Monday, September 12, 2011

Seoul 2011: Shopping & Miscellaneous

Shopping in Seoul is quite awesome if I might say so. I bought like quite a lot of clothes and shoes. A pity I didn't get any cute bags, but hey, I think my wallet thank me for that already. And, shopping in Korea will be better still if you're like a size 6, cos the Korean girls are quite petite! Not to say I didn't get to shop, but I'm just sayin'...

Hair salon in Ewha Women's University Fashion Street; Shoes shops are aplenty

There were tons of hair salons at the Ewha area and I did my hair at the salon shown above. It was really cheap too - I paid just ~S$90 for a haircut, treatment, and a procedure called 매직볼륨 (magic volume) where it's something like rebonding, but with the hair ends curled in. I had researched it online so I went to quite a number of hair salons and asked them for quotes. I finally settled on the one above, primarily cos the owner could speak quite good conversational English (I found it very hard to find Koreans who can speak English well in Seoul).

Shoes shops like the one above are quite common and they sell a really good selection of heels. I bought like 4 pairs of heels and 3 pairs of flats. Shoes in Seoul are really comfortable (padded) and though the prices are not that cheap (the cheapest I paid was $10 for a pair of heels, the rest cost $20-$30), I felt that it's okay since I'm paying for the quality and not the quantity (as compared to say, like something bought in Bangkok...).

Shopping around Ewha Women's University Fashion Street and Yonsei University

I highly recommend the area around Ewha Women's University (Subway Line 2 Exit 2 or 3) for shopping. In fact, we visited the area a couple of times during our trip as we felt that the stuff there was the cheapest (compared to say Dong Dae Mun or Myeong Dong). 

Dong Dae Mun (aka Migliore and Doota) clothes were really pretty, but the price was like like $30 and above for a piece of clothing. Minor bargaining is allowed at Migliore (I only bought a pair of heels there), and no bargaining at all at Doota. Doota fashion style was slightly different from Migliore. Migliore has more of the typical Korean-styled chiffon girly working clothes (quite like a mini, half-sized version of Platinum Mall with levels of clothes, accessories, shoes and food court), while Doota was more about fashion edgy pieces. 

Ahjumma shucking garlic at the roadside
 Demostration we saw on one of the nights at Myeong Dong that caused traffic jams
                                                    Cheap clothes aplenty everywhere!

Besides shopping, we did went to an interesting museum (not the conventional type of museums though cos my Sis - okay, me too - would be bored silly). I was browsing online for interesting places to visit in Hong Dae (an arty farty area) when I chanced upon someone recommending the Trick Eye Museum. When I saw the website, the stuff looked so familar to me and I immediately recalled where I had first seen it - a drama that was airing recently and just finished its run - You've Fallen For Me (otherwise known as Heartstrings). The two main leads had went to this really fun place (the Trick Eye Museum) for a date and posed with all the cute and funny things there.

Hong Dae was an area filled with lots of creative people, shops, and cafes. There were graffiti on some walls and a playground, and well, the whole area just had a different sort of vibe. It's really easy to get to Hong Dae. Just take the subway to Hongik University (Subway Line 2 Exit 9). For the Trick Eye Musuem, head straight out past Paris Baguette, at the first turning cross the road and turn left up the hill and turn at Taco Bell. The museum is about 3 minutes walk along this road on the right. It's underground at B1.

Trick Eye Museum

From here forth, please pardon my Sis and I for being silly. It was quite fun going around the museum more or less going - "Ooooo that looks fun(ny), let's take (a picture)!" repeatedly.

After a few hours spent at the Trick Eye Museum, we proceed to walk around Hong Dae, Ewha and Yonsei (the three areas are quite near to one another and within walkable distance from one place to the others - just make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes...).

Curious: Is this a pink lot for women drivers???
Cute train chugging along on the TV monitor to indicate the train's approach

On our second last day there, we decided to take it easy on our poor soles and just go shopping for snacks. We headed to Lotte Mart at Seoul Station to load up on goodies and my my, it was chock a plenty of tourists all doing the same thing! Notably, getting cartons of kimchi noodles and packages of seaweed. I think Seoul is a very popular holiday destination for the Japanese cos we kept seeing alot of Japanese tourists during our nine days vacation.

Lotte Mart!
Huge tubs of gochujang; Meat skewers; Various rice cakes; Kimchis
Fresh rice cakes I was tempted to buy; Samgyetang package; Bulgogi burgers; Kimchis 

Our next stop after snacks shopping was to relax at a Korean sauna, otherwise known as a 찜질방 (jjimjilbang). I had researched online and found Siloam Sauna at Seoul Station - Take the Subway Line 4 and Exit 5.
찜질방 (jjimjilbang) 

Alas, no photos of the sauna cos I doubt it would be appropriate to start going camera crazy in there. It really was an enriching and fun experience to visit the sauna. I'll just briefly explain what I did in the sauna I went. 

First of all, you enter the sauna and tell the Korean lady at the counter whether you're here for the bath alone or the bath and sauna. Then after payment, she'll hand you towels, a shirt and a pair of shorts. Then you proceed to remove your shoes at the changing area, derobe yourselves (yes, and I mean strip down nude) and then head over to the bath area. The changing and bath areas are gender separated (but of course!) and people walk around fully in the nude. It's not in my culture to be that open so I was a bit self-conscious initially, but after a while, I mean, it's not as though I would see any of the women in my life again, so I got sort of relaxed about being there. And of course I tried not to stare too much at all the nudity around me though it was certainly an eye opener to see women of all ages, shapes and sizes. ;)

After bathing, you get to enter the sauna pools (hot and cold) or steam rooms. Then after drying yourself, you head back to the changing area and put on the shirt and shorts and head upstairs to the common area  (for men and women). There were tons of activities that can be done. Ranging from watching telly, eating (Sis and I got to eat 자장면(black bean sauce noodles) finally and it was really tasty!), sleeping areas, and more. There were even a singing room, beauty shop, massage shop and so forth. Upstairs, there are also several "rooms" that you can go to for various positive effects for the body. Rooms such as Oxygen room, Soil fermentation room, Salt room, Ice Room, you get the gist. Basically all these rooms have different benefits and I just spent my time moving from one room to another, lying on the floors for some time each to just get some rest. Lovely.

I can honestly say that going to the Korean sauna is a must. It's hard to put into words why I feel so, but to experience it first hand is really the best way to understand my meaning. I wish Singapore had such saunas, it'll be awesome to just spend a whole day there sleeping and resting. You can bet that I'm gonna head back to the Korean saunas when I visit Korea again...And spend a full day there instead of the three hours or so we spent this time round. ;)


  1. Hi! Happened to chance upon your blog while reading up about Seoul! Just a question... Do you still remember the name and the location of the Hair Salon you did your hair at? I've always wanted to do a similar treatment! The magic volume :) 

  2. hmm sorry i don rmb the name of the hair salon. it's the salon in the first picture of the blogpost. the one above the shoe shop. i checked my photo in detail - i think it's called hair cortile (but i cant confirm). the phone no for the shop is 363-0880.  oh, and it's located at one of the junctions at edae area. there are a lot of hair salons there, u just gotta walk ard to find anyone i guess, the prices are about the same...
    hope it helps!

  3. hello! may i ask how long did the magic volume 'rebonding' thing lasted? or is it just a temporary hair straightening procedure?

  4. it's not a temp thing - my hair still has the effects (well, sorta) :) it makes ur hair really smooth and silky. it's been from aug last yr till now? 

  5. hey thanks for your reply! so your hair ends still do curl in? or do you mean that your hair is still straight? anyway would like to ask if there are any other hair techniques that just curl the hair ends inwards? because i think my hair is straight enough...and i'm afraid that the whole procedure might take too long (since i'll only be in seoul for about 3 days). you cant wash your hair for a few days after the magic volume procedure right?

  6. hmmm, both? my ends still curl in, it's still straight (but then again my hair texture originally is alr quite straight and fine. hmm the procedure took a few hours to do tho. cos it includes treatment (prob thats the thing that made my hair looks so silky and healthy - ive got lotsa comments aft i did my hair!) hmm, i just din wash for like one day?

  7. i am so tempted to get it done after reading your comments! thanks for your input! :)  

  8. Hi Michelle, just wanted to ask if you recall this hair salon offering digital perm? Thanks in advance!

  9. hey clara, i really dont rmb. sorry i cant be of much help.


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