Korea 2014: Stop! Shop! Eat!

What’s a trip to another country without shopping and eating? I will conclude my series of posts by giving some suggestions on where to shop and what to try and eat when you’re in South Korea.

SHOPPING
I stopped by a number of shopping streets, malls and entered a ton of cosmetics shops (They’re everywhere!). I saw everything from designer labels, international brands, local labels to mass produced trendy fashions. Shopping in Korea is inevitable; and the range that’s available is just overwhelming. Fear not, though, you’re bound to find something you love at a price point that’s reasonable. Contrary to popular belief, Korea is actually very affordable… more affordable than Japan and even Singapore (in my opinion). I loved shopping and here were some of my favorite stops:

one of the streets in EDAE
one of the streets in EDAE

EDAE (Ewha Women’s University)
Accessible from: Exit #2 or #3, Ewha Woman’s Univ. Station, Subway Line 2 OR Exit #2 or #3, Sinchon Station, Subway Line 2

EDAE is one of the popular stops for young Korean women to shop for affordable and trendy fashions. With enough stamina and energy, you will be able to find a lot of nice items from clothing to accessories to shoes. Cute bags go for just ₩10,000 (Php400). Pretty shoes and boots go from ₩10,000-₩25,000 (Php400-Php1000). There are also some independent local shops that may be more expensive; but are good quality items just the same. Be sure to make the most of the inner streets and shops. Also, be patient in finding the same item for a better price. A number of the stores sell the same thing; and something that caught your eye earlier on could probably be cheaper just down the street (Believe me, I know the feeling.).

Myeong-dong
Accessible from: Exit #6, Myeongdong Station, Subway Line 4

Myeong-dong
Myeong-dong

Myeong-dong is the prime shopping destination when you’re in Seoul. In and around the area, you will find an almost endless array of shops and restaurants. A good mixture of tourists and locals literally crowd in Myeong-dong to do most of their shopping. Street food also line the narrow streets; so you could satiate that hunger in between retail stops. This is also the place where you could get the best foreign exchange rates. There are a lot of money changers and be patient enough to walk around and canvas for the best rates; so you could get the most for your dollars. Most important of all, Myeong-dong is home to Cosme Road, an area where all Korean make-up brands have their biggest stores. If you love make-up and skin-care products, be prepared to spend a LOT of time here.

Gangnam Underground Shopping Center
Accessible from: Express Bus Terminal Station (line 3 or 7), follow the Gangnam Terminal Underground Shopping Center sign

Gangnam has a certain luxury attached to its name. It is mostly known for its expensive shops, rich clientele and high standards of living. In contrast, the Gangnam Underground Shopping Center turned out to be my favorite shopping destination out of all those I’ve visited. I loved it here. It felt like a higher end 168 (yes, the one in Divisoria) in its layout; and I think they have the cheapest items and the widest array of products (including home items).

Gangnam Underground Shopping Center
Gangnam Underground Shopping Center (photo from khompy.com)

How cheap? Clothes such as shirts, blouses and coats range from ₩5,000-₩15,000 (Php200-Php600). Socks and hair accessories are between ₩1,000-₩3,000 (Php40-Php120). Bags and shoes are mostly at ₩10,000 (Php400). I was also lucky enough to purchase an authentic leather shoulder bag on sale at ₩39,000 (Php1,500) from ₩150,000 (Php6,100). Gangnam Underground Shopping Center is one of the places that showed me how affordable South Korea could be. Since the prices are already low, you shouldn’t haggle anymore. Also, most of the items are free size and fitting is not allowed. Be ready to make guesstimates on what clothes may suit you.

Lotte Mart
Accessible from: Seoul Station (line 1, 4), Exit 1.

Lotte Mart
Lotte Mart (photo from Korea Tourism Organization)

Lotte Mart is a huge supermarket where you could get the best deals for food items and other products that you plan to bring home as pasalubong. From tea, to baked goods, to sweet treats… You will find them all here. Be prepared to share with your companions especially in the packaged/bundled products; so you could get the best price per item.

