Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Tight Squeeze

I finally bought a pair of shoes here! I could have never imagined how difficult it would be to find shoes that fit me. In American sizes, my feet fit a 8.5. It's considered normal for my height (5'6). Shoes I want are made in my size and sometimes they're even sold out. It wasn't easy, but I even bought around 4 or 5 pairs when I was in Taiwan and HK... but HERE! Especially since the average height is taller than the rest of Asia, you would think they would make larger-sized shoes, too! The "standard" largest size here (meaning the ones you can find at any regular shoe store in Myeongdong, for example) seems to be a 250 - equivalent to a size 8. Only once in a while will they have size 255 for very specific styles... and even when they do, those in the same situation as me snatch them so they're sold out by the time I get to them. The Koreans I've met who have size 8+ feet say they need to order from the States, wait until they travel abroad and go on a shoe shopping spree, or custom-make their own shoes.

I've always been a big fan of Fashion Toast's heel collection. I guess this could be considered a toned-down version of what she would have... and another lovely addition to my shoe collection
that makes it seem as though I have a regular night job..........
It's leather :)
Wouldn't have minded if they added another half inch in the front + heel.
I wore them around while shopping last night to break them in.
Andddd these are a few other things I picked up yesterday...
  • Skin Food: Gold Caviar Emulsion (they seem to love emulsions here). I'm replacing my Bio-Oil with this as my moisturizer for night because it's a lighter alternative for the summer.
  • The Face Shop: Orange Mint Foot & Heel cream - to get babysoft feet
  • The Face Shop: nail polish in 2 shades of red
  • Nature Republic: Deep Sea Algae Mask -- Chlorella + Sea Tangle + Seaweed. This mask heats itself up on your face! I didn't expect that.

They sure are generous with the samples here. It's bad (for me) 'cause I try them and like them and then go out to buy... I've been pretty good with skin care and beauty products though -- haven't bought much.... yet.
These are the samples I got just from buying the emulsion and the foot cream!
Skin Food gets the trophy for having the most interesting products...Jetting off to Fukuoka, Japan in a few hours! Going to try to find a Hello Kitty mask to wear..
Be back Tuesday -- have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Bern and I got manis in Hongdae on her last Sunday in Seoul (1.5 weeks ago).
I never pamper myself this often back at home. I've had 3 since I've arrived!

We got a gradient style.
Bern's purple gradient - looks like a lotus up close!
Mine is pink @ the tips but it looks peach and skin toned in this lighting.
it looks way prettier in person.
We named our nails lol... I think mine was named after an alcoholic cocktail...I actually still have my polish on and it hasn't chipped or anything. The great thing about this style is that you can grow it out and it won't show because the section closest to your cuticle isn't coloured - it's only painted with clear polish.

It was neat how they applied it. I would never have thought of it. I chose my tip colour and they chose the other 2 colours and painted a strip of each colour on a piece of tinfoil. Then they used a sponge that's a little bigger than a sugar cube and dipped it into the paint starting from one side and then lightly patted it onto my nail! Super easy. They even gave us a few sponges so we could save money and do it ourselves at home ^^

These were my inspiration - I showed the manicurists these pictures on my Cenix. I originally wanted to get these colours but I thought it would be a bit too flashy for everyday wear and they didn't have the right shade of gold.
A possible future gold colour lust - called Nefertiti! Where can I find lippman collection in Vancouver?
Korea makes all of my girlfriends way girly-er than they are at home. So many of the girls who never ever wear polish at home wear nail polish all the time here! Every third day is a new colour. I think it's because we're constantly observing the way Korean girls carry themselves... so put together and feminine. Korean girls do it so simply, too. When they do their nails, it's almost always just one colour. Only sometimes will you see a bit of nail art and fake nails.

You would never see this:
A little overboard, eh? That is a picture of one of Florence's friends in Taiwan. I don't know how she could type or text!

This is my super cheap-o nail polish collection in Korea ---
From this new cosmetic brand called Nature Republic:
The 4 on the right were on sale for only 1,000won each! I'm going to try doing the gradient with them... hmm but maybe I should wait for Bern to do it for me... so I can match them with the colours I have at home, too.
From The Face Shop:
The one on the left is a pretty colour for my toes! It goes with everything.
My roomie has a great, juicy shade of red from this brand.
You should see some of the girl's collections here in the dorm.. I think they own almost the entire collection from one of the stores.

