Coffine Gurunaru | 커핀그루나루

So this is one of ’em chain coffee-stores that also offer legit mojitos and cocktails, where I tasted one of the best sweet-potato lattes I’ve ever had! Purple’s their defining colour. I’ve only so far tried one of their beverages. Everything else on their menu is the same as any of the other chain coffeehouses.

20140401-131551.jpg

20140401-131605.jpg

20140401-131557.jpg

20140401-131618.jpg

Was grabbing a hot drink before battling the cold spring weather on my way to Deoksugung at City Hall. This Hongdae franchise is the only one I’ve been to, given the amount of time I had, and usually it’s crammed up besides the other cafe giants like Caffe Bene, Coffee Bean, Starbucks and the likes, hence much neglected (by me).
20140401-131625.jpg

On the day I decided to give this a try, it was incredibly empty at 10 am as the university kids were probably at school. Then again 10am isn’t exactly an ungodly hour, since the cafe is open 24/7. I pass this cafe every night while going back to my guesthouse and it really fills up past 10pm. Kinda reminds me of my own late-night uni days!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

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.

20140401-131718.jpg

20140401-131728.jpg

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

20140401-131744.jpg

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

20140401-131756.jpg

20140401-131804.jpg

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!

20140401-131814.jpg

20140401-131825.jpg

20140401-131819.jpg

20140401-131837.jpg

20140401-131848.jpg

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

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.

20140410-193929.jpg

20140410-193935.jpg

20140410-193945.jpg

20140410-193951.jpg

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.

20140410-193958.jpg

20140410-193746.jpg

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!!

20140414-031349.jpg20140414-031356.jpg

 

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

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

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.

20140410-193555.jpg

 

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.

20140410-193607.jpg

20140410-193613.jpg

20140410-193621.jpg

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?
20140410-193634.jpg

20140410-193627.jpg

20140410-193647.jpg

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:

20140410-193653.jpg

20140410-193640.jpg

20140410-193700.jpg

20140410-193714.jpg

20140410-193720.jpg

20140410-193706.jpg

20140410-193731.jpg

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

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

20140410-193304.jpg

20140410-193310.jpg

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!

20140410-193350.jpg

20140410-193357.jpg

20140410-193403.jpg

 

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!

20140410-193411.jpg

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.

20140410-193427.jpg

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

 

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

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!

20140409-154117.jpg
Streets of Samcheongdong in Spring

20140409-153754.jpg
Giant graffiti-ed Rose at Ssamziegil

20140409-153650.jpg
Artwork – photography at Ssamziegil

20140409-153321.jpg
Imperial entertainer masks – Insadong

20140409-152254.jpg
Cheongye Stream

20140409-152124.jpg
Overhead bridge at Cheongye Stream

P1010075
Traditional yangpan houses at Bukchon Hanok Village

P1010072
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

Cafe Comma | 카페꼼마

20140401-124919.jpg

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!

20140401-125004.jpg

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.

20140401-125026.jpg

20140401-125033.jpg

20140401-125043.jpg

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.

20140401-125206.jpg

20140401-125134.jpg
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).

20140401-125157.jpg

20140401-125213.jpg
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.

20140401-125220.jpg

20140401-125235.jpg

20140401-125228.jpg

20140401-125242.jpg

20140401-125251.jpg

20140401-125300.jpg

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

20140401-125311.jpg

20140401-125318.jpg

20140401-125332.jpg

20140401-125337.jpg

20140401-125343.jpg

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!

20140401-125350.jpg

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

Cafe Miz Moren | 카페 미즈모렌

When I take my coffee black with no sugar, I know I’m tasting the results of seriously good cocoa beans.  If like me, you loathe the acidic aftertaste that only milk or brown sugar can eliminate, and you would much rather down a dozen cups of cappuccino or caffe latte over multiple espresso shots, you’d be glad to know that gourmet black coffee can actually be sweet and very delectable!

