Tag Archive: Korea 2014

Airbnb accommodation in Seoul & Jeju

In our previous travels, Hubby and I have the habit of going to Tripadvisor for hotel reviews before booking our accommodation for the trip. This time, for our trip to Korea, we decided to try out Airbnb instead.

Airbnb is basically a platform for hosts all over the world to list their space for accommodation. Travellers will have a wider range of accommodation to choose from as compared to the limited number of hotels available. On top of that, if you are not choosy and do your research well, you can find good accommodation at really affordable prices.

Personally, I am very particular about cleanliness and safety of the places we are going to stay in, hence we spent quite some time to look through the reviews and costs before confirming on one that suits our requirements. Generally, the platform is user-friendly and it also has a mobile application for ease of use.

This is the accommodation we have booked for Seoul.

iammama

Although it says $107 per night, that is the average price. You can select specific dates to see the exact cost of the accommodation per night. For us, we spent about $80 per night. This helped us to save a lot as most of the hotels we researched cost more than $120 per night, and we are talking about small chain hotels here.

Our host tried to provide us with everything we need. Of course, not all hosts are willing to be so accommodating, hence I cannot emphasize enough on the importance of reading up more on the host and the space he/she has to offer.

Her apartment looks exactly the same in the photo shown, and it was kept clean and comfortable. We stayed there for a week, and then went away for 4 days in Jeju before going back to her apartment for the next 3 days. Housekeeping is not provided for your length of stay, unless you request for it, and that will be additional cost for you to bear.

These are some photos of our stay.

In comparison, our accommodation in Jeju is not as comfortable as the one in Seoul.

iammama2

Although the reviews for that apartment are quite good as well, it was not as good as I expected given that the accommodation in Seoul set high standards. I may be too picky, but here are some aspects the host can improve on and probably you can consider or ask about when you are considering your accommodation.

  • Hand towels, instead of towels are provided. I am glad we asked about this, and requested the host to help us buy bigger towels. We had wanted to pay the host, but he kindly decline. Bigger towels are necessary when you are in a cold country with a baby/toddler/little child.
  • Vacuum-cleaner or floor cleaning tools of any kind is not provided. This is extremely important when housekeeping services are not provided and your pick-up-everything-from-the-floor toddler needs to sleep on the floor. Having said that, the host provided us a small hand-broom in the end after requesting a couple of times for it.
  • The bathroom is so cold, even I shiver when I have to bathe.
  • The air-conditioner is rather faulty and very noisy.
  • The spring coils in the bed can be felt throughout the entire night lying on it. It makes one rather uncomfortable after a while.
  • Jeju is a very humid island. Clothes washed do not dry easily at all, unlike Seoul. It is extremely important to find an accommodation with dryer if you intend to wash your clothes during your stay there. I was pretty upset to have to dry my little one with wet towels because it did not dry up even after a day of putting it out.

All in all, I had a pretty good experience with Airbnb accommodation despite some shortcomings. I think the quality of Airbnb accommodation depends a lot on the country you are travelling to. Probably I wouldn’t consider staying in an Airbnb accommodation if the living standards are very much lower in that particular country, and I believe in countries like Singapore, Airbnb accommodation is not considered legal.

Do you have any good Airbnb accommodations to recommend? Do share with me more about it! πŸ™‚

A visit to the pediatrician in Seoul

I had wanted to write about this ever since we came back from Korea, but too many events got in between, hence I only have the chance to write about it now.

As mentioned, little man developed some serious rash on the second day of our trip and on the sixth day, I decided to bring him to a pediatrician.

It was not an easy decision as we heard from some sources that usually Koreans will go to the hospital rather than the clinics. We felt uneasy just thinking about the hospital. There were many concerns and language barrier is a major part of it. We worried about miscommunications and misdiagnosis, hence I seek advice from my airbnb host. She told us that there are not any pediatricians nearby our apartment, and suggested for us to visit the clinic in the same building, offering to go with us. I had to decline her offer as I am still more comfortable with going to a pediatrician.

