9 days in Korea - 4 in Jeju, 5 in Seoul.
Korea was insanely h o t. I spent 9 days in Korean summer heat and came back tanner than when I first went there (coming from Singapore you'd think i'd be used to the heat, alas, I got burned).
9 days of awesome food, 9 days of cultural, scenic and shopping experiences, 9 days of extreme fun & SO MUCH EXPLORING!
I spent 2 of these days shopping, and I am now broke due to the crazy amount of skincare products I bought. When the money ran out, and the trip came to an end, I made my way back to Singapore with such a heavy heart.
I have so much to share - pictures and a ton of videos, but here's starting with a fun light hearted post featuring 5 interesting things I discovered during my time in Korea. Some of this you might already know, some you might not.
1 || Girls don't show their shouldersI know Korea is conservative, but I expected less conservativeness in Seoul, after all it is so cosmopolitan, and you know... look at what Kpop idols are wearing recently.Walking around in the day time I see guys in T shirt and jeans, none in singlets, and girls with a T-shirt under their vest tops. You do see a lot of girls in shorts though, which got me wondering if covering their shoulders was a way to prevent sunburns (I got burned on both shoulders lol!)
Considering the crazy heat, I was surprised at their ability to dress in sweaters and jeans. I felt awkward wearing my spaghetti strap tops to be honest - despite still perspiring profusely even with that ventilation.
I guess koreans just have this crazy ability to withstand the summer heat!
2 || Free attractions are a plentyI remember doing research and realising that a lot of the museums and attractions required some sort of admission fee. To my surprise, I think most of the places we visited in Seoul were free. Or rather, there was sufficient "free areas" to explore that we did not feel the need to pay extra to see more.
Note: The last Wednesday of every month is designated as Culture Day and that means FREE entry to cultural placesBecause of Cultural Day, we got ourselves a free pass into the Gyeongbokgung Palace!
3 || Mandarin is like a 2nd languageKorea gets most of its tourism from Mainland Chinese and so almost all the shopkeepers and storeowners have the ability to speak fluent mandarin. The signs in shops, toilets, train stations and along the streets / markets too have Chinese characters written on them beside the Korean characters. It's pretty insane.
One of the guides in Jeju could speak english, mandarin and Korean. He was guiding a tour in 3 different languages. Talk about multi-lingual.
Sadly, english isn't as widely spoken in Korea, despite being in the Capital, Seoul.
There is definitely a huge benefit if you understand chinese or can read chinese characters.
4 || Cicadas are EVERYWHEREThe sound of cicadas are pretty deafening. THEY ARE SO SO LOUD. For real. I've never heard such loud sounds coming from trees and plants, but in both Jeju and Seoul, the sound of cicadas were so distinct! And oddly they don't just sing at night, but in the day too!
We don't get to see any of them cicadas, but you definitely hear them. All 100000000000000000000 of them. At least it sounded like there were that many.
5 || Korean Girls ACTUALLY have that fair porcelain complexionYou know they say only the Kpop idols and actresses look that good because of the work done to them. Or maybe the country just puts their best faces forward. I think it might be the latter. Anyway, in terms of certain facial features or the way people look generally - they don't look moderately similar to the idols, but if you think about it, 99% of the US does not look like Beyoncé neither do the english in the UK look like Cheryl Cole, so I think it's just the way entertainment works.
Wait, I digressed. The point is, they really are super fair. And skin care is HUGE. I'd say 80% of the regular koreans I passed have really clear good skin. They are either naturally fair or they use a bunch of whitening products and BB Cushions that are 2 shades lighter to get that fair look.
I'm not much of a whitening products girl, but I definitely got sucked into their whole skincare situation.
Stay tuned for more posts on the places I visited in Korea (all the free things you can do), where to visit in Jeju and Seoul, the AWESOME FOOD, a few outfit posts, and also, how my bank account now hates me because of the multitude of skin care products I got!
To see more of my pictures during this trip, check out my Instagram!
Click Here for more 5 fun facts posts of other places I've visited around the world.
2 August 2016 Seoul, South Korea
AH JAPAN. JAPAN JAPAN JAPAN JAPAN.
I could say "Japan" forever. As you can probably guess, I'm back from JAPAN! One of the countries I'd been dying to visit, a place I never thought i'd actually have a chance to.
