Jet-Setters, Planning a Trip to Penang? Lion Air is Your Ride!

Hello everyone!

The June holidays are just around the corner and what better way to give yourself a pat on the back for surviving the first half of 2019 than a getaway from the hustle and bustle of Singapore? Unfortunately, if taking time off during the upcoming peak season has crossed your mind only recently, you’re going to be in for a shock as prices of flight tickets to popular destinations across the board have begun to creep up. That said, an inexpensive yet fuss-free vacation is still possible – that is, if you are open to the idea of visiting the neighbours for a change! I mean, there’s always the year-end holiday for farther destinations, right? 😉

Where should the arrow be pointing to on your invisible map then, you might ask. As an avid foodie, I am inclined to suggest Penang – the Land of Pearl – because the abundant of delectable food choices (that aren’t too foreign to our taste buds, given how similar our cuisines are) makes it an absolute food haven for anyone who is looking to stuff their face and gain some meaningful kilos.

Now that you have your destination nailed down, you need to decide on the airline to take you there. Fret not, you busy bee, for I have identified the best ride for you so you wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of sifting through various platforms. Lion Air – especially through online booking – is your best bet and here’s why:

The booking process is so easy that even a blind-folded monkey can find a way to purchase a ticket 

Lion Air flight tickets are readily available for purchase through any online travel agency you can find aside from their official booking website that is already very accessible on its own. Doesn’t it annoy you to no end when limited flights are offered in certain platforms because that would mean going back to the drawing board again in some cases? With Lion Air being extremely receptive towards having their products featured on online travel booking platforms, they are everywhere now and booking flights from Singapore to Penang online will be done in a jiff! Flight tickets have never been so easy to book that even a monkey can find it!

Your pocket (and travel buddies) will thank you

Having a great selection of platforms to choose from undoubtedly leads to competition, and as consumers, we know too well that competition only benefits us because booking sites will be vying for our businesses with the lowest possible rates. This is also when you should put your university research skills to the test by comparing prices to get you the best deal in the house.

So, is this option making your pockets cheer to the heavens yet?

You will be in good hands… and it’s the perks, really!

Perhaps the airline’s main pot of gold is their very own travel insurance policy – the Lion Air Travel Insurance. What makes it different from the insurance offered by other airlines is its extensive coverage which you’d probably only see in a life insurance policy, if you ask me. From Personal Accident to 24-Hour Emergency Medical Assistance, you can be rest assured that any travel woes that come your way will be well taken care of. More details about their travel insurance can be found on their website. But I know, we’re all too lazy busy for that, so here’s a round-up:

  1. Personal Accident Benefit
  2. Accident Medical Expenses (round trip)
  3. Emergency Evacuation & Repatriation (round trip)
  4. Felonious Assault (round trip)
  5. Flight Delay
  6. Trip Cancellation
  7. Trip Curtailment (round trip)
  8. Baggage Loss & Damage
  9. Loss of Travel Documents (round trip)
  10. Personal Liability (round trip)
  11. 24-Hour Emergency Medical Assistance (round trip)

Wowzers! The airline’s sheer dedication in helping its passengers to ease the stress of travelling is jaw-dropping! I wonder how much time was spent on coming with such comprehensive policy – every single potential travel mishap seems to have been taken into consideration!

Since I’ve already done the homework for you in finding the best flight deal to Penang, no harm in helping you out with your itinerary too, right? Here, take notes – cool places to visit in Penang:

Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest

Take a break from skyscrapers and traffic and immerse yourselves in the greens and sublime tranquillity of Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest where you will get a glimpse of peaceful nature for once. The town of Bukit Mertajam is quite close by, and there is even a hiking trail where you can take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the lush greenery which is also home to many indigenous flora and fauna. Ah, the simple pleasures of life!

Escape Adventureplay

Hailed as Malaysia’s first environmentally-friendly theme park, Escape Adventureplay is one that is completely surrounded by nature. Get your adrenaline pumping with activities like zip-lining and rope bridges that would make any height-sensitive bunch feel queasy in the stomach. Extreme thrill seekers, you certainly wouldn’t want to miss this place! There are also children-friendly obstacle courses too for those who are not ready to overcome their fear of heights 😬

Mengkuang Dam

I know that in this millennial age, we have the tendency to announce to the whole world on what we do and where we go and hence, pictures need to be Instagrammable. Apart from Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest, Mengkuang Dam also provides breathtaking natural backdrops if you are planning on posting some #inspirational or #reflective pictures during your trip. Captions like “Make your heart like the ocean – with calm, still surface and great depths of kindness” can accompany a picture of the vast expanse of the lake while “The sky is the limit” can accompany one of the azure sky. 

Just kidding. Be there simply to relax and enjoy the wonders of nature, yeah?

Penang Road

No trip to Penang is complete without a walk down iconic Penang Road, at Georgetown. Like Clarke Quay and Somerset in Singapore, this is the area where you will find mouthwatering local food and street art displayed along the road on top of the mixture of nouveau-riche and quaint heritage it offers. It’s the go-to place of rendezvous for food, art and culture aficionados. Be sure to bring your camera along to snap some pictures!

Do share how your trip went and if you have other suggestions to add, feel free to drop me a comment below!

Thanks for reading!

For more information on Penang flights, do visit this website.
This post was done in collaboration with Traveloka.

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South Korea, the Land of Morning Calm – Exploring Seoul & Jeju Island

Happy 2018, everyone! 🎆🎉

I know it’s a little late, but how did you spend your Christmas and New Year’s? In view of our financial constraints brought about by our upcoming wedding in November, fiancé and I settled on a staycation in lieu of a getaway last year-end holiday. In a way, I was relieved to have escaped the harsh cold weather in the destinations we had shortlisted before aborting the plan. Being someone with exceptionally low tolerance for cold, holidaying in temperate places during winter is seldom fun for me. But unless I’m travelling alone, I usually don’t have a choice. Tropical Asians generally prefer to go somewhere cooler (it’s like air-conditioned air everywhere, they say), don’t they?

I wanderlust pretty often. But much as I enjoy jetting off to foreign lands from time to time, I’m not going to lie – I tend to drag my heels over writing travelogues mainly because of the amount of time needed to invest in editing the colossal torrent of pictures taken and recalling the experience (which is often impeded by my bad memory) when it could be better spent on doing beauty reviews. But knowing these experiences will be mostly forgotten in a few years, electronically journaling them is an absolute necessity. Thus this is why, after procrastinating for more than a year, my Seoul travelogue is finally happening 🤣

Changi Airport was decked out in Pokémon deco for Christmas in 2016! Their best theme yet :B

Changi Airport was decked out in Pokémon deco for Christmas in 2016! Their best theme yet :B

The gigantic Pikachu that has been making its rounds in Singapore - its last appearance was at Hillion Mall in December!

The gigantic Pikachu that has been making its rounds in Singapore – its last appearance was at Hillion Mall in December!

Having immersed ourselves in quite a number of Korean dramas and Running Man that year (largely kick-started by Descendants of the Sun in 2016 🤣), Seoul came naturally as our top destination pick. That said, it was my second trip to Seoul with the first being solo (fully subsidised by BLS Korea – thank you for having me!) during summer in July in the same year for a conference as a beauty blogger. I had a blast so I didn’t mind going there again to stock up on my Korean beauty supplies. My fiancé and I normally travel free and easy on our own but this time we were joined by his parents who prefer going on organised tours. For that, they engaged the services of Super Travels who provided us a Chinese-speaking tour guide (a Taiwanese living in South Korea) for our 8D6N trip.

The trip started on an awry note as my winter kicks gave way in the midst of my Grab ride to the airport unbeknownst to me. It was only after alighting from the car that I realised one side of my shoes was missing its thick sole. The infrequent usage must have dried out the glue and caused the sole to detach in the car 😫 I immediately changed out into my spare espadrilles meant for indoor use and discarded the unusable pair while praying that I wouldn’t need to hike across rough terrain.

For easy navigation, click on the hyperlinks in the daily itinerary to jump to their respective write-up, or choose one of the days below:

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7

* * DAY 1 * *

(Pocket WiFi Rental → Korean Healthfood Restaurant →
ELAND Cruise → GLAD Hotel)

We boarded our SQ flight at 7.05 am at Terminal 3 and arrived at Incheon International Airport about seven hours later. If I remember correctly, we had to take a shuttle bus after disembarking from the plane to get to the immigration hall. The queue to clear customs was relatively short (like my previous time) so it didn’t take long before we could collect our luggage at the carousel. Our tour guide and a few other Singapore tourists (who took the same flight as us) had already gathered at the waiting area when we emerged through the arrival gate.

Anticipating that we wouldn’t have time to look for and pick up a pocket WiFi at Incheon Airport (there are plenty to choose from and the booth I got my WiFi Egg from on my first visit was super efficient), we had actually rented one from WifiBaby in Singapore for S$44 for 8 days ($5.50/day per unit). It ran on 4G with a daily fair usage of 500MB (after which the network speed would slow down) and could be shared among five devices. Technically, pocket WiFi isn’t entirely necessary if you’re on a free and easy trip because there is practically WiFi at most touristy areas. But I hate the thought of having to hunt for hotspots to post a photo on Instagram because I heavily rely on GPS to identify my location then and there. Besides, if you’re travelling in tour groups which often set off on long and dreary journeys, a pocket WiFi is a definite must.

Changi Recommends was our initial choice (for convenience sake) but all units were – as usual – already booked for that period when we tried to make a request online four days before. I figured that unless you plan your holiday way ahead of time (especially during peak seasons), it is almost impossible to successfully place a reservation for the pocket WiFi with Changi Recommends so the next best alternative would be WifiBaby for their comparable rates. The downside, however, is that you’d have to put down a deposit (though I don’t remember having to do so for my order) and collect and return the device to their office at Raffles Place during business hours.

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Chilly winds engulfed me the moment I stepped out of the airport to get to the bus, followed by speckles of drizzle on my cardigan. Looking up at the gloomy sky, the rain didn’t seem like it was letting up anytime soon and that was when I knew my feet were going to be trapped in moist, smelly shoes for the next seven days. Therefore, my dedicated hashtag for this vacation was along the lines of #coldrea which was an understatement in itself. Perhaps #soakcoldrea would have been more apt 🙄..

Like Japan, South Korea is one hour ahead of Singapore which, by the way, requires some getting used to for sleepyheads like myself (as this means having to wake up an hour earlier every time 😴). After what felt like an hour’s drive, the bus dropped us off at Korean Healthfood Restaurant for dinner at about 6pm KST.

Korean Healthfood Restaurant

Korean Healthfood Restaurant

The overall facade of the restaurant somehow reminded me of that of a factory store. The name of the restaurant wholly in Chinese characters, coupled with the absence of local diners inside, gave me the impression that it was very tourist-oriented. For a split second, I thought we were going to be pressured to buy something at our first destination! Thankfully, this suspicion proved to be unfounded when pots and pots of piping hot samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) were served to our table.

Kimchi (salted and fermented vegetables), a common side dish in Korean cuisine

Kimchi (salted and fermented vegetables), a common side dish in Korean cuisine

Pickled radish, another common side dish

Pickled radish, another common side dish

Samgyetang

Samgyetang

Glutinous rice inside the chicken

Glutinous rice inside the chicken

As if there wasn't enough carb in this dish, I went ahead to add some noodles..

As if there wasn’t enough carb in this dish, I went ahead to add some noodles..

For the record, I am not very well-versed in Korean cuisine (outside of kimchi and barbecue) so despite samgyetang being a relatively popular Korean dish, I had never tasted it prior to this trip. What better way to try a Korean delicacy for the first time than to have it in its place of origin? 😋

This bubbling pot of samgyetang sent warmth to my chilled soul (and belly) right from the very first mouthful. The ginseng taste in the broth is pretty mild on my Chinese taste buds but may be a little overpowering for those who’ve not had it before. And then came the surprise when I pried the chicken open with the spoon: there’s even glutinous rice with red dates and chestnuts (and a whole lot of other herbs) tucked in there to complete the hearty meal! Apparently, each ingredient of the samgyetang also packs tons of health benefits including boosting energy and the immune system.

The chicken meat was soft and tender but the many fragments of bones made it rather bothersome to savour fully. Still, the samgyetang was a great introductory dish to Korean cuisine, especially during the cold weather months. I was craving for samgyetang so much within a week from returning home that I started hunting it down at Korean restaurants and stocking up on the instant version!

Korean Healthfood Restaurant · 93 Yeonnam-ro, Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul  03975, South Korea
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Post dinner, we hopped onto the bus and headed to the next destination. The vehicle halted at a bus bay and we walked some distance to an area lit with colourful neon lights. Behind these Christmas decorations was Eland Cruise, purportedly the filming location of the ship scene in My Love from the Star.

Hello day 1!

Hello day 1!

The entrance to Eland Cruise ferry dock

The entrance to Eland Cruise ferry dock

Pokémon milk cartons in the Eland Cruise convenience store! (PokémonGO wasn't launched in Korea yet at that point in time 😫)

Pokémon milk cartons in the Eland Cruise convenience store! (PokémonGO wasn’t launched in Korea yet at that point in time 😫)

Winnie and Pikachu on the packaging? TAKE OUR MONEY!

Winnie and Pikachu on the packaging? TAKE OUR MONEY!

We were ushered to a kitchen (or bakery) on the second floor of the dock where we would try our hands at making danpatbbang (sweet red bean bread) alongside a live demonstration by a troupe of good-looking Korean performers who also attempted to inject some entertainment into what they were doing. To get us into character, we were also given a disposable toque blanche to wear.

Ingredients all set up on the table!

Ingredients all set up on the table!

Performers teaching the tourists how to make bread!

Performers teaching the tourists how to make bread!

At the dock waiting to board the cruise ship

At the dock waiting to board the cruise ship

Everything on this display looked fine until I saw the English translation of the text.. Why..

Everything on this display looked fine until I saw the English translation of the text.. Why..

Following the bread-making session which lasted around 30 minutes, we proceeded to board the cruise ship to watch the Pang Show put up by the same group of performers earlier while all of our danpatbbang was being baked. The show, inspired by TV series King of Baking, Kim Tak-goo, went on for another 30 minutes, bringing laughter to the audience with their silly antics despite the language barrier.

During the performance, the boat would have already sailed to the middle of Han River so once the show ended, we spent the next few minutes at the deck viewing the rainbow fountain (the world’s longest bridge fountain) along Banpo Bridge. I don’t remember paying attention to the attraction because I was literally shivering and couldn’t wait to return to the bus to take refuge from the biting cold!

The ticket to the Pang Show!

The ticket to the Pang Show!

Pang Show

Pang Show

The "pastry chefs" showing us what they can do with pots and pans

The “pastry chefs” showing us what they can do with pots and pans

Halfway through the show, the actors froze for a few seconds for the audience to snap some pictures LOL

Halfway through the show, the actors froze for a few seconds for the audience to snap some pictures 😂

On the deck

On the deck

My ready-to-eat danpatbbang!

My ready-to-eat danpatbbang!

By the time we landed at the dock, our freshly baked danpatbbang was ready for collection! Excitedly, I sunk my teeth into one of those I made, foolishly expecting it to have a similar taste to the red bean buns we have in Singapore. Needless to say, I didn’t really enjoy it as I found it a little too bland for my liking 😣 But on the overall, it was a great and educational experience your kids wouldn’t want to miss.

