Sunday, February 13, 2022

JosLovesFood is on SNS

Dear readers, thank you for your support all these years.  I am pleased to share my new website ! Please visit and show your support!

I am also on the following SNS... do follow me ~~^^

YouTube: JosLovesFood - YouTube

See u there!

Friday, November 22, 2019

[Chungnam-do, Korea] Fun @ Farm

Having lived in a city-island throughout my farm, there is hardly land for farms in Singapore.  It felt good to be close to nature when I had the chance to visit the Agroland Tae Shin Farm (아그로랜드 태신목장) located in Chungnam-do in autumn last year.  The air was cool & fresh.  The land was huge and I felt a sense of carefree just by watching the animals roaming around freely.

The farm is also an ideal place for family with young children to experience being up close and personal with animals.  Real ones and fake ones.

The young kids come here for excursions too!  Truly, this is a child-friendly place.

There are opportunities to get close to cows and goats and they are friendly!

You can even try making some cheese!  Freshly made cheese!

Getting to the farm from Seoul can be quite a hassle as it will take more than 4 hours by public transport.  My suggestions are:

1.  Rent a car from Seoul and drive to the farm; or

2.  Travel from Seoul to Suwon and explore the areas such as Hwaseong.  The Suwon Hwaseong Fortress has been names the UNESCO World Heritage.  It is an impressive structure built in the Joseon Dynasty.  It takes about 30 mins to get there from Seoul.  You can consider staying a night over in Suwon before travelling southwards.  Explore taking the public transport to the farm;

3.  Travel to Cheonan and then to Asan.  Asan is beautiful in autumn especially along the Asan Gingko Tree Road.  Explore taking the public transport to the farm

Saturday, July 06, 2019

[Seoul Travel] Lotus Lantern Festival (Yeon Deung Hoe)

The Lotus Lantern Festival (Yeon Deung Hoe) is a 3-day event held annual in Seoul. In 2019, it was from 3 to 5 May 2019. For those who are familiar with the lunar calendar, the Buddha's Day is celebrated on the 8th day of the 4th lunar month in Korea. The Lotus Lantern Festival is usually held 1 week before the actual day. For 2020, the dates for Yeon Deung Hoe will be from 24 to 26 April 2020.

The event would commence on a Friday and there are lantern exhibitions at Jogyesa, Bongeunsa and Cheonggyecheon over the 3 days. Below is a photo of the lantern exhibition at Bongeunsa, located near COEX.

On the 2nd day, which is a Saturday, the various Buddhist temples would commences the ceremonial events such as the bathing of the baby Buddha's status and daily chanting. This signifies the cleansing of one's own defilement (greed, anger and delusion). They would also be busy with their final rehearsals to give their best for the evening's parade.

A Buddhist Cheer Rally would be held at Dongguk University from 4.30pm. This is where all the parade participants would gather before the commencement of the parade. The parade would take place along Jongno (central of Gangbuk area) from 7pm to 9.30pm. There are seats lined on both sides of the Jongno and pre-registration is needed to secure tickets for the seats. Those without tickets may stand and watch the parade too, thought it can be a little tiring. Audience are encouraged to join the parade towards the tail-end and take part in the walk until the post-parade celebration at the Jonggak Intersection. Over there, there will be stage performances until 11pm.

Below is a photo of the stage at the Jonggak Intersection.  Most of the audience stayed till the end of the concert.

The roads leading to Jogyesa remained crowded as the audience tried to get upclose with the big lantern floats!  Jogyesa was all lit up that evening.

On the 3rd day, the area in front of Jogyesa is turned into a carnival street with many cultural events and stall lines on both sides of the street. The area is blocked and vehicles are have to be detoured to other road. Participants can walked along street freely and take part in the carnival events which has tea appreciation, meditation sessions, photo exhibitions and several handicraft-making stations.

The closing event, from 7pm to 9pm, is an energy-charged event with youths from different universities and temples coming together to put up the final show near Jogyesa.

