Cold until cannot recognise home

Last night was the coldest yet for me! It was -9°C out with a wind chill of -19°C. Meaning when the wind blows at you, it feels like -19°C. And the wind blows a frightful lot here.

I have been avoiding my electric coat since my last post about it, and have tried to survive on my pathetic autumn coat by piling on more layers inside and wrapping my scarf around my neck and half my face.




It takes, like, 15 minutes to put on all my clothes, including tights, socks, leg warmers, boots, the works. And about 10 minutes to take them off.

But it has to be done. The cold is really some serious shit, especially on the face since it’s exposed, unless you want to wear a ski mask, which I don’t. When we get the -19°C wind, I feel like my skin will burn right off my face if I stay outdoors longer than I have to.

The inside of my nose and the part which connects to the eyes hurt and it’s hard to breathe.

Last night, I wore three long-sleeve layers inside, which made it four long-sleeves in total. It turned out to be just warm enough except when the wind blows, which, like I said, happens a frightful lot here.

On our way home, during the 2-minute walk from the subway to our apartment, Kay started cursing out loud in Hokkien when the wind suddenly whipped up a frenzy around us. That was hilarious because he’s usually a mild person and hardly ever curses. I ended up laughing uncontrollably all the way home, which helped to distract me from the cold a bit.

Anyway, it’s his own doing for trying to be a hero and not buying a winter coat, relying on his autumn jacket all this while, and only wearing a maximum of two layers inside.




He’s come up with a series of phrases to utter in response to the cold. Originally meant to be in Hokkien (he likes to imitate an ah beng friend of his) but translated to English because it’s funnier, although still a bit crude.

“Cold until cannot recognise home!” – He said that to me when I headed straight towards Lotteria (a burger chain) instead of turning left towards the subway station as we were meant to do.

“Cold until balls pain!” – Said amidst his impassioned curses to the -19°C wind.

“Cold until shit got sucked back in.” – He’d told me at the subway station that he was going to use the toilet first thing when we get back, but 15 minutes after getting back, he still hadn’t gone.



Anyway, today is kind of our last day here. We leave for home first thing tomorrow morning.

I think I will miss Seoul quite a bit. I’ve grown to love it here despite the cold and static electricity and despite the lack of chilli sauce in KFC.

Speaking of which, the KFC here uses a kind of paper spoon you have to fold yourself. At least, I think I folded it correctly. Seemed to be the only way.


KFC spoons


KFC coleslaw


I don’t like the coleslaw here. It’s watery and tastes like pickled cabbage, like those kind you get as appetisers in some Chinese restaurants.

Anyway, coming up are more random snapshots I took over the last few days, sights around Seoul I will probably miss (some not).



Saturday evening crowd heading out of the subway to Myeongdong, a hip shopping district likened to Tokyo’s Harajuku.

Peak hour in Seoul



The crowd in Myeongdong.

Myeongdong, Seoul


Myeongdong, Seoul



Bigass Forever 21.

Myeongdong, Seoul


Myeongdong, Seoul



Rotiboy in Myeongdong.

Rotiboy Seoul


Rotiboy Seoul


Rotiboy Seoul



Still in Myeongdong. BreadTalk!

BreadTalk Seoul



This woman’s phone dangly is bigger than her phone!

Seoul subway



Seoulites are stuck to their phones a lot more than Singaporeans, at least in the subway. They mostly watch TV, and many of them have antennas attached.

Seoul subway



Statue of Chun Tae-il, a 22-year-old labour activist who burnt himself to death in 1970 to protest against the inhuman exploitation of labourers during that time. His sacrifice triggered the development of labour unions, which subsequently, after a long period of time, led to the birth of democracy in South Korea.

The statue is erected around 30 metres from the spot where he immolated himself, crying out, “We are not machines!”

Chun Tae-il



Not the usual street food you see in Seoul.

Seoul street food



Disgusting wormy things that won’t stop wriggling, outside seafood restaurants in Myeongdong.

Disgusting wormy things


Disgusting wormy things



Nice walking advertisement.

Myeongdong, Seoul



Nice restroom in Red Mango, a coffee and dessert franchise.

Red Mango


Red Mango



Frozen yoghurt in Red Mango.

Red Mango



Chai tea and chapati (no dip or curry!) set which costs KRW10,000 (S$11.35). In an Indian restaurant in Insadong.

India Cafe



Fruit salad costing KRW13,500 (S$15.30). In the same restaurant.

Rip off!

India Cafe



Nice place to hang out though. Very cosy.

India Cafe



Our breakfast for the past three weeks. We’ve gone through about six boxes of these!

Post cereal



Okay, that’s all for today. Gotta get ready and set off for the hospital. Today is stitch-removing day, so I have to prepare my stomach for the photo-taking later.


