Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why Becky Bloomwood might consider moving to Seoul...

In Dongdaemoon, there are 4 different buildings that are filled with the latest clothes and accessories. It's a melding of Greenhills, Tutuban Center, MBK and Mong Kok - and that combination can only be described as "shopping heaven." Another apt description can be "shopping black holes," because when you get inside, believe me, it's almost impossible to get out.

And if 9 floors of shopping (per building) isn't enough reason, here's one that might be of added interest:



Yes, the malls are open until 4:30 am! Heck, aPM is open until 5:00 am! Imagine, 17 full hours of shopping. That's enough to turn anyone into a shopaholic.

Monday, September 27, 2010

She did it again!

In between visits to palaces and malls, I'd stop over at the hotel and watch a bit of Korean TV.

While tuned in to MTV Korea, I caught Kylie's newest single from her "Aphrodite" album. The song is entitled "Get Outta my Way" and it has HIT written all over it!



The video is cool, but the song is way cooler. It's got that catchy beat and infectious arrangement that just plays in your head over and over again after listening to it once.

Some of her best songs have this pattern. There's "Spinning Around," "Can't get you out of my head," "Wow" and "Did it again."Honestly, I like this 2nd single more than the first single she released. Similar to how "Red Blooded Woman" was better than "Slow" and "Wow" was way catchier than "2 Hearts."

And it's also cool how the title of the song references her older hit "Can't get you out of my head."

Speaking of which, something tells me this song won't get out of my head for a while.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Get me to the church on time



Among the first things I researched before my Seoul trip was the location of the nearest Catholic Church. Since I was spending Sunday there, hearing mass was an imperative.

Luckily, the Myeongdong Cathedral, the seat of Catholicism in Seoul, was just 3 stations away from where I was staying. Further research revealed that there's only 1 English mass at 9:00 am, so the date and time were set.

This morning, I left the hotel early to give a bit of time to find the place. By 8:40 am, I was in Myeongdong, then 10 minutes after, I found the place, quietly walked into the area that said "For Foreign Visitors" and took my seat. Picking up the literature, it said "Seoul Presbyterian Church."

Yup, wrong church.

After quietly sneaking out, off I ran and looked up to try and locate the bell tower of the cathedral. And after 5 minutes, I saw it!

Good thing it was just a few blocks away.



Got inside a few minutes after the mass started. For a Catholic Church on a Sunday, it wasn't very full. After seeing Catholic Churches in Hong Kong, Bangkok, China, and Japan, it was a surprising sight. Churches - even in North Asian countries - are usually packed to the rafters. But not so much in Seoul.




Another surprise is that there aren't too many Filipinos. Unlike in the church in Yotsuya, Japan, where there are multitudes of Pinoys - plus the occasional Pinoy vendors - there were only a handful here in Myeongdong.

The interiors of the church was very nice. It's reminiscent of the interiors of the Notre Dame in Paris. The interiors and exteriors were very European in look and feel.



The only Asian elements I saw were the statue of the first Korean saint, and this very nice portrait of the 79 beatified martyrs in Korea. Looking at the photo inspired me to read up on their story - which I'll probably do after this.



After mass, it was off to Myeondong for breakfast, then a bit of shopping before heading off to the temples. And writing about that episode is something I'm saving for next time.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Seoul Food

Aside from checking out museums, churches, malls and supermarkets, another thing I like to do whenever I'm in a foreign country is try their street food. And that's what I placed on top of my checklist today.

Myeondong - aside from being a popular shopping district - is also littered with street food stalls that sell everything from safe (like cotton candy) to the shocking (grilled octopus tentacles - which were about 2 feet long!).

To help me decide which to try, I looked around and checked out what most of the locals were eating. And after about 20 minutes of observing, there were two items which were clear winners.

First, the potato sausage!



I tell you, just a whiff of this is enough to send a person's blood pressure skyrocketing! Harhar. It's a sausage (your choice of fish, chicken or beef) that's dipped in the usual corn dog batter, then rolled in french fries, then deep fried. Despite the cholesterol and calories, it's really, really good! And it's a multi-tasker's snack since you can now have your sandwich and fries at one go.

