Saturday, November 28, 2015

Unboxing: Benefit's 2015 Advent Calendar - Party Poppers

Hey everyone! I know it's been a while since my last blog post. I have no excuse whatsoever for my laziness but I am here to redeem myself with a haul entry. Another haul entry you say? It's not just another haul entry, it's a BENEFIT ADVENT CALENDAR entry. Ha!

What is a Benefit Advent Calendar?

It is basically a countdown 'til Christmas kind of thing in which there are 12 little compartments that holds 12 little benefit surprises. It should be 1 window per day but being the low EQ kid that I am and for your benefit (ehem!), I have decided to open everything all at once. Yeap!

Do they sell this every year?

Yes! It's a yearly thing. This one I got around mid-November.

Is it expensive?

Yes. BUT you will get more that what you paid for so it is worth every penny.

How much is it?

2,500 PHP

What's inside?

Window 1: Ooh La Lift
Window 2: Total Moisture
Window 3: High Beam
Window 4: Sugarbomb lipgloss
Window 5: They're Real Mascara
Window 6: Lollitint
Window 7: Porefessional
Window 8: Watt's Up
Window 9: Bad Gal Lash
Window 10: Hoola
Window 11: They're Real Remover
Window 12: Rockateur Blush

What makes it special?

IT'S A BOX FULL OF BENEFIT PRODUCTS!!! Oh and the box is musical too! Once you open the box, it has this nice musical surprise for you. Just like a musical birthday card. And let's talk about how cute that box is? Reminds me of Yayoi Kusama no?

So this latest haul made me all excited and I tried to vlog about it. But I somehow made a fool of myself in front of the camera so I scrapped the idea. HAHA. Anyway, you better head to your nearest Benefit boutique ASAP and get your hand on these before they sold out. 

<3 D.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Beyond the Border: A Quick Guide to the North and South Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

We travel to enjoy and collect wonderful memories and it doesn't hurt if we also immerse ourselves in some culture and learn about the history of another country right? The first time I traveled to South Korea, it was all about fun and kpop but this time around, my mother convinced me to visit the DMZ or the The Korean Demilitarized Zone. The DMZ serves as a de facto border between North and South Korea and has been the primary source of divide between the two countries for almost 62 years. I have always been fascinated with this place ever since I saw a documentary about it on Nat Geo and was keen on penning it on my "Places to visit before I die" list.

Some tourists doing touristy stuff

How to visit the DMZ Border?

First of all, visiting the border doesn't come cheap. You will have to shell out at least 40,000-50,000 KRW (roughly 1,500-1,900+ PhP) for the DMZ border tour or 65,000 KRW (roughly 2,500++ Php) for the JSA tour or the Joint Security Area in Panmunjeom.

          You CANNOT, I repeat, CANNOT just travel all the way to the border by yourself and think that you will easily just purchase a ticket and see the sights. You have to book a tour in order to get inside the DMZ. They don't allow walk-ins since safety is the primary concern here. You can easily book a tour from your hotel. Some hotels offer DMZ tour packages or they can book a tour for you.

2. Bring you PASSPORT
          This is very important! You will not be allowed to go to the border if you don't have your passport with you. South Koreans are not allowed to tour the border that is why they will have to verify your identity. My tour guide passed around a piece of paper where we wrote down our names and passport numbers, then a soldier boarded our bus and verified everything that we've written on that paper while holding our passports (opened in the ID page) beside our faces.

3. Dress Appropriately
          The dress code is for those who are visiting the Joint Security Area (JSA). No ripped jeans, no cropped tops, no sleeveless tops, no flip-flops etc. You get the picture...

This was taken from the observatory and as you can see I am all bundled up (and looking stupid).

4. Cameras are prohibited
          There are some areas in the border that prohibits the use of cameras. But they didn't say that cellular phones are not allowed so... ;) Just be careful not to be caught or shot. Whichever comes first.