Presentations went pretty well today. I especially thought my Marketing group members did an excellent job presenting. They spoke very clearly and slowly and with confidence. So proud! The professors were impressed. I'm totally procrastinating on doing my Operations Management homework right now ><;;... 1 more day to survive and then I can have fun and relax! AJA!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

One Monkey Jumping On The Bed

The cleaning of my side of the room is in progress!
Desk area + floor, check!
To be completed sometime next week.
'Cause I have 2 presentations tomorrow and an Operations Management assignment that will take a long time (due Thursday)... and then I'm going to shop my heart out at Lotte Duty Free in Myeong Dong on Thursday night, pack Friday morn, and then I'm off for Japan until Monday night!

I'm exhausted -- all day, I worked on the marketing presentation report that has to go with the presentation Powerpoint. We're doing our presentation on the marketing phenomena: Noise Marketing. This marketing concept is well known amongst Koreans, but there's absolutely nothing on this topic in ENGLISH. Try looking it up on Google! All you would get are websites related to the literal meaning of "noise". Anyway, so since it was impossible for me to research this topic as all the sites related to Noise Marketing are in Korean, I was unable to do anything. I just found out yesterday that I'm in charge of writing the report, which was fine because my group members said that it only needed to be 5 pages long double spaced. Then, I read the Marketing syllabus this morning and it said "limit of 15 pages" (in Korean speak, that sort of implies at least 10 pages)! Sheesh -- so I had to stretch it and add more info which took much longer than it should have. I'm currently at 9 pages. Did you know you hardly ever need to include bibliographies for essays and reports in your undergrad!?!? Love that.

Actually what drained me was the 4 hours of having to reword my group's English into proper English. It sure tested my knowledge of English! (that's a lot of English...) It seemed as though we went through every second verb and noun they used - I had to get them to explain why they chose that word for that context to fully understand what they're trying to say. Sometimes, they try to be efficient and use one word in English that encompasses so many meanings but it doesn't sound right. Smart, though!
Quite a few Koreans like to use their thesaurus wayyy too often. I can't remember at the moment, but we had some good laughs about the words they chose!

Sometimes, ESL student's English vocabularly knowledge astounds me. They are able to utilize big words that I don't even use. I'm a bit embarassed to say I've never even heard of some of them! At least I'm not alone. Other English speakers have expressed the same feeling. Some native Japanese people are taking some courses in Japanese at KU and some of their local classmates use impressive words even the native Japanese speakers are not familiar with.

Looking at lanterns through a kaleidoscope

Anyway, it was very warm outside today. I ate 3 popsicles and had an iced vanilla latte. I don't know what to wear for the presentations tomorrow. I think it's going to be hot and when it's hot, I don't enjoy wearing pants!

Random fact: the minimum wage of a convenience store worker is approximately 4,500won/hour. That's around $4.25CDN/hour.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Yesterday, I woke up super early and spent a day in Incheon with a couple of girlfriends!

We didn't really know what was there, so when we got to the station (around 2 hours away from Anam), we headed directly towards the Tourist Info counter where the guy gave us some English maps and suggested a few places.

Right across the street from Incheon Station (which cost me only 1,600won to get to, btw!), was Korea's very own China Town! lol
It was slightly amusing to see all those lanterns and servers dressed in Chinese outfits + cheongsams. I was hoping for some actual chinese food, but everything still seemed a bit Korean-Chinesified. We ended up having deep fried dumplings + jajangmyeon. I'm standing next to a HUGE bowl of jajangmyeon!
The other two bought quite a few souvenirs such as Hematite bracelets and necklaces, bangles, paper lanterns, tea pot sets, and flower tea balls. I think they bought more Chinese souvenirs than Korean! haha They sold fortune cookies -- 2 for 1,000won.
Soon to be dinner...

hehe kiiiiiidding.

