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Seoul Searching | Garosu-gil, Sinsa-dong + SkinFood Concept Store.

Seoul boasts of a plethora of 'garosu-gils' or 'tree-lined streets', which make perfect backdrops for Instagram photos. There is, however, one Garosu-gil that has become increasingly popular over the years, with its splendid scenery and trendy atmosphere. I'm talking about the Garosu-gil Road in Sinsa-dong, located south of the Han River in the upscale Gangnam District.
Garosu-gil, Sinsadong in spring!
A beautiful promenade in the heart of Seoul, Garosu-gil runs from Sinsa Station to Hyeondae High School. The whole stretch is less than a kilometer and is adorned with lovely gingko trees, making it a popular shopping destination in the spring and fall.
Lovely gingko trees in Garosu-gil.
And with my Facebook feed flooded with photos of Garosu-gil, inviting people to come and visit this picturesque district, my curiosity was naturally piqued. I made it a point to include this place in my itinerary last spring mainly for two reasons: 1) I wanted to stay away from the touristy crowd in other shopping districts (think Myeongdong), 2) and I wanted to see and experience the Skinfood Concept Store.
The marker near Sinsa Station.
More of our trip to Garosu-gil after the jump!


Experience an Excellent Christmas with TAITRA's Promo Treats!

Make Christmas even more special with awesome promotional prizes from Taiwan Excellence! As the holidays draw near, Taiwan Excellence has an exciting lineup of activities for us consumers, giving everyone a chance to bring home their top notch products bearing the Taiwan Excellence seal.

The Taiwan Excellence campaign promotes Taiwan’s superior-quality products and encourages technological innovation. Along with TAITRA, the initiative is sponsored by Taiwan’s Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).
Taiwan Excellence Christmas Treats promo!
For the Christmas Treat promo,  Php 2,000 worth of participating products in a single transaction from PCExpress entitles the costumer to one raffle coupon. More items purchased means more coupons, and greater chances of winning. Entries will be accepted until November 30, 2017, and winners will be drawn on December 8, 2017, 4PM, at PC Express, Gilmore Plus.

At stake are the following prizes:
-     1TB ADATA External Hard Drives and Transcend 310 32GB Flash Drives for storing your extensive movie, photo, and file library;
-     ASUS Zenfone Live for taking glamorous selfie videos live;
-     TRANSCEND DP50 DrivePro Camcorders for capturing moments on the road;
-     SUPER Z 125 KYMCO Scooter for giving you a ride in comfort and style.

If your name wasn’t drawn in this Christmas Treat promo, don't fret! Taiwan Excellence will be releasing three mini-games on their Facebook page this November, with some surprises up for grabs. Help Formosa Bear navigate through the busy streets of Taiwan and shop for the perfect gift items, and you may get a surprise. Participate in these activities and don’t forget to like and share Taiwan Excellence’s Facebook page.

For more information, visit and Taiwan Excellence on Facebook,

About Taiwan Excellence
The symbol of Taiwan Excellence honors Taiwan’s most innovative products that provide tremendous value to users worldwide. All products carrying this symbol have been selected for specific Taiwan Excellence Awards based on their excellence in design, quality, marketing, Taiwanese R&D, and manufacturing. Started by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), R.O.C. in 1992, the symbol of Taiwan Excellence is recognized by 101 countries.

Sponsored by Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT), MOEA
The Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), R.O.C. implements policies and regulations governing foreign trade and economic cooperation. Established in January 1969, the BOFT's role and position adjusts regularly to meet the needs of the ever-changing international economic and trade environments. The BOFT has been guiding and working with the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) in numerous promotional trade projects and activities both internationally and domestically. Having worked with TAITRA for many decades, the BOFT continues to commission TAITRA for various critical government projects relating to business, trade, and investment, while promoting Taiwan internationally.