FOOD
Koreans love to eat and drink. It was especially apparent in the area we were staying in (Hongdae) where a number of restaurants and clubs were within walking distance from our residence. It can sometimes get dizzying looking for what to eat next; but to sum up… They were all delicious and fresh. Here are some of the food items you must try and eat when in Korea:

Side Dishes/Appetizers
Wherever you plan to eat lunch or dinner, you will be served with different forms of appetizers. The most common of them all is kimchi. The tastes range from sour/spicy to sweet. My favorites were kimchi, jeotggal (salt-fermented seafood) and egg roll.

different side dishes/appetizers
different side dishes/appetizers

Street Food
Many forms of street food can be found all over Seoul. I wasn’t able to try all of them; but they are mostly fried items such as sausages… potatoes… sausages wrapped in potatoes, among other things. They usually range from ₩2,000-₩2,500.

street food stall in Dongdaemun
street food stall in Dongdaemun

Fried Chicken
I would have to say Koreans know their fried chicken. The skin is always crisp and flavorful. The chicken itself is tender and juicy. It’s especially great with beer when you’re in the mood to just chill and relax with your friends after a long day of walking and sightseeing. We ate different forms of this for about three times during our trip.

delicious, crispy, juicy fried chicken
delicious, crispy, juicy fried chicken

Bibimbap
This is one of my favorites, even before going to Korea. It’s basically rice topped with vegetables, meat and egg. You’re supposed to mix them all together with sauces and spices before enjoying.

bibimbap and appetizers
bibimbap and appetizers

Korean BBQ
This is another one of my favorites and it’s so simple! Marinated meat is grilled and cut up as it cooks. Stuff it in a lettuce leaf with the right sauces and enjoy… So yummy.

chicken bbq
chicken bbq and chilis

Ice Desserts/Ice Cream
All over Seoul, there are a lot of dessert shops and ice cream stalls; so you’re bound to try one at some point. Convenience stores also offer packaged ice cream, which we already love here in Manila. So remember to always leave room for dessert!

shaved ice dessert
shaved ice dessert
ice cream stall along Dongdaemun
ice cream stall along Dongdaemun. this one’s delicious!

Coffee
Coffee shops are also all over Seoul. There are Starbucks, of course; but there are smaller coffee chains that you may want to try. Their coffee is more on the sweeter side (much like the Philippines); but they’re worth trying nonetheless. Be sure to also try some waffles or pancakes while you’re there.

coffee and pancake for breakfast
coffee and pancake for breakfast (Coffee Prince)
coffee and waffles from Hello Kitty Cafe in Hongdae
coffee and waffles from Hello Kitty Cafe in Hongdae

That concludes a rundown of another epic trip. I will definitely go back to this wonderful country in the future. There is still a lot of sights to see, things to do and food to eat. It was an absolutely wonderful experience getting exposed to South Korea and its wonderful people and culture.

Previous Post – Modern Sights

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Shopping Diary #11: Shoe Love

I’m concentrating on shoes for this shopping diary. These weren’t bought in one go but over a period of time. I’ve been slowly updating my collection for the past year; since most of my sneakers/sandals have worn out and a few of them I rarely wear anymore… I had to say goodbye. My preference still gravitates toward comfortable footwear that are more appropriate for work; but I have recently developed a love for ballet flats rather than just rubber shoes and sneakers.

BUTTERFLY TWISTS
Cleo in Leopard
Php1699
Alexandra in Black
Php4599

I love this brand of flats. They’re really comfortable and stylish. When I wear them, it almost feels like I’m barefoot, which is just the way I like it.

I bought the leopard Cleos first… wanting to try out foldable flats without spending too much. I was so happy with it that I bought the Alexandra a few months later. I needed a more basic style that could be worn with almost anything. Every time I pass by their stall/store, I get tempted to buy another pair. It’s definitely a brand I highly recommend as an alternative to the more expensive ones out there on the market.

CONVERSE
Chuck Taylor Classic White
Php1850

My personal style in recent years has been leaning towards simple, basic pieces; and a pair of white Chucks is as basic as you could get.

Before I bought these, I was down to my last pair of black Chucks that are way way too worn out (over 5 years old and counting… but I still kept them). Plus, I’ve recently developed a love for boyfriend jeans and they go well with… yup, the classic white Chuck Taylors. I just had to buy a pair.

NIKE
Air Max 90 Essential

$119.90

No other explanation… I just WANTED A PAIR. I just HAD TO HAVE it. You know that feeling? It’s just so beautiful!! Unfortunately, the good designs of the Air Max (especially for women) haven’t arrived in Philippine shores. I’m so thankful to someone who did me a huge favor and brought a pair back to the country for me. Thank you!

TORY BURCH
Gold Reva Flats
Php8575
(on sale from Php12250)

For the past few months, I’ve been looking for a good pair of nude ballet flats. The search ended last week (but I ended up buying gold flats!).

I came across the Tory Burch sale at Rustan’s, tried a pair of the nude-colored Eddie flats and they didn’t really suit me or my skin tone. The gold Revas caught my eye and seemed like the next best thing so I tried them on. Gold is not my usual style; but the design isn’t on the heavy metallic side so it was just right for me. It served as a great alternative to nude flats. Plus, armed with the gift certificates I received last Christmas, I was able to save even more on this pretty big purchase. I can’t wait to wear these everywhere.

Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!

I’m riddled with guilt; because I haven’t posted a single entry this year… and it’s already JULY! The first six months of 2014 just whizzed by; and I’ve either been too busy or too tired to even think about writing. It’s a happy problem, though, so I’m really thankful.

Still, better late than never. Now that I’ve finally pushed myself to write an entry, I’m going to kick off my blog this 2014 with a quick roundup of some projects I’ve been busy with for the first half of the year (different clients and different directors, FYI). This way, you’ll catch a glimpse of the crazy first half of my year (and hopefully understand my long hiatus from posting).

“ARTWORK”
This was an AVP shot on location in Pinto Gallery in Antipolo. We set up and shot features for three different photographers in a single location, which was a real challenge. But we did it!

Client: Canon Philippines | Agency: Publicis JimenezBasic
Director: Mark Mendoza | DOP: Sol Galang | Assistant Director: Randolph Longjas | Production Designer: Zaldy Manalang
Production House: Straight Shooters | Post Production: Engine Room

 “GAME”
This was shot in a house in Balete Drive, I kid you not. The house is pretty creepy; but the cheerful and happy nature of this board more than made up for it. The kids were great!

Client: Nestlé Philippines | Agency: Publicis Manila
Director: Pancho Esguerra | DOP: Monchie Redoble | Choreographer: Ickay Eusebio | Production Designer: Rious Caliso
Production House: Straight Shooters | Post Production: Engine Room/Optima Digital

“SELFIE”
The prep time for this board was a bit insane; but I’m glad we pulled it off. This was shot in one day in the Ortigas Center area and the beautiful campus of STI Ortigas-Cainta. Our DOP used a special handheld camera rig (called Brushless Gimbal) that allowed us to execute the smooth movement of from one angle to the other. It looks pretty good!

Client: STI
Director: Chris Martinez | DOP: Gary Gardoce | Assistant Director: Melvin Lee | Production Designer: Nina Torres
Production House: Straight Shooters | Post Production: Engine Room

“SIMPLICITY”
This was my first time working with a Taiwanese director. This spot was shot in 2 days in 2 schools: DLSU-Dasma and PUP. In a nutshell, the shoots were really quick and relatively painless… just the kind of projects I like.

Client: Johnson & Johnson Philippines | Agency: BBDO Guerrero
Director: Maureen Li | DOP: Ta-Pu Chen | Assistant Director: Pao Han Fang/Randolph Longjas | Production Designer: Adelina Leung
Production House: Straight Shooters | Post Production: Riot

“STAR”
This is the first of many materials for this project. Still waiting for the others to be approved… Anyway, all TVCs were shot in the span of a weekend (Friday to Sunday); and we had a lot of fun doing them.

Client: Unilab | Agency: Publicis JimenezBasic
Director/DOP: Yam Laranas | Assistant Director: Christine Blando/Manman Angsico | Production Designer: Rious Caliso
Production House: Straight Shooters | Post Production: Engine Room/Optima Digital

“SHOP & WIN”
This project was briefed and prepped in the span of exactly four days, two days of which included Saturday and Sunday. Insane, right? How we were able to pull it off is still a bit of a blur; but despite the challenges of prepping and shooting in a mall during mall hours, I think we did a good job.

Client: SM Supermalls/SMDC | Agency: BBDO Guerrero
Director/DOP: Jorg Schifferer | Assistant Director: James Sales | Production Designer: Marlon Baisac
Production House: Straight Shooters | Post Production: Engine Room

“SELFIE”
Yup. Another selfie-related project. This was also a commercial that had less than a week of preparation. The main challenge for us was maximizing one location to look like many different vignettes. How long was the shoot? One day. What location? Somewhere in QC. I think the team really pulled it off, don’t you think?

Client: Unilab | Agency: McCann WorldGroup
Director/DOP: Yam Laranas | Assistant Director: Melvin Lee | Production Designer: Butch Garcia
Production House: Straight Shooters | Post Production: Giantsponge Digital

Shopping Diary #10: Apple Crazy

It’s been over a year since I’ve posted a shopping diary. Still, I’ve bought many different things throughout 2013, both for myself and for others. I just decided not to share all of them here. For the last quarter of the year, however, I rewarded myself with some truly wonderful items… all a product of hard work and year-long savings.