Then we took the bus (45) to Wolmi Island - around 7 minutes away by bus. It wasn't really an island - it was like Granville Island in Vancouver -- connected. There was a traditional Korean garden + observatory on this island. We walked around the garden -- there was a little kite/craft festival going on.
This kite string was amazing - it never ended!
Arts and crafts -- paint by number fans!
You can get your hair washed like they did back then!
Such a nice day! So many families were having picnics all over!
Communal drinking fountain... so many people drink from those terracotta-coloured ladles!
Then we walked all the way up to the middle of the mountain to get to the observatory, but we couldn't get to it. It was blocked off to protect the Eagles nest. So, we walked halfway around (long trail), and walked down to try to get to a museum but ended up walking along the seawall type thing. There was a Global festival going on so there were a lot of families and couples + street entertainment.
Huge origami crane!
There were also many many raw fish restaurants lining the seawall!So appetizing!

Then, half an hour before it departed, we decided to hop on this 15,000won 1.5 hour cruise. Little did we know, we were the youngest on the ship
by far. I felt as though I was on some Asian-only Alaskan cruise! It was also the tackiest boat I've been on hahaha! When we walked in on the first floor, we were slapped in the face with Korean music for those 65+. So, we went to the 2nd floor and grabbed a table by the window. 5 minutes later, a huge crowd of retired Korean women and men plopped themselves down on the tables and ordered a round of Hite beer + chips. Another 15 minutes later, once the boat left shore, the entertainment started.... oh my......... We saw around 10 mini shows: tumblers, Spanish dancers, Russian dancers, some super flexible Chinese girls, and this guy who blew up and then did the splits.
Walked around outside:
A really long and thin bridge that just goes on...
and on...and on.
Feeding the birds with chips. SWOOP
The last 45 minutes was open dance floor time where the ajummas got up and did the jig. It was amusingly awful and too loud to talk so I napped for 15 minutes. Then we walked to the museum! It was the Museum of Korean Emigration. It was new and free - built to celebrate the 100th year Koreans first emigrated to the United States!
Interesting stuff -- we were given those audio gadgets/headphone thingies that describe what you're looking at. These were neat because they were automatic - when you stood in front of the display, a voice would instantly start describing!
We were a bit rushed - only had 30 minutes to cover the whole museum so we couldn't really enjoy the last bit though it was great having the whole museum to ourselves!
This is the S.S. Gaelic - a ship that transported 102 Korean immigrants to the US! They got so seasick.
Korean emigrant farmers earned approximately $17USD/month, working from 6AM-9PM 6 days a week! They had to wear these tags around their necks - the tags told the boss how much they were worth.
Then we cabbed it back to Incheon Stn and ate sashimi for dinner! I'm a huge sashimi fan, but the other girls were a bit picky. Since we couldn't read the menu, we just ordered the 2 items that the ajumma said were sashimi. We all agreed that the lightest coloured one was excellent. The other girls wouldn't touch the darker 2 fish because they contained bones and a little bit of skin so I pretty much ate it all... good fishy dinner! haha (I love fish!)
All in all, Incheon isn't a place I would visit again as there wasn't much to do for someone my age, but anywhere is fun when you have great company, which I did!

Saturday, May 23, 2009


(Warning: the following is a bit of a super long rant. I apologize for any incorrect spelling/grammar.)

Where should I start...

So last Saturday, after Bern and I went on the tour to the DMZ, we decided to go to Yongsan to check out their electronics since we were closeby. We went to the I'Park Digital Mall because they have a decent variety of all sorts of the latest electronics and you're able to bargain.. and also because it was where the KUBA buddies brought us to buy our cell phones and I bought my electronic dictionary there so I had a really good experience there. After drifting around a couple of mini shops, we semi-knew what we were looking for and how much we would and should pay for the gadgets.

At the next stop, I ask the guy "Samsung P3 olma-yeyo?" and he said 240,000won, which is a really good price considering it's around 290,000won at Kyobo bookstore. So, intrigued, he shows it to me but then says "this one is better", taking the Cenix S-300 out of the display. I've never heard of the Cenix. My first thought,
the P3 looks way better. But then, he started comparing the Cenix with the Samsung P3. They were both multi-function devices: have video, mp3, can record sound, radio, picture display, and you can read texts off their ebook. They were also both haptic, which means you can control it through the sense of touch like iPod products.