Organized by Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA)
Founded in 1970 to help promote foreign trade, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) is the foremost non-profit, semi-governmental trade promotion organization in Taiwan. Jointly sponsored by the government, industry associations, and several commercial organizations, TAITRA assists Taiwanese businesses and manufacturers with reinforcing their international competitiveness and in coping with the challenges they face in foreign markets. TAITRA boasts a well-coordinated trade promotion and information network of over 1,200 international marketing specialists stationed throughout its Taipei headquarters and 50 overseas offices worldwide. Together with its sister organizations, the Taiwan Trade Center (TTC) and the Taipei World Trade Center (TWTC), TAITRA has created a wealth of trade opportunities through effective promotion strategies.


Prison Chic: Are Hot Lock-up Looks A Thing?

Prisoners have a lot of time on their hands and they are very creative. As seen on the hit TV show, Orange is the New Black, prisoners find creative ways to pull off their own look. Some of these incredible prison secrets have been around for decades. Before Orange is the New Black, people rarely shared these secrets. The show has really given life to some of these lookup looks.

Perfectly Manicured Nails 
A fresh mani/pedi never goes out of style. Inmates use spray deodorant to remove polish and rolled sandpaper to make nail files. Most prison commissaries sell a nail polish or two. Adding glitter from greeting cards gives flare and allows each inmate create their own style. Otherwise, everyone has the same color nail polish.

Darling Do's Despite Limited Supplies
Despite little to work with, inmates pull off some pretty amazing hairstyles. Using Kool-Aid and lemon juice to highlight and dye their hair. Attempting new styles to the best of their ability, prison beauticians give haircuts to other brave inmates. Luckily, if the prison beauty shop does not cut it, rolling your hair around tampons adds curl. And, putting your hair in a French braid, before going to bed, while it is still wet, will create beautiful, beach waves in the morning.
Image via Flickr by Mark Strozier
Skin Deep Styles Inspired by Inmates
In the past, most people with numerous tattoos or “sleeve” pieces were service members or prisoners. Some of the most popular and recognizable tattoos were inspired by prison tattoos. Plus, prison artists have come a long way.

Jailbirds craft contraband tattoo guns out of smoke detectors, rubber bands, and ballpoint pens. prison tattoos were primitive, in the past. Today, it is difficult to tell the difference between jail and “free world” tattoos. Plus, more people are getting multiple tattoos and covering larger sections of their bodies, just like inmates.

Blush Lips, Contouring, and Beautifully Arched Eyebrows
Most prison mirrors reflect little more than a fuzzy outline. So, it is very difficult to do your own eyebrows, but inmates use dental floss or rubber bands to thread each other’s eyebrows. Instant coffee grounds are great for eye contouring, in lieu of eyeshadow. Without the luxury of lipstick, inmates discovered beets, Kool-Aid, and cherries are excellent lip stains and people on the outside are taking notice of these clever solutions.

Obnoxious Orange and "Visit Threads"
Prison uniforms come in many different colors these days. However, the classics like obnoxious orange and black and white striped never go out of style. People are not really wearing prison uniforms on the outside, although, many people appreciate a classic striped t-shirt, and prison jumpsuit orange has become very popular.

Another classic prison look is the crispy outfit or “visit threads.” Prisoners wear them only on special occasions and to visits, so they are not washed a lot. Finding a new uniform is rare. The prized outfits give prisoners a fresh look and allow them to “dress up” for visitors. Likewise, most free worlders have a few "visit threads" for special occasions.

Inmates can buy some fashion and beauty items from the weekly commissary. However, limited choices, high prices, low quality, and a lack of commissary funds cause many women to pass up the conventional luxuries for some old fashioned hard-knock life hacks. Before Orange Is the New Black, prison looks were not very popular outside of a prison. Now, they are becoming common knowledge, and some prefer using the less expensive prison looks. 


Seoul Searching | Jongmyo Shrine.

Filial piety, they say, is one of the most important virtues and possibly the greatest heritage of South Korea. It means the attitude of obedience, care, and devotion towards one's parents and ancestors, and this virtue is clearly manifested in Jongmyo Shrine, the oldest and most authentic Confucian royal shrine to have been preserved.
The UNESCO World Heritage marker located near the main road.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jongmyo is known as the supreme state shrine as it houses the 'spirit tablets' of the deceased kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty. The shrine has existed in its present form since the 16th century, conserving not only its physical form but also the traditional ritual practices of paying tribute to their ancestors and honoring the dead.
The path leading to the gate of Jongmyo Shrine.

