Wednesday, November 20, 2019

London is Calling!!! Winter Holidays 2019, Let's Go! ⛄❄️

This is me jumping for joy during my first solo work trip to London in 2014, in front of St Paul's Cathedral (^-^)v

Lil Pumpkin doesn't usually make requests on our holiday destinations. She is usually happy to go along with whatever we plan, although she does have a few favourites, of course.

This year, however, she specifically asked if we could go to London for our year-end trip. I guess it's because of some book or show she has been watching that got her interested to visit.

We are actually thinking of making a trip there next year with our extended family for a big family vacation but since Lil Pumpkin asked, and since the boy and I haven't been to London in years and actually do love it despite the long travel time, and especially since we are all still rather young, healthy and have the means to make the trip, we decided to go for it this year AND still plan to go again next winter for our big family vacation hehe..

Since this is going to be Lil Pumpkin's first ever trip to London and the UK, I want to make it as memorable as possible and have planned for us to see most of the iconic places and landmarks. We are even making a trip out of the city to see Windsor Palace, Stonehenge and Bath!

Yes, it's a DIY itinerary even though we aren't that familiar with the place as the boy and I don't like to go on tours much..  too restrictive and too much wasted time on buses, tourist factories or waiting for strangers haha.

Plus, we do like the mystery and wonder of exploring new places and getting lost...

Too bad Valyn isn't staying in London anymore, otherwise it would be a blast to meet up with her there again and checking out some of her fave hangouts..

I still remember some of the places I went to in the past though and some other friends have also chipped in with recommendations on where to go and especially, what to eat...

Oh goodness!! I can't wait to have a full English breakfast, authentic fish & chips, pies and mash etc. in London!!

And shop the street / flea markets! And visit the museums!!

Since it's just about 1 month to Christmas, the Christmas lights are already up and Christmas markets, especially the big Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, have just started!! Yay!!

It is probably too early for it to snow buuuuuut we can keep our fingers crossed, right?? After all, it DID snow early when we arrived in Korea last year

So so excited for our trip!! (○゚ε^○) As usual, I'll try to update via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you like, you can follow our winter holiday fun there!

Take care and see you when we are back xox

Friday, November 15, 2019

Tosokchon Samgyetang {토속촌 삼계탕} - Best Korean Gingseng Chicken Soup in Seoul

Samgyetang {삼계탕} or Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup is a must-eat whenever you are in Korea. And if you can only choose to go to one place to eat it, then you definitely have to make your way to Tosokchon Samgyetang {토속촌 삼계탕} near Gyeongbokgong.

I daresay this world-famous Korean restaurant is recommended in any tourist book and it was apparently frequently by the late South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.

When you go, you'll likely see a long queue outside the restaurant, especially during the peak hours, but don't worry, as the queue moves pretty quickly since service is fast and the restaurant is rather spacious.

Made of Korean chicken, ginseng, chestnut, jujube, garlic, adlay, perilla seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, etc, this hearty traditional Korean soup is perfect comfort food after a long day of walking and sight-seeing in Gyeongbokgung {main royal palace of the Josean dynasty} and the nearby culture hub of Insadong (*^▽^*)

This was probably the 3rd or 4th time we ate at Tosokchon.

Sure, you can get Samgyetang almost anywhere in Seoul, and sure, Tosokchon is filled with tourists {both local and overseas}... but still, you will never be disappointed with the Samgyetang there and I love the atmosphere of eating from the traditional wooden tables on the wooden floors in the quaint heritage-filled hanok houses.

Note: Table-seating is available for those that prefer not to sit on the wooden floors.

At Tosokchon the menu is very simple as they specialise in Samgyetang. They offer Samgyetang {Ginseng Korean Chicken Soup}, Ogol-Samgyetang {Ginseng Korean Black Chicken Soup}, Tongdak {rotisserie chicken}, Dakdoritang {spicy chicken stew}, Haemul Pajeon {seafood & green onion pancake} and Sansam Baeyanggeun {chopped wild ginseng roots}. Prices start from 18,000 won {S$21} for a single serving of the soup.

You can choose to add extra wild ginseng to your Sangyetang for a slightly higher price, and if I'm not wrong, the Korean chicken they use in their dishes are reared in-house too.

To me, black chicken {or silky fowl as they call it} and white chicken tastes about the same, although at times, I do find that black chicken tastes slightly sweeter.

