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12.30.2016

Seoul Searching | Deoksugung Palace.

As I have failed to witness the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony during my previous trips to South Korea, I made it a priority to visit Deoksugung Palace this time around. My son and I trooped to Deoksugung on our first Saturday here in Seoul (the week before Christmas Eve), and luckily, we were able to catch the 3:30 pm schedule of the ceremony.
We meet again, Deoksugung Palace!
This is Daehanmun Gate, the main gate of the palace.
Held thrice a day everyday (except Mondays when the palace is closed to the public), the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony is a great opportunity to experience a rare traditional scene. The ceremony is quite similar to Buckingham Palace's Changing of the Guards, with the same colorful spectacle and gallant pageantry.
Yue with the guards, prior to the ceremony.
Patiently waiting for the ceremony to start.
The ceremony begins with the entire troop matching towards the gate, together with a musical accompaniment. The guards's splendid costumes, complete with weapons such as swords and bows and arrows, and the use of traditional musical instruments, are a sight to behold.
Marching towards the gate.
Musicians with traditional musical instruments.
The guards, with their weapons.
Everybody in position.
Supervised by a government official, the guards exchange passwords for verification. An eight-minute guard ceremony comes next, followed by a seven-minute change ceremony, and then capped by a closing march or the so-called 'patrol'.
Password verification.
Guard ceremony.
Change ceremony.
Towards the end of the ceremony, the palace staff removed the ropes that cordoned the ceremony area and ushered us spectators towards the guards for photo ops. Yue, who was so impressed by the ceremony, became even more excited when he heard that he can take photos with the royal guards.
This man was very friendly, he called Yue towards him and said 'Here, picture!"
Who's your granddaddy? :)
FIERCE!
Everybody with their game faces on.
He was the only guy in the troop who smiled for the camera. :)

I think Yue has found a new profession. Haha!
Yue and the Royal Guards.
The ceremony, which lasts for more or less thirty minutes, is a must-see for tourists. Here's a snippet, just to give you an idea of how awesome this experience was. 

And no, you do not need to buy tickets to watch this performance. You will only need tickets if you wish to enter the palace grounds, which we did. 
Yue in the Palace (again)!
Compared to Gyeongbokgung Palace, Deoksugung Palace has cheaper admission rates - 1000 won for adults and 500 won for kids. Guided tours are also available, with English tours scheduled twice a day.

Inside Deoksugung Palace after the jump!

12.27.2016

Pucker Up! | Innisfree Glossy Lip Lacquer.

Remember my trip to Hongdae last spring and how enamored I was by its indie charm? I actually made plans to go and visit the area again today, but I had to take a raincheck because it's too damn cold outside! I certainly do not want to freeze in this -3 weather and catch the flu!

