Sunday, May 11, 2014

Shopping in Seoul

My first post on Seoul is about most peoples' favourite activity - SHOPPING!! All my skincare, cosmetics, and clothes purchases were bought in Myeongdong, with the exception of a few make up items bought in duty free stores outside of Myeongdong. I spent the most on skincare and cosmetics, very little on clothes as I have SO MANY new and unworn clothes due to years of impulsive blogshopping. So, I will write about skincare/cosmetics only.

The products that I bought are those that have drawn numerous stellar reviews based on my research. I'm sure many other brands such as Holika Holika, Tony Moly, Nature Republic, Belif and The Saem have their own 'star products' too, but I can't possibly buy every single item for which I see an excellent review, neither did I have the time to do such an extensive research. Nevertheless, I always love to try out new products, so feel free to suggest things to buy should I make another trip to Korea in future!


The brand I spent the most on. Bought all at Lotte Duty Free.

Perfect Renew set (supposedly their anti-aging product line) and the Firming Sleeping Pack (a new version of the super popular  Water Sleeping Pack) . This would be my night time skincare routine. I have never tried this crazy 7-step skincare routine that the Koreans do, this would be my first. Bought the whole Perfect Renew set for US$192. Individually, the price for each item is:
Perfect Renew Skin Refiner: US$27
Perfect Renew Emulsion: US$29
Perfect Renew Essence: US$44
Perfect Renew Night Treatment: US$47
Perfect Renew Eye Cream: US$36
Perfect Renew Cream: US$44 

The Firming Sleeping Pack cost US$23 per jar. US$160 for a pack of 8 jars.


The Green Tea Serum & Lotion are for the day.

Green Tea Seed Serum: 22,000 KRW
Green Tea Balancing Lotion (an updated version of the Green Tea Pure Lotion): 14,000 KRW
Green Tea Seed Cream: 20,000 KRW
Jeju Volcanic Nose Pack (6 strips): 3,000 KRW
Jeju Volcanic Pore Clay Mask: 12,000 KRW
Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask: 13,000 KRW. This is supposedly a newer version of the Jeju Volcanic Pore Clay Mask, however I heard that it's more drying too.

We managed to use a 10% discount coupon from Visit Korea Committee website for our purchases. Score!

Etude House

Wonder Pore Freshner (250ml) (gave to my brother already): 9,000 KRW
Wonder Pore Freshner (500ml): 15,000 KRW
Wonder Pore Whipping Foam: 12,000 KRW
Eyeshadows: 5,500 KRW each


Pure Source Green Tea and Pure Source Pearl Face Masks: 1,000 KRW each


Black Sugar Mask Wash Off: 7,700 KRW
Grape Seed Oil Anti-Wrinkle Neck Cream: 6,900 KRW


Bought this at Lotte Duty Free.

Overnight Vitalizing Mask: I shared a duo set with Ching, which was 2 tubes for US$72. We got a further 10% discount using a Visa Signature card. Separately, 1 tube would have cost us US$40 to US$45. 

Leaders' Insolution

Bought this at Lotte Duty Free.

Collagen Lifting Skin Renewal Mask: US$17 per box (10 sheets per box). I shared a buy 3 get 1 free offer with Bel, effectively paying US$12.50 per box. However when walking around Myeongdong, I saw some beauty stores selling them for 20,000 KRW, with a buy 1 get 1 offer, so I'm not sure if duty free was the best deal I got.


There is only 1 ODBO outlet in Seoul. This site gives a good description on how to get there. If you're hopeless with directions, take a cab there. Cost me about $10 from Gyeongbokgung to ODBO (because it's about a half an hour walk from the nearest train station).

Vitamin C Essential Brightening Mask: 1,200 KRW per sheet
The masks are also sold in boxes of 100 sheets per box @ 120,000 KRW, with an additional 10 free sheets.

Happy Bath

Bought them simply because they were manufactured by Amore Pacific. Haha. But they smell really amazing!

Cotton Flower and Cherry Blossom: 6,000 KRW to 6,500 KRW each
Fruit body milk: 12,000 KRW each (Watsons had a buy 1 get 1 free promotion)


I hold their make up in high esteem, but they are relatively expensive! Introduced this brand to Bel and Mel too, and they also bought some items for themselves!