ELAND Cruise (Pang Pang Cruise) · 290 Yeouidong-ro, Yeoeuido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, South Korea · Book through Klook or KKday
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As the night wore on, an increasing number of yawns filled the bus as it crawled down the slippery road towards our hotel for the night. Located in the financial center of Seoul, GLAD Hotel Yeouido is built opposite the South Korean capitol building and in front of National Assembly subway station (like, literally a minute’s walk away, visible from the lobby) which makes commuting around Seoul extremely easy. If only the hotel I lodged in on my first visit (Belle-Essence Seoul Hotel, 15-minutes’ walk away from Yeoksam station, permanently closed now) was that convenient – I would have been more inclined to tote back a bigger shopping haul 🤩

There were a few convenience stores and pubs (chimaek, anyone?) in the vicinity of GLAD Hotel. Oh, KBS Broadcasting Station is nearby too if you want to catch a glimpse of Korean celebrities (though we didn’t see any during our stay 😆)!

GLAD Hotel Yeouido at night

GLAD Hotel Yeouido at night

GLAD Hotel Yeouido in the day

GLAD Hotel Yeouido in the day

GLAD Hotel Yeouido lobby (taken on our last day when we checked out) - the ambience gave me a very warm-and-fuzzy feel and I really liked that huge Christmas wreath they hung on the wall

GLAD Hotel Yeouido lobby (taken on our last day when we checked out) – the ambience gave me a very warm-and-fuzzy feel and I really liked that huge Christmas wreath they hung on the wall

Our room

Our room

Quotes about life!

Quotes about life!

LOVE the design of the sink! The knobs next to the tap are for adjusting the water temperature and pressure

LOVE the design of the sink! The knobs next to the tap are for adjusting the water temperature and pressure

As always, fiancé's eyes lit up upon the sight of a rain shower head.. I'm more of a handheld shower head kinda person so I was GLAD the bathroom was equipped with the best of both worlds lol

As always, fiancé’s eyes lit up upon the sight of a rain shower head.. I’m more of a handheld shower head kinda person so I was GLAD the bathroom was equipped with the best of both worlds lol

The toilet bowl is strangely separated from the bathroom perhaps due to space constraints. But that didn't bother me much. Furthermore, it's a smart toilet, baybeh!

The toilet bowl is strangely separated from the bathroom perhaps due to space constraints. But that didn’t bother me much. Furthermore, it’s a smart toilet, baybeh!

Much to our delight, we accommodated at this hotel twice during the trip (once more before we departed) and both times were equally wonderful. It is one of the better five-star hotels in Seoul that are not too exorbitantly priced for their rooms (according Agoda) and the best one we stayed in Korea. Certainly a hotel worth considering for our future Seoul visits!

GLAD Hotel · 17-5, Yeouido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul 150-874, South Korea
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* * DAY 2 * *

(K TurtleNamsan Seoul Tower →
Korea Bibimbap Experience Center →
Gimpo International Airport [Seoul to Jeju Island with T-Way] → Mysterious Road → Arboretum Theme Park →
Da Hae Jeong → Yongduam Rock → Best Western Hotel)

One reason for my preference for independent travel is the freedom to sleep in which is never possible in group tours. Our daily morning call was around 7am KST (8am latest) because it was a primarily weekday trip and the tour guide wanted to avoid the rush hour jam. It was so tough leaving the warm bed for the chilly morning air. With our bulky luggage in tow (since we were scheduled to leave for Jeju Island later that day), we joined the other early risers in the bus.

For breakfast before setting out for Namsan Seoul Tower, we were taken to a buffet restaurant called “K Turtle” in an unknown building (another reason for my dislike towards group tours is not knowing where I am most of the time, especially when it comes to meal times). The food spread (Chinese-Korean) there was boring at best.

K Turtle entrance

K Turtle entrance

Dining area

Dining area

Dreadful food..

Dreadful food..

I wasn't kidding when I said there were more veggies than meat at the buffet

I wasn’t kidding when I said there were more veggies than meat at the buffet

One of the more decent food at the buffet..

One of the more decent food at the buffet..

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The first tower-type tourist attraction in Korea, Namsan Seoul Tower is one of the tallest towers in the Orient with its highest point at almost 480m above sea level. An iconic symbol of Seoul today, it was first established as a broadcast tower to send out TV and radio signals in 1969. Although I am not very familiar with the landscapes in Korea, I had certainly seen and heard about N Seoul Tower in the earlier episodes of Running Man so I was pretty psyched to be there.

Vehicles were not allowed at certain point so we had to get to the tower by foot

Vehicles were not allowed at certain point so we had to get to the tower by foot

N Seoul Tower

N Seoul Tower

We took a lift up to the observatory level

We took a lift up to the observatory level

Mandatory shot as a Singaporean!

Mandatory shot as a Singaporean!

They've got quite a number of observatory binoculars like this on the level!

They’ve got quite a number of observatory binoculars like this on the level!

"I'm on a diet," says no one ever on a holiday. Churros and Ice Cream to compensate for the horrible breakfast!

“I’m on a diet,” says no one ever on a holiday. Churros and Ice Cream to compensate for the horrible breakfast!

Apart from the breathtaking view of Seoul from the observatory, many couples go to N Seoul Tower for the purpose of locking their “padlocks of love” on the railing along the ground terrace because, y’know, it’s a cheaper alternative to travelling all the way to Pont des Arts in Paris for the same thing 😛 That aside, it’s also an unusual way to leave your footprints at this popular dating spot, so much as I am not the mushy sort, I could not let this opportunity pass!

The locks typically come in pairs (duh) with a black permanent marker and are sold as a set at souvenir shops there at a reasonable price (I think). However, there was little variety of designs to choose from and most had a smooth, rubbery texture which made the ink less resistant to fading (the writings on some of the existing locks had been completely wiped off). The design of the padlock is so generic that you won’t be able to spot yours easily among the sea of others so bring your own padlocks and markers if you’re planning to lock your love here! Ideally, if I were to do this again, I would be #extra and put a written note in a hollow padlock made of fluorescent or reflective material.

No prize for guessing who picked the colour.. I wrote the one on the right!

No prize for guessing who picked the colour.. I wrote the one on the right!

The railings were so overly saturated with padlocks that there wasn't any space left to hang ours and we had to resort to padlocking them to someone else's like a love triangle LOL. It won't be long before all these padlocks get removed because I doubt the railings will be able to withstand the weight of so much love 😛

The railings were so overly saturated with padlocks that there wasn’t any space left to hang ours and we had to resort to padlocking them to someone else’s like a love triangle LOL. It won’t be long before all these padlocks get removed because I doubt the railings will be able to withstand the weight of so much love 😛

SO. MANY. OF. THEM. (and this is just one tiny part of ONE railing) Of course, it doesn't have to be padlock. Some creative people actually hung handphone covers and pencil cases lol

SO. MANY. OF. THEM. (and this is just one tiny part of ONE railing) Of course, it doesn’t have to be padlock. Some creative people actually hung handphone covers and pencil cases lol

Basking in the sun while it lasted 😟

Basking in the sun while it lasted 😟

Fiancé and I kept the keys as memento of the visit even though they were supposed to be discarded. But we are not the most organised people on the planet so the keys are as good as gone now 😝

If you have a choice, swing by Namsan Seoul Tower at night because that’s when it comes to life with magnificent illumination (more bang for your buck 😌)!

Namsan Seoul Tower · 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
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They say no trip to South Korea would have been complete without eating bibimbap, a healthy and fuss-free mixed rice dish traditionally using day-old rice and leftovers. Dubbed the Korean spin on nachos, the bibimbap is served with a medley of vegetables and meat arranged over a bed of rice, topped with fried egg and a dollop of hot chili paste and is so dearly loved by the Koreans that it is ranked second after kimchi (or among top 10 on other reports) as the most popular Korean food. At the Korean Traditional Bibimbap Experience Center (another place meant for tourists, I reckon), we got to observe how the bibimbap was made before relishing it for lunch.

Korean Traditional Bibimbap Experience Centre

Korean Traditional Bibimbap Experience Centre

This was served together with the banchan (side dishes) but none of us knew what it was.. Any ideas? I remember not liking the taste..

This was served together with the banchan (side dishes) but none of us knew what it was.. Any ideas? I remember not liking the taste..

Hunje ori (smoked duck) - the only dish on the table that called my name 😍

Hunje ori (smoked duck) – the only dish on the table that called my name 😍

A gigantic stone bowl of bibimbap (minus the sunny side up) to be shared among a table of 8-10

A gigantic stone bowl of bibimbap (minus the sunny side up) to be shared among a table of 8-10

How bibimbap is supposed to be eaten (kinda looks like fried rice now haha)

How bibimbap is supposed to be eaten (kinda looks like fried rice now haha)

Bibimbap in its unmixed state kinda reminds me of our traditional Hakka lei cha fan (“thunder tea rice”) but with more ingredients (like meat – which is mostly absent in lei cha fan), flavour and better visual appeal, and has to be stirred together like lo hei. It offers nutrients and a snappy crunch with every bite but as someone with a deep fondness for savoury and scrumptious food, the abundance of greens in this dish doesn’t quite make my taste buds throw a party for my mouth. Plus, taking into account that this place was specially created for tourists to participate in the Korean culture, it would be unfair to peg our expectations of a good bibimbap to that level (heck, there wasn’t even a fried egg on top 🙄) as I’m sure there are better ones out there.

That said, the bibimbap would have been much more of a pleasure to chow down on during our final days of bulgogi and Korean BBQ indulgence in Korea!

Korea Traditional Bibimbap Experience Centre (Gung-gol) · 경기도 고양시 덕양구 용두로 121 번길 6 (용두동) / 6 Yongdu-ro 121 beon-gil Deogyang-gu, Goyang-si Gyeonggi-do 10549, South Korea
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As food coma started to kick in, we made our way to Gimpo International Airport to catch our T’way flight to Jeju Island. T’way Air is a South Korean low-cost airline serving several destinations in Asia including China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam that flies directly to Jeju International Airport. The interior design of Gimpo Airport is, of course, incomparable to the world-class beauty of Incheon with its slightly dated amenities (or lack thereof) in the transit area but service was generally pleasant and more acceptable than that of Jeju International Airport. The journey from Gimpo to Jeju took about an hour or thereabouts according to the timestamps of my photos.

T'way check-in counter at Gimpo International Airport

T’way check-in counter at Gimpo International Airport

Upon landing at Jeju International Airport, we proceeded to the baggage claim area where we waited half an hour or more for our luggage to show up on the turnstile. Probably because of the limited number of conveyor belts there, at least three carriers had to share one so there was a significant delay in processing ours which got us more anxious as time went by.

We exited the airport only to realise that it was pouring quite heavily. Dragging the wheels of our luggage, we braved through the strong winds with our spare hands futilely shielding us from the haphazard downfalls of rain to get to our tour bus parked at an unsheltered area. At this juncture, my feet were already drenched to the skin, no thanks to my water-receptive shoes. Plagued by the discomfort of walking in squishy shoes and the risk of developing foot odour, I was in a desperate need to buy a new pair which wasn’t feasible given our tight itinerary 😥

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And off the bus went. Along the way to Arboretum Theme Park, we experienced the oddity of being moved against gravity on the Mysterious Road (Dokkaebi Road). To illustrate that things roll upslope on this road’s inclination, the bus driver turned off the engine and true enough, the entire bus actually propelled slowly forward on its own! If not for the rain, we would have gotten off the bus to do more experiments on the road, such as pouring water or rolling a coin on it and observing where it trails to and taking pictures (hence, none taken) but obviously we figured it wasn’t worth catching a cold over. Although this baffling phenomenon has been explained by numerous theories (mostly centered around optical illusion), it was still a fascinating sight to behold!

The Mysterious Road is marked at the start and finish points in multiple languages and the sidewalk beyond the end of the inclination are dotted by souvenir shops and street food stalls. We stopped by one of the stalls to grab a quick bite before taking part in an impromptu session of archery at the shop next to it. I vaguely remember the tour guide leading us there so I’m pretty sure he got a cut from the earnings because the archery activity was so random and nobody wanted to participate in it initially (most of us were puzzled by the choice to go there in fact) until some subtle nudging 😏 Or maybe, that was his way to kill time before resuming our trip to Arboretum Theme Park.

When hunger strikes... everything looks good

When hunger strikes… everything looks good

The best! I can't remember what it is.. perhaps crab stick in fish cake? But the chili sauce ruined it (I am not a fan of sauces lol)

The best! I can’t remember what it is.. perhaps crab stick in fish cake? But the chili sauce ruined it (I am not a fan of sauces lol)

Why must everything go with ketchup/chili sauce?!

Why must everything go with ketchup/chili sauce?!

Mysterious Road · 2894-63 1100 (Cheonbaek)-ro, Nohyeong-dong, Cheju, Jeju-do, South Korea
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Dusk had already fallen when we arrived at Arboretum Theme Park (the façade of Sumokwon Theme Park looks strikingly similar on Google so it could also be known as another name) even though it was barely 6pm KST. The theme park comprises an indoor museum and a 5D theatre. The inside of the building looked far too institutional (literally, it resembled a school) for a place of interest but it was clean and easy to navigate our way around because as far as I know, there were only a few rooms on every floor.

Arboretum Theme Park at night

Arboretum Theme Park at night

The first room we were brought to was the 5D theatre (camera is prohibited) where we saw a 10-minute (or so) kids-friendly animation called “Poseidon”. Apart from the 3D effect and the occasional water spritzing and chair movements, it was nothing too spectacular and memorable partially because I didn’t like the plot. Maybe, just maybe, if I had stayed on for the next screening – an animated horror film (my favourite genre) – which was another 15 minutes later, I would have a different opinion. Alas, we left because fiancé chickened out wanted to spend the limited free time given to us on exploring other parts of the theme park.

The ice museum is one of the permanent features of the theme park which showcases ice sculptures crafted by famous Japanese artists. It is kept at sub-zero temperature to preserve the ice and visitors are expected to bring their own winter outfits all year round. Unlike many ice museums of the like, visitors are allowed to touch the sculptures, so hug them or kiss them (that’s gross, though) – nobody’s gonna stop you!

Biiiiig snowman

Biiiiig snowman

Icy globe

Icy globe

My favourite part of the ice museum - the ice slide! Visitors get unlimited rides down the slide on an inflatable float. Cheap thrills 😆

My favourite part of the ice museum – the ice slide! Visitors get unlimited rides down the slide on an inflatable float. Cheap thrills 😆

Unable to bear with the cold any longer, we moved over to the 3D illusion art museum which is the theme park equivalent of Trick Eye Museum where 2D art installations are turned into three-dimensional through the use of optical illusions. This was a great opportunity for us to experience illusion art without additional charges since we hadn’t (still haven’t – too far and expensive!) visited the local Trick Eye Museum at Sentosa and I beat myself up for not doing so earlier because, omagawd, we had so much fun!

I don’t want to bore you with a bunch of pictures and make this post ridiculously longer than it already is, so here are some of my favourite shots:

Literal meaning of "holding (your) sh*t together" 🤣

Literal meaning of “holding (your) sh*t together” 🤣

Baywatch starring @griftz

Baywatch starring @griftz HAHAHA

@griftz, a wanted man? Nah, the text below him reads "First Korean Nobel Prize Winner in Literature" (Google-translated lah, don't whack me if I'm wrong!) If we had known what it meant then, he would be smiling instead 😅

@griftz, a wanted man? Nah, the text below him reads “First Korean Nobel Prize Winner in Literature” (Google-translated lah, don’t whack me if I’m wrong!) If we had known what it meant then, he would be smiling instead 😅

My (fail) attempt in becoming part of SNSD (no more soon, though)

My (fail) attempt in becoming part of SNSD (no more soon, though)

Due to time constraints, we were only able to see and take pictures with a handful of the many art installations at the museum which, in my opinion, was what made the admission ticket worthwhile. Of course, if you don’t have an abnormally low tolerance for cold like me, the ice museum would also make an enjoyable highlight of your time at Arboretum Theme Park!

