South Korea Diary #1: Seoul & Nami Island

Last month, I just went on a 4-day trip to South Korea with my aunt. It was an organized tour, which is my least favorite form of travel, but my aunt asked me to accompany her, and I never turn down the chance to travel to a new country, so of course, I accepted.

We started out in Seoul, with a tour of the Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Blue House, the presidential residence. The Blue House we only got a glimpse from afar, but the Palace is beautiful, with traditional buildings surrounding spacious grounds, dotted here and there with trees full of fall foliage or stately evergreens. We also got a short visit to the National Folk Museum, which is located within the premises, and learned about the traditions of Korea.

The Blue House


Entrance to Gyeongbokgung and a corridor inside the Palace

A pavillion on the grounds

Another fun thing about the Palace is that you can see a lot of people wearing hanbok (traditional Korean dress), both tourists and locals. You don’t have to worry about cultural appropriation here – apparently, you can visit the palace for free if you wear a hanbok! (The tour also included a package for hanbok rental, though I didn’t wear one; I much prefer taking pictures of others.)

The maine square of the Palace

These kids did an entire reenactment… it was quite cute to watch


Traditional meets modern

Later in the day, we went to Everland theme park, South Korea’s version of Disneyland. You need at least an entire day here, and besides, I’m too much of a wuss for some of the rides (it has the fourth steepest roller coaster in the world. Just hearing the screams was traumatic enough). I ended up wandering around the flower gardens of the European Village with my aunts and other elderly ladies of our tour group (I guess I’m an old lady at heart!) and enjoying the Halloween decorations.

Main street of Everland

The Cupid Garden and Cottage Garden of the European Village

Everland at night

The next day, we got to see more of Seoul in the form of the Dongdaemun shopping district. Shopping is actually a huge part of the tour – most of the women in the tour group came back ladden with Korean beauty products – but I’m not much of a shopper, so I used that time to wander the nearby streets and people-watch. Later, we headed to the Namsan Tower, where you can have some magnificent views of the city.

The National Assembly Building

Seoul City Hall

A temple on the street of Seoul

Dongdaemun Design Plaza, where you can see a lot of street style photo shoots


The road to Namsan Tower, and the Tower itself

The famous “love locks” of Namsan Tower

Panoramic view of Seoul from Namsan Tower

Finally, to round out our Seoul trip, we went to Nami Island. It is not an actual island but just a river islet about an hour from Seoul, which gained popularity for being the filming location of “Winter Sonata”, a famous K-drama. I don’t watch K-dramas, but the island itself is very beautiful, with tree-lined walks and glimpses of the river through the branches. It was full of tourists, of course, but if you venture down to the river bank, you can find a lot of quiet pockets to relax in, after the hubbub of Seoul.


A little rice paddy by the river and the famous ginkgo-lined avenue of Nami Island

The squirrels and chipmunks of the island are so used to people that I could go right up to this guy and he even posed for me!

My only complaint is that we went there a tad early, so the leaves haven’t changed colors yet. But that would soon be rectified, because our next stop would be a national park in the mountains. Stay tuned!

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SIA Inspiration: 1880s Fashion Plate

This week, Jen is our SIA host, and her pick is right up my alley:

This is a 1886 fashion plate from the Scandinavian fashion magazine Freja. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you know that the 1880s is one of my favorite eras in fashion (I don’t know why, because the silhouette is so exaggerated that it can look awkward. I actually find the bustle quite graceful.) In fact, I’ve been toying with the idea of using a fashion plate as inspiration for SIA, but they tend to be quite difficult to be translated into a modern look. This one, though, has some nicely neutral colors and classic patterns (plaid, lace, even floral too if you count the flowers on the hats), which should be fun to interpret.

Remember to send your outfit to Jen (librarianforlifestyle@gmail.com) by next Tuesday, November 20th. Have fun!


What Kind Of Print Are You?

That post title sounds like a BuzzFeed quiz (I’m pretty sure it actually existed somewhere), but actually I was thinking of this post by Jen, in which she said Daenel once complimented her by saying that her personality is like polka dots, “fun, flirty, and classic”. That got me thinking, if I was a print or a pattern, what would I be? And I decided that I would be more of a stripe or plaid – utilitarian, versatile, and yes, classic. Which is why I think this outfit is so “me” – clean lines, neutral colors, and a pop of interest with the brooch. I would gladly dress like this every day.


Oops, I Did It Again

“It” here means repeating an outfit, that is. I always find that it is one of the difficulties of running a personal style blog. In theory, you don’t have to worry about repeating outfits because your blog provides you with an archive of all your outfits, but in practice, you rarely think to check if you’ve worn the same outfit before, and usually don’t realize it’s a repeat until it’s up on the blog.

To be fair, it’s not an exact copy in this case – the shirt is different – but otherwise, it’s just like this outfit, even down to the belt. What can I say? These culottes work well with a white shirt and black sandals, and in my defence, I wore the other outfit over a year ago, so who can remember it, right?


