Seoul Lantern Festival 2014

There was really only one theme running through this year’s lantern festival and it was sorrow. In the weeks following the Sewol tragedy, many events in Korea have been cancelled or postponed.

The lantern festival went ahead minus the music, dancing and general happiness. With a tragedy like this, no one is particulary in the mood to celebrate anything. With plenty of front row seats, my friends and I sat to watch the parade.

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Each of the lanterns had a yellow ribbon in memory of the victims from Sewol. Although the parade was not like other years, a huge effort went into the hundreds and possibly thousands of lanterns which were most beautiful when it got dark.

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A fire breathing dragon lantern…..

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Cheongyecheon stream was, in my opinion the most beautifully decorated area with people peacefully strolling around admiring the lanterns.

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People had the opportunity to leave their messages of condolence……

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We even managed to find some new friends…..

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All things beauty.

If my mother taught me three things about taking care of my skin it was cleanse, tone and moisturise. That was it. That’s what would make my skin great and for the years I was living in Ireland, it worked.

When I moved to Korea however, that all changed. There were stores every few metres selling products I’ve never heard of.  For me “essence” was a word that proceeded vanilla, “serum” was the cure for a random disease and although I had no idea what “emulsion” was, I would have guessed it had something to do with paint.

After reading an article on the uses of all these products by the author of The Wanderlust Project, I decided I would try a more Korean approach to skincare.

Skincare products in stores like Etude House, The Faceshop and Missha are extremely affordable so I figured there wasn’t much to lose.

Now my skincare regime goes like this;

1. Wash face with a cleanser.

2. Cleanse (using a cream cleanser)

3. Tone.

4. Apply Serum. A serum has a specific function more than what a moisturiser can achieve. For example brightening, whitening etc.

5. Apply Emulsion. An emulsion is a very light, thin moisturiser.

6. Apply moisturiser.

7. Apply sunscreen. If your moisturiser has an spf, this isn’t necessary.

8. Primer. Prepares your skin for makeup.

9. BB or CC cream. Here are some of the ones I use;

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10. The rest of the makeup. However, if you’re just going for a normal day the CC and BB might suffice depending on the type of skin you have.

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It’s slightly exhausting to do it all the time and frankly it’s a little time consuming. I’m sure I’ve actually skipped some steps because I’m lazy so don’t take the above as the gospel of using Korean beauty products.

Has this new regime actually improved my skin?

I’ve always been really lucky to have good skin. There has been a definite decrease in breakouts (possible due to the higher level of attention I pay my skin) and my skin feels more moisturised.

Disclaimer; All opinions here are my own. All products shown are simply personal preferances and no commission has been received. 

 

 

5 best songs to sing at the Norebang.

I bet you’re reading this going “what’s a norebang?” A norebang is a singing room in Korea.  We all call it Karaoke. You pay for whatever amount of time you want (one hour, two hours etc). This is usually pretty cheap, 20,000won an hour or sometimes a little more expensive but divided by the amount of people in your group, it won’t leave a big hole in your wallet.

No singing talent is required really. Show up for the craic, grab a tambourine and off you go.

I am the biggest fan of the norebang and let my competitive nature get completely out of control. If the machine doesn’t show a 100% score or a very high score, it’s clearly broken. There could be no other reason for a low score. Broken, it’s broken.

No more small talk. Here are the 5 best songs to sing at a Norebang as chosen by my friends;

5. For anyone who can read basic Korean. Or if you can’t read it, it’s still pretty entertaining singing baaa baaa baaa and doing the dance. This song has been everywhere. Everyone knows the jumping song.

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4. What does the fox say? 

 

3. Barbie Girl.

 

2. Anything by Abba. Unless you’ve been living under a really big rock, you’ll be able to join in on at least one of these songs.

 

1. Anything by the Beatles. Everyone knows the Beatles. You can’t go wrong with this.

 

Added Bonus if you live in Korea and go to the Norebang with Koreans;

I have yet to meet a Korean adjussi who doesn’t know this song,

 

Leave you’re favourite songs in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dentist.

I hate the dentist. The very thought of going there makes my palms sweaty and my stomach turn. I don’t even know why. I’ve never had a particularly bad experience at the dentist but as soon as the word is mentioned I feel slightly sick.

In Ireland, the dentist, like the doctor were only places you went when you actually, desperately had to. Not exactly a great way to be but each to their own.

These days, in the state of being an actual “grown up”, I’ve had to be more pro active about such things so I’ve been to the dentist a few times.  I used to use a dentist in Paju but it didn’t get the most positive reviews from my other friends and nobody spoke English there so I decided to try somewhere new.  .

Yesterday, I went to a place called Star 28 in Ilsan, La Festa.  My friend Ian recommended it to me as they could communicate in English. After getting terrifically lost (how many 5th floors can there be?), I eventually found it and what greeted me when I walked in was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The waiting room had  huge couches, tables and chairs, a computer and magazines to keep you going while you were waiting. The receptionist signed you in and had you filling out the forms as if you were simply buying a new pair of shoes. After waiting there for a while, they could have pulled all my teeth and I wouldn’t have cared.

Eventually I had to see the actual dentist. They brought me to a private room and took some pictures of my teeth. Small talk was had before the nurse explained a little about what they needed to do. I must note here that she told me in Korean and for the most part I understood. In fairness to her, when I didn’t understand she just phrased it differently so I did.

The dentist then came to do his own examination and then we sat and had a great conversation (in English) about what he was going to do. Then the nurse took over and told me how much it would cost, how I didn’t have to pay it in one go and how it would maybe take two visits. She then finished by telling me that I needed some scaling but because I have National health insurance, it was free.

The regular filling was 70,000won (48euros) and the more advanced work was going to cost me 100,000w.(70 euros) I really wanted to say “that’s it? 170,000 won (118 euros)?

Worst thing about the experience is that when you’re having your work done, they put a cloth over your eyes so you can’t actually see what’s happening. In some ways, it’s a good thing and in others it’s bad. To hear the drill or whatever freaks me out but I just practiced some reels in my head so it was all over before I knew it. And painless. I went home and did my usual run before eating dinner.

I have one more appointment next week and now I’m not so terrified so I’ll happily go in and keep my smile smiley and leave knowing that I’ll still have money in my wallet!