Arboretum Theme Park · 69 Eunsu-gil, Yeon-dong, Cheju, Jeju-do, South Korea
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After everyone gathered at the assembly point, we boarded the bus to our (late) dinner venue to fill our stomach with another round of authentic Korean fare. Da Hae Jeong (which also has an outlet in Busan) was vacant when we got there so we had the whole restaurant to ourselves!

Da Hae Jeong

Da Hae Jeong

Our dinner spread

Our dinner spread

Grilled fish

Grilled fish

Gyeran-jjim (steamed eggs)

Gyeran-jjim (steamed eggs)

Other banchan dishes. I can't remember what the middle one is... Maybe chicken?

Other banchan dishes. I can’t remember what the middle one is… Maybe chicken?

Many of the dishes were pretty much standard across all the meals we had but the star of the table that night was, no doubt, the gyeran-jjim, or steamed eggs. Fluffy and custardy in texture, the gyeran-jjim was served simmering-hot in an earthenware bowl and has a mildly sweet taste. This unassuming dish is often sprinkled with scallions but I loved it in its bare form, and so did the rest at the same table as evident by how quickly the bowl was emptied. The small portion was obviously not enough to satisfy our appetite so we ended up ordering another, paid for out of our own pocket.

Da Hae Jeong (다해정) · 877-2 Yongdam 2(i)-dong, Cheju, Jeju-do, South Korea · Phone: +82 64-745-1688
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Before calling it a night, the tour bus stopped somewhere near the northern coast for us to view the Yongduam Rock (or Dragon Head Rock) but we had to get off and walk a distance. Feeling exhausted and reluctant to venture out in the cold and drizzle (which gradually became heavier, phew!), fiancé and I chose to stay in the bus while everyone else alighted. Missing out on the Yongduam Rock was no big deal to me because I was never intrigued by geological formations, regardless of how peculiar or stunning they may be. Furthermore, perhaps it takes a certain kind of imagination to make out the dragon head among the pile of rocks but, I just cannot see it in any of the Yongduam Rock pictures I found on Google Images 🤔

Yongduam Rock (Dragon Head Rock 용두암) · Yongduam-gil, Jeju-si, Jeju-do, South Korea · Phone: +82 64-728-3601
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For the two nights in Jeju Island, we put up at Best Western Hotel (undeniably a name made up of highly searchable keywords 😆) where we would max out our daily sugar intake at the Starbucks outlet next to the lobby with a cuppa hot chocolate or Green Tea Frappé. Just a few steps away was a 24-hour convenience store that would become our spot for midnight munchies, and facing the hotel was a stretch of malls that we didn’t have the opportunity to explore owing to the unfavourable weather and the fact that we were always returning from our tour past standard operating hours.

Best Western Jeju Hotel (taken on the day we checked out)

Best Western Jeju Hotel (taken on the day we checked out)

Our spacious room - just for the two of us!

Our spacious room – just for the two of us!

The pantry area, separated from the beds with a little partition

The pantry area, separated from the beds with a little partition

The toilet. No rain shower head, though

The toilet. No rain shower head, though

Like many other large lodging establishments, Best Western uses electronic keycards for room access, and unless you want to leave the hotel several tens of dollars poorer, do not lose your keycard if you plan to stay with them. Do not attempt to keep it as a memento. Don’t even think about it.

We thought we had misplaced one of our keycards and was told to pay upon check-out a replacement fee of ₩40,000 (S$50) – or thereabouts (but it was an amount astronomical enough to drop my jaw) – which was ridiculous considering that it was just a generic card and the hotel could easily deactivate it. What’s a cheap keycard to a hotel, much less an international one? By and large, the stay was pleasant (I mean, the location is great and the room had almost everything we needed) but this incident sure left a bad taste in our mouths.

Well, it turned out the card was actually in the pocket of one of fiancé’s soiled jeans all the while 😑 and it was only discovered when he unpacked his luggage in Singapore. Now that we’ve found the precious keycard, can we get a refund?!

Best Western Hotel · 27 Doryeong-ro, Cheju, Jeju-do 690-762, South Korea
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* * DAY 3 * *

(Olleh Gaseo Jeonbok Meogja → Teseum →
Seongeup Folk VillageSeongsan Ilchulbong Peak
Mandarin Orange Farm)

Since breakfast wasn’t included for most of our hotel stays in Korea, we were often driven out to designated eateries to have our first meal of the day. This arrangement enabled us to break away from the repetitive menus of hotel breakfast buffets and be fully immersed in the flavours and aromas of the Korean cuisine from the get-go each day 😋 So on the third day, we started our morning with a bowl of juk (Korean porridge) and ended the night with the most palatable jogaetang (clam stew) and my virgin sannakji (moving octopus sashimi) experience – all from the same seafood restaurant called Olleh Gaseo Jeonbok Meogja which translates loosely to “let’s go and eat abalone”.

Restaurant front - all the fresh seafood 😋

Restaurant front – all the fresh seafood 😋

Dining area

Dining area

Very grateful for my clear skin throughout my stay in Korea because I usually break out whenever I travel. All credits goes to Dr Ram of The Wellness Clinic for keeping my pimples at bay

Very grateful for my clear skin throughout my stay in Korea because I usually break out whenever I travel. All credits goes to Dr Ram of The Wellness Clinic for keeping my pimples at bay

The usual banchan, again

The usual banchan, again

Korean porridge (juk) topped tiny seaweed shreds

Korean porridge (juk) topped with seaweed shreds

Jam sandwich for those who were still feeling hungry!

Jam sandwich for those who were still feeling hungry!

Filling merely half the bowl, the juk was plain without any superfluous ingredients apart from the mounds of seaweed shreds on top of it (no abalone too, in case you’re wondering). The grains looked like they were submerged in water and not smoothly blended together and we didn’t like the slightly gritty texture and taste (or lack thereof). Perhaps it is the Korean tradition to keep breakfast light, but a bowl of porridge definitely didn’t satiate our hunger so we reached for the jam and bread thereafter.

Fortunately, dinner was worlds apart from the bland and mediocre food we had in the day. Admittedly, we felt a pang of a disappointment when the bus pulled over in front of the same restaurant as that seemed to spell yet another round of unsatisfactory meal. But as soon as we dug in, we were all blown away!

Three-quarter of the dinner spread. It does not look that fantastic, I know

Three-quarter of the dinner spread. It does not look that fantastic, I know

Spicy rice cakes (tteokbokki)

Spicy rice cakes (tteokbokki)

Seafood/clams stew (jogaetang) - hands down the best dish of the whole Korea trip!

Seafood/clams stew (jogaetang) – hands down the best dish of the whole Korea trip!

In no time, our table was populated with dishes but ultimately, it was the jogaetang that stole the scene. Loaded with at least four different kinds of seafood fresh (largely short-neck clams) from the tank and then boiled in light, clear broth which thickened with flavour over time, this piping hot stew provided a much-needed respite from the cold. The natural sweetness of the prawns balanced out the briny tang of the abalone (which was still moving in its shell when the stew was served) and clams to give a refreshing taste, making it worthy of whatever calories it contained. Fiancé asked if we could go for a second serving but for some reason, I refused?! 😭

Even till today, I am still kicking myself for not ordering another bowl of jogaetang and this is probably one regret I’m going to have to live with for the rest of my life..

Moving octopus tentacles (sannakji)

Moving octopus tentacles (sannakji)

This has got to be one of the must-try dishes in Korea!

This has got to be one of the must-try dishes in Korea!

The restaurant was also where I didn’t expect to strike an item off my bucket list – trying the sannakji! The sannakji is inarguably the most controversial South Korean delicacy as it involves slaughtering the baby octopus alive (which I didn’t know prior to this experience) and serving its still-writhing tentacles to diners. It was never supposed to be served to the guests in this restaurant until someone in our tour group spotted it appearing from its hideout in one of the tanks, thereby leading it to its unfortunate fate. The sannakji was a treat from our tour guide and although I enjoyed the chewy and slimy texture, I wished it was, at the very least, given a quick and minimally painful death before it was severed for the dinner plate.

Olleh Gaseo Jeonbok Meogja (올레가서전복먹자) · 2614-3, Doduil-dong, Jeju-si, Jeju, South Korea · Operating Hours: 07:00 – 21:00 · Phone: +82 64-713-2277
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South Korea is home to at least five teddy bear museums in the world, of which two – including the first in the country which was established in 2001 – are in Jeju Island. However, the concept of teddy bear museums didn’t quite gain traction among international visitors until it was popularised by the 2006 hit Korean TV series Goong. As part of our itinerary, we were able to embrace our inner child at Teseum Jeju (Teddy Bear Safari), a spin-off from the original that prides itself as the world’s first exhibition theme park with various real life-sized wildlife and marine stuffed animals and teddy bears. Apart from those, there are also teddy bears dressed in traditional clothes of countries around the world (though the depiction can get a little stereotypical, so view with an open mind) and as gods from Greek mythology. On top of that, you can even come face-to-face with celebearties 😆

Teseum / Teddybear Safari (Jeju)

Teseum / Teddybear Safari (Jeju)

The museum is made up of two interconnected 2-storey buildings (A and B), each dedicating to a certain theme. Stuffed animals (not teddy bears, mind you) are displayed in a safari context on the first level while marine animals, subjects of prominent artworks and notable film characters take the form of teddy bears on the second. The place seemed moderately small and well-structured so two hours is all you need to see everything. I vaguely remember that there was a café somewhere in the building too but I could be wrong. Fiancé and I then concluded the tour with a brief shopping stint at the gift shop which honestly had more interesting variety of teddy bears than the museum itself.

Finds at the safari

Finds at the safari

This is also part of the Safari Zone, I think..

This is also part of the Safari Zone, I think..

There were quite a number of teddy bears with this “eyes shut, mouth wide open” expression to the extent that it looked kinda lazy.. Makes me wonder if this was the operator’s way of saving cost on the eye balls..

Why go to the bird park when you can see stuffed flamingoes at Teseum? /s

Why go to the bird park when you can see stuffed flamingoes at Teseum? /s

Aye, aye, captain!

Aye, aye, captain!

Lifesize bear!

Lifesize bear!

More safari animals..

More safari animals..

The most docile-looking tiger

The most docile-looking tiger

Generic bears at the gift shop

Generic bears at the gift shop

Racks and racks of teddy bears for sale..

Racks and racks of teddy bears for sale..

For sale: Kate Middleton and Prince William teddy bears. But I don't know, the workmanship looks kinda sloppy

For sale: Kate Middleton and Prince William teddy bears. But I don’t know, the workmanship looks kinda sloppy

Teddy bears in hanbok (traditional Korean costume)

Teddy bears in hanbok (traditional Korean costume)

More choices at the Korean section. We got a pair from here! All of the displayed teddy bears are placed upright using a stand which you would have to buy separately

More choices at the Korean section. We got a pair from here! All of the displayed teddy bears are placed upright using a stand which you would have to buy separately

On the whole, I thought the museum was rather.. pointless? It might have lost its charm over the years but it certainly didn’t live up to whatever hype it had a decade ago. First of all, to call this a museum would be a misnomer because none of its exhibits bear any cultural or historical value. I would have probably closed my eyes to this if there was at least a vintage bear but no, you’re paying to see mass-produced ugly – well, some – teddy bears pretending to be of great worth (though the museum claims otherwise). Echoing what an online reviewer wrote, Teseum is “more like a showroom for a teddy bear manufacturer” and it certainly doesn’t take much time and effort, as compared to making wax figures, to create teddy bears with generic faces. Calling Teseum a teddy bear gallery or exhibition would have been more apt.

And is it me or is the term ‘museum’ very loosely used these days? It seems like anyone can put a few bunches of human hair together and call it a hair museum just so that it would justify the collection of admission fees.

Secondly, as a tourist attraction (assuming since there were hardly any locals when we were there), not having the descriptions of the exhibits in English is patently absurd which further validates my point about Teseum serving absolute no educational purpose at all. Teseum feeds mainly on the obsession of teddy bears so I wouldn’t recommend this place if you’re not a fan. In fact, if you’re interested in genuine vintage toys or plushies, our MINT Museum of Toys would be so much more worthy of your time and money! (#notsponsored)

Jeju Teseum (제주테지움) · 2159, Pyeonghwa-ro, Jeju-si, Jeju-do, South Korea · Operating Hours: 08:30-19:00 · Phone: +82 64-799-4820
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The afternoon dawned and it was time to eat, again! By then, our immunity to the usual Korean fare had set in so we were exhilarated to learn that we were going to be grilling some meat for lunch that day. It’s a pity I had forgotten to note down the name and address of the restaurant because the seasoning for the meat was actually quite en pointe, so much so that there wasn’t any leftover at the end of the meal (or we could just be hungry). To aid in my digestion, I would wrap the meat in the lettuce provided before chomping down on it – just like the Koreans do!

The restaurant

The restaurant

Banchan

Banchan

I'm terrible at identifying the different kinds of meat.. This is either chicken or pork.. Most likely it's the latter..

I’m terrible at identifying the different kinds of meat.. This is either chicken or pork.. Most likely it’s the latter..

This could be beef.. Haha #ifail

This could be beef.. Haha #ifail

Rubbing our overindulged bellies in delight, we set out for Seongeup Village which was one of the filming sites for the most amazing miniseries of all time, Dae Jang Geum. Coincidentally, I had just rewatched the show with fiancé a few weeks prior to the trip because he, who had never watched a single episode due to his NS commitments when it was first aired on TV, didn’t understand why I loved it so much. Hence, while the excitement of most fans had already waned off, we were both thrilled to bits to set foot on this culture-rich old-fashioned village (even though up till now we still can’t figure out the scene/episode(s) in which the filming was done there 😐). Once we were at the entrance, we were handed over to a Chinese-speaking villager (more precisely, a Chinese who married into the village) for a guided tour around the village.

Seongeup Village boasts cultural properties that have been handed down from generation to generation and it is unique in the sense that some of its thatched huts are still inhabited by people who sleep, work and go about their business there. Even so, there wasn’t much activity going on (apart from the sounds of TVs blaring from inhabited huts) and many huts we went into were either empty or used to store their pots whereas those that were inhabited had their doors shut for privacy reasons. It would be better if there were demonstrations on how the pots were utilised to make kimchi or the miraculous tea they were about to sell us, though.

Mandatory shot for DJG fans

Mandatory shot for DJG fans

The dol hareubang, a large rock statue said to offer both protection and fertility to the household, is a common sight in Jeju

The dol hareubang, a large rock statue said to offer both protection and fertility to the household, is a common sight in Jeju

The thatched huts - mostly vacant

The thatched huts – mostly vacant

The pots used to store kimchi or brew tea, I guess?

The pots used to store kimchi or brew tea, I guess?