Lip Color (#501 Bella): 17,900 KRW
Under Eye Flash (#2 Pitter Patter): 11,000 KRW
Marble Highlighter: 17,000 KRW

The Face Shop, Hera, Clio

The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Foam: can't remember the price
Eyebrow Pencil: 2,900 KRW
Aura CC Cream (#01): 24,900 KRW. I combined purchases with Bel to get the buy 3 get 1 free offer, effectively paying 18,675 for it.
Aura CC Cream (#01): 21,900 KRW - bought at Incheon Airport Duty Free


CC Cream: S$40.03 - bought at Lotte Duty Free
UV Mist Cushion: 36,440 KRW - bought at Incheon Airport Duty Free


Kill Black & Kill Brown eyeliner: 15,000 KRW each. Bel bought hers at 20% off at Olive Young. :(

If I had deep pockets or was able to fit more products into my skincare routine, I would have also bought these:

Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence (42,000 KRW)
Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Ampoule (42,000 KRW)
OST Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum
OST Vitamin Sleep 9 to 5 Crema
Hera skincare
Innisfree Orchid product line (Day Cream: 28,000 KRW / Night Cream: 28,000 KRW / Enriched Cream: 25,000 KRW / Eye & Lip Cream: 25,000 KRW)
Laneige White Plus Renew Tone Up Corrector
More 3CE cosmetics

Note that Watsons or Olive Young stocks some of these Korean skincare/makeup brands too, and may have promotions that the individual brands' retail outlets may not have, as seen in my Clio purchase.

For duty free shopping, do bring along your Visa Signature or Visa Infinite card along if you have one. We found out only near the end of our trip that using these cards would have given us an extra 10% to 15% off. :( Try to visit Duty Free stores on weekdays as the crowd seems to be thinner than those on weekends.

Also, don't just immediately join the queue when you're at Duty Free. Most counters required us to be issued an order card or slip by the sales assistants (see the example for Laneige above), who would write down our orders first. We brought the order card/slip to the cashier, and received our goods after payment.


Bought only 6 pieces of tops for myself, because I already have SO MANY clothes at home due to years of blog shopping. Bought 3 long tops / tunics that cost me 5,900 KRW each. Can wear them over leggings. The quality and thickness of the fabric is good for the price! Quite happy with them.

Bought 2 knit tops and 1 long sleeved denim blouse, all were 10,000 KRW each.

I have a weakness for cute stuff, so I caved in to 9 pairs of socks! All 1,000 KRW each. Look at the kitty socks! So cute I had to get them in all colours!

Tax refunds

The most common tax refund companies in Myeongdong are Global Blue (blue logo) and Global Tax Free (orange logo). KTO provides a description on where to find them. Purchases above 30,000 won at a certain store are entitled to tax refunds.

The tax refund outlet will give you your tax refund in cash or credit it to your credit card. However, do note that you will be required to put up a guaranteed deposit that will be deducted from your credit card should you fail to show your goods to the officer at the tax refund counter at the airport. Yes, apparently, showing the receipts as proof of purchase is not enough, the tax refund officer at the airport has to see the physical goods too. Getting the refund is only the first step in completing the tax refund. In the picture above, I received a cash refund of 9,000 KRW, but had to put up a guaranteed deposit of 16,571 KRW. 

At the airport, we still had to go to the airport tax refund counter to get a stamp of approval. If you fail to do so you'll lose your deposit. The tax refund officer is supposed to see our purchases (yup, you have to dig out your loots from your bursting luggage to literally SHOW the officer what you bought). This means you should visit the tax refund counter before you check your luggages in, in the event that you are required to open your bags to show the officer your purchases. It's troublesome and retarded, I know. However, because a queue had formed, the officer swiftly stamped our receipts without asking to see our purchases, otherwise, it would just hold up the queue. I guess it's a matter of luck. I was told that a friend on a separate trip was required to show the officer his purchases as he was the first in line and there was no queue behind him. However, the queue formed while he was being "checked", so subsequently, the officer let the rest of the queue passed without them having to show their buys.

