Daiso

Aren’t I just on a roll with these posts **pats self on back.** Well, I’ll let you into a little secret – I’ve actually been in London since my post about going to the cinema and have pre-written and scheduled several posts to publish on set dates. I love discovering new things about WordPress that make it easier for me to see this blogging thing through.

Anyway, I actually can’t believe that I have been in Korea for 22 months and I still haven’t told you about the little slice of heaven that is Daiso. I think that it might have been to do with the fact that I believed my infatuation with the store was overrated, but time has led me to understand that everyone adores this chain of shops as much as I do, and it isn’t in fact unreasonable for me to include it on my ‘things to do in Songdo’ list when we have guests.

Daiso is actually a Japanese Store and I understand that there are branches in a few different Australasian countries – so far I’ve spied (and shopped in) those in Korea and Australia and the best way I can describe it is a Pound/Dollar store, but better. It’s a one stop shop for pretty much everything – whenever I’m in doubt as to where I can get something, the first place I will check is Daiso. Sitting at my dining table and looking around the apartment, I can see cookware, cleaning products, whiteboards, a banana stand, canvas bags… and the list goes on, that I’ve found there. It actually is a great place when setting up your home in Songdo to find all those little bits and pieces that you didn’t think to include in your container but suddenly just cannot live without.

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When I decided I was going to do a spot of crafting and make a tea light holder, everything (except the glue – this was before I found the stationery store) came from Daiso.

 

I also love to get weird and wonderful little Korean gifts for friends and family from here. Well, I say I like to get, we’ve sort of gifted everyone to the max already but on that first trip to London last year, it was where I bought things like Korean sheet-masks, creams, spoons (yes, you read right – these are my favourite things from Daiso) and other random things.

One more great thing (haven’t I sold the store enough already?) about the store is the price. Most things are between 1,000 and 5,000KRW, although I have once or twice paid up to 10,000 KRW for something I really really really needed. (Probably didn’t need at all. But, you know, Daiso.) I usually pop in for one or two things and leave having bought a new reusable bag that I have filled and still only spent about 25,000KRW. It’s one of my shopping habits that doesn’t give Raj a minor heart attack every time he gets the text about what I’ve just spent, so win-win really.

A few weeks ago, I was perturbed to find that my regular Daiso was closed. Now, it isn’t uncommon for stores and restaurants here to shut up shop quite suddenly and be replaced by something equally wonderful or even more so. But the thing is, I can’t think of anything that I would prefer to do than stroll through Daiso but lo and behold, what returned was an EVEN BIGGER (and therefore better) Daiso. Happy Ish. We can stay in Songdo.

Right, so where can you find this wonder-place. My favourite store is on Sinsong-Ro but there are Daiso concessions to be found in Lotte, GS25 Supermarket and Homeplus Songdo (Technopark Station). Further standalone stores can be found at Incheon Bus Terminal Station, right by the ticket gates, and I’ve heard that the newly opened Daiso at Triple Street is one of the largest in Korea – I’m yet to go there, but I’ve told Raj that I’m expecting a Daiso / PF Chang Date Night once I’m back home… Last but not least, earlier this year, an EIGHT STOREY Daiso opened in Myeongdong in Seoul. A piece of advice – don’t go on a weekend, it is mental. The recommendation is to take the lift up to the 8th floor and then walk down the stairs checking out each floor on the way. When we went, the queue for the lift was out the door and even the 1st floor (Western ground floor) was so rammed with people perusing the wares was not possible. I did get a free fan with directions to get back there though… score?! (Ps. even the socks you can spy in the picture of the fan are impulse-Daiso-buys. I actually couldn’t exist without this place.)

Daiso Locations

So off you go and Daiso to your heart’s content. ♥

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A Danish (Scottish-Japanese) Love Party 

So it has been a quiet period on the blog because I’ve been on holiday in England and Denmark but while I have been away, a couple of independent sources have found my blog and mentioned to me that it has been useful and interesting, especially for those living in or planning to move to Songdo. Accordingly, I thought it worth noting here that if anyone has anything in particular that they would like to know about leave a comment and I’ll do my best to find out about it! Whilst a post about the oddness of being on holiday in the place I called home, where working long hours and a hectic social life were very much the norm, is certainly called for, that’s not where I want to go today.

