perjantai 29. huhtikuuta 2016

EXO PLANET #2 - The EXO'luXion in Malaysia ♥

Last month I flew to Kuala Lumpur for the second time but this time it was to take part in EXO's concert on Saturday 12th. It was the last stop on their tour around Asia and North America. I waited until the ticket sale started and luckily I managed to buy my ticket right away because just after I was finished I read the website crashed and most of the tickets were sold out. I chose to take a seating place because I already knew how unbearably hot it can be in KL so I wanted to definitely avoid the standing area. I got a seat from the area closest to the stage and the price wasn't that bad compared to some prices that I have seen. 

After my arrival, I went to get my ticket from the organizer's office. I could have gotten it by post but I didn't want to take a risk of not getting it. So I chose to collect it myself which almost failed. A few days before the concert I received an email that the ticket was supposed to be collected before the concert day. After contacting the organizer, I managed to make a deal that I can still collect it on Saturday. The route to the office was a bit strange (walked & used an elevator in an empty building) but after asking for help twice and receiving good info, I found it pretty easily. A few hours later I made my way to the concert place where I had to wait around although I was told I can just go in and don't have to wait because I have a seating place. For some reason it took quite a long time to get in but no worries, I was just happy to be there. It was also funny to see that I was the only Western girl there. I only saw one Western man with an Asian woman. It reminded me of INFINITE's concert in Bangkok where me and my friend were the only Western people.

Very soon the concert and of course screaming started. One of my favorite things during the concert were the English translations in the VCRs and during the members' speeches. Finally I could understand everything! I also liked the activities that the fan club had planned. They gave out different kinds of lights to people (I unfortunately didn't get one) that were supposed to be used during a certain song. They also gave out banners of which I got one. Nice job Malaysian EXO fan club! 

Unfortunately I was left with a really bad impression about the Malaysian fans. During the concert the people in the seating area kept standing which I could understand because Asian people are short and for many people it was the first concert so it was exciting but...I really hated it because while doing that they blocked other people's view. At first I didn't want to stand because being very tall I would have blocked the view of the people behind me completely (+ I'm too lazy to stand in that heat). But after getting frustrated in not seeing very well, I stood up and kept standing until a security person was ordering people to sit down. I sort of felt bad for doing that but then again I had paid for the ticket and for actually SEEING EXO live so I wasn't just going to sit and not see anything. For the rest of the concert it was constant going up and own because of the security people and fans standing in the front. At least during the VCRs everyone sat down... This was similar to what happened in EXO'luXion in Osaka but there the standing was accepted in the seating areas so everyone kept standing. I still don't know the reason but it was fine for me. In this concert I felt quite pissed off when people were standing because it wasn't prohibited. That just proved to me how selfish people can be sometimes. I hope it won't be the same if I go to a concert in Kuala Lumpur again because I really liked that everything was in English and that it was an outdoor concert with nice weather. 

EXO performed altogether 27 songs and even though the concert was quite long, I felt like it was over in 5 minutes. But at the same time I was glad because the boys didn't have to dance around the stage for the whole night. The heat and humidity was horrible so I was quite worried how they will manage and also the stage was wet due to some rain just before the concert (that was probably one of the reasons the concert started a bit late) so I was afraid someone would fell and hurt himself. Luckily nothing bad happened and the members even kept reminding many times that the fans should drink a lot of water. 

  1. Overdose (KR) 
  2. History (CH) 
  3. El Dorado (KR) 
  4. Don't Go (KR) 
  5. Playboy (KR) 
  6. Baby Don't Cry (KR) 
  7. My Answer (KR) 
  8. The Star (KR) 
  9. Exodus (KR) 
  10. Hurt (KR) 
  11. Peter Pan (KR) 
  12. XOXO (KR) 
  13. Lucky (CH) 
  14. 3.6.5 (KR) 
  15. Christmas Day (KR) 
  16. First Snow (CH) 
  17. Miracles in December (CH) 
  18. Full Moon (KR) 
  19. Machine (KR) 
  20. Drop That (KR) 
  21. Let Out the Beast (KR) 
  22. Run (KR) 
  23. Call Me Baby (KR) 
  24. Growl (CH) 
  25. Love Me Right (KR) 
  26. Sing For You (KR) 
  27. Unfair (KR) 
In addition to those there were 5 ments during which they introduced themselves and just talked to the fans. The concert also had an opening VCR and 4 others: "My Turn To Cry" (every member holds a girl's hand and does a different activity with her, for example Xiumin cooked and Baekhyun played a game. I think this was really cute and funny.), "Coffee Shop" (Starts with the members doing tricks on each other while sleeping and then they start working inside a coffee maker. This was really funny.), the next VCR showed the members dancing and introducing their powers (This one was completely different but I really liked the dance moves.) and the last one "Promise" was a video that showed EXO rehearsing for a concert and performing together. I think the last one was somehow sad so when I saw it, I started crying just like in Osaka. I was really happy I got to see the VCRs one more time because I still think they're really well done and they show different sides from EXO. 