Anyway, I went a little Mac crazy and purchased the latest in Apple gadgets and accessories. Take note, though, that I didn’t buy all these in one day; and I didn’t dump all my savings into these “gifts.” These were budgeted and planned according to what I could afford (which is what everyone should do).

GLOBE
iPhone 5S Space Grey

My Best Ever Super Plan plus Cash Out (24-month lock-in)

It’s been 2 years since I got my iPhone 4S; and it hasn’t been working as great as it used to. After all, it fell into the water over a year ago and certain functions (such as the camera and the silent mode) aren’t at their optimal performance. I decided early on to recontract once my plan expires. Enter iPhone 5S.

Despite its confusing and more complicated billing plan, I stuck with Globe for convenience. With a little cash out and an upgraded plan, I now have the latest Apple smart phone that has so far delivered in terms of performance (great speed and screen quality) and features (amazing camera with slow motion, touch ID, etc.).

KIMSTORE
iPad Air White/Silver

I’ve been eyeing the iPad Mini since March; and I promised myself that I will buy the latest model once it comes out this year. However, my plan suddenly changed when I held an iPad Air in my hand for the first time (courtesy of a director who bought one for himself). I was convinced. With a bigger screen size and its much lighter weight (compared to older iPads), I just had to go for the Air. Its screen size is perfect for reading my magazines (Zinio, Newsstand), editing my documents (Evernote, DocsToGo) and playing games (Sims Freeplay, Bejeweled, Scrabble, Secret Passages). I would have been constrained by the iPad Mini when it comes to these apps.

The iPad Air has become a fitting alternative to lugging my laptop to work everyday. I just love it so much… by far my favorite gadget now.

POWER MAC CENTER
Lab.C USB Case for iPhone 5/5S

Php1,690

I just love multifunctional accessories; and the Lab.C iPhone 5/5S case is exactly that with its innovative design. Aside from protecting my iPhone, it also has an 8gb USB built into the case. This way, I can bring my important files with me anywhere; and since the USB is virtually part of my phone, I’m always reminded if someone has borrowed or is using it… No more leaving my USB anywhere.

DIGITAL WALKER
Olloclip 4-in-1 iPhone Lens

Php3,250

I love taking photos with my phone; and the Olloclip 4-in-1 iPhone Lens elevates the quality of my shots with minimal effort. Despite its simple design, I get four different lenses in one device: fisheye, wide, 10x macro and 15x macro. It’s so much fun experimenting with the lenses and the effects they create. Definitely a must for any iphoneography enthusiast.

With technology like what we have right now, there’s no doubt in my mind that this isn’t the last time I’ll go gadget crazy. The important thing is that they were well thought out purchases, all of which I have no regrets spending on. I’m absolutely happy to have them… Merry Christmas to me!

the IT list #10

“the IT list” A series of posts that highlight the various stuff, old or new, that I’ve been doing… reading, watching, eating or simply obsessing over recently. It’s my personal countdown.

the IT list #10

01kindle

#ONE
I never intended to buy a Kindle for myself; but getting one from my brother and sister-in-law as an early Christmas present was pretty awesome. It can contain tons of books for a small, thin and light gadget. It’s easier on the eyes (compared to the iPad) for reading. It’s perfect for a bookworm like me. I’m looking forward to bringing it along with me everywhere in place of thick and bulky paperbacks.

02palladium#TWO
I’ve been wanting to buy leather boots for a while; and I came upon the brand Palladium at The Flat Shop in Glorietta. It’s made of durable, high quality leather. You can wear it two ways. And with the right attitude, you can wear it with almost anything. I love it.

03mindyproject#THREE
I’ve decided that The Mindy Project is officially my favorite new show this season. It started off as another comedy to pass my time; but I’ve grown to really like it. The humor is quick and witty. Mindy Kaling is hilarious. The many different guest stars are great as well. Hopefully, the show will be allowed to grow an audience so we can witness more workplace craziness in the future.

04pitchperfect#FOUR
I watched this when it came out last October. Now, the DVD is out and I can’t get enough of Pitch Perfect. It’s “Glee” in college; but much funnier. Plus, with The Sing-Off canceled, this film gives me my a cappella fix, aside from Pentatonix of course.

05weddingband

#FIVE
Wedding Band is about… Well, a wedding band. This series is simply entertaining and fun… more so as the episodes progress. It’s just a bunch of guys rocking it in different kinds of events (weddings, high school parties, adult proms) and the craziness that ensues. I also love the cover songs they do. Here’s hoping that the comedy continues well into future episodes because I’m really liking it.

Shopping Diary #9: Spree

I just went on a much needed shopping spree. It’s my reward for working so hard the past month. Remember that big project I mentioned a couple of posts ago? It has just finished; and I’ve been catching up on rest, watching new shows and buying beautiful stuff with my paycheck.

