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Seoul Searching | The War Memorial of Korea.

I was actually saving this blog post for later, as I had planned on finishing my product review backlog before doing another Seoul Searching/travel post. But since today (June 25) marks a very important day in Korean history, I thought it would be timely to talk about the War Memorial of Korea.
The War Memorial of Korea.
Yue and I visited here last month, and out of all the landmarks/tourist spots that I had been to in Korea, this place tugged at my heartstrings the most. Perhaps its my weird fascination for war documentaries (I've watched 'Third Reich: The Rise and Fall' countless times on the History Channel). Or my penchant for romance films set against a war backdrop (think Casablanca). Or the fact that the War Memorial was built as a reminder that wars are tragic; it's sad, scary, and scarring, and should never be repeated ever again.

Whatever the reason is, I could not help but feel melancholy as I took photos of The Statue of Brothers, the most predominant edifice (in my opinion, at least) on the memorial grounds.
The Statue of Brothers.
The crack in the dome stands for the division of Korea and the hope for unification.
The two soldiers represent South and North Korea. 
So what's the big deal about June 25, you might ask?
(Answer after the jump. Picture-heavy post!)


Sneak Peek | Laneige Summer 2016 Collection.

Gone are the gusty winds and sunny days of spring as Korea welcomes the hot and humid weather coupled with monsoon rains. Yes, it's already summer in the Land of the Morning Calm - although this may not mean much for some of us who live in the tropics, where it feels like summer all year round. But for beauty junkies like me, this is great news since the change of season equates to new beauty products. New season = new makeup collection!
Laneige Summer 2016.

Case in point, Laneige's new releases specially catered to the summer atmosphere. They're already in stores in Korea, too bad they were released two weeks after I came home from my second Seoul Searching trip! Anyway, here's what you can expect from the Laneige Summer 2016 Collection.

Sneak peek after the jump!


Foodie Goodie | Korean Ramyeon.

They say in Rome, you must do as the Romans do. Hence, in Korea, you must eat like the Koreans do. And no, I'm not talking about good ol' kimchi.

I'm talking about ramyeon - those flavor-packed instant noodles, which is actually like kimchi to Koreans. They love it, they thrive on it, and they've even earned a world record for it; South Korea, in fact, ranks number 1 in the world for ramen intake. They love their ramyeon so much that some would even say they are on a 'noodle diet'.

While I have no plans of becoming a ramyeon addict myself, I do eat ramyeon occasionally and have enjoyed some of the brands/variants that I've tried. I used to have very low tolerance for spicy food, but after marrying a man who cooks the most awesome Bicol Express (spicy pork stew made with coconut milk and chilies), and after visiting Korea twice within a span of six months, I guess my spice tolerance has amped up by a bit.

Here are some of the ramyeon brands that I have tried:

Nongshim Hearty Beef Rice Noodle Soup.

Nongshim Hearty Beef Rice Noodle Soup.
Like I've mentioned, my taste buds can not handle spice very well. I chanced upon this ramyeon at SM Supermarket and seeing how it's the only variant that isn't black or red in color (an indicator of spice), and has no pictures of chilies on it, I decided to buy a cup and give it a try.

True enough, this ramyeon isn't spicy at all! The broth is very flavorful, the kind that you would want to sip on a cold, rainy night. It also has a creamy color, and a nice beefy taste. The rice noodles are pretty good, too - not overly chewy with good texture and consistency.

If you have very little tolerance for spicy food but want to get acquainted with Korean (noodle) flavors, this brand is a great choice to begin with.

Nongshim Yukgaejang Ramyeon.

Nongshim Yukgaejang Ramyeon.
This is one of my husband's favorite ramyeon brands, mostly because they get to enjoy bowls of these at work, for free. (Their boss leaves boxes of these for them to eat as snacks, lol.) My husband brought home a bowl one time, and guess who enjoyed it just as much?

The boy now has a thing for ramyeon. He likes to eat it with cheese.