If I exclude the behavior of fans, I would say it was a perfect evening and the concert was awesome. EXO performed really well and I got to hear a couple of songs live for the first time (Sing For You, Unfair & Miracles in December in Chinese). Some of the highlights for me were also that I got to see very well Kai & Sehun's Playboy dance and also Kai's Baby Don't Cry water dance. I wonder how they will top the Baby Don't Cry water dances during their next tour because they were just soooo good. For once I went back to the hotel with good hearing and also of course with a great mood. 

For the end here's some pictures: 

xoxo, Elina

keskiviikko 27. huhtikuuta 2016

EXO PLANET #2 - The EXO'luXion in Osaka ♥

Firstly I need to say that I don't have any pictures from the actual concerts because Japanese people are apparently REALLY strict about banning taking photos/videos before, during and after the concert. I thought the people at the Dream Concert were strict but they weren't even close! On the 1st concert day in Osaka, while sitting in my seat and waiting for the concert to start and I saw one girl taking a picture of the EMPTY stage with screens that only had the EXO'luXion concert name. Right away one of the security guards walked to her and she was forced to delete the photo while the guard watched her do that and then he gave her a lecture about taking photos etc. After that it was clear: I wouldn't even take my camera and phone out of my bag. The guards even took some of the fan signs etc away... So unfortunately I don't have any pics/videos to proof and show how amazingly perfect the concerts were. But just let me tell you about the whole experience. 

I bought a global package from SM Travel and it contained 2-day concert tickets (EXO actually performed 3 times, Fri-Sun), 3 nights in a hotel (it was a really fancy hotel and the room included breakfast), bus transportation from the hotel to the venue and back, souvenirs, a tour to EXO satellite event in a shopping mall and we had a "guide" who gave us the tickets etc and helped us with everything. The package for single room was 1,099$ (~970 EUR). It was quite expensive but because it had tickets to 2 concerts and accommodation, I decided it was worth the money. Then I just needed to buy the flight tickets, food etc. As I already said the accommodation was very nice and the other additional benefits were good and useful. The best part of the souvenir package was the official EXO'luXion concert light stick! I really wanted get that kind of light stick and on the 2nd concert day, I actually got another one from the guide who was giving 1 for each for free. 

SM Travel souvenir package:

The package also included EXO Pocky sticks. I just don't know
when I will be able to open that packet and eat them :D
The tour to the EXO satellite event was a bit disappointing although at first I didn't even know what it would be. We went to a very expensive looking shopping center that had a "room" filled with different kinds of EXO pictures, clothes etc and you could also buy official merchandise from there. My favorite part was a bunch of pictures that the members had taken themselves with a polaroid camera. I wasn't going to buy anything at first but I ended up buying 2 sets of folders for myself and 1 for my friend (now during my internship the folders have been in much use). Next to the "room" there were these boxes full of balls containing key chains with a members name on them and you had to put some coins to the box in order to get one ball. I was shocked how crazy people got with those key chains which made me decide I wouldn't participate but....because I had so many coins, I decided to try my luck. I tried it 3 times and traded one of the key chains so I could get Kai. Finally I had Kai, Baekhyun and Lay. Some people were trying to do everything they can (for example use A LOT of coins) to get one particular member. That was one of the craziest fan moment I have witnessed. During the extra time there, I hanged out with 2 girls who had also bought the global package. One of them was actually from Thailand and the other from Indonesia. I had a good time talking about K-Pop with them and I got some useful concert information from them too. During the 1st concert day I also made another friend who was from USA and really nice. I have still been in contact with her and I hope I can see her again some day, hopefully in another concert :) I was really glad to get new friends who are just as crazy about K-Pop as I am and with the help of the Indonesian girl, I also bought some merchandise from a fan for the first time. As we were walking to the venue on the 2nd day, we went to look for some fan sellers who the Indonesian girl found from Twitter. There were many people selling various merchandises of different members. I bought a package including a fan, blanket and photo cards of D.O. I also got a small gift from the seller. I really wanted to buy a Kai fan kit but everyone had sold them out already. It was funny to see how some members are more "popular" than others when it comes to fan kits. For example you could still find many people selling Chen, Xiumin and Suho merchandise but not Kai and Chanyeol.