Must-eat grilled fish in Seoul

Of all the meals I’ve eaten in Seoul, this particular grilled fish meal is by far the most special and memorable.

That’s due in part to the fact that you can hardly find fish, grilled or otherwise, in Seoul (not counting Japanese sashimi restaurants). You mostly only see pork, beef, chicken, octopus and cuttlefish.

The other part is that it’s so delicious it made a fish-hater (me) order extra servings and then clean every last bit of flesh off the bones.

You can smell the fragrance of barbequed fish meat even before you see the row of eateries semi-hidden in a small alley in the middle of seemingly nowhere.

That’s because they grill the fish right out in the open.


Grilled fish


Okay, I’m not exactly a fish-hater but, of all meats, fish is my least favourite and I avoid it whenever I can. Which is not to say that I don’t enjoy the occasional fish and chips and salmon sashimi. But fish is repulsive to me most of the time because it either tastes fishy or like seawater.

So believe me when I say this fish is really good. It was so good we went back there again two days later.


Grilled fish


The two outlets that we visited had staff who could speak Mandarin, so that was pretty helpful. But even then, you don’t really need much communication. You just look at the different kinds of fish available on the grill, then point at the ones you want. They’ll then usher you in to sit down and serve you your meal shortly.

First, you get rice and side dishes, which are all free of charge and, I assume, free flow. They only charge you for the fish, which costs about KRW6,000 (S$6.90) each.


Grilled fish


One medium-sized fish per person is quite enough, we found. We ordered these two for starters.


Grilled fish


They were well-marinated, a bit on the salty side but not overly so for my taste buds.

The one on the bottom was some kind of mackerel, I think? The flesh was tender and juicy, very fresh and free from bad fish odours, but with the buttery fragrance of fish oil that makes you crave more with every bite.


Grilled fish


The one on the top, I don’t know what fish it was but I loved it as much. It didn’t have the buttery fish oil taste but the meat was very soft and fluffy and went well with the salty marinade. They give you wasabi and soy sauce to dip your fish in but I didn’t need it at all.

It was such an amazing meal we felt compelled to order another fish even though we weren’t hungry anymore.


Grilled fish


This third fish tasted a bit like mackerel, quite buttery, but with a thicker, more chewy texture.

We finished every last bit and swore to go back again.

But our clothes and hair smelled smokey and fishy after that. Each time the door opened, the smoke from the grill rushed into the store and had nowhere to go because the ventilation wasn’t that good, so we got smoked quite a bit.

And because the outlet enjoyed really good business, the door opened and closed a lot.

If you do visit the place, and you should, just be mindful that you’ll be smelling a bit afterwards.

Our second visit was a bit disappointing. We decided to try the neighbour outlet. This meal with a normal boring fish meal. The fish was dry and a bit too salty with no awesome buttery fragrance. And they didn’t serve it to us steaming hot like the first place did.


Grilled fish


But it was just as cheap. This meal (above) only cost us KRW12,000 (S$13.70). (Our first meal was KRW17,000 but there was more meat, overall.)

In any case, if you come to Seoul, you must come try the fish.


How To Get There

Take the Line 1 subway and stop at Jongno 5(o)-ga Station, exiting at Exit 5.


Seoul subway


Outside the station, walk straight past an endless row of pharmacies. You will pass by two tiny alleys and one big alley on your right. Turn right into the fourth alley and walk for maybe 80 metres or so until you get to a junction where the left and right split into separate eating alleys.

Take the left one, which looks like this:




Walk down the alley until you reach almost the end. That’s when you’ll start seeing all the fish eateries.

The one you should patronise is this one where there’s a plaque with photos that look like they’re cut out from magazines or maybe screenshots of TV, I’m not too sure.


Grilled fish outlet


Grilled fish outlet


The neighbour on the left also has a similar sort of plaque, so just make sure to choose the one on the right (when you’re facing the store entrance).

But I’m quite sure the other outlets also serve pretty decent meals. The second we went to wasn’t that bad, but probably just made worse in comparison to the first.

I’m quite tempted to go back a third time before returning to Singapore!

Electric girl and her electric coat

Today is the last day I will be able to enjoy relatively good weather in Seoul before heading home on Thursday.

Today’s weather is 6°C | -2°C, whereas it’s below zero for the rest of the week.

It’s a strange ritual having to check the weather before going out every day so you know how much to wear.


Electric coat


I think I shall give the electric coat a miss today and maybe wear two thinner coats, instead. I wore PVC gloves with fur lining last night when we went out for supper, thinking the gloves will insulate me against electric shocks. I even tied up my hair to minimise static caused by loose hairs flying about.

But I still got zapped pretty major by the door of a taxi. The bolt went right through the gloves and its fur lining.

It’s incredibly irritating.

Kay thinks I’m abnormal because I’m more susceptible to static electricity than anyone else he knows. I get it in Singapore too, but mostly only from car doors. He says he doesn’t know a single person besides me who gets zapped in Singapore.