Hubby was rather reluctant initially. He felt that little man’s rashes although not getting better, were not getting worse either. But it gives me a heavy heart to see little man so uncomfortable every day. On top of that, there is this nagging feeling that it could be more than just the usual rash. It looked so red and angry and so possiblly full of pus. Hence, that night, I went online to see if I could find a recommended pediatrician in Seoul. Thank God for the internet, I found a forum for foriegners in Korea and there is this conversation about this particular pediatrician, Dr Kim. I gave him a quick search and found more information about him from this site. You cannot imagine how thankful I am.

We took a cab, tried to communicate to the cab driver who cannot speak English, and managed to make our way to the Richensia Tower. There are two towers. We went to the wrong one which makes up of apartments. Luckily, a sloppily-dressed uncle who spoke excellent English helped us to get our way to the right tower. He must be a resident at the tower. I was so impressed by his English, I reminded myself never again to judge someone by his attire. When we reached the clinic, it was not considered very full, given that it was a Friday afternoon. We probably waited for about 20 minutes before Dr Kim sees us.

Dr Kim is the only English-speaking person in his clinic. I called up the clinic that morning to make sure Dr Kim is in. After hearing that I only speak English, the receptionist passed the phone over to another person who spoke English. I believe that was Dr Kim who spoke to me.

Anyway, Dr Kim had a look at little man’s rash, checked his ears and temperature, and told us that it was a viral rash. He looked surprised when I told him I have been applying the steroid creams that was given to me by pediatricians in Singapore. He told me not to use any steroids on little man as the rashes will flare up and become worse, and to only apply emollient creams on him. He was also very surprised when I told him certain medication little man was taking for his running nose. He told us that these are pretty strong medication that usually will not be given to children here. But he also said that different countries have different regulations about medication. Little man was then given only antihistamine and some antibiotic cream (non-steroidal) just in case of any bacteria infection.

And guess how much I pay for this consultation?

20,000 won, which is about SGD$24.

The medication had to be purchased separately in the pharmacy, which is another unit in the building. That medication only cost us 10,420 won, which is about SGD$12.

I must say, I am pretty impressed by the whole experience.

Medication

Below are some photos that I have taken, in case anyone needs to bring their children to an English-speaking pediatrician.

Richensia Tower

Dr Kim’s clinic

If you happen to be there, you must go and try out this Japanese restaurant in the same building. It definitely picked me up with its excellent cuisine after a nerve-wrecking morning.

Little man enjoying his Pororo plate.

Seafood ramen with nice and rich broth.

Okay, I digress.

I had to write about this because someone wrote about this clinic and helped me tremendously. I am so grateful. Hence I hope that one day, my post can help some parents too.

Dr Kim’s Clinic (I have no idea how to read the Korean words)
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 9-6pm. Closed 1-2pm for lunch. Saturday 9-4pm.
Address: #133-3 Wonhyoro1-ga, Yongsan-gu, Richensia Yongsan A-303, Seoul, 140-111
Phone: 02) 713-9340 Cell Phone: 010-2647-9340

There is this map which is very useful in helping us to get to the Richensia Tower. You can find it in one of the link in this post.

Maybe it wasn’t that bad after all

I think it is really important to take photos and videos to record the happy snippets of a trip. Sometimes you get too overwhelmed by the disasters that happened and the weariness and negativity that came along with them, you forgot that it was not such a bad trip after all.

Hubby and I were looking through the photos and videos we have taken. You know, I think despite him not eating and sleeping well, he was actually enjoying himself most of the time. These few days he kept asking me to ει£žζœΊοΌŒεŽ»ιŸ©ε›½ (take a plane to Korea). He told me that he likes Korea (although I think he probably what he is talking about).

Ironically, I actually miss Korea as well, now that I am back in Singapore. I am actually thinking of our next overseas trip.

Maybe the trip was not as bad as I made it to be.

One of the many videos showing how little man enjoy his newfound freedom in Korea.

AAR

AAR (After Action Review), something not new to those in a certain profession from a certain organisation. Anyway, there were so many learning points from this trip, I think it is a good idea to note it down, for myself and others who are thinking of bringing their toddlers to travel.

1. Infant is better than toddler

We brought little man to Korea last year when he was 6-months old. It was not easy as well, but definitely easier than bringing a toddler who thinks he knows best. I baby-carried him all the way then, and all we really worried about, is him getting sick or pooing in the middle of nowhere. As if to make our deepest fear come true, he did poo a couple of times at awkward timings like when the KTX (Korea Train Express) is about to stop for us to alight. And we did the unimaginable, like clearing his messy poo in split seconds so that the whole train do not have to wait for us to alight. It was quite an experience for us, but nevertheless still manageable.

