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5.24.2018

4 (and a half) Tips for Road Trips!

Putting together a road trip is all about being prepared. With these four (and a half!) tips, you can successfully plan and execute a great road trip with no unexpected hitches along the way!
Off to another adventure!
Clean your car before and during your trip.
There’s a very old phrase that you should heed before and throughout any road trip: cleanliness is next to godliness. Nobody enjoys sitting in a confined space for an extended period of time with rubbish and dirt everywhere, so give your car a good cleaning before setting off and take a bit of time to clean it out during as well.

If you’re really after a bit of luxury on your road trip as well, look into hiring a car as well. ICL came recommended for their competitive pricing and are available throughout the UK with a wide selection available for personal hire. Obviously you'll have to keep it clean throughout your trip, but even that will be easier considering you'll be getting a clean car to begin with!

Have a loose plan.
The importance of having a rough plan can not be underestimated when it comes to a road trip. While nobody wants to have a completely planned out road trip with no flexibility, nobody wants to be stressed out dealing with unhappy passengers for hours at a time either. You can use apps such as Roadtrippers to build a route and also look for interesting places and sights along the way.
Take me home, country road...
Have an escape plan to get off country roads. 
You can have the very best intentions of taking in a bit of a scenic route and going down the path less travelled. However, this comes with its own risks of not actually knowing where you’re going and ending up stuck down endless back roads. Saga has a great guide for driving down country roads if you do end up needing it however!  If you do find yourself a little bit lost, you don’t have to persevere down the country roads. Have a plan B ready to escape the country roads, and get your road trip back on track. You’ll be better off and ready to go again once you’ve got your bearings back.
My new phone is awesome.
Preload your phone with entertainment options.
Having some entertainment options can be the difference between having a peaceful time, and developing a case of cabin fever! Stock up on distractions and portable entertainment that you can load on to your phone before you set off. After all, there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to find these on the road during your trip.  And if you don’t manage to get this done for your children, you can always refer to this for tips on keeping your sanity!
Dreaming of Dak galbi...
Eat local and stay local.
Finally, it’s a road trip. You’re taking in the darkened corners of the towns and villages that you’re travelling through. Make the most of it and live as much like a local as you can. Don’t stop to eat at a chain restaurant or coffee shop. Seek out a local favourite, find the village pub or the quiet little fish and chip shop. If you need a place to rest your head for the night, find a local bed and breakfast and really experience the culture and local quirks. Your road trip might be a once in a lifetime experience, so make it a unique, memorable time that you’ll always fondly look back on! nbsp;

5.22.2018

Seoul Searching | A Gastronomic Adventure at Gwangjang Market.

