Saturday, January 2, 2016

Korea Day 5: DMZ tour!

Day 5 was reserved for our DMZ tour! Previously, I went on the 3rd tunnel DMZ tour, purely because the Panmunjeom (aka Joint Security Area) was fully booked. Made it a mission to get there this time round, and we did!

Before we left for Korea, we went to Korea Plaza to get some coupon booklets. One of the coupons available was a discounted price for DMZ tour with JoongAng Express Tour and we booked them while in SG. DMZ Panmunjeom tours must be booked early because it is very popular. The tour was supposed to be 70,000+won but because of the coupon, it went down to 63,000won.

We head down to JoongAng early in the morning. It's located near MyeongDong.

Our first stop: War Memorial of Korea
All the names of the soldiers who fought for S.Korea during the Korean War.
We were too busy learning about the history to take photos.
Our lunch, which was included in the tour.

We were at Imjingak Village. It is the furthest north point in South Korea that South Koreans can go freely. After this point, you must be granted permission to go any further north.
The railway joining North Korea to South Korea.
The tour was accompanied by a South Korean soldier and they are very strict with their photography rules.  You can only take photos when they tell you to do so.

The Military Demarcation Line (MDL). This is the line separating North and South Korea.
Went over to the North Korean side for a couple of minutes to take this photo! They were really strict with the timing you spent in the rooms. They are in this modified taekwando stance to intimidate the North Korean soldiers.
We were told past incidents in the JSA, how people tried to defect from the North, and a couple of other stories including the Axe Murder Incident, as well as the Soviet Defector incident. 
The Bridge of No Return. It was used for prisoner exchanges at the end of the Korean War in 1953. The POWs were given a final ultimatum - remain in the country or cross the bridge to return to their homeland. Once they choose to cross the bridge, they would never be allowed to return, hence the name.

This was the last photo we could take.

After the tour, we went back to Ewha for a walk!
I love their long escalators :D
Went for dinner at some random shop cos we were craving for budae jjigae! We walked down to Sinchon.
The weather was gloomy the whole day..
At my favourite kimbap chain store for some kimbap ❤︎❤︎
The huge church at Sinchon. The very useful landmark for directions!

Even though it was raining, we went back to Homilbat for bingsu hehe.

Day 6 coming soon!

Friday, January 1, 2016

A walk down the Wedding Street

Went down to Tanjong Pagar with Gena and Mich yesterday to know more about wedding AD packages. I know it's still early, but since we are planning to have our ROM next year, no harm looking around to see if I can get a ROM + AD package.

Been to a couple of places that I've shortlisted.

1. White Link
Very small, since their warehouse is at Kaki Bukit. Think the sales consultant did not take me seriously cos A wasn't with me, and my AD is in 2018. She was rather rude, talking down to me, and ignoring Gena and Mich. The only time she had eye contact with them was when she told me I can recommend friends who are getting married soon, and I said these 2 here will be next. She discouraged me from walking down the lane, telling me that the boutiques are very small like hers, and there's no point looking through. She boasted about having over 500 gowns at their main store. She did not let me take notes of what's included in the AD package too.

2. La Belle

The more atas boutique. A graphic designer attended to me. He showed me their gowns on the ipad and understood what I was looking for. He quoted me separate package for ROM and AD. I think it's because 2018 is still early, he didn’t tell me the AD package, and merely just told me that it's about 3k+. I was with two girls and he didn’t seem eager to help me so I just left.

3. Cang Ai.
Given the not-so-good experience in the first two boutiques, I did not expect anything. They got us drinks, and the coordinator started by showing us their gowns, and the background of the company on the computer. She then brought me to see their actual gowns, and actually let me try! I tried a total of 5 gowns, and that's because I'm too tired to try other gowns already. She was great, so attentive to every little detail and helped me in trying the gowns. She helped me to figure out what kind of neckline and gown cutting suits me. We only talked about the package details when we went back down. She also showed me photos of brides, before and after their make-up, to validate the standards of their MUA. As I could not decide without A, she allowed me to put a $100 deposit for the promo price. I told her I'll think about it before deciding. She encouraged me to go check out other stores to see if there's anything I like. No hard-sell, not pushy, did not ask me what boutiques I've already visited. I really like her service.

(Update May 2017: Mia has since left and Xiao Ting took over from her. Not as good as Mia, but still pretty decent as well)

4. Digio
The coordinator brought out a couple of photo albums to show their range of gowns. She introduced me to their gowns on the first level. So 1st/2nd level: AD WG/EG gowns. 3rd: suits 4th: outdoor gowns for pre-wed.

Tried like 7 gowns. They still asked me if i wanna try more I'm like too tired alr lol. They have more WG than EG. The package was pretty standard. Promo was until 3 Jan. They were throwing in free gifts = wedding heels from Desiree and a $200 discount.

(A joined us when we were talking about the package)

Then another older lady came and she was very pushy, hard-sell. She keep asking me to lock down the price cos very good deal. She asked how many bridesmaid I’m going to have, what colour palate for their dresses. I said not sure, cos still it is 2 years away. She said they can throw in 5 convertible dresses for the bridesmaid, while stocks last. Even after knowing our pre-wed will be taken in Korea, she was very pushy and kept asking us to take their pre-wed package to take photos in SG as well.

5. Rico
I asked about Rico, and Digio's coordinator brought me over. We can see that the gown designs are different. Rico has more lace. Tried like 2 gowns for A since he never see before. I like Digio gowns more than Rico's.

Most bridal boutiques do not allow us to take photos. I guess because we are still not confirmed customers afterall. The girls were raving about Cang Ai during our dinner after, and we decided to go back to put down our $100 deposit! Managed to negotiate for some freebies and she was kind enough to give. Our next appointment would be in mid-Feb. Looking forward to showing A some of the gowns they have!