Yup, he did, surprisingly. I was initially worried that he might not be able to stand the spice, but he did! This ramyeon has decent heat, but nothing a kid couldn't handle. (Yue likes to eat this ramyeon with slices of cheese in it.) The noodles are pretty good, too. It also has several pieces of narutomaki in it (you know, that spiral symbol  on Naruto's headgear), which was quite nice to look at and made this ramyeon even more fun to eat.

Samyang Ramyeon.

Samyang Ramyeon.
Dubbed as 'the grandfather of ramyeon', this was the very first product of Samyang Foods and was introduced to the market in 1963. Its first version tasted more like chicken soup, and was made to suit Japanese taste, which was light. Eventually, Samyang changed the seasoning to make it taste like beef and adjusted the flavor to Korean preference - deep, rich, and spicy.

This ramyeon has tolerable spice, as opposed to its 'Hot Beef' counterpart. The broth is rich and tasty, and the noodles are plump and flavorful. It also contains a nice assortment of vegetables, which re-hydrate nicely when cooked.

Nongshim Chapagetti.

Nongshim Chapagetti.
Fusion food has become so popular that even instant noodle manufacturers have followed suit. This Chapagetti from Nongshim is a fusion of spaghetti and the black bean paste called 'chajang' (or 'jjajang').

Originally from China, this black bean paste first started appearing in Korea’s port city of Incheon in the 19th century as the city’s Chinese immigrant population grew. The immigrants, mostly from China’s Shandong Province, brought along their traditional cuisine, and among these, Jjajangmyun became extremely popular in Korea. Through time, this dish has evolved to suit the taste of Koreans and has become part of the Korean food culture.

Chapagetti, up close.

Much like the real jjajangmyun, Nongshim Chapagetti has thick, chubby, chewy noodles, The sauce has a nice consistency and a hint of sweetness. None of the bitter aftertaste, which is my husband's gripe with other instant jjajang brands. Each pack of the Nongshim Chapagetti also comes with a decent amount of vegetables (carrots, green peas, onions, dried potatoes) for garnishing.
Samyang Hot Fried Chicken Ramyeon.

Samyang Hot Fried Chicken Ramyeon.
A friend of mine asked me to bring home some of these for her after seeing videos of 'Samyang Challenge' on YouTube. I was curious as to what this fuss is all about. so I asked my husband to buy a pack so I can try it for myself. He was quite hesitant in buying this for me, as he knows I can't handle spicy food very well. He even asked me several times before preparing the noodles, making sure that I knew exactly what I was doing. Apparently, he has tried this brand before and has an idea of how nasty things could get. 
Samyang Hot Fried Chicken Ramyeon.

Once prepared, the smell of the sauce alone (one sniff and you'll know this is gonna be one hell of a spicy ride) made me gulp in fear. Haha! But I tried it anyway, and oh my freaking gawd, it was extremely, over-the-top spicy!!! I did enjoy its nice chicken taste and the thick and chewy noodles, but I can not focus on these because of the burning sensation slowly creeping on my tongue.

I was sweating like crazy after a forkful, and had to down a glass of chocolate milk before taking another bite. On my second forkful I could feel the heat literally coming out of my head, and my eyes were starting to water. By the third forkful (because I did not want such good food to go to waste), the heat was all over my mouth and I could feel my throat burning. I gave up after that, and let my husband finish the rest of it. Haha!

They also come in bowls. Brought home a few for my siblings to try. 
I don't think I'll eat this again (unless they come up with a milder version) but the experience was worth it. It's great to come out of your comfort zone and experience pain every once in awhile. Haha!

Have you tried any of these noodles before? Will you dare try the Samyang Hot Fried Chicken Ramyeon? :)


Seoul Searching | SMTown at COEX Artium!

For any Kpop fan, no trip to COEX (or Seoul, for that matter) would be complete without visiting SMTown - a sprawling, six-story hub of all things Kpop.
Hello, SMTown! We finally meet! :)
The huge 'SMTown' sign was actually the first thing that I noticed as we entered the premises of COEX Mall. And like a piece of metal attracted to a magnet, my feet just automatically took me there. My boys obviously had no choice but to follow suit. Haha!
Life-size versions of EXO Paper Toys.
Follow me to SMTown! Virtual tour after the jump! :)


Spotlight | Ever Bilena Liquid Concealer.