It was an eye-opener to see how Koreans celebrate the Lotus Lantern Festival.  The colourful performances, the enthusiasm from the parade participants, the helpful event ushers and the vibrant atmosphere definitely made my trip worthwhile.

For those interested to experience this festival, information is available on the official website

Saturday, June 15, 2019

[Seoul Travel] Dongguk University and Lotus Lantern Festival

One of the places i like to visit when i am in Korea is the university campus. The environment is usually beautiful and it gives you the positive vibes. This is Dongguk University (동국대학교) located in Seoul. I was there in May this year during the Lotus Lantern Festival (Yeon Deung Hoe), which is a highlight event during Budhha's Day in Korea.

The campus may not be as big as some of the universities in Seoul but it is a scenic place to walk around with tall green trees.

Every year, the Buddhist Cheer Rally is held at Dongguk University's Stadium. A feast of laughter and joy where the lantern parade participants, arrayed in their traditional Korean costumes, hanbok, rally together, laughing and dancing before the lotus lantern parade begins.

This is one of the filming sites for a 2018 Korean Drama, Encounter (aka Boyfriend) starring Park Bo Gum and Song Hye Gyo. Jinhyeok (PBG)' graduation scene was filmed at the entrance of Myeongjin Hall.
Catch a short glimpse of Jinhyeok's graduation video here.

Dongguk University (동국대학교) is a private, coeducational university in South Korea, based on Buddhism. Established in 1906 as Myeongjin School (명진학교) by Buddhist pioneers of the Association of Buddhism Research, the university gained full university status as Dongguk University in 1953. The university remains one of the few Buddhist-affiliated universities in the world, and is the member of International Association of Buddhist Universities.

Dongguk University's main campus is located in Jung District, Seoul, just north of Namsan. The upper buildings of the campus are directly connected into the trails of Namsan park.

The campus' main entrance is at Dongguk University Station the intersection of Seoul Subway Line 3 and 4. Chungmuro Station is near the rear entrance.

The 2020 Lotus Lantern Festival will take place from 24 to 26 April. There are events where priority is given to travellers such as tickets to watch the lantern parade and lantern making events. Interested participants may apply for tickets via the LLF website.

Zoom into the map to check the walking direction from Dongguk University Station to the campus.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

[Singapore Vegetarian Food] Nature Cafe

(Nature Café @ Aperia Mall)

Nature Café is a vegetarian bistro which started business some 15 years ago and currently has 4 outlets across Singapore in Jalan Bukit Merah, Kallang (The Aperia Mall), Boon Lay (Trade Hub21) and Suntec City.  With over 200 items on the menu, these are some of the items on the menu, just to name a few:

·         Local favourites such as Chicken Rice, rojak, wanton noodles, kway chap;

·         Local stir-fried dishes aka tze-char; and

·         International cuisine includes those such as Western burgers and steaks, Korean spicy noodles (bibimmyeon), Thai Green Curry, Japanese Tonkatsu. 

You name it, they might just have it.  In my opinion, the top 3 must-try from the café are:

1.       Hong Kong Style Char Siew Chicken Rice

2.       Japanese Style Chicken Steak Rice

3.       Monkeyhead Mushroom hotpot

Beverages extend beyond the regular teh and kopi, but there is a variety of gourmet tea and coffee (with simple latte art).  For non-tea or coffee drinkers, there are other choices such as hot chocolate, hot vanilla or juices to choose from.

I find their pricing to be quite reasonable, considering the comfortable environment and helpful service.  Food dishes costs $5 and above while beverages are $3 and above.  The place is conducive for individual diners, small group gatherings with family or friends and even for large group gatherings. 


Visit website for address for the various outlets:

Sunday, March 03, 2019

[Singapore Vegetarian Food] The Boneless Kitchen

Those of us who have visited Korea before would know the difficulty of finding proper vegan/vegetarian food in the Land of Kimchi.  Even for the nation’s most popular side-dish, kimchi, although it is primarily a vegetable dish, it is not vegan-friendly because of the sauce used in the preparation process.