And since I'll be stuck at home for the rest of the day, I might as well do something productive - like update this blog. Haha! Anyway, here's my review of the Innisfree Glossy Lip Lacquer, one of the few (many) things that I bought from my previous Korea trip.
Innisfree Glossy Lip Lacquer.
Originally priced at 8000 won, I was able to purchase this item (and a few other skincare basics) for half the price at the Innisfree store in Hongdae. The store had a huge sale event happening back then - and by huge, I mean 50% off on ALL items.
Shade #6 Burgundy Pink.
The Innisfree Glossy Lip Lacquer comes in a very simple packaging - just this transparent plastic tube with a white cap. If you're fussy when it comes to product packaging and is the type who reads every little detail of the product ingredients, you might be a little disappointed with this one. Because save for the brand name and the official website, everything else on the tube is written in Hangul.
Hangul text printed on the tube.
I was not even aware that Shade #6 is also known as Burgundy Pink, because I can not read Hangul for the life of me. The only Hangul words that I can read are the names of the Super Junior members and the Running Man cast members, haha!
Expiry date at the bottom. This product is good for two years. :)
There are ten shades to choose from in the Glossy Lip Lacquer line, and turns out, this shade is one of their bestsellers. I would have gladly bought a few other shades from this collection but aside from the one that I purchased, only shades #1 (Transparent), #4 (Pomegranate Red), and #10 (Coral Orange) were in stock.
Click to zoom. :)
Now here's how the product looks like uncapped. It comes with the usual doe-foot applicator, which allows for easy-breezy application. The lip lacquer has a nice subtle scent which fades away within seconds of application.
Tube + wand.
And while the shade name is Burgundy Pink, this product looks more like a blue-based burgundy when swatched. I love its deep plummy hue! :)
Doe-foot applicator.
As for the formula and coverage, it's neither sticky nor oily and does not dry out rapidly like other lip glosses. Yes, this product is actually a lip gloss despite being named a 'lip lacquer'
Swatched once on the left, twice on the right.
That being said, its wear time is relatively shorter than that of a regular lip lacquer - around three or four hours, before the color fades  into a lovely stain on your lips.
Innisfree Glossy Lip Lacquer #6 on my lips.;
It also has a pretty decent opacity with intense color to boot. I love how it hydrates my lips and how it makes them look plump and healthy. The matte lip products that I brought with me to Korea have actually taken a backseat, as lip glosses like this are more comfortable to wear in this cold and dry weather.
Products Used:
FACE: Innisfree Cushion Primer,
Benefit Erase Paste in Medium,
Missha x Line Friends Magic Cushion #23.
EYES: Shiseido Eyebrow Pencil in Brown,
Clio Kill Black Waterproof Brush Liner,
Clio Salon de Cara Back Comb Cara.
CHEEKS: Tony Moly Cristal Blusher in Pleasure Peach.
LIPS: Innisfree Glossy Lip Lacquer in #6 Burgundy Pink.
The Innisfree Glossy Lip Lacquer has since been a staple in my purse. With the exception of my good ol' lip balm, this product and my Missha Magic Cushion are the only makeup that I bring with me whenever I'm out and about in Seoul! Because winter = makeup stays longer on my face! :)



12.25.2016

Adele’s Hard-To-Get Game | Why Are Her Show Tickets So Rare & Expensive?

It’s nearly impossible for a fan nowadays to purchase the tickets for his favorite show, especially if Adele is the hot-star. Why? Learn about it right here!

Why are tickets to Adele's shows so rare? Is there a solution?

Did you know that Adele loves two lumps of sugar in her tea? I know I had no idea before some advanced research. But what I do now (and so do most of you) is that her shows are playing the ultimate  'hard-to-get game'..

I mean, seriously, just look at her recent tour across the US and Mexico. Did you have a shot at getting in? Well you probably haven’t. What’s even funnier is the fact that Adele's concert ticket prices are not too high. I’d even say the tag is somewhat below average given the scale of Adele’s popularity.

And yet, resellers tend to charge up to 10 times more, there aren’t enough for everyone who wants to visit the show and so on and so forth. Why?
Photo credit: Telegraph UK.
What makes Adele show tickets so special?
Let’s get this party started with some hot answers to our top question. Below are the facts. Reading through them will guarantee your understanding of the ticket situation.

Demand is higher than the supply.
Just think about the numbers – 5 million people chose to buy 25, Adele’s latest album. This fact, being one of the most successful music releases in history, narrates on how big is the hype. Add at least 5 more millions of people who have downloaded the album illegally from torrents and you’ll get the bigger picture. It’s finally time to acknowledge that the entire North America tour was only selling 1 million tickets. Bummer.

Adele has a dedicated fan club.
Most of the tickets were sold to them way before ticket booths were open for sale. Meaning those of you who were not included into the fan base list only got what was left.

Ticket distribution is heavily regulated.
This is done to actually limit the amount of tickets on the secondary market. Thus availability is narrowed down even further. Plus, the lesser the total amount of tickets, the higher the prices.