After staying in South Korea for a month, I came home to a mailbox filled with utility bills, credit card bills (most of which had been paid for before I left the country), registered mail notices, and a package from Ever Bilena. The latter contained these - two tubes of the all-new Liquid Concealer, recently released by Ever Bilena.
Ever Bilena Liquid Concealer.
Medium on top, Light at the bottom.
If you've been following this blog for awhile, then you probably know that my sunken undereyes are my perennial problem. It gets worse when the dark (undereye) circles appear, which usually happens whenever I lack sleep. Hence, concealers are my best friends.
Ingredients listed at the back, written on the plastic seal.
The Ever Bilena Liquid Concealer is formulated to 'help minimize minor skin imperfections such as blemishes and dark circles'
Light and Medium.
It comes in a simple, no-fuss packaging - a clear plastic tube with a twistable cap and the usual doe-foot applicator. And they're available in two shades - Medium and Light
Ever Bilena Liquid Concealer in Medium.
Both shades are yellow-toned, which is a plus since yellow-based concealers flatter most - if not all - skin types. The Medium shade, I reckon, would be a perfect match for most Filipinas.
Ever Bilena Liquid Concealer in Light.
Still, it would be great if Ever Bilena can come up with more shade options in the future. Say, something in between Light and Medium, and something a bit darker than Medium.
Swatched: Light on the left, Medium on the right.
As for the concealer itself, its consistency is a bit thin and runny, which makes it easy to apply and blend. It has a semi-matte finish and gives sheer to medium coverage.
Blended: Light on the left, Medium on the right.
Performance-wise, this product delivers in its promise of covering dark undereyes. The Medium shade is a great match for my skin tone, and does a good job in brightening up my eye area.
Bare face, sunken undereyes.
Not as dark as before as I've been catching up on sleep since I came back.
I like how this concealer does not crease or cake given the current weather conditions (hot, humid, not very makeup-friendly), and it does not settle on the fine lines underneath my eyes.
With concealer on underyes-
Medium on the left, Light on the right.
It's actually a pretty good buy, if you ask me. It costs only Php 140 a pop and it's available at most beauty counters, drugstores, and supermarkets. :)
All made-up! :)
FACE: Innisfree No Sebum Blur Primer,
Tony Moly Luminous Goddess Aura BB Cream,
Ever Bilena Liquid Concealer in Medium,
Peripera Snow White Pride Up! Pact.
EYES: Shiseido Eyebrow Pencil in Brown,
Clio Kill Black Pen Liner,
Tony Moly Simply Style Slim Curling Mascara.
CHEEKS: Ever Bilena Cheek Blush in Raisin.
LIPS: Beyond Rich Color Tint Balm in Tok Wine.


Seoul Searching | Riding the Seoul Subway.

Previously, I've blogged about the Seoul bus system - how to differentiate the multi-colored buses, where to find them, and how to ride them. This time, I'll tell you all about the Seoul subway system and how easy, fast, and convenient it is to move around the city using this mode of transportation.
Hello, Seoul Subway!
Photo credit: Seoul Korea Facebook page.
As I have mentioned before, we often ride the Green Bus to take us to the nearest subway station. These buses usually include subway stations in their routes, so in case you're feeling lost and don't know where you are, ride a Green Bus as the chances are very high that it will stop near a subway station.
Seoul Subway sign.
Let's be subway savvy! :)


Making A Space Personable.

When you are decorating your living space, you want to make sure that it is reflective of your personality. There are several ways to make sure that your living space showcases your character. You can choose accessories and color schemes that match your personality. Decorating your home does not have to be expensive. There are plenty of ways to save money while decorating.
Photo credit: Sica Consulturas.
Choose Bold Patterns
If you want to make a statement with your decorations, then choose bold patterns when you decorate. You can often find discounted rugs at carpet stores, and you can use these to cover hardwood or neutral toned floors. You can also find decorated canvases with bright patterns, or you can easily create your own using supplies from an arts and crafts store. If you find a piece of art that you admire, then you can either purchase it or try to recreate it yourself.