20140401-123307.jpg

At Cafe Miz Moren, there are no espresso machines. Every cup is vacuum-brewed using the siphon brewing method. These coffee makers are really cool-looking hour-glass shaped tubes with a bottom container where water is heated, a top container that has a siphon tube attached to it where the coffee brewing takes place, and a filter made of glass, paper, metal, or cloth. Unlike hand-dripped coffee, upon heating, siphon-brewed coffee is vacuumed into the top container, thus somewhat ‘defying gravity’ in the process!

My Ethiopia Yirgacheffe G2 with distinct aromatic floral tones in the aroma, and light, flowery non-acidic aftertaste. This went down so smoothly without any tinge of roasted rough bitterness.
20140401-123333.jpg

In addition I love how the cafe offers a selection of interesting blends, highlighted in their menu along with acidity levels and iconic tastes. The Guatemala Antigua SHB is “smoky & spicy with unique acidity”, whilst the Tanzania Peaberry is described as having “deep richness – a bright pleasant flavor with mild acidity”. There’s nothing interesting about its interior as siphon brewing is the cafe’s main draw, along with its amazing blends. Loads of Korean cafe blogs also recommend their in-house Miz Moren Blend!

20140401-123319.jpg

Food on their menu, totally overlooked in my quest to try all their coffees! But I failed, because it was evening time and that cuppa kept me awake for half the night. #totallyworthit20140401-123325.jpg

20140401-123350.jpg

Their famous siphon-brewing coffee makers on display, with the siphon brew masters at work. This is not a cafe, it’s a laboratory.20140401-123342.jpg

20140401-123356.jpg

20140401-123410.jpg

20140401-123403.jpg

20140401-123418.jpg

Honestly, I will never take Starbucks Americano ever again.

411-121 Seogyo-Dong, Mapo-Gu, Seoul
마포구 서교동 411-121
전화: 02-325-5202
11:00AM – 01:00AM
Free WiFi

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Paul & Lina’s Living Cafe | 폴엔리나 리빙까페

20140401-122000.jpg

Doubling as a furniture store, Paul & Lina’s is a place patrons do purchase chopping boards and pepper shakers with sweet potato lattes. The sign says it all: furniture, fabrics, coffee and desserts. Though small, this underrated cafe seems loaded with ornaments and homeware for sale. The owners are a homely couple with an elementary school son who was being tutored by his mom the evening I chanced upon the area (having walked from Sangsu Station).

20140401-122339.jpg

You know that feeling, when you walk into a place, instantly to feel a lot lighter and happier? This place gave me good vibes!

20140401-122012.jpg

20140401-122021.jpg

20140401-122029.jpg

20140401-122035.jpg

20140401-122048.jpg

20140401-122056.jpg

Almost everything you see are saleable items! The cafe owners also have an online store where you can view these beautiful woodwork and home deco pieces.

20140401-122105.jpg

20140401-122114.jpg

20140401-122127.jpg

20140401-122134.jpg

20140401-122119.jpg

20140401-122142.jpg

20140401-122149.jpg

I would love to have that blue tea mug! Its too adorable ^^20140401-122155.jpg

20140401-122201.jpg

20140401-122207.jpg

20140401-122218.jpg

20140401-122232.jpg

20140401-122250.jpg

For such a large coffee diner, there isn’t much seating room – just 3 of these two-seater tables and a living room space with plush cushions and sofas for larger groups of people. Most customers came for beverages to-go and woodwork items. For an hour or so it was just me, and a guy on the laptop tapping away in the seats behind. With such privacy and seclusion I’m surprised so few are attracted to this place!

20140401-122243.jpg

날씨 추운지만: 아이스 유자차!
음료를 즐기면서, 난 책을 읽고 있어요.20140401-122256.jpgIced cold Yuja-Cha for the winter-like spring.

20140401-122304.jpg

Quietly set on a higher ground of a double-storeyed house, I hardly noticed Paul & Lina’s existence. This sign pointed me to the right side of the alley, a short walk up from Sangsu Station. Tucked away in such seclusion, I do hope it’s not just a cafe that furniture enthusiasts only would know of!!

