Origins Online (ELC)
Seoul.....Beauty Junkie Paradize
Seoul is a shopping paradize for beauty junkies!! Brands like Missha, Skinfood and The Face Shop are so cheap in Korea compared to Singapore. You can also find brands such as Etude House (their make-up come in the sweetest packing..in pink!!) and Hanskin (the most popular local skincare brand in Korea).
Korean brands like Missha, Skinfood, Laneige and The Face Shop are so cheap in Korea compared to Singapore. For example, the Skinfood Aloe BB cream is selling at S$38, I only bought it for S$11 in Korea. Talk about the amount of savings!! In addition, beauty shops in Korea are also very generous with their samples. Look at some of the Skinfood samples I was given in the pictures below (those satchels on the left) and these are just a fraction of the samples I lugged back! :)



For those who have not heard of BB cream, you don't know what you are missing! It is known as Blemish Balm cream. While regular foundation liquid does nothing to your skin, BB cream have moisturizing, whitening and even brightening properties depending on the type of BB cream you purchase. Some is said to have whitening properties, some anti wrinkle, some to even out skin tone and lighten blemish scars, etc. It works as a moisturizer, sunscreen, make-up base and foundation. Perfect for lazy people like me as I just need to apply BB cream in place of make-up base, sunscreen and foundation! I did a bit of research before I left and came back with these...
(from left: Skinfood Aloe BB, Missha Perfect Cover, Dr G Brightening Balm, Hanskin Magic BB, Etude House BB and Hanskin sampler set)

So far I have tried the Skinfood Aloe, Missha Perfect Cover, Hanskin Glossy Magic and Hanskin Super Magic BB cream. My favorite is the Hanskin Glossy Magic BB cream. Gave me a nice dewy glow and even out my uneven skin tone. Missha Perfect Cover is also good with its high SPF42. Skin looks flawless with the application but doesn't give me as much glow compared to Hanskin Glossy Magic. Sadly, Hanskin products are not available in Singapore shops yet. One thing to note about BB cream is that most come in only 1 or 2 shades. If you are fair or not very tanned, you should have no problem finding one that matches your skintone.
Beauty masks are very affordable in Korea. You can get masks for around $1~$2 each. I even found DERMAL brand of masks that are going for WON300 each (less than S$0.50 each)! Personally, I prefer the Skinfood or Etude House masks which cost around S$1~S$2 each.
Apart from beauty products, fashion accessories like earrings and necklaces are also very cheap. You can find accessories of good quality going for less than WON5,000 which means they are less than S$5 each! Below are my loot...

All the above beauty items and accessories are purchased from Myeondong. However, you can find all these beauty outlets all over Seoul.

Have fun shopping!!
posted by blossom179 at 10:44 AM | 5 comments |
Seoul Trip Part II: Transportation & Forex
I am back from my Seoul trip! It was a really fruitful one - for me at least!

Ok, as promised, I will share with you my experience doing a free & easy trip to Seoul and what to look out for.

1. Currency

If you have not changed your currency, change it at Incheon Airport upon arrival!! The rate is so much better than Singapore. We changed most of it in Singapore at a rate of S$1 to 862Won. However, when I arrive at Incheon Airport to change more money, the rate is S$1 to 935won! In addition, do not change the money before you leave the security area. You will see two money changers just before the exit to the main arrival hall. Do not change there. There are more money changers in the main arrival hall and their rates are slightly better.

2. Airport Limousine bus

We realised that there are two types of airport limousine bus: Deluxe and Standard. Deluxe is operated by KAL (Korean Air) which goes to many of the major hotels in Seoul, including Lotte Hotel. http://www.koreanair.com/local/na/gd/eng/aa/ia/aa_ia_limo.htm. Their buses have more legroom and are way more comfortable than the standard limousine bus. Each ticket costs 14000won. For the standard airport limousine bus, they are numbered (the bus to Mydeong station is Bus 6015) and are more like a normal 44-seater coach bus. The buses go to some hotels but ply mainly to different parts of Seoul city. Each ticket costs 9000won. For more details on which bus you should take, check out http://www.airport.kr/airport/traffic/bus/busList.iia?flag=E&fake=1229497745683. If money is not an issue, stay at hotels where the limousine buses will stop. For eg. Westin Chosun, Lotte Hotel, etc.

