Sunday, June 28, 2015

Day 3 of #seoulstylo.

Sorry for the late post! I've no excuses haha, I was just really lazy and... drowsy. But here's Day 3 of my Seoul trip and I hope it will be a useful guide!

Day 3 started out rocky. I really wanted to visit Changyeonggung Palace for the beautiful glass house there but we just can't seem to find the place. We alighted at Hyehwa Station and I relied on asking passer-bys for directions. But we ended up walking in circles, walking across a huge hospital and found ourselves lost. While writing this post I realised that the tourism board actually gave a set of precise directions on how to get there. I will include the directions in the last bit of this post! We didn't get to try it but I hope it works for you. The glass house just looks so beautiful, such a pity that we missed it.

We were left disappointed of course but we noticed a commotion across the street and we decided to check it out. When I saw the people there as well as the stalls set up, I was jumping in joy like a kid in a toy store. It was a farmers' market! Stalls were selling everything from pots of herbs to wooden spoons to organic foods, breads, coffee, sauces, condiments... And on the small stage, there was a trio called Mãpukiki wearing floral-printed shirts performing Hawaiian-inspired songs with their ukuleles (listen here while you continue reading the post!). It was a perfect afternoon.

I posted some pictures on Instagram and a Korean commented that we were at the Marche market. Marche@Hyehwa is an urban farmers' market, or an artisan food and craft market that is set up once a month, usually on the second Sunday of the month. How lucky were we! I've checked out the official site and although I can't decipher the content, I assume that the market is also held at other venues at different dates. Check out the site to see if any markets coincide with your trip!









I think it was one of the few perfect moments of my life. I can still remember the tunes that the trio played and the bustling of families enjoying a picnic. A lovely family of 4 were sitting beside us and I couldn't help staring at their homemade sandwiches and glasses of wine. Their children were just running around, basking in the sunshine, and sometimes running back to their parents to receive 'fart kisses' on their tummies. Shouldn't all Sundays be like that?

After the market at Hyehwa, we headed to Myeongdong for some crazy shopping. I think my mum found her heaven there. She went into almost every store asking for snail masks haha. Makeup and beauty products aside, you can also find great street food and an O'sulloc tea house outlet there.




O'sulloc is known for its premium tea leaves but the branding is also really well done and the shop space was pretty. The tea house is more like a café and their matcha cakes and drinks are the more popular offerings. Be sure to give their hot green tea a try. I usually go for iced drinks but the hot tea was so fragrant and I'm really glad that I tried it. They also sell a wide selection of tea leaves.

Dinner was street food and ice-cream! We had so much ice-cream throughout the trip!




We also visited the Lotte Young Plaza at Myeongdong after I saw people carrying MUJI paper bags! I'm making a point to visit at least one MUJI outlet in every country I visit, haha. I didn't get anything there but it was still fun. Waiting for the day I step into the 3-storey MUJI at Ginza, Tokyo...



*Subway Station | Venue

Hyehwa | Changyeonggung Palace
Opens from 9.00am to 6.30pm. Closed on Mondays.
From Hyehwa Station Exit 3, go 20m and turn left at Seoul Jongno Pharmacy. Next, go 180m and turn left and Jeongmin Onnuri Pharmacy. Go 200m and turn left again. Then, go 60m and cross the road to arrive at the palace.

Hyehwa | Marche@Hyehwa
Exit 2.
Follow their website for updates.
Usually held on the second Sunday of the month, from 11am to 4pm.

Myeongdong | Myeongdong Shopping District
Exit 6.
Find the map here.

Myeongdong | O'sulloc Tea House
Exit 6.
Upon exiting the station, turn into Myeongdong 8-gil. Go straight about 400m and you'll see the tea house on your right.

Myeongdong | Lotte Young Plaza
Exit 14.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Printl.



The kind people at Printl sent me some pictures that I had uploaded on Instagram. These are the few pictures taken in Seoul and I love them so much. Thank you so much again Printl!

Printl is really the easiest way to get your Instagram pictures printed out. Just subscribe to the service and the top 10 most popular Instagram pictures from your feed in that particular month will be printed out and delivered straight to your home. No extra delivery charges whatsoever.

Printl has kindly offered a discount code to all of you as well! Use the discount code PRINTL70 to enjoy a 70% off for your first month subscription. It's so much cheaper to print out your pictures this way and I like that the pictures look like Polaroids.

While it's definitely true that the smartphone has made photo taking so much more convenient, memories often go 'missing' when we have thousands of images saved in our camera roll. My family still appreciates printing out photos occasionally and keeping them in albums as a keepsake. These pictures that I've received are just so lovely and when I showed them to my mum, we had so much to share. It will make a great gift for someone else well. 

Do give it a go and print out your best pictures with Printl
p.s. Remember to use the discount code PRINTL70!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

stylohotmylo.

