Monday, January 25, 2016

#ileftmyheartin Seoul – An Homage


6 hours later, we found ourselves in another city. That first night we arrived, we were exhausted and peering at undecipherable store fronts in Dongdaemun-gu with a lack of sleep, our nemesis. Fried chicken and spicy fried chicken (for me) without the beer, because we don't drink.

Here are some pictures that Matt & I would love to share with you from our trip (as if you weren't already bored of seeing pictures from Korea, hehehehe)








Seoul is a series of surreal sensations of sorts, something I've seen countless times in our weekly watch of Running Man or the dramas on TV but could never experience fully. But as we stood in the large neighborhood intersection by Paris Baguette (great but pricey bakery), waiting for the lights to change, I was excited to see this place and its people.

When friends ask me what I think, I can only answer 'Great, I love it!' without explaning why. You might be familiar that I usually find my travels hard to describe, because I feel that there's no way to experience a city without ever being present physically. And Seoul is truly a city that fits that description.

It is elusive in the night, and we made our way through the mazes of street stalls, its sellers indifferent; the young and the hip huddle together in the buzz of the night and soju, carefree and careless. Everything was so still, but so full of life despite its exhaustion – you see tired employees close up shops and dart to the nearest metro or bus stop.



South Korean (and Asia in general) convenience stores are just the best, really. Where else can you get ice cream with a soft coat chocolate crunch with a strawberry filling?!?! Everything is so quirky and so fashionable it hurt my ego. I don't consider Magnums proper ice creams, which could be why everything is so great in comparison.

Lotte snacks reign the racks, one of the largest conglomerates in South Korea, always in the news for the latest power struggle.

We wandered around more a bit more and found our way back into the cosy AirBnB flat on the 14th floor, overlooking the Seoul skyline, and Namsan Tower.





In the day, the streets are lined with all sorts, the tourists, the elderly, jubilant students and street performers. Night transforms the day into a whirlpool of culture and oddities. We trudged around different areas: Hongdae, Ewha, Myeongdong... I was eager to tick off my food wish-lists, which included everything and anything. The food markets were a highlight of our trip, not because it's always full with locals and visitors, but graced by the tireless energy from the stall owners, and you start to think about the part they play in the perennial legacy of a country like South Korea.

A capital torn between its brethren in the North, and a pioneer in tech and fashion in the eyes of the West, support from the military giant of US, Seoul is a place full of life. Its people are weary from day-to-day humdrum activity (my friend told us they only get 7 days of paid leave annually), and yet, it tries to cling on to innocence in the most unexpected of ways. We climbed atop to Bukchon Village, overseeing the city and its districts, where parts of the city unfolded and smoked unfurled in the mid-morning – a city influenced by Confucian ideals, the young work to repay their parents, or not at all, tainted by individualism conquered in the West.

Nonetheless, each night before I tucked in from the 14th floor - I sneaked quick glances over the city's skyline, wishing we had more time to explore this city's personal side: its language, laughter and love for life.



(A quick word before I say bye - I recently wrote a piece on Medium on how it took me 3 years to get a job in the UK and would love if you read it and share your thoughts :) it's a story close to my heart, and one that I don't share very much here because it's been difficult, but now it's gone live, cheeeeck it out pals!)

I wrote this for the #ileftmyheart campaign and competition where I could potentially win a city trip, so why not? I wish I was paid to travel and write this, alas that is untrue. But if you'd like to write about somewhere that means a lot to you, you can jump on the bandwagon here!

A lot has happened last week, and I look forward to catching up with y'all on all the above issues: traveling and your fave places, the more serious side of life on working and getting a job and what you have plans for this week! Adios amigos! :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Korean Skincare Haul!


Hiya everyone! It's going to be a long ride today as I bring forth my goodies from Korea – the skincare version. A while ago I did the same but for skincare and it seemed to go down pretty well and some people (by which I mean TWO which is a lot for me) had wanted to see what I got... Here goes nothing, and since I'm not the best product photographer (gimme scenery/outdoor/food/non-products any day) I hope it'll still tingle your eyes...