Much as I love shopping at malls and department stores in Korea, and enjoy the hip and trendy vibe of the shopping streets in Hongdae, Kondae, and Sinsadong, I also love going to the traditional markets in Seoul. There's a certain charm to these traditional markets that make me want to visit them whenever I'm in the country - which is exactly what I did during my last visit to Korea.
Gwangjang Market.
Together with my friend Mel, who was also in Seoul for the weekend, we went on a 'very tita' date, starting with a tour of the Gwangjang Market. Located in the historical Jongno district in downtown Seoul, Gwangjang Market is the first permanent market in Korea and one of the oldest traditional markets in the country's capital. It was established in 1905 and spans a little over 10 acres with more than 5000 stalls selling a variety of items - fabric, clothing, souvenir items, fresh produce, and of course, food.
Stalls at the center of Gwangjang Market.
It was the food, mostly, that made me want to come here, and you gotta blame Running Man for that. If you've been following this blog for quite awhile and have been reading my Seoul Searching posts, then you probably know that most of the places that I've been to in Korea are either K-drama filming locations or have been featured in the world-famous variety show, Running Man.
This stall was featured on Running Man. :)
Gwangjang Market captured my attention after watching episode 186 of Running Man, wherein the cast members happily stuffed their faces with food as part of the challenge. And true enough, this place is a haven for foodies with stalls upon stalls of Korean street food cooked and prepared right before your eyes.
And that's the ahjumma who operates this stall.
The best way to enjoy Gwangjang Market is to come on an empty stomach. That way, you can try a variety of dishes and eat 'til you're full. If you're a light eater, I suggest you bring a friend (or a loved one) along because hey, good food is meant to be shared. :)
Just another busy day at Gwangjang Market.
Mel and I ordered a serving of jeon (Korean vegetable pancake) for sharing, and the taste was absolutely unforgettable. It was extra crispy on the outside and soft and mushy on the inside. It came with a dipping sauce made with soy sauce, vinegar, and freshly-cut onions, which elevated the flavor of this humble yet extremely yummy dish.
Vegetable pancake, 4000 won.
The ahjumma who owns the stall offered us makgeolli, saying that jeon is best paired with their traditional rice wine. But since we are very 'wholesome titas' (lol), we politely declined and instead bought fruit smoothies at a different stall.
Fresh fruit, ready to be blended.
Another must-try dish at Gwangjang Market is the mayak gimbap which literally translates into 'narcotic rice rolls'. Narcotic in the sense that this food is super addictive! These rice rolls are made with pickled vegetables, rolled on a bed of rice and dried seaweed (gim). They are then brushed with sesame oil and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds, which I reckon is where the addicting taste comes from.
Mayak Gimbap, 1000 won per roll.
If you're a bit more adventurous with food, perhaps you should try the soondae - blood sausage made with pig intestines mixed with sweet potato vermicelli noodles and sticky rice. I didn't try this, but Mel has had a taste of it on her previous Korea trip and she said it was good. Surprisingly, we saw a lot of foreign tourists ordering this at the nearby stall and seemed to be satisfied with it.
Soondae, anyone?
Other interesting food options at the Gwangjang Market are sannakji (live octopus), yukhoe (raw beef tartare), and the sea penis, a type of marine spoon worm, which is usually eaten raw and dipped in an array of spices. Sounds nasty, I know.
A huge basin of sea penis.
If banchan (side dishes) are more to your liking, you'll also find plenty of them in this bustling market. I'm not familiar with all of them, but I do know there are marinated crabs and spiced pork and kimchi in this spread of food.
Lots of side dishes to choose from!
Marinated crabs.
An assortment of kimchi.
Fruits, nuts, beans, and dried fish are also a common sight at the Gwangjang Market. Some stores also sell yakgwa (Korean cookies) which come in lovely gift boxes. They make nice presents for friends and family back home.
Yakgwa sold in boxed sets. 
Speaking of presents, Gwangjang Market is also famous for its hanbok shops, housed mostly on the second floor. Here, you can buy ready-to-wear hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) or have them tailored to your liking. Fabrics, bed sheets, jewelries and accessories, as well as various souvenir items can also be found on the second floor.
Hanbok shops on the second floor.
If you want to experience authentic Korean street food and culture under one roof, then Gwangjang Market is the place to be. Most of the stores operate on a daily basis from 8:30 am to 6 pm. Some restaurants are open until 11 pm, while some stores are closed on Sundays. 

To get to Gwangjang Market, take the subway to Jongno 5-ga Station Exit 8 or Euljiro 4-ga Station Exit 4.
You can also ride the Green Bus numbered 111, 2014, 2112, or 7212 and alight at the Jongno 5-ga bus stop.


5.18.2018

Sneak Peek | Peripera Dal Dal Factory Collection.

Our next trip to Seoul is just a few more days away, and I can't wait to set foot again in the land of K-pop, K-drama, and K-beauty! I've been putting off buying new makeup for the past few weeks, constantly telling myself that I can do all the shopping when I return to Korea and have my husband pay for all of it, lol!

