A Stressful Veterinary Experience

Shiro survived. He had been barfing for a good one month. He was getting thinner every day and at certain point in time, I wondered what his chances of surviving were. I had to force feed him twice a day. I mashed up his food, heat it up slightly to ensure that he would be able to digest the food easily without throwing it up. Having done all I could, I prayed that he would recover on his own. Fortunately, he won the battle and now he is looking as healthy as before.

This whole incident provoked mainly two emotions – fear and guilt. Surely, I was afraid that my little furry friend would die if he continued throwing up like he did. However, what was worse was the guilt trip that the veterinary made me go through.

So what exactly happened?

Chilling cat

Shiro is a cat who loves to chew on plastic, especially plastic bags. The thing is, he does not stop at chewing it but he swallows the plastic for unexplainable reasons. Thereafter, he would cough out the plastic piece. One day, he started to vomit his food over consecutive days and sometimes I would find traces of plastic in the brownish puddle. He was still having his appetite so I did not think anything was wrong. Soon, he then started to stay away from food like it was his worst enemy. He also became all quiet which is not normal since he is a pretty dominant cat.

The signs were all pointing to the direction that it was time for me to bring him to a vet. I brought him to the vet near my place since the place where I adopted him was close on Sundays. The receptionist was all cheerful and friendly when she greeted us. After the first meeting, they gave us three options with the two of them involving an operation procedure. The cost was easily from 200$ to 1000$CAD. Note that that was only the first check up. There would definitely be other costs incurred for observation period. We were selective of what we wanted for Shiro and headed home. The vet followed up a few days after. When she realised that we were not willing to proceed further with Shiro i.e. leaving him at the vet and going through blood test, x-ray, operation etc, she started to be impatient and naturally, the conversation ended there.

Two weeks after that stressful visit to the vet, Shiro was still barfing everywhere. The house started to reek of an unpleasant odor and we were worried about the bacteria that might be borne from the stale vomit. I decided to take him to the hospital where I adopted him. The results were pretty much the same. They cannot really identify the problem unless we go through various scans. However, the difference was, they respected the fact that not everyone has the budget to bear the cost of going through the complications of treating an animal. They proposed another solution where they prescribed some medications for a span of two weeks. They followed up patiently with me and finally, Shiro got better. A huge relief indeed!

For animal lovers who might not have the financial capabilities to treat the complications of your animal, it is important to find a good vet who respects the decision of people. To not be taken on a guilt trip because who is to judge our love for our animals? We are all adults and we make and bear the consequences of our decision. I am also lucky to have a small family petshop just beside my home. The lady boss is someone who loves animals and she gave me some ideas on how to bring back the appetite of Shiro. A business is a business. I acknowledge that they need to make money to keep the business going. However, it is also important to have some basic humanity and respect when running a business.

To sum it up,
1. MTL Vet (http://mtlvet.ca/hopital-veterinaire-verdun/),
– The consultation fee is higher by a good $10 than that of Hospital Lasalle
– For the exact same medication, their prices are almost twice as expensive
– If you have the financial means to pay for the treatments, they will treat you like VIPs, if not, they will show you how pathetic you are

2. Hopital Vétérinaire Lasalle (http://hopitalveterinairelasalle.ca/)
– Had a good experience with them since I adopted Shiro and Sora there
– They were more sympathetic and provided alternative solutions for treatments

3. Coquette et Finegueule Inc (Verdun)
– Although some of the products are a little more expensive than big pet stores, the service provided is personalised and passionate

Shiro looking all healthy again

Signing off with love,

Esther

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What’s next?

Women are better at multi-tasking than men. I have to agree only to a certain extent because I can only focus on one BIG thing at a time. I definitely do not consider eating and watching television multi-tasking. Since the day I received my work permit, my life revolved around paving out the path before me. I had neither the time nor the focus to do what I wanted to do i.e. to practise my Ukulele, to update my blog etc. I sent out several resumes, mainly to banks. I wanted to work in a call center as I thought it might be a good place to start since I wanted to try out the financial industry. I found it such an irony as I never wanted to work in banks back home. Eventually, I was not accepted for the roles I have applied for. Probably a blessing in disguise.