1. MOISTURISERS AND SERUMS





I've already professed my love for Innisfree in my previous post, because of its more eco-friendly ingredients that the rest of the other high-street Korean brands didn't have. So I picked up the Innisfree Green Tea Eye Seed Cream, and it has a handful of fruit extracts and green tea is supposed to be for an all-purpose skin routine, making it more youthful and less bleargh. And trust me, I've tried loads of too watery eye creams before and they've done nothing but cause my skin to flake up even more. I was surprised by the thicker consistency of this cream too, which was something I'm looking for, especially in the drier and colder months.

Now, moving on... I actually put this in my online basket during Wishtrend's Black Friday sale. I have the Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner and its key ingredients are hyaluronic acid and beta-glucan, both of which are supposed to attract dat moisture to keep your face hydrated. RIGHT DOWN THIS ALLEY. Having looked at the ingredients list, I'm liking it so far. Loads of flower extracts to soothe and calm angry skin, and restore calm from redness. I've been using this and I am really enjoying it, and I like how it's watery and not sticky too.

The other pairing I have from Klairs is its Rich Moist Soothing Serum. How much more description does this even need?! The key (ha ha I finally found out the joke) for this is also moisture, something my poor skin suffers from all the damn time. Like the toner, it's also packed with fruit and flower extracts so I'm likin' that. I would say that combined use of the toner and serum really helped me keep it going...

Now the golden product of them all is the Innisfree Ginger Oil Serum. To be fair, I haven't had a chance to use this just yet because I'm in the process of trying to finish up all my old products right now. But from the moment the lady in the store put it on the back of my hand, I was sold. Talk about being suckered in!

Ginger is something of a strange and rising ingredient in the skincare world I feel. I mean, I've long been drinking ginger and honey in the morning but now more and more products claim to have ginger in their ingredients list because of its many wonders. This includes: anti-ageing, helping with acne, tones skin and refreshes your face to its ~glowing~ state. I mean, who doesn't want that? That said, I haven't actually tried it so I'll have to get back to you on that. But I'm quite excited now...

2. SCRUBS AND FACE MASKS 



Ah South Korea, holy grail of the ubiquitous face masks. Need I say more?

To make things easier, I'll tell you what's not a face mask. SKINFOOD's Black Sugar Strawberry Mask Wash Off is made out of real (? I hope) strawberry seeds and black sugar, combining to give you a good exfoliating. It smells so good, and everytime I put this on I always mistakenly lick my lips. Nothing more to say than: I really enjoy this, it gives the skin a good zinger after washing it off, feeling more refreshed.

Now, I've picked up a variety of face masks from Korea and this gurl ain't hauling all of it in the picture. Here are some of the ones that I've been using on rotation though: The Nature Republic Real Fresh Aloe Fresh Mask, SKINFOOD Marine Food Seaweed Gel Mask and Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Sheet Mask (thanks Weng Yee)! Depending of what my mood is, I'll just go between each of the masks I have. Some are tailored to different functions like brightening (pomegranate), soothing (aloe, shea butter) or even more specific ones like the Klairs or the Innisfree Second Skin for extra boost of moisture. I crack those out when I feel like my face is dying...

If you want to know more about which ones I have, drop a comment and I'll let you know :)

3. CLEANSERS + ETC 



 
Booyah, you've made it to the last section. Okay so remember that mascara (Etude House Curl Fix) from the previous post? That is so. freaking. hard. to remove... And of course I've tried everything and I was panicking and I began scraping (it was a sorry sight) mascara off my eyelashes in the bathroom. Then I had a voila moment. I whipped out my Banila Co. Clean It Zero Purity balm and it broke it down, guys... I never felt so relieved ever. Well that's a lie but you know, for ~journalism's~ sake and all.