I actually made a list of the stuff that I need to buy - because I'm OC, yes - and that includes skincare products, tons of sheet masks, and makeup - lots of them. Haha! On my list is the Dal Dal Factory Collection, Peripera's latest offering for the summer.
Peripera Dal Dal Factory Collection!
Released just two days ago (that's May 16), this limited edition collection boasts of brilliant colors and a charming candy store vibe.

View the entire collection after the jump!

5.17.2018

Moose Play Camp 2018 | A Fun-filled Learning Experience for Kids!

Remember the Moose Play Camp I had been raving about a few weeks back? Well, the first leg of the Play Camp happened last May 6 at SM San Lazaro and it was a huge hit among kids and parents alike!
Moose Play Camp 2018.
This comes as no surprise because over the past few years, Moose Play Camp has earned a reputation for being one of the most exciting summer activities for kids. Aside from being a fun-filled learning experience for kids, this workshop also aims to discover, cultivate, and enhance our kids' talents, allowing them to build their confidence and shine like the Moose Gear and Moose Girl endorsers.
Meet, Greet, & Play!
The Play Camp had three workshop activities - Singing, Dancing, and Modeling.
Music, please! )
Learning the lyrics.
Learning the dance steps.
Dancing to the beat.
Walking the talk. :)
Ready to own the runway. :)
Each activity had different teachers and mentors, all of whom were patient and cheerful despite the huge crowd and huge number of attendees. The kids, on the other hand, were all eager to learn and very enthusiastic. Even the tiny tots were brimming with confidence and ready to conquer the stage!
Look at how these kids project! 
Taking the limelight.
Missed the first leg of the Moose Play Camp?
There's another leg happening this Sunday (May 20) at SM Dasmarinas
Moose Gear products.
Sign your kids up for a weekend of fun and learning by simply purchasing Moose Gear/Moose Girl products at the said branch from now until the day of the event itself. A minimum of Php 1000 purchase entitles one kid to the Play Camp.
Take your pick!
Don't forget to follow the Moose Gear social media pages to get updates on promos and more fun events!

Facebook -         https://www.facebook.com/moosegear/
Twitter -             https://twitter.com/moosegearkids
Instagram -         https://www.instagram.com/moosegearkids/


5.11.2018

Five Ingredients for a Perfect Date Night at Home.

If you and your significant other find yourselves caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, work, friends, and family, then you probably don’t get much time to just relax together. When that rare night pops up where you don’t have any plans or commitments, making a date night possible, staying in rather than going out can be a nice alternative. In order to make the most of your quiet evening in, here are five key ingredients.
Royalty Free Photo.
Have Your Favorite Food and Beverages On-Hand
Rather than ordering in, or dining out, it can be nice to make a meal together and take your time without rushing through the recipe. This gives you a chance to chat with one another, catch up on work, what’s being going on, and just really unwind. You’ll want to be sure you have all the ingredients on-hand for your favorite dishes. It’s also a nice touch to pair a bottle of wine with the meal, just to create that extra-special vibe.

Make it a Themed Night
You can take the whole favorite food thing to the next level if you wish and make it a themed-night. For example, maybe there is a destination the two of you traveled to together, so why not cook cuisine from that region and reminisce about the great times you had. You can also dress to the theme. Examples can include Italian cuisine night, Parisian sweets night, etc.
Photo credit: My Korean Kitchen.
Create a Relaxing Mood
The whole point of having a date night at home is to be able to enjoy quiet time without distractions. You can help to ensure this is the case by creating a relaxing mood. This can include soft music playing in the background, dimming the lights and placing lovely scented soy candles around the room, turning off the TV and your mobile phones, and making sure it’s a quiet and inviting atmosphere.

Set Up Movie-Night at Home
If there are a few movies you and your significant other have been wanting to see but didn't get a chance while they were in theatres, now is your chance to enjoy them together. You can have a whole movie marathon at home. This can also be said about TV shows you've been meaning to catch up on. A night of binge watching can be just what the two of you have been wanting.
Photo credit: PD Pics.
Making Time for the Little Things
Date night at home gives the two of you a chance to make time for the little things that are just as important in life, but often get pushed to the side when you find yourself busy and distracted by other things. Date night at home may just become you and your significant other’s new favorite thing and may even become a regular occurrence.


