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Nagwon/Nakwon Music Arcade in Seoul, South Korea (낙원 악기상가)

I’m now working on a documentation project on traditional markets in Africa, Asia and Europe in partnership with GoUNESCO, a UNESCO New Delhi initiative to “help promote awareness of and provide tools for laypersons to engage with heritage.” For the next 12 months I’ll be featuring markets in these regions, with a brief guide on the “must-knows” when visiting. The nitty-gritty socio-cultural details will be featured on a future publication. Join me as we tour around bazaars of the world! 🙂

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The Nagwon Music Arcade. Since all signs are written in Korean, look for the Standard Chartered Bank across the subway. The arcade starts on the second floor of this building.

Name of market: Nagwon/Nakwon Music Arcade (낙원 악기상가)

Address: 110-707 428, Samil-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Operating times: Monday – Saturday (closed on Sundays), 9 AM – 8 PM

How to get there: via subway, Jongno-3-ga Station (Line 1, 3, 5, Exit 5, to your right). It starts on the second floor of Standard Chartered Bank.

Fast Facts:

  • This is the ultimate go-to for music enthusiasts in South Korea. The arcade has everything: from Spanish guitars, baby pianos, to pink guitars customizable with your own name.
  • As the arcade is mostly catered for Koreans, the signages are written in Korean as well. Just ask around where “Nagwon Music Arcade” is and locals will be more than helpful to assist you. Tip: It’s on the second floor of “Standard Chartered Bank” just across Exit 5 of Jongno 3 (sam)-ga station.
  • Shop owners here know their stuff well as they are serious musicians themselves. You will be safe from vague selling points typical with general music stores.

Visitor Tips:

  • It would be useful to learn basic Hangeul (Korean script) and Korean when visiting this market because almost all signs are written in Hangeul. You can check out Talk to Me in Korean, hands down the best resource for Korean language learning!
  • South Korea now has an information hotline for tourists, operating 24/7. You can call the office at 1330 (when calling within Korea), or +82 1330 (when calling from outside Korea). Four languages are currently supported: English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut ❤

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Tongin Market in Seoul, South Korea (통인 시장)

I’m now working on a documentation project on traditional markets in Africa, Asia and Europe in partnership with GoUNESCO, a UNESCO New Delhi initiative to “help promote awareness of and provide tools for laypersons to engage with heritage.” For the next 12 months I’ll be featuring markets in these regions, with a brief guide on the “must-knows” when visiting. The nitty-gritty socio-cultural details will be featured on a future publication. Join me as we tour around bazaars of the world! 🙂

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Tongin Market, just a few minutes away from Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Name of market: Tongin Market (통인 시장)

Address: 18, Jahamun-ro 15-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Operating days and times: All 7 days of the week, 8:30 AM – 6 PM. Except for: the third Sunday of each month (for stalls), and Mondays (Dosirak Café).

How to get there: via subway, Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3, Exit 2). A few blocks after Geumcheongyo Market.

Market map: Download here. Provided for free by South Korea’s Tourism Office.

Fast Facts:

  • The market is famous for its dosirak (bento-like) packed lunches, where you get to curate your own meal set. This is a unique concept, far off from the pre-prepared dosirak lunches usually bought in stores.
  • Tongin Market is not only a go-to for fresh produce. It is also a popular meeting place for the elderly, where a big pagoda stands outside the main entrance where 할머니 (halmeoni, “grandmother”) and 할아버지 (harabeoji, “grandfather”) gather to play chess, eat snacks, and catch up.
  • The market has a very local feel, situated quite far from popular tourist areas and the subway.

Visitor Tips:

  • It would be useful to learn basic Hangeul (Korean script) and Korean when visiting this market because almost all signs are written in Hangeul. You can check out Talk to Me in Korean, hands down the best resource for Korean language learning!
  • South Korea now has an information hotline for tourists, operating 24/7. You can call the office at 1330 (when calling within Korea), or +82 1330 (when calling from outside Korea). Four languages are currently supported: English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut ❤

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Geumcheongyo Market in Seoul, South Korea (금천교 시장)

I’m now working on a documentation project on traditional markets in Africa, Asia and Europe in partnership with GoUNESCO, a UNESCO New Delhi initiative to “help promote awareness of and provide tools for laypersons to engage with heritage.” For the next 12 months I’ll be featuring markets in these regions, with a brief guide on the “must-knows” when visiting. The nitty-gritty socio-cultural details will be featured on a future publication. Join me as we tour around bazaars of the world! 🙂

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Geumcheongyo Market, famous for its samgyetang (chicken soup)

Name of market: Geumcheongyo Market (금천교 시장)

Address: Google Map

Operating days and times: All 7 days of the week. 8:30 AM – 6 PM

How to get there: via subway, Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit 2, first left.