Inside one of the vacant thatched huts.. now just a storage space

Inside one of the vacant thatched huts.. now just a storage space

At the end of the tour, we were brought to a well-furnished hut where another villager would deliver her sales pitch about horse bones and their five-taste tea (omija) which was touted to possess all five basic tastes – sweetness, sourness, bitterness, saltiness and spiciness. But she also mentioned that, depending on the individual’s physical conditions, the taste of the tea may vary on every taste bud (something along the lines of people with illnesses would only be able to taste bitterness or spiciness).

I’m sorry to be rude but, this smells like bull to me.

Sample cups filled with the tea were distributed to the group and frankly, it tasted like plum juice to me and people I asked (including a diabetic lady) – sweet with a hint of sourness. Well, I guess you must be on your deathbed to taste the other end of the spectrum, then. Each jar of omija cost about S$50, I think, as I remember it being quite expensive. However, because I accidentally articulated my liking for the taste (I mean, I’ve always liked eating sweet plums), fiancé purchased one jar on a whim despite my best efforts to stop him 😒 And as usual, it’s still sitting in the refrigerator, barely touched.

Seongeup Folk Village (성읍민속마을) · 104, Seongeupjeonguihyeon-ro, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do, South Korea · Phone: +82-64-740-6000~1, +82-64-742-8866, +82 64-758-7181
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The weather grew progressively gloomier and more blustery as the bus got closer to our next outdoor destination – the Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak or also known as Sunrise Peak – and eventually poured. Hard. What luck! Foreseeing that it would rain, our tour guide had thoughtfully prepared disposable ponchos for each and everyone of us so that we could comfortably scale the tuff cone. But the rain was just too heavy and my shoes were already wet beyond redemption (which makes them prone to slipping), so fiancé and I decided, once again, to stay put on ground level while the rest soldiered on and continued their expedition to the peak.

After the rain cleared

After the rain cleared

Seongsan Ilchulbong. I really wanted to go to the peak.. Damn the bad weather!

Seongsan Ilchulbong. I really wanted to go to the peak.. Damn the bad weather!

In the meantime, we brought business to the gift shops with our purchase of a few boxes of the Jeju cactus crunch choco (an airy snack covered with little rice puffs) for our family and friends back home. Available in a handful of flavours, the Jeju specialty is usually packed – individually – in boxes of roughly 12 pieces and is cheaper when bought in larger quantities, which makes it an ideal souvenir.

From there, we went to an Innisfree shop located further down the sloped base amidst the now-subsided rain to do my first round of cosmetics shopping. But just as we were about to leave, the rain returned with a vengeance, trapping us in the shop for a good 20 minutes 😑

Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak [UNESCO World Heritage] · 284-12, Ilchul-ro, Seongsan-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do, South Korea · Phone: +82 64-710-7923
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Our final stop before dinner at Olleh Gaseo Jeonbok Meogja was a Mandarin orange/tangerine farm where we were supposed to pick our own oranges. But the torrential downpour had sort of dampened everyone’s mood and caused much of the farm to be mucky and marshy. With no desire to dirty our footwear, we were there for merely 20 minutes, tops – most of which spent on entertaining the affectionate dog guarding the farm. Others took the opportunity to visit the loo and buy boxes of the Jeju snack we got at Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak earlier (but pricier) as well as other miscellaneous stuff made from tangerines from the shop next to the farm.

Wet, wet, wet

Wet, wet, wet

Jeju Orange Farm

Jeju Orange Farm

Smelly boi 😝

Smelly boi 😝

Unfortunately, I do not know the name and address of this farm but if you are interested, here is a list of all the tangerine farms in Jeju Island compiled by Jeju Weekly.

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* * DAY 4 * *

(Jeju International Airport [Jeju to Seoul with T-Way] →
Nami IslandGeummun Dak-galbi →
Holiday Inn Resort Alpensia Pyeongchang)

After two fruitful and much warmer days in Jeju Island, it was time to leave. In lieu of not partaking in the hotel breakfast (as we couldn’t wake up in time for it 😆), fiancé and I had a quick meal at Lotteria, a popular Korean fast food joint in the bustling departure hall at Jeju International Airport. In front of it (and a few more shops) conveniently lay a row of departure gates which were visible from where we were eating. Subsequently, we joined our tour group on the floor (chairs were scarce so people were literally seated everywhere) while waiting for the cue to board our flight which had already been delayed once.

Goodbye Jeju!

Goodbye Jeju!

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Our touchdown in Seoul was followed by lunch at a restaurant in Banghwa-dong (exact location unknown) where we had spicy hot pot to help us adjust to the sudden dip in temperature. Adding flavour to the broth were mainly vegetables (too much of them, actually) and beef shavings which, I vaguely recall, weren’t enough to go around.

Spicy hotpot for lunch

Spicy hot pot for lunch

After having our fill of lunch, we piled onto our bus and headed to Namiseom Ferry Dock where we would take a 10-minute ferry ride into Nami Island. As Nami Island is not accessible via road, visitor can only reach the place by sea from its designated dock at ₩10,000 per entry (for foreigners).

Once a desolate piece of land with only few scattered chestnut trees, poplar trees, and mulberry trees on the fringes of a modest peanut farm, Nami Island is presently known for its picturesque setting and tree-lined pavements that provide the perfect backdrop for (wedding) photography. With its popularity heightened by the 2002 Korean TV series Winter Sonata, the self-governed nation continues to draw flocks of nature-loving visitors annually, thereby making it one of the most visited weekend getaways in Korea. Getting into Nami Island would require one’s passport.

Ferry to Nami Island

Ferry to Nami Island

Nami Island entrance (the queue is for the return trip to the dock)

Nami Island entrance (the queue is for the return trip to the dock)

Wet everywhere 😑 It made me feel like staying in the bus..

Wet everywhere 😑 It made me feel like staying in the bus..

Clearly a tourist destination as evident from the different country flags placed along the stretch of pavement near the entrance

Clearly a tourist destination as evident from the different country flags placed along the stretch of pavement near the entrance

Some of the shops at Nami Island

Some of the shops at Nami Island

Fireplaces like this can be found in various parts of Nami Island. While others used them to warm their hands, I tried to dry my shoes above them (which obviously didn't work lol)

Fireplaces like this can be found in various parts of Nami Island. While others used them to warm their hands, I tried to dry my shoes above them (which obviously didn’t work lol)

Peacocks can be found near food establishments

Peacocks can be found near food establishments

Let your nose take you to where these red bean pancakes are sold..

Let your nose take you to where these red bean pancakes are sold..

Plain buns, I guess? This stall was unattended when I took this picture

Plain buns, I guess? This stall was unattended when I took this picture

My guilty pleasure.. A must-have in the cold

My guilty pleasure.. A must-have in the cold

Generic sausages but still, worth every penny!

Generic sausages but still, worth every penny!

Tree-lined pavement with lamps in the shape of balloons illuminating from above the moment dusk set in. Our tour guide actually took a picture of fiancé and me against these trees but it turned out awful.. I looked so fat in my pink Taobao winter coat 😭

Tree-lined pavement with lamps in the shape of balloons illuminating from above the moment dusk set in. Our tour guide actually took a picture of fiancé and me against these trees but it turned out awful.. I looked so fat in my pink Taobao winter coat 😭

More dreamy lights

More dreamy lights

Fiancé and I were walking around Nami Island aimlessly (and buying food as we saw them) because there wasn’t any activity planned out for us. Tired of repeatedly stepping into the puddles of water left by the rain, we decided to head back to the meeting point before the rest. Don’t get me wrong – Nami Island is, indeed, a lovely place worth visiting, especially during the autumn season when foliage turns fiery shades of scarlet (just Google the pictures – breathtaking, I tell you). But as always, the persistent rain (and the extreme cold for me) ruined the experience and made me really reluctant to fully take in the beauty of the place.

Maybe next time!

Namiseom Island (남이섬 종합휴양지) · 1, Namisum-gil, Namsan-myeon, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do (accessible only by ferry) · Namiseom Ferry Dock: 1024, Bukhangangbyeon-ro, Gapyeong-eup, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do · Phone: +82-31-580-8114
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A short distance away from the ferry dock was Geummun Dak-Galbi where we had spicy stir-fried chicken (dak galbi) for dinner. The restaurant was housed on the ground floor of a three-storey building which, on the surface, would have resembled a haunted school if not for the illuminating presence of the LED signboard against its dark façade. Although I’m not sure if the restaurant actually owned the entire building, the only activity seemed to be coming from them.

For some reasons, taking this picture made me feel eerily uncomfortable, like, I half-expected "someone" to be standing near one of the windows on the second floor (yeah, probably too much horror flicks haha)

For some reasons, taking this picture made me feel eerily uncomfortable, like, I half-expected “someone” to be standing near one of the windows on the second floor (yeah, probably too much horror flicks haha)

Inside the restaurant

Inside the restaurant

Before mixing in the condiments

Before mixing in the condiments

Where's the chicken?

Where’s the chicken?

Possibly the laziest and most underwhelming meal we had during the trip, the dak galbi felt like a poor attempt at passing off as a meat dish with only a few chunks of chicken among a mass of cabbage strips despite the fact that it was meant for four grown adults. The pathetic portion is a far cry from the way it looks on Google pictures taken by walk-in diners so either our agency had opted for the cheapest meal package or the restaurant had run out of chickens by 6.30pm KST. And to top it off, it tasted nothing short of ordinary so it failed to leave a lasting impression on us. In fact, none of us remembered we had dak galbi until we went through all the photographs again.

Geummun Dak-galbi 금문 닭갈비 · 323 Daljeon-ri, Gapyeong-eup, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea · Phone: +82 31-581-9282
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Shortly thereafter, we embarked on a five-hour drive to Pyeongchang (hats off to the driver, and tour guide for keeping him in conversation to help him stay awake behind the wheel – tough job!). The bus stopped by a deserted convenience store en route for us to buy some nibbles as well as to use the toilet before completing the rest of the journey. As we were nearing our destination, we dropped by a ski rental shop to choose and collect our ski suits that would be used on the next day. The designs of their female ski jackets were generally very obiang-looking (kinda like those of Lularoe leggings 🤣) but I realised the patterns tended to be less ostentatious and tacky with smaller sizes. Still, they were goddamn hideous. I very much preferred the men’s which were predominantly in simple colours of red, blue, and so on. Blah.. gender stereotyping at its finest 😑

For my future reference, I wore M for the ski jacket and L for pants.

It was already past midnight (KST) when we checked into our room at Holiday Inn Resort Alpensia Pyeongchang but having spent the whole evening sleeping in the bus, we wanted to stay up for a little while to watch TV after taking a shower. The in-room TV came with an extensive selection of premium TV channels – including a few catered to the kink-inclined 😉

Our room (for 4 actually!) at Holiday Inn Resort Alpensia Pyeongchang

Our room (for 4 actually!) at Holiday Inn Resort Alpensia Pyeongchang

Spacious pee-pee area equipped with basic amenities

Spacious pee-pee area equipped with basic amenities

Fiancé's favourite rain shower head!

Fiancé’s favourite rain shower head!

But our bodies couldn’t resist the softness of the bed and warmth of the duvet so very soon, we found ourselves drifting into our slumber with the TV still turned on in the background (our usual practice when staying at hotels to cancel out any unwanted sounds in the middle of the night, if you get what I mean 😐).

By the way, the hotel (as with most hotels in Pyeongchang) charges for WiFi access at ₩14,300 (S$18) per day, so good thing we had rented a pocket WiFi for our trip!

Holiday Inn Resort Alpensia Pyeongchang · 325 Solbong-ro, Daegwalnyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do, South Korea · Phone: +82 33-339-0000
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* * DAY 5 * *

(Alpensia Ski Resort → Hotel Inter-Burgo Wonju)

Looking through our room windows, we saw the rays of the winter sun cast upon the accumulation of snow around the hotel compound, unveiling what was in the pitch darkness the night before. Are we in Winter Wonderland now?

Since we wouldn’t be checking out until late morning, we had the luxury of sleeping in but nevertheless managed to wake up just in time before the hotel breakfast buffet ended. Given that time was tight, we would have passed on it if not for the fact that breakfast and lunch on Day 5 were excluded from our tour package. At the restaurant with only 5 minutes remaining until the chafers were taken away, we scrambled to scoop whatever was left  – basically croissant, smoked salmon, sausages and chicken wings – onto our plates. Although the dishes had already cooled down to room temperature, they were still fairly tasty!

My all-time favourite buffet food XD

My all-time favourite buffet food XD

The casino is no longer in operation

The casino is no longer in operation

The sole purpose of coming to Pyeongchang was to ski at the Alpensia Ski Resort behind our hotel. We kept our personal belongings in a rented locker and obtained a complete set of ski gear over a counter (rental fees already included in the cost of our tour package). But because we didn’t know how to ski (and couldn’t be bothered to hire a private instructor), we took them off after a couple of minutes of reckless “skiing” as the weight of the boots was hindering our movement. We were freezing too so it didn’t take long for us to retreat indoors. Oh my.. when did we become so boring? 不认老都不行了。

Awful ski jacket -_- We had snow on our hair!

Awful ski jacket -_- We had snow on our hair!

Ticket to Alpensia Ski Resort! (Tested an Innisfree nail polish in Jeju.. obviously I can't do nail polishes for nuts)

Ticket to Alpensia Ski Resort! (Tested an Innisfree nail polish in Jeju.. obviously I can’t do nail polishes for nuts)

Entrance to the ski area

Entrance to the ski area

Time to ski!

Time to ski!

This place is huge!

This place is huge!

Successfully "skied" without falling down WOOO maybe I'm born for this!

Successfully “skied” without falling down WOOO maybe I’m born for this!

Never too old for a snowball fight!

Never too old for a snowball fight!

This was where my then-boyfriend proposed! (The guy behind him looked like he was proposing to someone else as well lol)

This was where my then-boyfriend proposed! (The guy behind him looked like he was proposing to someone else as well lol)

Food options are limited at the Alpensia Ski Resort so unless you don’t mind going on a 3-hour bus ride to Seoul to tame your hunger, you are pretty much stuck with the usual hotel restaurant fare, fast food restaurants (Domino’s Pizza, Baskin Robbins, etc.) and the cafeteria within the resort that served mediocre international food. For convenience sake, our lunch venue was settled on the cafeteria which would become packed with famished skiers as the afternoon set in. Stalls were run on a self-service basis, where diners would receive a queue number to collect their orders.

The Japanese food stall I bought my lunch from

The Japanese food stall I bought my lunch from

Free flow of unappetising sides.. (those aren't onion rings, in case you're wondering. And no, I still don't know what those were haha)

Free flow of unappetising sides.. (those aren’t onion rings, in case you’re wondering. And no, I still don’t know what those were haha)

Cheese Pork Cutlet (13,000₩). only ordered this because of the cheesy factor. The breaded pork was lightly filled with cheese and served with a fist-sized lump of rice and salad. The portion size was just right for me but the meat itself was dry.

Cheese Pork Cutlet (₩13,000). only ordered this because of the cheesy factor. The breaded pork was lightly filled with cheese and served with a fist-sized lump of rice and salad. The portion size was just right for me but the meat itself was dry.

As we had some time to spare before setting off again for another region of South Korea, we looked around in the retail shops and (finally) bought a pair of winter boots for myself to wear in place of my damp and musky espadrilles (that’s like 4 days later but better late than never). The new dry boots added what felt like a spring to my step and for once in this trip, I just wanted to keep walking 😄

Alpensia Ski Resort (알펜시아리조트 스키장) · 325, Solbong-ro, Daegwallyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do, South Korea · Phone: +82-33-339-0000~9
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Moving farther out of Pyeongchang, we had another round of Korean hot pot at an unidentified restaurant – which most locals probably don’t even know exists – for dinner. This time around, there were more ingredients (that appealed to my taste buds) with a free-flow of meat but the bland broth did little to enhance their tastes and vice versa. Granted, the meal was healthy but everyone got bored of them very quickly.