5.09.2018

Spotlight | Sleek Makeup Pout 4 Perfection Set (Solstice Highlighting Palette + Matte Me Metallic Lip Cream).

Currently obsessed with highlighters, I've been buying one highlighter pan after another these past few months. My latest purchase is the Pout 4 Perfection Set from Sleek Makeup, which includes the Solstice Highlighting Palette and a Matte Me Metallic Lip Cream. I bought this set for Php 1150, which is actually a good buy considering the palette costs Php 875 while the lip cream retails for Php 450.
Sleek Makeup Pout 4 Perfection Set.
Honestly, I was only after the Solstice Highlighting Palette. I've been eyeing this highlighter for quite sometime now, after watching countless vlogs about it and reading all these reviews which have nothing but praises for the product.  Unfortunately, the palette is almost always out of stock online, and the only way for me to get my hands on it was to purchase it as a set. And so I did - even if I had qualms about the shade of the lip cream that came with it.
Product details at the back of the box.
A versatile palette that suits all skin tones, Solstice instantly enhances the complexion with a radiant glow. The palette contains four shades - all of them highly pigmented with a lovely metallic finish. All four shades create a gorgeous, luminous sheen on the skin, making this palette a must-have for anyone who's as obsessed as highlighters as I am.
Clockwise from L-R: Ecliptic, Hemisphere, Equinox, Subsolar.
The palette comes in a gold metallic case with magnetic closure - looks elegant and classy, save for the fact that it's a magnet for fingerprints. Inside is a big mirror, and a small brush which I did not even bother taking out of the plastic packaging. I'd rather use my own highlighter brush, thank you very much.
From L-R: Subsolar, Equinox, Hemisphere, Ecliptic.
The four shades contained in this palette are the following:

Ecliptic - a cream highlighter which turns into a velvety, powdery formula upon application. It's rosey beige in color with a sheen, pearly finish - the perfect shade to use if you don't want a 'super shiny highlight' and prefer a more subdued glow. The best way to apply this shade is by using your fingers, applying it on top of the cheekbones and along the brow bone. 

Hemisphere - a baked highlighter with a luminous, lavender sheen. This shade was actually the one that made me fall in love with this palette, because you all know I have a thing for anything lavender/lilac/purple. Hemisphere looks a bit intense when swatched, but it looks a lot softer on the face and gives the skin a subtle pink glow. 

Equinox - another baked highlighter with warm undertones and metallic sheen. It's coppery peach in color and the most reflective out of all four shades. 

Subsolar - a finely milled, ultra soft powder highlighter with warm undertones and pearly sheen. It's pastel yellow in color and the most subtle shade among the four. It's not as shimmery as the other shades, making it perfect for everyday wear.
From L-R: Ecliptic, Hemisphere, Subsolar, Equinox.
Now let's talk about the Matte Me Metallic Lip Cream that comes with the highlighting palette.
Solstice Highlighting Palette + Matte Me Metallic Lip Cream.
Released last year as part of the Distorted Dreams Collection, the Matte Me Metallic Lip Creams come in a range of of luminous, trendy colors with metallic, foil-like finish. There are nine shades in the collection, and the one that I got is Roman Copper, a rose gold, coppery shade which screams for attention, lol.
Matte Me Metallic Lip Cream in Roman Copper.
Not sure if this is the default shade included in every Pout 4 Perfection Set, but if I had a choice, I'd probably go for a darker shade with plum/mauve undertones. I just can't seem to make this product really rock on my lips, that's why. 
Roman Copper on my lips.
Sure, it's nicely pigmented and easy to apply, but it tends to accentuate the fine lines and makes my lips look parched and dry after a few hours of wear. It is long-wearing, though (eight hours straight with no touch-ups) - I'll give this product points for that.
Roman Copper, swatched.
Nonetheless, I love this Pout 4 Perfection Set because I finally got my hands on this HG highlighter. I absolutely love all four shades in the pan, and I love how they can brighten your skin in an instant and give your face a healthy glow. I probably won't be looking at another highlighting palette again, at least for now. :)
Products used:
FACE: Beyond Alice in Blooming Skin Tone Sun Base,
Nature Republic Botanical Stick Concealer,
Innisfree Long Wear Cover Cushion in N23.
EYES: Shiseido Eyebrow Pencil in Brown,
Clio Kill Black Waterproof Brush Lienr,
Nature Republic Pure Shine Mascara.
CHEEKS: Sleek Makeup Blush in Sahara,
Sleek Makeup Highlighter in Equinox.
LIPS: Sleek Makeup Matte Me Metallic Lip Cream in Roman Copper.