Since my job search had been kind of quiet, I decided to enrol myself in a full time French class which is fully subsided by the government. Finally I am entitled to some benefits instead of being a ‘tourist’! My stay with the course was a short two weeks. However, during this limited period of time, I met a bunch of lovely people and an amazing teacher who made a difference in my learning journey. Initially I was reluctant to start another French class but in the end, I was unwilling to quit half way!

Our Sugar Shack Trip

Our Sugar Shack Trip

I had to leave my French class as I had to go for another course. I decided to join an insurance firm as a Financial Advisor. In order to be legally licensed to work, I have examinations to pass before I can be officially engaged by the company. Five weeks of classes, three weeks of self study, five examinations over the course of two days. My head was buried in my pile of books, “mugging” away. I missed spending time with my husband, my friends and chatting with my parents on Skype. In the end, the sacrifice was worth it. I succeeded in my five papers and I am now waiting for the administrative side of things to be settled before I can officially start working.

I am excited and nervous at the same time. Working and studying are two different things. Studying has always a comfort zone. You work pretty much on your own and the outcome is usually a reflection of the amount of time and effort dedicated to it. Working means dealing with people and situations. These are variable factors where we have no control of. We just need to go with the flow and adapt accordingly. While saying that, I have always preferred working to studying. The thing that worries me is the fact that I have been out of the job market for almost three years. Now that I am starting afresh in a new country, what kind of challenges would I be facing with? Am I able to take the physical and mental challenge? How would I deal with the disappointments? Would I succumb to the pressure of performance and working extensive hours hence forgetting what’s really important in my life?

I would definitely not want to return to my previous lifestyle working long hours, sleeping insufficiently and setting priorities which are not even the real in the first place. I hope that these two years of value building has created a strong core within me, keeping me strong regardless of what’s ahead.

As of now, summer is finally here. It is time to enjoy some sun and get some tan!

The kitty stretch on a lazy afternoon

The kitty stretch on a lazy afternoon

Signing of with love,

Esther

A Non-Traditional Chinese New Year

祝大: 马年吉祥!马到功成!马年行大运

Chinese New Year has been pretty simple this year. No spring cleaning, no shopping for new clothes, no visiting of family and friends. There has not been much of a 气氛 (atmosphere) for me here since my family are not with me and I am not at all integrated into the Chinese community. While saying that, I still enjoyed this festive season, with my two BFFs, Xiaowei and Lili, in an untraditional way. We tried to hype up some fun amongst ourselves. The plan was to have a meal together and bake some Singaporean style pineapple tarts. XW and I were in charge of the pineapple tarts, naturally, though we are two newbies at it, while Lili was the head chef for our CNY lunch. The menu was evident – hot, spicy Sichuanese food. As she says it, “我的招牌菜 (my signature dish) !”

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Another way to commemorate CNY is gambling. However, instead of gambling with money, we decided to use wasabi peas since we had a newcomer. A little creativity allowed everyone to spice up their life with wasabi burning up the nostrils. 

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We planned to finish making our tarts within a day but we started the day late (how does it always end up like that…) and on top of that, we took our time to savour the amazing home cooked meal. In the end, we only managed to do up the jam.

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The pastry was left to the next day where we tried to work as efficiently as possible since we + husbands were craving to have a taste of the end product.

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For first timers, I must say we have done a darn good job. Of course there are always areas for improvements but for now, I am popping those tarts in my mouth like nobody’s business! 

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Not too bad for a quiet CNY. Sending out all my love and wishes to friends and family back home! You have been missed! 

 

Signing of with love, 

Esther 

20 Centimetres of Snow

Saturday afternoon hit a temperature low of -18 degrees yet it was supposed to feel like -28 degrees due to wind and humidity. It was all good then since Dan and I were taking our time waking up to the gloomy sky and having our brunch at a placid pace. However, we had a Christmas party that evening which meant that we had to leave our cozy nest. With the extreme cold in Quebec and the inconvenience of staircases in metro stations, I have long ditched heels and fancy shoes. Flats, snickers and boots have been my top picks. Yet for that faithful evening, I wanted to dress up. Vanity overpowered comfort. I headed out with four layers of top (sufficiently warm), a pair of skin toned stockings and a pair of winter boots. We had to walk to a friend’s place for a car ride which was a stone’s throw away. Within thirty seconds, my legs were numb from the cold and a minute later, an uncomfortable sizzling sensation coursed through my almost naked thighs which made me squirm in agony. Fortunately, we managed to reach our destination before my pair of legs was a goner. *exaggeration*