More of Jongmyo Shrine after the jump!


How to Find the Best King Size Mattress When On a Budget.

If you’ve ever gone mattress shopping, then you know just how tedious the process can be. It’s even hard for you to know where to start. Today’s market has different types of mattresses, and all these come with different price tags.

Planning of going mattress shopping soon? Don’t worry! I’ve carefully put together some of the things that you’ll need to consider. They are pretty basic guidelines, but I know they’ll make you save that extra penny. Hopefully, in the end, you’ll get a perfect mattress for you and your partner.
Finding the perfect mattress isn't as difficult as you might think.
The Huge Misconception
I discovered that as customers, we are often fooled by producers. Even though most of us may fail to admit it, we’ve gone through such an ordeal. But no more! When it comes to mattress shopping, I learned a valuable lesson. Here, the fanciest and expensive price tags don't always deliver on the level of comfort you may want.

Actually, it’s not even about buying the product with the best technology and high-tech materials. Rather, it’s about getting the perfect king size model that matches your body types and tastes.

Does The Brand Matter?
I like looking at the product brands each time I go shopping. Certain companies are famous for many reasons. They are known for making comfortable, long-lasting and high-quality goods. Of course, the same applies to mattresses too!

Some of the famous mattress brands you may want to look at are:
Sleep Master
Memory Foam Solutions

I realized that going through these choices helps you in narrowing down your budget. Besides, you still get to enjoy the product of your favorite brand. But be cautious, I know it’s disappointing to say this but even your highly trusted company can offer substandard yet highly priced products. But going through some mattress reviews on will help you get the most impressive product!

Decide Whether You Want A Soft, Medium or Firm Mattress
The good thing is most of us have slept on different types of mattresses. In this case, we all know our preferred scale from their tenderness to their firmness. However, if you’ve not made up your mind clear on this issue, there’s an easy solution. Check your current mattress!

If it folds up immediately you sleep on it; then you should buy the soft models. If it remains stiff for most of the time, then a firm mattress is your most suitable choice. I should also point out that a mattress should have the right amount of coziness around the hip region. This prevents your body from feeling rigid.

As I wind up, I would like to leave you with a word of hope. You got this! All you’ll need to do is ignore the hype that comes with large mattress brands. Most of them like to advertise fancy handles and air vents. However, these are just mere distractions which even don’t affect your overall sleep.

Remember to go for the mattress that also gives your body that extra comfort. I love the spring mattresses for their simple yet firm feel and of course, they are quite budget friendly!


Visa-free Entry to South Korea for 2018 Winter Olympics! (But wait, there's a catch...)

Good news for KDrama and KPop fans who have been wanting to visit the Land of the Morning Calm! The culture ministry of South Korea recently announced that it will allow visitors from Southeast Asian nations to enter the country without a visa until April 2018.
Gearing up for Pyeongchang 2018!
In line with the celebration of the 2018 Winter Olympics which will be held in Pyeongchang, the South Korean government will allow visitors from the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia to enter the country visa-free. The Winter Olympics, a major international multi-sport event, will kick off on February 9, 2018, with the closing ceremonies happening on February 25, 2018.
Soohorang (tiger) and Bandabi (bear), the official mascots for the 2018 Winter Olympics
The Winter Games will last for almost two weeks and will showcase more than 100 events in seven different sports. Some of these events include snowboarding, figure skating speed skating, curling, and ice hockey. A total of 84 nations will be participating in this much-awaited event.

Sounds exciting, right?
There is, however, a catch to this visa-free ruling. Tourist groups must enter South Korea through the Yangyang International Airport, located in Yangyang, Gangwon-do, which is 158 kilometers away from Seoul. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from the Philippines to Yangyang.
I've tried all flight-finding sites to no avail. 
I googled 'flights to Yangyang Airport' and here's what I got:
Direct flights from Russia and Japan only.
Upon checking the international flight schedule at the airport's official website, I found that only Korea Express Air (which does not fly to Manila) flies to Yangyang. Turns out, this visa-free entry via Yangyang is a lot more complicated than we thought.