Red meat and lotsa mandu

Red meat and lotsa mandu

Our bus resumed its route and at last ground to a halt at the top of a slope where Hotel Inter-Burgo Wonju was located. Once we had collected our access cards, we took the lift up to our respective rooms. Upon entering ours, we were greeted with a slight musky odour and warm air as if the air-conditioner hadn’t been turned on for a while. But that’s not all, for there were more to be undesired when the power came on.

The lights were dim but non-adjustable and were unevenly distributed across the room. Thus there were a lot of dark corners which I had absolutely no hankering to inspect (God knows what was inhabiting there). The wallpaper, furniture – especially the armchair by the stained coffee table – and carpet looked dated while duvets were of an odd, mold-like green with a texture that resembled crepe paper – crumply and thin. The pillows were as flat as pancakes and dust was amassed on the bedside wall lights which were not working. Television reception in the room was terrible as there was not one channel that had optimum signal quality. What’s more, the only English channels were BBC and CNN 🙄 Thanks Hotel Inter-Burgo, just what I needed to catch up on current affairs and be bombarded with Trump news.

Can you feel the eeriness in this room just by looking at this picture?

Can you feel the eeriness in this room just by looking at this picture?

A dark corner next to the bed. Yikes!

A dark corner next to the bed. Yikes!

The filthiness of the room made me extremely wary of what might be lurking on that bedspread so I would scrutinise its every detail. While doing so, I would occasionally spot little critters crawling on the bed frame. As a former victim of bed bug infestation, I was tremendously fearful of repeating history. Hence I laid a bathroom towel on the duvet before sleeping on it to avoid direct contact with the bed.

I could go on about the condition of the room, but you get the gist. To be fair, the room in the day looked less shabby and had a beautiful view of the surrounding snow-covered landscape but I was essentially so paranoid and crept out throughout my stay that I couldn’t wait to leave this hotel. Thank goodness it was just for a night.

The toilet, on the other hand, was better lit than the bedroom and equipped with possibly the most state-of-the-art technology in this ageing hotel – a washlet. The grouted gaps between the tiles contributed to the clean look of the toilet. Still, I wouldn’t want to sit in the bathtub. Basic toiletries were also provided although it was rather miserly of the hotel to combine hair and body wash in a single diminutive bottle. The shower door hinge was faulty too as it kept swinging open and couldn’t stay shut when I was bathing.

Bathtub and an additional shower head

Bathtub and an additional shower head

Another shower head, but with rain shower effect

Another shower head, but with rain shower effect

Washlet

Washlet

Not wanting to be cooped up in this hellhole all night, fiancé and I decided to explore the hotel grounds and perhaps, look for something in the vicinity to fill the void from our unfinished dinner earlier. When we got to the spacious but empty lobby, we realised that all the restaurants in the hotel were closed although it was barely 8pm KST. There were also no malls or dining options nearby and according to the tour guide, the city centre was a 30-minute drive away 😑 There was, however, a 7-Eleven store near the drop-off point from where we eventually bought cup noodles and some Korean beverages.

The saving grace of this hotel would be the free fast-speed WiFi connection which we tapped into to stream Running Man (I remember it was the BLACKPINK episode 😆) on our phone. It was truly a no-frills business hotel with the most basic amenities at a mid-range cost (if booked through the right medium) and could be the best hotel you can find in Wonju based on online reviews. That said, Hotel Inter-Burgo still fell short of the expectations of a four-star hotel. In my opinion, it deserved three stars or less.

Hotel Inter-Burgo Wonju · 200 Dongbusunhwan-ro, Bangok-dong, Wonju, Gangwon-do, South Korea · Phone: +82 33-769-8114
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* * Day 6 * *

(Everland → Sky 한식 (Sky Hansik) → Dalin Laver Museum →
Doota Mall → Nolboo Restaurant → GLAD Hotel)

Once again, we overslept and missed the hotel breakfast (or maybe instinctively we just weren’t keen) so lugging our baggage, we jumped straight onto our bus for  Everland. The theme park was thronged with many other tour groups who, like us, were all heading to see the two newly-arrived Chinese giant pandas, Ai Bao and Le Bao, at Panda World first. But we ended up devoting more time at the gift shop because the pandas were resting (and also if we really wanted to see pandas, we can always visit Jia Jia and Kai Kai at River Safari).

Thereafter, we were given time to roam Everland on our own. Due to fiancé’s acrophobia (*yawns* 😏) and our reluctance to squander our (limited) time at theme park away on queuing, we didn’t take any of the rides and only went on a food hunt and gift shop-hop for the most part.

Tickets to Everland!

Tickets to Everland!

Feeling some Disneyland vibes at the entrance

Feeling some Disneyland vibes at the entrance

Home to Ai Bao and Le Bao

Home to Ai Bao and Le Bao

Also includes the mandatory red pandas to complete the panda family

Also includes the mandatory red pandas to complete the panda family

ZzzZz leave me alone

ZzzZz leave me alone

The panda from the opposite angle.. clearly just pretending to sleep. Lazy, lazy.

The panda from the opposite angle.. clearly just pretending to sleep. Lazy, lazy.

The centrepiece of Everland - an enchanting Christmas tree

The centrepiece of Everland – an enchanting Christmas tree

Closed 😠

Closed 😠

LINE FRIENDS official shop

LINE FRIENDS official shop

LINE FRIENDS merchandise

LINE FRIENDS merchandise

Argh Brown is so cute

Argh Brown is so cute

Brown snacks!

Brown snacks!

We had three servings of this matcha churros.. #sorrynotsorry #madforchurros

We had three servings of this matcha churros.. #sorrynotsorry #madforchurros

The same cafe also had a dine-in area but it wasn't easy getting an empty table. By sheer luck, we managed to find one 😁

The same cafe also had a dine-in area but it wasn’t easy getting an empty table. By sheer luck, we managed to find one 😁

Dine-in area

Dine-in area

Panda Mushroom Soup (4,300₩) - The soup, although palatable, had a similar creamy consistency as that of canned ones - nothing to write home about. But how cute are those panda-shaped croutons?

Panda Mushroom Soup (₩4,300) – The soup, although palatable, had a similar creamy consistency as that of canned ones – nothing to write home about. But how cute are those panda-shaped croutons?

Candy galore!

Candy galore!

Edible and stackable Lego blocks

Edible and stackable Lego blocks

Last gift shop stop - Monami

Last gift shop stop – Monami

Stationery paradise! It's always a joy for me to be surrounded by colourful pens 😍

Stationery paradise! It’s always a joy for me to be surrounded by colourful pens 😍

You can even build your own Monami pen! But I don't really like the quality of Monami pens so I didn't bother with this section.

You can even build your own Monami pen! But I don’t really like the quality of Monami pens so I didn’t bother with this section.

Queuing to get tea and some food for our starving stomachs

Queuing to get tea and some food for our starving stomachs

Cold weather + hot tea = pure bliss

Cold weather + hot tea = pure bliss

Bet this was a better breakfast option as compared to the breakfast buffet at Hotel Inter-Burgo.

Bet this was a better breakfast option as compared to the breakfast buffet at Hotel Inter-Burgo.

Generally, we are not fond of visiting theme parks while on a time-sensitive tour because it wouldn’t be possible to enjoy them to the fullest under a tight schedule and this was no exception. If given a chance to visit South Korea again (without being on a tour group – just no, thank you), I would certainly insist on going to Everland or Lotte World (against fiancé’s will) and queue for the rides 😁

Everland · 199 Everland-ro, Pogog-eup, Cheoin-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea · Operating Hours: 10:00 – 19:00 (Mon to Thu, Sun) 10:00 – 20:00 (Fri & Sat)
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Under the recommendation of our tour guide (that’s what he claimed), we were taken to Sky Hansik (Sky 한식) somewhere in Pil-dong (exact address unknown but it was quite near to Everland) to binge on Korean barbecue for lunch. The restaurant was bustling with a mix of locals and foreigners in another tour group when we were there and staff were scuffling around trying to clear used plates from tables. It operated on a self-service system so we were free to take as much food and drinks as we wanted. All in all, the meat quality and seasoning was average and the food selection was nothing spectacular. But I was glad to have had a satiating meal for the first time in a long while.

Sky Hansik

Sky Hansik

Meat section - that's literally all they have

Meat section – that’s literally all they have

Some banchan

Some banchan

Beverage dispenser

Beverage dispenser

Barbecue away!

Barbecue away!

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Our next stop was Dalin Laver Museum and while there, we were taken on a guided tour around the gallery to learn about the process of making laver (seaweed). The tour  concluded at their – what else – in-house laver specialty shop where the Chinese-speaking sales representatives demonstrated the various uses of the laver, such as cooking them in soup or stuffing them in rice balls, in an effort to entice customers. They then invited us to try the samples of all the flavours before beginning their sales pitch. Among the 8 (I think) flavours available, barbecue is my favourite because not only is it indeed infused with barbecue essence, it also has only right amount of saltiness 😆 Others that come close are sea salt and kimchi and I prefer eating them as is to preserve the original flavour of their seasoning.

They call themselves a museum but there was hardly any English on their information panel 🙄

They call themselves a museum but there was hardly any English on their information panel 🙄

Laver sales pitch 😄

Laver sales pitch 😄

Laver rice balls!

Laver rice balls!

Samples 😋

Samples 😋

Dalin Laver packaging (click to enlarge)

Dalin Laver packaging (click to enlarge)

The laver is sold in bundles of 5 packets in the same flavour. Each packet contains 5 sheets of laver that are a little smaller than A4 and most amazingly, it only breaks along intentional creases; no scissors is necessary to cut them into bite-size pieces! Fiancé noticed the grin of satisfaction when I bit into the samples and readily bought 10 different sets (I forgot the prices, but our order cost at least S$100) with the secondary intention to give some out as souvenirs. It was one of the rare on-tour purchases we did not regret making. Unfortunately, this brand of laver is not sold anywhere else, not even online 😐 So.. anyone booking a Seoul tour package soon and doesn’t mind letting me tompang my laver order? 😫

Strangely enough, the museum also enables visitors to partake in a hanbok fitting experience on the second floor 🤨 It felt a little out of place but I suppose that helped save us a trip to Gyeongbokgung Palace. The entire level is dedicated to this short cultural experience so you can find different styles of hanbok in common sizes strewn all over the rack with plenty of photography props to aid you in perfecting your shots.

With my <em>jeonha</em> (king) (please pardon any costume inaccuracies - we just took whatever matched and fit us from the rack!)

With my jeonha, or king (please pardon any costume inaccuracies – we just took whatever matched and fit us from the rack!)

Food replicas - can see, cannot eat 😆 The dishes that contributed to the jeonha's obesity. (But seriously though, that's A LOT of food. Did he share them with his subordinates?!)

Food replicas – can see, cannot eat 😆 The dishes that contributed to the jeonha‘s obesity. (But seriously though, that’s A LOT of food. Did he share them with his subordinates?!)

LOL at the indecent exposure caused by the slit on the back of my chima (skirt)

LOL at the indecent exposure caused by the slit on the back of my chima (skirt)

One last shot before we took off the hanbok!

One last shot before we took off the hanbok!

We had fun playing dress-up but still, nothing beats wearing hanbok to the actual locations where history was made. Furthermore, as an added advantage of wearing hanbok at any of the palaces, admission is free. However, this is likely to be counterbalanced by the rental fees of the costumes if you don’t own one.

Dalin Laver Museum · 7 Hangang-daero 21-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea · Phone: +82 2-793-7300
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As promised on our itinerary, we were allowed time to shop and have dinner in Dongdaemun district so our bus dropped us off in front of Doota Mall. We could have walked over to Dongdaemun Market but considering that none of us had been there before, we didn’t want to risk getting lost in the maze of stalls (which we honestly didn’t mind if we were in Seoul without a tour group) and hold up everyone else. Thus, we chose to remain in the mall for some serious shopping 😸

One of the levels in Doota Mall

One of the levels in Doota Mall

Cosmetics shops

Cosmetics shops

Doota Mall is composed of 8 floors, each catering to different demographics. While I went crazy in ARITAUM (for Laneige) and Tony Moly on 4F, fiancé monitored my spending discreetly, occasionally dissuading me from purchasing more cosmetics. But when it was his turn to go gaga on B2, he had no qualms about forking over his money on several shoes 😏 #doublestandard

Doota Mall · 275 Jangchungdan-ro, Gwanghui-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea · Nearest Subway Station: Dongdaemun (Line 1 or 4 – Exit 8) Dongdaemun History & Culture Park (Line 2, 4 or 5 – exit 14)
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Once we had shopped till our hearts’ content (read: bank almost emptied), we reunited with fiancé’s parents at 1F for dinner nearby. As we were walking along a row of eateries at an alley, we caught sight of the signboard of Nolboo Restaurant and decided to give it a try not knowing that it was actually part of an established chain (they even have an outlet in Singapore). We placed an order with the waiting staff for two hot pots with chicken-based broth (yeah, so much for variety 😶) because we weren’t in the mood for spicy. Soon after, the ingredients – a mixture of fresh meat and vegetables – were served to our table and they were ready to be cooked!

Nolboo Restaurant front

Nolboo Restaurant front

Restaurant entrance

Restaurant entrance

What we ate

What we ate

But the moment we took our first bite of our meat, we regretted our decision because it lacked flavour. Should we have gone for budae jjigae (army stew) like everyone else in the restaurant, the food might have tasted a lot nicer so we’ve only got ourselves to blame. Nevertheless, the portion and quality of the ingredients were undoubtedly much better than those of what we had eaten during our tour.

Following our uneventful dinner, we recharged ourselves for our final day in South Korea at GLAD Hotel Yeouido which I have already covered on Day 1.

Nolboo Restaurant · 34, Eulji-ro 43-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul 04564, South Korea · Phone: +82 2-2264-1669
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* * DAY 7 * *

(LOTTE Department Store → Myeongdong Shopping Street →
Cheongha Korea Co. Ltd → Departure [Tax Refund])

So long, GLAD Hotel Yeouido! Much as we didn’t want to leave the hotel, we had to 😪 Once our tour guide had gone around to do a headcount on the bus, the driver stepped on the gas pedal and drove a short distance to a rather dilapidated-looking commercial building (exact location unknown; not worth knowing anyway) for our breakfast. Due to the size of our tour group, we had to take a cramped lift up in batches to the Chinese restaurant at the topmost floor. Before the waiting staff arrived at our tables with our breakfast, our tour guide assured us that it would be food that’d take us back home, so in our minds we were imagining kaya toast, fried you tiao, dim sum, Teochew porridge or whatnot.

But, lo and behold…

...the heck are these?

…the heck are these?

*deep breaths* For the last time, Singapore is not in China, and the food on the table is downright criminal, they belonged in the trash because I certainly had more delectable breakfast dishes when I was in Beijing and Chengdu. The appalled expression on everyone’s face said it all. I had lamented about breakfast on Day 2, but this took the cake. We dried beancurd, peanuts, baby bok choy and this white rolls thing to go with our plain porridge (not pictured). Bruh, where is the meat?! Did someone just assume we had turned vegan for the day? In the end, only the bok choy and peanuts were eaten up and the white rolls were practically untouched.