If you're working on a tight timeline, I suggest you utilize the discount coupons that can be found on the interest (google 'coupons' for shopping in Seoul' or something like that) instead of attempting to get your tax refunds. In fact, if I were to do this again, I would be more diligent in searching for and remembering to use my coupons, and skip the tax refunds altogether.

Hope this helps you in budgeting and planning for your shopping expenses in Seoul! I totally overspent there but I was really happy with my purchases! It's been a month since I went to Seoul but my luggage bag is still lying in my room because I don't know where to put the new loots in my room after unpacking them, haha!

P.S. This was one of my luggage bags. I was so afraid that it would burst on the way back.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

3rd year @ Equarius Hotel

Time has flown since we got together during our university days, and we are fortunate to celebrate our 3rd year together. Instead of having a nice dinner at a posh restaurant, we decided to have a staycation this time round. Our first was at Hard Rock Hotel, and the second at Marina Bay Sands (for my 24th birthday). We opted for RWS again, but went for its newest hotel - Equarius Hotel.

We bought the grand opening package, which included a 3D2N hotel stay with breakfast at any of RWS' hotels (except for Crockford Hotel I think), 2 tickets each for Universal Studios, Adventure Cove, and SEA Aquarium. It cost us $728 ($628 for other RWS hotels), and I must say it's a good deal! What attracted us to RWS is it's many activities that can be found within one location!

Had lunch at The Greenhouse at Ritz Carlton before checking in. They offer quality buffet at a reasonable price. If you would like to try it out, I would recommend the lunch buffet as it is more affordable. But if you're all out to eat, you would probably get their full buffet during weekend dinners. Other than the roast chicken, I was satisfied with all the food that I tried. I was particularly impressed by their ice cream spread. Most buffets tend to focus on their mains but serve average or even substandard ice cream. The ice cream here however, was superb and definitely on par with premium-quality gelatos/sorbets sold elsewhere. I kept going back for more!

Upon checking in, we were delighted to be told that we were entitled to an additional complimentary night's stay as our stay dates fell within a certain promotional period. Although we were given a room on a smoking floor (I had requested for a non-smoking room), the view of the Adventure Cove and the mainland more than made up for it. Equarius Hotel was slightly more expensive than the other RWS hotels, but I thought it was well worth the money as our room (and the bathroom too) was bigger than the one in Hard Rock, and all rooms come with a balcony too! The only drawback is that it is the furthest hotel from the Resorts World atrium, about twice the time you would talk to walk from Hard Rock to the atrium. However, this did not inconvenient us greatly as the shuttle buses that brought us to and from Equarius were regular.

The room (couldn't capture the whole room)

The bathroom. Rooms with bathtubs get bonus points from me!

View of Adventure Cove from our balcony

Hotel lobby

The lawn outside the Forest restaurant

A huge gymnasium

Our first day was spent with a short visit to Universal Studios, followed by dinner at Chili's. Since it wasn't our first time at USS, we only went for the more exciting rides or new rides we haven't tried before. Each queue was about 5 minutes long only. I believe the most crowded hours are in the morning and early afternoon, when visitors are "chionging" the rides. As USS is small, they would be done by mid-afternoon, so when we were there in the late afternoon, the park was visibly less crowded. This was also our experience during our first time there. So if you want an "efficient" visit to the park, I would advise going there from mid-afternoon onwards.


Breakfast at Forest

Forest restaurant. Breakfast was pretty decent.

The highlight of the second day was Adventure Cove. We had wanted to try the Segway, but they were fully booked for a corporate event. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we headed to Adventure Cove first, earlier in the day when the sun was still out. Adventure Cove is pretty small as well, in terms of time spent there, we took about the same amount of time as USS (3 hours) to cover the water park. Similar to USS, it seemed like the queues for the water rides had subsided by the time we were there, which was in the early afternoon. We spent about 20 minutes each queuing for our first two rides, and 10 minutes each for the rest. There were about 5 water rides to try in total. I liked that Adventure Cove also added a mini aquarium for visitors to snorkel in, because it adds variety to its park. The water in aquarium is really cold though! Do laze in the Adventure River too! I liked how different decors we presented at different parts of the river. Didn't take any pictures because my stuff were kept in the locker.