D.O merchandise package:

Really wanted to use this fan but because the guards took some of the fan signs etc away, 
I didn't want to risk it. I'll definitely use it some other time and get one with Kai too. 

During the concerts EXO performed over 25 songs and had 5 different VCR's. They also had 4 ments which for me were unfortunately quite boring because I couldn't understand what the members were saying and everything was translated in Japanese. So I just had to be satisfied with only watching them. After being disappointed about not understanding during both concerts, I decided I would really start learning Korean. So maybe someday I could understand even without English translations. Still I enjoyed every second of the concerts and were so glad to hear some of my favorite EXO songs live for the first time. That's why it's also hard to choose the best performance/song. Every song was good and very well performed. But if I had to point out some highlights they would be Playboy + Baby Don't Cry dance performances, hearing Miracles of December live (I just love the vocals! This was one of the performances that made me cry) and experiencing a full on rave by EXO (Full Moon, Machine, Drop That, Let Out The Beast)For me the concerts were really emotional, first I felt excited and happy but then suddenly I was crying. That was something that made me think the concerts were successful. I think if fans get to experience different feelings during a concert, the band has performed very well and given their all. After the second concert, I was really hoping I could see EXO at one of their concerts in the future because I want to experience that roller coaster of feelings again.

These were dropped from the ceiling a couple of times in the concerts.

I just wish I had some pictures from the concerts even though I have them as a memory in my head. Hopefully I get to see them again somewhere where I could also take pictures & videos. If you ever have a chance to see EXO live, USE IT! I know I will as many times as possible from now on :) 

xoxo, Elina 

torstai 21. huhtikuuta 2016

2016 Dream Concert here I come!

Last year in May I went to my first Kpop concert which was Dream Concert held in Seoul. It was one of my best experiences and I have been really missing that day. Finally in the end of last month I found out that Dream Concert is going to be held again this year but this time in June! I got excited right away especially when I saw how cheap the flight tickets are during that time. Unfortunately I had to wait patiently for more news about the tickets and lineup. Later this month they confirmed the 1st lineup and that LotteJTB (a travel agency & one of the sponsors) will once again sell tickets to foreign fans. After a lot of thinking I decided to buy the concert ticket.

The concert is on Saturday 4th of June and the venue is the same as last year: the Seoul World Cup Stadium. This time I bought a VIP ticket so I should have even better seat than last year when I also had a really good seat but not with a VIP ticket. The 1st lineup includes EXO, Red Velvet, Taemin (SHINee), B1A4, VIXX, T-ara, Oh My Girl, G-Friend, Seventeen, MAMAMOO & HALO. If they continue with the same concept as previous years, there's going to be many more artists performing than just those ones. I'm hoping that BTS, GOT7, Sistar, INFINITE, Ailee, EXID, TWICE, Lee Hi and BEAST will be performing there too or at least some of them. Can't wait to hear who else is joining the lineup! 

xoxo, Elina

tiistai 19. huhtikuuta 2016

Songkran Festival

I'm happy to say that this year's Songkran festival is over! I managed to stay mostly dry and even have fun thanks to my friend. Surprisingly the only day when I got wet and I mean soaking wet was my last working day before the holiday. We celebrated Songkran also at the office and after staying dry almost the whole lunch/celebrations time, I got 3 buckets of water thrown at me. That killed my mood for the rest of the day but I didn't let it ruin my whole holiday. 

First I spend 5 days in Bangkok and then traveled to Chiang Mai for a couple of days after which I still spent a day in Bangkok. During the first weekend in Bangkok I went to see a Thai movie with a friend and eat dinner together. It was a horror movie called 11-12-13. I really liked it because the plot was kind of different to what I'm used to see. It had 3 different stories which were all somehow connected and what made the movie really interesting was that everything happened during Songkran. 

After our movie we ate in Paragon's food court and
I was really craving for meat noodle soup.
This wasn't the best one I've eaten but it was still good.
The next 2 days I went shopping for several things I needed and also for something my mum asked to buy. I was also trying to figure out what will I do on Wednesday when Songkran celebrations start in Bangkok. First I made plans with a local friend but after he wasn't willing to change our plan from water fighting to something else, we cancelled. I was really disappointed about that because I wanted to meet him but apparently he couldn't really understand and accept that not everyone likes to celebrate Songkran with water guns. It was interesting to find out that kind of side from a person who I thought wouldn't be like that. In the end I decided I would just stay at my hotel room and just relax which ended up being really nice. I had time to talk with my mum a long time and watch some good movies so it was a good day.