Checking off more compulsory shopping stops on the itinerary, we were subsequently brought to a ginseng gallery showroom where the spendthrift fiancé bought a box of red ginseng extract. Then, we were driven to a cosmetics megastore that stocked up on seemingly passé products and unheard-of brands. As a way to curb impulse spending, I was constantly looking up products on Carousell to ascertain if I could get them at a bargain price (and you’d be surprised to see tons of them listed there in their unopened condition). That tactic worked wonders because, much to the surprise of fiancé, these tourist traps failed to make me any poorer ✌

We climbed back on the bus and thereafter alighted near Lotte Department Store in Myeongdong. Since breakfast was horrendously inadequate, we made it a priority to have lunch first at 고구려 (Goguryeo) Corean Cuisine on 13F of the mall to acquire some energy for the vigorous shopping later on.

I must say, these banchan looked much more appetising..

I must say, these banchan looked much more appetising..

I underestimated the portion of my samgyetang and added fried chicken (₩18,000) to the order. The parts were huge and it felt like the entire chicken was there. But it was heavenly - crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, and perfectly coated with salty deliciousness.

I underestimated the portion of my samgyetang and added fried chicken (₩18,000) to the order. The parts were huge and it felt like the entire chicken was there. But it was heavenly – crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, and perfectly coated with salty deliciousness.

My samgyetang (₩15,000, cheaper than the fried chicken 😯) meant for two. The broth was thicker and more flavourful than the one we had on Day 1!

My samgyetang (₩15,000, cheaper than the fried chicken 😯) meant for two. The broth was thicker and more flavourful than the one we had on Day 1!

After footing the bill, we and his parents went our separate ways because they wanted to wander the mall on their own. Before taking the underpass to the shopping street across the road, I went on a lipstick shopping frenzy at the HERA booth on B1 while fiancé splurged on a new cologne.

LOTTE Department Store (main) · 30, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea · Nearest Subway Station: City Hall (Line 1)
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Having already familiarised myself with the layout of Myeongdong shopping street on my first visit to Seoul merely a few months ago, getting to the intended shops and back was a breeze. I continued my shopping streak at one of the numerous Innisfree and Etude House outlets in Myeongdong near the underpass and amassed considerable amount of samples in the process. For the remaining few minutes of free and easy time, we scoured a small area for delicious street food but only managed to buy from three stalls. In response to not being able to try a wider range of the food, fiancé groused about spending too much time at Lotte Department Store earlier 🤣 Well, would this constitute as a good excuse to return to Seoul? I don’t mind hitting the streets of Hongdae and Ewha (I was there on my solo trip) again 😆

Fiancé's favourite snack - mochi

Fiancé’s favourite snack – mochi

The baked cheese had a firm texture which was hardly stretched when bitten. But it was not too bad!

The baked cheese had a firm texture which was hardly stretched when bitten. But it was not too bad!

The beef steak was what made me fall in love with the shopping street! Fiancé and I are both steak lovers so I knew I had to introduce this stall to him!

The beef steak was what made me fall in love with the shopping street! Fiancé and I are both steak lovers so I knew I had to introduce this stall to him!

Sizzle, sizzle! If I remember the cost correctly, each serving should be about S$5?

Sizzle, sizzle! If I remember the cost correctly, each serving should be about S$5?

Thick chunks perfectly seared with a drizzle of teriyaki sauce! Fiancé gave this his stamp of approval.

Thick chunks perfectly seared with a drizzle of teriyaki sauce! Fiancé gave this his stamp of approval.

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Our bus picked us up outside Young Lotte Plaza and proceeded to a random jewellery shop in hopes of exhausting the remaining Korean banknotes we had with us. The group obliged the tour guide by making a couple of rounds about the display cabinets but ultimately left empty-handed within minutes because clearly no one was interested in splashing out hundreds of dollars on some impractical piece of ornament. Taking the hint that we were eager and ready to leave, our (dismayed) tour guide told us to get on the bus for our last meal in Seoul at Cheongha Korea.

The building comprises a hypermarket on the first two floors and a restaurant on the third, and it accepts strictly (tourists-only) group reservations accompanied by a tour guide. Judging from its close proximity to Incheon International Airport, I reckon this place typically serves as the final stop for tourists to eat and stockpile on local specialities and souvenirs before catching their return flight home. Hence, perhaps to facilitate human traffic flow and speed up the payment process, any individual customers who attempt to shop or dine there would be turned away.

Restaurant at Cheongha Korea

Restaurant at Cheongha Korea

What we ate for dinner - beoseot jeongol

What we ate for dinner – beoseot jeongol

Our dinner was yet another simple and healthy one-pot meal, but this time it was beoseot jeongol (mushroom casserole) which had broth quite similar to the taste of sukiyaki, topped with a touch of spiciness. Some felt it was a tad too salty but not so for me since my taste buds tend to gravitate towards briny and piquant flavours. However, as someone who isn’t really big on mushrooms and vegetables in general, the measly amount of meat in this dish didn’t do it for me.

Following an extensive shopping spree at the hypermarket where we snapped up packets boxes of tteokbokki and churros crackers, and honey tong tong (‘coz honey butter chips are so overrated), our bus made its way to the airport.

Cheongha Korea Co. Ltd (for tourist groups only) · 211-2 Unnam-dong, 78 Jung-gu, Incheon City, South Korea · Phone: +82 32-751-0448
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Hauling our inflated luggage out of the vehicle to the SIA check-in counters, we were relieved to have met the baggage weight allowance despite buying so much. While waiting for the gates to open, we went to the refund counters at the departure hall with our passports and the applicable receipts to get our tax reimbursement. Technically, based on the information I read, we were supposed to do this before checking in our luggage but past experience told me it wasn’t necessary.

A useful rule of thumb is that any purchases made at large, touristy department stores and brick and mortar stores downtown amounting between ₩30,000 and ₩200,000 on a single receipt (unless products are already tax-free) would be eligible for tax refund. That said, do check with the shop assistants first just to be sure. Some department stores are also equipped with tax refund kiosks and counters to process your tax refund on the spot (yay to more shopping cash 🤑) but it is only possible up to a certain limit. Plus, we usually leave our passports in the hotel safe because we can be quite careless at times 😥 We had the option of receiving the refund in USD or KRW but somehow fatigue from seven days of non-stop touring had kicked in… and I stupidly opted for KRW. When I finally realised the blunder I had committed, it was already too late because completed transactions are irrevocable 😭

LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE AND DON’T BE LIKE ME OK.

At last, we boarded our SQ flight and was once again greeted with a sense of familiarity. As the plane gained speed and began to lift skyward, we bade farewell to South Korea. Admittedly, I didn’t have as much of a great time as I did on my solo trip because of various natural factors and oversights on my part – for a start, I hated the cold and was inadequately dressed and prepared for it. On top of that, it was constantly raining and that made commuting a hassle. Referring back to the original itinerary from the tour agency, I also noticed that we had skipped several stops such as the Garden of Morning Calm in Seoul as well as Seopjikoji in Jeju, which could likewise be attributed to the weather.

Therefore, if we ever plan to travel to South Korea again, I am going to make doubly sure it doesn’t happen during the winter season (spring or autumn would be ideal). And yes, it has got to be a free and easy one.

My Korea haul!

My Korea haul!

Thanks for reading!

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REVIEW: M·A·C Snow Ball – Face Bag (Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt), Lipsticks in Elle Belle & Holiday Crush

Hello everyone!

You know Christmas is just around the corner when mentions of M·A·C Holiday collection hit the internet. This year, our beloved beauty brand introduces Snow Ball – a massive collection wrapped entirely in gold snowflake-emblazoned packaging that would make you want to empty your bank account.

M·A·C Snow Ball for Holiday 2017

M·A·C Snow Ball for Holiday 2017

One of the many displays for M·A·C Snow Ball

One of the many displays for M·A·C Snow Ball

M·A·C Snow Ball Mini Lipstick Kit / M·A·C Classics (US$69.50 / S$150) featuring 12 shades: Party Commencing (Matte), Little Darling (Matte), Please Me (Matte), Mangrove (Matte), Ruby Woo (Matte), Rebel (Satin), Flat Out Fabulous (Matte), Good Kisser (Matte), Diva (Matte), Velvet Teddy (Matte), Whirl (Matte) &amp; Stone (Matte)

M·A·C Snow Ball Mini Lipstick Kit / M·A·C Classics (US$69.50 / S$150) featuring 12 shades: Party Commencing (Matte), Little Darling (Matte), Please Me (Matte), Mangrove (Matte), Ruby Woo (Matte), Rebel (Satin), Flat Out Fabulous (Matte), Good Kisser (Matte), Diva (Matte), Velvet Teddy (Matte), Whirl (Matte) & Stone (Matte)

The Snow Ball Mini Lipstick Kit was an especially great bargain. If I hadn’t already owned 90% of the shades in there, I would have bought it in a heartbeat when it was pre-released to the M·A·C Obsessed members on the U.S. site.

M·A·C Snow Ball Extra Dimension Eye Shadow - all swatches (US$20 / S$37 each)

M·A·C Snow Ball Extra Dimension Eye Shadow – all swatches (US$20 / S$37 each)

M·A·C Snow Ball Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Face Bag - all swatches (US$49.50 / S$90 each)

M·A·C Snow Ball Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Face Bag – all swatches (US$49.50 / S$90 each)

M·A·C Snow Ball lipsticks - all swatches (US$17.50 / S$33 each)

M·A·C Snow Ball lipsticks – all swatches (US$17.50 / S$33 each)

Some other products from this collection not show above are the Face Powder (US$34 / S$46), Lash (US$17 / S$25) and Snowflake Adornment (US$16.50 / S$23). Unfortunately, the Prep + Prime Fix+ Kit (US$20) is not available in Singapore and you won’t be able to purchase it from the U.S. site too because of restrictions on shipping liquids. Ah, bummer! 😫

Apart from the to-die-for packaging, prices also seem to be a lot lower as compared to the previous years. Either M·A·C had decided to listen to the feedback of their customers or they had felt the pressure to keep their prices affordable from the growing competition in the market. Whatever it is, it is a win-win for both sides – customers wouldn’t feel much of a pinch shopping the collection and M·A·C gets to clear their stocks fast. And by fast, I mean wiping out almost everything in the collection within the first hour (both online and in Singapore stores)! 😲

Fortunately, I scored what I wanted on my list (many thanks to M·A·C Singapore 😘) and here’s my review:

#1 Face Bag (Gold)

M·A·C Snow Ball Face Bag (Gold, US$49.50 / S$90)

M·A·C Snow Ball Face Bag (Gold, US$49.50 / S$90)

M·A·C Snow Ball Face Bag (Gold)

M·A·C Snow Ball Face Bag (Gold)

Everything inside

Everything inside

Inside the bag

Inside the bag

Products in the Face Bag - Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt and 140 Synthetic Full Fan Brush

Products in the Face Bag – Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt and 140 Synthetic Full Fan Brush

M·A·C 140 Synthetic Full Fan Brush

M·A·C 140 Synthetic Full Fan Brush

The Snow Ball collection features two Face Bags in gold and peach with an US$85 value. Both bags, cheaply covered with scratchy sequins (gawd, I swear this is the laziest way to glitz up something) with a faux-fur pom pom hanging from the zipper, contain a different shade of snowflake-embossed Extra Dimension Skinfinish in rose gold packaging as well as an exclusive rose gold-handled 140 Synthetic Full Fan Brush worth US$42.

The peach version comes with Show Gold – which is already in the permanent line of Extra Dimension Skinfinish – while the shade in the gold one is limited edition so obviously, the demand was going to lean towards the latter. The brush, according to M·A·C, is “made from a blend of synthetic fibres in different diameter sizes to optimally pick up and apply powders”. The bristles are fluffy and smooth to the touch wonder but I why it is even included in the bag if it is more suited to applying loose powder which the highlighter isn’t?

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt

left: 3 swipes applied with my index finger / right: 3 swipes applied with slightly damp Sigma F35 Tapered Highlighter Brush

left: 3 swipes applied with my index finger / right: 3 swipes applied with slightly damp Sigma F35 Tapered Highlighter Brush

One of the most anticipated products in this collection, the Whisper of Gilt was first released in 2012 as a limited edition Extra Dimension Skinfinish and subsequently repromoted last year as part of the Sweet Copper Face Compact for the Nutcracker Holiday collection. The current holiday edition of the bestselling highlighter has a net weight of 7.5 g (0.26 oz) as opposed to the 9 g (0.31 oz) when it was launched in its original packaging. Each full-size Extra Dimension Skinfinish is sold for US$34 / S$55.

— APPLICATION (with M·A·C 140 Synthetic Full Fan Brush) —

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt - with the M·A·C 140 Synthetic Full Fan Brush

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt – with the M·A·C 140 Synthetic Full Fan Brush

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt - with the M·A·C 140 Synthetic Full Fan Brush

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt – with the M·A·C 140 Synthetic Full Fan Brush

Kinda looks like little beads of sweat above my cheekbone

Kinda looks like little beads of sweat above my cheekbone

— APPLICATION (with Sigma F41 Fan Brush) —

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt - with my Sigma F41 Fan Brush

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt – with my Sigma F41 Fan Brush

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt - with my Sigma F41 Fan Brush

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt – with my Sigma F41 Fan Brush

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt - with my Sigma F41 Fan Brush (much better!)

M·A·C Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt – with my Sigma F41 Fan Brush (much better!)

Finished look

Finished look

Whisper of Gilt is described as a pale gold shimmer with very finely milled luminous particles to give a sparkling finish. It is a champagne-toned highlighter that is neither too white nor gold, making it absolutely flattering on light to medium skin tones. Smooth to the touch, it has a soft consistency which makes it possible to blend and diffuse on the skin easily while adding just the right amount of glow. However, it does emphasise the natural texture of my skin to some extent (as I didn’t realise I had a little pimple above my cheekbone until I layered it with this highlighter 😐).

When applied with the M·A·C powder brush provided in the Face Bag, the highlighter appeared hardly visible on my skin. But with my Sigma F41 Fan Brush, it rendered a sheer to semi-opaque coverage (depending on how heavy-handed I was) and a moderate glow with two to three coats. Having said that, it is certainly capable of building to greater opacity when applied with finger or a denser (damp) brush if a more blinding radiance is preferred.

Whisper of Gilt as compared to highlighters from other brands (in terms of colour similarity, finish, etc.)

Whisper of Gilt as compared to highlighters from other brands (in terms of colour similarity, finish, etc.)

If you had missed out on the opportunity to snag a Face Bag at your local M·A·C store, or cannot bear to part with your money on a redundant bag and brush, Champagne Pop and Bigger and Better (from ColourPop’s Gimme More! Palette) are some more affordable dupes that you may want to consider.