For those staying at Equarius, it's about a 7-minute walk from the hotel. There is a side entrance which looks like a little wooden hut, at the end of a side road. Do look out closely for it as it is easy to miss, we did!

We checked out the pool on the 3rd day. I envy those who get to stay in the villa (I heard that booking a villa is by invitation only). How nice it is to just step out of your villa and frolic in the pool, on a sun bed! We did not visit the SEA Aquarium as we've already been there before.

So that sums up our wonderful staycation. We were blessed with sunny skies throughout all 4 days. Looking forward to our next one!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My sideline work has kept me busy these past few weeks because the CNY period calls for more events. A fellow model/talent once told me that she would still continue working in this industry despite already having a full time job, because if you have the energy to earn more while you're still young, why not? I fully agree with that. Besides, I get paid relatively well for something that I like to do, so why should I stop myself? So if anyone were to ask me why I still continue in this line if I have another job, this is my answer. Of course, I always ensure that my sideline jobs do not affect my main one.

So here's what I've been up to.

For Samsung (@ W Hotel)

Bunny outfit

Without and with the bunny ears

All the ladies

We were dressed in a cute bunny outfit - it's one of my favourite event outfits so far! I like the corset in particular, because it defines and shapes the torso, and can be worn on normal occasions too. However, it was strung a tad too tightly on me, which means my power back was kept arched throughout the night. It was not very comfortable to be honest.

Nevertheless, it was still a great event to be at as it was held in W Hotel (my first time there, as well going through Sentosa Cove!) and the night was filled with interesting activities, with Chua Enlai as their host. Based on that event, it seems like Samsung treats their guests really well! I would have loved to check out the yatches but unfortunately we weren't needed there as the programme at that area was cancelled due to the bad weather. W Hotel looked so beautiful, but sadly I didn't have time to explore the place.

Lots of cam-whoring took place in the washroom

With Sheena! :) :) :)

Above all, I was really glad to have Sheena as my fellow bunny for the night! I first met her at a casting a few years back I think, and subsequently at a couple of events. We got off really well because she is so easy-going and sweet! She has become more popular as a model and also started a blog recently. I'm happy to see her doing well!


Because the event started early, most of us did not have dinner and we were FAMISHED at the end of the night. We stopped by the hawker centre outside St James for some hokkien mee, which tasted especially awesome (probably because food usually tastes good whenever you're starving). We managed to catch the last few trains home (and saved money on cab fare, yay!), and I enjoyed chatting with Sheena. Good company always brings the fun factor of work up a notch higher! :)

For DBS (@ Fairmont Ballroom)

Another event with plenty of things to do and good food to eat for the guests. They even had a live snake for the guests to take photos with! I believe this is an albino python that I was holding. For those who are squeamish with snakes, I think the best way to hold them is to just relax and be still. This python was really tame, just very long and muscular and kept coiling all over my body.

Michelle Chong was the emcee for that night, and I wished I could have taken a picture with her! I find her an established and respectable lady.

For DFS Galleria

First time I had green eyeshadow put on me. Not as gaudy as I thought!

Till the next time, ciao!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Review of Love Bonito Ashleigh Cheongsam

Love Bonito Ashleigh Cheongsam (Midnight Blue, size M)

Bought this in a darker colour - Midnight Blue - as I already had enough light-coloured cheongsam dresses. This piece also caught my eye as it did not look strictly oriental despite the beautiful embossed details on the fabric.

I opted for size M again as in the studio photos, the dress looked slightly over-stretched at the hips area. It turns out that the fabric isn't stretchable at all, which limits my strides. Size M was also a little loose on me as size S is my usual LB size. It fits me alright at the PTP, but is slightly loose at the waist and hips. However I'm not sure if size S would have been too tight around the hips for me and cause the dress to ride up when walking. Nevertheless, I won't mind trading this for the same piece in size S.

As for the material, I really like the gorgeous embossed details. For the price, I would have expected it to come with an inner lining, but it's not much of an issue as VPL is not visible at all.