He thinks I should come up with a way to bottle my electricity and sell it.

My electric coat turns me into a major generator, churning out electricity at an alarming rate, literally nonstop. I don’t know if it will do the same to other people.

I was thinking of giving the coat away to one of the homeless people I see sleeping in subway stations all around Seoul. I feel sad every time I see them, thinking of how they have no proper shelter in such harsh weather.

I mean, on a normal day, being homeless is bad enough. But it must be a lot more terrible to be homeless during winter.


Seoul's homeless


Seoul's homeless


But Kay says giving my coat away is mean because then I’d be causing the recipient of my coat to be zapped instead of me.

I don’t know about that. Can’t be everyone’s a generator like me, right?

What’s your opinion? Tell us about your experiences with static electricity, and do you think I should give my coat away?

Sights around Seoul

In view of it being a lazy Sunday, today’s post shall be a lazy photo gallery!



A replica of Rome’s Trevi Fountain at Lotte World.

Lotte World



Entrance to Lotte Department Store.

Lotte World



Entrance to Lotte World Theme Park. We didn’t go inside. Not enough time. Plus it looks kinda kiddish from the outside.

Lotte World



Giant Crocs!




I’ve never liked Crocs but then I’ve never seen winter Crocs. I find them very appealing!

Winter Crocs


Winter Crocs



Premium market in Lotte Department Store.

Lotte Department Store



We went to this Japanese restaurant and there were two pretty blankets sitting on a table with a sign showing a drawing of said blankets and some Korean words. Cute but incomprehensible.




A subway peddler with a rather professional setup. He was selling LED keychains and scarves.

Seoul subway peddler



Sweet potato plants and grass growing on the wall at the subway station. LOL.

Seoul subway plants



Closer look.

Seoul subway plants



Seven Springs, a salad and grill restaurant chain. Something like Sizzler but salad bar has more varieties of cooked food. Expensive, though. The dinner price of the salad bar is around KRW22,000 (S$25). Lunch price is KRW16,000. Same spread for both.

Seven Springs



Seven Springs


Seven Springs


Seven Springs


Seven Springs


Seven Springs


Seven Springs


Seven Springs


Seven Springs


Seven Springs



A crazy amusement park ride near the main Dongdaemun shopping area. Patrons sit around in a wheel, totally unstrapped, their only protection being the strength of their arms holding on to the rails behind them.

Disco Jump


The wheel spins on and off at the whim of the ride operator, who gives gleeful commentary nonstop. Sometimes, the wheel jiggles, sometimes it bounces up and down violently, trying to throw people off. And sometimes, it spins around so fast it makes you dizzy to look at it.

Disco Jump


Disco Jump



Pancakes at Honey Berrys Coffee, a pancakes and waffles cafe.




Cute toilets in the cafe.






Pyoung Hwa Clothing Market. Looks like a wholesale market. Freaking long building that stretches for, like, 200 metres, maybe more.

Didn’t see any clothes cos most of the shops were closed by the time I got there. Only one little strip was still open, comprising endless stores selling hats and scarves.

Pyoung Hwa Clothing Market


Pyoung Hwa Clothing Market



By the way, it was so cold last night when I was out (-6°C) my ears threatened to fall off before I pulled my hood over my head.

I also realised that my new fleece coat is causing crazy amounts of static electricity to build up in me constantly (cos it wasn’t so bad before I started wearing the coat).

I get painful zaps countless times a day. Even during moments when I think I’ve discharged the electricity, I get zapped right away again. For example, I get zapped as I open a toilet cubicle door to walk out. Two steps away, I get zapped when I touch the tap to turn the water on.

I get zapped when Kay so much as accidentally brushes his hand against my thumb. Then he thinks I’m discharged already so he leans over to give me a quick peck on my lips and I get zapped again. I tell him it’s like kissing a porcupine with its quills on attack mode.

It got so annoying I tried to avoid touching anything at all, but you just can’t avoid touching things as you move around the day. I got zapped reloading my subway card (the part where you slot money in). I got zapped beeping my subway card at the turnstile.

I get zapped all the freaking time and it’s painful and jarring every time.

I try using a key to discharge before I touch anything but it’s tiresome and stupid holding a key in my hand all day, plus the charges build up so quickly I would have to use it all the time, which is tiresome and stupid, so I just put up with the zapping.

But I must say that the fleece coat is really, really warm and comfortable.

Four more days till I’m free of the cold and the electric shocks.

I think I’ll miss this place again, though.


Sheylara at the subway

Sightseeing in the snow

It snowed seriously in Seoul on Wednesday.

Instead of trying to take cover like everyone else did, I lingered out in the open, enjoying the feel of snow falling on my face and my clothes, taking endless photos at the risk of hypothermia to myself and my brave camera, who didn’t even flinch when snow fell into its lens.