M·A·C Snow Ball lipsticks packaging

M·A·C Snow Ball lipsticks packaging

M·A·C Snow Ball lipsticks packaging

M·A·C Snow Ball lipsticks packaging

Encased in gold tubes with smooth, glossy frost effect on the outside and kept in see-through plastic boxes with gold geometric snowflake patterns, the lipsticks are packaged similarly to the highlighter to conjure up that Christmas vibe. They’re so pretty and shiny, you can literally use them as your Christmas tree ornaments 😍

#2 Lipstick – Elle Belle

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Elle Bell (US$17.50 / S$33)

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Elle Bell (US$17.50 / S$33)

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Elle Bell

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Elle Belle

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Elle Belle

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Elle Belle

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Elle Bell

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Elle Bell

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Elle Bell

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Elle Bell

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Elle Belle

Elle Belle is described as a deep red with a Amplified finish. This luscious cool-toned berry red goes on smoothly with no drag and gives an opaque colour payoff in just one swipe. It has a glossy sheen and buttery texture to it but those somehow translate to an oily consistency which causes the lipstick to budge very quickly. Although hydrating and relatively comfortable to wear, it settles into the lines and emphasises dry patches, resulting in blobs of uneven colour on the lips if not properly exfoliated prior to application. When this shade fades to a plum stain after a few hours of wear, vertical streaks of the lipstick can be clearly seen along the lines on the lower lip. Yikes! 😣

Swatch comparison for Elle Belle

Swatch comparison for Elle Belle

#3 Lipstick – Holiday Crush

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Holiday Crush (US$17.50 / S$33)

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Holiday Crush (US$17.50 / S$33)

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Holiday Crush

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Holiday Crush

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Holiday Crush

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Holiday Crush

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Holiday Crush

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Holiday Crush

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Holiday Crush

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Holiday Crush

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Holiday Crush

M·A·C Snow Ball lipstick in Holiday Crush

Holiday Crush is described as a muted pink with sparkle and a Frost finish. This cool-toned muted copper glides on smoothly without tug and lends an evenly-distributed metallic shine across the lips to give a reflective-foiled look. It is lightweight and lightly emollient but feels slightly tacky on the lips. This shade catches light beautifully at every angle and takes about two coats to be fully (or reasonably) opaque. However, the finish seems to intensify the appearance of the lip lines and can make me kinda self-conscious if worn out in public so I’ll probably use it as a lip topper instead. But I cannot lie. This shade is a stunner!

Swatch comparison for Holiday Crush

Swatch comparison for Holiday Crush

Despite the price drop, I’m so glad M·A·C did not compromise on the quality and actually rolled out products that the customers really want. It seems like M·A·C is finally back in the game!

What do you think about this collection? Did you manage to get anything? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below or simply take a quick poll!

Thanks for reading!

Have a dazzling holiday!

Have a dazzling holiday!

M·A·C Snow Ball is now available on MACCosmetics.com and at all local M.A.C outlets. However, most items (e.g. lipsticks) are already sold out at all stores but you can still try your luck at Carousell or eBay 🙂

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REVIEW: MAC x Mariah Carey Lipstick in I Get So OOC & Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

Oh hey, it’s the fourth day of the Lunar New Year! 恭喜发财 everyone!

It was just a little more than a month ago since Mariah Carey released her second holiday collection with M.A.C Cosmetics. This time, the line boasted a full range of products bursting with more bling than ever.

M.A.C X Mariah Carey for Holiday 2016

M.A.C X Mariah Carey for Holiday 2016

Thanks to the lovely folks at M.A.C Cosmetics Singapore, I had the privilege to preview the collection before it was even launched online (and in stores). I don’t know how much poorer I would have become if not for this opportunity to swatch the products I initially wanted to get..

The entire M.A.C X Mariah Carey Holiday 2016 collection in Singapore

The entire M.A.C X Mariah Carey Holiday 2016 collection in Singapore

This collection, as well as the price tags, is rather massive. I had my eyes set on one of the eye shadow palettes, the eye shader brush, the highlighter and two lipsticks but figured that they would set me back more than S$200.

Anyway, here’s close-up on the lipsticks since this is probably what you’re expecting from a lipstick-centric beauty blog XD :

All M.A.C X Mariah Carey Holiday 2016 lipsticks

All M.A.C X Mariah Carey Holiday 2016 lipsticks

All M.A.C X Mariah Carey Holiday 2016 lipstick swatches

All M.A.C X Mariah Carey Holiday 2016 lipstick swatches

Off-putting Cremesheens and barely-there nudes, the lipsticks in this collection are SO NOT my cup of tea 🙄 The payoff of the Cremesheens, to say the least, was unspeakably sheer and light. The only redeeming quality of the lipstick line in this collection are the Frost lipsticks, out of which one I already own – All I Want. It is a repromote from M.A.C’s first holiday-themed collection with Mariah Carey in 2015 and no changes were made to the formula. You may refer to my review of it here if you’re interested!

And finally, this was what I got after narrowing down my choices..

As you can tell, my shopping list shrunk more than twofold

As you can tell, my shopping list shrunk more than twofold

Besides the need to pay royalties, product packaging conceptualisation probably accounts for another bulk of the price. The items in this collection are luxuriously decked out in silver glitter and reflective champagne gold, and topped off with the mega superstar’s coveted signature, not forgetting the iconic butterfly logo emblazoned on every lipstick bullet. Nonetheless, in spite of the cost, it was still a sold-out collection (apparently gone within the first day) that left many people begging for a restock (which ain’t happening, unfortunately)!

Did M.A.C’s sales pick up due to the star power of Mariah Carey or was there another beauty breakthrough in this collection?

#1 I Get So OOC Lipstick

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Lipstick in I Get So OOC (US$20 / S$39)

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Lipstick in I Get So OOC (US$20 / S$39)

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Lipstick in I Get So OOC

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Lipstick in I Get So OOC

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Lipstick in I Get So OOC

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Lipstick in I Get So OOC

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Lipstick in I Get So OOC

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Lipstick in I Get So OOC

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Lipstick in I Get So OOC

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Lipstick in I Get So OOC

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Lipstick in I Get So OOC

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Lipstick in I Get So OOC

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Lipstick in I Get So OOC

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Lipstick in I Get So OOC

Taking cues from Jay-Z who casually suggested that Mariah include some of her slanguage in her music, M.A.C injects some “MCizzle” into this collaboration by naming the darkest lipstick shade after one of her tracks from her eleventh studio album E=MC².

I Get So OOC (which stands for Out Of Control) is described as a shimmering brown with Frost finish but looks more like a fusion of red and brown in real life. It does not pull or tug at the lips and it leaves a wax-like finish akin to gloss, minus the tackiness. The colour payoff is sheer but buildable with a lightweight and emollient consistency. The golden shimmers are evenly spread out across the lips without settling into the lip lines. The lipstick itself, however, is not transfer-proof and can be removed easily with just a touch of a wet wipe. This shade complements all skin tones 🙂

M.A.C X Mariah Carey I Get So OOC lipstick swatch comparison

M.A.C X Mariah Carey I Get So OOC lipstick swatch comparison

M.A.C has always been my go-to brand for lipsticks, so much so that I would zoom in straight on the lipsticks and pay no attention to the other products whenever they launch a new collection. But this time around, something else managed to steal the spotlight from the lipsticks which are already very eye-catching by themselves with all the glitzy, diamanté-looking packaging.

And that’s none other than the highlighter!

#2 My Mimi Extra Dimension Skinfinish

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi (US$45.50 / S$60)

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi (US$45.50 / S$60)

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi (plastic protector)

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi (plastic protector)

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

Truth be told, I was debating real hard whether I should fork out for this gorgeous highlighter because not only is it expensive, it also costs more online than it does in local M.A.C store after the exchange (*gasp*). But knowing that I wouldn’t be able to make it for the launch here that weekend (the collection was available exclusively at ION outlet only), I jumped at the chance to shop the collection online once it was released to Devoted and Obsessed members.

My Mimi is a warm gold shimmer liquid-powder highlighter. Sculpted to look like Mariah Carey’s face that is instantly recognisable from her distinctive mole next to her voluptuous lips, the surface is deliberately made uneven to enable the brush to pick up just the right amount of product. You certainly do not want to look like a disco ball, do you?

The payoff is moderately pigmented – the first sweep gives a luminous effect to the skin without the gold pigment and it takes two to three applications for pigment to show up on my skin (or rather, on camera), which is great for amateur highlighter users like me who may not have applied it correctly the first time (because somehow or other I’m not able to tell where light naturally hits my face).

 

BEFORE: M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

BEFORE: M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

Use a fan brush if you own one for a more even and precise application. I have been searching high and low for a good fan brush but brands I patronise either do not stock them or have discontinued them (why, though?!). Recommendations, anyone?

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

AFTER: M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

AFTER: M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

AFTER: M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

AFTER: M.A.C X Mariah Carey Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

This may be my first time using a highlighter from M.A.C but I’m actually owner to a couple of face-illuminating products – be it in liquid or powder form – from other brands prior to this purchase. One common problem with the highlighters I currently have is that they tend to accentuate my pores and put a lot more emphasis on my rough blemished skin. While I can’t say that this highlighter doesn’t do all that, it does a better job in accenting my cheekbones and the bridge of my nose without making me moon-faced. The shimmers are well-distributed even on bumpy areas and the fact that the gold pigment complements my skin tone also helps in lending my skin a natural sun-kissed complexion.

AFTER: M.A.C X Mariah Carey Lipstick in I Get So OOC & Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

AFTER: M.A.C X Mariah Carey Lipstick in I Get So OOC & Extra Dimension Skinfinish in My Mimi

Having said the above, I don’t think this collection deserves the amount of hype it got. I believe M.A.C has rolled out similar shades for all the products and honestly, the lipstick finishes are nothing to write home about. Now, answering my own question posed in the beginning of this review, the popularity of this collection is definitely driven by the fact that it is fronted by a highly successfully and critically-acclaimed international superstar. Fantastic choice of celebrity to partner with, M.A.C!

Do you agree with me? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading! ❤

M.A.C x Mariah Carey for Holiday 2016 is now available on MACCosmetics.com. Most of the products are already sold out but some are pretty much still available on the Canadian site as well as macy’s. Happy hunting!

‘Tis the Season to be Feasting at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport

MEDIA INVITE

Hey everyone!

As the year draws to a close, many of us are getting into the holiday spirit by decking our houses with Christmas and New Year decorations.  At the same time, we may also take this opportunity to gather our loved ones for a memorable reunion. But no reunion would be complete without great food that puts everyone in the festive mood and what better place to experience both simultaneously than throwing a little party at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport where you are able to enjoy a wide selection of delicious and hearty meals? 😉

If you’re intending to play host to this year’s Christmas or New Year celebration but don’t feel like sweating your butt off in the kitchen and yet have no idea where to hold it, Crowne Plaza has rolled out a variety of dining options this yuletide season that centres around conversations and connections. The inspired fusion of flavours and menu items offered at their Lobby Lounge (Yuletide Takeaways) and Azur Restaurant (Festive Buffet) are sized to suit smaller more intimate gatherings among close friends and immediate family members.

Yuletide Takeaways @ Lobby Lounge

From 1 to 26 December 2015, guests can tuck into a series of delights from the Lobby Lounge specially created for this festive month at the comfort of their home. Feast your eyes and stomach on a gourmet paradise of beef, turkey and lamb, as well as a mouthwatering lineup of cakes and pastries to tantalise your taste buds.

But before I go into those, let’s kick things off with some appetisers!

Pumpkin salad

Pumpkin salad – a mix of pumpkin and chestnut

Fruit salad

Fruit salad – a mix of apple, tomatoes, melons, strawberry and nuts

Scallop topped with salmon caviar

Scallop topped with salmon caviar (price not available)

Scallop topped with salmon caviar

Scallop topped with salmon caviar

Salmon cavier

Salmon caviar

The scallop was well-seared on both sides with a fleshy, juicy and fibrous middle. It was drenched in salty gravy and paired with a layer of spinach at the bottom. The salmon caviar gave an additional burst of flavour. However, you may need to request for this dish because it’s not listed on the order chit.

The highlight of the Yuletide Takeaways is the Roasted Texas BBQ Beef Short-Rib which is sous vide (sealed in airtight plastic bags then placed in a hot-water bath of 70 degree Celsius, the same reheating method if you’re planning to eat it at a later time) for 24 hours before being roasted in the oven.

Roasted Texas BBQ Beef Short-Rib (S$120+, 1kg)

Roasted Texas BBQ Beef Short-Rib (S$120+, 1kg)

Roasted Texas BBQ Beef Short-Rib

Roasted Texas BBQ Beef Short-Rib

The ambrosial yet not-too-overwhelming flavour of the beef short-rib comes mainly from the BBQ gravy which sweetness is melded with the natural fragrance of the meat. The short-rib itself was incredibly soft with a gorgeous pink centre and perfectly rendered fat. And because it was so tender and buttery, none of it got stuck in my teeth! However, due to the time factor in the preparation of the Roasted Texas BBQ Beef Short-Rib, an advance order of 3-4 days is required prior to collection.

Roasted Texas BBQ Beef Short-Rib

Roasted Texas BBQ Beef Short-Rib

Of course, when it comes to a Christmas get-together, the dining table needs to have some sort of a roast bird, usually turkey. Having eaten it about twice in my life, I had come to a conclusion that turkey meat is not my cup of tea because of its awfully dry and tough texture. I assumed it was the same for all turkey meat in general. But Crowne Plaza has managed to prove me wrong once again!

Roasted Turkey with Turmeric Coriander Spices (S$135+, 1 kg)

Roasted Turkey with Turmeric Coriander Spices (S$135+, 1 kg)

Doused in rich and delectable Spicy Coconut Cream Sauce that tastes like sweet curry, the Roasted Turkey with Turmeric Coriander Spices is a classic example of when East meets West. The turkey itself is roasted for 6 hours at 70 degree Celsius to a golden yellow and, although somewhat thicker than chicken meat, was an absolute joy to eat for it was so succulent and chewy! The thin savoury skin (the closest description I can think of is that it is quite similar to the roast chicken skin at Poulét) was the winner for me because it was what got me hooked! I just couldn’t resist getting more servings of the turkey meat XD

Roasted Turkey with Turmeric Coriander Spices

Roasted Turkey with Turmeric Coriander Spices

If you prefer a more traditional take on the turkey, the House Special Roasted Turkey Marinated with Maple Glaze and Chestnut Stuffing served with Cranberry Sauce (S$135+, 5 kg) might just be what you’re looking for! Each whole turkey can serve approximately six to eight guests comfortably.

When it comes to celebrating Christmas, one cannot forget the lamb due to its significance in the bible (and symbolism of Christ). The Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb with Rosemary Garlic & Caramelised Shallot Sauce ($160+, 2.6 kg) is soaked in orange brine overnight before being marinated in a fragrant combination of rosemary and garlic, and finally slow roasted at 70 degrees Celsius for over seven hours. If you’re game to try something new this Christmas (since lamb is more commonly served on Easter), you might want to give this dish a go!

Rounding out the Christmas menu from the Lobby Lounge are two festive log cakes handcrafted by the hotel’s pastry chefs because… what’s Christmas without log cakes? Indulge in either the Ispahan-inspired Log Cake with Raspberries Yoghurt Mousse or the more conventional Manjari Chocolate & Hazelnut Praline Yule Log Cake (or both, to get the best of both worlds 😉 ). Featuring a light and tangy raspberry yoghurt mousse overlaying juicy lychee bits and rose-flavoured jelly in the cake centre, the former is the answer to guilt-free (not 100% but still…) log cakes. The slightly tart (acidic) overall taste helps to relieve a bit of the bloatedness from the hearty meal.

Ispahan-inspired Log Cake with Raspberries Yoghurt Mousse (S$65+)

Ispahan-inspired Log Cake with Raspberries Yoghurt Mousse (S$65+)

The chocolate log cake, on the other hand, has a wafer-like hazelnut centre that has got that crunchy going on every bite.  It is not excessively sweet too as there was a tinge of bitterness in the chocolate. Designed to resemble an actual log from an enchanted forest, it comes topped with seasonal decorations like a mini Christmas hat. How cute!