He claimed that the Cenix was better because it was made in Korea whereas the P3 is made in C-H-I-N-A, the Cenix had a longer battery life, the Cenix had a bigger screen than the P3, the Cenix was a newer model by a few months, the Cenix came with a stylist and you don't need to convert the file type for it to work on a Cenix (for example, some of these gadgets can only play AVI files so you would need to convert the file into that format). The last point was pretty much what sold me as I don't like to deal with technical things in that way (I'm a big fan of drag and drop. I currently have a Microsoft Zune and the program I have to use drives me nuts).

Cenix S-300, 8GB
(also comes in white)

Samsung Yepp P3, 8GB
(also available in silver)
I asked how much it (the Cenix) was - he said 330,000won. Wow.. expensive... and then he asked me if I would watch TV on it (you can watch live TV in Korea on these things). I said no - there's no such thing in Canada so no need. OK - he dropped the price to 300,000won. Meanwhile, I was unsure and played around with the gadget. He was rushing me and kept packing it up, but all the while, he was nice and asked us a lot of questions about ourselves and was kinda hilarious and schiz-y. Anyway, all in all, he was a very convincing SA.

Then he showed me all these accessories such as a leather case, a USB adapter, a memory card, and headphones... and eventually gave them to me, saying that they're free because he likes us. I didn't want them, but since it was free, why not? Then he showed me how to drag and drop the music and loads a bunch of Korean songs onto my player. Super simple. I asked him what the return policy was - he said "exchange within 2 years, but no exchange if it's scratched + 1 year warranty". 2 years?! I couldn't believe it so I confirmed it with him.. 2
years??? Yes. 2 years. OK. I was still unsure about how much I would grow to like this gadget, but with the exchange policy, I figured I could try it out at home and then come next week to exchange it to what I originally wanted, the P3.

As I was about to pay, Bern decides she wants to get her MP3 player - a Cenix S-200 so we tried to get a deal since I was already buying something. She got hers for 110,000won including a USB adapter. We paid together in cash. I asked for a receipt - he wasn't going to give me one, but he did give me his business card.

1 week passes -- I used it around 2 or 3 times -- uploaded a bunch of music, photos, and a couple videos. I don't like it. I can't totally personalize the screen to what I like (the font is an eyesore and I can't find where to change it on their official website), browsing photos take forever and when I try looking through the thumbnails, it shuts down because the files are too large, the photos I load (of the ones I take from my digi) don't fill up the whole screen and look pixelated, it's not as haptic as I thought it would be (the P3 seems very haptic!), and the device is still just as ugly as I first thought IMO (it's that shiny plastic black that looks inexpensive and you can see fingerprints easily). Completely unimpressed.

And THEN on Tuesday, I tried researching the player online to find reviews and compare it to the P3. Guess what I found!
The player is only supposed to be 176,000won for 8GB (what I got) and I paid 300,000won!!! AND the screen size is the same for both P3 and Cenix -- 3 inch! I was scammed! WHY would he do such a thing? I can't clearly remember, but I realized that at one point, he asked Bern how long she was staying here (until Monday) and when she would be coming back (not for a loooong long long time). BIG HINT. He thought I would be leaving with her so he could have jacked up the price, knowing we wouldn't find out how much extra we were paying before we left. Also, the fact that we were young and that we were foreigners didn't really do any favours for us.

SO I couldn't believe that this would happen! I've only had amazing experiences with customer service and getting things for too-good-to-be-true prices from who I believe are honest people.. and now I have this... stain. I talked to a few locals about this and they said, as a Korean, they were very sorry and embarrassed this happened and offered to help come talk to the retailer for me. They also said Yongsan is notorious for that and that even some locals stay away from that mall because they would rather buy it online or from a more established retailer (something similar to Best Buy), even if it meant they paid more.

