Come with me trekking through the enticing, bustling and wonderful surprises of China and Korea! The places we went to on this trip were Shanghai, Hangzhou and Seoul, the lands of my ancestors (my great grandfather). With my girlfriend and I we walked (a lot) on this trip, as there was so much to do, so much to see and so much to take in! From exquisite food, relax moments to incredible fashion, we simply became immersed in the culture!
Outside of our exploring, we were also lucky enough to be invited to the preview of Art Basel. In particular, I was really impressed with the work of Virgil Abloh. You may have heard of him thanks to his creative collaborations over the years with Kanye West. He’s a very talented designer and has his own Milan-based fashion label, Off-White, and also serves as the Artistic Director for Louis Vuitton.
I love journeying to other countries to get a deeper understanding of fashion around the world. It’s fascinating to see the various tastes and to be able to draw new inspiration for my line along the way. Both China and South Korea are known for their expressive, feminine style, that reflects a sense of individuality that I really appreciate. So, I of course spent a lot of time browsing the local markets and boutiques. I came back with several high-quality pieces that I know I’ll cherish as closet -staples for years to come. Based off of this trip, I’d say some future trends to watch for include ruffled tops, excessive hair accessories and dress layering.
There were HUNDREDS of small spas and cosmetic and beauty-focused stores throughout China and South Korea. The quality of the services and products were great, and the prices were super reasonable as well. In fact, we had a massage or some form of treatment nearly every day. Talk about living the life! We received clay masks, skin tightening laser therapy and even had our ear canals cleaned, which is quite traditional there. Rather than visiting commercial clinics we decided to go where only the locals go. It was often very hard to find a translator, but I was so satisfied with the results and can’t wait to someday go back! Here are a few specific places in Seoul that I loved:
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
The countries of China and Korea are both full of food enthusiasts. It’s very much embedded into the culture and who they are as people.
I was particularly delighted by the food in Shanghai, as there were several vegetarian dishes for me to choose from- many with quite a bit of spice to them! My favorite restaurants included Dadong, for traditional Chinese food, and TaiHe Dian, for hot pot. I love the hot pot concept and think it’s so healthy and fun, which led us to staying at our table for three hours one night! A drink to look out for here is large glass of Prosecco over a scoop of ice cream. You’ll see many of the locals enjoying this aperitif outside during the afternoon.
Being a vegetarian, I struggled a bit more in Seoul, as Korean barbeque is the specialty. Gogi-jips, which literally means ‘meat house’, are on nearly every corner! Nevertheless, we definitely enjoyed some delicious food, often in small restaurants that didn’t have English menus. Some of my favorites included Mingles, Crab Soy and Akira Black in the Four Seasons hotel, which was great for traditional Japanese cuisine. A dish to look out for in Korea is Matcha anything and everything.
WHERE TO STAY
The Park Hyatt in Shanghai was super cute and sophisticated, with arguably one of the best rooftops and locations in the city. The Four Seasons in Seoul was also amazing, full of vibrant energy and with a renowned bar, Charles H, that’s been listed as one of the top 50 in the country. If I were to go again, I would gladly book another room there!
Overall, I was very impressed by each of the cities we visited. They were clean, had plenty to offer and the people were polite and welcoming. We were able to learn a lot about the ancient beauty of the lands and the cultures, as well as see how the cities have evolved and are influencing other parts of the world today. So, if you’ve ever found yourself contemplating the idea of a visit to the far east, I’d give two big thumbs up.
HOW TO KEEP BALANCE WHILE TRAVELING
As with many vacations to new destinations, during this trip we were constantly on the go, trying to zoom through our to-do and to-see lists. I made it a point to stay well-rested, which allowed us to wake up early and take advantage of each and every single day. I also made time for exercise, whether that meant going for a run through the streets, visiting a gym or scheduling a session with a local trainer (a fun way to learn new techniques). Finally, when it comes to eating, I indulged from time to time but never lost sight of my health goals. It’s all about balance! When traveling, I typically eat a big, nutritious breakfast each morning and fast until dinner, which leaves more time for exploring!
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I’ve decided to start organising wellness retreats with one of the most important people in my life; my mom.
I know what you’re going to say… isn’t launching a yoga retreat WHILE running a full-time fashion business going to be a lot of hard work?!