Yesterday was my first day here in Seoul, and needless to say, it was spent shopping. There’s a reason why I picked a hostel 15 minutes away from Myeondong.
Myeondong is one of the main shopping districts here, and is known for being the home to many cosmetic brands. However, I think this is a bit misleading, as most of the shops are actually the same. There’s something like six Etude House stores, four Missha’s, two Holika Holikas, etc. On a side note, if you count the many drugstores specializing in cosmetics that sell lesser known brands, then yes, you could easily say Myeondong is home to an astounding number of skincare and makeup brands.
The area is actually quite large, and took me about five hours to walk though it all. That doesn’t count me getting lost trying to find my way out either. Myeondong, or probably just Seoul in general, is full of smaller side streets, making the area a tad bit confusing to navigate without a map. Not only that, but the fact that there are so many repeated store fronts, means I can’t navigate well by landmarks. How many times did I pass by Etude House again?
Many of the cosmetic shops also offer an array of samples simply for walking in, mostly in the form of sheet masks or cotton pads. If you actually buy something, you can usually look forward to better goodies, including samples of the brand’s newest BB cream, their best selling products, cleansers, or makeup. Needless to say, I have an armful of cotton pads. And here I made my mother go to Costco so that I could bring some here with me. Sorry. As for purchases, I tried to only buy what I actually needed. It didn’t work out so well. I came back to the hostel with a new eye liner, eye primer (I did need those, just to let you know), as well as a snail eye mask and a pack brush.
So, for those of you unfamiliar with those last two products, I’ll give a brief explanation. The snail eye pack is basically two gel sheets in the shape of a crescent moon, soaked in, you guessed it, snail mucus. Adding snail mucus to skincare (as well as BB creams), is very popular here. The mucus is said to help whiten and repair skin structure. I’m just hoping it helps with the dark circles under my eyes leftover from last week’s severe lack of sleep. The pack brush is basically a paint brush used to apply face masks (or packs) here. Korean skincare is very hygienic, so the brush is meant to help prevent cross contamination when you scoop out the mask to apply on your face (this way you don’t need to use your fingers). Most creams that come in a jar also include a little spoon to scoop everything out for hygienic purposes.
Myeondong not only has a large selection of cosmetics to choose from, but also many clothing stores with varying prices and styles. Most were quite trendy and I found a bag I adore (although I’m gonna hold off on buying it until I shop around a bit more). I did, however, buy an asymmetrical skirt. One of those ones you can find at Zara for some ungodly amount of money. They seem to be quite popular here, and you can find them for a range of prices. The more expensive ones are obviously better quality and often feature pleats and more layering. I decided to be cheap and found a very simple one for 12,000 won, a little less than $12 Canadian. It’s not fancy and the quality isn’t couture, but it was cheap and I wanted one. Besides, I can’t usually be bothered to spend money on trendier items I may only wear for a short amount of time. I might shell out for a nicer one later, but this will work for now.
Moving on to the hostel. Warning: this won’t be nearly as interesting compared to reading about snails. The hostel is situated between Myeondong and Namdaemun Market, Seoul’s largest traditional market. It’s also located about halfway up a hill, which is nearly as steep as Calgary’s Home Road at some points. Trying to locate it was also a bit difficult, as there’s a fork in the road, one of which leads to flatter ground and one that continues uphill. I chose to take the flatter route at first, as continuing uphill with a 40 pound suitcase wasn’t an appealing thought. The hostel is actually on the uphill part of the fork, so my attempt at taking a more leisurely walk was futile. I had to back track and continue on up. Ugh. At least now I don’t have luggage to carry up. And when I leave, it shall all be downhill!
The residents here are very friendly, including the owners. We usually go off on our own for the day, and when everyone gets back, we all talk about what we did until one in the morning, so I’m quite enjoying my stay here. =]