On Thursday I flew to Chiang Mai with my friend where we spent a couple of nights celebrating Songkran together. Our hotel was located nicely next to the night market so we went there to explore and eat on the first evening. During the next day we went to a temple on a mountain called Doi Suthep. It's my favorite places in Chiang Mai and I consider it a must see place always when I visit Chiang Mai. The scenery from the mountain is great if you're lucky. This time we weren't so lucky because there was so much haze that we couldn't see really far. The temple and the whole area are very beautiful and worth seeing. It's one of the most important and precious temples in Thailand and it's visited a lot by both locals and tourists. Every time I have been there, it has been full of people and honestly I don't wonder why. Previous times I have done some of the rituals that the locals always do because I had my brother's wife to instruct what to do. This time I was satisfied with just looking and taking pictures. For your information the entrance fee is 30 baht + 20 baht if you want to use an elevator to get to the top. That would be a really good idea if you're old, handicapped or just somehow incapable to climb up 300+ stairs. I have every time used the stairs even this time but after I got to the top, I said to my friend that this was the last time I'm doing that. I wonder if the burning sun and +40 degrees had something to do with that... There's also one other thing you should remember when visiting a temple: dress code. This is something I take seriously and during our visit I was disappointed in other tourists who were wearing really inappropriate clothing. You should cover up your knees and shoulders but still there were a lot of tourists wearing shorts and tops. I don't know if it was because they didn't know or just didn't care. At least they should know because there are signs before entering the temple. In my opinion it's really disrespectful to the locals and their religion and culture. I always make sure I'm properly dressed and if I'm not, I will rent some clothes from a shop at the temple because they usually have those. 

Dinner on the 1st evening.
After a long time, I could eat sweet & sour with chicken again.
Swet & sour chicken/pork/beef is one of my favorite Thai dishes. 

For the evening I had planned for us to go eat dinner in a riverside restaurant. We ended up eating in a restaurant where I had been during my previous visit to Chiang Mai with my family. It's called Riverside, a restaurant/bar and they offer various Western and Thai foods and drinks. It's a really nice place to watch the sunset and enjoy delicious food. 

After our dinner we went to get a massage in a place opposite to our hotel. This time I took a leg + neck/shoulders massage. The pain I had especially with my shoulders was absolutely horrible and the lady kept asking if I'm alright and if she should be more gentle but I tried to explain that it's okay and I knew that would happen. I survived the whole hour of "torture" and I was actually already thinking when could I get a massage again. Me and my friend decided we would go get a massage again this weekend in Bangkok at a place where I went with another friend last fall. I hope the pain won't be so bad then. 

On the next day it was already time to go back to Bangkok. For both of our flights we used Thai Lion Air which was new for both me and my friend. At first I was a bit worried but after I read very positive reviews about the airline, I got more trusting. It turned out to be a very good cheap airline. This time I also got to see the new terminal at Dong Mueang airport. It was really different and much better compared to the older one from where the international flights leave. Later that day I still went to get my nails done, eat dinner and see another Thai movie with my friend. This time we went to see a Thai comedy movie in MBK's cinema where I hadn't gone to before. The movie was really good and especially funny. A couple of times I didn't really get the joke because they didn't quite work in English. After an enjoyable and fun holiday, I felt sad to go back home and to work on Monday. But I'm happy my holiday went well even though I didn't use it to travel to another country. I also don't have to suffer at work for a long time until I can have a week long holiday in Seoul. I'm really excited about that! 

A drink with whipped cream FINALLY!

xoxo, Elina

maanantai 4. huhtikuuta 2016

April is here!

April and Spring are here! I don't really feel like it's spring because it feels like summer 24/7 here in Thailand. The daily +30 degrees and the almost +40 degrees that have been cherishing (torturing) us nowadays (& will continue for the next weeks) have only increased that feeling. One thing I like in Finland is the 4 seasons we have although I don't mind living somewhere that doesn't have them. For me it's quite hard to choose the best season because I like something in all of them. Summer is nice with its sunshine, green nature, warmth (if we're lucky in Finland) and well it's SUMMER so of course it's awesome. But it also brings out bugs, sometimes too much warmth (yes this has happened in Finland) and well I think that's pretty much all that is negative about summer...In autumn I love how the leaves turn color and the nature looks nice and although I need to abandon my summer clothes once again, I like that I can start using my autumn/winter clothes and shoes. But I really hate the weather most of the time! It's dark, muddy, rainy, dirty, get the point right? The more near winter comes, the worse the weather gets during autumn. When we don't have snow during winter, I hate those same things. It's really dark, dirty, cold and depressing. But if we do have snow, I really like winter. Snow makes everything better! Then it's not so dark which is a huge plus and there are several activities you can do which are not possible without snow. Snow makes the trees, bushes etc look amazing but it doesn't really ease my mind when I'm walking outside in the -30 degrees with a freezing wind and feeling that I don't have any clothes on even though I'm wearing almost everything I own. I just keep thinking it's going to be spring soon... In spring I love the feeling when I go outside in the sunshine and it feels WARM. I know there's not that much + degrees but after winter it starts to feel warm easily and soon. Sometimes it takes more time to get warm but in the mean time I ease my mind by watching how fast flowers and tree leaves start to grow. But in the beginning spring looks quite depressing and the weather can be really bad. Rain, rain and sometimes even snow even though winter should be gone already. Luckily time flies fast and suddenly it's already summer so everything is good and everyone's happy again. 