So today, I got a friend (a local, not the ones who offered - they weren't available on Saturday, the only day I was free) to do a huuuge favour for me and come with me + try to exchange the Cenix for the P3. (Side note, apparently it's Korean culture to pay for the other person's meal even though they're doing a favour for them -- I don't get it! It's like doing 2 favours!) The guy who sold me the Cenix wasn't there. Just my luck. Instead, we talked to another guy. After over an hour of
constant talking in the fastest Korean I've ever heard in my life (my friend + him talking in Korean.. I just stood around, unable to input anything but confirm what had happened that day) where at one point, the SA (a guy) started whining to my friend "sonniiiiiimmmmmmm" (a polite word meaning, "customer") [omg so feminine] when my friend told him he would report him to the customer service people, the SA said that it was that price because of the memory card. (You're kidding me.. since when did a 4GB memory cost more than $100CDN?!). Good try, buddy. Then he even went as far to say that Bern didn't pay 110,000 for her MP3 (when she DID) because that price is too cheap and that the seller would not get any commission if he sold it at that price. Pssshhh (but yay Bern! You got yours for a great price!). At the end of the first hour, he said I couldn't return it because it has been used and because of that, the couldn't sell it again. Um... then can you explain to me the purpose of the exchange policy???

OK, that's fine. I just want to exchange it for the P3. The SA said no, unless I was willing to pay extra or else the shop would lose money. What?! The P3 only costs 240,000won! That store already has 300,000won of my money for something that should only cost 176,000won - why in the world would I pay
more? The SA said that actually, the price I saw online was wrong and that the 8GB should be 210,000won. The thing is, it's such a new model (the 8GB, I mean... the 4GB is available to buy online) that they don't have the price anywhere on a Korean website - nothing to compare it to. That's great for the seller because he can sell it for any price he wants, which he pretty much did.

SO we went to the customer service desk and got the customer service rep to come down and solve the problem. After another hour of more Road Runner-type Korean talk (seriously even faster than on the first floor, believe it or not -- think Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls on fast forward.. and omg... one thing about the Korean language is that it contains a lot of fluff and not much content so at the end of the hour, my friend summarized everything that happened in 2 sentences), the situation still wasn't solved. (I wonder how long the convo would have taken if it was in English...). The SA was being very stubborn. So, we went to the 9th floor to talk to someone even more superior where we were offered green tea and stayed in a conference room for another 1.5 hours. My friend mentioned something about how the CS representatives wouldn't usually take it this far, but because I bought the device for 30%+ however much it is sold for online, it wasn't right (yea.. didn't fully understand that). The guy on the 9th floor who helped us was a graduate from Korea University and because he learned that we were both from KU, he said he would try his hardest to try to help us return/exchange and looked like he really meant it. (Sidenote: It's neat how much university affiliation is so significant here. My friend said that because the 9th floor CS guy was his senior, he couldn't ask to talk to someone in an even higher position - it would be very rude). Guess what I found out -- the guy who sold me the Cenix doesn't work at that shop anymore?! He has opened his own shop in the same mall!

The KU grad CS guy gave me 3 choices:
1. The CS department would give me around 80,000won back in cash to cover the difference of what I should have paid, but I would have to keep the Cenix. No. I don't want to keep the Cenix.
2. Since the SA doesn't work at that shop anymore, the CS department has to talk to him and see what he says about the situation on Monday. This is because he's the one who got the commission... but why would he be on my side? That means he would lose his commission! I can only hope for the best for this option. I have to go back sometime this week to see what happens.
3. If all else fails, I will (get help to) report this to the customer service of Korea. Wow - I never thought I would have to take this to such a level! They will make the shop allow me to return the item or exchange it, but it would take about a month so I would have to do it ASAP after this week!

Anyway, that was my sitch. I'm so grateful and appreciative of my friend who spent over 4 hours, arguing on my behalf. He was such a good sport and said he enjoyed the challenge, especially since he's so easy going. He also said he wished his mom was here -- Korean ajummas are amazing bargainers and can definitely raise their voice to get what they want hhhh

Lesson learned: it may be common sense, but make sure you don't buy from I'PARK digital mall @ Yongsan unless you're with a local Korean (preferably someone who can talk well, if you know what I mean), don't buy something you haven't researched, don't buy at the first shop you go to - price hawk, absolutely love the product, and be fully aware of their return/exchange policy!! (And this goes for everywhere in Korea -- the longer you stay and talk to the SA, the bigger the discount they will give you once they learn more about you).

... to be continued.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

School Pride

The grass is green, perfect for a picnic!
So as you know, it's school festival week for Korea University! There were tons of activity happening everywhere around the main gate and public square all week.
Lots of freebies and games!At night, the tents turned into a huge conglomerate of club houses where people drank + ate all night.
KUBA had their own tentThe girl in the middle is Albeta from Taiwan. She's in my Korean language course and at the beginning of the semester, the professor got us mixed up quite often haha
I guess we do look very similar when we look down and our hair covers our face!
Remnants next morning ---
A bunch of us found this new (superdelish) Italian restaurant just outside of campus. Their daily special is only 5,000won (approx $5CDN) and it comes with a drink and bread! This is a pamadoro with prawns and "you know... the guy in Super Mario with the big head that makes you bigger?" Me: "............ mushroom?" haha cute.. that's what happens when you hang out with people who are ESL.
FOOD in Korea
From my experiences so far, the only 3 cuisines Koreans can churn out well are Korean (obviously), Indian, and Italian. The Italians rave over all the pasta and Italian-style pizza they eat and those originally from India say the Indian food is authentic. Don't bother trying any Vietnamese or Chinese food here or you will be very (very very) disappointed no matter how much you pay. Japanese food is pretty decent in most establishments (we have it good in Vancouver) except I've only come across one that serves OK rolls. They looove Tonkatsu here! Mexican food depends on the person -- definitely not authentic, the Mexicans say, but edible. Greek food is pretty much nonexistant... I've seen a Nepali restaurant near Insadong. They do have a few stands that serve street food from Turkey here and there around Myeong Dong and Hongdae. There's a Moroccan restaurant some foreigners deem as amazing I have yet to try in Itaewon!

Hanging out with Mami (from Japan) after class --- she's the happiest, most lighthearted person I know ^^
Ice tea!
Yesterday, I attended the KU concert called Ipselenti (32nd) a block away from CJ near the Tiger Dome!

Schools have been having concerts all week. It's quite a big production and tons of students come out.
This is Yonsei's from last week -- a sea of blue (their school colour).
It was raining a lot yesterday -- everyone bought ponchos to wear.
Looong line up to get into the arena and the line up didn't end until Super Junior came on (around 5 hours later).
I didn't get in until about an hour after the performances started. At that time, all the students were chanting, singing, and cheering to KU songs - it was AMAZING -- all the energy and hearing their voices so loud and proud and in sync!! Never would anything like this happen in Vancouver, especially at this extent!
Students told me they had to attend an orientation when they were in 1st year @ KU to learn the actions and lyrics to these songs for events such as these.

The first performers = After School - a pretty new 6 member girl group. My friend is friends with the manager of After School. Lucky guy -- the girls are hot from far away! lol Diva diva diva diva!

Drunken Tiger (an old group that raps) and TASHA!!! She was great. I was really surprised to see her because she has been MIA for quite a while 'cause she got married and had a baby, but I think she just came out with a new album. I have all her CDs on my laptop -- she's half African American and half Korean and both raps and sings.
Baek Ji Young!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everyone was in love with her.
I think someone proposed to his girlfriend on stage through a rap...

House Rulez (the same group I saw perform at Club Answer during my first week in Korea) performed except they didn't sing the Strawberry Ice Cream song...These 2 guys were wearing the Canadian maple leaf on their t-shirts. They sang a ballad rendition and a rock version of SNSD's Gee which was fun to sing along to. Surprisingly, a lot of the guys in the audience knew all the moves to this song......
The performers also got the whole audience to sing "We Love Rock & Roll" and "We Are The Champions"!
Super Junior! Sang 3 songs - their new song, It's You, Rokkugo, and of course, Sorry Sorry. haha the stage was too small to fit all of them and for them to do their full song. I think they changed the dance to Sorry Sorry a bit at the end, which was refreshing! Kangin! Heechul!! Hankyung!!!Then this old guy (a KU grad of 1977) called Lee Mun Se (?) sang 3 or 4 songs. I wasn't familiar with him nor his songs, but he was very popular among the students.

Then we cheered the same songs as at the beginning for about an hour, but this time, I learned the dance and some of the lyrics!
We left a bit early in a large group to go eat at a BBQ restaurant (had Samgeopsal (fatty pork)) organized by KUBA at 11PM.

The whole event was so much fun, I was so impressed!
In a couple hours, I will be going to Kyunghee University to watch their concert with Rain and Hyori. That is, after I do a bit of school work, of course.

[Edit] OK I've decided to be a good student so I'm staying in today to do some homework...