The Christmas party was great fun with the usual gang of people who hung out till late. The dance floor ‘stopped’ at about 230 a.m. The snow storm had probably started while we were feasting like hungry animals. By the time we left the place, we could barely see the roads. As we made our way to the car, beautiful flakes were showered upon us while we used what’s left of us to plow through the snow. In a car pool of four, we drove at a turtle speed of 45km/h as driving visibility was not more than 50m to 80m.

The snow did not take a break for a good whole night and the following day. That resulted in a city covered in white with cars disappearing under the blankets of snow while residents busied themselves with clearing their walkways and balconies.

On my end, I remain fascinated with the snowfall. As a tropical girl, I feel like I am in a fairytale!  As I walked down the streets snapping some photos, some people greeted me with warm smiles before resuming their shoveling. With a little more time at hand, I would definitely love to head up to Mount Royal to do some magic carpeting!

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Signing off with love,

Esther 

Friendly Green Giants

When my parents visited last year, they took half a day to explore Montreal’s botanical garden. I was not with them. It was either because I was busy preparing for the wedding or I was on my honeymoon. Either way, I did not feel that I have missed something exceptional. In my mind, a garden here or a garden in Singapore would probably be the same thing, being surrounded by lots of greens.

We had visitors from France, friends of Dan. While discussing over possible places of interest, the botanical garden entered the priority list, naturally. Since there have been heavy publicity done on this event called Mosaïcultures Internationales Montréal 2013 – Land of Hope, we decided it must be worth visiting. Guess what made the impression? Beautiful pictures of giant sculptures done out of plants. The wonders of visual effects.

Nothing beats the real thing. Standing in front of these giants, I felt towered over by them. Looking up close, I was impressed at how the details were skilfully accentuated. In my mind, I was wondering how they actually maintain these plants sculptures on a daily basis. Imagine the manpower needed! These sculptures have been brought to us by professionals all over the world. Every sculpture has a meaning and inspiration behind it so if do you visit, take some time to read through the write up. I am glad that I had the chance to walk through these majestic friendly giants. The event ends on the 22nd of September so you still have some time to catch this magical display if you have not done so yet!

Some of my favourite shots of the day:

Mosaïcultures Internationales Montréal 2013 Mosaïcultures Internationales Montréal 2013 Mosaïcultures Internationales Montréal 2013 Mosaïcultures Internationales Montréal 2013 Mosaïcultures Internationales Montréal 2013 Mosaïcultures Internationales Montréal 2013 Mosaïcultures Internationales Montréal 2013

There are many more to see than what’s here! For more information, please visit: http://www.mosaiculturesinternationales.ca/en/

Signing off with love,

Esther

 

Endless Amazement with Snow

I kind of understand now why some people in Montreal do not like winter. When winter stretches almost six months long, it can be frustrating. We are in March and everyday I wonder if spring is here. Despite my one month escapism to a tropical island, I still look forward to put on a fancy outer layer instead of my same old winter jacket.

Last week we had a snow storm. Snow still amazes me a lot especially when there is whole lot of them; when they cover the roads and eventually the cars along the roads. Hopefully that’s the last snow storm we are having this winter as it needs to makes space for other seasons!

A snow storm in Montreal in mid March.

A snow storm in Montreal in mid March.

A street full of snow.

A street full of snow.

Signing off with love,

Esther

1 year and counting – A Tough Nut Rolling

Look around you; you are never alone. Do what you need to do. I am sure you will survive. ;p

Halloween party, Daniel’s birthday party… and it all began. Exactly 1 year ago, I landed in Montréal –Trudeau with one huge trolley luggage, a fully-stuffed bag pack and a laptop bag. Exiting the arrival hall, I jumped into the arms of my then boyfriend with a sense of relief. Travelling 27 hours alone, around the globe is not for the faint-hearted.