Fast Facts:

  • Near the famous Gwanghwamun area, Geumcheongyo Market is a must-see for Korean traditional and street food enthusiasts. It’s important to note that although it’s locally called “Geumcheongyo Market,” the entrance arc in fact says, “Sejong Maeul Imsig Munhwa Goli (세종마을 음식문화 거리).” Don’t get lost!
  • There are so many local shops to choose from but the area is famous for its samgyetang (chicken soup), a highly sought-after Korean dish made with ginseng and many other spices. It can be more expensive than other Korean soup dishes, but it offers many health benefits that it’s usually put on menus as a food for gongang (건강)/ good health.
  • The market gives a small community feel, which caters largely to locals.

Visitor Tips:

  • It would be useful to learn basic Hangeul (Korean script) and Korean when visiting this market because almost all signs are written in Hangeul. You can check out Talk to Me in Korean, hands down the best resource for Korean language learning!
  • South Korea now has an information hotline for tourists, operating 24/7. You can call the office at 1330 (when calling within Korea), or +82 1330 (when calling from outside Korea). Four languages are currently supported: English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut ❤

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Gwangjang/ Kwangjang Market in Seoul, South Korea (광장 시장)

I’m now working on a documentation project on traditional markets in Africa, Asia and Europe in partnership with GoUNESCO, a UNESCO New Delhi initiative to “help promote awareness of and provide tools for laypersons to engage with heritage.” For the next 12 months I’ll be featuring markets in these regions, with a brief guide on the “must-knows” when visiting. The nitty-gritty socio-cultural details will be featured on a future publication. Join me as we tour around bazaars of the world! 🙂

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The main entrance of Kwangjang/ Gwangjang Market

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One of the many entrances to Kwangjang/ Gwangjang Market

Name of market: K/Gwangjang Market; K/Gwangjang Sijang (광장 시장)

Address: 88 Changgyeonggung-ro Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Operating days and times: All 7 days of the week. 8:30 AM – 6 PM (shops); 8:30 AM – 12 MN (food stalls)

How to get there: via subway, Jongno-5-Ga Station (Line 1, Exit 8)

Website: http://www.kwangjangmarket.co.kr (in Korean only)

Fast Facts:

  • Korea’s first permanent market
  • Over 100 years old; founded in 1905
  • Coincides with the establishment of the Gwangjang Corporation in 1905
  • Famous for vintage clothing, home furnishings, street food, and traditional fresh and packaged foods

Visitor Tips: 

  • Wear comfortable shoes. The market is huge and it can take 10 minutes to get from the entrance to the street food area smacked in the middle of the market.
  • There are market maps plastered outside every gate, right beside subway exits. They can help tremendously especially when you’re looking for specific items, or a specific shop.
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Market guide maps written in Korean and English posted outside every gate, right beside subway exits.

  • South Korea now has an information hotline for tourists, operating 24/7. You can call the office at 1330 (when calling within Korea), or +82 1330 (when calling from outside Korea). Four languages are currently supported: English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut❤

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Biggest Travel Don’ts Around the World

You’ve set up your itinerary, booked your flights and hotels, packed your luggage– what else have you missed?

Before leaving, make sure you read up on the general customs of your destination so you do not end up upsetting people without your intention. Make people feel you take their values and traditions seriously, as much as you would want others treat yours as well!

Love Home Swap has prepared this infographic and my biggest thanks to them for letting me repost it 🙂

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Note: Since I am reposting this pictograph, I used rel=”canonical to properly attribute the work. This means, blog traffic goes to the original source and not to Anthroonfoot. I encourage you to use this when reposting someone else’s online work.

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From Barely Surviving to Finally Enjoying Winter

As featured on Trendwave 🙂

I’m super thankful to be living in the Philippines where I get to enjoy summer all year round. While I take it for granted sometimes when it gets really humid, I think of the blessings of not having to endure winter which for me is one of the most difficult to deal with of all four seasons.

I never liked winter but sometimes I have to travel on this season. Packing for travel can be enjoyable because I can be that lazy ass and jump in with all my layers; or sometimes when I’m on a date (hey, I’ve got to flaunt it sometimes!) I can choose to be creative with my layers. However, the joy of winter has always ended after that one picture-perfect selfie with a snow-covered surrounding upon airport arrival. I’ve always tried to be positive but when it’s just so cold and you feel like your layers are not enough, it can be difficult to think so clearly.