Pick Practical Furniture
If you do not have a guest room, then you may want to choose a futon for your living room. The futon can serve as a bed for overnight guests if necessary, and you can use it as a couch when you do not have guests over. Futons are often relatively inexpensive, which makes them a great option for small living spaces as well. You may be able to find coffee tables or other accent pieces at consignment shops for reduced prices. Local classified advertisements may feature discounted furniture and accessories as well.

Embellish With Accents
Other details are also important when you are decorating your home. For example, you want to be sure that guests are greeted with a pleasant aroma when they arrive. Using incense sticks can help you create a pleasing scent. When you decide where to buy incense sticks online, you can purchase a variety of scents that will enhance the atmosphere of your living area. When you have finished decorating your space, you will be excited to welcome guests. You may want to host a gathering of friends and family to show off your updated decorations. Having friends over to watch a movie or enjoy dinner will give you a chance to impress guests with your creative talents.


5 Ways to be the Coolest Bride and Groom Ever.

Although a wedding is primarily about the bride and groom, a truly great wedding celebration brings joy to a whole group of people. This includes the bridesmaids and groomsmen who work hard to make your big day great. Here are five tips to keeping your wedding party happy and properly thanking your friends for their help.
Photo credit: The Knot.
Keep It Affordable
No one wants to go bankrupt celebrating someone else’s wedding. Think about the needs and budgets of your bridesmaids and groomsmen when you make your plans. If you’re planning a destination wedding, consider paying their travel expenses. Choose dresses and tuxedos that can be rented or purchased cheaply. Finally, don’t expect expensive gifts from your wedding party, since they are already contributing their time and efforts.

Keep It Flattering
Don’t ask your bridesmaids and groomsmen to wear something ugly, embarrassing, or revealing. You may want an unusual wedding theme or style, but consider their taste and comfort. Although the focus will mostly be on the bride, no one wants to look foolish in public.

Respect Their Time
While the bride and groom may be thinking about nothing but their wedding plans, everyone else is busy leading their lives. If you schedule a series of events, including an engagement party, a bridal shower, and a rehearsal dinner, your wedding party may get tired of the whole occasion. Similarly, don’t obsessively call or email your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Sending them a Save the Date card from should be enough. You may be filled with ideas or worries, but they are probably thinking about other things.

Be Grateful
Sometimes, a simple “thank you” is enough to show your gratitude. Better yet, buy a small gift of appreciation for each member of your wedding party. Most people would be happy with swarovski wedding gifts or other high end merchandise, available from stores like Cal Global USA. Make sure each member of the party is recognized, but be especially grateful to the individuals who help organize the event and bachelor or bachelorette parties.

Relax And Have Fun
The best weddings start with a positive attitude. Your happiness will be contagious, so share it with your wedding party. Try to relax and enjoy your big day without worrying about little details. The bridesmaids and groomsmen have the power to make a wedding great. Treat them right, and they will give you a wedding party that you deserve.


Seoul Searching | Riding a Bus in Seoul.

After having spent a fortune on cab fare during our first trip to South Korea, I decided to learn the ropes of riding the bus and taking the subway this time around. It is a cheaper option after all (flagdown rate for cabs in Seoul is at 3000 won; bus/subway fare is only 1300 won), and I can no longer use the sub-zero weather as an excuse to take a cab.

Imagine having to wait at bus stops in the dead of winter with a kid in tow? Or having to walk from the subway to our destination and vice versa while the flurries are falling? Que horror for my poor lungs! Now that it's spring, the weather is a tad warmer, a lot nicer, and let's put it this way - it's a bit more conducive if and when you get lost, haha!
Photo credit: Seoul Sync.
But to save you from that trouble, let me give you an introduction to the Seoul bus system. These buses are differentiated by their color and the number of digits in the route number.

Let's learn about the colors after the jump! :)