who my favourite rappers are, and currently they’re: Tablo, San E, 1llionaire, Swings, MINO, GD, Bobby, B.I. – I would say that I listen to a lot of underground and YG rappers, but not necessarily the idol ones. 🙂

Until the next Earworms post – farewell!

91 | 你心里最后一个 The Last One in Your Heart

眼著溶解的云,缓慢地开绽,碎裂的时间,滑著伞沿打下。
战争歇在心里,祈祷披盖一场绵­绵。
寂寞都雾了。

空荡荡的舞台上,孤单单的指挥家,在你面前演一场,我曾怀疑是幻象。
药水请萧邦地擦,­谎言请李白地讲,在你手里睡一下,带着暖心的伤,结痂。

耳著凝结的雨,倒带地升华,共鸣的时间,枕着故事而上。
场景醒在睡里,预言冲刷一片朗­朗,温柔都亮了。

红通通的月亮下,暖烘烘的燕尾床,在你面前扯了嗓,我也脱掉了害怕。
快乐请烟火地嚷,­忧伤请汪洋地放,在你心里睡一下,生著微笑的花,带伤。

沉甸甸的宁静上,轻飘飘的精灵光,赶走失眠里的羊,不需为幻象害怕。
声线就青鸟地唱,­脚步就落叶地踏,在你笑里睡一下,结著守护的痂,生花。

躺在海的眠床上……你在眼前……

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Eyeing the melting clouds as they slowly disperse
Shattered time drips off my umbrella
The war rests in my heart, prayers take shelter under thick cotton
Loneliness grows foggy in the distance

On a despairingly empty stage, a lonesome conductor stands
Performs in front of you, I once thought it to be an illusion
Medicate your wounds like Chopin, tell lies like Li Bai,
I’ll have a nap in the palm of your hand, nurse a heartwarming wound, form scabs from it

Listening to crystallizing rain, sublimating in rewind
The resonance of time bolstered by narrative
The scenery is awake in sleep, soothsayings wash everything in a tint of rose as even warmth lights up.

Under the flushing red moon, a toasty dovetailed bed
My voice strains in front of you, I’ve shrugged off fear
Cheer cheer like fireworks, despair despair like oceans,
I’ll have a nap in your heart, sprout smiling flowers that are tinged with hurt

Under the deadweight of silence, the lightness of a sprite,
Chase away the sheep of insomnia, you have nothing to fear from the illusions
Sing like a songbird, step like a falling leaf,
I’ll have a siesta in your smile, spring scabs of guardianship,
sprout flowers.

Lying down on the soft bed of the sea, you are before me.

90 | 空氣中的視聽與幻覺

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終於讓我等到了蘇打綠 - 一大早就收到短訊,朋友們都興奮的不了呢!

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今年的循環演唱會在室內體育館舉行。真的不是說特別high,也沒必要嘛。我並不否認我有點莫名其妙感到很緊張,有使勁裝副冷靜的樣。蘇打綠的音樂從一開始就是療傷的,也對社會現象提出觀察,所以對我來說價值特別高 - 就像天氣冷的時候帶給我無限溫暖的一杯熱咖啡,炎熱的夏天後涼爽的秋天。無論是失落,受傷,滿足,心寒,什麼時候都愛聽蘇打綠。情感價值很高啦,能讓我把出道以來的歌曲全部背熟的就僅有蘇打綠。

 

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看完蘇打綠的演唱會並沒有什麼激烈的情感,那三個鐘頭內沈浸在溫暖的歌聲與情感之中就已經足夠了。能夠現場用心靈聆聽蘇打綠真的是件特別幸福的事。蘇打綠從頭到尾都不能成為偶像,是真正的歌者,音樂人,創作才子。

蘇打綠的十週年,我開始喜歡蘇打綠。我預計到了20,30週年,我還會坐在舞台前用心聆聽這個樂團吧。

接下來的十年,二十年,我們用溫暖推翻這世界。

89 | 볼쌍한 오이디푸스

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Going into the theatre started with a surprise at the entrance, when the ushers told us the seats were up on stage.

“Huh?”

But that was the tiniest of surprises compared to what Korean theatre company 죽달 Juk-Dal (name derived from their first show 죽도록 달린다 Running to the Death) had in store for me at their production of The Chorus: Oedipus.

Forceful and visceral, this production of Oedipus holds you tightly by the collar and socks you squarely in the gut. You know that it’s coming, you know the answer to all the questions Oedipus has about his birth, but you keep hoping and hoping it’s not true. Director Seo Jae-Hyung did an amazing job with the staging. From the choice of having seating on the stage, creating physical intimacy between the audience and the cast, to having Oedipus scale the proscenium steps alone at the end, all these choices seemed to have been meticulously thought out, and to good effect. The proximity of the audience to the stage (I was in the first row) meant that when the ravens descended on Oedipus, I felt like the ravens were assaulting me. When the combat scene ensued, I felt like I was physically hit. This was part of what made Oedipus such a spectacle – the intimacy you felt with the entire production.