Overall, I think it's a good buy as the dress can definitely be worn for normal occasions too, and not just CNY!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chinese New Year 2013

Chinese New Year is one of the very few or only occasion in the year where businesses and many other activities come to a stand still, including my gym sessions and diet-watching. I don't regret it though (just need to get back on track quickly), and here's why.

1) Food galore

For each day of the CNY holiday, I've only had one meal a day. However, each meal lasted 6 to 8 hours long. After eating, I snack. After snacking, I eat. It's just not the time to deny all the delectable home-cooked dishes laid out at every house visit. Some of my favorites are:

Fried chicken wings


I don't have many pictures of food because I was really too busy eating. Sigh. Anyway, my uncle usually prepares and marinades the chicken wings, and they are fried at my Grandma's place. Yes there are many awesome chicken wings out there, but home-cooked ones can be just as good too!

Ayam Buak Keluak


This is a Peranakan dish, with nuts from the Pangium edule or kepayang tree as the main ingredient. The flesh of the nuts is mixed with chicken, chilli paste, and other spices to produce a rich gravy. My mum makes this every year and it's a must have for me. I'm happy that I'm usually one of the first few visitors to my grandma's place, and I make sure I get to savour the nuts (at least 4 nuts in one go) before they are finished by my other relatives.

Do you know that the raw seeds are actually poisonous? They contain cyanide which can cause fatalities if consumed in a high quantity.

Hot plate cooking


Over at my mum's side, we have steamboat for our 团圆饭. In recent year, the hot plate stove was mobilized as well. Ever since then, I only cook at and eat from the hot plate because I totally dig hot plate / barbequed food.



I only pick out the crackers for this dish. Heh. It is still fun to join in the tossing with family and friends though!

These are some of my favourite snacks. It explains my 6- to 8-hour long meals. I had a slight sore throat pre-CNY, from munching on these goodies. By the end of 初三 it developed into a full-blown sore throat from the incessant overindulgence. Well done.

Pineapple tarts

I've never been much of a pineapple tart fan until I tried this particular one from Katong. I first tasted it when my colleague brought it to office. The pineapple paste is sweet, moist and tangy, and I really like nibbling on the pineapple 'fibre'. I think the winning component is the pastry, it's light and buttery, with a slight crisp to it. My colleague asked for the tarts to be baked a little browner for that extra crisp.

I doubt I'll be open to trying pineapple tarts from elsewhere after having this heavenly little treat. The only drawback is that I don't know where exactly this shop is located. All I have is a handphone number, but I have not been successful in contacting them despite multiple tries. I'll be relying on my colleague to help me order them for now.

Indonesian prawn crackers

This is highly addictive. I've been having a little of this everyday ever since I got my hands on them, and I never fail to look out for these crackers when CNY is around the corner. I don't know what makes it so addictive.. perhaps it's because it is shaped like fries, which makes snacking on it really easy as compared to your regular palm-sized prawn crackers?

Ba Kwa


美珍香 seems to be the dominant player in this barbequed pork jerky market, but I personally prefer those which are sliced thinner (don't fancy the thicker ones from 美珍香). The only type of ba kwa that I really like from 美珍香 is their Gourmet Bakkwa (has bacon in it). I remember being unable to stop snacking on this particular brand of ba kwa at my boyfriend's place. It looked as thin as the picture above, and according to the article where this picture came from, this brand is Kim Hwa Guan (金华源). I don't recall having been there before, but I'll be sure to check it out the next time I'm in Chinatown! I also tend to heat my ba kwa till the edges turn a little black, because I like them crisp!

2) Pretty dresses

Well I didn't manage to wear all the festive dresses I bought for CNY, especially the Megagamie Feline Cheongsam Dress. Nevertheless, I'm still keeping the unworn pieces as they are unique, and I hope to find another suitable occasion to don it.

Here were my outfits for each day

Day 1 - Love Bonito Camella Dress

No pictures for this :( Was busy running around (and eating...).

Day 2 - Love Bonito Lorenze Cheongsam

Review of the dress here.

Day 3 - Love Bonito Ashleigh Cheongsam 

Review of the dress here.

3) Angpow collection

Probably the highlight for single and unmarried people like me. 'Nuff said.

How was your Chinese New Year spent? :)