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Café Mamas | 카페마마스

Edged alongside local eateries in the central business district of Jung-Gu, this diner was packed during the lunch hour, with loads of people still waiting for tables when I left!  Café Mamas is amongst the popular franchised coffee houses in Seoul that offer a European brunch menu consisting of salads, paninis and soups. They serve a corporate crowd from neighbouring office towers as well as tourists and locals visiting Deoksugung and various palaces in the Sijeong City Hall area.

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With a moustached coffee mug as the cafe’s icon, this place is hard to forget! You can expect wholesome all-day breakfasts, fresh juices and gourmet coffees at all their branches.20140401-131737.jpg

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Kiwi juice and this potato soup looks pretty good~ 20140401-131750.jpg

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Cold Chicken salad for brunch! I think I liked their bread most. The chicken was too dry – kind of tasted as if it was left overnight. I wonder if its just me or was the chicken so very tasteless? But they had so many customers that day. Probably the salad is not the best thing they have on offer, since everything else looks equally good or better. It was a decent meal though, but I guess I had higher expectations!

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They also have franchises at places like Gangnam, Yeouido, Yeoksam, Garosugil and Gwanghwamun – a total of 15 stores Seoul-wide. Looking forward to try something else on their menu when I’m back ^^

Café Mamas 카페마마스
6-17 Sunhwa-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-776-1046

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

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SEOUL DIARIES 023: SPRING BLOSSOMS

Come spring and summer, Seoul is just so beautiful.
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Pictures taken at Dongnimmun Gate. Gorgeously pink, aren’t they?

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

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SEOUL DIARIES 022: SEODAEMUN PRISON 서대문형무소역사관

Seodaemun Prison History Hall: a former prison since 1908 that housed anti-colonial activists during the Colonial period. After colonial era ended in 1945, South Korean government housed prisoners at Seodaemun until 1987 when it was replaced by a facility in Uiwang City, Gyeonggi Province.

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The main hall has three floors of exhibitions. Here, you can view lifelike re-creations of torture scenes in the nightmarish interrogation cells in the basement. This kinda resembled the Dachau Concentration Camp I went to in Munich, on a smaller scale but no less gruesome. Though it was built to house 500 prisoners, up to 3500 were packed within its premises during the peak of anti-Japanese protests in 1919.

Visiting places like this always gives me the chills, especially so since I was alone!! Educational value aside, these seem to be yet more depressing reasons to doubt humanity. Which doesn’t seem to have learnt any lessons that has struck us all in our faces during the past century. Seodaemun Prison was one such place where such brutal history seems too distant yet simultaneously real.

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On a less depressing note, I’m so much more well-rested these days! Probably since none of my friends are in town, and I’ve pretty much been resting at home and in hotels. Have also been reading up on places to go in Gyeonggi Province and Busan! If anyone has recommendations, please let me know ^^
Have a good week ahead everybody!!

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEODAEMUN Prison History Museum 서대문형무소역사관
Address: 101 Hyeonjeo-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Phone: +82 2-360-8590

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SEOUL DIARIES 021: DONGNIMMUN GATE 독립문

In late 19th Century, the King was many-a-times escorted through Dongnimmun Gate, thereafter to demonstrate personal reception towards visiting Chinese envoys. Dongnimmun is 独立門 in Mandarin, the gate that signifies independence and free will of a country’s people. Built in 1897, the gate served to concretize South Korea’s sovereignty.

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Planted aesthetically in areas surrounding the independence gate are vessels of mugunghwa – South Korea’s national flower. This place is also known as Yongeunmun, after its current location that used to be known as Yongeun.

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True to form, Dongnimmun was built to proclaim the nation’s sovereignty - a grand spacious courtyard is dedicated solely for the King’s long walk to greet their allies from a foreign land. Majestic, isn’t it?
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I found a sense of solemnity to the place. The Dongnimmun Gate must have been an impressive structure in the initial years, but is now dwarfed by high-rise estates and interconnected highways of the metropolitan city. Yet it remains a silent and powerful testimony to the struggles of the people’s ancestors.

Here are some other monuments and effigies at Dongnimmun courtyard:

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The courtyard leads to Seoul’s Former Prison, a large space now barren and left empty for visitors. Dongnimmun is afterall a solemn place, and also an important national heritage site for South Koreans. 20140410-193746.jpg

YONGEUNMUN 영은문
945 Hyeonjeo-dong
Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
South Korea

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

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SEOUL DIARIES 020: SIJEONG CITY HALL

Found: fresh fruits at Sijeong’s Yeongchun market! 20140410-193256.jpg

Got myself this box of seasonal strawberries which were so fresh and sweet. The ahjummas at the market even let you taste the strawberries before any payment. I’ve had really good strawberries in Germany earlier this week as well. Good food makes me feel so blessed to be alive.20140410-193315.jpg

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With the initial intention of heading towards Chandeokgung and all the palaces within the area, I’d found my way to Sijeong (City Hall) station. It was a weekend hence there was this impossibly long queue at the palace entrances. Following Plan B, I headed towards Seoul Museum of Art!