5. You have a Heart Condition? Asthmatic? Claustrophobic?
          If you have one of those medical conditions or similar, I personally suggest that you sit the Infiltration tunnel tour out. We don't want anything bad to happen to you down there since it is a loooooong way down and a loooooong way up. The tunnel will get narrower and can get crowded so it's definitely a no no for claustrophobes.

And please don't roam around outside the designated trail. There are land mines everywhere!

The 3rd Infiltration Tunnel

This was our first stop on the DMZ tour. Our awesome tour guide CK which stands for Crazy Korean (his words, not mine), strategically placed this 1st on our itinerary to avoid the huge influx of tourists. You see, the tunnel runs 240 ft. below the ground, that's roughly 30 storeys high and it gets narrower and narrower towards the end. So this is definitely a smart call from CK since tourists arrive in huge bulks during mid-day.

Safety Helmets are a must!

We arrived early so we had the tunnel all to ourselves. You can just imagine the tunnel being crowded, 2 lines (one coming in, the other going out), with little air to breathe. Good thing they installed a ventilation system inside.

The 3rd infiltration tunnel was discovered in 1978 when a defector (A North Korean citizen who abandoned N. Korea) informed the South Korean military about it. They painted the insides of the tunnel black so that if ever they were discovered they can use the alibi of mining coals. This is the 3rd tunnel out of 4 that were discovered by the South Korean government. It is believed that there are at least 20 more that are not yet discovered. Talk about persistent! 

The end of the tunnel

The DMZ Theater and Exhibition Hall

Part of the tour was a 10 minute documentary screening on the history of the DMZ. There were so many attempts by the North to infiltrate the South (like sending TONS of spies) but so far none of their plans succeeded. Let's just keep it that way shall we? 

CK and his yellow pants (lol) thoroughly explaining North Korea's failed attempts in invading the South. 

Dora Observatory

So this is where we could see North Korea up close, and what I have been waiting for personally. For only 500 Won, you can catch a glimpse of what North Korea looks like. Unfortunately, there was nothing much to see since their land is somehow bare as compared to their Southern counterpart. But if you have a keen sense of direction and and eagle eye to match, you may see a statue of Kim Il Sung from the observatory. I think it's in the far right side if I'm not mistaken.

How to distinguish North from South Korea:
South Korea - Lush Trees
North Korea - No Trees :(

Dorasan Station
A.K.A. The only railway station in South Korea connected to North Korea
Dorasan Station was one of the few attempts towards unification but unfortunately, North Korea decided to suspend the operations indefinitely. The station was used to transport raw materials to Kaesong Industrial park, a joint venture of North and South Korea. Today, the sole purpose of the station is for transporting tourists from Seoul to the DMZ which is kind of sad.

This train station opened last 2002. It is the last train stop of South Korea, and the first train stop of it's Northern counterpart. Unfortunately this $40 Million infrastructure was left to sit and rot... well not really rot since the station still looks brand spanking new even though it's over a decade old. Korea really knows how to take care of their stuff.

I think he kinda' looks like Psy.

Lunch: The Best Pork K-BBQ in Town
After our Half-day tour at the DMZ, CK took us to the best Pork K-BBQ this side of Seoul. Unfortunately, I forgot the name of the restaurant. The only thing I know is that it is near City Hall. You should definitely order this thinly sliced pork with their Kimchi stew and seaweed rice. This is one of the reasons I'm itching to book a flight back to Korea. Yum!

I am not a history buff or anything like that, but going to this tour is one of the best decisions I've made in my 8-day stay in Korea. It feels great to get to know the country I love a little bit deeper beyond k-pop and k-dramas. When I go back I will definitely have to book the JSA tour, and I promise I will.

"End of Separation, Beginning of Unification"
I am still hoping that one day, these two divided countries would set aside their differences and unite as one again. It will definitely not be an easy task but one can dream right?

