Happy 2015! Bit late for that, eh? It seems every time I start a post I apologise for either a) not posting as frequently or b) late posting. LOL. To be honest, I really don’t have time to blog much anymore (….as if I blogged a lot last year either, eh? haha). Nothing interesting really happens to me on a daily basis but when something BIG happens, like this trip to Myeong-dong, then obviously I have to blog!!!! :)
Before I start…
WARNING: PIC HEAVY!!!!!
Right, so let’s start :) This year my sister and I decided to plan a trip to South Korea. We love kpop so it kind of makes sense that we visit. Plus, with the scandals in 2014 and Jessica now gone from SNSD, we felt like it was now or never. I wasn’t too happy if I have to be honest because of the timing (all my fault btw) – I just paid for my BJD (which I’ve posted about before on various occasions) and indulging in my new hobby has really ripped a hole in savings. Oh, and I haven’t told anyone else in my family or anyone in general but I ordered a 1 BJD back in November on layaway, then a further 2 BJDs during Christmas. 1 via layaway, 1 full price. I am guilty as charged!!!! :(
We were only going for 2 days but we had to fly to Hong Kong first then take an extra 3-4 hour flight to Incheon airport. We actually stayed a few days in HK then went. I got some stuff from the makeup store Sasa but since I was mainly wanting to invest in Korean products such as Banila Co, Innisfree and Etude House, I decided to hold back the spending in HK. This time I actually used a bit more money on Uniqlo on a warm jacket since we read online that Korea would be freezing in January.
I had 2 goals in mind in Korea:
- To buy makeup/skincare
- To buy socks (you’ll see why later)
Day 1: Myeongdong
Our flight was at a weird time, I think it was 12.45am via Korean Air in Hong Kong International Airport. The flight took about 2 and a half hours which was quite quick. And Oh My God the Korean air hostesses were so popular *_* They looked like Kpop stars. And they were so skinny, with perfect teeth, perfect hair and perfect skin complexion. They were really hospitable as well. I had my hopes up for South Korea then.
When we arrived, a tired looking member of staff took our passports for immigration purposes (it was 5am when we arrived lol…). Then we went outside to get our bus that would take us to our hotel. Since we would be staying in Myeongdong, my sister did some research and decided to book the Ibis Myeongdong. A bus from the airport would take us there directly. Two members of staff – two middle aged men, or bus ahjusshi (hope I spelled that right) – pointed us in the right way and helped us put in our luggage when the bus arrived. They didn’t speak english but we just said Myeongdong so they understood.
The bus journey was long, about 2 hours. I almost fell asleep until I heard the bus stop automated voice say ‘Ibis Myeongdong’. Where was the buzzer to stop the bus?? It was at the ceiling of the bus, so we quickly pressed that and got off. We went into our hotel but had to pay 15% of the room rate since it was now 7am and the room wasn’t available until the actual check in time at 12-ish. We paid because we had no sleep and hadn’t eaten. The guy at the desk then told us reception was at the 19th floor. Riiiiiiight.
The first thing we did was take a quick shower and then sleep. We got up again at about midday. I was really tired but we had to drag ourselves out and head into the Myeongdong shopping district. The streets are so clean!
We actually walked the wrong way and went all around to Lotte Department Store and Lotte Plaza Young where we found kpop stuff, hip clothes and the popular make-up Korean brand 3CE.
Lotte was incredibly expensive so we headed to Myeongdong and since I was really looking forward in getting Banila Co products, I went there first.
I was really disappointed.
Okay, so the first few things I noticed was 1) there were lots of mainland Chinese tourists. 2) Myeongdong makeup staff cannot speak English, only a few, even then it is broken english and 3) if you weren’t mainland chinese and couldn’t speak Korean or Chinese then the staff are RUDE to you.
Yes, that’s what I got in Banila Co… Rude sales people who can’t be bothered with you. Even when paying for your things they can’t be bothered to say anything back to you. Not even a thank you or bye. They don’t even seem to look at you. I knew customer service in the UK was a bit crap but now this was seriously the crappiest customer service experience I had ever experienced it would win an award in that area. They seemed more interested in helping other tourists, namely mainland chinese tourists, who obviously had the monies to buy mountainfuls of their products.
For example, I was browsing through a shelf when a saleswoman even deliberately bumped into me to make room for the tourists who were trying to look at the products on the shelf next to me and I was forced to move. Just to make clear that I am Chinese myself but being raised in the UK meant my chinese was limited (which sounds pathetic, really. It is. I am ashamed to even say it haha). Aside from that I was surprised by the rudeness in the Korean sales staff and left Banila Co bitter and a little upset. My sister was equally disappointed and since then we didn’t go into ANY Banila Co shops. There are about 4 in the district but we were so appalled by our experience we decided not to go into any more Banila Co anymore.