I am proud to have finally experienced the four seasons – autumn, winter, spring, summer and now back to autumn again. Before I decided to drop everything back home and made a leap to Montreal, I gave myself a lot of mental preparation on how tough the situation might be. The truth? Reality was much harder than the perceived thoughts. From personal experience, as an intended immigrant on a tourist visa, the 6th and 12th month have been the hardest part of the cycle. These were the times where I was engulfed in dark and depressing thoughts. The emotions kept swirling downwards and the rock-bottom did not seem to exist. Fortunately, with the nature of a cycle, the tough times passed and I resurfaced.

Taking a step back to observe what I have gone through, the hardest challenge had not been the situation itself. Instead, dealing with oneself had been the main challenge. The competitive and proud girl seemed to have taken a back seat, giving a chance to other parts of her to surface. Previously, the ego was hurt when people around me shared about their achievements, their frequent visits to restaurants, their newly acquired goods, their constant holidays etc. Today, the ego is able to accept that my situation is different and I have other blessings in life.

Coming from a highly strung and peer-pressured society, your achievements usually have to revolve around power, money and status. No one will actually give credit to you because you learned how to cook, learned how to take care of your own place or learned the basics of survival. Today, I have nothing to boast around worldly gains but I am thankful for a wonderful husband, supportive family and friends who assure me time and again that I am not alone. My bag of experiences and achievements all boils down to basic survival skills.

The list starts with:

  1. Getting to know Dan’s family and friends
  2. Adapting to my new environment (living with Dan’s parents)
  3. Understanding the transport system
  4. Familiarising with some practical and touristic places (since Dan was working and I had to do my own exploration)
  5. Searching for a school to study French (almost 0 knowledge in French then)
  6. Searching and moving out to our own apartment (not forgetting we had to paint the place and fill the place in with all the furniture and household appliances)
  7. Taking care of the house and the boy
  8. Learning how to cook a good variety of dishes and learning how to most efficiently prepare all the meals i.e. cooking 1 big pot of spaghetti sauce which can last for a few meals! ;p
  9. Finding out where I can get quality and cheap groceries (that means running to various supermarkets just to get what I need)
  10. Searching for alternative French classes which are more affordable
  11. Making new friends and building my own network of people (doesn’t help that most of my friends are not locals and hence some of them return to their countries at some point in time)
  12. Finding volunteer opportunities

And the list goes on.

Hence when people ask me what have I been doing, it is hard for me to put my finger on it because I don’t exactly have a static life. Things change. I always have to create new opportunities for myself. Life has not been the easiest but as the saying goes, ‘what doesn’t break you makes you stronger’.  Since I am still able to blog with sanity, I guess I can be considered an evolved survival. The adventure has still a long way to go.

My 3 biggest takeaways to sum up my year in Montreal:

a) Making the best out of the current situation – No point whining about things that I cannot do anything about.  There is also no fair ground in comparison of how it is in Montreal and how it would have been in Singapore. It is what it is. Suck it up!

b) Be proactive – Can’t wait for the apples to fall from the tree. Worse still, there are no apple trees to begin with. I have to start the planting process and be patient to bear the fruits of my labour.

c) Having a strong pillar of support – This would consist of the new and the old. Family and friends back in Singapore are always a source of comfort. However, they are not with me. I do need a circle of friends who are physically near me. It helps too to know that there people who are in similar situations like me. It is fun to go bargain hunting together and get creative with the activities which we do!

Well, who I am today?

Signing off with love as your young, energetic and creative housewife,

Esther

 

A Summer Outdoor Guide in Quebec

A Brief Summer Guide to Explore Quebec

What’s great about summer in Montreal? Almost everything! I have heard hearsay from so many locals about how great summer is but now, I am finally experiencing it for myself. Today was another of those Imagehot, sunny days. Since Daniel wanted to hit the gym, I decided to bike together with him as a form of workout for myself. His gym was near Atwater Market, a place which I have wanted to visit quite some time ago but the plan was never fulfilled until today.  The market mainly sold local products i.e. vegetables, fruits, meat and cheese produced by the farmers in Quebec. The prices may cost more than what you can find in a regular supermarket but the quality of the products is definitely higher too. Aside from consumables, my eyes were presented the beauty of the colourful flowers which were waiting to be taken home by their new owners.  It made me dream about having my own little garden, with my homegrown fruits, vegetables and flowers! I am not sure if I am blessed with green fingers. The only type of plant which I have grown is bean sprouts from green beans. It was a project which I had to do in Primary Three!