We originally planned to go to England this Summer because we had been invited to one of Raj’s very-good-friend-from-uni’s wedding in Denmark and going to Europe without making a stop in London would not have gone down well. K is a half-Scottish-half-Japanese girl who met Danish P in Tokyo many years ago. They dotted the t’s and crossed the i’s in London (i.e. legally wed), where they live (ironically formalising their personal European Union on the very day Brexit was announced), but for the big celebration went to P’s family home in what has been regularly described as “the middle of nowhere” in Northern Denmark. Dubbed “The Danish Love Party” it was arguably the most inclusive, warm and, well, loving wedding that I have been to in recent years.

The fun in Northern Jutland began with the welcome – being a farm, there were horses and very enthusiastic family and friends of the couple. Being the awkward English Folk that we were (there were 5 in our little party) we very much stood aside until it was time for official proceedings to unfold and for the merriment to begin, but it would appear that we unwittingly formed a receiving line of sorts. 5 of us, stood on the corner of the patio and every Dane came up to us to introduce themselves by name and relation to the couple. One chap was so focused on the task of introducing himself to us that he didn’t notice the groom patiently following him down the line trying to attract his attention! This was our first clue that the Danes are a super friendly bunch but little did we know quite how much..

Now the ceremony itself was taking place in the woods so it was off with the heels and on with the flats for a little wander through actual woodlands to come to a pretty little clearing where we would wait for the Bridal Party, and what an arrival. The Bride, dressed in white-gold with a brightly coloured Kimono, arrived on the back of a tractor driven by her father-in-law, where her groom awaited looking SO happy and SO proud that you couldn’t help but be swept up in his cloud of excitement. They were preceded down the aisle by nephews and nieces and the ceremony was officiated by close friends (a couple) who prepared a service that was utterly unique to K&P.

One of the first things that they did was to acknowledge all the friends and family present, saying that it takes a community to make a marriage work and every guest was asked to affirm their commitment to the marriage we were witnessing. Clue 2 to the inclusiveness of the Danish Love Party. It’s pretty safe to say tears were flowing from the moment the Bride made her entrance, through the service, readings and group-sing-a-long too.

Following the Bridge & Groom’s tractor-departure, we all pottered back to the main house, where several hours of drinking and getting to know everyone ensued. It had the relaxed feel of summers idly spent in the park, except with a group of people who were all there for the same reason. There was none of the time sensitive rushing commonly associated with weddings (I am sure that the wedding party felt differently) and a most enjoyable afternoon was spent in the grounds of a farm in the middle of nowhere..

Then we had the reception. The reception where every bit of decoration and food was hand-made, hand-picked, home-grown and then some. Dinner was held in a marquee set next to acres of farmland and a number of Danish traditions were followed, including:

(1) When all the guests clink their cutlery on their plates, the bride and groom had to get up on their chairs and kiss

(2) When all the guests stamped their feet, the bride and groom had to crawl under the table and kiss

(3) If the bride/groom left the room (marquee) then all the men/women respectively would line up to kiss the person left in the tent (they like the kissing these folk).

(4) The Speeches. Oh the speeches. Tradition has it that anyone who wants can get up to give their words of love to the couple and without fail, I cried at EVERY SINGLE SPEECH. Not only are the Danes super-friendly, inclusive and full of love, they aren’t afraid to show it or talk about it either. We had speeches from the bride, groom, groom’s father, best man (groom’s brother) and several other friends who had stepped up to have their say. If you were in that tent, you couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the ridiculous amount of love that was causing that tent to rip open at the seams. And that is just how I felt as a guest-once-removed. The outpouring of love didn’t stop at the couple – friends and family were thanked time and again for their presence (and it’s the only time I’ve ever been furthest-travelled to a wedding!) to such an extent that I am pretty sure everyone in that wedding felt as though they had personally played a part in the union before us. Thankfully the next tradition helped to subdue tears…

(5) Songs. It’s traditional to take a well-known song and change the words to suit the couple… this was a fabulous warm up for the Karaoke to follow

In between the various speeches and songs and general fun, there were stunning sunsets and views over the field to take in. It was another world and the fact that it was still bright bright bright at 2230 was rather disorienting, not least because you couldn’t begin to explain where the day had gone!

Tradition (6) was the first dance.. as the couple danced, everyone claps and steps closer and closer to the bride and groom to enclose them in a circle and a big-bundle-type-hug on the dance floor. So amidst all the love there remains a sense of fun and togetherness always.

The evening rounded out with more drinks than could be drunk, Karaoke (to remind everyone where the couple met) dancing and a sausage-grilling-Campfire in the fields.

Raj & I had to hot foot it to another wedding in London the next day, so it was an early end for us (1am – still a respectable 12 hours spent celebrating!)but overall such a privilege to be a part of the day and easily the best wedding I’ve been to yet.