Other than searing images, like that of Jocasta falling into Oedipus’ arms, or her pleading with Oedipus not to look at her with that light in his eyes, or Oedipus ascending the steps towards the light and exiting to live a lonely existence where no one could speak to him, there were also the haunting sounds which the actors created – sounds of ravens cawing, and a sinister swoosh that to me, signalled destiny chasing after Oedipus. The use of four pianos, tight choreography and amazing harmony among the chorus made for an almost tactile experience. They evoked despair, hope and deep sympathy in me as the play went along. The emotions are the things that linger long after I leave my seat. And so.. these were the images and sounds that I will be hard-pressed to forget. I was glad to be a citizen of Thebes, just for a night.

Oedipus refused to let me go, long after I left the theatre.

Poor Oedipus, poor, poor Oedipus.
오이디푸스, 불쌍한 오이디푸스.

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“난 오이디푸스, 난 신이 아니다
고통 많은 다 테베를 위해
신게 버려진 백성을 위해”
I, Oedipus, I am no god
For Thebes, that suffers greatly,
For the people that the gods have abandoned..

“그 삼거리.. 나도 지나왔지.. 그 삼거리.”
That intersection.. I’ve also passed it, haven’t I.. that intersection.”

“신이 이렇게까지 미워 할 수 밖에 없었나 탄식이다.”
There is no one that the gods detest more than me.

“나는 신이 아니다.
나는 살았고,
그들을 사랑했고,
그래서 고통스러웠다.”
I am no god.
I have lived, and
I have loved them,
And so I suffer.

REVIEW: Travelling with Y5Buddy

Road trips can be an absolute bore, no matter how strong your wanderlust at the moment. That’s especially so if you’re in a passenger wilting in the backseat because there’s no entertainment, and every sitting position feels uncomfortable, but you’ve just gotten up from a nap. Dilemma of every single road trip to Kuantan.

This time, I decided to get a portable wifi device that would keep me connected all the way from Singapore to Kuantan and back!

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I got my wifi device from Y5Buddy and contacted them about a week before my trip. Thankfully, the day their staff replied me was the day their Malaysian wifi devices were released for use! What a stroke of luck. Christine of the Y5Buddy team rendered me almost impeccable service, even calling me to remind me that I could reserve the device online. Thank you, Christine! I was a little confused as it was my first time ordering with them but it turned out well thanks to Christine’s help.

The Malaysian wifi cost $9/day, which is an astonishingly reasonable sum to be forking out for a device that makes life so much easier for me. Of course, they have devices for other destinations such as Korea, USA, China, Taiwan, etc.  It can connect up to 10 devices and on this trip it accommodated everybody’s phones, iPods and laptops! I opted for the courier service, which entails pickup and delivery to your doorstep at $12. The device came in the above Y5Buddy pouch, containing the charging wires and the device itself.

 

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The device itself is pretty small, almost credit card sized. It will fit comfortably into your pocket so it’s definitely very convenient to carry around. The wires consist of two parts, the charging head and USB cable. This means that you can choose to charge your device from a wall socket or from your computer, whichever is more convenient. I charged the device overnight as per Christine’s recommendation and was able to use it 5-8 hours in the day, depending on how many devices were connected to it at one go.

This device functions like a hotspot, so don’t expect lightning connection. The connectivity of the device itself is pretty decent, although a little sketchy around rural areas, as to be expected. When in the city though, this provides for surfing that’s faster than the local 3G network. Impressive, is it not? It provided stable wifi connection even when crossing states! I must say though, the device can heat up pretty quickly – 5 minutes of use gets it warm to the touch, but it doesn’t get so hot that it’s scalding, even when used for extended periods of time. I kept it switched off when I wasn’t using it to preserve battery. The device is also safe from leeches since there’s an ID and secure password on the sticker that’s on the back of the device. Once you log in on your mobile gadget, you don’t have to worry about logging in again and again since it will remember the password, so that’s convenient as well.

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Before I got this device, I was pretty upbeat about simply testing it to see what magic it was, but I ended up relying on it for most of the trip. I preferred using this over the sluggish hotel wifi and even used this to load dramas to watch in the car. The connectivity has not disappointed, so it’s reliable even for working adults who need stable wifi for work. I’ll highly recommend this for jetsetters who can’t keep their hands off their phones!