Singaporeans are very fortunate to be living in a city where vegetarian food is readily available.  The Boneless Kitchen, the first meatless Korean casual dining restaurant in Singapore, moved to its currently location in Tai Seng about 2 years ago.   Garlic, onion, animal products and seafood are not used.  However, egg and dairy products may be used for some of their food.

The restaurant has table-seating and floor-seating options for those who prefer a more authentic dining experience.  And one of the best things about the restaurant is that there is no service charge and GST, apart from the consistent food quality!

A total of 4 appetising side-dishes (banchan) will be served at the start.  Unlike other restaurants, the side-dishes are refillable but with a small charge to avoid food wastage.

Their range of main dishes is comprehensive and has every ever-green Korean dishes including Korean Army Stew (Budae JJigae), Kimchi Stew (Kimchi Jjigae), Spicy Soft Tofu Stew (Soondubu Jjigae), Stir-fried Sweet Potato Noodles (Japchae), Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap) Scorched Rice with Vegetables (Bibimbap), rice roll (gimbap) etc which are available in single-person portions.   The cost of main dishes are reasonably priced between $9.90 and $12.90.

Ala carte side-dishes such as Kimchi pancake (Kimchi Jeon), Korean Rice Cakes (Tteokbokki) are available as well.  The side dishes are mostly under $6 and the portion size is quite decent.  Some dishes may contain egg, and diners may request for egg to be omitted.

When I am there with friends, my preference is to go for the hotpot stew (jeongol), which is similar to our oriental dining culture of having steamboat.  The Korean Army Stew and the Kimchi Jeongol are highly popular.  The soup can be refilled at a small charge.  It is quite enjoyable to have a slow meal, laze around in the cosy restaurant and enjoy the K-pop songs.  However, do be mindful and be considerate if the waiting queue outside the restaurant starts to build up.

In fact, the restaurant can get quite crowded especially on Fridays and weekends.  To save the hassle of waiting with a growling stomach, try their online reservation is available through the restaurant’s website (

The Boneless Kitchen
1 Irving Place #01-31, Commerze @ Irving Singapore 369546
Opens daily from 12pm to 9pm
Tel: 8457 6464

3 mins walk from Taiseng MRT Station

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Spring in Korea 2015 (Part 5) ~ Exploring Haeinsa (Tripitaka Koreana)

Built 1,200 years ago, the Haeinsa Temple is regarded as one of the three most important temples in Korea, representing the Triple Jewels - Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha.  The other 2 temples are Tongdosa and Songgwangsa.

Located in Gaya-san, Hapcheon province, Haeinsa Temple is said to be home to the largest number of monks who cultivate themselves religiously in Korea.  The temple has a long history and is notable for housing the Tripitaka Koreana (Goryeo Daejanggyeong aka Great Collection of the Scriptures of Goryeo), the vast canon, proudly asserts that it is the utmost symbol of Goryeo Buddhism.  It has a great collection of scriptures in more than 80,000 woodblocks.  The scriptures are carved on both sides of these blocks and make a total of some 160,000 pages.  Each side has some 300 characters and as such, the entire Tripitaka has some 52 million characters.

The temple has since been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995.  It is the first temple dedicated to the Korean Avantamsaka School of Buddhism and it houses the most comprehensive woodblock edition of Buddhist scriptures ever made.  The first woodblock version was compiled in China during the Song Dynasty.  But all of the early Chinese editions were somehow destroyed.  It was first destroyed during the Mongol invasions in the early 13th century.  History textbooks explained that the Goryeo government undertook the project with the hope of expelling the Mongol invaders with the assistance of the Buddha.

The temple's layout is typical of a Korean mountain monastery.  Let's explore this historical temple.

The first entrance into the temple is the One Pillar Gate which symbolises an aspiration towards Buddhahood.  The gate itself represents the teaching of the Buddha that all things are illusionary, they aren't what they appear to be.  Translating from the Chinese words, it also means the Gate of Non-Duality and it means the one-ness of all things and phenomena.