As mentioned previously, we are staying at the Hotel Ibis Myeong Dong. Airport limousine bus does not stopped directly in front of our hotel but we knew that the hotel was very near to Lotte Hotel. When we approached the airport limousine bus counter and told them our hotel name, they told us to take bus 6015 which goes to Myeong Dong station. Our ticket was even printed with our hotel name so we thought maybe there is a new stop at our hotel. We were WRONG!! After double checking with the driver who can't quite speak English halfway through the journey, he told us to get off at Hotel Sejong in Myeong Dong and take a 10-mins walk to our hotel. Geez, can you imagine being faced with such situation in a foreign place!

We were totally disorientated and have no clue how to walk to our hotel lugging two big suitcases. So we decided to just take a taxi to our hotel. As our hotel is relatively new, we showed the map to the taxi driver. Kudos to the taxi driver who took us. Not only did he help with our luggage, he was also very reassuring - reassured us that he knew the place even though he can't quite speak English. In the end, our taxi fare was only 1900won from Hotel Sejong.

Despite the initial hiccup, all turned out well. The cost for us add up to only 19900won for two versus 28000won for two taking the deluxe bus to Lotte Hotel. If we have dropped at Lotte Hotel, we will also have to lug our luggages up and down flight of stairs through an underpass as there is no pedestrian crossing from Lotte to our hotel. Blessing in disguise indeed!! :)

Ok, will continue sharing about my Seoul trip, especially the shopping part soon!
posted by blossom179 at 2:41 PM | 2 comments |
Seoul Free & Easy Trip (Part 1)
Hurray...my holiday is finally coming up in few days time! This time round I am flying to Seoul!


Many people have the impression that it is difficult to travel on your own to Seoul because of the language barrier. However, I have read reviews from people who have done so and they claimed that it is actually quite easy to move around on your own in Seoul. Today, I shall share my pre-trip planning.


1. Hotel Accommodation

As usual, I rely on Trip Advisor for some hotel recommendation by fellow travellers. Hotel Ibis Myeong Dong was ranked as number 1 in Trip Advisor. The thumbs-up are mostly on its excellent location and comfortable room. After searching the web sites of several booking sites, I booked with the hotel's own site, http://www.ibis.com/, which offered me the best rate. After chatting with my colleagues and reading up on guide books, I found out that Myeong Dong is one of the most popular shopping districts in Seoul. It is equivalent to Shinjuku of Tokyo. Apart from the big Lotte department store, there are many shops and eating places in Meong Dong. It is also near several places of interest so staying is perfect for a shopaholic like me!



Another hotel in the vicinity is Metrol Hotel Seoul. The rates are lower than Hotel Ibis and just as convenient. Too bad I couldn't get a room at this hotel for the dates I am travelling.



2. Guide Book and Maps on Seoul

I used to think that you can locate any place in the world with Google map. However, I have come to realise that Seoul maps are not available in Google map! Oh dear! Where else can I get free maps on Seoul to do my trip planning??



Thankfully, I found the Korea Tourism Organisation website. Check out http://emap.visitkorea.or.kr/Scripts/EngMap.aspx for their interactive map. You can also download their official guide book, map and other useful information from http://121.78.85.41/hosting/government/knto/ebook08/eng/enu.html. Just make sure you click on "Download" to install the viewer before you can access the materials. Make sure you download their Shopping Guide Booklet! Simply brilliant!!


If you prefer to have a hard copy, you can drop by their office in your home country. For Singapore, the KTO office is located at Korea Plaza, #01-02 Samsung Hub, 3 Church Street, Singapore 049483. Nearest mrt station is Raffles Place.

Below is the location map from Street Directory.Com.





Some of the information and guidebooks I have obtained from their office.





3. Check out the weather

Geez, it is going to be real cold! Check out http://www.wunderground.com for a 5-day forecast. Looks like I have to bring along all my warm clothing and boots!


4. Dress for the trip

Layering is going to be my best bet. When outside, it will be freezing cold but once indoor, it will be very hot as buildings have their heater on. Hence, dress in multiple layers so that you can peel off the layers when you are indoor.

What I normally wear for such cold weather is:

Upper body: thermal long john inner layer, a long sleeve turtle neck top, a sweater and a good thick coat.