Two weeks ago, there was an Outdoor and Travel Festival (http://www.parcjeandrapeau.com/254-Outdoor_and_Travel_Festival-event.html) at Parc Jean Drapeau. There were many exhibitors sharing their love and passion with regards to outdoor trips and activities within and near Quebec. When I say Quebec is big, I think that is an understatement. Some of the places which I thought were interesting to visit were at least 8 to 10 hours drive away! My list of top summer activities includes water rafting, camping, kayaking and trekking. Since I have collected a number of brochures which would be forgotten soon, I decided to make a brief summary of what I have for my safekeeping and also for those who are planning their summer trip in Quebec.

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Quebec Province

Côte-Nord Duplessis (www.tourismeduplessis.com)

This region offers a change in scenery. With a shoreline which stretches out up to 1000km, this place offers an abundance of maritime heritage. The main excursions are guided through Sept-îles and Mingan archipelagos where are you able to see St Lawrence River becoming a gulf. Other activities include whale watching, horseback trail ride, trekking to the waterfalls and camping.

Essipit (http://www.essipit.com)

Another town near the coastline, Essipit is known for its aboriginal community, called the Innus. They have whale-watching cruises and camping too. However, what’s special about this place is that they have hunting grounds where you can actually hunt for bears and moose! Not a fan of animal hunting but this was probably the way of life in the past. 

Île Saint-Bernard (www.ilesaintbernard.com)

Île Saint-Bernard is located in Châteauguay, only 20 minutes drive from Montreal. Many activities have already been planned out from May to October this year. You can check on the website to see if any particular event or activity catches your eye. Environmentally protected, you can embark on hiking trails that are perfect for bird watching and photography. There are also educational activities created for children to learn about the surroundings around them.

Propulsion Rafting (http://propulsion.ca/)

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The Rouge river is located just one hour from Montreal. It claims to offer some of the best whitewater rafting experience in North America. They offer different kinds of rafting experience, depending on what kind of challenge you are up to. I highly suggest that you go with a group of friends because the fun factor will be doubled or even tripled!

United States:

Adirondack Coast Wine Trail (http://goadirondack.com/)

Adirondack Coast is not located within Quebec but it is part of Vermont, United States. Vermont lies to the south of Montreal and you will need about 2 hours drive to reach Adirondack Coast. If you are not a Canadian, do check that you have a valid visa to cross the borders. The land is filled with grapes, growing from the hybrids of European grapes and hardy American rootstock that can withstand the cold winter temperatures. Hit on the trail if you have a special love for wine!

Virginia Beach (http://www.virginiabeach.com/)

With all the on-going camping and trekking activities, now we have a beach which may prove to be the ideal location to chill and simply do nothing at all. Virginia Beach is located in the East Coast of United States, about 14 hours drive from Montreal. Unless you are up for a road trip, taking a plane may prove to be a much easier option. Some of their activities include nature and eco tours, fishing and boating, and surfing. They also have golf courses for those who might want to give a swing.

Whatever I have stated here is probably 1% of what is out there. This will give a brief idea of what can be expected this summer but if you have something particular in mind, for example, camping with kayaking experience, please do more research to ensure that you have the best pick possible. All the best and have a kick ass time!

Signing off with love,

Esther

Feeling Under the Weather

The Weather is Not the Culprit! >< 

Another of those rare hot sweltering days! Today the temperature hit a high of 30 degrees celcius. For the first time since my arrival in Montreal, the fan has been mobilized. According to the weather forecast, Imagewarm temperatures may be more often that rare in the days to come, or not? Montreal’s weather has been eccentric enough for me to lay off expectations. Hence a piece of advice, always check the weather forecast before you head out otherwise, bring an extra jacket out with you. Better to have more clothes than less.

