I went to Seoul and all I bought was skincare

(surprise surprise)

There wasn’t really much time to shop in Seoul, which made me a bit sad given how well I did about three years ago shopping in Seoul. Doesn’t matter, I plan to go back. Anyway it’s my Year of Poverty so I shouldn’t be overspending anyway.

But there WAS a Duty Free near our hotel and a friend had asked me to get her some skincare. And Korean skincare shopping is FUN. I really wasn’t planning to go that crazy with it but when everything’s in US dollars ($10 for a pack of masks??), the numbers just seem so small!

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I wanted to be practical and just buy what I needed – basically a face scrub and a BB cream. Instead, I ended up with a new scrub, new cleanser, new toner, new BB cream, a BB compact (?) and also a random eye liner. Not to mention the bajillion SAMPLES I picked up a long the way. Seriously, why haven’t other brands outside of Seoul jumped on this “give free stuff to gain customer loyalty” train? 62-6_DSkin Food is always a reliable cheap option for products. Sometimes I find them a little drying but generally they seem to work, smell nice and have pretty packaging. I’ve generally enjoyed their products (a sticky peppermint mask and egg white pore pack come to mind). So far, my new Brown Sugar face scrub and foam cleanser are both working out nicely. The scrub feels a little harsh but I do sometimes think my skin needs a harder cleanse, especailly in smoggy Shanghai. def_image_400_1410_1242013203102Haven’t tried this Royal Honey Toner yet but they recommended it for my dry skin. It awaits me in Shanghai.

Hanskin is my favourite BB cream brand but they don’t sell my simple, lowest of the range anymore. So I had to upgrade to this premium thing. Gotta keep reminding myself to use it sparingly because otherwise you end up looking like a geisha. And it can feel a little thick. It has SPF 30 tho which is definitely a plus and I think once I get used to it it should be fine.

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I also went a little upscale for a friend and bought a bunch of things from Sulwhasoo. This premium Korean brand based on the benefits of Korean ginseng is super nice. I’ve tried their samples before, and their facials, and they’re great – though you have to like the medicinal scent that comes with it. My friend who uses it has ridiculously nice skin, so she’s basically a walking ad for the brand.

amoresulwhasoobasickitThe salesgirl made a mistake the first time I went to make the purchase so when I went to exchange it, as an apology they gave me even MORE samples. I’ll be excited to try these out. Though given this is my Year of Poverty maybe I should consider selling them…any takers? No nevermind. They’re mine.

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Whisky daze

Getting sent to Seoul to cover a golf tournament wasn’t something I thought I’d be doing ever. It definitely wasn’t something my golf-loving dad thought I’d ever do but off I went. What have I learned from covering my first golf game? Well, there’s a lot of walking to do. Don’t diss golfers! They have to walk the whole damn course (I think).

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I managed interview last year’s winner without hopefully sounding too stupid and golf-nooby, which was posted here (he was cute). When Bernd Weisberger won last year’s Ballantine’s Championship, he went to Scotland and created his version of the Champion’s Blend, which sounded pretty fun. They only make like 10 bottles of the stuff so we didn’t get to sample that, but I did go on a mini tour of Seoul’s nightlife and spent three evenings downing copious amounts of alcohol, mainly whisky (which you can also read about here! This blog post has become a shameless plug of my “real” articles.)

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We did a sampling of four 17 year old blends of Ballantines’ named for four different regions of Scotland at a bar called Parity Bit (after some computer thing, address is: 7-19 Nonhyun-Dong, Gangnam-gu, no website). The four blends were Original, Glenburgie, Scapa and Miltonduff and each was paired respectively with dark chocolate, white chocolate, vanilla and orange to bring out the flavours. It was an interesting lesson in colour and taste and we proceeded from there to hit up one more bar that night, and another two the night after. Basically by the end of two days I was dunzo.

And then we went back to Blackstones and did this, at 11am in the morning.

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This time we got to sampleĀ  a 17 year old, 21 year old., a limited edition and a 30 year old. We also had a lesson in the finer points of tasting whisky (add water so that the aroma comes out more) and learned about the different tasting notes of each. At the end of the day, I have to say that my uncultured palette preferred the 17 year-old (which means the youngest whisky in the blend is 17 years) – obviously this goes towards my preference for youth. The taste of Ballantine’s 17 year-old is more subtle and sweat, with the spice coming from the highlands and the floral coming from the lowlands (so say my notes). The 30-year-old was probably the most impressive, with a lingering taste which was very rich and oak-influenced.

I wouldn’t say I’m a whisky expert by far after this trip but I’ve definitely learned to appreciate it more.. I’d even go so far as to say I’ve learned to appreciate golf more too! At least I know a bit more about how it works and a little more about the personalities of the game (this was largely in thanks to Alex, editor for HK Golfer who had to put up with me on most of the trip, http://www.hkgolfer.com). All things considered though, it will probably will be awhile before anyone asks me to write about golf again, but hey we can always hope on the whisky front.

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Fried chicken for the Seoul

So the internet in China hates me…actually I’m pretty sure it hates everybody with an independent thought. For me though it just seems to hate uploading my pictures to my blog, VPN or no. This just means my all of 3(?) readers will get radio-silence every few months when I’m in China. That or a lot of boring text.

Earlier in May I went up to Seoul to cover the Ballantine’s Golf Championship forĀ LifestyleAsia. I figured since I’ve taken some golf lessons in my time, and I do enjoy whisky (in a really, uncultured kind of way unfortunately) I would be relatively qualified.

I also really really like THIS:20130422_234004

The whole bird flu thing here in Shanghai, much like the whole North Korea thing in Seoul, seems to largely leave the local population unperturbed…but the one thing I have tried to do is avoid chicken. Which after pasta is like my favourite food of life. I basically checked into the Grand InterContinental Parnas, waited for my fellow traveller and then told concierge to point us in the direction of the nearest Korean Fried Chicken. He totally seemed more than happy to oblige.

20130423_001945We basically walked down this street till we got to this:

20130423_001937And in we went! And it was wonderful. I felt so chicken deprived I think I literally ate half the chicken. We chose one (in case you can’t tell from the picture) that was drowned in garlic sauce and fried to ultimate crispy goodness. We were there till about midnight and there were still lots of people going strong. If this is eating in Seoul I think I’d fit right in. That’s probably not a good thing….