This time, it’s a whole new game altogether.

First, we have to eat at places where there is food available for little man. Then we have to coax him to eat the food meant for him and not poke his spoon into our spicy food. Many times, little man did not eat his usual share. I attribute it to teething (although I have not seen any of the last four mega teeth poking out yet), and an entirely new environment. Secondly, we need to be constantly on the lookout for him as everything that seemed so harmless can be so dangerous in a split minute.

Then, we have to wreck our brains to entertain him when we were back to our rented apartment, if not he will entertain himself by jumping off the bed, playing with the trash bin and many other acts that will either hurt himself or cause nuisance to the unit below us. It also did not help that our boy has grown a strong mind of his own. He will tell us to walk right instead of left, and stubbornly insist on doing (or not doing) certain things.

Side note: Hubby does not agree with me. While he agrees that it is easier to bring him out at his infancy age, he finds much joy when he sees little man loving the places that we brought him to, running about like the happiest child in the world. That, I agree.

2. Bring everything you deemed necessary for the child

As I was packing our luggage, I keep in mind to pack light as far as I can because Hubby is really uncomfortable with the idea of two heavy luggages and a stroller. At one time in the middle of packing, I was contemplating to not bring any of little man’s busy bags as they do add up to the weight of the luggage. Somehow I decided to put them back in the last minute due to some nagging feeling. Turned out, those busy bags were a life-saver. Although the amount of time they kept little man occupied was not as long as we hope, they did make little man feel more at home. I even lugged along his boolster, which I thought was also one of the best decision I’ve ever made for this trip.

I guess a child will always be a child. They need time to warm up to a new environment and it helps when there are familiar things there to help them along. I was also glad that I brought all his creams in case of any rashes, which did happened in the end.

Another item I was glad we brought with us, is the Seebaby lightweight stroller. We bought this stroller just for this trip as our Mclaren proves to be too much for us to handle on top of two huge luggages. It was a good buy given that I can easily lift the stroller with just one hand while carrying my 11.8kg boy with the other. I am a very petite Mama and I can’t handle too much weight.

3. Do not be too ambitious

This is true in terms of the length of travel and the actual planning for travel.

We were too ambitious to plan for a two weeks travel. Half-way through, Hubby and I were actually looking forward to coming back to Singapore. I believe the fact that we all fell ill at the beginning of the trip attributes to our weariness. But at such a young age, it is probably not wise to travel for such a long time.

We also did not follow our itinery as closely as we would like to, hence missing some destinations that Hubby took pains to plan. He was really upset about it at first, but I guess we all know it is something we can’t quite control. In the end, we gave in to more sleep, waking up only in the late morning most of the days. Well, a toddler who sleep well is a happy toddler, and a happy toddler translates to a pair of happy parents.

4. Sleep well before your trip

I thought I was doing well, packing our luggages two nights before. Before that, I will usually pack the night before. But it turned out that I still slogged till the wee hours of the night for both nights. Hubby accompanied me by printing and reading the necessary. It was really bad for our health and well-being. I think that is also one of the reasons why we fell sick so easily. It doesn’t help that little man decided to wake up in the middle of the night two nights before and refused to go back to sleep.

Note to self: Next time I will start packing a week before!

My little koala at his Twos

One of the reason for this Korea trip is to travel before little man turns two, hence we left for Singapore a day before his birthday. And this little man decided to be a koala at two years old and clinged on to Mama for this entire trip in Korea.

It’s like he suddenly “grew up” and became very adamant in his choice of company. Before that, it was like “I want Mama, but if only Papa is available, then I will accept him too.” But for this trip, he will bawl his eyes out until I appear in front of him and pick him up as requested. When Hubby tried to take over, he will point his index finger at Hubby and tell him, “Papa, nono. Papa go! Bus beep beep. Go!”, telling his father to take a bus and leave us alone. He looked so cute and funny at first, but subsequently it became very tiring for me.