The next shop we went to was Innisfree. Again, another mediocre experience where we saw staff standing around with no intention to help us but help other shoppers who were already carrying big basketsfuls of Innisfree lotions and makeup and boxes of other types of products. We only wanted to get a few products so a lady went up to help my sister and after she helped my sister she proceeded to follow us around the rest of the shop and feed us expensive products to engage our interest. Er… No thanks! I noticed lots of masks were seemingly missing from the shelves and then I saw that other shoppers had about 100+ in their baskets. Turned out Innisfree had a buy 10 get 10 free. I knew I had to get some lol.
We went to Etude House, deliberately picking a busy one so staff wouldn’t hound us or follow us around like they had in Innisfree. We were much pleased with our Etude House experience, the ladies there were a lot nicer and more than happy to help us out. They even tried to speak english and asked us where we were from! They were really nice and helpful so we spent longer there compared to the other shops.
By then, we had bulging shopping bags in hand. We knew we could not go like this any further and Myeongdong is a large shopping district so we made 3 return trips to our hotel room just to drop our crap off!!!! That has never happened to us before!!!!!
We only had time for 1 meal at a Yoogane Chicken Galbi restaurant where we got this fried rice chicken dish with cheese. They cook it in front of you but the first time round they burnt the food since no-one attended us for about 10 minutes after leaving the pot on at a high heat and leaving the rice and chicken there. It was rather spicy but it was really nice :)
We shopped in Myeongdong until night and that’s when we noticed that street vendors had emerged and the streets got busier. They were tonnes of vendors selling fried potato twisty things on sticks, crabs, fried chicken, egg bread and socks. OMG lots of socks. There were so many styles of socks for sale at 1000 won each. I think that’s about 60p in UK currency.
Our last stop was Aritaum where we looked at a brand called Mamonde. Aside from that, we also went to the Myeongdong Underground Shopping level and tried to make sense of the subway but decided not to since it was getting late; there was also nothing else really interesting so we returned to our hotel room for the night.
This was our last day so we were determined to make the most of it.
Having spent a full day in Myeongdong, our goal now was to head towards the sights – namely Gyeongbukgong Palace and Ehwa. I really wanted to go to Hongdae but we had to see how much time we had left. We headed to the subway, got the Korean Transit card, or T-card which we had a few problems working out at first (….turns out you need to top it up with at least 10,000 won first and not 1000 won to head out hahaha). With T-cards in hand we hopped onto the green line at Euljiro 1-ga and headed to Gyeongbukgong.
We spent about 3 hours in Gyeongbukgong.
It wasn’t very busy when we first arrived early in the morning but then the tourists really started to pour in and taking pictures were quite hard to take without another tourist photobombing our pics. Tonnes of tourists from all over the world taking selfies and holding the selfie sticks. We only got a few rare shots with NO-ONE in it lol.
There is the free National Folk museum too within Gyeongbukgong so we went there and snapped some quick shots of the exhibits.
We then headed out and went to Gwanghwamun to see the changing of the guard event where guards change their posts every 15 minutes. It was all very interesting to see and I went up to the guards to take some shots. The one in the yellow and red looks awesome!!!! :) Look at the way they stand! Look at the posture!!! lmao
We also took a picture of the statue of King Sejong who is in front of Gwanghwamun (though you have to cross the road first).
Our next stop was Ehwa University. The subway is actually really easy when you work it out slowly, so we managed to get there and grab a hot chocolate and waffle at Beansbins.
Oh, something I forgot to mention was that South Koreans really LOVE coffee. They’re crazy about it. There’s a Starbucks but there’s other brands such as Holly’s Coffee and also Beansbins which is famous for their waffles. The Beansbins we went to in Ehwa was peaceful and quiet and we ordered 2 hot chocolates and 2 waffles. I ordered the Belgium waffle and my sister ordered the Strawberry and Mango waffle. We noticed that groups of people ordered 1 waffle and shared it between them. There was me and my sister digging into 1 each. HAAAAH we are such greedy pigs lol.
I couldn’t really finish mine in the end (…so that’s why people ordered 1 and shared it between them) :(
Ehwa was an interesting experience. We had read online that people find Ehwa shops cheaper and staff friendlier. I agree with most – although I only saw Etude House and Holika Holika etc, I didn’t see an Innisfree when we were there so we were quite glad we got our Innisfree stuff in Myeongdong. The prices are also the same so it’s not cheaper. The clothes are, so we did a lot of clothes shopping in which most pieces cost us 10000 won each for a jumper or a dress. The staff were much more polite too.
When we were finished, it was almost mid-evening so we wondered what to do. We weren’t hungry as the waffle was quite a bit to take in – so what to do now?
We decided to go to Lotte World!!!!!
We jumped onto the green line again and got the train all the way to Jamsil. It cost 74000 won to go into Lotte World even though it was after 4pm and you were apparently supposed to get special discounts. We also got general admission since we weren’t going to go on any rides. I rather enjoyed Lotte World; don’t think my sister did….but hey she’s almost 30 so we’ll cut her some slack lol.
We started out on the 1st floor then made our way upwards. On the ground floor and there is the infamous ice skating rink. It made me remember Full House Thai.
Lotte World is kind of like a Korean Disney but….not so great. We only went on the monorail ride where the doors were too high and I couldn’t get a decent view of Lotte World from the ceiling. There were lots of couples and kids. OMG there were so many kids. If you don’t like kids I don’t recommend this place to you.