The weather in Japan was beyond perfect (well we had 1 day of rain, but thats ok!). It was nice and autumnal in the south of Japan, the temperature was perfect, the leaves were a mixture of orange, yellow and green, and the sky was blue and clear. Cool breezy days with that hint of sunshine, I couldn't have asked for a time to visit Japan!
I have so much to share from food to outfits to locations, and all the things I did in Japan, so let me kick off the (probably long stream of) Japan posts by doing of them 5 Fun Facts!
1 | Black Cabs + Drivers In Suits
There is nothing quite like the black cabs in Japan. They have the most interesting looking black cabs with a Panda on top of it. We sat in one on the way to the airport on our last day in Japan (therefore no pictures because of the rush, sigh) and the driver of the black panda cab was dressed SO WELL. I reckon it is their uniform. He was all dressed up in a nice suit with vest. Oh it was cab heaven.
2 | Street style NOT = COLOURFUL
If you google "Japan Streetstyle" you get images of people dressed really interestingly with colours, and a lot of vibrancy. To the point I wish I could be them and be daring enough to play with colours in such a way. But, that isn't what Japanese street style is actually like. It's not what I saw at least.
(I was in the south of Japan, so that could differ from the rest of japan, i don't really know) But what I saw was a lot of black, and sure some colours, but most of them wear nudes, browns, navy, black and white.
3 | They are SUPER Hygienic
I've heard a lot of people comment about how clean Japan is, and considering Singapore is pretty clean too, I did not expect to be taken aback by the hygiene standards in Japan. But I was.
The roads were clean the malls were clean, almost all the toilets had disinfectant spray where you could wipe down the seats, and the most shocking thing happened when Jerald reached for a spoon in a jar at the ice cream shop.
We thought it was common to get another spoon on our own (since we were sharing an ice-cream) but it was unhygienic to stick our hands into that jar of clean spoons, so the server was most displeased when she saw us doing that, told us it wasn't right, and then proceeded to grab a hand full of spoons at the top layer and discarded them. All while maintaining a smile, hence, my next point.
4 | They Are The MOST Courteous People EVER
It's a known fact that the Japanese are extremely polite, but it's not until you see it for yourself that you get a shock at the level or courtesy that exists in their culture. They treat customers and people with the upmost respect and that made dinner/lunch/any service absolutely enjoyable.
Their patience at explaining the menu, the way they tell us to enjoy our meal, the way they speak, the way the address customers, its just all very courteous.
They have the tradition of bowing, and they do it so genuinely I can't help but bow back.
5 | The JAPAN RED
Ok, this may not be a legitimate thing, BUT, based on my observation, the red shade in logos, billboards, street signs etc. all have the SAME shade of red, which I bet is the shade of red on the Japanese flag!
There you have it! 5 Fun facts I discovered during my japan trip!
What other facts did you discover about Japan, or which were you surprised by? Let me know!
17 December 2015 Japan
Cornwall... Oh Cornwall. From my past few posts, you can probably tell how much I enjoyed my time in this corner of England.
Even though I spent a short 4 days in West Cornwall, I managed to see most of the region. Who knew England has such beautiful sights :)
Also, huge thank you to Sarah from The Salty Sea Blog for giving me so many recommendations! I adore Sarah's blog posts, not to mention, her photos are stunning! The way she writes about her Cornish life is so appealing. Head on over to check her out!
Anyway, here are 5 facts I discovered during my short time in Cornwall. Some totally unexpected!!
1. They have the quirkiest names for places.
Remember Mousehole? Or Woodlane? It's not just names of cool places but they also have houses with their own names!
Corner house, The Seaside House, Sally's House. Oh, how adorable! Imagine if I had a house called Carina's house at the end of the street. Haha that'd be cool, wouldn't it? Or if I painted my house purple and named it "That Purple House". I guess I could do that to be honest. It's probably seen as some kind of a decoration instead of an actual address.
2. Things along the coast (individual towns) are lively and bustling. But in between its just farms and large plots of grass.
By plots of grass I don't mean like weird patchy sad green plots. More like massive amount of green land/open fields with cows and horses etc.
When we were on the bus driving around from town to town, we passed by so many winding roads, large fields of grass, farms, animals, and probably 2 houses.