5.07.2018

Seoul Searching | Summer Festivals in Korea You Wouldn't Want to Miss.

Truth be told, summer isn't my most favorite time of the year here in the Philippines. The hot and humid weather and the inferno-like temperatures often take a toll on my poor lungs, and they're not very friendly on my sensitive skin either. This is one of the major reasons why I love flying to Korea during this time - to stay away from the extreme heat and humidity and the 39°C-plus temperatures.

This year, however, saw a change of plans in our travel schedule, attributed to the adjustments in my son's school calendar. We had to push back our supposed 'spring trip' by an entire month because Yue still had school activities until the first of May. Other kids are already preparing for next month's school opening, and we just started our school break, lol. Nonetheless, we're glad to finally take a break from all the school work and fly back to Korea in a few weeks' time!

Spring will be nearly over by the time we arrive in Korea, which means no more cherry blossoms for me yet again. Still, we're excited to experience a different season in the Land of the Morning Calm - summer, or at least the onset of it. My husband assures me that summer in Korea won't be as hot and humid as summer in the Philippines, and I sure hope that would be the case. I don't want my asthma to act up while I'm on vacation and miss the chance to enjoy these summer festivals in Korea!

1. Korean Folk Village Chosun Cultural Festival (April 7 - June 24, 2018)
Welcome to Joseon.
Held annually at the beginning of spring until the first few days of summer, the 'Welcome to Joseon' festival gives visitors a glimpse of what life was like in Korea during the Joseon era (1392 - 1897).

The festival features parades and performances as well as hands-on activities such as making traditional hopae identification tags that were carried by male citizens age 16 and above, mapae tags that were used to register horses and males from far away locales, and even hangnang incense pouches which were used to prevent contagious diseases and keep the bad spirits away.
One of the live shows during the festival.
The event is hosted by the Korean Folk Village, the country's premiere cultural theme park. You'll feel like you've traveled back through time as you see the cast members wandering freely throughout the park and interacting with visitors. If you're lucky, you might even get a chance to 'go on stage' and join the cast members during the performances.

To get to the Korean Folk Village, get off at Suwon Station and take the shuttle bus located at exit 4. Bus fare is free, but you have to take note of the bus schedule.

2. Seoul Grand Park Rose Festival (May 27 - June 12, 2018)
Photo credit: Iamnazza.
One of the most beautiful festivals during this time of the year, the Seoul Grand Park Rose Festival aims to share the beauty of these gorgeous blooms with its citizens and guests from around the world.

Held at the Seoul Grand Park from May to June each year, the event gives visitors a chance to take part in various cultural programs amidst a sea of ten million roses. Concerts, workshops, and cultural performances are some of the highlights of this annual event.

To get to Seoul Grand Park, take the subway to Seoul Grand Park Station exit 2

3. Seoul Land Character & Flower Festival (March 24 - June 6, 2018)
Photo credit: Visit Korea.
Seoul Land, Korea's first amusement/theme park, hosts a variety of festivals and exhibitions throughout the year. One of them is the Character & Flower Festival, an event well-loved by families with kids and even kids-at-heart. 