Thought about it long and hard, and I've made the decision to start a new blog while still keeping this old one. Frankly speaking, I always felt like I've an alter ego in me. On the whole, yes I'm still Jasmine, I love to cook, love to splurge on magazines, I love art and fashion. However, close friends rarely see this other side of me, I don't talk art or fashion much to them because that's not how I befriended them in the first place. I don't know everything, I don't know if what I know is what it is, but part of me yearns, so much, to share it with someone out there, and so I have been sharing these interests virtually - online.

The past few posts on Seoul made me realise that I've a very strong alter ego and visually, they don't coincide. I've already noticed that when I post images on Instagram. Part of me wants to style the picture this way, but another part of me wants it to be the other way. Then I created two accounts and I actually like the way they coexist in separate spaces.

I guess I'm still figuring out which is the real me. Not just pictures but life in general. My internship at a user experience consultancy has been very insightful. It has been fulfilling, but am I telling myself that or do I really feel that way? I've come to terms that if this is my future job, I won't enjoy it. But I've also come to terms that I've gained all the necessary skills for this field and I seem to be doing well at it. Do I love it? Do I have to love it? Aren't all jobs tough and mundane? I don't know anymore. I've always told people confidently that I want to do UX, because it is impactful, because it changes the way we do things for the better. I am still very much in love with its mission, but it's so tiring and what I can do is so insignificant. Can I be a coward and just do something else? But what... I am a very realistic person and I don't go for crazy dreams, even if I have many. Haha, I think my mid-life crisis is already here.

But in any case, to help myself feel better, stylohotmilo will just be food, lifestyle, travel and Instagram related, and fashion and art will be moved to stylohotmylo. There will be differences in styles and due to my OCD nature, I would prefer to see them in separate spaces. Promise there will be more content! See you!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Day 2 of #seoulstylo.



Gyeongbokgong Palace was our first stop on the second day of #seoulstylo. To get there, take the subway (details on subway map and card here) and alight at Gyeongbokgung Station. You'll find the palace at Exit 5.

The palace is an architectural feat really. I enjoyed just walking around aimlessly though I would really appreciate a guide or at least an English brochure handed to us at the ticketing booth. We attempted to follow behind Chinese tour groups but it seemed like their guides are used to tourists like us and have a strategy to make sure that we can't follow. They seemed to have gone deep into the palace's grounds and then start the tour from the inside, so whatever they explained didn't make much sense because we didn't get the full story. Otherwise, I just marvelled at the scale of the palace and how well restored it is. We didn't get to tour the entire palace because we didn't have a map and just kept ending up at the same areas, haha. So if you are visiting Gyeongbokgong, find a map or follow a tour group that is just about to enter and don't lose sight of them! Also note that the palace is closed on Tuesdays.









After Gyeongbokgong Palace, we took the same subway line down to Anguk Station and easily found Insadong, a cultural district known for its traditional markets, artisans and teahouses. I went there hoping to find some wooden carved spoons haha, but they were too pricey. Insadong is still a really pretty place. It's crowded but we moved at a slow pace and enjoyed a traditional lunch there.

You will also find Saamziegil within Insadong. It's a vibrant area with lots of stalls selling handcrafted goods and art works. We didn't know that the staircase works as a spiral and made the decision to go up to the highest level and walk our way down. That didn't work for us of course, as we found ourselves walking up again and again if we follow the direction of the crowd. Haha!




Close to Insadong is the Bukchon Hanok Village. I think Bukchon Hanok Village gave us a really hard time but a wonderful surprise at the end. We had trouble finding it. Supposedly, it's near Anguk Station Exit 2, but even after asking around, we saw no village. We managed to find the tourist centre and grabbed a map, but later realised that it was so hard to find the village because it wasn't really one! It's just a residential district where you can find traditional houses called 'hanok' interspersed among some modern houses. When you are in the area, the hanok is really distinguishing though. It will be easy to identify them. There's this one stretch of hanok which we found really pretty. It's almost impossible to take a nice picture though, because tourists fill up that stretch of road.





Even after we knew that we were at the right place, we didn't really know what else was there to see and where else we should go. It seemed like most tourists, even Koreans themselves, were lost too haha. Eventually, everyone just walked with one another, and somehow that brought us to the surprise at the end - Samcheong-dong.

Samcheong-dong is like a better version of Haji Lane. A very hippie place where you can find lots of cafés as well as fashion and accessory stores. After walking around, I happened to spot Cafe D_55, which is in the cafe list that I had compiled. Service wasn't cool, coffee was ok, but the interior was done up really well. Loved all the kitchenware on display, as well as the art pieces that decorated the space. On level 2, there's also this glasshouse that's just amazing. There was this 'No Photography' sign in the café so I took pictures cautiously. Haha, but seriously if you open a café, the last thing you should prohibit is photography! It's the pictures, then Instagram, that first keeps people coming.