<3 D.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Wanderlust: Nami Island

Nami Island has always been a favorite destination of mine. The last time I went here, there were still patches of snow and the weather was wearily cold. Now, the sun is out and the weather is fine. We woke up early since we have to go to Nami by train and it will take us roughly an hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours to get to Gapyeong station. FYI, there are other ways to get to Nami like the Shuttle or by joining a tour but we prefer to go there by train which is a lot cheaper and practical.

How to get to Namiseon Island by Train/Subway:
*We started at Chungmuro station (Line 3)
1.Take Line 3, 4 stops towards Ogeum
2. Change trains at Oksu
3. Take Jungang Line, for 7 stops towards Yongmun
4. Change trains at Mangu
5. Take Gyeongchun Line, for 11 stops towards Chuncheon
6. Arrive at Gapyeong
7. Take the bus or taxi to the Nami Ferry terminal
8. Ride the Ferry towards Namiseon Island
     OR if you're adventurous enough,
9. RIDE THE ZIPLINE towards Nami Island (35,000 Won)

I know it may sound exhausting, and it is to be honest, but once you arrive at Nami, you will eventually forget that you just had a tiring and long journey. It is worth the travel, I promise! We arrived around noon at the Ferry terminal and we just had to visit our favorite Dak Galbi place in all of Nami for lunch. 

We went to Nami on a Saturday, so naturally there were lots of tourists in the Island. 
Nami is such a family friendly place. I wish to take my kids and hubby here soon.

Pa-ootd lang ng isa.
Top: Topshop
Skirt: American Apparel
Thigh-high socks: H&M

Me and my mom went biking around the area and found this stall that sells Steamed red bean bun for only 1000 KrW (roughly 40 PhP) and we just have to try it out. It reminds me of a Mantao and it is so satisfyingly good that we had to go back and buy another one. 

I am still in awe with the fact that such place exists.

Winter Sonata feels

Me and the Mother of Dragons. lol

10 things to do in Nami Island:
1. Biking (10,000 Won for an hour) - single or double bikes
2. Segway rental
3. Stroll and take pictures
4. Hear Mass on a Sunday
5. Water sports are also available
6. Bungee jumping (outside Nami)
7. Zip line (35,000 Won or 1,400+ PhP)
8. Take a peek at the museum
9. Eat Eat Eat
10. Try the Air Bicycle (I think this is weird lol)

I only tried numbers 1, 2, 8 and 9 on my list. But if you're planning to try everything out, make sure to bring tons of cash since everything here can be quite expensive.

We were planning to visit Petit France and Garden of the Morning Calm after but it took us the whole day to tour Nami. Maybe we'll visit the other two on our next trip to Korea. When exactly? Nobody knows.

**Weapon of choice:
1. Fuji X100s
2. GoPro Hero3+

<3 D.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Wanderlust: Korea Day 2 - Everland Theme Park

This is my second time to visit Korea but this is the first time to visit Everland theme park. It's Korea's answer to Disneyland and Universal Studios, but what makes it special is the unique charm it exudes. From the overflowing display of tulips and seasonal flowers in their magic garden all-year round to the scary looking wooden roller coaster or T-express with a 151 ft. drop in which I'm too chicken to try out. lol

How to get to Everland Theme Park:
By Train:
1. take the Bundang line (yellow line)
2. stop and alight at Giheung station
3. take the escalator to the Ever Line
4. alight at the last stop or the Jeondae Everland station
5. After exiting, you will see a bridge leading to the Bus terminal.
6. Wait in line for the shuttle to Everland (this is FREE of charge)

I told you in my other post that we didn't get to see the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom but guess what welcomed us at Everland? Cherry Blossom trees all lined up in it's full glory. We were so delighted and (relieved) to see these sight of beauty.

Another thing that made my visit worth-while was the fact that there was a YG family Hologram concert "ride" inside everland. And it is the very first ride that you will see when you enter the park. I already saw both groups (and Psy too) perform live twice and this Hologram experience is on a whole new different level. Crazy kpop fangirl mode on. It was so funny and at the same time humiliating to scream and fangirl on hologram images but YOLO right? (And the fact that I was the only one cheering and screaming for them.)