Manjari Chocolate & Hazelnut Praline Yule Log Cake ($65+)

Manjari Chocolate & Hazelnut Praline Yule Log Cake ($65+)

Since Crowne Plaza is conveniently located at Terminal 3 of Changi Airport, guests can, upon returning from their travels, pop in the Lobby Lounge for a quick takeout before heading home. But as most of these dishes require time to prepare, you are encouraged to place your orders at least 3 days in advance to avoid disappointment! To place an order for Yuletide Takeaways, visit the hotel’s Festive Desk (24 Nov – 24 Dec 2015, 9am – 9pm), call +65 6823 5367, fax your order to +65 6823 5301 (Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm) or email christmas.cpca@ihg.com. The last collection for all Yuletide Takeaways are on 26 December 2016.

Psst.. festive hampers are also on sale if you’d like to build stronger networks with your clients *winks* More information can be found here.

Festive Buffet @ Azur

Otherwise, if you dislike waiting, Azur Restaurant also has an array of Christmas-themed selections for their festive buffet that’s catered to both Asian and Western taste buds, available from 1 to 30 December 2015. Buffet items are served in small portions to allow sampling of all the different food offered at the international buffet. Looking for ways to reward your staff for their hard work and effort throughout the year? There are round tables for larger group dining reservations for everyone to bond and laugh over brunch, lunch and dinner.

Dessert spread at the buffet

Dessert spread at the buffet

Gingerbread man atop white chocolate and cinnamon

Gingerbread man atop white chocolate and cinnamon

Santa Claus atop raspberry puree

Santa Claus atop raspberry puree

Pricing plan

Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner (24 December 2015)*
Adult $ 70 ++ Child $ 35 ++

Christmas Day Brunch (25 December 2015)*
Adult $ 65 ++ Child $ 32.50 ++

Christmas Day Dinner (25 December 2015)*
Adult $ 75 ++ Child $ 37.50 ++

Boxing Day Brunch (26 December 2015)
Adult $ 65 ++ Child $ 32.50 ++

Festive Buffet Lunch (1 – 23, 27 – 30 December 2015)
Adult $ 45 ++ Child $ 22.50 ++

Festive Buffet Dinner (1 – 23, 26 – 30 December 2015)
Adult $ 55 ++ Child $ 27.50 ++

New Year’s Eve Lunch (31 December 2015)
Adult $ 45 ++ Child $ 22.50 ++

New Year’s Eve Dinner (31 December 2015)
Adult $ 75 ++ Child $ 37.50 ++

*Spot jolly ‘ol Santa on 24 and 25 December 2015 and receive a little blessing of joy. Santa will be roving around during meal times at Azur Restaurant

To make a reservation, please call 6823 5354 or email azur.cpca@ihg.com. Reservations are highly encouraged. Visit the Crowne Plaza Dining website for more information.

That’s all, fellow foodies! Get feasting! 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Crowne Plaza @ Changi Airport
75 Airport Boulevard
Singapore 819664
For reservations: 6823 5367 (Yuletide Takeaways) / 6823 5354 (Festive Buffet)
Or you may email christmas.cpca@ihg.com (Yuletide Takeaways) /
azur.cpca@ihg.com (Festive Buffet)
Please visit their website or Facebook for more information

Staycation at Naumi Liora

Hey everyone!

Planning a birthday celebration for your boyfriend can be really tricky especially if you’ve been with him for years. No matter how creative you are, there will come a time when you’d completely run out of fresh and unpredictable ideas to surprise him. Having dated mine for close to 6 years now, it was one of the biggest struggles I faced while trying to think of ways to make his birthday memorable a few weeks back. From portrait painting to handmaking a Pooh plushie (his favourite cartoon character) to taking him out for a luxurious meal, I had practically done everything my brain was capable of coming up with for the past 5 years.

But this year, after exhausting my brain cells, I decided to be lazy and ask him what he wanted for his 29th birthday directly. It was a no-brainer question. After all, we’ve been together for so long. I knew he had always wanted another staycation but apart from the dreaded packing process and the unnecessary money spent which could be put aside for our year-end trip, I hated to be away from my own bed. Hence I tend to avoid that subject. But since it was already his final year of his 20’s, I relented on the condition that he jointly organised the staycation with me 😆

(Plus a surprise gift – a Braun Buffel wallet – presented to him at midnight of his birthday. Yeah, couldn’t resist buying a present for him in the end #byebyemoney)

We shortlisted a few hotels and finally settled on Naumi Liora, a four-star 3-year-old boutique hotel smacked right along Keong Saik Road near Chinatown and Outram Park MRT stations. What caught our attention was its oriental-themed interiors, its 24-hour gym as well as its close proximity to amenities like cheap foot reflexology parlours (at People’s Park Complex) and hip eateries such as Lime House and Three Buns (review comin’ up after this). Ann Siang Hill is also not very far off from the hotel as it’s just a walking distance away.

Hotel Naumi Liora

Hotel Naumi Liora @ Keong Saik Road

Naumi Liora corridor

Naumi Liora corridor

Comfy orange guest chairs near the entrance

Comfy orange guest chairs near the entrance of Naumi Liora

Relaxation corner near the registration counter

Relaxation corner near the registration counter

We were greeted with a lovely scent and an array of tidbits when we entered the hotel lobby. Called The Nibbles, the little snack bar offers a great selection of complimentary treats which guests can help themselves to anytime of the day. There were crackers, jelly, miniature ice cream (choices may change from time to time), hot beverages and even alcohol (chargeable though) to wallow in when hunger strikes in the middle of the night. These snacks are also replenished daily to ensure optimal freshness.

Newspapers to keep you in the know about what's happening in the world

Newspapers to keep you in the know about what’s happening in the world

Nibbles

Complimentary nibbles

Ice cream

Ice cream. Not from a well-known brand but it was still quite nice according to my boyfriend 🙂

Coffee machine which also serves Milo, Mocha, Cappuccino, Latte and Teh Tarik

Coffee machine which also serves Milo, Mocha, Cappuccino, Latte and Teh Tarik

Vodka

Vodka

More alcohol

More alcohol

Payment was made using credit card at the time of booking but the money was not deducted from the bank account until we arrived at the hotel reception desk for check-in. We were also told to place an additional deposit which would be refundable upon check-out (to cover any damages caused to the hotel room).

Being a small boutique hotel housed in a 155-year-old heritage shophouse, there was only one (slow) elevator servicing 79 rooms across all three storeys. Our Liora Quaint room (the cheapest one because we’re poor students 😥 ) was a window-less room located on the uppermost floor. The corridor leading to it was narrow and dimly-lit with blue-tinted lights, sometimes giving me the creeps when I had to take the elevator down to the lobby alone.

Liora Quaint

We had the choice of a Queen bed or 2 Super Single Beds in this 15-18sqm room

Work desk

Work desk

Hangers

Hangers

Electrical sockets on both sides of the bed, plus a pair of complimentary bottled water

Electrical sockets on both sides of the bed, plus a pair of complimentary bottled water

Lovin' the hotel's generosity: here's 4 more cans of complimentary canned soft drinks in the refrigerator

Lovin’ the hotel’s generosity: here’s 4 more cans of complimentary soft drinks in the refrigerator

Oh what's this? Is this a wardrobe?

Oh what’s this? Is this a wardrobe?

No, it's the bathroom!

No, it’s the bathroom!

Body lotion and soap

Body lotion and soap. Shavers, toothbrush, toothpaste and other bathroom necessities available upon request

Shampoo and body wash but of course, we brought our own

Shampoo and body wash (replenished daily as well) but of course, we brought our own

At S$140 per night, the room met my needs and expectations and was more spacious and comfortable than I thought. I loved the high ceiling that created a light and free atmosphere and the relatively strong Wi-Fi signal (even though it was only two bars of coverage at most throughout our stay). But the television reception was very weak and the picture quality of all channels was poor and grainy. Boyfriend also wasn’t very pleased with the type of shower faucet used in the bathroom. He was expecting the same ceiling-mounted shower head he saw on other blog reviews (which in fact is only available in Liora Porch, the highest range of rooms in this hotel) but was given the standard kind -_- Well, he has no one to blame but himself for not making sure before booking the room 🙄

Another perk of staying in Naumi Liora is the free access to its 24-hour fitness room as mentioned earlier. In order to avoid the morning crowd (assuming that there was any), we usually go to the gym during unearthly hours like 1 or 2am to burn some fats. The fitness room is hidden beside the stretch of hotel rooms on the ground level (turn left the moment you exit from the lift). It’s pretty small with only one set of every common exercise and workout equipment so unless you don’t mind waiting for other people to be done with the machine you want, you should only go there during weird timings when it is guaranteed to be vacant.

Naumi Liora gym

For more privacy, you may even LOCK the door as you work out. But of course, it can always be opened by any hotel room access card from the outside hahaha

Bottled water and towel

Wow at the hospitality of the hotel. Free-flow of bottled mineral water and clean towels for everyone who uses the gym!

Weights of all sizes

Weights of all sizes! I can only lift the lightest one sadly. Damn weak sia me 😦

Fitness ball (reflections don't count) and yoga mat

Fitness ball (reflections don’t count) and yoga mat

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One treadmill and elliptical trainer (yes only one. The other is merely a reflection on the mirror hehe). There’s also a stationary bike at the other side, not shown in this picture. All of them are equipped with a TV screen 🙂

I hardly work out in the gym but after this experience, I still prefer to jog around in the park where I get to bask in the morning sun and enjoy the natural breeze and greenery.

As the hotel does not have its own dining room, breakfast is served at two separate places along the same street until 10am everyday. Based on reviews, if you have opted for Western style, you would receive coupons for The Study beside the hotel. However we, perhaps being guests of a lower-range room (don’t know about you but the clear-cut difference in treatment doesn’t quite jive with me here because I don’t like to be deprived of the freedom to choose when it comes to food 😳 ), didn’t get to choose so we were automatically given Asian style. Therefore our breakfast for both days were fixed at Tong Ah Eating House (a coffee shop) just three shops down the walkway outside the hotel, which… okay lah, was quite good too 🙂

Breakfast coupons

Breakfast coupons

Tong Ah Eating House

Tong Ah Eating House

We got to pick between two popular Singaporean breakfast choices – Nasi Lemak and the traditional Kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs. Tourists who are planning to accommodate at Naumi Liora may consider opting for the Asian style to have a taste of what the locals eat for breakfast 🙂

Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak with Iced Milo

Very fragrant rice and meaty fish

Very fragrant rice and meaty fish

Kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs with a cup of Teh

Kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs with a cup of Teh. Kaya was thick and sweet!

Ended up only eating half of it because boyfriend accidentally poured too much dark sauce :cry:

Ended up only eating half of it because boyfriend accidentally poured too much dark sauce 😥

I personally enjoyed the meal a lot and it’s honestly one of the most generous portions I’ve ever had for a hotel breakfast. Seeing how pathetic the spread of food for the Western style is on other reviews, I’d most likely opt for the Asian one anyway so alright I forgive you Naumi Liora 😛

View from the hotel lobby

View from the hotel lobby

Next up, I will be reviewing Three Buns where we dined at on boyfriend’s birthday so stay tuned!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Naumi Liora
55 Keong Saik Road
Singapore 089158
Booking: (+65) 6403 6003
Enquiries: (+65) 6922 9000
Email: iora.aide@naumihotels.com
Website: http://www.naumiliora.com/

Enjoy a Fuss-Free Travel with Laneige Perfect Renew Travel Set

SPONSORED

Hey everyone!

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With the mid-year school holidays (our version of summer break) just around the corner, many of us would already have plans for a getaway trip out of Singapore. My internship will come to a complete halt this coming June and I may be taking a short break before my next school term commences in August. I don’t have a particular place to go in mind yet but it’s possibly going to be somewhere not too far away as I’d prefer to set aside more funds for my year-end vacation instead.

My shortlisted destinations are Bali, Bintan Island and Bangkok. Perhaps a staycation at a boutique hotel doesn’t seem like a bad idea too!

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Bali (cr: freeimages.com)

Villas in Bali are available for booking on The Luxe Nomad!
Click here to find out more.

But regardless of the destination, packing is the integral step to the journey. Packing light is pivotal to creating an effortless and stress-free trip, but it also takes an experienced and adventurous person to do it well. I used to fail miserably in this aspect of travel planning because I am overly-cautious and averse to risks. I would end up bringing all my full-sized beauty products and other redundant stuff because of my “just in case” mentality, eventually only leaving a meagre amount of weight and space for my holiday loots.

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Fuss-free travelling tip #1: collect small pouches (which are usually free with purchase of related products) to store small items like makeup and toiletries, and buy small containers to store your shampoo and shower gel (that is, if you have rather sensitive skin like me and can only use certain products, just to be safe)

It also never ceased to amaze me how flight attendants report to work with only a small baggage in tow, and even more so when they are flying to farther destinations like Europe and USA. But according to my air stewardess friend, it’s not difficult as it seems. When it comes to toiletries and cosmetics (which are what occupy the most space in my luggage), they pack minimally (since most hotels have the bathroom essentials) and throw in only travel-sized items. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But many a time the brands I use, especially for facial products, don’t come in travel sizes.

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Fuss-free travelling tip #2: save those samples you obtained from Sephora (or anywhere else) for your travels! A 20-cent coin placed there for you to compare the size (my LipIce sample so cute and miniature right?!)

So I started exploring other products which also exist in deluxe sizes – Laneige in particular, which was brought to my attention by Luxola Singapore.

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Beauty essentials. I love small pouches like this. Always come in handy when I travel 🙂

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Laneige Perfect Renew Travel Set consists of 1x Multi Cleanser 30ml, 1x Perfect Renew Skin Refiner_EX 50ml, 1x Perfect Renew Emulsion_EX 50ml, 1x Perfect Renew Essence_EX 15ml & 1x Perfect Renew Cream_EX 20ml

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Basically, all the products needed in your daily skincare routine in a pouch! How convenient is that?

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Each of them smaller than the size of my palm

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Laneige Perfect Renew Skin Refinger_EX is a gel-type skin refiner that makes skin texture smooth with boosting effect.

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Laneige Perfect Renew Emulsion_EX delivers moisture balance with soothing effect.

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Laneige Perfect Renew Essence_EX prevents premature aging with helping face contour firming effect.

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Laneige Multi Cleanser mildly and thoroughly cleanses for a clear and brighter skin.

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The facial wash gave my skin a sticky feel which went away after applying the cream below

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Laneige Perfect Renew Cream_EX enhances elasticity and moisture barrier with repairing effect.

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#nomakeup

I have been using them for the past few nights (even though I’m not on a holiday) and I must say I see significant improvements in my skin texture. I felt instantly refreshed after washing my face with the cleanser. My face appears to be smoother and more dewy (I seriously think I look a few months younger) the next morning too.

Most importantly, these products are light and portable. C’est Magnifique! They are absolutely perfect for travel. And I will definitely bring them along when I go on my year-end vacation to protect me from the dry climate.

If you’re not intending to get one for yourself, why not make this a gift for your Mom this coming Mother’s Day? 🙂

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This product is available on Luxola for S$65.
Quote “BLX-FIONASEAH” at checkout to enjoy 15% off on all first time orders by 29 May 2015. This offer is not valid on non-discountable brands as found in the FAQpage.

Thanks for reading! 🙂