Anyway, should you decide to apply for a visa instead (and I strongly suggest that you should, because flying to Incheon or Busan is way easier than any other route) here are some tips on how we got our South Korean visa. And multiple-entry at that. :)


Unleash your Inner Diva with Divatress!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

I'm quite experimental when it comes to my hair. I've had it permed a few years back, then I sported a bob after I got tired of all those curls. Later on, I went all out and had it hacked into a pixie cut, which I sported for a good number of years. About two years ago, I started to grow my hair longer and now my tresses are at its longest ever - about five inches past the shoulders.

Last year, I made a an even bolder move by fulfilling my blonde ambition. I've been a brunette all my life and transforming my hair into this ash blonde purple ombre was the most grueling thing I have ever done. Imagine having your hair bleached thrice, then having it colored with an ash base, then having it highlighted with purple streaks. I practically spent an entire day at the salon, all because I wanted to be a unicorn, haha!
Lace Front Wig from Divatress.
Lately, I have been mulling over what hair color should I go for next. I'm considering the strawberry blonde look, but just thinking about the tedious process of bleaching my hair all over again makes me reconsider. Thankfully, I have discovered an easier way to achieve that strawberry blonde look without having to spend hours at the salon.

Divatress, a leading e-commerce company, is now gaining popularity as one of the most trusted wig retailers online. They have a large selection of lace wigs, with almost all styles and colors possible - short, curly, shoulder-length, layered, black, brown, copper red, teal, purple, and yes, even the strawberry blonde shade that I've been pondering upon! 

Lace front wig in strawberry blonde.
Their prices start at around $19.95, and most of their wigs are sold at a discount, too. Orders worth more than $49 are shipped for free within the 48 states of Continental US. Good thing I have a friend in California who can order for me, and she's coming home for the holidays. Looks like I'll be a (strawberry) blonde again for Christmas!


Sneak Peek | Shu Uemura x Super Mario Bros. Collection.

 Back in the days when only landline telephones existed, cable subscriptions were costly, and the internet was practically unheard of, kids would spend their idle time playing outdoors, reading books at the library (and I say this because I used to do this when I was a kid, nerd much), or play video games on 'old school' gaming consoles like the FamiCom (Family Computer), NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), and Gameboy.

And back then, Mario and Luigi - collectively known as the Super Mario Brothers - were household names to the kids of my generation. My siblings and I used to spend hours playing this game, agonizing at the difficult stages, shrieking in triumph whenever we succeed in the boss battles. This game brings back fond memories of my childhood (granted that I don't have too many), that I just had to blog about Shu Uemura's holiday collection.
Shu Uemura x Super Mario Bros.
This year, they're collaborating with Nintendo, and this limited edition collection featuring our favorite plumber is every gamer girl's (and 80's kid's) dream!

Enter the Warp Zone to view the complete Shu Uemura x Super Mario Bros. Collection!


Sneak Peek | Peripera Pearly Night Collection.

Barely eight weeks 'til Christmas! Can you believe how fast time flies?
Just a few months ago I was blogging about the spring and summer collections of some of my favorite Korean cosmetics brands, and now here I am, already looking forward to what these brands have to offer for the winter.

One of the first to launch their holiday collection is Korean beauty brand Peripera, whose previous holiday collections include a collaboration with the Disney movie Frozen and Cartoon Network's lovable little girls, The Powerpuff Girls.

This year, it's all about glam and glitter with the Pearly Night Collection, and the full range of products will make you look forward to Christmas even more.
Peripera Pearly Night Collection, as seen on Peripera's official Instagram page.
View the entire collection after the jump!


A Teeny Tiny Cleaning Task that Will Make Your Home Feel Like New.