I have been feeling tired and restless for the last few days. Is this the result of the change in temperature? Family and friends have been falling sick too. How could a nicer weather be detrimental to the health? With the sunshine greeting me every day, shouldn’t I be feeling all excited and energized?

There have been claims that winter causes people to fall sick hence they do not like the season. Initially, I thought the claim is logical because winter is cold which then result in people catching a cold. However, after surviving winter, I do think that people dislike winter for other reasons but the easier option was to just blame the weather. When winter came in November/ December, the air was so fresh. I found the surroundings really clean (aside from the slush which came in the later part of the season) and I was washed away by a sense of tranquility. The truth is, it is easy to feel lazy during winter because in order to go out of the house, you have to mount a few layers of clothes unto yourself. With the majority of the time spent in a heated apartment, one does not get the fresh air that does good to the body. A parallel example can be drawn to people staying in air conditioned offices all the time. They breathe recycled air and once someone gets sick, the rest of the office catches the love too.

ImageSo now spring is here, what happens around me? The city literally comes to life. I start to learn about who are my neighbours are as they emerge from their dwellings. Deciduous trees grow new leaves, flowers blossom and patches of green start covering up the soil land. Our little squirrel friends are also scampering around excitedly.  Unfortunately, not all is perfect. Pollen in the air often results in allergies and respiratory problems. Dust and dirt fill the air as more cars hit the road. Getting all hyped up with the heat, it is also easy to forget to drink up which results in dehydration. That explains the headaches and fatigue that one suffers from.

On my end, I definitely need to hydrate myself more. I probably need to buy more fruits to replenish our body’s vitamin C. We should be responsible for our own health and not blame something that is not within our control. Drink up, sleep well, pop some vitamin pills and avoid staying under the sun for too long! That should keep us in a good state to enjoy the summer!

Signing off with love,

Esther

Remembering the Cause

I am thankful for the opportunity to re-wire my life. 

History has shown how people forget the past easily and repeat certain mistakes in life. Take for example the property bubble which happened in Singapore in 1996. Singaporeans were buying properties out of their means and when the bubble burst, those who were heavily invested suffered major losses. However, going by the euphoria which swept by the market over the years and together with the tendency for people to forget, this crash is probably long distant by now. Not surprisingly, there have been new predictions on another property bubble coming up in year 2013.

Writing and keeping journals have been great ways to not only release my rainbow of moods, they also help me remember the different kinds of journeys I have walked in life. Then, when I read back on some of my entries, I get refresh along memory lane. Bagged with this irresistible need to worry, there are periods of time where I see myself engulfed in black. For example, it has been 6 months since I last worked. Given the enjoyment I find in making myself utile, I have this dying need to send out my resumes to find a job, any job. The inability to contribute to the household and the limitation on my expenditure draw an indefinable depth of upset and hence mood swings. This is the time where I pull out my priority list from the back of my mind.

Priority #1 – Wedding planning

Priority #2 – Learning French

Priority #3 – Taking care of myself, Dan and the house

As I take a deep breath to let reality sink in, my mood calms down. A few days ago, I read through the introduction which I rode for myself in my blog. I realised that I have forgotten my reasons to be here, in Montreal. I forgot how I have over worked my body previously and sought after things which I thought were important. Am I going to let history repeat itself?  An instant cold shudder ran through my body. A good sign because at least I am sure of what I do not want. A blank page in front of me can either cause a sense of lost or excitement. I choose the latter. I want to be the author of my own life.

Long, long time ago, I wished for a prince charming whom I can ride a horse with to a land far, far away; someone who will enjoy my presence for the rest of our lives and vice versa. Here I am today with Dan, a whole new road waiting ahead of us. Last week marks the our first year encounter in Seoul (more can be read from my previous post ‘My Valentine’s Day Story – When East Meets West’ https://dreamwelllivewellbewell.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/my-valentines-day-story-when-east-meets-west/) .  

To celebrate this special encounter, we went to a Korean restaurant with our 2 beloved Korean friends. How significant indeed. A toast to our new lives which we have a hand in creating it together!

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*** The Korean restaurant is called Hwang-Kum, located at 5908 Rue Sherbrooke West, Montreal. As claimed by my Korean girl friend, the best and most authentic Korean food in Montreal.  

Signing off with love,

Esther