Wanderlust//Chicago

Chi-town #TBT; with my college besties circa ’09.

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Lake Michigan

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The Art Institute of Chicago

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Asian fusion at Sunda

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Crack the Whip sculpture at Navy Pier Park

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Brilliant blue skies over the Chicago River

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Downtown. Background– Chicago Tribune building and American Gothic statue

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City view from The Signature Lounge

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Reflections in the Cloud Gate sculpture at Millennium Park… aka “The Bean”

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Wanderlust//DC

wan·der·lust
noun \ˈwän-dər-ˌləst\
: a strong desire to travel

Throwing it back (it is Thursday, after all– #TBT) 7 years with these pictures from my first trip to D.C., because I feel like jet-setting so much it almost hurts right now. Domestic or international, it don’t matter.

Let me tell you, the best way to see the D.C. monuments is during the hours after a heavy rainfall. Those hours being 1-4 a.m., when the rest of the city (and tourists) sleep. Bring a tripod (I love mine) with you.

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A clear view of the Washington Monument.

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No photo bombers allowed.

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A quiet moment at the Lincoln Memorial.

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In awe. Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

There was something so magical about walking from memorial to memorial with not a soul in sight. My friends and I were able to quietly enjoy the significance of the monuments without the sounds, smells, and crowds of people normally filling the spaces. It felt surreal, almost spiritual, and most definitely breath-taking.

Wanderlust.

[All photos above taken with a Canon P&S]

Korea Shopping Haul

[My last Korea post, I promise!]

Considering my current employment state, I was pretty conservative with my shopping in Korea. Which was difficult, because the second you arrive, you’re inundated with malls and boutiques and underground subway shops and swap meets. EVERYWHERE. It’s kind of ridiculous. And (mostly) so very cheap, as long as you stay away from all the imported goods. Some goodies I brought home (for myself or as gifts!):

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Delicate gold rings and bracelets. I saw this type of jewelry being sold everywhere by street vendors and boutiques at varying prices [the cheapest going down to ~$5/ring or bracelet (!!!) if you bargain], but overall, they were a FRACTION of the price they’d be in the U.S. Aren’t the rings super Catbird-esque? Lurve. I think these were all from Garosugil, a super popular/trendy shopping strip in Sinsadong.

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Cute/kitschy earrings from Hongdae (college town), grosgrain ribbon (triple the yardage of the spools sold at Joann’s for less than $3/spool!) from Namdaemun (a traditional marketplace), kraft paper labels (from Daiso, which has way better stuff than the Daisos in LA -_-), bird book tabs (from Hongdae), and a teal iPhone flip case (from a street vendor in Gangnam).

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Socks. Socks in Korea range from $0.50-$2.00/pair, depending on where you buy (the cheapest being the “shijangs”– street markets). They come in tons of different prints (weird/cute/goofy) and the quality is awesome. The longer socks on the left were from Hongdae, the shorter ones from Namdaemun.

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Prescription sunglasses and glasses from Namdaemun. Also a FRACTION of the prices of glasses in the states. Frames + double-compressed lenses (I’m nearly blind) were about $50-$80 each after bargaining… though if your eyes aren’t as bad (i.e. your lenses don’t need to be compressed) and you choose cheaper frames, they can be even less than that– $30?. Also a few leather wallet/pouches from A-Land in Myeongdong for gifts, and a rad keychain for a friend from a boutique in Hongdae. Fun fact: Myeongdong is listed as the ninth most expensive shopping street in the world!

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Skincare products! It’s a pretty undisputed fact that Korea has some of the best skincare and beauty products in the world. Marie Claire says South Korea is about 12 years ahead of the U.S. in terms of technology (read: innovative products) and the average Korean woman uses 18 (!!!!) skincare products a day. Anyway, I bought a bunch of things from Innisfree, which is a popular brand that boasts all natural ingredients– kind of like the Origins of Korea. What I actually purchased is pictured on the left (along with 3 other products, not pictured), and the picture on the right is all the free samples they gave me for my ‘big’ purchase! Insane, right? Can’t wait to try them all. 

I also bought some clothes and a pair of cute ankle boots, which completed my shopping wish list. I think I did well. And now I have a good idea of where to shop the next time I visit. 😉

Thanks for keeping up with my Korea posts! I’m all done. 🙂

Inside A-Land

Before I left for Korea, a friend told me to look out for the store “A-Land.” I’d never heard of it but it has 9 locations in Seoul, so I came across it pretty immediately. It sells women’s and men’s clothing, accessories, as well as vintage/thrift clothing. The store in Myeongdong had 4 levels of goodness; the one in Garosugil had 5! The products/prices seemed to be comparable to the U.S.’s Topshop or Urban Outfitters. Here’s a peek inside….

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Outside the store in Myeongdong.

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Shoes and bags galore

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Renee browsing the “flea market” floor

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Menswear + more vintage clothing

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Loved the assortment of leather pouches and wallets in every color

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Having fun with all the glasses. 🙂 I felt like Harry Potter.

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Vintage fur-lined leather jackets

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Vintage dresses + plaid

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Women’s shoes, men’s shoes

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More leather goodies + stationary

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Wall decor. Nerd alert– I LOVE the picture on the left.

Check out their online store here— or if you’re lucky, one of their stores in Seoul. 🙂

Home (bitter)Sweet Home

I’m home from my 2 week trip to Korea! It’s been a few days but I’m still in a hazy daze from the jet lag. Trying to snap back into “real life” is proving to be harder than expected. It’s nice to sleep in my own bed but I’m already thinking about my next vacation….

I’ve always been somewhat of a hater when it comes to the Motherland, mostly because my past trips to Korea have been, well.. less than enjoyable. But this trip flipped my opinions on Korea upside down, probably because it was my first time experiencing the place with close friends, and also because the country itself has changed so much since the last time I was there (7 years ago)– e.g. in terms of social norms, sanitation, style/fashion, etc. The country as a whole has become so open-minded compared to just a few years ago… it’s bizarre and refreshing.

I basically ate my way through Seoul, visited every major (shopping) area at least twice, saw each of my family members at least once, became an aunt (my cousin had a baby while I was there!), and completely forgot about life in LA. Vacation success.

I’ll be doing a shopping/’haul’ post soon but here’s a few highlights via pictures! Check out my Instagram for more. 🙂

FRIENDS:

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L: Ice cream with Mitch & Renee in Myeongdong
R: Hanging out at the Leeum Museum in Itaewon on a rainy day

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L: At Ewha Womens University with Sunghee
R: Waiting for our patbingsoo at a cute cafe in Hongdae

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L: Delicious pseudo-pizza in Hongdae
R: Subway shenanigans. Surrounded by people obsessed with their phones. :X

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L: Ready to shop in Myeongdong!
R: Mitch with a creepy-ass girl at Garosugil. Why?!

FOOD:

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L: Ddukboki (rice cake), tempura, and odeng (fish cake) soup in Apgujeong
R: Stone-pot rice with beef + bean sprouts in Gangnam

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L: Lamb skewers in Insadong
R: Raw seasoned crab + tons and tons of banchan (side dishes) in Samchungdong

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L: Rappoki (ramen/ddukboki) with mussels and odeng in Hongdae
R: Brown sugar lattes with green tea custard cake in Samchungdong

FAMILY:

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L: My grandparents!
R: Uncle, aunt, and cousins

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I saved the best for last. My niece. ❤ ❤ ❤