Taste Of Fall

Hope all of my US readers had a fun (and delicious) Thanksgiving. Alas, it was a normal working day for me, and the end of the semester is quickly approaching too, so there are papers to mark, grades to turn in, and a million other things. It’s always my least favorite part of the semester, but I guess you have to get through that to reach the nice break on the other end.

It doesn’t help that the weather has been really annoying lately, hot and dry followed by cold and wet. It can’t seem to make up its mind if it wants to be late fall or early winter, which means I often can’t decide what to wear until the morning, and by then it’s either too late to take photos or I don’t feel like it. So here’s an old outfit from a couple of weeks ago, when it was nice and cool.

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South Korea Diary #2: Seoraksan

Part 1 can be found here.


After 2 days in Seoul, our South Korea tour took us to Seoraksan, a mountain in the east of the country. Most of the tour packages I’ve found only take you to the usual places like Seoul, Busan, and Jeju Island, but as this is a “fall foliage” tour, it’s natural that we got to visit one of the places with the best and earliest fall colors in South Korea – they reach their peak in mid-October, just in time for our visit.

Our first destination is the Seoraksan National Park, with its entrance in a beautiful valley surrounded by brilliantly red and yellow forests, made all the more vivid by the craggy rocks and dark green pines scattered amongst the peaks. The valley also houses a Buddhist temple, Sinheungsa, and a large bronze statue of the Buddha.

Entrance to the National Park

Sinheungsa Temple

Next, we took the cable car up the slopes of Seoraksan. My fear of heights didn’t let me enjoy the views as much as I would like, but despite that, I could still see how gorgeous it was. From the cable car station, it is a 15-minute climb to the mountain peak, but in truth, it took me nearly an hour because I was stopping so often to take photos of all the foliage. I’ve had my share of fall colors when I lived in LA, but that was just little pockets here and there. I’ve never seen such a concentration of fall colors before, and it was truly too spectacular for words. It was difficult to pick which photos to feature in this post, because they all look good!

My scarf matches the background perfectly

Fall is also the season for cosmos flowers in Korea, and on the way back to the hotel, I managed to snap some photos of a blooming field. More gorgeousness!

Before heading to the airport, our last stop is Ojukheon (House of the Black Bamboo), a historical site and museum. It was the house of Shin Saimdang, a 16th-century Korean artist and poet, and her son, Yi I, a Confucian scholar (their images are on the 50,000 and 5,000 won notes, respectively, which show you how prominent they were.) The museum and the house are just okay (though the display of Shin Saimdang’s paintings and calligraphy is quite nice), but the main appeal – for me at least – is the surrounding garden, full of persimmon trees ladden with fruits and golden ginkgo trees.

And that concludes my trip to South Korea. Despite the time constraints of a tour, it has given me a good taste of the country. Hopefully some day I can come back and explore it at my own pace!


Modern Fashion Plate

This is my outfit for this week’s SIA, inspired by the 1886 fashion plate of┬áScandinavian magazine Freja. OK, I have to admit that I actually put this outfit together before Jen sent the inspiration, but this fit the inspiration so well that I decided to use it for SIA too. My plaid blazer and striped top (my “Edwardian shirt” may have been a better choice, but I’ve worn it a lot lately, so this would do too) mimic the white dress with plaid trims, while the pattern on my brown boots can be seen as an echo of the brown lace dress. I would love to be able to wear an actual 1880’s dress for this SIA, but this is a good, real-world interpretation of the inspiration, and I’m happy with it.

Don’t forget to check Jen’s blog on Wednesday for other outfits inspired by this fashion plate!


Edwardian

I may tag this shirt as “white eyelet button-up” on the blog, but usually I just call it my “Edwardian shirt”. Between the broderie anglaise, the scallop, and the ruffles, that’s an apt nickname, isn’t it? So I kept the Edwardian theme in this outfit as well, except to avoid going full-on cosplay, I made it “Edwardian lady” on top and “Edwardian gentleman” on the bottom. I haven’t paired this shirt with a skirt yet, but I’m not sure it can be done without making me look like a schoolmarm. But then again, I am a schoolmarm, so maybe I should after all?


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


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 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!


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.