The festival kicks off at the onset of spring and transforms the amusement park into a colorful garden with flowers of various types. Children will love to meet their favorite animated characters such as Larva, the Pawmily, and the Canimals, while parents will have the chance to enjoy nature and learn more about the flora and fauna through the exhibitions and special events. The highlight of this festival is the parade of characters, where guests can dance and march along! 
Parade of characters.
To get to Seoul Land, take the subway to Seoul Grand Park Station exit 2 and ride the elephant train going to the theme park.

4. Haeundae Sand Festival (May 19 - 22, 2018)
Photo credit: Apple Holiday. 
Taking place on Haeundae Beach in sunny Busan, this festival centers on beach-inspired activities such as beach volleyball, a marathon race, and an exhibition of different types of sand from around the world.

One of the highlights of the Haeundae Sand Festival is the sand bath, where visitors are buried in the sand from head to toe. Also known as sand therapy, this practice has been known since the time of Ancient Egypt and is said to be beneficial for one's health as it cures an array of musculoskeletal diseases, as well as neurological diseases.
Sand bath.
At night, the festival gets even livelier with live music and performances, plus a spectacular display of fireworks. 

To get to Haeundae Beach, take the KTX to Busan Station. From there, take Bus 1003 and get off at the Haeundae Beach bus stop

5. Ultra Korea (June 8-10, 2018)
Photo credit: UMF Korea.
If music festivals are your thing, and if you're visiting Korea this June, then you should not miss Ultra Korea. The first and the biggest music festival in Asia, Ultra Korea made its debut in 2012 as a two-day event. Now on its eight year, the festival returns as a three-day event with top artists from around the world gathering in Seoul for one huge, heart-pumping party.

This year's line-up includes The Chainsmokers, Zedd, and David Guetta. The event will be held at the Seoul Olympic Station with ticket prices starting at 180,000 won (around Php 9000 or $170).

To get to Seoul Olympic Station, take the subway to Sports Complex Station exit 6 or 7.

6. Boryeong Mud Festival (July 13-22, 2018)
Boryeong Mud Festival!
Among all the festivals in Korea, the Boryeong Mud Festival is perhaps the most popular among international visitors, attracting millions of tourists from around the globe each year. Promising nothing but sheer fun and entertainment, the festival takes place at Daecheon Beach in Boryeong, a city in Chungcheongnam Province.
They love mud!
During the festival, the entire beachfront is is decked up with arrangements such as slides and inflatables, allowing visitors to swim, splash, and wallow in the special mud of the region. Mud wrestling, mud sliding, and swimming in mud pools are some of the most popular activities; among the women, spa and beauty treatments using the Boryeong mud are huge hits.

To get to Daecheon Beach, take an express bus to Boryeong via the Seoul Central City Bus Terminal. From the Boryeong Bus Terminal, take a bus bound for Daecheon Beach. 

7. Sinchon Water Gun Festival (July 7-8, 2018)
Stick to your guns!
Every summer, the streets of Sinchon are closed off for two days of wet and wild fun, otherwise known as the Sinchon Water Gun Festival.

Each day of the festival kicks off with an opening ceremony, followed by a parade, and then a 'bubble bath', where the crowd is doused with soap foam bubbles. If you're lucky, you might chance upon your favorite idol or Hallyu star in attendance - like Suzy, who took part in this water festival a few years back.
Suzy at the Sinchon Water Gun Festival.
But the highlight of this event is the epic water gun fight, which needs no further explanation. Everyone is welcome to participate, including kids. Just make sure you're all geared up for battle with your own water gun and some spare clothes.
This means war.
To join the battle, take the subway to Sinchon Station exit 2 or 3.

Planning a trip to Korea this summer? Which festivals would you like to take part in? :)