However, a lot of people {Asians?} think that black chicken meat is richer and has a more unique flavour, not to mention more health benefits, thus the higher price for its dishes. A bowl of Samgyetang here costs 18,000 won {S$21} while a bowl of Ogol-Samgyetang costs 24,000 won {S$28}.

As we had tea and desserts in an Insadong traditional teahouse not long ago, we only ordered a bowl of Samgyetang and Ogol-Samgyetang each, as well as a plate of Haemul Pajeon {15,000 won, or S$17.50}.

The soup does not come with rice {as there's already some glutinous rice stuffed inside the chicken} but the portion of Haemul Pajeon is pretty huge and satisfying for all 3 of us. Very delicious and a must-order for us. As with most Korean restaurants, the side dishes {banchan, 반찬} are free-flow.

For the banchan, they serve only kimchi and spicy pickled radish at Tosokchon. They used to put small containers of the banchan on the table for you to dish them out yourself, but now they have ready-portioned dishes that they serve to customers on arrival. If you wish to have extra servings, just ask the staff.

I must say that although the menu is very tourist-friendly and printed with English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean text, the staff are not really and I don't think most of them speak anything other than Korean. The younger ones may speak some English, or you could try speaking Chinese if need be, but most of the time they seem rather hurried and not that helpful. 

Oh, on arrival you are given a small cup of Insamju {ginseng liquor, 20% alcohol} to try too. You can drink it anytime before, during or after your meal but we prefer to just add them to the soup for extra oomph and yes, Lil Pumpkin drinks that too.

If you don't mind lugging them home, they sell their Insamju in 375ml bottles for 10,000won {S$11.70} each. Reasonably priced and makes for a nice souvenir for families and friends.

When you leave, just bring this little tablet with your table number to the counter to pay ( ◞・౪・)
We will definitely be back the next time we visit Seoul again!

Tosokchon Samgyetang {토속촌 삼계탕}
5, Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Open daily 10am - 10pm
Tel: +82-2-737-7444

Other Korea travel posts:

Thursday, November 7, 2019

47th Avenue Tea House {47번가 찻집} @ Insadong, Korea

We visited our first traditional Korean tea-house, 47th Avenue Tea House {47번가 찻집} in Insadong during our summer holiday to Seoul.

It was an excellent decision as we were very impressed by the beautiful ambiance of this quaint tea-house tucked away at one of the little lanes in Insadong. It seemed as if we entered a different world away from the hustle and bustle of the busy main street...  

There are many different traditional Korean tea-houses in Insadong so you will definitely be spoilt for choice!

Even along the small lane that 47th Avenue Tea House was on, there were about 2-3 other tea-houses there.. 

So picturesque and charming, isn't it?

Housed in an actual hanok {한옥, traditional Korean house}, the lush greenery, traditional wooden frames and Korean tiled roofs made me fall in love with this place. 

So many Instagram-friendly spots to take pictures at haha..

At 47th Avenue Tea House, you can choose to sit at the traditional floor seats or at the tables.

Whenever there's such a choice, I usually like to choose the traditional floor seats for a more "authentic" experience haha.

Do note that you'd have to take off your shoes when you enter this area, and it is just a hard floor with thin mats, not on a padded tatami floor, so it might be uncomfortable for you if you're not used to sitting cross-legged or if you have knee problems.

However, if you come with babies or small kids, I think this would be a better area to sit at as there's more space for them to sit and tumble about. 

The table seating area is also very rustic and comfortable.. but with more small tables, this might be more cozy for couples than families?

Some autographs of famous Korean celebrities that visited 47th Avenue Tea House..

47th Avenue Teahouse has a wide range of tea, coffee, smoothies and selected traditional Korean snacks for you to choose from. Prices start from 6,000 won {S$7.05}.

I recommend going for their set menu which includes one plate of snacks {honey cookie, grilled mochi, dried persimmon or ice-cream toast} and 2 cups of tea {hot or cold}. The sets cost either 21,000 won {S$24.70} or 22,000 won {S$25.90}.

This tea-house is rather tourist-friendly so don't worry if you aren't able to read/speak Korean. The staff can speak English and the menu has English translations too.

Since we were already there, we decided to splurge a little on a Strawberry & Banana Bingsu {18,000won or S$21.20} and a Grilled Mochi Set {21,000won or S$24.70}. The shaved ice bingsu {빙수} is seriously the most expensive ice kachang I have ever eaten hahaha...