Is there a way out?
Or should I say a way into the concert hall? Services like TicketCrab offer a fine array of solutions to music lover and Adele fans from all over the world. How? Digital resellers usually have lower rates and as such the tickets are cheaper. As a bonus users get access to the following functionality on TicketCrab:

Favorite events are easily tractable. You have the power to organize lists of shows you wish to see in the way you find fit.

Personal alerts and notifications will ensure you know all about upcoming shows way in advance, this way you will get empowered to purchase the ticket before anyone else does.

Geo-based event trackers. If there’s something cool going on in your area – you will know about it from first hands. Neat, right?

All in all, the digital era of easily accessible online services is destined to change the way we are used to have fun as well. TicketCrab is a fine example of innovation to rock the world of music shows.


12.23.2016

Spotlight | Clio Kill Black Waterproof Brush Liner + Salon de Cara Backcomb Cara Mini.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the gem that is the Clio Kill Black Waterproof Pen Liner. I was so impressed with its 12-hour wear time and its ease of use that I bought another Clio Kill Black liner during my previous trip to South Korea.
Clio Kill Black Waterproof Brush Liner + Salon de Cara Back Comb Mini.
I chanced upon this set while I was shopping in Apgujeong. They were on sale for just 12800 won (around Php 520 or $12) - a pretty good deal considering that the Clio Kill Black Waterproof Brush Liner, on its own, retails for 15000 won. And it's like I got the mascara, albeit in mini size, for free!
Product description at the back of the box.
The Clio Kill Black Waterproof Brush Liner boasts of a 1 centimeter brush that tapers to a very fine tip. Its bristles are quite flexible, which allows you to draw sharp, immaculate lines without much difficulty.
Signature black pen with gold lettering.
I love how the brush can draw highly pigmented 'carbon black' lines with just one stroke. If you prefer thicker, bolder, more dramatic lines, you can easily build up color with this brush liner without having to worry about putting too much pressure or tugging too much against your eyelids.
Super fine brush.
The brush is velvety soft, glides on smoothly when applied, and feels light on the skin. You can hardly feel the nib as compared to Clio's Pen Liner.
Left, swatched once. Right, swatched twice.
Now here's the Salon de Cara Backcomb Cara, in a smaller 4mL tube. Its full-sized version comes in an 8 mL tube and retails for 12600 won (around Php 520 or $11).
Clio Salon de Cara Backcomb Cara.
I find this mascara very quirky because of its brush. As you can see, one side of the mascara brush is long, while the other is flat.
Clio Salon de Cara Backcomb Cara.
Turns out, this mascara is patterned after a backcomb brush similar to the ones you see at salons, and often used for styling hair with lift and volume.
Inspired by the backcomb brush.
This unique, double-sided brush has microfibers that attaches to each lash for luscious length (using the longer comb side) and intense volume and definition (using the shorter round end).
A closer look at the microfiber brush.;
I love its waterproof, smudge-proof formula, and how it really does add length and volume to your lashes. However, I find this mascara a bit difficult to remove.
Long & curl fix.
For the most part, a makeup remover would suffice in taking away all the gunk off my face. But this mascara seems to be a tad too resilient, as I still feel traces of it on my lashes even after using a makeup remover and facial cleanser. Seems like I will be needing a mascara remover for this particular product.

Anyway, here's the eyeliner and mascara in action.
Bare face.
With eyeliner + mascara.
Much like the pen liner, I was blown away by the wear time of both the brush liner and the mascara. Similarly, I used both products for the first time on the day we flew back to Seoul. 
5:30 am, Manila.
My winged eyeliner was on fleek for more than 13 hours - how awesome is that?! My mascara stayed put and held the curl for about the same period of time too, despite the power nap that I took during our flight. 
5 pm, Seoul.
And because Clio never fails to amaze me with their eye makeup, I will most likely be buying more of their products the next time I go shopping. I am leaning towards the Kill Brow Tinted Tattoo, because as you know, my eyebrows mean everything to me. Haha!


12.18.2016

Seoul Searching | Namdaemun Market.