Lower body: thermal stocking and jeans/thick pants

For undergarments, I would recommend the cotton disposable underwear from Winter Time (they have one outlet at Marina Square). It feels just like a normal cotton underwear but you can just throw them away after use. Great if you want to travel light especially when the thick clothings are taking up alot of luggage space.

That's it for now. Look out for my trip update when i am back! I am going to share with you my hotel review and of course, my shopping buys from Seoul!!

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posted by blossom179 at 8:44 PM | 2 comments |
The Moleskine City Notebook: Preserving the memories
Having gone on so many holidays and trips, how much can you remember from each trip? Apart from taking photos and videos, I found out one good way of preserving our memories of these holidays.

How? Get the Moleskine City Notebook! I was first introduced to it by my UK colleague who swears by Moleskine notebooks.



What is this Moleskine City Notebook? Well, it is a special guidebook that serves as a way of organizing trips and preserving your memory and records.

Features

Each notebook has an elastic closure, 228 pages, with up to 44 colour pagesthread bound. There is an inside accordion pocket and three ribbon placemarkers, each in a different colour.9 x 14 cm (3 ½ x 5 ½").



The Key Map summarises the overall layout of the city, showing the sequence and location of the zone maps. Comes with map of the metro system and list of stations.



Up to 36 pages of zone maps, ranging in scale from 1:5,000 to 1:17,000 with large-scale maps of the city center, and an alphabetical street index.



Up to 76 blank pages, giving you all the space you need to write, jot down useful information, and record your thoughts, stories & memories. You can also paste photosgraphs, postcards, ticket stubs, receipts etc.



A personal, 96-page archive,with 12 tabs in two series of 6, so that everything that matters most is at your fingertips. The first 6 tabs are printed;the others are blank so you can personalize them with the enclosed adhesive labels. You can write reviews of that nice restaurant you visited, hotel you stayed at, etc.



There are also 32 removable sheets for loose notes and for exchanging messages as well as 12 translucent sticky sheets to overlay and re-position so that you can trace your route as you go.

Here's how your City Notebook will look like at the end of your trip...full of memories!!




(http://www.moleskine.com/eng/_interni/catalogo/Cat_int/catalogo_city.htm)

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posted by blossom179 at 10:07 PM | 3 comments |
Latest Update on Leading Hotels of the World USD19.28 Promotion
Hurray, the sale is finally back on again!!

The USD 19.28 promotion will now take place on Thursday, October 23, 2008 at www.lhw.com/1928. The sale will begin at 2:00 p.m. GMT (10 a.m. in New York, 7:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 3:00 p.m. in London, and 11:00 p.m. in Tokyo) and will last for a total of 80 minutes. For those in Singapore, the sale will happen at 10:00pm. The above URL will become active 24 hours prior to the launch. Should you try to visit the URL before then, you will be redirected to a status page.

In order to help us prepare for the event, Leading Hotels of the World has given us some helpful information on the format of the sale:
  • When you arrive at the dedicated site, you will not be asked to register or log-in. For legal reasons and in adherence to the original Terms & Conditions, they are unable to restrict any individuals from participating in this global offer.
  • Participants will be required to complete a travel request form, available exclusively at the dedicated site. Submission of this online form within the 80-minute promotion interval is the only way to potentially secure one of the 6,000 room nights that are available at the USD 19.28 rate.
  • Forms will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Your requests will be fulfilled based on availability. Please remember that rooms and available dates vary among participating hotels.
  • They will only accept and process one travel request form per household (rooms are based on double-occupancy); duplicate forms will be disqualified and discarded.
    Within seven days, you will be notified via email whether or not your reservation request was fulfilled. If your reservation has been secured, you will receive an automatically-generated confirmation from The Leading Hotels of the World. Please print a copy of this confirmation as you will need to present it to reception upon your arrival at the hotel along with proof of identity.

Things To Know In Advance Of The Sale About The Travel Request Form:

  • You will be asked for your contact information including name, mailing address, telephone number, and email address. At no point will you be asked to provide credit card information.
  • You will have a chance to submit your top three hotel choices with two possible arrival dates for each. In order to familiarize yourself with the participating hotels, please peruse the list below.
  • You will be required to review and accept the sale’s Terms & Conditions, highlighted prominently on the travel request form, prior to submitting your travel request.

Be sure to set a reminder on Thursday so that you won't miss the sale!

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posted by blossom179 at 12:55 PM | 0 comments |