Here’s the damage I’ve done at Trinoma:

PENSHOPPE
blue top

Php569

I’ve recently discovered that this loose, comfortable style suits me quite well. I also like the lace-like detail because it’s girly yet casual. Paired with a light racer back and shorts and I’m good to go.

DIGITAL WALKER
WhateverItTakes.org Notebook Wrap Designed by Coldplay

Php2,050

It’s been a while since I last bought a notebook cover. This one is perfect because it’s unique (the wrap design looks really cool), it’s blue (my favorite color), it’s designed by Coldplay (one of my favorite bands) and it’s for a good cause. Royalties for the design have been waived by the celebrity donors in support of Whatever It Takes, an artwork campaign that contributes to a number of causes. (Learn more about them from their site.)

PROMOD
tomato red cardigan

Php1,500 — from Php2,295

I love cardigans. I pair them with anything and everything; because it’s just so comfortable. It will also keep me warm in the coming (cool) months. I particularly liked this one because of the color (I don’t have a red one yet), the loose pockets on the sides and last but not the least, the sale price!

MANGO
camel blazer

Php1,450

Blazers are the perfect weapon to style up any outfit. I already have two black ones (Freeway & Bayo) and a green one (Cotton On). And with a price like this, I just had to buy this camel-colored one. I especially liked the pinstripe detail when you roll up the sleeves. Paired with a plain shirt, jeans and a simple necklace… Instant casual chic. Nice.

LANDMARK
wall clock

Php419.75

The wall clock in our room hasn’t been working for weeks. It’s about time I found a replacement. After looking at expensive models from stores like Dimensione, I decided to check out the selections from the nearest department store — Landmark. Lo and behold… Here’s a design I like at an unbelievably cheap price!

PABDER
soft leather handbag with shoulder strap

Php7,980

I usually splurge the most on bags. Needless to say, this item did the most damage. It costs more than everything else combined. Still, I have no regrets buying it. I first saw this bag at their Gateway branch. I didn’t buy it at once because I wanted to look at other bags first. In the end, I couldn’t find anything else that matched this in terms of price and design. (The other bag I was eyeing is close to Php15,000!!! Scary!) Anyway, I love the soft leather material and its simplicity is just my style. It’s my first time to buy from Pabder so I hope the quality will speak for itself in the long run.

And that’s it… Six items. One blissful day of shopping indulgence. With that, I have to take a break from spending because Christmas is just around the corner and shopping for others will soon be on the agenda. It’s going to be crazy and fun. Wish me luck!

Pinterest Envy

I LOVE PINTEREST.

I have recently reacquainted myself with the awesomeness of this virtual pinboard. In the past week, I have been pinning away like there’s no tomorrow. It’s now one of the pages I immediately log into every time I’m in front of the computer… right up there with the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

Pinterest is absolutely wonderful. Everything I like is arranged visually right in front of me — simple and useful. Scrolling through so many pretty things has never been this fun. I get to discover new brands, products and styles. I learn new recipes and pick up tips about everyday life.

It’s also a great social app. I get to see what my friends pin on their boards. In turn, I could repin anything they post that catches my eye. I learn more about their tastes and if they’re similar to mine. Aside from your friends, your pins are also shared with other users; and they too can repin your pins, regardless of who you are or where you’re from. It has allowed the world to seem even smaller. Sharing my interests has now given me a sense of community. I’m just amazed at how much people have in common. It’s pretty cool.

pinning

I like pinning the usual stuff… favorite shows, movies, books and music artists. This giant online cork board would never run out of space for what I love; and I have a lot of them. Believe me. In TV shows alone, I could pin one series after another. Movies? Don’t even get me started.

I also spend most of my time on Pinterest just pinning and pining away. I keep on pinning stuff that I WISH I had. I spot some cute luggage — PIN! I see an amazing indoor pool in a house I won’t ever own — PIN! I catch sight of a gorgeous dress that probably won’t look good on me — PIN! Pin this. Pin that. Every single beautiful thing… without even blinking… PINNED!

pining

Pinterest is genius, actually. It leads me to products that I now want to buy. Looking at my pins every single day creates this desire for a product. Here are just some of the things I actually covet and want to buy at the moment:

Unhealthy, right? So far, I haven’t really bought anything… Thanks to my amazing self-control (ha!). But it’s only a matter of time before I click that “Buy Now” button. It’s what I both love and hate about Pinterest. Still, I can’t stop pinning and pining.

Check out my pins at http://pinterest.com/mars_mg/