Thursday, February 27, 2014

Korean Magic Straight Perm

I'm making my hair even more Korean-now it's dark and super straight. You should know that my hair is slightly curly. It's just curly enough that I can't wear it straight and it's not curly enough that I can really wear it curly (there was a brief time where it worked, but that's over now). Anyway, this brings me to the Korean Straight Perm or Korean Magic Perm. My new friend got it done and her hair looks great so I got the number of the place she went (info at the bottom). I've had my hair straightened before, so I had a general idea of what to expect. It goes something like this: they put this stinky stuff on your hair, wash it, dry it, flat iron it, put more stuff on your hair, wash it, dry it flat iron it and it's supposed to last for 3 months to a year. They flat iron it in very small sections, it took about 3 and a half hours. 

Because I am who I am, this experience didn't go off totally smoothly. My hair looks great now, but it's so scary getting hair done in a country where I don't speak the language. Where ever I go to get my hair done, the Korean hair dresser-without fail-tells me how damaged my hair is. I don't believe it's as damaged as they say. There is some amount-I've been coloring it for a long time, but it's also a little frizzy naturally. 

The place I went to for the "straight perm" is run by a husband and wife. Their baby was there too. He had his own place in the corner and his parents would play with him between haircuts. He eventually fell asleep to the soothing sound of hairdryers. 

On to my hair. After letting the phase one products sit on my hair for 20 minutes, we went to rinse it. When she rinsed it, she let out a loud, astonished-sounding gasp. Maybe it's that Koreans gasp more than Americans, maybe it's that American hair dressers have more of a poker face, I don't know, but I was terrified. At this point my head was still in the shampoo bowl and I was convinced that my hair was falling out or that she'd destroyed the color. 

She brought me back to the chair and with the lighting and the towel dried mess and the gasp, I thought the color was askew (it was not, it just looked that way to my panicked self). To muddy the waters, a patron got out google translate. They first showed me a sentence that was complete nonsense. The second translation was something like "Phase 1 was too harsh. Hair got too warm. Need clinic". You can imagine my fear now. I typed in "hospital?" and she said "no, no". I was still freaking out. Finally I got a hold of my bilingual friend, Ginny, (Thanks Ginny!!!), who translated that it was just that my hair was so damaged that they couldn't leave the stuff on for as long as they wanted so it might not come out as straight as I want. That's what all that was about.

my hair at "peak damage"
 After the drama, I still felt uneasy but I figured that there was nothing I could do about it, so I just rolled with it and watched the latest episode of El Bachelor on my ipad. (Oh Juan Pablo, you're so skeezy.) By the time we were rinsing out the second part, the baby woke up. The woman doing my hair picked him up, put him on her back and finished rinsing my hair. When she went to do the second blow dry and flat iron, the baby was fussing and she asked if I had kids. I told her I had three and she gave me the BEST COMPLIMENT EVER. Ready for it? She said "really? You just look so....so....single". All that talk about terribly damaged hair is forgiven! I offered to hold the baby and let him play on my phone. Her husband was busy with a haircut, so she put the baby on my lap while she finished my hair.


The end result, after all that dread, is lovely! I love it. At press time, it's only been a day, I'll have to wait and see how it holds up.

I'd love to go back, but the husband hairdresser told me that because my hair is so damaged I can never do anything to it ever again-no dye, no highlights, no straight perm-ever again. Was something lost in translation there? I hope so because damaging my hair is the American way.

If you want to try it for yourself, here some basic info:
Mingnon Hair 031-782-4388
Cash price was 105,000won
Take the yellow line (Bundang Line) to Miegum. Walk out of Exit 8 about 10 meters. Turn left into the Angel Mart grocery. Go to B1 and you'll find it.
The place looks like this:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Our birthdays 2014

It's birthday time around here. My birthday is on the 15th and Jim's is on the 25th, then August's is on March 1. Get ready to eat some cake! I love dessert, so I threw myself two dessert parties.
The first was at our apartment. I told people it was to celebrate both mine and Jim's birthdays, but I think I forgot about that when the actual party happened (see the picture of who's holding the cake and who's blowing out the candles). This year I turned 36, which sounds pretty good when you compare it to my Korean age, which is 37.

Cake from Paris Baguette! The tall candles represent "10" 
 Here's our party at our apartment!
Amy and Tim discussing who might win The Next Kpop Star
Thomas,  partying

Happy birthday to us

The cake
 Then on Monday, I had my party at Seoul Campus. It's not that the two campus' don't like each other, it's that our apartment isn't big enough for a huge blow out. So rather than one huge party, I had two manageable parties. Katie got me this present:
 These are cookies you break up with a mallet...Keep reading. I'll explain it later.
Look at this! Katie decorated for my party! And Jeff jumped out (solo) and yelled "surprise!" It was a surprise because no one else was there yet.

birthday selfie
 YoonHee got me a Pororo cake! Pororo is a popular cartoon character here. August ate part of this Pororo's hat, but then spit it out and put Pororo back on the cake. Sugar/fondant Pororo doesn't taste great. Lucky for us, the rest of the cake did taste good.

 PAR-TAY

On to Katie's gift: the SCHNEEBALLEN. Schneeballen is awesome. You start with a big cookie ball. It's like a waffle cone ball, if you will. This one was covered in chocolate. In the package I got, there were 3 types: chocolate with nuts, chocolate with vanilla frosting and chocolate with coconut flakes.

 You take the Schneeballen you want (tonight I wanted the coconut one) and put it in the provided bag.

At the Schneeballen cafe, wooden mallets are provided. Here, we used our little hammer from Ikea.
 Smash it.
 When you're done, there are bite size chocolate, coconut covered pieces. Delicious!
So far 36 (Korean age 37) is looking good.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Shopping in Namdaemun

This weekend was Lunar New Year, which is one of the biggest holidays in Korea. New Year's day was Friday, and we thought somethings would be open again by Saturday, so on Saturday Amy and I went to get some things at the Dongdaemun fabric market. It was so easy getting there on a holiday weekend-no traffic at all! Although I think there was no traffic because everyone else knew that Dongdaemun was closed. We were disappointed, but we had been talking that neither of us had been to Namdaemun, and Namdaemun is just down the street from Dongdeamun. We've heard there's tons of cheap shopping. So we went there instead.

To be fair, it's possible that more is open on a regular weekend. When we got there, shops were open and the tourist information people were out, so I think we got a pretty good picture of what Namdaemun has to offer, which is not much. I found it overpriced and very little variety. Lots of furs, wallets and kitchen things. No one would bargain with me and when, for example, the wallets I was looking for were too expensive and I asked if they had any wallets for 15,000won I was shooed out of the store.
Overall, Namdaemun gets a big thumbs down from me.

Korean food

Namdaemun
Kitchen store

What???

Seoul tower is right there!
Overall, I say skip it. Maybe I didn't get the full experience because it was a holiday weekend, but...as proved in El Bachelor, Myeongdong is better. Speaking of El Bachelor, Korea is not going to pass up this opportunity-you can get your own "Bachelor Inspired Tour" of Seoul!