(The main gate facing outside)

(The main gate facing inside)

Not too far from the first gate stands the Gosamok Tree, which is a zelkova planted 1,200 years ago to commemorate the establishment of the temple.  It is said that the king then planted this tree on his own in gratitude of the monks who helped to heal his queen of her disease.  The tree has since withered but it is still kept as a monument in the temple.

The next gate, which leads to the main temple compound, is the Haein-Chongrim which means the Haein Forest Monastery.  This is also the Cheongwang-mun which enshrines four fearful-looking guardians of the heavenly king who guard the Buddhist world and fight off the evil.

(Pheonix Gate)

The storage halls of the Tripitake Koreana are located on the highest level of the temple compound, and designed to facilitate natural ventilation, humidity and temperature control with no obvious device other than the open grill windows.

The compound consists of 4 buildings and each building is laid out in rectangular shape.  With careful planning, the buildings face the southwest so as not to get direct sunlight.  And to maintain the right humidity inside the buildings, salt, charcoal, powdered lime and sand are used in the inner floorings.

The Tripitaka Koreana consists of three collections - Buddhist Scriptures, Precepts and Discourses.  The Buddha was a great teacher born more than 2,500 years ago and taught the way for liberation for 45 years.  These collections captured the Buddha's words systematically.

The Tripitaka Koreana is also called the Goryeo Daejangkyung (高丽大藏经) because it was published in the period of Goryeo and it reflected the people's aspirations for overcoming the nation's crisis by relying on the Buddha's teachings against the invasion of the Kitan and the Mongols.

Each block measures about 68cm by 24.5cm, and weighs about 3.2kg.  Unfortunately, the halls are not open to the public and I could only view the wooden blocks through the gaps outside the halls.  Only 1 piece amongst the thousands of wooden blocks was on display, which has the Heart Sutra text engraved on it.

Haeinsa is the first temple in Korea dedicated to the Korean Avantamsaka School of Buddhism, and hence the master Buddha of the Avantamsaka Sutra, Vairocana Buddha, is enshrined in the main hall known as Daejeokgwagjeon, meaning the Hall of Great Silence and Light.

Stone Pagodas are found in most (if not all) temples.  Historically, pagodas were meant to house the remains of the Buddha.  In Korea, these pagodas house the remains of Buddhist monks or nuns in that monastery.  Therefore, it is not unusual to see people paying respects to such pagodas.

 For temples that are found in the forests, the compound is spacious and there is usually an open hall (Bumjong Gak) with 4 percussion-like instruments.  Known as Samul, they include the Dharma Bell, the Dharma Drum, the Wooden Fish and the Cloud Gong.

The Dharma Drum sends the message of the Dharma to lead all land animals to enlightenment.

The Dharma Bell is rung to redeem the souls of beings in hell, to gather people in the temple, and to announce the time.

The striking of the cloud bell, usually made of bronze or iron, is to lead all air-living creatures into the heavens.

The Wooden Fish is in the shape of a carp and the hitting on this instrument is meant to send message to beings living in the water so that they will realise the awakening too.

In case you are wondering if there is anything less religious, there is a cosy tea-house, Haein Café, in the temple's vicinity!  It is an ideal place to really rest, chill and relax.

The overall experience in Haeinsa has been an pleasant and peaceful experience.  The key to visiting temple is to allow yourself time to explore and immerse into the serenity.  The compound is big and is surrounded by a several other smaller temple.  Every turn is an experience!

Getting to Haeinsa
- From Dong Daegu KTX Station, walk to the Daegu Subway station (2 mins)
- Take Line 1 (Red Line) to Seongdangmot Station (9 stops, 15 mins)
- Exit the station by taking the lift to the street level (Exit 3) and walk to the West Daegu Intercity Bus Terminal (2 mins)
- Buy the bus ticket to Haeinsa.  Bus leaves every 40 mins.  The journey takes about 1.5 hours.

There is quite a distance to go even after you've passed the Haeinsa gate.  I alighted at the last stop where there were shops and hotel-alike building and took a taxi to Haeinsa temple.  The journey took about 5 mins.

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