Annyeonghaseyo!
Yes, my dear friends and readers, we're back in Seoul where the little man and I will be spending the holidays. We landed a few days ago, actually, and we were quite lucky to have chanced upon some very, very light snowfall the day after we arrived. (Praying for a White Christmas this year!)

My hands have been quite full the past few days - unpacking, meeting friends, grocery shopping, doing housework, and the biggest chore of all - adjusting to the freezing weather, haha! I'm going to try my very best to get some blogwork done (and reduce this mammoth backlog) in between the shopping, eating, and visiting tourist destinations. And with that, let's do some Seoul Searching all over again with a trip to Nandaemun Market.
Welcome to Nandaemun Market!
The largest and oldest traditional market in South Korea, Namdaemun Market is located right beside the Great South Gate, Namdaemun, from which its name was derived. Established in 1414 during the reign of King Taejong, Namdaemun Market began as a government-regulated marketplace with grains, fish, and fruits as the most popular trading commodities.
And we're ready to explore!
In 1945, after liberation from the Japanese, the merchants earned full operational rights of the market through the establishment of the Namdaemun Merchant Organization. However, tragedy struck the then-developing marketplace, as it turned to ruins during the Korean War and then ravaged by fire shortly after being rebuilt.
One eager beaver.
After a series of huge renovations, Namdaemun Market re-opened its doors in 1964. At present, the market is filled with over 1000 shops covering a span of more than 10 acres.
It's like Divisoria, but cleaner and safer! 
With its labyrinth of shops, stalls, and street vendors, you can practically buy anything and everything at Namdaemun. From cellphone accessories to luggage tags, kitchen utensils to bath items, even cross stitch patterns, they have it all at Namdaemun Market! It's like Divisoria in the Philippines - but cleaner and safer!
Rummaging through the plushies and other cute items.
We have been warned that the place can get seriously crowded during Fridays and Saturdays, so I chose to visit on a Wednesday. Luckily, the place was not as jampacked as I thought it would be, making it a pleasant and comfortable shopping experience for both Yue and I.
See? He's all smiles!
Clothes, bags, shoes, toys, and souvenir items are a common sight in Namdaemun Market. Most of them are relatively inexpensive, and can be purchased at wholesale prices if you're buying in bulk.
Hanboks!
Chopsticks, coin purses, kitchen utensils...
Classic souvenir item - fridge magnets!
Namdaemun also has an area known as the 'Ginseng Market', which is found along the market's central path. The shops in this area sell quality ginseng at discounted prices. Both fresh and processed ginseng (tea and powder) can be bought in this area, along with a variety of oriental health food such as honey, yeongji mushroom, brown rice, and adlay.
Ginseng.
Mushrooms.
In front of an Oriental Medicine store.
Speaking of food, Namdaemun also has a wet market where you can buy fresh produce, dried fish, and other food products. This area is also lined with 'sikdang', or hole in the wall diners. (In the Philippines, these are called 'turo turo'.)
A bounty of fresh vegetables.
Nuts and grains.
Sikdang, and stores selling food products.
There's an abundance of street food in Namdaemun, too. You'll never go hungry as you hop from one shop to another.
Steamed buns.
Sugar-coated bread.
Jokbal.
Hotteok.
Egg bread!
Fish cakes!
I'm definitely coming back to Namdaemun to do some souvenir shopping; possibly within the week, if the weather permits. Staying out for long in the cold makes my migraine act up! :(
Character socks!
K-pop merchandise!
Descendants of the Sun plushies!
To get to Namdaemun Market, take the Hoehyeon Station (subway Line 4) Exit 5.
Or you can ride the following buses
Blue Bus # 103, 104, 105, 108, 51, 152, 163, 261, 262, 263, 300, 371, 401, 402, 406, 500, 501, 503, 504, 505, 604, 700, 701, 704
Green Bus # 0013, 0014, 0015 (to Yongsan), 0211, 7015, 7021, 7022, 7023
Yellow Bus # 01, 02.