My friend sent this last weekend. It's from my hometown and it does look depressing doesn't it?
But she was happy that finally it was warm and the road was not wet anymore
so it was a good day to go running :)
During my time here I haven't really been missing seasons in Finland because I was happy to miss last fall and winter's weather (too cold and dark) and be here surrounded by warmth and sunshine. It was better here even during my exchange when it was rainy season in Thailand and it sometimes rained sooooo hard but it didn't disturb my plans and goings many times. Sometimes I just felt like my visits to the grocery store with my friend were cursed because a few times we had to wait until we go outside and get a taxi to the store and once we came from the store with a tuktuk and it was pooring rain so we (+ our bags) got a little bit wet. It really felt like a curse because we were going somewhere almost everyday but only when we were supposed to go to the store, we had problems with the rain. Back then I didn't feel like laughing but now that I think about those very annoying rainy moments, I can't help but laugh. Why do I feel like I'll get wet some day soon because it starts to rain out of nowhere...maybe I shouldn't laugh at those rain moments from last fall. 

About getting wet...During next week there's a high possibility to get wet just by walking in the street thanks to Songkran which is the New Year's festival in Thailand. To be honest I don't really like Songkran because one of the traditions is to throw water at people and have water fights. I know it can be really refreshing during the day when it's really hot but I don't like that I need to protect my phone etc with plastic bags and just pray I won't get my clothes wet and have to be with wet clothes all day everywhere. It would be okay if I go somewhere just to get wet and have fun but other times I really hope no one with a bucket of water sees me. In addition especially this year I'm really against that water throwing tradition because Thailand has a serious water problem which is harming the rice plantations and therefore many people's income etc. The government almost cancelled the whole festival (which was a good idea if you ask me) but they just reduced the amount of days it's going to be celebrated and there are some restrictions with the water and they have encouraged people all around the country to use smaller "buckets" to throw the water so more water would be saved. I know Songkran is a really important holiday for Thai people but I really hope everyone would consider the water situation and not waste so much water. Unfortunately there's one more really negative side about this holiday. Most of the car/motorcycle accidents happen during Songkran and it has been a really high number of deaths and injuries in previous years. I once saw a video where they followed one volunteer rescue group in Bangkok during Songkran so 3 days and it was horrible. The whole group said that they're really crazy 3 days and even though many things have been done to prevent people from driving under the influence, still a large number of people do it and cause accidents. During the video it was also told how many accidents happened, how many of them were car or motorcycle accidents and how many died or got injured during the few previous years. They also told which were the causes, it's not hard to guess which cause "won". Hopefully this year those numbers will be smaller but I doubt it. 

Due to my opinion on Songkran, I decided I would escape to Vietnam but that plan changed. I'm actually going to be in Bangkok for almost a week starting tomorrow evening and next Thursday I will travel to Chiang Mai, which is in the North of Thailand, with my friend. We'll spend a couple of days there and then come back. After a lot of thinking and surprising comment from my mum, I thought it would be more fun to go somewhere with a friend than traveling to a new country alone again. I'm happy to spend time in Bangkok because I really like that place but I'm a bit worried about Tuesday and Wednesday because the Songkran celebrations start on Tuesday and last until Thursday. I'm either going to use only skytrain and go hide in a shopping mall during daytime OR I'm going to hoard food and hide in my hotel room the 2 whole days. But I got a feeling my friend will drag me somewhere from the hotel so I can't avoid being outside the whole time. Despite not fully liking Songkran, I'll try to enjoy my time as much as possible because it's a holiday after all. At least I'm excited to go to Chiang Mai with a friend.

Happy Songkran everyone! 

xoxo, Elina