Glassed Up

I don’t know if that post title makes sense or not. I’m just trying to find a play on the word “glass”, since this outfit is inspired by the blown glass flasks picked by Daenel, and I already titled a post “Glassy” (terrible, terrible pun totally intended), so this is the best I could do.

Anyway, on to the outfit. I used the main colors of the flasks as the jumping-off point, hence the green pants and brown oxfords. There is yellow too, but that shade of greenish yellow would look horrible on me, so I opted for my tan sweater instead. The sweater also has a texture that mimics the pattern of the flasks, so win-win. And finally, I topped it off with my glass brooch, and voilĂ ! All done. I’m pretty happy with this outfit, as it is a good interpretation of the inspiration (if I do say so myself) but still works well on its own.

Don’t forget to check out Daenel’s blog on Wednesday to see the other outfits inspired by these cool flasks!


Cool As A Cucumber

After an overenthusiastic cold snap earlier in the month, the weather has turned warm, so my straggler outfits (yes, I’m still posting them) suddenly make sense again. Thankfully, now “warm” really means “warm” and not “scorching hot”, and with an outfit like this – linen pants and shirt – you may actually be a bit cold in the morning and at night. But I’m committed to posting all of these leftover outfits (I’m nearly caught up now), so here we are.

P/S: I’m rubbish at thinking up post titles, and given how I’m talking about cold weather and wearing green pants in this post, this is the only phrase I could come up with. Maybe I should just give up thinking of snappy post titles and just go with something simple and to the point, like “White button-up shirt & green linen pants”.


Book Reviews: October 2018

Happy Halloween! Fall is a good time for reading, isn’t it? I don’t think there’s anything nicer than curling up with a good book and a cup of tea. And it was a good month of reading for me too, with all the books being quite enjoyable, more or less.

The Wall of Storms by Ken Liu:

This is the second book in the silkpunk epic series Dandelion Dynasty, which I describe as “Romance of the Three Kingdoms meets Game of Thrones“. I’ve read the first book, The Grace of Kings, a while ago, so I don’t remember much of it, but that’s OK, because they can more or less stand on their own, and it only takes a while to get caught up with the story. This one revolves around the next chapter in the reign of Kuni Garu, his children, the power struggle within his court, and the threat of foreign invaders (who are clearly based on Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire). As with the first book, the world-building is great and the science interesting (such as when they discover electricity and use it to fight the invaders’ dragons, resulting in some epic air battles.) However, just like the first book, character development remains Liu’s weakness – the characters are either flat and boring or unsympathetic. And the romantic subplot is a joke (it’s – mild spoiler – between two women, so one gets the impression that the author includes it only for the sake of representation and not because it makes sense for the story.) 3/5

Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams:

I got this from a Buzzfeed quiz, something like “What Book Should You Read Next Based on Your Favorite TV Show”. I picked Black Mirror, and got this, which is perfect, because it could’ve easily been a Black Mirror episode. It takes place in the near future, revolving around a machine that can tell you how to be happy, with an ensemble cast – a “happy technician” working the machine, her co-workers and clients, her anorexic teenage son and his friends, her pretentious artist ex-husband, his current wife who’s harboring a dark secret, etc., with each chapter focusing on one of their stories.The world is fascinating and the characters, though deeply damaged, are relatable. However, the story never becomes as powerful as Black Mirror, because there is very little conflict, and when things do get resolved, it feels too easy. 3/5

Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee:

This memoir consists of a series of unconnected chapters detailing the author’s time growing up in the Cotswold during and after World War I. Actually, they don’t “detail” much; they’re mostly just fragments of memories and impressions from his childhood. I would’ve preferred some more details and descriptions of life in the village, but the writing is lyrical and beautiful to read, and it perfectly captures both the random, innocent memories of childhood and the nostalgia we feel when we look back upon them later in life. 4/5

The Truth by Terry Pratchett:

I’m reaching my Discworld phase in the year – it’s when I suffer what I call “reader’s fatigue” and just want something fun that I know I will enjoy, so I return to Discworld. This particular book, which deals with the arrival of the printing press and subsequently the newspaper in Ankh-Morpork (it belongs in the same category as other “Industrial Revolution” books like Moving Pictures and Going Postal), has a slow start, but once the pace starts picking up, it becomes very enjoyable. The main character, the aptly named William de Worde, may not be quite memorable (though he does come to his own toward the end), but there are some funny side characters – like a reformed vampire photographer and a pair of hitmen straight out of Pulp Fiction (there is even a parody of the “Royale with cheese” scene). And even though it was published 18 years ago, the story is still very relevant. The bit about a Patrician candidate, an unscrupulous businessman who wants “a return to the values and traditions that made the city great”, is eerily prophetic. 4.5/5

What did you guys read this month?