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How is it possible for my brother to be so happy in the middle of winter?

And so I made a resolve to make winter a more enjoyable time for me. I’ve tried all sorts of strategies to better equip myself, from drinking dairy and alcohol, to switching jackets, to making my own heat packs.

Here I’d like to share some tricks that worked for me based on my experiences:

  • Never use cotton. Using cotton traps the coldness under your clothes so it is the worst material to use for winter. Use synthetic fiber, wool, fleece or real leather for your clothes, pants, jackets, coats, gloves, scarves, bonnets/hats and socks. These materials can be more expensive but are definitely more effective in guarding you against the unpredictability of the season.
  • Use thermal wear. I swear by Uniqlo’s Heattech Thermal Wear. It’s very light and really helps keep me warm. When it gets really bad (like South Korea’s -25 degrees Celsius back in February 2012), I used two layers of thermal wear under one jacket and one coat.
  • Exercise and enjoy the sun. It’s so nice to sleep in during winter but oversleeping excessively can obviously be detrimental to one’s health. Make it a point to do even light walking and to catch up while the sun is up. Exercising in the gym is also okay when you really can’t tolerate the weather, however being exposed to the sun adds up to the positivity of your overall well-being.
  • Stick with your schedule. Sticking with your routine helps you get through winter which can be a bit too dragging many times. If you know you have to get up by 6 AM, go to work by 8 AM, work until 5 PM, cook by 6 PM, then sleep by 11 PM– just do it! Not only does your routine help with your productivity, it also gives you a sense of fulfilment that yes, you get through your every day no matter how challenging the weather can be.
  • Listen to your body. As always, your body knows more than you think you know. Winter can be that time of the year when you crave for warm chocolate drinks, warm soups, more hot coffees, or foods that you never really like on a normal working day. You also feel you need more sleep so you end up sleeping earlier. Not giving in will lead you to forcing yourself to stay awake, eating more junk, then leaving you still unsatisfied.

Most of all, enjoy your every day and be thankful. Don’t get into the “winter depression myth” because it will remain a myth if you choose to. Winter is a cycle of life and if you choose to enjoy the perks it brings, you will surprise yourself with all the changes once the dawn of a new beginning– spring– finally arrives.

Happy winter! 🙂

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South Korea

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To get the most of your visit to Korea, try to learn the basics of reading and writing Hangeul

On a roving ice cream and juice bar store:

1. If you’re wearing pink, you get 100 won discount
2. If you don’t have a smartphone, you get 100 won discount
3. If you’re male and you’re wearing leggings, you get 500 won discount
4. For Tiffany, Goohara, Yui and Seo Inyoung, you get 50% discount
5. For IU and Hyeon-a, everything’s free… ’cause you’re my religion.

Some Tips on Visiting South Korea:

  • For Philippine passport holders, please do not forget to apply for your visa! The process is pretty straightforward and it takes a maximum of 7 working days before release. For more info on the application process, please check this previous post.
  • Winter in South Korea can be particularly harsh. It’s a good time to visit for the experience, but be sure not to underestimate the numbers. It may show up as -5% on your weather charts, but the feel can go to as low as -25%! I swear by the Weather Underground site (and app) for it also gives me information on the “feel.”
  • It’s best to stay at the Hongdae area (Hongik University) for it gives you lots of food, accommodation and sightseeing options across a wide range of budgets. Its location is central to almost everything you want to see in Seoul. My favorite place is 88 Hostel for its location, cleanliness, amenities, and friendly vibe. You can directly contact Minji or Violet at <88hostelseoul@gmail.com> for your reservations. Please let them know I’ve referred you so you get a discount 🙂
  • Buses, subways and trains are very convenient to use. No need to book for taxis. You can purchase the T-Money card at any convenience store which saves you up the hassle of having to buy tickets for every leg of the journey. Apart from the card’s convenience, every trip also ends up being cheaper.
  • If you’ve got time, I highly recommend a visit to Tongyeong, a southern province just 30 minutes away from Busan. I come here not really for Tongyeong, but for Slobbie Guesthouse — my favorite getaway in the world! I love every pixel of this place and I always feel like I never want to leave every time I visit.
  • Hiking is the unofficial national hobby here. Landmarks such as museums and halls are usually connected to hiking trails. Trails are usually paved and very safe to use. I highly recommend that you try it!
  • As with any country in the world: eat (then walk), pray and love!

Get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut ❤