I think the region of west cornwall is such that most of the people stay within the town centres and the farmers would live slightly outside of the main town area.
It must be so hard to get to the actual town centre though. But I guess driving isn't a problem in Cornwall since its not as densely populated.
3. Buses don't stop at all bus stops
Oh, and sometimes they stop in the middle of the route to pick passengers up - we were one of them passengers.
See! The bus drivers in Cornwall are nice and kind. Road rage? What road rage? London and singaporean drivers can learn! Maybe it's because both london and singapore have pretty extensive bus services, the bus stops are so equipped, I've never experienced such a situation where there is a bus stop, but no busses ever stop there.
My friend and I were waiting at a bus stop right outside our hostel, but turns out, even though the signboard said there was the specific bus service we wanted, that bus didn't stop there!
Fortunately, the bus driver realised that we were 2 confused asian tourists, and stopped midway of the street and allowed up to board the bus. Apparently, we weren't the only confused ones.
In order to know which stops the buses stop at, we had to check another timetable. Not all bus stops are in service, some of them don't have ANY buses going to it. Glad we found out early!
4. The coastal paths, however, are AWESOME. You'll never get lost or confused following it.
This was probably the most surprising discovery for me. I was so impressed by how EASY it was to just follow the route. Firstly, there are sign boards everywhere along the coastal path, and if there aren't, you just gotta walk along the marked out path way/sandy route and you'll arrive it's great! Plus the scenery is always AMAZING. What's not to love? Walking has officially trumped taking the bus.
5. Smell of something everytime the wind blows
From horse/cow manor, to flowers, to the smell of the sea. I love that the winds in Cornwall are so strong that they carry all kinds of scent with them. Distinct ones might I add.
Remember how I talked about smelling the scent of real roses for the first time in my previous post?
When we were walking along the SW Coastal Path, we could smell all the wild flowers that were growing along the path way. It was so cool! I've never experienced anything like this; y'know, smelling flowers. I know how sea breeze smells like so that was a familiar scent, but i've always thought people were bullshitting when they wrote about how the wild flowers smelled like in books.
NO, Carina, THEY WERE NOT. It is indeed very very real. Lucky people of Cornwall! Especially in the spring/summer time when the flowers are all in full bloom! This experience will probably be etched in my memory for a long time.
(Yes, you can tell how much I love flowers. Don't judge.)
It could probably be because my friend and I went to Cornwall early in the summer before the crowds arrived? Or that Cornwall is just too far for most tourists coming into England. I think Cornwall is a pretty brilliant place to visit, and more people should know about it.
I could have easily spent another week or 2 exploring the other regions (south, north/east) of Cornwall. Guess i'll have to go back again some day!
6 August 2015 Cornwall, UK
I love reading little excerpts of other people's trips, a nice summary of what they thought or love about a city. This was why I wrote my first 5 fun facts posts. (Remember when I did the 5 fun facts post on Scandinavia? I think it was the most well received post among all my other scandinavian posts) Im not sure why I don't do it more often, but here's to hoping I do!
Since Budapest was probably my favourite destination of my last solo trip, I decided to do one for it!
I hope this could be a regular thing with my future travel destinations. Its nice to read fun facts about a city with stuff you might or might not get to know from guide books. Mostly, I think its just a nice way of rounding up a trip :)
Here goes 5 fun facts I discovered whilst in Budapest!
ONE: The servers are all guys. AND BLOODY GOODLOOKING.
Somehow all the restaurants I went to, the cafés, etc. the servers were all (or mostly) guys. Imagine stepping in to a café and being greeted by 3 super fine looking baristas, one of them then proceeds to make you about the best morning coffee. What a good start to the day right?
TWO: They have the most interesting bars and cafés
Open air concepts, ruin bars, lovely interiors, cafés with windows the size of humans, I absolutely adored the design of EVERY eating place I went to .
The whole time I was walking in the Jewish quarter I was thinking "I want another stomach so I can eat all these food"! Mostly because I wanted to go into the cafés and bars to take photographs of the places.
Speaking of cafés and bars, my other café related discovery was: You can just walk in and take a seat when it's not rush hour. I kept getting weird looks whenever I waited at the door to be seated... Guess it's not common practice? I don't know. I was literally #thatconfusedasiangirl.