That night when he couldn’t sleep due to the itch, he only wanted me. I had to carry and rock him like a baby, and every other minute he would demand to be put to bed and have me pat him. It lasted for almost an hour and “poor” Hubby can only look on and go back to sleep while I soldiered on with his demands. When he finally calmed down and drifted back to sleep, I was too tired to go back to lalaland. And that was only the second day of our trip.

Hubby has always been the nice parent to little man, whilst I am the discipline mistress. But no matter what I do to him, he will still run to me and demand for me. As much as I try to appreciate and cherish his affection for me, it can get difficult to stay calm and at peace when you do not have enough sleep.

Despite the bad itch, little man still manage to stay very active in the day. Too active, that is. It’s like he suddenly became free in Korea and started dashing around whenever he finds the opportunity to do so. This impulsiveness of his got him into plenty of trouble.

He got his hand stuck between the elevator doors on one occasion and scared the life out of me. Luckily I was able to pull out his teeny weeny hand before anything bad happened. Nevertheless, it left a mark on his hand for a couple of days. A few days later, he was almost hit by a car when he suddenly ditched our hand and ran across the road. As if these are not enough to give me a heart attack, he tripped over his ball yesterday and cut himself badly on the lips. It was so swollen that he refused to drink any milk. Suddenly, everything that he decided to play becomes hazardous.

Many times during these two weeks, I felt torn between trying to be more understanding towards little man’s actions and emotional outbursts and giving him some tough discipline. Sometimes I would reprimand him harshly and feel guilty afterwards. Perhaps his outburst is due to the new environment. Perhaps it is due to the change in his daily routine, as we are unable to stick to his usual timing while travelling. One the other hand, I also wonder sometimes if I should do more to discipline him.

Hubby and I had a few late night conversations about this. I told Hubby that we need to gradually make him want me less. He needs to learn to accept Papa as Mama replacement when Mama is busy. We also agreed to give little man a little more time to get back to his usual routine after coming back from the trip. We will slowly teach him the right and accepted behaviour from then on.

After coming back from Korea, my family commented on how much weight little man has lost, and how deep his dark eye rings have become. It dawned upon me that little man has not been eating and sleeping well ever since we started out our trip. Yes, no doubt he enjoyed some parts of the trip when we visited the zoo, museums and palaces where he gets to roam around freely, but the truth is, he did not eat and sleep as well as we hope him to be. Perhaps we really shouldn’t judge him based on this trip.

I would like to think of the Twos as a phase for both of us to learn. Him to learn to behave, and me to learn how to go about teaching him right from wrong. I want to keep reminding myself this whenever I feel frustrated dealing with his antics.

I think I need a lot of positive energy and thoughts.

A walk around Insadong, with the restraining toddler bagpack because little man is constantly dashing around.

Home sweet home

It’s been a long and tiring two weeks. We have been away to Korea, namely Seoul and Jeju.

The trip started out with Hubby getting sick. The both of us had very little sleep two nights before the trip. We only had time to pack and prepare for the trip after little man goes to bed at night, and by the time we decided to take a break, we realised it was already very late.

Little man started having angry rashes on this chest and abdominal on the second day, and the itch irritates him so much that he woke up crying and fussing that night and managed to get back to sleep only after a long while. He became more clingy to me and only wanted me to carry him. I didn’t sleep much again that night, and subsequently fell sick the next day.

We eventually visited a pediatrician in Seoul a few days later and found out that those rashes are a sign of viral infection. We were glad that it came out only as irritating rashes, not a bad cold. However, little man finally fell sick the day before we came back to Singapore. “Finally” because there seemed to be a nasty flu bug going around Seoul. Everyone was coughing and sneezing away so badly, it felt like it is something we can’t quite avoid. On the flight back to Singapore, it was as if we were right in the middle of a symphony of coughs and sneezes.

Right now, little man is nursing his very blocked nose that sometimes runs. I am trying hard not to be infected by him, but I can feel it coming too. Hubby is the strong one standing *fingers crossed* (He can be very sick when he does fall sick.)

I have not been updating much my facebook and blog during the trip as there was not much me-time during these two weeks. It was also something I decided not to do after watching an episode of Crime Watch on cyber-crime before we left for Korea. I will write more about it in another post. Meanwhile, please pray for all of us to get well soon.

Korea Day 1: My little koala and his indispensable Mama

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