For a quick snack we got Colpop (Cola + chicken)
We headed back to Myeongdong to complete some final shopping where we got some Kpop merchandise (tonnes of EXO for me heehee….even though I’m like older than them….6 or 7 years or something. WTF!!!! Hey, I admire their dancing synchronisation skillz okay? Don’t judge me :P). I also ended up buying 40 masks from Innisfree. FORTY! Hahahaha!!!
Yep, so that was what we managed to squeeze in our South Korea trip….but we missed out on many things, like Hongdae uwaghhh! :(
So here is a summary of our experience:
- The majority of South Korean people are invested in their looks. An average guy you would see in the street will dress very nicely and have puffy hair like kpop stars and the girls will be caked in makeup. I even saw a guy putting on hand cream. This might sound weird but I’ve never seen that before. I sat opposite a guy and I actually thought he was a star from TV. He was just so…..PRETTY @_@ I musta creeped him out with my staring LMFAO.
- Rude sales staff in Myeongdong. Yeaaaah so that was what I wasn’t too happy about. I was so disappointed in that aspect. After the riveting customer service from Korean air hostesses, we got….this. Where sales staff give you blank stares, don’t even bother to say anything to you or look at you, or follow you around incessantly as if you’re a thief or something….so disappointing.
- Incheon Airport. OMFG what a terrible experience. They had 3 desks for flights to Rome, LA, Moscow AND Hong Kong all squished together. What does that mean? MASSIVE queue. Then we had to go into security, which was also a humungous queue. So inefficient!!!!
- Old people. I saw an elderly couple walk up to a lady sitting on the train and practically kick her aside so they could sit down. Then my sister was holding onto a rail and an old man shoved her aside to leave the carriage at his stop!!! In South Korean culture, elders are so highly respected they are probably like Gods or something.
- Plastic surgery. We saw a woman walking down the street with her nose completely encased in bandages. It was quite obvious she had surgery; we also saw a woman with her entire head supported with this chin bandage. In South Korea, that’s pretty normal I guess.
In a sense, I was rather disappointed with Myeongdong. The sights were good, and I liked how I had bought so many goodies but the experience was….disheartening. Will I recommend it? Not really. Would I go again? ….Not really :(
Of course I will not end this post on a sad note so please see below for pictures of our hauls :)
Banila Co haul:
Fair enough, despite the awful experience they gave us a very nice bag. Since Banila Co was really my main focus, I got…
- Clean it Zero cleanser
- Finish Goodnight Mask
- The Black 17 Sleeping Pack
- Claypatra mask
- Balancing and Finishing Cream
- Kiss Colour Fix in GE110
- Aloe Vera Mask
- Hand Cream
This was between myself and my sister, but holy cow I can’t really remember what I got but I think it was roughly this…
- Jeju cleanser
- Volcanic scrub
- Olive cleanser
- Innisfree BB Longwear cream
- Creamello lipsticks x 5
- Masks in Strawberry, kiwi, rice and green tea x 40 (so 10 each)
- Clay masks x 2
- Green tea cream + oil
- Mineral mist x 2
There were also a lot of samples and free gifts with our purchases.
Etude House haul
We didn’t get as much from Etude House actually. Most of that stuff shown is actually for my cousin, too. We got –
- BB Cream x 3
- Beauty shot Face blur
- Lip tints x 2
- Crystal Gloss
- Bling Bling Sticks x 3
- Auto Proof eyepencil
- Collagen masks
- Baking Powder cleanser
- Handcream x 2
- 7 days Project mask
- Lipstick x 3
Remember I said I bought 40 masks? It was Buy 10 get 10 free and they were dirt cheap so I went a lil crazy….You can see it here…. @_@
I got lots of EXO stuff heehee. 1 calendar, 3 card sets (Kai, Kris and Sehun), I also got a Kyuhyun picture set….since he waved at us when we went to Super Junior concert LOL. My sister got Yoona’s set and a SNSD calendar and also Lee Min Ho set. I got Jessica’s photo set. The 2 EXO cards at the top are for our cousin.
Korean drama haul!
YES WE’RE STILL NOT FINISHED BWAHAHA.
I’ve also included our Hong Kong haul for 2015 too.
Hong Kong haul – Sasa
Liese hairdye for future posting :) I got 3 x Dolly Winks which were quite cheap this time round, it cost me $99 HKD when originally it cost $129. Also, it’s quite interesting to see that a lot of Japanese cosmetics have now been shoved to the side in stores to make room for the Korean skincare products.
Hong Kong haul – Shu Uemura
Shu Uemura was kind of a spontaneous purchase. I got the blusher and the Shupette eyelash curler. My sister got 2 foundations and a lipstick.
Hong Kong haul – Shiseido (majority were for our Aunties who needed major anti-wrinkle creams lol)
The ladies a Shiseido ended up recognising us after our purchases. We went at least on 3 separate occasions. We had to buy lots of products for our aunties.
And here is a picture of our haul combined….
THANKS FOR READING!!!!