Friday, December 14, 2018

Gym Review :: Ibis Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun, Korea

We stayed at Ibis Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun for our recent mother-daughter trip to the Land of Kimchi.

I like staying at Dongdaemun because it is bustling with activity, even at night. It is just so convenient {all the major train lines run through there} and the shops and restaurants are open until late... like 4am??

Ibis Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun is located about 10-15mins walk away from the shopping hub of Dongdaemun i.e. where Doota, Good Morning City, Migliore, Hello apM, Lotte Fitin etc. are located.

The hotel also enjoys easy access to the subway stations {Dongdaemun, Dongdaemun History & Culture Park and Euljiro 4-ga} and public buses to other Seoul attractions like the royal palaces, and if you've enough time, Cheongyecheon stream is a stone's throw away and you can stroll along there to Myeongdong {about 20 mins} and Insadong {about 30 mins}.

From the airport, we just had to take 6001 airport limousine bus {about 1.5hrs journey} and it dropped us directly opposite Ibis Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun at Baiton Hotel. Going back to the airport was a breeze too as it's a loop service from the same bus stop. 

The rooms are affordable, clean and comfortable with reliable free WiFi throughout the hotel, and there's a convenience store next to the hotel too. Good enough for those on short-term visit looking for a safe and relaxing night's stay. However, don't expect to find family-friendly facilities like kids' playgrounds or swimming pools there. 

Staff are very friendly and can speak English, Chinese and Japanese too.

Note: There's a Ibis budget Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun that is a different hotel, but also located in Dongdaemun. I assume that it's even cheaper and has no frills. Might try that out the next time we are in Seoul if there's a significant price difference as it seems even nearer to the Dongdaemun center hub and there's also an indoor "onsen" space haha.

As Ibis Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun is a small hotel, I didn't have much expectation for its hotel gym. I'm just happy that it had one and I didn't have to find one outside the hotel for my holiday workouts ( ᐛ )و

Hey, it's hard enough training during your holiday, much less getting out of your warm, cozy hotel and trudge out in the cold just to exercise!! (*^▽^)/

True enough, their 24hr gym was more like a small fitness room located in the basement with 1 stair-climber, 2 exercise bikes, 2 treadmills, 2 exercise mats, 1 exercise ball and a set of dumbbells {2-14kg}.

It did not even have a bench and I'd have appreciated a water cooler.. but the hotel does provide free bottled water daily in your room.

It did have a weighing scale and a rather interesting Power Belt Massage machine though which I guess is to massage your fats away???! hehe

I must also add that I did like that the room was smoke-free, very bright and cheery. On the mirrors it had cute drawings with motivational quotes to encourage you on in your workouts!

My travel programs are usually short, around 1hr max. For this trip, Superman planned for me to do weights one day, then cardio on the treadmill {groan!!} the next.

Holiday Workout with the heaviest weights I lifted:
A1. Standing Shoulder Press, 4 sets, 12 reps - 10kg
A2. Reverse Lunges, 4 sets, 8 reps - 12kg
B1. One Arm Row {hand on rack}, 4 sets, 12 reps - 10kg
B2. Goblet Squat {minimal rest on top}, 4 sets, 20 reps - 12kg
C1. Biceps Curl, 4 sets, 9 reps - 8kg
C2. Floor-lying Triceps Extension, 4 sets, 9 reps - 8kg

I  trained in the early morning before our day started while Lil Pumpkin was still sleeping. Good thing that the gym was usually empty and I only met one other lady there walking on the treadmill one morning.

The holiday season always makes me feel more "nua" in my diet and training but rather than let the lack of results make me feel stressed, I'm just gonna roll with it. No point complaining about it either, as Superman has zero sympathy for me when I don't do my part during training... but he knows that it's wiser to let me rest more, rather than push when my heart isn't in it as it might backfire and make me resent training.

Keyword this holiday season is "maintenance". If I can maintain my strength and current weight, I'm happy. Not aiming for any drastic progress in the gym but just want to make sure that all my injuries are under control this month {damn scalene muscles causing me a lot of discomfort but good thing my knees and back injuries are manageable} so that I can start 2019 all fresh, rested and rejuvenated with a new cycle (*⌒∇⌒*)

☆ Gym Star Rating for Ibis Ambassador Seould Dongdaemun, Korea Gym
Overall satisfaction: 3/5
Equipment: 2/5 
Atmosphere: 3/5
Cleanliness: 4/5
Accessibility: 5/5
Staff availability: Nil

*****
Other Korea travel posts:


One-on-On Personal Training Updates:

Genesis Gym Personal Training Updates:
The Beginning - Signing Up for Personal Training



Friday, December 7, 2018

Korea 2018 | Back from Our Winter Holiday in Seoul! ❄️

We are back from our mummy-daughter trip to Seoul, Korea!!! Our first entire overseas trip alone with just us two... and I'm sure more to come!

I expected it to be below 10°C and we could feel the cold as soon as we touched down! 