Second was this dessert they call the "super long ice cream." And here's the reason why:



Looked like it was more than a foot long, and it was quite heavy. But it was AWESOME! This Mango-Strawberry combination was simply divine! Good thing the weather in Seoul right now is cool, so it didn't melt that fast. This is so good, I'm thinking of getting another one tomorrow after mass. After all, the ice cream place is just near Myeondong Cathedral. (Or so I think.)

Now, it's time to look for some bibimap.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Firsts time

Over dinner last Thursday, Mark reminded me of that small bit at the side of my blog that said: "Must visit a new place every year." It turned out that I didn't visit a new place last 2008. It's the last quarter of 2010, and even though I've traveled out of the country every month this year, they're usually to places I've been to already - HKG, SG, China, and Guam.

So, it's time to put that "mantra" to action again.

Time to go Seoul searching.

Yup, it's my first time in Seoul. Like the other "first" trips I've made, there was a feeling of excitement the moment I boarded the plane and went on the flight that totaled 8 hours. (Because I had to transit in HKG.)

And now, I'm here! I'll reserve my first impressions for later. Let me write about the other "firsts" first:

FIRST ACTIVITY: RIDING A TRAIN.



I've always loved trains since the "Bicol Express" took us from Paco to Bicol as kids. Whenever I visit a new country, I make sure to take the local train to get a glimpse of the local culture. So the first thing I researched on before my trip was the Seoul Metro. It wasn't as complicated as the JR system, although it isn't as simple as HKG's MTR, too. But thankfully, I was able to find my train and my stops.

FIRST PURCHASE: TRAIN TICKETS!



After computing the cost, I was surprised that the train ride from Incheon to downtown Dongdaemoon was cheap. It was around P200, and considering the distance we traveled, it's value for money. It's definitely much cheaper than the Airport Express or the Narita Express. The only thing is, Incheon is quite far from downtown Seoul. The train ride took 2 hours.

FIRST MEAL: LOCAL FOOD.



Ok, so it's fast food. But hey, it's local fast food! Lotteria is to Korea what Jollibee is to the Philippines. There's almost one in every corner. In fact, there were around 5 Lotteria branches around my hotel - and no McDonald's or KFC! (Actually, I've only seen 1 KFC and 1 Burger King branch in Myeondong.)



FIRST LOOT: BREADS!



The first thing I do whenever I go to a new country is check out their groceries. Since it was late, I went to a convenience store called GS25, and bought breakfast for tomorrow. This consisted of a strawberry tart and cheese bread.

Whew! That's a lot of firsts. And it's just my first day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Grape Expectations

This morning, I woke up with a craving for Goober Grape! This has to be one of the best bread spreads ever created. It has that perfect combination of flavors: the peanut butter is a bit sweet and savory, while the grape jelly is tart.



Goober Grape also reminds me of my childhood. Aside from getting Goober Grape from my grandparents in the U.S., we also bought the local variety, Lady's Choice Stripes! That was yummy as well.

Good thing they had this spread available at Rustan's. I went there to buy a jar, then went to Pan de Manila to get hot pandesal.

Hot pandesal + Goober Grape = A great, grape breakfast!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gourmet, I

Tucked in one corner of the Rustan's Fresh Supermarket in Greenbelt 1 is a small kiosk with a good selection of gourmet sandwiches. The sandwiches looked so good and so yummy, I couldn't help but buy one for lunch today.



Aside from the usual gourmet sandwiches like Pastrami on Rye and Ham with Brie cheese, I found some interesting and new combinations like the Chicken Galantina sandwich, as well as the Chicken with Cranberry. (They had me at Cranberry.)

What's surprising is that their Gourmet Sandwiches are priced like fast-food items. Well, if you compare it to a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder, that is. But hey, given a choice between a healthy, gourmet sandwich and a big, greasy burger, I think gourmet is the way to go. (Incidentally, the name of the place is "Gourmet-to-go.")

I think I found another lunch source.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Forever. Surprising.

The intention was to buy a new couch for the house. And I did that.

With that "mission" accomplished, it was time to drop by Forever 21. After all, what's a visit to Megamall without a visit to the new mecca of fast fashion.