THREE: They have statues with no significance
All Around Budapest there were several statues that were erected when the country was liberated from the soviets rule. One example is the little girl in the picture below. According to my walking tour guide, there are quite a number of such statues all around for the sole purpose of beautifying the city. Apparently under the communist rule, every statue had to have a meaning or be tied to some communist ideology, so the symbol of a "meaningless" statue (erected just because they wanted it and it looks nice) is like a sign a of liberation.
I guess that gives meaning to the statue now. Anyway they are really cute looking statues!
FOUR: The language
Yeah. 46 letters, and just wow. Words that have no way of being pronounced. I attempted to learn hello, Thankyou and good bye. I sat at my bed repeating the words on this infosheet from the hostel, the next day I was like.. "What was it? Kuh-suh-nuh something?!" I learned a couple of words while I was there, I don't remember a syllabus of anything! And I thought learning French was hard.
FIVE: I WISH I HAD MORE TIME THERE!
I was suffering from severe FOMO the whole time I was there. I thought I had 3 days in budapest, turns out, cutting the travel time to budapest and to the airport, I had just under 2 days! BARELY SUFFICIENT. Even getting out and about before 9 didn't cut it. I was dead beat by evening time, and my stomach would be aching - a thing I experienced a fair bit on this trip and couldn't seem to quite figure out why.
Regardless, I loved my time in Budapest so much. I really really really wish I had more time to explore, visit different areas, and enjoy everything the city had to offer.
16 July 2015 Budapest, Hungary
I'm back from a 10-day trip to Scandinavia (and then a short 4 days in Switzerland)! Now it's time for me to put a rest on the flying about and start revision for finals. Sigh.
Even though I'm on my year abroad, and my grades don't affect my GPA back home (THANK GOD), I still have to make sure I pass the year and not do too crappily. Guess it's time for me to play catch up with school after all the traveling around the entire year.
Before that, here's a short round up of my Scandinavia trip and 5 fun facts I discovered in my time there!
ONE: There are significantly LESSER people aroundWhen I stepped into Copenhagen (the first stop on my trip), I was surprised at how empty it was. Somehow there were just not as many people around. It was such a refreshing change from London. As I moved up to Sweden and Norway, the number of people out and about seem to decrease even more! Maybe this is why everyone is so happy - No squishing and bumping into people makes everyone smile a little more.
One of the girls I met told me "It's not just white people here", and she meant it in the nicest way possible. That was true! Tall, short, white, black, asian, young, old, it was quite an equal mix everywhere I turned. It could be because the cities I visited were more touristy and cosmopolitan, but that was definitely a nice observation :)
TWO: There are ALL types of people
THREE: The minimalistic lifestyle IS REAL - and very attractive might I addI thought the whole minimalistic vibe wouldn't be as evident, or that it was merely a stereotype. But no, minimalism is REAL. You see it in their streets, their houses, interiors, stores and the way they dress. White, navy, grey, black, most of the people are dressed in Neutral shades, and the interior design of places are so minimalistic. Understated, but very classy. Clean and Bright. I just loved admiring the way everything was designed!
FOUR: There is NOT A TRACE of a language barrierI knew Scandinavians spoke english, I did not worry about the fact that I knew nothing about their language, but, the fact that EVERYONE could speak english, and SUPERBLY well, was unexpected. I would usually expect the younger generation to be really good, but in scandinavia, even the older people spoke good english. Moreover, they have signs in English too. It made getting around from place to place so effortless, I did not feel out of place, it was just...wonderful!
FIVE: People say "Hi hi!" or "Hey hey!" instead of just saying it onceBy far this is my favourite fact. FAV. Not to mention, everyone is so incredibly friendly!! Walking along the streets, or every time I stepped into the hostel, a café or a restaurant, I get warm smiles and a nice "hihi!" I loved it! Of course I would just say Hi once back. Anyone else who does it might come across a bit pretentious... I don't know, but the scandinavians totally pull it off. It is so freaking adorable the way they great everyone!
Thats a short roundup! Of course, the usual facts on how scandinavia is really expensive holds true, but these are just some other interesting things I discovered on my trip there. I'll be posting more details on my travel adventures soon, so do check back! :)
Photos are from my Instagram feed.