Thankfully, I had some outer wear with me in my haversack {brought my big Adidas "issey miyake" backpack} and there was a direct airport shuttle coach from Incheon Airport to our hotel in Dongdaemun

Which is good because the boy wasn't around to help with the luggages, and I only had my little darling with me to help with our 2 big luggages, 2 haversacks, 1 cabin trolley bag and another bag of our bulky jackets on the way home hehe. 

No... try as I might, I'm not really a light packer hahaha (*ノ∀`*)

We were really blessed to see the first snow for the year in Seoul {Korea??} 2 days after we arrived on Saturday, 24 November!!

I woke up to excited messages from friends telling me that it was snowing.. and was super stoked to catch it falling as it stopped snowing about 1 hour later. By the time we left the hotel later that morning, most of the snow on the city streets had melted or was cleared away by the efficient Koreans.

Lil Pumpkin was thrilled too, of course!! It has been a very long time since she played with snow!!

I planned for us to just take things easy and have a nice relaxing mother-daughter trip together.

So we ambled along to various places, and I even had time to spend 4+ hours at Lotte Mart, Seoul Station!! (*-∀-)ゞ Thank you Lil Pumpkin for being such a sweet darling waiting for Mummy!!! hehe...

No no, she wasn't sulking or bored in a little corner. Lil Pumpkin shopped around too. For those unaware, Lotte Mart at Seoul station is humongous!! I dare say even bigger than Big C at Bangkok, which I love too by the way! It doesn't just stock food and groceries, but it also has a mini food court, and sells cosmetics, household items, toys, electronics, pet stuff etc.

It is one of my must-visit places when I'm in Seoul and I definitely will have a blog post up on it, so come back and check!!

The cold winter weather + festive decorations everywhere, especially at the Lotte World and Everland  {will write on this too!} theme parks we went to, certainly put us all in a good holiday mood and made us so so excited for Christmas!

Really wish the boy was there with us... he would have loved the atmosphere too!

I remembered loving Korean food more during our previous trips, but maybe it's because my diet has changed.. I find that I didn't enjoy the food as much as before.

Too much carbs, and not enough protein haha. I couldnt even order more meat side dishes as most of the restaurants I went with Lil Pumpkin didn't have just extra meat.

Was really happy that my friend, Jaye, brought us to eat yakiniku at Myeongdong. Goodness, that black Jeju pork is amazing!!! (*⌒▽⌒*)θ~♪ It was lovely catching up with him and Yoojin too. The last time we met in 2012/ 2013 they were still dating... but now, they have 2 super adorable and cheeky boys!!!

Shopping in Korea is pretty good as they have really cute and quirky stuff that isn't too expensive. Lil Pumpkin bought mainly stationery, key chains and hair accessories...

While I had my share of snacks, socks and hoodies o(^▽^)o



Visited Everland theme park for the first time this trip! 💖 We’ve been to Seoul 3x prior when @lovelilpumpkin was younger but always gave Everland a miss, even though it’s supposedly more fun & bigger than Lotte World, as I always thought it’s too far and too much of a hassle to go... 🙊 — — However, this time since @lovelilpumpkin is older {ie easier to travel alone with} and I wanted to bring her to new places, I searched and found a shuttle coach tt went directly to Everland w/ a pick-up & return point near our hotel. So convenient!! 👍🏻 Took us arnd 1hr to reach there, and 40mins to get back since traffic was good!! Really happy that we went as the Xmas decor were amazing & we had tons of fun there! Even though it was much colder than Seoul city, and the entire theme park is outdoors, it was such a treat to go on so many exhilarating rides with relatively short queues {ave 10-20mins}, except for the famous T-Express roller coaster ride, which had 90mins waiting time!! 🎢🎠🎡 — — @lovelilpumpkin is now over 140cm so could sit pretty much all the rides!! She loved the Double Rock Spin {went 4x - twice on her own coz it gave me a headache!}, Bumper Cars, Rolling-X Train {went twice on her own too!} etc. She basically liked Everland more compared to Lotte World coz it has more thrilling rides haha.. 😘😘😘 — — Posted more highlights from our mummy-daughter trip to the Land of Kimchi on my IG Highlights Reel {Korea #1 & #2 folders} and some tips/ recommendations on places to visit in Seoul here: http://www.sakuraharuka.com/2018/11/bub-me-mummy-daughter-holiday-to-seoul.html {link in bio} 👩🏻💖👧🏻💕🇰🇷🌸 #sakuraharuka #ASHxKorea #travelwithkids #motherhood #seoul #korea #winterholiday #everland #witheverland #themepark #thrillseeker #sgkids #sgfamily #christmas #winterishere
A post shared by アイ・サクラ  (@aisakuraharuka) on
As always, it is pretty hard getting back into the groove of things after a long break, but I will try to update and blog more about the things that we did for the 1.5 weeks trip. Meanwhile, you can pop by {and follow hehe!} my Instagram and FB page for more of our trip updates and pictures. 

Documented it on-the-go on my IG Story Highlights - look for Korea #1 and Korea #2 folders.    

If you've anything to ask about the trip, feel free to leave me a comment too! 

Other posts on Korea:

More posts on our Korean travels here.

P.S. Check out the rest of our Bub & Me activities or list of kid-friendly places in Singapore too. If you haven't yet, and are staying in Singapore for the hols, you really should go see The Great Moscow Circus before it closes this Sunday {9 Dec 2018}!



Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Bub & Me: Mummy-Daughter Holiday to Seoul, Korea

Lil Pumpkin & I are flying off to Seoul, Korea for a little mummy-daughter holiday!!! Our first time spending an entire overseas trip alone with just us two!



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I didn't blog about this but during the June holidays, Lil Pumpkin went for a trip with just her daddy to Taipei, Taiwan.

It was an impromptu kinda thing but I thought it was a brilliant idea for the boy to bring her traveling on his own. He has always been talking about it and this year, he finally made it happen.

I was a bit apprehensive at first, as Lil Pumpkin has never been overseas without me before, but anyone who knows us knows that the boy has always been a hands-on dad and is far capable of taking care of Lil Pumpkin by himself so my concerns were needless, of course. 

The boy haven't been to Taiwan in decades and this was Lil Pumpkin's first trip there. During their short 3N4D trip, they went gallivanting around Taipei visiting the famous sites, eating all the delicious market food, and yes, even shopping! Very relaxed, and even though it was waaaaaay too hot, they both enjoyed their time spent together tremendously.



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In fact, Lil Pumpkin loved it so much that when she returned, she proclaimed that she wanted to go on a trip with just me and only me too!! Secretly really happy to know that she still enjoys my company because it's a fact that she prefers to be with her daddy since he is more fun and usually gives in to her whims, unlike her mummy who tends to be fiercer and more of a "kill-joy"...

Anyway, since the boy can't get away from work these few months too... off we go tonight on our little adventure for just the two of us!! The last time we were truly alone was during the March hols, but we stayed in Singapore then...

It's more exciting and enjoyable to travel around with her now because Lil Pumpkin is at the age whereby she can help with all the luggage, she doesn't need her naps as much, she doesn't need to be pushed around in a stroller, she is more independent but will still happily follow us around without grumbling or insisting to go anywhere, eats pretty much anything and also likes shopping hehe.

The last time we were in Korea was in 2012-2013, which is 5-6 years ago!! Goodness, I'm sure Lil Pumpkin doesn't remember much of her trips there, and although I recall parts of what we did and where we went, I'm pretty sure Seoul has changed quite a bit in the past 5 years.

It was nice refreshing my memory through my old posts and I'm thrilled to visit some of those places again.

If you're going to Seoul, Korea or planning a trip there in the future, have a look to see what we did in the past. I'll probably be posting some updates on Instagram and Facebook for the boy and my family, so follow us along on our first mother-daughter holiday to spend winter in Kimchi-land!!!

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Somerset Palace Seoul {Jongno} - Serviced Apartment Hotel
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More posts on our Korean travels here

P.S. Check out the rest of our Bub & Me activities or list of kid-friendly places in Singapore too. If you haven't yet, and are staying in Singapore for the hols, you really should go see The Great Moscow Circus before it ends its run in early Dec!



Thursday, November 15, 2018

Letter to my girl #22: The End of Primary 3


Dear Lil Pumpkin,

School officially ended for you last Friday, 9 November 2018.

That morning, Mummy and Daddy made special effort to get you to school early so that we could take your photos in front of school. It was your last day as a Primary 3 student, your last day as a LOWER Primary school kid.

Next year, you are going to be in Primary 4... officially one of the UPPER Primary school students and of the "jie jies" in school. Oh my!!

I can still kind of remember my transition from P3 to P4, and how funny it was that I'd never have a birthday with single digits anymore.

It was very exciting, yet scary at the same time, because it seemed like there were more responsibilities as I got older, PSLE was just a few years away, and soon enough, I would be leaving my beloved Primary school behind.

Does it seem that way to you too??

I know I often marvel to myself how much you have grown but seeing how your chubby little baby face slowly fading away, and a young, precocious little lady slowly blossoming in front of my eyes... really makes me breathless at times and fervently wishing that I could make time stand still so that my baby girl won't grow up so fast.

You really are growing up so, so fast.

This year, I've had more opportunities to see how you interact with your friends and teachers in school, and I'm so glad that even after 3 years, you still love school so much that you don't even want to miss it for a day if you could help it.

Like that last day, Mummy and Daddy thought that we could start the holidays early and have you skip school to spend more time with us since we were both off work, but you still insisted on going!!

It is very comforting to know as well that your friends and teachers in school love, treasure and take care of you too.

Even though you may not be the top in your class, that doesn't matter to us. Most important thing is that you are positive in your learning attitude, and you are not afraid to work hard to improve.

Yes, you may need some extra reminders now and then, but you never put up a fuss when it's time to study, and are responsible/independent enough to complete the tasks you're given, even if no one is minding you 24/7.

It shows in your results when you put in the hard work, and Mummy is happy that you managed to show improvement, especially in your Science, this semester.

Let's continue to strive to do our best together for the rest of your schooling years. We will always be here to support and teach you to the best of our abilities, or at least find other people who can help hahaha...


Mummy and Daddy love you so much, my dear.

Now let's enjoy this 1.5 months of year-end break and festivities, before another grueling year of school starts!!!

Love you always,
Mummy