Cleaning your home involves many things. However, most of the time we tend to focus only on our cleaning priorities like dusting, vacuuming, dish washing, scrubbing the whole bathroom, etc. Besides learning some new tips and tricks, no one seems to be speaking about the things we are most likely going to forget cleaning in the first place. Dealing with these critical areas can actually be very relevant to your home's general atmosphere of tidiness. So, this is our teeny tiny cleaning task for you that will make your home feel like new, and that's cleaning the forgotten areas.

Areas to which we are alluding to genuinely do not require extreme dedication and physical effort to be sorted out. They are easy to fall out of sight, because we either have a very unconscious and automated interaction with them, or they are hidden insofar that we are never reminded of them. Let us run through a couple of cleaning tasks that you have most certainly forgotten to do in a long while.
Let the cleaning begin!
The Doors
This is one of those things we have an automated interaction with. How many times per year do you clean your doors? Do you ever clean your doors? You should not feel ashamed if the answer is no. Most of us forget that they actually exist as something that needs to be cleaned. But luckily, we are here to remind you to do just that. You do not need anything special in order to clean your doors, nor does it take a lot of your time. A simple wet cloth will do the job just fine, but you can use a little bit of all-purpose cleaner as well. When you finish the job, take a step back and look at the difference. We know, it is amazing.

Door Knobs
In addition to the previously mentioned, door knobs are also probably not on your weekly to-do list. If you stop and think about it, it really should not be like that. Just imagine, how many times during the day do we use our door knobs? A lot is the answer. Plus, most of the time our hands are far from being clean, and other people circulate around the house as well. What you really need to do, as soon as possible, is disinfect those little things. Speaking of knobs, what about your drawer handles? They are also screaming for some attention. Take out your disinfectant spray, a few clean cloths, and get down to business.

Light Switches
Just like door knobs, light switches rarely get a look in. And same as door knobs, light switches are packed with germs and should be disinfected now! You may also want to use cotton swabs (dipped in alcohol) in order to clean the dirt from the cracks. We would advise you to try and tie some of your cleaning tasks. For example, next time you clean your toilet bowl, clean and disinfect those light switches. This way, it is going to be much harder for you to forget about them.

Even though you probably clean your fridge more often than you do your door knobs, we still have a tendency not to devote enough attention to it. Research has shown that our meat and vegetable compartments are drowning in germs! Not only do we need to wash them, but disinfect them as well. It is very important to introduce this routine to your cleaning habits. Once in a week or two, open up your fridge and throw away the expired food and make new recipes like have done. Additionally, pull out drawers and dip them into hot water and dishing soap. But if you had not done this in a while, empty your fridge and spray the whole inside with multipurpose spray. Wipe the residue down with a semi-wet cloth.
Don't forget the mattresses!

In case you did not know, it is highly advised to flip your mattress at least once in 6 months. However, before that time comes, it would be smart to clean it up a little bit. Mattresses are drowning in dust mites, different kinds of stains (sweat, blood, etc.) and dead skin. What you want to do first is vacuum clean it. After that, you can use a mixture of lemon juice and salt in order to get rid of the stains (wipe the paste clean with a wet cloth). Sprinkling some baking soda and dried herbs onto the mattress is a great tick for freshening it up and making it fragrant. Still, nothing can be more beneficial for the mattress than the natural sunlight. If you have a backyard, carry it outside for a tanning session.

We are constantly strolling over them, but dedicate attention to them only when someone spills a glass of wine. Vacuuming you rugs is something we know you do regularly, but there are other things you could do to make them look, feel and smell like new. If there are some residual stains left on your carpet, you can rely on baking soda to do the job. Drop some of it directly onto the stain and rub it in with a brush. Vacuum it later. Just like with the mattress, you can use dried herbs to give your carpet a nice smell (lavender and thyme are great choices). You can also read reviews of vacuum cleaners and robot vacuums at Home Clean Expert.

Cleaning can be a burdensome nuisance for many people. It is perfectly reasonable not to expect everyone to enjoy cleaning and wanting to do it in the first place. For those people, who would much rather spend their free time with friends and family, or doing their hobby, Helpling UK can provide you with amazing cleaning services. What you really want is a reliable and reasonably priced house cleaner, and Helpling offers you just that. Sometimes, it is best to leave the job to professionals.