Going back to a subway station was another headache. We chanced upon Samcheong-dong so we were clueless on where we actually were, haha. But kind Koreans brought us to the stop for shuttle buses, and we got back to Gwanghwamun Station in a short while.

I shall end the post with a summary of sorts. I will also include other places in my itinerary that I did not manage to cover but still worth a visit as they were suggested by the lovely people I met on Instagram!

*Subway Station | Venue

Gyeongbokgung | Gyeongbokgung Palace
Exit 5. Closed on Tuesdays.

Gyeongbokgung | Cafe Mk2
Exit 3, walk straight and make a right turn down one of the side streets, the cafe should be on your left.

Anguk | Insadong
The famous Tosokchon Samgaetang can also be found in Insadong.

Anguk | Bukchon Hanok Village
Exit 2.

Anguk | Samcheong-dong

Anguk | Changdeokgung Palace
Exit 3. Closed on Mondays.

Anguk | Cafe D-55
Samcheong-dong, Seoul, Korea, 110-220.

Anguk | Anguk 153 (bakery cafe)
Samcheong-dong, Seoul, Korea, 110-240.

Anguk/Jongno-gu | Slow Steady Club (cafe, boutique)
130-1 Palpan, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea, 110-220. Open 12.30pm to 9.00pm. Closed on Wednesdays.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Day 1 of #seoulstylo.

Finally, haha, I'm getting started on blogging about the recent Seoul trip. The trip was pretty last minute but thanks to the help from friends and the Instagram community, I got the itinerary out quickly.

Visited Korea with my mother and sister and we took Korean Air (booked via Expedia) and had a smooth direct flight to Seoul, Incheon Airport. Upon reaching, we took the airport limo bus and reached the apartment at late night. The limo bus wasn't exactly cheap, it costed us approximately S$15 each from Incheon Airport to Gangnam. The cost differs according to your final destination. However, I would still highly recommend it because the service was impeccable. I don't mean that you will be greeted by an enthusiastic driver but you will definitely be pleased to find spacious, comfortable seats, appreciate the help with your luggage, and enjoy a safe and smooth ride. The traffic in Seoul is pretty crazy and I was really intimidated when I saw the way people drove during peak hours. Of course, you may also opt to take the subway (Seoul's equivalent of Singapore's MRT) but the luggage and transfers would be a headache.

Talking about subway, remember to get the T-Money card (Singapore's ez-link equivalent) from any convenience store or at the subway station. You will receive a discounted transport fare if you use T-Money card instead of those one-time, single trip cards. You can top up your T-Money card at every subway station and at the end of your trip, you can also get a refund if there is balance left.

We found our accommodation on Airbnb (link) and we were really grateful for the great location, clean apartment as well as the helpful hosts. The apartment is located in the Gangnam district, with Yangjae station nearby and many famous restaurants around the corner. If you happen to book the same apartment (the hosts own the entire building so they have plenty of rooms), just ask the friendly hosts and they will provide pictures to guide you to places they've recommended. They provided us with pictures of every turn! I'm an idiot when it comes to navigating but we found our way easily.



The apartment was well decorated and after looking around, we could guess that the hosts have a pretty high standard of living. The body wash is from a brand that Åland carries and even the dishwasher detergent is 'branded'. Haha, those were good news to us of course. The host also treated us to Korean Makgeolli (rice or wheat based alcoholic beverage) which was apparently manufactured by his father's company. He even gifted us with bowls that Koreans use to drink Makgeolli with. Lucky us! 

Later, we had dinner at this famous restaurant that serves spicy barbeque octopus. It was just a minute away from our apartment. Our host ordered for us a steamed egg, rice mixed with roe, sesame and seaweed as well as two servings of spicy octopus for us. It was daebak! The octopus was fiery but so satisfying. The steamed egg looks as puffy as a cloud and tasted like pudding. You will be given gloves to wear so that you can mix the rice, roll it into rice balls and place them on the grill. I miss this meal so much! I shall be kind and will just use words, not pictures to torture you. Haha.

One thing to note about Seoul is that Friday nights are their hang out sessions. Restaurants would be filled by people who are friends, colleagues etc. and they usually get really drunk. We felt a little out of place because the other tables were all playing drinking games while we quietly observed. If you are hanging out late into the night on Fridays especially, just be careful. It was a culture shock for me to see men in suits holding on to one another, singing while struggling to walk in a straight line. They do know how to have a great time, haha.

Wow, I didn't expect myself to type out every little detail about the trip. Haha, the first day really left an impression I guess. Day 1 was short but Day 2 was really packed so I shall save it for the next post! I've created a label 'Seoul Stylo' for this series of posts and will be sharing places I've visited as well as those that I did not. Our itinerary was filled with places that were highly recommended by friends on Instagram. Pity that we chose to miss a few stops because we didn't want to rush things and I also had to accommodate to where my mother wished to go haha. Didn't want to put all these recommendations to waste so I hope that someone out there will find these information useful!