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As compared to LeeUm Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul Museum of Art was minimalist, more liberal and less technical in its presentations. I can’t decide which one I liked more – no favourites here.

Had some myeongdong KalGuksu (hand-made noodles) in the meantime, whilst lamenting the fact that I’m just not the type of person to join any form of queues, period. And I dislike jostling with huge crowds in limited spaces.
Funfact: there is no specific term for the fear of queues. Somebody needs to come up with a word for it!

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From Sijeong, I walked to Yongeunmun and Former Seoul Prison, which I will write about in the near future! But first, let me take a selfie.

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Oh well. Anybody knows what else is good at Sijeong station besides these historical sites?

 

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

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SEOUL DIARIES 019: A DAY OF ARTS AND CULTURE

March 24, 2014: DAY FIVE

Itinerary
[09:00AM] Arrive at Anguk Station

[09:00AM] Explore Insadong streets: from Anguk Station, walk towards Jongno-3-ga via Gwanhun-dong, and back towards Anguk Station via Gyeonji-Dong

[11:00AM] Lunch @ Miss Lee Cafe 별다방 미스리, Insadong

[12:00PM] Bukchon Hanok Village 북촌한옥마을

[01:30PM] Coffee Break @ Cafe 5Ci Jung 까페오시정

[02:15PM] Explore Samcheongdong, walk back towards Insadong (Anguk Station)

[02:45PM] Ssamziegil – arts and cultural district 쌈지길

[03:30PM] Lemon and Mint-ade break @ Cafe True Us, Insadong 카페트루어스

[04:00PM] Walk towards Cheongyecheon Stream 청계천 and took a walk along the underground waterway.

[05:00PM] Explore Euljiro-1-Ga

[06:00PM] Travelled back to Hapjeong Station

[06:15PM] Iced Yuja-cha at Paul and Lina’s Living Cafe 폴엔리나 리빙까페

[06:45PM] Ethiopian Black Coffee at Cafe Miz Moren 카페 미즈모렌

[07:20PM] Tiramisu at Cafe Comma 카페꼼마

[08:30PM] Commence night-shopping at Hongdae!

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Streets of Samcheongdong in Spring

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Giant graffiti-ed Rose at Ssamziegil

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Artwork – photography at Ssamziegil

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Imperial entertainer masks – Insadong

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Cheongye Stream

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Overhead bridge at Cheongye Stream

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Traditional yangpan houses at Bukchon Hanok Village

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Hanok clusters – Bukchon Hanok Village

This is how I spent a day immersed in Korean heritage and the more ancient artsy fartsy side of Seoul! I can’t say that I’m passionate about their traditional arts, but I did learn to appreciate these a whole lot more.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

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Cafe Comma | 카페꼼마

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For book-lovers like myself, this is somewhere akin to heaven! With a two-floor occupancy, this cafe boasts more than 3,000 books stacked from floor to ceiling, with a ladder allowing visitors to peruse the books on higher shelves.

Run by Munhakdongne publishing group, Book Cafe Comma is known in Seoul for its investments in talented young writers. Most books in-store are sold at half-price. Some of them are not even available anywhere else!

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What you see on sale are not restricted to those published by Munhak. A couple of popular English fiction (Fifty Shades trilogy – what’s new) were spotted in its midst. Books aside, I also loved the gorgeous interior and comfortably dimmed lighting.

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At 7pm in the evening on a weekday, the place seemed deserted. On the upper deck however, loads of serious faces were mentally attacking their textbooks with wrath.

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What they had on offer was pretty limited but trust me, the tiramisu was one of the best I’ve ever had! The square slice looked home-made as it was cut from a panned box, fresh from the refrigerator. Heavy on rum and espresso, the cake was not too sweet and very moist (I hate dry / flaky tiramisu).

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I loved the ambience on the upper deck – it’s so conducive I wish I’d brought my laptop with me. The level of silence is adequate for sounding out your own thoughts, yet not mind-numbingly eerie.

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I cannot emphasis how much I loved this tiramisu enough!! 20140401-125306.jpg

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In close proximity to Seoul’s top art university, Hongdae is home to a myriad of quirky hipster cafes. Cafe Comma is definitely up there on my list of favourites and cafes to re-visit when I go again in summer!

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There’s also a separate reason why I love Cafe Comma i.e. tall and good-looking artsy-fartsy guy with laptop and books spotted. Teehee ^^
홍대 북카페 ‘콤마’에서 잘 생긴 남자를 봤어. 키가 크고 좋은 피부를 가지고, 그는 책을 읽고 있었다. 완전 내 스타일 ^^ ㅋ ㅋ 난 돌아올거야!

마포구 동교동 155-27 1층 (2호점), Seoul
+82 2-323-8555

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Dancing in the Sky

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