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6.29.2017

Seoul Searching | Seoul Rose Festival.

South Korea is beautiful any time of the year, but it's most beautiful in the spring when the weather is pleasant, the temperature is neither too cold nor too warm, and varieties of gorgeous flowers are in bloom. During this time, an abundance of festivals take place throughout the nation - some celebrating culture and the arts, others celebrating unique and local delicacies, not to mention those celebrating the flowers in bloom.

One of the more popular spring festivals in Korea is the Seoul Rose Festival usually held in May and takes place in the area of Jungnang-gu. This year, the festival commenced on May 19 and I made it a point to visit on its opening day. My friend Melissa - who came to Korea for a quick vacation - arrived in Seoul on the same day, and rushed over to Jungnang-gu as soon as she dropped her luggage off at the hostel that she was staying. It's not everyday that we get to experience events like this and just like me, she wouldn't miss this for the world! :)
Mel and I at the 2017 Seoul Rose Festival! :)
The Seoul Rose Festival is an annual event which showcases over a million roses of more than 40 varieties. The festival usually runs for three days (from Friday to Sunday), with a variety of programs based on each day's themes.
Roses in full bloom!
The first day of the festival was 'Rose Day', with the festivities kicking-off with a rose-themed parade complete with a military band. Merchants from Bulgaria also participated in the parade; they're dubbed as pros in the rose industry as they hail from Kazanlak, where the world-famous Rose Valley is located.
Participants of the Rose Parade.
Also held on that day was a Rose Singing Contest, which we happened to catch a glimpse of when we went near the stage. I'm not sure what prizes were up for grabs, but the contestants can only sing songs related to flowers. Mel and I were more amused at the crowd comprised mostly of middle-aged women, singing and dancing to the music. Ahjummas know how to have fun!
The Rose Stage, where performances were held.
A huge basket of roses.
Rose Garden.
All you need is love.
Sun, sky, and roses.
Mel and I enjoyed the sight and the scent of these colorful roses, stopping every once in awhile to take photos of varieties that we have not seen before.
A rare breed. :)
Gold rose.
Pink sweetheart roses.
Yue, on the other hand, had a blast at the experience zones - the playground, in particular - and the photo zones, which were scattered all over the place.
My Little Prince. :)
Let's get physical!
Mini library! 
The festival also featured an array of food trucks selling street food and traditional Korean dishes, and merchandise booths where you can buy traditional Korean souvenirs and festival memorabilia such as flower crowns and rose halos.
Yukhoe - raw beef seasoned with spices.
This stall sells grilled squid and the like.
However, the highlight of this festival is the Rose Tunnel, which stretches 5.15 kilometers long. Walking through the tunnel proved to be a challenge for the three of us as it was super crowded that day. There were photo zones along the way, but we did not have the chance to take pictures because of the massive crowd.
One of the pretty fixtures that we saw at the festival.
The Rose Tunnel!
Mel and my little man. :)
But we had a blast nonetheless, and we're definitely doing this again next year!
Promotional poster, 2017 Seoul Rose Festival.
To get to the festival venue, take the following routes:
- Meokgol Station Exit 7
Walk straight for approx. 40m. Turn left and walk straight for approx. 400m to Jungnangcheon Stream.
- Junghwa Station Exit 4
Turn left and walk straight for approx. 400m to Jungnangcheon Stream and Junghwa Sugyeong Park.

Watch the Facebook live video of the Seoul Rose Festival here.

Seoul Rose Festival
332, Jungnangcheon-ro, Jungnang-gu, Seoul


6.28.2017

Scent and Attraction: How Certain Smells Create Chemical Reactions In The Mind.

We all know about the five different senses — sight, smell, sound, taste and touch — but how much does each of us know about how they specifically work? We all take for granted the fact that our taste buds react to different flavors, how our sight photoreceptors take in different wavelengths of light, and how a hand close to touching a hot stove will automatically alert the brain that danger is imminent. Our sense of smell or, olfactory sensation, is also very good at detecting different scents and causing various chemical releases in the brain according to those different odors. This is especially interesting when it comes to attraction — how certain smells can influence the chemistry of the brain as well as our feelings for someone or something.

You know how two dogs will say hello by a thorough sniff of each other’s butts? Well, humans do not do that per se, but we do exchange scents far more than we are aware of. Rubbing noses with someone that you care about (think: Eskimo kisses) is not only a super cute thing to do, but was actually designed as a means to sniff out that other individual. There are many ideas regarding scent and attraction and how what we smell influences our brains.
What we smell influences our brain.
Some scientists have attributed many of our feelings of attraction to the idea of pheromones. While studied and proven extensively in animals, direct evidence of their existence in humans has yet to be produced. That does not stop these scientists from arguing that our perceived post-gym B.O. is actually a way for the body to communicate and flirt with someone. The olfactory system is constantly working to distinguish between thousands of chemical compounds and their associated smells — like dogs, we too may be involved in unconscious chemical communication.

Charles Darwin, upon noticing that horses moved their nostrils when excited by love, was one of the first people interested in how smell influenced bodily functions. Human odours in the form of sweat and other secretions have been shown to influence the reproductive readiness of other humans. This can be seen in fluctuations in the timing of a woman’s menstrual cycle when she is exposed to the sweat, or what could be the pheromones, of other women. In terms of attraction, babies have been studied and reportedly are drawn to the smell of their mother’s odor print - her personal scent that is dependent on health, genetics, environment and diet, and is different for each person.

Our personal scents may also be influenced by the ‘Compatibility Gene.’ Similar to the idea of pheromones, this gene is reportedly the aromatic effluence produced by our immune system. Scientists believe that a short arm of chromosome six and its residing genes influence how attractive each of us are to a potential mate. The thought is that these genes will produce a scent that is perceived to be attractive for a mate with optimally matched genetics.

The ‘smelly T-shirt experiment’ is a notoriously referenced study when it comes to smell and attraction. When females were assigned with ranking the t-shirts containing the natural odor of a male, their ratings of intensity, sexiness and pleasantness indicated that our partners’ smell may contribute to our survival as a species. Women tend to prefer the smell of a mate with different compatibility genes, meaning that their offspring would have a genetic advantage.

The immune system of the human body does much more than just support us during periods of illness. The immune cells provide signature cells that give each tissue of the body identity. We all produce HLA (human leukocyte antigens) molecules — these exist in pairs, one molecule from each parent. These molecules help determine what cells are ours, detecting for potentially dangerous foreign ones. By smelling out a potential partner, finding one with a HLA molecules that are similar, but not exactly the same as ours will, in theory, produce healthier offspring.

The olfactory receptors are activated by many different molecules and, depending on which receptor the odor molecules bind to and activate, can produce a multitude of responses. The brain processes odorous information using past experiences of smell, memory and learning — along with many other methods that we have yet to fully understand. With the ability of our brains to identify trillions of different smells, it is no wonder that our noses lead us to both foods — and potential partners — that we are attracted to.

Joe Masters
Joe Masters is a scientist in the fields of biomedical engineering, epigenetics, RNA mediation and rhinology. In 1987, he completed his masters in biotechnology from Griffith University and has authored several highly regarded publications in neuropharmacology, neuroscience, and biological functioning of lesser known human anatomy including the vomeronasal organ. He currently maintains a profile at FrontiersIn (http://loop.frontiersin.org/people/419291/overview) where he answers scientific questions from researchers, and also runs a hobby blog at houseofpheromones.com


6.26.2017

Pucker Up! | The Face Shop x Disney Princess Moisture Touch Lipstick.

Happy Monday everyone!
I hope you're all enjoying the long weekend, which also happens to be the last weekend of June. It's also the final week of my son's (extended) school break. Next Monday we go back to the school and I go back to the daily grind - homework, quizzes, projects, you know the drill. And this is why I'm trying to catch up on my blog backlogs - I still have tons of makeup and skincare products that I need to review and write about, and I can only do so much when Yue goes back to school.

Anyhoo, let's cross one more item in my 'to-blog' list - the Moisture Touch Lipstick from The Face Shop x Disney Princess collaboration collection. Released in December 2016, this limited edition holiday collection includes lipsticks, lip tints, eyeshadow palettes, sheet masks, nail polishes, and even a foot mask featuring Disney princesses in the packaging.

I bought a few sheet masks and lip tints as Christmas gifts for my friends; for myself, I got this Moisture Touch Lipstick because the packaging is too pretty to resist. Also, it was on sale at just 6500 won (around Php 300 or $5) - almost half of its original price. Haha!
The Face Shop x Disney Princess Moisture Touch Lipstick.
It comes in a cardboard box with Snow White's picture on it. The lipstick itself also has Snow White's picture on it, with a dainty red heart on the cap. I was so overwhelmed by the cuteness that I wanted to buy all three lipsticks from the collection, but alas, Ariel from The Little Mermaid was a bit too orange-y for my taste, while Rapunzel from Tangled was out of stock.
Product description (in Hangul) at the back of the box.
Product description (in English) on the side panel.
Here's the product description as written on the box:
This moisture lipstick contains serum that coats the lips to create vivid, glossy color while providing moisturizing and hydrating care.
RD 06 Red Apple.
Dainty little heart on top.
The lipstick, uncapped.
The serum mentioned is actually olive-derived squalene, which has moisturizing and anti-aging properties. That being said, the Moisture Touch Lipstick has an incredibly rich, cushioning, and hydrating gel-like formulation.
A closer look at the bullet. :)
It has a soft, creamy texture and glides on the lips smoothly without tugging. Its moisturizing effect makes it very comfortable to wear and leaves your lips feeling like it's drenched in lip balm, even if you're not wearing lip balm underneath.
Swatched once on the left, twice on the right.
It's highly pigmented too, and the vibrant, buildable color lasts on the lips for about four or five hours. RD 06 is a brightened, medium red which flatters most skin tones.
RD 06 Red Apple when worn.
If you're into the gradient lip trend, which is extremely popular in South Korea, you can achieve the look by 'smudging' the color on your lips using the applicator underneath the heart. This was an accidental discovery; I twisted the heart out of curiosity and voila, there was actually an applicator hiding inside it.
Twist the heart to reveal the surprise!
Curiosity doesn't always kill the cat, does it? :)

Products Used:
FACE: Innisfree Cushion Primer,
Benefit Erase Paste in Medium,
Laneige Milkyway Fantasy BB Cushion Whitening.
EYES: Shiseido Eyebrow Pencil in Brown,
Clio Kill Black Waterproof Brush Liner,
Clio Salon de Cara Backcomb Cara.
CHEEKS: Tony Moly Cristal Blusher in Pleasure Peach.
LIPS: The Face Shop x Disney Moisture Touch Lipstick in RD 06 Red Apple.


6.20.2017

Seoul Searching | BrickLive Centre in Starfield COEX Mall!

After our memorable star-spotting experience at the Red Carpet Ceremony of the 53rd Baeksang Arts Awards, Yue and I headed to the Central Plaza of COEX Mall for a bit of window shopping. As we made our way to the adjacent Live Plaza where most of the shoe brands are located, we came across a new establishment that made Yue's heart skip a beat.
BrickLive at Starfield, COEX Mall!
It's the BrickLive Centre, an interactive experiential space for Lego fans. Not to be confused with the BTS-inspired cafe in Thailand, BrickLive was initially launched as an exhibition at the Korea International Exhibit Center (KINTEX) in Ilsan. The month-long event was well-received by the Lego-loving fans in South Korea, which led to the opening of a permanent space in Starfield COEX Mall. 
Someone can't contain his excitement!
The BrickLive Centre opened its doors to the public in early March and features five zones - the Play Zone where kids (and even kids-at-heart) can play to their hearts' content;
Ca't rub the smile off his face, haha!
Find Yue! :)
Busy day at the Play Zone!
the Education Zone, which offers art and cooking classes for a fee as part of the BrickLive Curriculum; 
Class in session.
the Gallery, where you can marvel at awesome Lego structures;
Some of the displays can be touched. :)
Photo ops are most welcome.
It's been awhile, Gandalf!
Mario and Luigi and the rest of the crew.
Totoro!
the Merchandise Zone, where you can purchase Lego sets and official BrickLive merchandise; 
Lego Minifigures on display.
One of mt favorite Korean movies of all time.
and the Cafe, which serves cute and colorful Lego-themed desserts and pastries.
Lego Minifigure cookies.
Macarons. 
Cupcakes.


Mini cakes.
Chocolates. 
And more cupcakes!
The Cafe has a nice and cozy ambiance - perfect for parents to sit back and relax while their kids are in class at the adjacent Education Zone, or have a cup of coffee as their kids play with the racetrack and brick pits at the nearby Play Zone. 
Adults chillin' at the BrickLive Cafe.
I sat on one corner with this macaron as Yue joined the other kids at the architecture building table. I let him play for an hour or so, and he had a blast building with bricks of all shapes and sizes. We could have stayed longer, if only I did not have dinner duties (ergo, shopping for ingredients + cooking dinner) that night.
Brickhead? :)
We'll definitely visit this place again on our next Seoul Searching trip. Hopefully, the Minecraft build zone will be open by then. I reckon Yue can spend an entire day at BrickLive Centre and never get tired of it! :)

Live Plaza
Starfield COEX Mall
Seoul, Gangnam-gu, Apgujeong-ro
+82 2-551-1760