Snowing in Seoul


Snowing in Seoul


The snow fell intermittently the entire day, not persistent enough to turn me into a snowman; it melts after a while.

Not that I would have stayed out in the open long enough to be turned into a snowman. But I might have tried for half one.


Snowing in Seoul


Snowing in Seoul


Snowing in Seoul


It was the coldest day I’ve experienced since coming to Seoul about three weeks ago. The temperature hovered at just under zero the entire day.

It’s fortunate that I just bought this fleece coat, which turned out to be really warm. I might have died if I’d gone out with the smaller jacket I’d brought from Singapore.

Of all days, Kay picked this coldest of days to go sightseeing.

We first went to the Japanese Embassy to witness a weekly protest by a bunch of old Korean women who had served as comfort women during the WW2 Japanese occupation.

The surviving victims who are still healthy enough (most of them are between 80 and 90 years old now) gather outside the embassy every Wednesday at noon to pressure the Japanese government into compensating them for their past sufferings and taking action against their tormenters.

They have been doing this weekly for almost 19 years now, to no effect. The Japanese government has all these years refrained from even offering an apology.



Korean comfort women protest


Korean comfort women protest


Only three victims attended this rally (maybe it was too cold that day for the others). The rest of the people around were their supporters and helpers, I suppose.

It was a very peaceful protest, even more peaceful than the anti-North Korean one I witnessed.

There was one woman speaking into a loud hailer, occasionally getting the small crowd to yell out in unison, but they were all rather gentle about it. After that, a bunch of young women got to the front and started singing Christmas hymns.


Korean comfort women protest


The brown building is the Japanese embassy. You can see some policemen stationed outside it, heh. Seems like policemen in Seoul are always sent off here and there to stand by at rallies and protests.

I wonder if some of them occasionally think, “Aww man, not again!” when dispatched for yet another such assignment.

The next place we went to was Changdeok Palace (or Changdeokgung).




After my last palace visit three months ago (to Gyeongbokgung), I decided that visiting Korean palaces is quite boring and not really worth the time. It’s just building after building, each building looking exactly the same as the one before.

All the buildings are restored to perfection so you can’t even feel any historic aura. You just feel like you’re visiting a movie set but there are no props or actors. You can’t go inside the buildings to look around and, even if you could, there’s absolutely nothing inside to see. They are all empty.

If you have a guide, it could be mildly interesting listening to some historical facts and trivia, but I still wouldn’t recommend it.

Kay didn’t heed my warning and insisted that he needed to see at least one palace since it’s supposedly one of the things you have to do if you come to Seoul.

So I went with him to Changdeokgung and we spent an hour freezing our butts out together with a bunch of tourists who didn’t look all too impressed, either. (The palace conducts two scheduled tours a day for each of four languages – Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese – each tour lasting an hour).




After the tour, Kay said, “I’ve come to the conclusion that palace visits are boring,” which gave me the opportunity to tell him, “I told you so!”

He had visited the Forbidden City in Beijing in 2007 and found it rather boring, also, so I can’t imagine what could have moved him to want to visit a Korean palace.

Anyway, it wasn’t all for naught. I took some photos in there.












After the tour, we went to sit in a nice cafe (within the palace) to thaw out a bit.

The cafe is classy, with nice decor and mood lighting. They serve all manner of hot drinks — coffee, tea, chocolate — all of which are produced from a variety of instant coffee machines.

The two counter girls stood there the whole time just collecting money and pushing buttons on the machine.

You can get a nice paper cup of instant hot chocolate for KRW3000 (S$3.50).


Expensive hot chocolate



We had a nice buffet lunch at a small vegetarian restaurant called Hangwachae (in Insadong) so that Kay could have some healthy, wholesome food that’s a lot tastier than whatever we can cook up in our meagre kitchen with our meagre talents (or lack thereof).






It’s a buffet, so I took a little bit of everything to try, except those that looked too gross to try out.

Most of the stuff weren’t really to my taste. I can’t quite describe them. I guess it’s just me because this place has got some good reviews by vegetarians on the Internet. But it was alright, overall. I felt very healthy eating this meal.

I did particularly enjoy the sweet potato fritters (not too healthsome!) and the boiled potatoes (with a nicely normal salty seasoning). And I liked eating the brown rice with something that tasted like preserved bean curd sauce.

So, basically, it was mostly starch for me that meal.

The price was quite reasonable for a buffet, at KRW12,000 (S$14) per person.




Latest update on Kay’s condition:

His swollen hand has finally subsided to almost normal after he diligently massaged it all night.

But he’s got the most gigantic, horrendous, evil-looking bruise at the back of his arm.


Kay's bruise


I’m considering entering him for the Guinness Book of World Records. What do you think?