Now it's my go-to for heavy makeup days and whenever I use that pesky mascara! They have a range too, and mine is for sensitive skin so I don't get too much redness after cleansing and washing it off. It's non-perfumed too, which gets a huge thumbs up from me!

TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL Egg Mousse Soap and Pack was, I confess, a whirlwind and impulse buy. I was gettingthe Dinoplatz lip products and chanced upon this and was told it's super popular and I've seen a few videos/reviews floating around and thought, why not and promptly paid for it... Again it's not something I have tried yet so I'll have to keep everyone updated on that. I mean, eggs are supposed to be good so I'm hoping it'll work its goodness on me. #praisetobeeggs

FINALLY - the Innisfree Eco Nail Remover is a definite 10/10 fave of mine! First, it doesn't smell bad, it actually smells like oranges and puts me in such a happy mood whenever I remove my nail colour. It works like a whiz too, faster than any drug store ones I have already and for the same price. Can't say no to dat value yo.

Phew guys, you did it! I'd give you a gold medal if you've made it this far but I'd be broke so... I'm sorry y'all. Lemme know what your thoughts are on these, if you have any opinions, recommendations (!!) or random Korean suggestions I should take on next :) see you on the flip side!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Columbia Road Flower Market


Greetings from the other side aka the new year aka 2016! After a very restful Christmas break (I stress on the very because all we did was watch the new Star Wars movie and eat/snack), we found ourselves back in London to sort out life.

New year's was spent in pj's and retainers on the balcony of our flat, seeing fireworks off from the London Eye. Anyway – my #hilare friend Weng Yee (aka 9outoften) just moved to London for work and I wanted to head to the flower market Columbia Road so we braved (more like me) the wintry winds and made out way to DA EAST.





Home to yet another popular destination for Landaners and tourists, the market is on every Sunday from 8am to 2pm. A lot of traders come bright and early – at 5 or 6am! to set up shop and set up stalls. I usually go in between 1.30 to 2pm to get the best prices, which is when they're about to close and are eager to sell the most of their stock off. Although, when we went, it wasn't that much reduced. I suspect it's because it's winter, and there wasn't much selection and competition.

It's one of my favourite places to head to during the weekends even if it's a bit too far and requires a bit of walking... even if you're not looking to buy flowers, the street is lined with cute independent shops and cafes for some respite after walking!

If you're going in Spring or Summer, there are definitely lots more blooms and stalls up!





As if you didn't know already, my favourite flowers are tulips (and peonies) and I wanted to pick some up for our 'newly' decorated flat. Also because my birthday was spent in the countryside where I couldn't really transport back flowers even if I got any.

I got some lilac and purple blooms, and they're now sitting nicely in our living room :)





Columbia Road is also where my favourite paper cutter/designer store is – Ryantown. Unfortunately we found out they're closing their shop in mid-February :( but I did pick up a sneaky 2016 calendar for half price and I'm a happy gal! If anyone is a fan, let me know!

Also beware of pickpockets, as I almost got my phone stolen when I was there previously. Make sure you keep your valuables close to you anyway, because it can get crowded and you will need to edge your way through the crowds.

The nearest tube stops are Old Street. Bethnal Green or Whitechapel and take 10-15 mins walk. I'd suggest to have a warming Vietnamese lunch at Hoxton before popping by the market! MMMM.



A bonus picture of y'all. Behind the scenes and all-access glamour. Up close and personal. We made our way back to Chinatown, to pick up some supplies and the wind really picked up so up came my Uniqlo hood and scarf wrapped around twice. Hope you enjoyed this little musing from the new year :)

As always:

(Hooded jacket: Uniqlo / Scarf - Dorothy Perkins / Coat - Zara / Boots - Public Desire)

Hope you're all well! Any recommendations on where I can explore next? And my mum coming to visit, so any ideas outside of London is very much welcomed too! DO YOU LIKE TULIPS TOO? What kind of flowers do y'all dig?

P/S photos by Matt, and if y'all wanna show him some luvin' you can check out his flickr wheee :)
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