Oh you know, it's just me and my kpop faves hanging.

Hello I'm tourist Daphne.

Oh hello Germany/Holland in Korea

A mountain full of Cherry Blossom trees in full bloom is such an awesome backdrop no?

I love touristy shots. lol

Entrance Fee:
48,000 Won - Adult (Roughly 1,900+ PhP)

But... we got a discount price of 38,000 Won (or 1,500+ PhP) because were awesome... or not. Ok ok, we got this coupon from their website or you can just present your passport at the Foreigner's ticketing office at the far right side of the entrance.

Surviving Everland TIPS:
1. Bring your Passport (for the discount)
2. Wear sneakers and comfortable clothes.
3. Bring a good camera.
4. Come early because you have a lot of space to cover I SWEAR!!! One day is almost never enough.
5. Stay until the fireworks

We also got to enjoy other lola rides as well such as the Thomas the train ride and the Cable Car twice!!! Beat that. Haha. I will definitely come back and have my revenge with the T-express. Soon!!!

Thoughts? Comments are welcome. ;)
Instagram: blahxxdaf

<3 D.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Wanderlust: Seoul Searching, Cherry Blossom Hunting, and Myeongdong Shopping

Summer has been pretty awesome for me since I got the chance to visit Korea again. The last time I went to Seoul, It was still winter time, but now we finally got the chance to watch and marvel the beauty of South Korea in Spring.

Day 1 Morning: Cherry Blossom Hunting

We arrived  a few days late for the cherry blossoms since it bloomed earlier this year in Seoul. Everyone was expecting it to bloom the date of our arrival, but unfortunately they have to move the Cherry Blossom/Spring Flower festival to an earlier date. But we were lucky enough to see the Cherry Blossom trees at Yeoido Park before it turned green. 

It was raining quite hard that day and it was so hard to capture decent photos of the trees. My photos do not give justice to the beauty of the trees. It was a bit depressing that we didn't see it in full bloom... or did we? You'll see in my next post.

Day 1 Afternoon: Myeongdong Shopping

I was never a fan of going on group tours. We always want to travel at our own phase, no rushing, no time constraints. So when we booked this trip we knew that somehow we should plan for the whole 8 days. Day 1 was reserved solely for cherry blossom hunting, this Myeongdong trip however was unplanned.

After our trip to Yeoido Park, we decided to have lunch at Myeongdong, the most popular shopping district in Seoul. We immediately headed to the nearest restaurant in our midst and ordered this delicious bibimbap for my first lunch in Seoul. I was expecting a bit of meat in my bibimbap but unfortunately it was pure veggies and egg. On a brighter note, it was sooooo delicious and inexpensive that I am craving the same dish as we speak. The dish was so simple but so flavorful and healthy that I might consider becoming a vegetarian... or not!

The shopping part was what I have been waiting for since we arrived in Seoul. For day 1, I managed to hoard tons of cute socks for "pasalubong" since it was so cheap. We also visited a few cosmetic shops to buy Korea's beloved BB creams and face masks. I've always had a knack for shopping, obviously. It is quite exhilarating really. I will post my Seoul buys in another post hopefully soon. :)

Myeongdong is one of the busiest parts of Seoul, with thousands of Koreans and tourists alike shopping even on weekdays and hundreds of shops to choose from, It is a no-brainer that I consider this as one of my favorite shopping destinations of all time.

I very much used all of my energy roaming the streets of Myeongdong that I ended up looking like crap before going home. So please excuse the bunny face. At least you got to see a cute bunny rather than seeing the mess that I was that day. lol.

It's my second time in Seoul and it feels great to see a new side of it.  I am hoping that there will be a third time sooner rather than later. Maybe around autumn of next year? One can only hope. :)

<3 D.

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