Rays of Splendour


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Sunday in Seoul

If I had spent the Sunday last week largely indoors (due to the rain), solo-shopping and hanging out at Coex, this Sunday’s was the total opposite. I spent it outdoors having a picnic at the Han River with two visiting Singaporeans!

I really love being able to be out in the sun again like this. I always feel that being outdoors does wonders to yourself. Always after being outdoors, I feel so energized!

I’ve never had a picnic by the river for obvious reasons like how Singapore does not have a river where you can do that (and no, Singapore River doesn’t count cos that water body is dotted with development along its sides so no one ever does a picnic there!). So this was my first time and I really loved it a lot. The fact that the skies were cloudy and weather windy makes the atmosphere just apt for a picnic!

To make it fuss-free, I had arranged to have food delivered to the Han River. I turned to the ever reliable ‘Halal Kitchen‘ to order my food. Hassan (the Muslim Korean who owns the shop) is a friend of one of my Thai classmates and it is through the latter that I got to know about this shop. Orders are delivered on time and food’s pretty decent too! I find myself having a growing liking for Japchae Rice ever since I first started ordering from the shop and like any food which I like and will eat repeatedly, I ordered this yet again (oh surprise surprise!) for the picnic. Meantime, the two friends who were with me ordered Dakgalbi Rice. As something to munch on, we ordered some Spicy Fried Chicken Balls as an add on.

As we strolled by the Han River after the picnic, I’m made to realize just how much rain Korea have been receiving these past three to four weeks. I don’t realize it since I’m mostly confined to the mountains where my campus is but looking at some of the trees that were almost fully submerged by the river water which had risen, I’m made aware that we really have been receiving lots of rain! Thank goodness Korea has a good drainage system and its land have a lot of water storage capacity otherwise it’d have flooded!

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We stumbled upon some people from YTN News. Not too sure what they are reporting but it’s cool to see the news people at work nonetheless. Once upon a time back in my growing up years, one of the ambition I had was to be a news journalist! The other two ambitions on my list were to be a teacher or a lawyer. But I had to choose one because each of the career aspirations I had needs me to pursue a specific professional knowledge path. Alhamdulillah, I chose teaching but I still wondered sometimes where I would be now had I chosen to pursue being a lawyer or news journalist.

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We made our way to Garosugil which is like one of my most favourite places in Seoul. Garosugil is replete with materialism from its focus on looks (tons of plastic surgery clinics and hospitals. Yes, HOSPITALS for plastic surgery) to fashion. Basically, the place is just reeking with money and consumerist culture.

Despite that, Garosugil has a lively vibe about it which greets you as soon as you walk down its street. It is this vibe that makes Garosugil one of my most favourite places in Seoul and admittedly, one which I will superbly miss once I’m back in Singapore for good.

Anyway, I wanted to share that I always stumble upon something new when I’m at Garosugil. The ‘something new’ takes the following form this time:

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For reasons unbeknown to my small and unread mind in the aspect of plastic surgery, seems like there is a market for vaginal surgery. My ever curious self would like to know what this is and why people have to do it and hence I’m ever ready to google for it.

But I also know that the internet BEING the internet, I’d probably be thrown unwanted images of the female private parts as well even though I did not request for it (the typical Singaporean reaction in me is actually going “So sueh leh pagi2 buta nampak gambar gini!”). So erm, until I could psychologically overcome that, I’ll hold off my curiosity for now!


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Summer thus far

Compared to last week, the past few days have seen more activity in my life ever since summer semester started. I started the week making a resolve to fill my time with more activities because I really cannot stand having a lack of things to do.

So I’ve taken a long walk from my department to the Central Library to return some books I borrowed. In the process, I took a new path I’ve never taken before. The path cuts through a bit of the mountains and a small part of the forested area but masyaAllah once I was out of that area, I found myself at a very beautiful part of campus I’ve never been before. All these while, I’ve avoided that path because it seems deserted and honestly, I do not know where it would lead me. However I was with a friend at that time and she was pretty keen to accompany me for that walk even though she herself hasn’t gone through the route. Reminders for me:

  • Never be afraid to venture down a different path cos you never know what gems it could lead you too
  • Having someone with you when doing something new gives you strength to pursue it so I should be the same to others if they’re in the same situation

I’ve also attempted to settle a few administrative issues related to the upcoming Fall semester. In addition, the course listings for the new semester are already up! I pray that I’m able to get the last few courses I needed to clear (and also complete researching and writing my thesis!) so that I can graduate by the end of the Fall semester insyaAllah.

Besides school, I’ve also tried to get away from campus for a few hours. I did nothing fancy like travelling but yeah, it was something much needed to rejuvenate myself from constantly being part of school. Staying on campus definitely has its perks but the fact that you’re constantly in a school environment 24/7 can feel taxing so yes, I felt that I needed to get away for a few hours.

I went off to Itaewon on one of the days to treat myself to a Korean lunch! That’s the first Korean meal I had in months (the irony since I’m living in Korea!. Unfortunately, the food wasn’t that great which was a surprise to me cos I’ve always liked the food at this shop those few times I went there to get my Korean fix.

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On another day, I scooted off to Coex with no intention other than to just window shop and check out the much-raved about library.