Walking through the racks, I found a dress which I thought was misplaced. Aside from the fact that it was hanging from a rack of tops that aren't related to it, there was only one piece. (And Forever 21 is known for mass production, so seeing just one is a bit odd.) It was this dress:



I picked it up, and found out that it had no price, as well as no size. Since it was an interesting dress, I began going around the store trying to find which rack it came from. But after 2 rounds (which took about 20 minutes given the size of the store) there was nothing like it in store.

So, I went to the cashier, showed them the dress while explaining my predicament, and they went to work. One girl entered the code that was inside the dress, and in a matter of minutes, the answers to my questions came. It was a medium, and it was ON SALE! In fact, it was super cheap! What a pleasant surprise!

The right size and the right price? We all know what happened next.

What makes this dress a winner? Aside from the obvious answer (read: price), it had a very pretty ikat print in pastel colors.



Also, it had a draped neckline which is very flattering.



And did I mention the price? Harhar.

Oh, Forever 21, you never cease to surprise me!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

View from the Top

Despite his fear of heights, Mark went up to the penthouse of Lancaster Suites to check out the pool (which was more of a mini-pool)and the view of Mandaluyong. After a quick scout around the area, we made a couple of discoveries:

1. Mandaluyong is a "green" city. There was a patch of property near the Libertad area which was full of trees. It was almost like a mini-forest within the city. We didn't know what area that was, but my guess was it was NMH. Also, the side facing Greenhills had the Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club. So that was another vast expanse of green.

2. Most of the houses in Wack-Wack villages have swimming pools. Once again proving that Wack-Wack is the Forbes of Mandaluyong.

3. On a clear day, you can see Antipolo from Mandaluyong. We were around 34 floors up, and the air was clear. It was nice to see all the mountain ranges of Antipolo, and the properties that dot it.

4. Things look better from a higher vantage point. The cities - Mandaluyong, Makati, Quezon City, and Manila - look nice when viewed from this high. Everything looks so peaceful and orderly.

Ah yes, the things you learn when you start seeing things from the top.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Chicken. Transform!

If there was an award for "best use of chicken in 1000 ways," I'd nominate KFC. And they'll most likely win!

They take the most basic product - let's say, the fun shots - and transform it into different food items. Aside from being a "fun shot", it's also a "hot shot", a "bbq rod", and now, "shakin' shots."

The chicken strip, aside from being a regular chicken strip in the snack box, can also be on a rice meal, in a go-go sandwich, and now, in a twister.

Even the twister has its different incarnations. First, there was the regular twister, then, it was the hawaiian twister, followed by the pizza twister, and now, a California Maki twister.



I tried this, and it was really good. Being a huge fan of vegetables and fruits, I'm glad that they load this twister with cucumber and mangoes. The fried chicken stick is a bit out of place, but hey, you gotta take the not-so-good with the good.

Now, I'm wondering what their chicken will transform into next.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Let the countdown begin!

It's all over Facebook today, and that's the only time I realized it.

ONLY 100 DAYS TO GO BEFORE CHRISTMAS!!!

Yes, it's time to get into the Holiday spirit!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lumang Lomo

A few years ago, everyone - including their mothers - were into Lomography. That time, it was "cool" to be seen with a lomo camera and having your lomo photos developed at your neighborhood Kodak store.

Among the most popular Lomo cameras was the "fish eye" camera. The lens makes it look like the photo was being looked at through a sphere, and it was distorted in a very aesthetic way.

When I saw those "fish eye" photos which were so "now", it reminded me of something I'd see back "then."

When we were kids, we had a lot of "fish eye" photos at home. They would be in picture frames, in photo albums, even inside paperweights. We'd have fish eye photos of the family in front of the house, inside the room, even while at a picnic.

Thanks to my Ate Lissa, I was able to see those "fish eye" photos again after a few decades. Here's one of them:



Here's the family a couple of decades ago. And yes, I'm the little, itty-bitty baby being carried by my Mom. Of course, I was too young to remember when or why this photo was taken, but it looks like another of our many family portraits. (Yup, we have quite a lot.)

My comment on this photo is that everyone looked so well-dressed and stylish. From my parents to my siblings, everyone was so retro-chic! Just like the fish eye effect. (Which was supposed to be new.)

Just goes to show that some of the best and newest things - like fashion and Lomography - can actually come from something that's old.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A real life "Bring it on"

In the movie "Bring it on", the football team of Rancho Carne Toros could never win a game were the punchline of the game. But then again, they had a champion cheering squad, and that's more than enough reason for people to watch the game.