The Grilled Mochi {or tteok in Korean} with kuromitsu sauce, shaved almonds and kinako powder was absolute heaven. Crispy on the outside, soft & chewy on the inside. Damn. I wish we ordered 2 plates of that.. I'm still thinking about it even up to now and yeah, maybe I will try and recreate it at home one day.

The boy had a cup of hot mulberry tea while I went for a cold cup of jujube tea. It was kinda sweet with a slight herbal taste.

Mulberry tea is good for lowering cholesterol, reducing blood pressure, regulating the digestive system etc. while the benefits of jujube tea include relieving constipation, strengthening the immune system, boosting bone health, increasing blood circulation etc.

You can try many other Korean traditional tea here e.g. citrus tea, cinnamon tea, green plum tea, pomegranate tea, ginger tea, Chinese quince tea etc.

It was a lovely place to spend a lazy afternoon... if we had more time, I would definitely have liked to visit some of the other traditional Korean tea-houses too.

47th Avenue Tea House {47번가 찻집}
47-9, Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul 03145, South Korea
Open daily 11am - 10.30pm
Tel: +82-2-737-2563

Other Korea travel posts:

Friday, November 1, 2019

P4 Parenting | End-of-Year Exams Are Over!!!

I should have posted on this last week when her exams ended on Thu 24 Oct 2019, but oh well, better late than never, right?? hehe...

Yes, Lil Pumpkin's P4 end-of-year exams are FINALLY OVER!! Woohoo!!! *throws confetti*

I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Seriously, I reckon that I'm much more stressed about school exams than Lil Pumpkin ever is. She's so super chill.

Which is good, in some way? Although I feel that some stress is good as a motivation for her to push herself to excel, I never want to overwhelm her with academic work or study stress.. or feel that her school results are everything, because honestly it is not.

After the exams she asked for waffles and ice-cream, so we went down to the club to get some. Not as good as her birthday waffles, but were still pretty fluffy and yummy.

I was surprised that she asked for 2 scoops of chocolate ice-cream as she is not usually an ice-cream or chocolate person. Unless it's from Ben & Jerry's. THAT she eats by the pint haha..

Usually, she just likes to eat the ice-cream cone and asks me to eat the ice-cream for her. Weirdo..  

So since it's been about a week since her exams ended, Lil Pumpkin has gotten back some of her exam results.

Just to update, she got 8/20 for her English compo which she wrote completely off topic for. We were expecting her to get a big fat zero so that's a silver lining haha #thinkpositive

Lil Pumpkin did pretty well for the rest of her written papers, and I'm very proud and happy for what she achieved especially for her Science. She didn't start off that well when she first started learning Science in P3 so it really is through hard work and grit {and a lot of nagging coaching from Mummy!!} that she managed to go from failing her topic papers {her P4 Science teacher actually called to talk to me}, to getting 98/100 for her SA2 exam. Well done, baby girl.

Another notable mention for this exams is that for the first time, she got full marks for her Maths exam paper!! She has always done well for this subject {getting her started on Maths enrichment classes early was one of the best decisions in my life hehe}, but this is a milestone for her (★^O^★) Sometimes, I wish that her Ah Gong {the boy's dad} was still around to see her good Maths grades. He was always fantastic with numbers too and would have been so happy to know that Lil Pumpkin got his genes too..

Even though we aren't sure what her overall results for the year will be, I'm pretty happy with how we prepped for her exams and the results from it so far. There are areas to work on e.g. compositions and oral, but that will wait until we've all had a good year-end winter holiday!! ヽ(*⌒∇⌒*)ノ

I know I haven't been blogging much or updating my social media channels as much lately. Partly because I've been busy with work and her exam prep, partly because I'm lazy #oops, and also partly because I haven't been taking as many photos as I usually do.

Well, since her exams are over and the boy got me a new mobile with a much better camera to play around with, hopefully I'd start blogging and posting more again. I hope to get 2 more posts on our summer trip to Seoul out before we head to our winter hols later this month to... London!!!

Yes, super excited since it's Lil Pumpkin's first visit to London but I'm also somewhat dreading the long flight haha. It is such a beautiful place and I'm sure Christmas decorations will be up when we're there too so yup, hoping to capture some wonderful family moments and memories there.

Many thanks if you're still coming to my blog and reading this (v^_^)v Do stick around and connect with us on Facebook and Instagram if you haven't yet too!

For more of  Lil Pumpkin's Primary School journey:

For tips on P1 preparation: