Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Skincare 101: Easy-to-make and All Natural "Golden Liquid"

I once encountered a saying that "There are no ugly people in this world, only lazy ones." And I somehow agree with that because in order to look and feel beautiful, one should definitely exude more effort in doing so. And it all starts by being comfortable with our own skin...literally

I've always been in search of skincare products suitable for my skin from the most expensive down to those which are affordable. I've tried many products but unfortunately, I felt that they weren't healthy for my skin because of its NUMEROUS CHEMICAL CONTENT which may lead to dryness, itchiness, and worse, more breakouts! That's why it is a must for you to know your skin type first before trying any skincare products because different skins have different needs.

I got really tired of finding the right products for my skin because there was no improvement at all, that's why I resorted to natural products which surprisingly can be found in anybody's kitchen -- Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Green Tea, and Apple Cider Vinegar, which I called the "GOLDEN LIQUID" not only because of its color, but because for me it was a precious discovery.

(Homemade toner, moisturizer, and facial spray)

My skin has never looked this better. It's blemish-free, radiant, and healthy. All thanks to these homemade skincare remedies. Plus, it is free from those harmful chemicals.

The rule in a basic skincare regimen is you cleanse, tone, and moisturize. The following are some D.I.Y tutorials for your own natural toner, moisturizer, and facial spray:

As for the toner, you will need green tea (brewed for at least 30 mins), apple cider vinegar, and a container. Green Tea is said to be rich in antioxidant which is good for your skin, while the Apple Cider Vinegar, which is made from apples, has a cleansing properties that detoxifies and purifies your skin. It also balances the pH level of the skin as it heals blemishes such as pimples (you can even use it as a spot treatment). What I do is that I pour 1/6 ACV in a container and 5/6 Green Tea. If you have oily skin, you can add more ACV depending on your preference. Refrigerate to prolong its lifespan. You can use it for 2-3 weeks.


After toning, you should moisturize. As for the moisturizer, you will need extra virgin olive oil (the least processed of all olive oils), and vitamin E gel capsule (1 piece), and an airless pump bottle. Extra virgin olive oil or EVOO will provide a long-lasting shield of moisture, making your skin glowing, smooth, and supple. In ancient times, Cleopatra is believed to have used olive oil to massage her face. Don't worry, according to Journal, it is an essential oil that doesn't clog your pores. Pour the EVOO in a container. Prick the gel capsules and put the vit. E oil in the container, and voila! It's kind of heavy for a moisturizer that's why I only use it during the night. What I do is I pump the bottle once and rub it between my palms to warm it up. Instead of rubbing it on my face, I gently pat and slap it to stimulate my skin. Other people use it to massage their faces as well.


And lastly for the facial spray, you will only need green tea and a spray bottle. What I usually do is I use the remaining brewed tea after making the toner so that it won't go to waste. I just put it in the spray bottle and refrigerate it to prolong its lifespan. Use it anytime and anywhere you want to be refreshed. Green tea is also proven to protect your skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun. 


These homemade skincare remedies are really some treasure. I have been using this for a week now, and I'm just wowed by the results. If you feel like nothing works for your skin, you only need some time and effort to look for these great ingredients in the supermarket. It's safe, easy-to-find, affordable, and most importantly, it works! \(^o^)/

Good Luck!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Skin Talk

I'm really obsessed of having a great skin not just because I'm vain (who says that guys can't be vain too? lol!), but also because we, as future front liners, are expected to look really good in front of our clients. Here's a proof:

(Philippine Airlines cabin crew qualifications)

Now, see what I'm talking about? I'm not really going to talk about FA's and stuff this time, but instead I'm going to share my "own ways" of achieving a healthy and clear skin.

Many people have complimented me for having such a nice skin. A relative even told me that I have a flawless skin which I think is not the right term to use because I believe that for every individual, there will always be some imperfection when it comes to our skin (even I). Genes are said to be one of the contributing factors that will dictate what our skin conditions will be like when we reach the adolescence stage (now go and check the skin of your parents! lol!). According to a skin care expert in a seminar that I've attended, 70% of our skin condition is because of our parents' genes and 30% is because of our lifestyle. So if you believe that you have a terrible skin just because of your parents' genes, have you checked out your lifestyle yet? Are you living it healthily?

I admit that I'm somewhat a health freak. As much as possible, I avoid eating junk foods, softdrinks, and fast foods (which is way too oily!). The idea of putting junk inside my body seriously disgusts me that's why every time I eat those kinds of food, I make it a point to drink lots of water. Yep! I drink plenty of water because it makes me feel cleaner inside as it replenish my body. I also love drinking green tea everyday because it has high level of antioxidant (whatever it is!) which is said to be healthy for the skin while detoxifying our body (now that reminds me of my favorite green tea frappe from Starbucks. *drool*). And not only that, I also eat fruits and veggies whenever it's available. I also exercise (jogging or brisk walking in a park) whenever I can and sleep at least 7 hours everyday (very important!). Trust me, those will help you achieve not only a healthy-looking skin, but also a healthier body and a better life.

(I usually drink this green tea by Lipton which is in a tea bag form,
and it is locally available in supermarkets)

Apart from that, I have my own skin care regimen to better enhance my skin better. As I've said earlier, I'm super vain that I try different skin care products. For me, choosing the right product is like a trial and error process where you really have to try it out and see for yourself if it suits your skin without any irritation. I've been doing that for so many years and I've experienced major breakouts! The worst was few months ago when I used some products I bought in THEFACESHOP in Seoul. These products which I didn't like caused me "super mild acne" (if there is such):

(Charcoal cleanser with Phyto Powder and Clean Face Acne Solution Cleanser & BB Cream)

(THEFACESHOP in Seoul, Korea)

It just did not work for me. I had tiny bumps around my forehead, temple area, and upper cheeks. That's why I opted to just give it to my brother and fortunately his skin did not have any bad reactions by using these cleansers. 

On the contrary, what I like in THEFACESHOP is the Classic Homme White Skin Brightening. It's not really a skin whitening product, but it does brighten your skin. It also helps to make the skin smoother and finer. It smells like a man's perfume (somehow strong) that's why I won't be needing a perfume anymore (kidding!). And most importantly, it doesn't cause me any breakouts.

(One of my faves! lol!)

Going back, when I consulted my dermatologist, she said that it's probably not pH balanced, which caused my skin to irritate so she recommended me Dove cream bar together with hydrocortisone micronazole, acne day cream, and tretinoin, all in cream form. It did wonders to my skin and I got my clear skin back after 7 months of using those. I tried switching to Dove sensitive bar unscented. At first it was really doing well, but after some time, it made my skin super dry to think that I have an oily skin. I tried hydrating products like the Celeteque Hydrating Toner (alcohol-free) and moisturizer. BUT I didn't like it! It caused me to breakout once more! It was devastating in my part because those are not cheap products. So instead of wasting it, I'm still using it not in my face, but in my neck.

(I've read other reviews saying these are really good products.
Well, not for me.)

Hence it lead me to search and try another product until one day, I came across this product: Liquid Neutrogena Pure Mild Facial Cleanser. What can I say? I really like the product! C'est parfait (It's prefect)! It's for all skin types, hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic (won't clog your pores), fragrance-free, and it's not really that drying. After a week of using it, I've regained again the natural flora of my skin. I recommend this because it's really gentle to the skin.

(Yey for this product! I rate this )

Apart from all of these products I've been using, I'm using oatmeal as a cleanser twice a week to exfoliate my skin and for a brighter-looking skin (got the idea from Bubzbeauty). I also use Daiso Charcoal Nose Pack (only 85.00 Php from Saizen) and Purifying Egg White Pack (from THEFACESHOP) once a week for tighter pores. And Vitamin E Oil from a regular gel capsule (I prick it and I spread the oil evenly on my face) after removing the peel-off packs from my face.

(Peel-off packs which I use)

Whenever I go out, I make it a point to protect my skin from the sun. I use products with Sun Protection Factor or SPF for my face and for the rest of my body. Sunblock is really important to protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun (UVA & UVB). I also wear cap and shades, and use an umbrella. And again, drink plenty of water.

Achieving a healthy, clear skin is not really easy. It requires patience, dedication, and diligence because you have to devise your own skin care regimen according to the needs of your skin. They say that your lifestyle reflects upon your skin. If you have unhealthy habits, your skin will be dull and full of blemishes, but if you live healthily, your skin will most likely be radiant and clear and that is definitely a turn-on! Good Luck on your quest to a WOW skin! *wink!*


Images got from:
  • http://brandcom.unilever.com/b2Public/lipton/au_en/product/realCategories/LiptonGreenTea/LiptonGreenTea/detailsPar/fullsizeImage/lipton_greengdpack.png
  • http://www.kpoptown.com/3681-4521-large/thefaceshop-new-phyto-powder-foam-cleanser-charcoal.jpg
  • http://allmadeinkorea.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/clean-face-acne-solution-foam-cleansing-21-16-90.jpg?w=581&h=746
  • http://images.cdnp3.beautylish.com/11/03/18/sc_555e0b79b099928e155f1514190d6914/dove-sensitive-skin-unscented-beauty-bar.jpg
  • http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-WItkOQ68wVE/TYMZj4CS_6I/AAAAAAAAAjQ/PVQfX33w5ZI/s1600/NEUTROGENA+PURE+MILD.jpg
  • http://www.healthy-skincare.com/images/manwomenskin.jpg

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Flight Attendant Workshop Experience in PAL

It started with a dream...

"Mabuhay at magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat. Ito po ay PR102 patungong Los Angeles."

(Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome to Philippine Airlines. This is your flight PR102 bound for Los Angeles.)

Oh how I love to say this phrase every now and then. Sometimes I even imagine myself on a real airplane, wearing a Flight Steward (male F.A.) uniform, delivering in-flight announcements to the passengers in an international flight. It's a dream that I wanted to achieve, a dream that I will definitely make happen. And thus I'm now making my baby steps.

(With Philippine Airlines, Shining Through! LOL!)

Last May 9-13, 2011, I enrolled myself in Philippine Airlines Learning Center's "The Making of a Flight Attendant Workshop." It's a workshop that will definitely equip you with the 101's of becoming a Flight Attendant/Steward. It was an exciting moment for me because it's all I ever wanted! We were all wearing corporate attire during those days and it felt like I was a real professional (and I liked it!). The Philippine Airlines family was also nice and approachable. Their smiles whenever we greet each other were genuine and pleasing. Our instructors (which includes an HR and real Cabin Crews) were really fun, yet informative at the same time. We were taught series of trainings and lectures as well.

(At Philippine Airlines Learning Center)

On the first day, we had our Personality Development where we learned the variations of sitting and standing, walking confidently, and hand gestures for the ladies. It was also discussed to us how to look professional--from our looks to our stance. On the same day the instructor gave us a lecture about Customer Service. As service providers, we should not just satisfy the customers/passenger, instead we should be able to delight them by "going the extra mile." I never thought that it would be very hard to handle customers/passengers because as front-liners, we should always be sympathetic to them. We also have to be in their shoes.

The next day, we learned the History of Aviation which is kinda boring because we're like back in high school, learning history. But as our instructor said, those are "good-to-know" stuff, because as a Flight Attendant/Steward, expect that some passengers would want to talk anything under the sun. Intro to Cabin Crew Profession was also discussed to us where qualifications were laid upon us. We were told that airlines are very strict in hiring crews, but once they get in, they can loosen up a little already. My instructor, who's an International Flight Steward told us that it's not true that one should have super perfect skin. As long as it is clear, it will be alright. When it comes to the teeth, with or without crown, as long as the smile looks good, it's accepted. The height requirement was decreased up to 5'2 1/2" for female and 5'6" for male, but another instructor said that some hire 5'5" males. Weight should be proportional to height. 20/20 vision (but if you are not, you are advised to MEMORIZE THE SNELLEN CHART), and of course one should be in a healthy condition. Qualifications are very strict because it's for aesthetic(?) and safety purposes of the crew since they will work in an altitude of up to 37,000 ft. After that, we had our Power Resume Writing that will give an edge in applying for the job.

I tell you, In-flight/Boarding Announcement was one of my favorite topic because I get to verbalize the announcements made during a flight. It was fun because speaking is actually my forte, and I was able to express it like a real pro! I was actually regarded as "authoritative and pleasing to hear" by my instructor, which is good. =D We also had our Aircraft Familiarization, too bad we weren't exposed to real airplanes due to its unavailability. The instructor was fun (She was kinda like Alex Gonzaga), and she taught us the different parts of a jet type plane (usually an Airbus A320). The other type was the propeller (MA60).

We also had practical trainings such as the First Aid & Basic Life support where we learned about the Artificial Respiration (AR) & Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and when to use those. It was fun doing it to Susy (the creepy-looking dummy). LOL! In the afternoon, the Safety part of being an aerial service provider was taught to us. We had our Emergency Drills and Evacuation Procedures. And let me tell you, IT WAS F***** FUN!!! During an emergency situation on-board, an FA/S should be alert and courage enough in handling the situation. His/her voice should be loud enough in shouting the instructions to the passengers. There is only a 90-second alloted time for evacuating the aircraft including the crews. So cabin crews should be really quick and alert. The training was fun because we were able to practice the emergency evacuation. The fun part was sliding in a very large, inflatable slide (which they say can cost up to a million peso!), wearing this baggy jumpsuit. LOL!

(During my AR/CPR with Susy. Wrong hand position, I know!)

(During our Safety Demo)

video
(During our Emergency Evacuation Procedure.
Video c/o Anne Malapitan)

During our last day, we were trained of how to serve meals in our ECY In-flight Food Service. The golden rule in serving meals is "Always Cabin to Galley." It was fun because we did it in a mock cabin where our classmates pretended as the passengers. But before that, I discovered something. The duty of a Flight Steward is different than the Flight Attendant. Usually Flight Stewards are the ones near the galley (CA2 in an Airbus A320). They prepare the cart and they serve as the runner when coffee, tea, or water containers are emptied. Going on, serving meal is not an easy job because FA/S should always be pleasant-looking, poised, and can handle the demands of the passengers. Remember, they should not only be satisfied, they should be delighted. =D And lastly, we had our Mock Interview. IT WAS NERVE-WRACKING because it felt like a real interview by PAL's HR. (Whew! I can do this!) I tried to be spontaneous because it will make me real, who I really was. I don't want a scripted-looking kind of interview. During the interview I think I became to fast in speaking, my facial expressions were all over the place, and I stutter a little, but when I expressed myself of how eager and enthusiastic I was of the job, I became more comfortable and I was glad of the things I said. The interviewer told me of certain things I should avoid--speaking fast, many facial expressions, "modesty aside," but he told me that he can see my leadership quality in me and it made me really happy. I asked him what should I develop physically and he told me to gain more weight and improve my teeth because I look like a KID!!! Can you believe that?! He told me that I still have a lot of time since I'm still young. And that would be my mission for the next months--improve my looks. =D

(During our in-flight service)

It was a fun experience because I know for a fact that I gained not just the knowledge but also more confidence. I also made new friends! (And I kinda miss them now). Oh well, I hope that this blog can help and inspire people who, like me, dream of becoming a Flight Attendant someday. Always remember that "Destiny is not definite, not fixed. We are the ones who define it, who create it." (This is what I actually said during my mock interview. LOL!) Don't give up on your dreams no matter what because you are worthy of that dream, that goal. Hope to fly with you guys!

(Fly High! PLC "The Making of a Flight Attendant Workshop"
Batch May 9-13, 2011. I miss you guys!)

*Some images were from Loiv Cano and Zaidel Kerdi. Thanks Guys!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Summertime (a short story by me)

The scorching heat of the sun is finally here, indicating the coming of summertime.

Whenever dusk arrives in the summertime, I usually hear a lovely, yet melancholic music created by a piano from a lime green, Victorian-style rest house near our traditional Japanese house in Kaneyama, a small village in Yamagata Prefecture.

I live with my grandmother who works at the Namaka Fish Market as a vendor, and the fishes that wasn’t sold for the day goes directly to our plate as our dinner. I spend my summer night with my best buddy, Tadashi, grilling our dinner in the garden while my grandmother prepares us a scrumptious dinner. We enjoyed the symphony of the crickets during the night as they coordinately make their sounds.

One afternoon, as Tadashi and I ride our bicycle, we heard the music again.

“It sure is sad Tadashi. You know, I have this feeling that the one playing that music is in agony. Perhaps he or she is lonely.”

“You think so?” Tadashi said, as he picks his nose, “I think he is some ugly creature! HAHA! Now that answers why he doesn’t go out of his house.” We stopped, “And that bewilders me.” He told me in a serious tone.

“You’re right. You really think it could be a monster or some demon?” I asked as we continued riding our bicycles.

“Are you stupid Akira? In this era, there is no such thing as demons or monsters anymore. It doesn’t exist! You fool!”

“You’re calling me… a fool?!” I accused him. He just laughed.

I bid Tadashi goodbye and parted our ways. As I was riding alone in my bicycle, the music’s like hypnotizing me and I suddenly felt the urge of following it. The music is getting louder as I approach the lime green rest house. I park my bicycle in an abandoned lot beside it and walked my way to the fence of the house and peek at its window. I saw a piano and the hands playing it, and it belonged to a girl. Those hands were beautiful—white as snow, illuminating, and like a doll’s. I moved a little to the left to see the face of the girl playing the piano, but the darkness of the inside of the house covered her face. “Just my luck!” I thought to myself.

When I got home, I went to bathe in our wooden bathtub. I sat there for some minutes, trying to picture out the girl’s face based on her hands, until grandma called me, “Dinner time, Akira! Be quick or Tadashi and I’ll eat ‘em all dear!” So Tadashi’s here…again.

“What?!” Tadashi yelled. “You actually saw a beautiful girl playing that melody?!”

“Well, technically I didn’t see her face because it’s dark inside their house, but her hands… They’re perfect.”

“So you’re assuming that the girl is pretty because of her hands?” Tadashi laughed. “How pathetic! But my presumption may be right, not that HE is, but SHE is ugly. Okay case closed.”

“How can you be so sure, Tadashi?” I asked.

“I just am! Because apparently, I’m great, am I not?” Tadashi bragged.

“Just go home!” I laughed, “And, why are you always eating dinner in our house?”

The chilly night, was warmed up by our laughter and joy. But at the back of my mind, I’m still wondering—who is she?”

In my sleep, I had a dream. I was in a beautiful forest with all the beautiful roses around, adjacent to the clear and gleaming water of the lake. It is dusk, but the forest elucidates its own glow, making me able to see its splendor. I heard the melody again, but this time I also saw it. There were notes floating, directing me to the one who created it. I saw the notes coming from a human size rose bud. I touched it and it open wide, revealing the pianist’s back. It was the girl with beautiful hands. She’s wearing a long red gown and a pair of white wings. She was like an angel. I felt my stomach churn as I walk towards her to see her face. As I tap her back to see her face, her angelic image melted and she became a monster with big horns and sharp fangs, with reptilian-like skin and tail, and a dragon-like wings. She roared at me, and I was really terrified. I ran as fast as I could but the flame from its mouth caught me and burnt me alive! I was yelling. I woke up panting, and covered with sweat, realizing that it was just a strange dream. I was really scared.

One afternoon, the melody played again. I went to the rest house to see the girl, hoping to see her face. I want to really make sure that she is not a monster or a demon, just like in my dreams.

The music was so mesmerizing that it made me sat on the concrete wall and lean on their fence. I was humming the melody until it stopped, but I still continued to hum without realizing that she suddenly stopped playing.

I heard the gate open and saw girl walking towards me. She’s wearing a knee-length, white dress and a shawl. I was spellbound by her face. She’s no demon. She’s an angel, a goddess to be precise. She has a small pinkish lips, ivory skin, big almond eyes, and a long dark hair. She was beautiful even if her hair is a mess. She resembles a porcelain doll.

She asked me in a nice way, “What are you doing here?”

“I, uh, I just passed by your house and I heard you play. I really think it’s beautiful… Sorry to interrupt you playing the piano. I’m Akira by the way.” I modestly answered.

“No that’s okay. I was just checking the one humming.” She laughed, “Uhm, I got to go now…”

She hurriedly walked back to their house, and I yelled “Wait!!! What’s your name?”

“Mika” She replied with a smile on her face…

From that moment, I knew that I’m starting to like her. And I knew that I wanted to be friends with her. The sky was mixed of orange, pink, and indigo. Then I headed back home with a smile on my face…

“Are you serious?! Goodness! I gotta meet her too!” Tadashi cried.

“See? I told you she’s not U-G-L-Y. She’s not just any talented girl, she’s also drop dead gorgeous! Her name’s Mika.” I replied.

“Pretty name for a pretty girl! You’re so lucky man!” Tadashi teased.

“Hey, why don’t we visit her later? I’ll introduce you to her. Y’know, even though I haven’t got to know her personally, I feel a special connection. You understand? We have this special bond.” I told Tadashi as I clasp my hands, bringing it to my heart.

“In your dreams man!” Tadashi chuckled, “I can’t wait to see her.”

It’s exactly 5:30 pm and the sun is starting to take its rest. Tadashi and I decided to go to the rest house where Mika always play the piano. We can already hear the melody and it gets louder and louder as we approach her place. We sat in the concrete floor and listen to her playing. It was definitely lovely, but somewhere inside me, I feel heavy and sad. The melody suddenly gave me nostalgia. I remember the day when my parents had an accident—it was so tragic and heartbreaking. From then on, my grandmother adopted me and raised me.

I snapped out from that thought and realized that Mika was standing in front of me.

“Hi!” Mika greeted. “Oh hi Mika! Sorry I was out of my mind for a moment.” I apologized.

We were standing face to face and I just found myself blushing. So did she.

“C’mon Akira! Snap out of it! I thought you are going to introduce me to this fine lady.” Tadashi insisted as he bowed down in front of Mika like a true English gentleman.

“Oh right! By the way Mika, this is my friend, Tadashi, and she’s also a fan of your playing.”

“That’s so sweet of you. Thank you. I’m Mika.” said Mika.

“Are you new here? Because it is the first time I saw you.” Tadashi asked.

“My family actually owns this rest hose, but I went here alone because I want to escape from the busy city. I’m from Tokyo, actually.”

“Don’t tell me you’re a runaway?” Tadashi kidded.

“No. I’m not. I’m as free as the wind…” she replied.

I suddenly had this urge to ask about the melody. “I’ve noticed that you play the same melody every sundown, if it’s okay to ask, is that your original composition?”

“Oh no. It’s actually my mom’s. She just taught me how to play it, and it became my favorite.” She explained. “I remember my mom whenever I play it.”

“Where is she?” I asked without being disrespectful.

“Let’s just say, she’s far away…”

After that encounter, Mika, Tadashi, and I became close friends. And for some couple of weeks, we hanged out together. In the morning, we invite her to go to different places in our small village. And since she doesn’t have a bike, she rides with me in my bicycle. We also took a lot of pictures from my cell phone as we go to different places and did whacky poses. It was really hilarious and fun at the same time.

One afternoon we invited her to go to the beach and stroll along the shore. I was so stunned when I saw her wearing a white maxi dress and on her head is a nice weaved hat, she was alluring that morning. Her smile was so warm. My heart beat really fast and I was staring at her for a minute.

At the shore, Mika and I walked side by side. At first, I was so hesitant to touch her, to hold her hands, but after some inhaling and exhaling, I got the courage to hold her hands. She did not shun. I felt the urge of confessing my admiration to her. I was so anxious but I though to myself, this is now or never.

“Mika, I… I… I wanted t-to t-t-ell you s-s-something.” I stuttered. I took a deep breath and continued, “I wanted to tell that ever since I saw you play the mystical melody, I fell in love with it. And when I saw you, I thought you are the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen in my life. I like you Mika. I really, really like you.”

For a moment, the air was dead. There was nothing but silence. I saw tears falling from the almond eyes of Mika, but she was not looking into my eyes. She was looking at the enormous orange sun as it sets.

“Akira, I like you too. I do, but you may not like me after some days…” Mika hesitated.

I felt a chill on my back when I heard those words. “No I won’t! And I am certain of my feelings for you, and it won’t easily fade away.”

“Akira, listen to me…” as her tears fell, “we are not meant to be together because… because…” Mika broke down.

“But why? We are both young, and we like each other. Don’t we?” I hugged her and didn’t speak anymore. I let her cry into my shoulders as the sun made its last exposure of the day. It seemed that the sky is sympathizing with Mika. There were no stars around.

Tadashi and I brought Mika back to the rest house without any words coming out from our mouths and bid her goodbye. I was startled at the house. It was dark. It seemed abandoned, sad, and lifeless. From then I found out that she stays alone in the rest house—no caretaker, no maid, no aunt and uncle, no one but she and her piano.

I had another dream. But this time, not in the forest. I found myself floating in the sky, 1,000 feet above the ground. I can clearly see the buildings and houses at the bottom of my feet. Cars are like ants and people are like dust. I was wandering in the air until I found a girl from afar. She was wearing white dress and she was illuminating. I floated my way towards the girl, but as I come nearer, it seems that she’s keeping distant from me. I squinted to look a better view of the girl’s face. To my surprise, it was Mika. As the sun reaches its peak, Mika slowly fades until I was left alone in the air. I woke up in the middle of the night with tears on my eyes. I was having strange dreams again.

I got up at the crack of the dawn because I couldn’t sleep anymore. The image of my dream keeps on hunting me. I went outside our house to jog, and when I went to the street where the rest house is located, I was puzzled to see a car outside the rest house. There’s a nice-looking lady and a tall man carrying baggage inside the rest house. It may be her relatives paying her a visit. “Maybe they would be delighted by some treats this afternoon.” I thought to myself.

“Granny, will you accompany me later at the market to buy some treats? I just want to give them to the visitors at the rest house on the other streets.” I exclaimed to grandma.

“Oh dear, so the owners of the rest house are finally visiting after a decade. That’s nice to hear!” She uttered.

“Oh yes, granny. I think they are visiting Mika there.” I hurriedly said to grandma. “Bye granny, I’ll meet Tadashi today.”

“Wait!” I headed off already before grandma tried to stop me.

As I rode my bicycle to Tadashi’s house, I checked the rest house first.

I heard the melody plays again. I parked my bicycle and went to peek at the fence. I was enigmatic to see a middle-aged woman’s hand playing the piano. I looked for a better view of the woman’s face. She looked really familiar. She looks like the old version of Mika, but her face looked. The tall man noticed me peeking at the fence and went out to inspect me.

“Young man, what are you doing there?” the tall man asked as he folded his arms.

“No sir. You got the wrong idea. I have no bad intentions at all. I was just looking for Mika.”
The tall man looked surprised that I know Mika. His skeptical face immediately turned qualmish. He went near me and grabbed my shoulders tightly, but not in a hostile way. His tears fell to his cheeks.

“How did you know Mika, our daughter?” the tall man sobbed.

“I’m her close friend, sir. We met just 2 months ago, just this summer. Why sir, is there any problem?” I started to panic.

“But that’s impossible son. Didn’t you know that Mika was hospitalized in Tokyo for 3 months now? She had an illness. You are confusing me.” He explained.

“But sir, I am very certain that I met her just 2 months ago. She’s white, has small, pinkish lips, and has a dark hair, right? Sir, I don’t understand you. Why are you doing this to me? Is it because you discovered that we fell in love with each other? Are you parting us apart?!” I cried. “Here let me show you our pictures.”

I went to the menu and clicked the image folder and browsed at the pictures. My eyes widened when I open the files. The picture is there, but the persons in the picture are only me or Tadashi. Mika is not there. I turned off my phone and turned it on again to check if it malfunctioned, but the pictures are still the same—no Mika. My vision is becoming fuzzy and my eyes watered. I couldn’t contain myself anymore and I ran to Tadashi’s house to clarify what’s happening.

I burst into tears as I ran to Tadashi’s house.

“Tadashi you have to help me… Mika’s parents are confusing me, they say that she’s hospitalized in Tokyo, and is sick for 3 months! How could that happen if we spent our summer with her?! Right, Tadashi?!” I cried.

“Wait man. Calm down okay? But let me ask you first… Who is Mika?”

“C’mon man! Not you too! Did her parents tell you that so that we’ll be apart? Answer me! I know you like her too. But please man, don’t do this to me! We’re buddies since we’re kids.” I bawled. “Seriously, who is this Mika? I’ve never heard of her before. It was just the two of us who spent our summer.” “You’re unbelievable!” I went out their house, banging the sliding door.

I will find her. I went to the beach because it is our favorite place to stay during the summer. As I stroll along the shore, I saw a girl sitting in a rock. It was Mika. I was so happy to find her, and I broke again into tears. As I got nearer her, I saw tears in her eyes. I hugged her and kissed her in the forehead.

“Am I not a good daughter? Have I been bad? Why are my parents not giving attention to me? As if I do not exist.” She whimpered.

“No dear, you are a good person. You have a beautiful heart, and I love you no matter what happened. Please just stay by my side and never leave me, okay? I love you.” I sobbed.

“Akira, I don’t know, but I feel really, really weak right now. But no matter what happen, I will forever love you. Always remember that.”

I embraced her tightly and shut my eyes, savoring the moment that we’re together. But I feel something’s wrong with her—not with her health condition, but with her physical existence at this time, at this place. I just don’t understand. But no matter what, I won’t let go of her.

When I opened my eyes, I found myself hugging the air. Mika vanished into thin air. She was gone.

“I knew I’d find you here.” Granny said as she walks her way through the sand.

“Grandma, I just don’t understand what’s happening—to me, to Mika, to Tadashi? How come Tadashi doesn’t remember Mika?” I asked.

“You see grandson, when some persons are struggling between life and death, their souls travel to a place memorable for them to reminisce. But when the emotions of those souls become so passionate, they are granted the power of existence in order to create memories before their struggling bodies would choose to live or to die.” She explained as she wraps her arms around my shoulders.

"But being a soul with a power of existence, in the case of Mika, she doesn’t know that she is just a soul. She thinks that she is a normal and free Mika, but what she didn’t know is that she is lying in bed—in coma—for months now, and that she is just a soul." She continued. “Having a power of existence is not permanent. Once the struggling body decides to live or to die, she will eventually disappear into thin air. And as time passes by, one will forget of the soul’s existence, like Tadashi. Soon you will forget her existence grandson. That’s the rule of the nature. It has been defied by those souls, but the nature will definitely do something to fix it. That’s why you will eventually forget her.”

“Grandma, so you mean the body of Mika has decided to live… or to die?” I asked as I tremble forcing the tears not to fall.

For a moment Grandma was silent. I think I know what it means. I couldn’t contain the tears in my eyes anymore. I became weak and felt the gravity pulling my body down. I’m forcefully trying to remember those days we spent together while Mika’s melody is playing inside my head. And by the shore, I sat down and wept as my grandmother stands beside me, watching the last ray of the sun spread in the sky until the indigo color engulfed the whole sky. Everything was silent, everything was sad. Death isn’t the most painful thing on earth, but forgetting someone whom you truly loved without you even realizing that she existed in your life.

My Seoul Tour Journal (Day 5)

LAST MORNING @ LA MIR

I was kind of melancholic when I woke up, seeing my luggage packed and ready to go. The weather was gloomy and it started raining (I guess the weather sympathized with us). Before our breakfast, we put our luggage first at the ground floor of the hotel. I browsed the internet for a while to check for updates, and eventually went upstairs to eat our breakfast (the epic egg-bacon-sausage tandem). After that, we checked-out from the hotel and ready to board our bus. The temperature dropped because it was rainy. We only have one destination for the day—Lotte World! That thought made me excited that my feeling of loneliness disappeared. But before that, since it was Sunday, we all went to mass first.

CATHOLIC MASS IN SEOUL (Around 8:30 am)

Mass in Korea? Hmmm… I wondered how it would be like. When we got there, it was just like a typical edifice with a cross. You won’t mistake it as a church unless you see the cross. When we entered the church, inside was almost the same as churches in the Philippines, only much simpler. We got early so we had to wait for the ceremony. As time passed by, Koreans started coming inside the church for the mass. We also met the priest who will lead the mass. Surprisingly he told us that he once went to the Philippines (in Rogationist Seminary, Sucat, Paranaque). I was like, “I know that place! It’s super near from our home!” When the mass commenced, it was in Korean (like I can understand, right?). Songs and responses are also in Korean. I even tried to mumble and imitate them as they sang and responded. I got totally sleepy because I couldn’t understand the mass. I think I drowsed for a minute or two and dreamt that the priest was pressing the ice cream machine to have some yoghurt ice cream. I suddenly woke up because of that dream. It was crazy! LOL! There were also boys who spoke in front of the people though I didn’t know what they were saying. We had our communion there and their version of “Ama Namin.” All I could say is that Catholic masses are all the same, just in different languages or even local dialects.

LOTTE WORLD! (Around 10:15 am)

Another theme park activity! YEY! This was supposed to be our bonus day because Allpoints was able to extend our days in Korea from 4 to 5 days. I was so excited to visit the place because I’ve seen the place in Korean dramas such as Stairway to Heaven. Plus there’s an ice skating rink in the place. When we got there, we were given our tickets to put in their LRT-like machines so we could enter. Since we only have limited time, we immediately planned to ride anything we could ride. First, we tried the Loop-something ride, but because of the long line, some of my classmates went to check for other rides (including me), that’s why we weren’t able to ride it. We checked some of the rides and saw that lines were so full! We didn’t have a choice but to be patient and wait because if we keep on transferring to different rides, we won’t be able to ride any, right? So the 3 of us who left roamed around the area first to check for interesting rides, until we decided to go to the ice skating rink!!! YAY! It was the moment we’ve been waiting for, until the crew told us that it has a payment, 11,000 won in discount. We were petrified upon discovering that! We thought that our tickets were ride-all-you can, or we just assume. We were like planning the ice skating thing even before we go to Seoul. Tsk! BV (or Bad Vibes) according to my classmate. Because of that we went to the information desk to interpolate everything we needed to know. Unfortunately the information lady doesn’t understand English that she had to call someone to talk to us. No wonder their entrance was “ENTERANCE,” and their information was “INFOMATION.” At last things were clarified, and sadly the ice skating had an additional fee. Then we decided to just ride anything we saw. First we tried the hot air balloon. It is where we saw some of our classmates and we all went together. The ride was slow, passive, and boring? Yeah. It’s like touring you around the Lotte World in an aerial view. Oh well, nothing to lose. After that, we were all starving and decided to eat hotdogs, and since we brought our free water, lesser expense. Since we are full, my other classmates and the 3 of us parted ways because we are trying a ride they already tried—their version of Rio Grande. The line was quick and we didn’t have to wait that much. Unlike Rio Grande, their ride didn’t have a thrill. We didn’t even get wet, and the waves were not as strong as in Rio Grande. After that, we went to eat ice cream (Dippin Dots). It was really pleasurable! LOL! Since we only have an hour left, we decided to try one last ride, and this time a more extreme one—the Conquistador (their version of Anchor’s away). I’m not really scared of rides, but a classmate of mine (Hope) is. We were amused of how brave she was while waiting in the line. She’s like ahead of us. But when we rode it, she was like “Mommy!!! Ayoko na!!! Ayoko na talaga!!!” and there were tears in her eyes. If you just saw her you’ll definitely laugh out loud! After the ride, we ran quickly to the exit to board our bus because we might get trapped in the parade. When we got to the bus, we waited for our other classmates who got trapped in the parade. So we departed last again, but this time, there’s no one to blame. As we traverse the roads of Seoul, while the rain is pouring gently, I felt melancholic again. I still wanted to stay in Seoul.

LAST SHOPPING in a LOCAL MARKET for PASALUBONG

We went in a local supermarket to shop for snacks before going to Incheon for our flight back to Manila. I bought some treats like the Crunchy Punch, Wafers, Ginseng Tea, Pokey, etc. Good thing they had free taste of every products, that why we were able to decide on what to buy. And since I didn’t have much money left, I used my remaining dollars to pay for that. It didn’t cost me a lot this time because I’m scared of having excess baggage. What amazed me was the procedure when they box the products. It was so high-tech, it was really cool!

GOING TO INCHEON INT’L AIRPORT (Arrived at around 5:00 pm)

I was so sad to be leaving Seoul, yet excited of going home. When we arrived at ICN, we went directly to check-in our baggage. But there was a problem…mine exceeded 20 kg!!! I was really nervous the fact that I didn’t have much money left to pay for excess baggage. Good thing some of my classmates didn’t really exceed baggage, thus I went to join them as they checked-in their baggage (Whew, safe at last!). After that, we bid our tour guides and photographers good-bye (I will surely miss Julia and Ellie). Then we proceeded to security check then immigration. We waited in gate 23(?) for our Korean Air flight KE263 bound to Manila. The procedure went really fast. While waiting, I decided to go to the Tax Free Redemption Booth to give my envelope with the receipt of purchase. And then we fooled around the area. We did photo shoots, played pranks on each other, but the gravest was when 2 of my classmates played prank to foreigners! They talked to them in Filipino and of course, the foreigners didn’t understand. LOL! It was 8:00 pm when we started boarding our plane. I sat with a Korean Lady, whom I didn’t know. And since I didn’t have someone to talk to, I just watched a movie. But all of a sudden, their entertainment system was shut down for some minutes due to some minor issues. So I just slept for a moment, and the dinner was served. It was a nice meal—mashed potato with beef, and other extras, but I suddenly felt the urge of going to the toilet to poop. It was my first time defecating in a plane, and I wondered how it would be like. I never knew it would be hard doing it 30,000 ft from the ground. The pressure was different and it was hard to release ‘em all. I needed to stay there for some minutes. The feeling was like holding it back, and it was really hard. Finally I was done. I returned to my seat and ate my meal (though my stomach wasn’t in good condition). And Ice cream was served! YUM! The flight was kind of bumpy because of the turbulence and many was nauseous (judging by the white flower, vicks, etc, that some were holding). And after 3 hours and 30 minutes, we arrived in Manila.

AT NAIA (Around 11:30 pm—Philippine time)

The airport procedures took us like an hour just to get out from the airport because of slow service. There was actually no divider for lines, making other people transfer lines to another, creating delays. In the immigration, the line was so long and the immigration officers were so slow. I didn’t know why. Then when we went to claim our baggage, there was no real line that’s why it was hard to distinguish how to get out, and many people keep on squeezing themselves in the line. They’re not falling in line properly. And when I got my package of kimchi, the box ripped off. I think they do not handle the baggage with total care. Tsk! Also, the lady who checks the baggage was not nice. I do believe that being in the hospitality industry, one should be nice and pleasing. But she’s not! I met my parents outside the airport. Exhausted I was that night, I bid my classmates goodbye.

My trip to Korea was like a dream that just passed by. In Filipino, I would regard it as “Bitin!” Hehe! But it is one of part of my life that I won’t forget forever because it was my first time going out of the country. I will forever cherish that experience—the people who became part of that tour, the places, and everything. Because of that tour, I was really inspired to be an airline crew because of the travel benefits. I want to explore the world. I want to experience the world. Thru that, I know that I’ll discover myself more and appreciate the only home that God made for us. After the tour, I changed a lot. I became comfortable in talking to strangers. I became more confident. And I started to appreciate little things in life. And because of that, I promised to myself that I will return to Seoul, soon…

Images can be found at:

My Seoul Tour Journal (Day 4)

AMETHYST SHOWCASE (Around 9:00 am)

I promised myself yesterday that I won’t buy anything today. But that didn’t happen. Our first destination is the Amethyst Showcase. When we got to the place, I was struck by the beauty and grandeur of the amethysts. They actually had a big amethyst decorated and it was magnificent. When we got to the store, there are plenty of jewelries that they sell, ranging from necklaces/rings/bracelets to cell phone charms. And yes, I bought one cell phone charm (cross), which can be converted into a necklace. It cost me around 8,000 won (with 50% discount). As I was browsing other jewelries, I saw a necklace from Winter Sonata. It was beautiful…but expensive. LOL!

63 WAX MUSEUM (Around 9:45 am)

This is what I was waiting for! I saw pictures of wax figures in the internet from Hong Kong and I was expecting it to be just like in Hong Kong. Before we could roam around the place and take pictures, we were directed first to the 5D Theater. I didn’t know that 5D existed. All I know is up to 4D only. I was so intrigued. We went inside the theater and the screen is 360 degrees! It’s not the typical flat screen used in cinemas. The short movie shown was a horror movie entitled “The Room.” I was so excited because I love horror films! The movie was scary because unlike other horror films shown in the cinema, it is coming out from the screen!!! It’s like crossing from the other side of the screen to the other! It was terrifying that one classmate of mine cried! LOL! It was such an experience! After that, we were directed to the horror house! It was not scary unlike the 5D Theater. When we got off the horror house, we took pictures of the wax figures like Marilyn Monroe, Leonardo di Caprio, Einstein, the casts of Winter Sonata, and Michael Jackson. There are also figures of musicians and artists like Picasso, and heroes like Gandhi. Even the US President Barack Obama has a figure there! And surprisingly, the last supper was depicted as wax figures! I actually have a picture with them in their costume, pretending to be part of the last supper. LOL! Though some of the wax figures didn’t really look like the real people, I still appreciate it because it is an art and I had a lot of fun.

SHABU-SHABU BUFFET LUNCH @ MERMER (Around 11:10 am)

I was waiting for this! LOL! This time, each one of us has a stove in our tables for us to cook shabu-shabu. I really think it is fun because I haven’t tried cooking shabu-shabu yet. Aside from shabu-shabu, I got myself different dishes and lots of different drinks on a tray (I wanted to taste all!). I cooked the shabu-shabu, mixed with noodle, veggies, and lean beef, after eating my meal and ate it. Man that was such a nice meal! I was full again and I gained more energy for the rest of the day.

DONGHWA DUTY FREE (Around 1:00 pm)

Before proceeding to our next destination which is the NANTA Show, we first passed by Donghwa Duty Free to have a little shopping. I bought 3 boxes of chocolate because those are the only things I could afford during that time, but originally I planned to buy perfumes for my parents (Maybe next time). HEHE! We passed by a lot of high-end establishments there like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, CK, etc.

NANTA SHOW (Around 1:30 pm)

I’m so excited to see this show because according to reviews, it’s one of the best shows in Korea, or event the best among others. At first I thought, how would I appreciate this show if I don’t understand Korean? We’ll see… It is not a free sitting, and you will have to sit based on the seat number indicated in your ticket. Phones and cameras should be turned off. When the show started, I thought it was like the Miso Traditional Show because of their opening, but this one’s different. It was lively upbeat and comical. The story board was so unique and really funny because it is more of performance—acting and dancing, not dialogue. I was actually laughing so hard because they’re like anime when they act. In Tagalog, I could regard them as “kenkoy,” but cute. They also make some of the audience participate in stage. It was so cute and fun to watch. But the wild and steamy part would be during the end when they were beating drums with splashes of water. It was so lively and awesome! It was indeed a unique show. Two thumbs up for them. Up until now, I couldn’t forget the “A-paaaaaaaaang… Swoooosh” part. It was hilarious!

MYEONG DONG SHOPPING DISTRICT (Around 4:00 pm)

Another shopping… Should I be happy? I’m so bankrupted! LOL! Before we could arrive there, we used the underpass with lots of establishments ranging from gadgets to fashion. When we got here, I was amazed of how big the shopping district was. And there are a lot of people because it was KOREA GRAND SALE YEAR! Because the place was so crowded, it is inevitable for us to lose each other. My friend and I explored the place. We saw lots of shoes, bags, cosmetic products, height-increase insoles, branded apparels, restaurants, food stalls, and many more! It’s like Divisoria of the Philippines, only cleaner and more pleasing. If you can’t stand crowded places like this, this is not for you, but if you enjoy shopping in this kind of places, then Myeong Dong is a place to be—highly recommended. As we were exploring the place, I got hungry and tried the bread with croissant-like texture and has a custard cream filling inside. It was so delicious!!! I’m not kidding! When I saw my other friends, we went inside the mall to check for restrooms, then one of my friends saw a wig outlet and bought an extension, just like what my previous classmates bought. She had it put on her hair while I went to look for a rest room. I feel like an alien walking alone inside the mall. They were staring at me. Finally I found a restroom! But when I got back to the wig store, my friends were gone!!! That terrified me. But instead, I left the mall alone and went back to our meeting point in Shinsegae. As I was making my way, I saw my other classmates and walked with them. We took a lot of pictures even in the underpass. I was surprised to see a store of shoes that cost 5,000 won only per shoes! It’s like only 200 pesos when converted. I didn’t buy of course because all available are ladies shoes only—winter boots, flats, heels, etc. There was even a Filipina whom we met as others were buying shoes in that particular store. She was buying like bundle of shoes. We return to the bus with all our bought items, feeling the guilt of overspending. LOL!

CELEBRATION @ LA MIR (Around 7:00 pm)

It was our last night in La Mir Hotel that’s why during dinner, they prepared wine for us to toast. It was an emotional night for all of us, including our tour guides because tomorrow will be our last day in Korea. During the night, my classmates and I didn’t sleep early because we want to relish our last night in the hotel. We were in the corridor doing photo shoots, and having fun, until our noises became uncontrollable, disturbing other people (SORRY!). Because of that we were all sent back to our respective rooms to take a rest. That night, I arranged all my things because we will check-out from the hotel tomorrow morning (I will surely miss La Mir Hotel). I felt sad that night because our trip to Korea will finally come to an end tomorrow evening.

Images can be found at:
http://kaaru20.multiply.com/photos/album/50/Trip_to_Seoul_South_Korea_Day_4

My Seoul Tour Journal (Day 3)

KIMCHI MAKING & WEARING OF HANBOK (Around 9:30 am)

After breakfast from the Hotel, we went to a Kimchi making school to make our own Kimchi! At around 9:30 am, we arrived at the school. We put on our aprons, and each of us was given cabbage (or was it lettuce?) and chili to put on. The teacher thought us the procedures of how to make a Kimchi, translated by Julia. I never realized how easy it was to make a kimchi. Even I can make it using local ingredients in the Philippines. All we had to do is to spread the chili in each layer of the cabbage and wrap it using its last leaf. That simple! The teacher actually praised my work. She said mine was beautiful. After that we donated the Kimchi to their school. I ordered 2 packs of Kimchi (one normal, one ginseng). We then proceeded to wear Korea’s national costume—the Hanbok. I actually tried two costumes! We had our picture taken. It was so much fun because we pretended to be characters from Korean Dramas such as Jang Geum, Ju Mong, Hwang Jini, etc.

GINSENG OUTLET (Around 10:30 am)

We went to a local Ginseng Outlet where we learned many facts about ginseng. The establishment was really nice, decorated with ginseng. There was a mini museum where it states the facts about Korean ginseng, which claims to be the best ginseng in the world. In order to get the best of ginseng, you have to wait until 6 years (that’s quite a lot of time!). Aside from its health benefits, it also has properties that will make ones skin clear and beautiful. Ginseng sold in that outlet could either be in a form of root, powder, or syrup. It could be put in milk, tea, soup, etc. It’s quite expensive to buy ginseng (like 3,000 pesos when you convert to Php). So I didn’t bother buying it. Instead, I’ll just buy green tea. It’s cheaper and somehow, has the same effect as ginseng (I think?).

FACE SHOP (Around 11:20 am)

S. Korea is well-known for its cosmetics, both for men and women. When we got to Face Shop, there were lots of cosmetic products ranging from facial care, make-ups, bb creams, and lotions. I actually bought a lot for my mother (bb creams, face masks/packs, and facial wash) so that she won’t order in Korea for some months (which is kind of expensive because it still has delivery fee). The sales persons were demonstrating their new products even though they are having a little hard time speaking in English. I was browsing their product lines and noticed something—the endorsers were mostly men! Like Ji Hoo from BOF. I spent a lot of money there (like 60,000+ won), but I think it’s all worth it because Face Shop in Korea is cheaper than in the Philippines.

JOGYESA TEMPLE and LUNCH @ EL MARETA (Around 12:50 pm)

We didn’t really spend so much time in Jogyesa Temple. We just stopped by because it is a walking distance from El Mareta Restaurant. Even if it’s noon time, the temperature was comparable to a fridge! What we did in there is we took pictures with the monks inside. They were funny and approachable unlike Chinese monks (unapproachable) according to a Chinese classmate. When our picture was taken, we all shouted “Kimchi!” but when the monks asked what is its counterpart in the Philippines it was “Bagoong!” That was really funny because the monks were having hard time pronouncing it. They even misheard it as mango. After that, we went directly to the restaurant to eat our lunch. It was such a nice place—beautiful ambiance, nice set-up, and presentable buffet! I ate what I think is delicious. My plate was full of different dishes, and another plate for desserts. The food was mouth-watering and scrumptious. The dessert was really good that it tickles one’s palette (I love the mango mousse! Perfect!). After consuming it all, I ate yoghurt ice cream, which I find nice at first but as is melts, I thought it was repulsive. My stomach was really full that I wanted to throw up. But I didn’t want to waste the food I’ve eaten so I just waited until it was all digested. When we were done, we went outside to wait for our bus. The temperature outside dropped and it became colder during the afternoon.

INSADONG (Around 2:30 pm)

We had our walking tour (on our own) in Insadong, a shopping district with antique shops. It is like a street of shops but more on souvenirs, cosmetic products, and ceramics. We are suggested not to buy things here because it is expensive. But then I still bought a set of mini tea cups for 4,000 won (which I thought is cheap). Since I’m with a friend, who is a girl, we visited lots of cosmetic shops like Etude and Face Shop (There were numerous of them!!!). At one point, I felt the urge of peeing so I asked one Korean saleslady in one particular shop where the nearest restroom is. She didn’t understand it so I used other terms like toilet, C.R., comfort room, etc. And do you know what she answered me?—“Is that a brand?” Waaaah! I feel like demonstrating to her the “peeing act,” but I might get slapped! LOL! So we asked other people the nearest restroom and they told us it is near the shopping mall, thus I was relieved (Sigh!).

DOOSAN TOWER/ DOOTA (Around 3:40 pm onwards)

Finally, we are shopping in a mall! When we got to Doota, I was at awed of how large the tower was. The architectural designed was unique and nice. First, Julia explained to us each floors of the mall and brought us to 6th or 7th floor (I think?), where souvenirs are sold. I actually recognize something familiar in the souvenir shop. It was the set of mini tea cups I bought in Insadong. When I check its price, it’s like 2,500 won only! And I got mine for 4,000 won!!! (T_T) I really felt defeated and weak when I discovered that! HUHU! Oh well, there was so much to shop. I got over it and bought many souvenirs. Shirts for my family, phone charms for my friends, chop sticks, magnets, Korean fan, and a decorative plate for my daddy. I also went to some cosmetic shops (such as Skin Food and Atrium) and bought Laneige bb cream (as instructed by my mother) which cost me a lot (like 30,000 won!). In that particular shop also, I was actually mistaken as Chinese! Because of that, they gave me an instruction to go to the Tax Free Redemption for foreigners (Wow! I never realized that I was a foreigner! LOL!) to fill up some forms in order for them to return the tax they have collated from me. I went to the wig shop and saw my classmates there. Some actually bought extensions! It was bizarre, but when I saw their transformation, I was at awe! They’re starting to look like celebrities! LOL! I went down to the 4th floor and checked men’s apparel. There was actually a guy who tried to sell me this nice coat, and he talked to me in Korean. I was just quiet, giving him nods, thanked him and went away. His face was like sad (imagine an anime character doing it) when I went away. I wasn’t able to explore the whole mall that’s why I wasn’t able to buy perfumes and a wallet. Tsk! While we were waiting outside for our bus, Julia showed us her newly bought dress worth 100 Usd! Expensive, right? But she told us that it’s cheap at 50% off. We were like (O_o).

DINNER in a LOCAL RESTO then BACK @ LA MIR (Around 6:30 pm)

We ate Korean Pork Barbeque, but this time it has a broth, unlike before. The food was really delicious. It has a mixed of veggies and pork. We were actually the ones who are cooking it because the stove is just in our table. It was such a nice experience and the boiling of the food warmed us all. After eating, we were all exhausted and went back to the hotel for some rest. During the night, I organized my luggage, putting all the things I bought for the day. And while doing so, I ate an instant noodle I brought along from the Philippines because I felt so hungry (I don’t know why). I was so tired that I didn’t take a bath. I just washed my face and went to sleep.

Images can be found at:
http://kaaru20.multiply.com/photos/album/49/Trip_to_Seoul_South_Korea_Day_3

My Seoul Tour Journal (Day 2)

GOOD MORNING SEOUL!!! (02-24-11, 7:00 am)

Good Morning Seoul! It was actually the Administrative Committee (us) who is assigned to do the wake up call at around 6:30 am. Unfortunately, my cell phone was discharged and that means no alarm. Good thing my roommate was able to get up like quarter to 7 am and he woke me up (I can’t imagine myself not having an alarm every morning. It would be devastating!). And good thing our OIC, Mhay, knocked our room for the wake up call. I was actually the one who did it. I called all rooms and reminded them to be on time. We went at the 11th floor of the hotel for our breakfast around 7:30 in the morning. I’m really excited for this day because we’re going to Everland! But before that we’ll drop by Suwon Hwasung Castle and Fortress. 8:30 am was our call time to board the bus and as we got outside the hotel, it was really freezing!!! We departed least because of some delays, Fr. Roy is somehow upset, but he’s too nice to be angry at us, and instead of making the ambiance dead, he told us good news back in the Philippines, which brightened our day.

SUWON HWASUNG CASTLE & FORTRESS (10:00 am)

Suwon Hwasung Castle & Fortress was like a miniature Great Wall of China because of the very long, walled walkway. It is considered as a World Heritage (according to the signage) because the structure was preserved and the landscape was breath-taking. I wasn’t able to finish walking the very long road due to time-constrain (of course we didn’t want to lessen our time in Everland!) that’s why we only took pictures and climbed down to board our bus, however same issue again—delay due to lack of time management of others.

EVERLAND! (11:30 am)

After our cultural experience in Suwon, we went directly to the highlight of the day—Everland, Korea’s largest theme park! I’m so excited because I’ve seen the place in Arirang, and I saw a lot of crazy rides there! Compared to Enchanted Kingdom, it is bigger in area, more rides, and more high-tech. It is situated in a mountain that’s why when we got up, there’s a weird sensation happening in our ears due to the thinning of pressure (if my memory serves me right). Before going to the place, we still have to ride a shuttle. The shuttle was really cool. It was like a public utility bus of in other countries. When we arrived there, we were given a map of it, as well as our meal stub for lunch. After Julia gave us some briefings, she directed us to the cable ride (like when you ski?) going downhill. And when we reached the bottom, we hurriedly went to the line of one of the grandest ride in Everland—the T Express, the first wooden roller coaster, debuted in 2006. We thought that the line was just quick, but when we got inside the entrance, the waiting time was 1 hour and 30 minutes!!! We didn’t bother to leave the line because we’re already there and we really wanted to try the ride. While waiting, my classmates and I were just goofing around, talking in tagalong so that no one would understand us. It was crazy! We were laughing a lot. After the long wait (Thank God!), it was now our time to ride. And what can I say about it? It was hell crazy! It was like pulling your soul out of your body! LOL! After that crazy ride, my knees were shaking, but it was really fun. If I return to Seoul again, I’d definitely try that again. We bought our photos in a keychain form as a souvenir. It was 1:30 pm, and some of my classmates and I were really hungry that’s why we went to the cafeteria to eat tonkatsu using our food stub. What’s funny is that when I asked my friend, “Uy, ano sa’yo?” the chef replied to me, “Anneyong Hasseo!” LOL! He misheard me and thought that I was greeting in Korean. We were looking at the waiters and waitresses of that cafeteria and noticed how beautiful their skins are. Their uniforms are also cute! After eating, we roamed around the place first and saw an interesting ride—a horror house. We tried that and expected it to be really scary. The line was really long, and Thai people were looking at us (assuming that we might be Thais as well). After the long wait, there’s this moving seats with guns on it. We were so terrified to try that because we may never know what will happen. When the seats moved, we were like focused on our guns (scaredy cats! LOL!) but as we traverse it, I was like straight face “WHAT THE HECK IS THIS RIDE?!” There’s no thrill! And the purpose of the gun is to shoot the laser in order to activate the moving horrific icons—it was disappointing! A waste of time actually! After that lame ride, we tried looking for a ride with lesser line, but there was none. Instead, we went to a souvenir shop. I bought this cute paw massager which cost me 6,000 won. After that, we went uphill via the cable ride and took videos and picture. We didn’t bother riding anything because our time’s limited. But some of my classmates were seen in different rides! I was like, c’mon, hurry up! Again, we ended up being late, but not later than the other class. That day was really fun, and exhausting. What bothers me is that I wasn’t able to take lots of picture because my camera was in my classmate’s bag, and we have not seen each other after the T-express ride. Also, I wasn’t able to ride all because we were only given 4 hours (but I promise myself to return to that place again!). We went back to the hotel for our dinner.

BACK @ LA MIR (6:00 pm)

It was still sundown when we reached the hotel. When I got back to my room, I just laid my things on the bed, changed my clothes into comfortable ones (jogging pants and slippers). I did room-hopping to borrow laptop, to update my facebook and other stuff concerning the World Wide Web. By 7:00 pm, we went up to eat our dinner. As for me, I went up in my jogging pants and slippers that’s why I was sent back to my room to change in appropriate attire. After dinner, some of us need to buy something in a convenient store nearby. It was a chilly night, but no one can stop us in trying their local convenience store. The store owner thought that we were Malaysians. He doesn’t speak English much that’s why we have to act out the things we needed to buy, which I find really hilarious! I bought mochi ice cream even though it’s a cold night because it is my dream to eat that kind of ice cream…and my dream came true! Back at the hotel, we ate mochi ice cream in the room of my friend, savoring its goodness. During the night, I took a bath again to rejuvenate my senses before going to sleep. Again, another day will commence tomorrow.

Images can be found at:
http://kaaru20.multiply.com/photos/album/48/Trip_to_Seoul_South_Korea_Day_2

My Seoul Tour Journal (Day 1)

Our flight to Incheon, South Korea will commence at 12:30 am (02-23-11). After our Tuesday class, I immediately went to SM Sucat to buy stuffs for me to use in Korea such as thermal wear, face cream, and mints of course. When I got home, I hurriedly packed all my things, charged my phone and camera, double checked my documents (passport, e-ticket, boarding slip, etc.), and prepared my winter attire in my hand carry. I felt the thrill as night time falls because after some hours, I’ll be flying to Seoul—my first international getaway. My parents brought me to the airport (NAIA Terminal 1) at around 8:00 pm. I didn’t ride the bus from UST because we’re just 10-15 minutes drive to the Airport. I, together with a friend/classmate, went inside the airport after a long time of waiting. We saw our other classmates sitting with their half-full baggage (or is it?), and waited for the rest to arrive. It was around 9:30 pm when we checked-in our baggage (that should not exceed 20 Kg or else you pay) in Korean Air flight KE624. After checking-in, we were directed to the Immigration (it was my first time!), and had security check where we placed our hand-carry bags, shoes, belts, in a tray and have it scanned. After that we went to the waiting area for like 2 hours before boarding the plane. While waiting, I amused myself by doing our StraMa Paper (very diligent, huh? LOL!). I was also inspired by airport crews, pilots, and cabin crews because I want to become one of them someday—good-looking, classy, confident, and head-turner? LOL! I drowsed a bit while waiting for our flight because I haven’t slept yet, thus giving me a med mark in the forehead as we boarded the plane at around 12:20 am. I was a bit nauseous because of lack of sleep, yet my excitement generates more energy from me.

I was really happy when I got inside the plane, though I’ve ridden planes many times for domestic travel, it’s still different riding inside a big, international carrier. The flight attendants were Koreans (obviously), the announcements were made in either Korean or English—it was totally a different environment! Instead of demonstrating the safety of the flight manually by the F.A’s, there was a safety video shown in each of our monitors (in Korean, English, and Visayan-accent Tagalog which we find really hilarious!). It was approximately a 4-hours flight, but the trip was really enjoyable. I watched movies, listened to music, played games on-board. After an hour, our meals were served and I ate “Bibimbap,” a Korean dish, mixed with rice, veggies, beef, chili paste, and sesame oil. Others find it intolerable to eat because it is spicy, but as for me, I like spicy food. After 4 hours, we landed at Incheon International Airport—the top 1 airport in the world (let’s find out why).

As we stepped out of the plane, it was freakin’ -2 degrees outside! And there was no signal (even though we activated our roaming). For the first time, I saw Incheon. It was really big, super clean, and the facilities were high-tech. Airport procedures were quick (unlike in NAIA). We went directly to the Immigration for us to enter the country safely. Then we went to claim our baggage, and then proceeded in their in-house restaurant—Global Chow Buffet—for our breakfast before we go on out first destination. Since we still have some time to spare, my friends and I went around the airport to take some pictures. And I must say, even their airport is a tourist destination. We went to meet our tour guides near the exit. But before we get out at the airport, we have to change in our winter attire because it’s freezing cold outside to the point that our breaths were smoky! We boarded our bus, introduced the tour guide, Julia, as well as the photographer, Ellie. We also learned some Korean greetings like, “Annyeong Haseyo” (standard greeting), “Kamsahamnida” (Thank you), and “Ye/Ne & Aniyo” (Yes and No). Now we’re ready to explore the land of K-pop and Kimchi!!!

PAJU ENGLISH VILLAGE (02-23-11, 9:15 am--Korean Time)

This is the place where I saw snow for the first time. I was like a child, playing and stepping in snowfalls, even though it was really chilly to the extent that my hands and feet were starting to numb. Julia gathered us first inside the entrance before we could roam around the area. It is called English village because it is where English is taught to the locals. The place is actually the shooting place for “Boys Over Flowers,” which is a big hit in the Philippines. I was so excited to take pictures because I know a lot of friends who are fans of BOF, and I want to share to them my experience in the place thru pictures. The place was really enormous and like a European destination because of its structures. I recognize some areas from the BOF and took pictures of it. We met Korean children there and they were so cute. LOL! We left the place around 10:30 am (Korean time) because it will still be a long ride for us to reach our next destinations. We first went for lunch before we continued our tour. We ate different cuisines like Shabu-Shabu, sushi, pork dishes, seafood, etc. in a local restaurant called Ocean Seafood, but the best part was their ice cream (YUM!). After eating, we proceeded to our next destinations.

Passing by PRESIDENTIAL BLUE HOUSE, then NATIONAL FOLKLORE MUSEUM, and GYEONGBOK PALACE (1:20 pm)

Before we go to the National Folklore Museum, we first passed by the Presidential Blue House, the counterpart of the Malacanang Palace in the Philippines according to Julia. When we reached National Folklore Museum, I’m starting to feel the spirit of Korea because I was about to discover its history. The museum was really interesting because its architecture (internally) is well-designed and big enough to accommodate large number of people, yet still spacious inside. The artifacts, antiques, and dioramas were really cool and well-organized. After our museum tour, we went to Gyeongbok Palace, the main and largest palace of the five grand palaces, at around 2:00 pm. We had a chance to see the place where the emperors of Joseon Dynasty lived before. The place has a vast area, and the landscape was really beautiful, and we took the opportunity of the nice background to take pictures. Even the photographer, Ellie, took our photos as we pose for her. That was hilarious!

NAMSAN HANOK VILLAGE, NAMSAN SEOUL TOWER, with TEDDY BEAR MUSEUM (3:20 pm)

Before we can ride the cable car going to N Seoul Tower, we visited Namsan Hanok Village first. It has a nice ambiance—very laid-back and very traditional. It has a great environment because it is also incorporated to nature—a pond (though frozen), lots of trees and plants too. It is actually a traditional park, where you can see Korean people hanging out here, children playing, and couples dating. Instead of doing a walking tour around the place, we sat by at the mini, temple-like structure and rested for some minutes because we were so tired (our feet aching as well). The place rejuvenated our senses after resting, making us more energetic for our next destination, N Seoul Tower via cable car. We went to this tall building and walked up our way to the cable car port. I was really excited because it is my first time riding a cable car. When I got inside the cable car, it was really crowded. As we ascended to N Seoul Tower, the view became spectacular! The city of Seoul could be seen. When we got there, unfortunately, my camera’s battery was discharged (Tsk!). We first went to the Teddy Bear Museum and all I could see was C-U-T-E-N-E-S-S. There were lots of bears (big and small), from traditional lifestyle to renaissance masterpieces. It was really amusing. After that, we got up via the elevator to the topmost level of the tower, where the whole city of Seoul could be viewed 360 degrees from above. We had our picture taken and printed it as a souvenir, in which I paid 10,000 won (just then I realized how impractical it was. Hehe!). Before boarding the bus, we went to check out the famous Love Padlocks, where there are millions of padlocks locked in the fences/railings. It was really romantic for people locking their names in it and throwing the key because they believe that it will be together, forever. When we got in the bus, most of our classmates were still in the place without noticing that we are running out of time! Because of that, some people were dismayed of our delayed departure from Namsan Tower. After that, around 7:00 pm, we arrived to a local restaurant to eat dinner—Korean barbeque!!!

TRADITIONAL MISO SHOW in CHONGDONG THEATRE (8:00 pm)

Before checking in to our hotel, there is still one last activity in the itinerary for the day, the traditional performance of the “Miso” show in Chongdong Theater. I can say that the show was really good. It’s very entertaining and cultural. The leading lady was really suitable for her role—beautiful and smiley—because as the title would suggest “Miso” meaning “Beautiful Smile.” The actors and actresses were full of expression as they act in stage. The singer who sang traditional Korean songs was weird to hear at first, but gave me goose bumps because she sang it so well, with feelings. The sword dance reminded me of a Korean TV series, Hwang Jini (shown in GMA7). The performance was too long (I guess?) which makes me sleepy at some point in time during the show, but overall, I can say that it was marvelous, it was outstanding!

HOTEL CHECK-IN @ LA MIR (Around 9:45 pm)

We were so beat up during the day and we were actually craving for a good night rest. Time for check-in! (YAY!) The hotel was not that grand and enormous, but for a 3-star hotel, it is definitely worth your money because it is actually comparable to 4-star hotels here in the Philippines, only smaller. All of us were situated in the 8th floor, and my roommate and I were assigned to Room 817 (Now I'm starting to miss that room). The room was really nice. There's a TV, plasma to be exact (too bad CNN was the only English channel available); a bathroom with bath tub; 2 beds--one queen size, and a twin; no sink, and fridge was not working (but who cares, opening the window is like an automatic fridge! LOL!); carpeted floor; and ventilation and water is modulated well. During the night, I didn't sleep right away, but rather I took a bath in the tub. Refreshing! And before going to bed, I made sure to charge my cell phone and my camera for tomorrow's activity. (^_^)d

Images can be found at:
http://kaaru20.multiply.com/photos/album/47/Trip_to_Seoul_South_Korea_Day_1