This UAAP season, the UP Fighting Maroons lost every game they played. (I was looking at the ranking one time, and we had 0 wins and 12 losses. Woohoo!)

But even if our team sucked this year, at least the UP Pep Squad is the 2010 Cheerdance Champions! Harhar.



That's the spirit!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dress for Jess

For a time, I knew Jessica Simpson as the pop star who mangled my favorite Nancy Sinatra song "These boots were made for walking." Then, she became the comedienne who cornered the "dumb blonde" market with her movies like "Major Movie Star". (Which I actually found funny.) After that, she became an accessories maven with her line of shoes and bags - which were surprisingly good.

Today, I learned something new about her. Aside from her shoe and bag line, she also has a clothing line.



I saw them while passing through SM on my way home. There were a couple of jersey dresses that caught my eye, and only upon closer inspection did I find out that they were under the Jessica Simpson logo.

One was a black jersey number with diagonal ruching and draping, then punctuated by ruffled sleeves. It's actually long enough to be a dress but also good as a tunic.



The other was a tank with ruffles sporadically placed all over the dress.



Then, there's this dolman sleeved top - also in jersey - with a studded belt.

Curious about her fashion cred, I checked out her website and found out that she has a number of good designs. They've got a lot of fashionable touches but still made wearable.

Looks like Jess has an eye for good design, and I think she should really continue with her apparel and accessory career.

But as for "These boots are made for walking," it's better that she leaves that to Nancy Sinatra.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Say hi to high fashion

Let the smizing begin!



Cycle 15 of America's Next Top Model premiered yesterday and it looks like another competitive batch this cycle.

Of course, what's an ANTM cycle without a "gimmicky" contestant, right? Cycle 7 had the Babin twins, Cycle 10 had Heather, the girl with Aspergers, and Cycle 11 had a transgendered contestant in Isis. This cycle, they have sisters - Terra and Chris, who Mr. Jay fondly calls the "comedy routine." Methinks they're good for a few laughs, but neither of them can be a model.

In an effort to up their fashion ante, ANTM is going high fashion this cycle. They've got a couple of quirky faces in the roster - Rihanna, Ester, Lexi and Ann - all have very distinct faces. (And Ann is 6'2" with a 22" waistline to boot.) Not only that, the winner of this cycle is not going to be on Seventeen magazine, but on Vogue Italia!

Yes, Vogue. That's how high fashion they're making Cycle 15. So the winner gets to be the cover girl of Beauty in Vogue, has a 6 page spread in Vogue Italia, aside from the usual Covergirl cosmetic contract and the IMG model management prize. Yup, they're serious about going high fashion.

Let the battle begin! I'm going to get a high watching that.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Blessed birthday to you

Happy Birthday, Mama Mary! And thank you!



You truly are an extraordinary woman.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Lumpia Lovin'

Polland's fresh lumpia is the perfect afternoon snack! The fresh veggies and the dried noodles add the perfect crunch, then the peanuts, garlic and kuchay add different levels of flavors. Plus, the lettuce and lumpia wrapper provide the much-needed neutrality to the entire dish. What's not to love about it?

Good thing they have it a few buildings away from the office. I can't get enough of it!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

I can see the lines forming already...

So it's true!

The next designer collaboration of H&M will be with Alber Elbaz of Lanvin! This is fast fashion at its finest!



Judging by Alber's interview, it'll be more "fashion" than "fast." He mentions that the focus will be more on luxury, so I'm expecting it to be a bit more expensive than the regular H&M item. (I still remember how shocked people were at the HK$2,000 dress from the Robert Cavalli for H&M collection.)

Even if it's expensive, it's LANVIN for crying out loud! I'm sure lines at the H&M stores in HKG and Tokyo will be snaking around the block on November 23.

I can't wait to see what he came up with!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Do you remember?

And just like that, it's September already.

Looks like 2010 is just zipping us by like a passenger rushing to catch his flight at the airport. Before we know it, it'll be Christmas already! (But not before we celebrate the birthdays of Mark, Kuya Marv, Kurt, Kevin, Ate Bullet, Mom, Dad and Ate Lissa.) And then, it'll be 2011!

But before all that happens, let's all remember to enjoy September!