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Pretty cool design. It’s an open concept library so don’t expect to keep silent at that place. It’s noisy – you can hear the background music coming from the mall speakers, shoppers talking and many more. In a nutshell, it isn’t your typical library!

Although I had no intentions to shop, I ended up getting myself a set of swimming wear. I do not swim and neither do I know how to swim but after this spur of the moment buy, I actually now feel like signing myself up for swimming classes when I’m back in Singapore!

That aside, it only just hit me that Korea is a great place for Muslimahs to purchase a nice set of pretty swimming costume. The shops stock numerous long pants and long-sleeved swim wear in various designs. The Koreans are very wary of exposing their skin to the sun whenever they’re engaged in water activities during summer (very popular during the warm season!) and hence the demand and readily-available stock of such swim attire in the shops.

Lastly, although it’s summer, it’s also the monsoon season in Korea. It’s been raining more days than it is sunny. However when it’s sunny, it’s trulyyy warm.

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My first experience of a rainy, monsoonal East Asian summer. Something old since I’ve experienced monsoon seasons back home too but there also seems to be something different about the monsoon season here.


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Halfway through with summer school

Done with 2 weeks of the summer semester alhamdulillah! 2 more weeks to go before the semester ends!

This is the first time ever that I’ve taken an inter-semester session. I’ve never taken any back in my undergrad days and neither have I taken it during the previous few semesters of post-grad school.

So I never knew just how much motivation it would take for me to psych myself to get to classes even. Seriously, I’ve been lateĀ  for practically EVERY lesson these two weeks and it’s only because I took such a long time to convince myself to get out of the house and go to class. I’ve been approaching the TA during breaks to inform him that I’m there and to mark my attendance that I think he’s probably super annoyed at me by now.

Anyway, all I want to do for now is just take a break after the 4 grueling months of spring semester. I get exhausted simply running through my mind the schedule, deadlines and number of meetings with professors to acquire their signatures to settle various administrative issues during the spring semester. When it finally ended with the submission of my last assignment, all I wanted to do was take a break.

So these past 2 weeks of school had naturally been one whereby my mind seems to be out of place. On the one hand, I’m physically there in class and alhamdulillah, 90% mentally there too as I listened to the lectures and tried to absorb the knowledge disseminated. However at the same time, I feel another part of myself just itching to be elsewhere but in class and doing the assignments.

So the rest of the time, my mind and body have been thinking and desiring so much to go on holiday. I do not know where for now but yes, I just want to goooooo somewhere and explore new things.

I feel pretty much stifled and unmotivated after being so dormant like this. In fact, I’m so stifled and unmotivated that I actually do not have much appetite even. Nothing seems to whet my appetite so I’ve been eating things like bread with butter or simply noodles with veggies for my meals.

I look forward to going back to Singapore for a proper break but ironically, I also know that I’ll probably be bored and be even MORE unmotivated because I’ll be spending my days largely alone as my family and friends would probably be busy working.

I sound so cranky right now and all because I’m just emotionally and mentally exhausted.

I need a break, badly.


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Back to solitary life

For the past few months, I’ve had a friend staying over at my place. It felt nice to have a roommate and basically, a companion these past few months. However as of this week, she has gone back to her country for a holiday and at the same time also moved out of the apartment.

These few days, I found myself adjusting back to solo life in Seoul. It’s back to days of waking up, spending my days and turning in for the night to an empty apartment. Since the last time I spoke to my mom on the phone 2 or 3 days back, I’ve not spoken nor communicated with anyone at all.

In the meantime, I’ve been sick but alhamdulillah I’ve gotten heaps better at the time of blogging this. Recuperating and attempting to get well by myself like this made me realize how it is that there could be cases reported whereby no one knew someone living alone had died in the apartment until perhaps a week after their death. I know it’s morbid but I now understand why that could be so. In a context whereby you live alone, lack social connections so basically there is no one who checks on you nor know where you live, and then you fell sick or an accident occurred in the apartment, it’s no wonder cases like that could occur.

That aside, it’s also back to days of scrimping on money. I knew I was lacking money when I got back to Singapore but seeing how it was Ramadan and Eid season – times when the family uses more money than usual – I didn’t have the heart to ask the parents for money to bring back to Korea. So yes, it’s back to days of making do with less.

I haven’t bought any bread since I finished it a few days back so that’s one expense less. Thank goodness Korea sells salad at such a cheap price (1000 – 2000 won only for a packet!) so my meals these few days are just white rice with salad and tomotoes and erm, lots of Eid cookies and crisps which I brought over from Singapore! Hahahah. Alhamdulillah, I still have a few cuts of chicken left which I’m trying to make last as long as possible by only cutting like 5 tiny slices to cook whenever I get too hungry. Lastly though I’ve lots of free time since school is only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, I’ve not gone out. Going out = spending money on transport. Hence, I’ve been staying inside the house since Thursday.

I think I’m really becoming an expert in not spending money. Lol. On a serious note, I appreciate so much my house back in Singapore. When I was back home last week, the whole kitchen felt like Heaven cos it was overflowing with food!

Now, what else should I do to entertain myself in the house till Tuesday afternoon when class starts again?