20140401-122332.jpg

20140401-122347.jpg

20140401-122354.jpg

폴엔리나 리빙까페
413-18 Hapjeong-Dong Mapo-Gu, Seoul
주소:서울특별시 마포구 합정동 413-18
TEL:02-336-0933
Weekdays 주중 : am 11:00 ~ pm 11:00
Weekends 주말 : am 11:00 ~ pm 12:00


xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

P.S. I miss Hongdae so much!! I’m back home from a week of spring-time in Germany, but I would give anything to be walking on cherry blossoms in Jeju right now.

SEOUL DIARIES 018: SAMCHEONGDONG 삼청동

At the peak of Bukchon Hanok Village overlooking Samcheongdong, I couldn’t wait to get to its bustling streets!20140409-154037.jpg

Samcheongdong is geographically the lane right next to Bukchon Hanok Village. It is the trendy mash-up neighbourhood with hipster cafes, luxury goods, private art galleries alongside traditional Korean diners.

20140409-154046.jpg

20140409-154101.jpg

20140409-154107.jpg

20140409-154112.jpg

20140409-154117.jpg

20140409-154123.jpg

20140409-154129.jpg

20140409-154135.jpg

20140409-154148.jpg
Not a showroom for cars but an art gallery. In Seoul, many motor vehicular companies are major art dealers and sponsors for private showcase like these. Makes for a good form of investment for the companies.

20140409-154141.jpg

Found: HANK’S Book Cafe, with a really enlightening signpost!20140409-154156.jpg

20140409-154202.jpg

20140409-154215.jpg

20140409-154209.jpg

20140409-154222.jpg

From Samcheongdong, I headed back towards Anguk Station and walked down Insadong. The Jongno-Gu district is a combination of all the places I love for its aesthetically pleasing architecture, awesome themed cafes and vibrant arts and culture. It’s really a welcome change from crowded shopping malls and the tourist traps.

Love it here, so much.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

CAFE 5CI JUNG | 까페오시정

20140326-230019.jpg

Post-lunch coffee at Cafe 5Ci Jung is akin to spending the afternoon at a friendly neighbour’s home. A very warm welcome awaits you the moment you step through its doors, right up till you leave its premises. Each barista made an effort to greet every guest, and never seemed to stop smiling. I was further impressed when the lady boss bothered to ask me what my coffee preferences were, before she took my orders at the counter.

20140326-230028.jpg

20140326-230055.jpg

20140326-230103.jpg

I especially loved their cutesy deco pieces! !The homely warmth makes me want to sink into their cosy chairs, all day long. Its interior is unbelievably spick and span – I swear there’s literally not a speck of dust in sight.

20140326-230108.jpg

20140326-230135.jpg

I believe a whole lot of thought went into choosing these trinkets and ornaments which fits like pieces of a puzzle in the entire cafe’s concept – a romantic, playful and vibrant home environment.

20140326-230144.jpg

20140326-230150.jpg

20140326-230156.jpg

 

I also felt as if I were back in elementary school…or perhaps I’ve found my way into a life-sized doll house! Miniature flowerpots, rainbow-coloured paintings, fresh white walls and smooth cherrywood furniture – it’s a really refreshing place to load up on caffeine and food or simply to recharge yourself!

20140326-230205.jpg

20140326-230210.jpg

20140326-230223.jpg

20140326-230230.jpg

20140326-230235.jpg

Buttery and crisp homemade scones are served on the house with any beverage orders, completely free-of-charge. My usual afternoon cafe latte arrived with an entourage: scone and Mr Lego-Man.

20140326-230250.jpg

20140326-230257.jpg

 

These homemade scones were simply heavenly, along with butter and apple custard sauce. Only in 5Ci Jung you get hospitality like this. Thoughtful table placemats, and an accompanying gift of a mini Lego is what made me fall in love with this whole presentation.

20140326-230305.jpg

20140326-230311.jpg

20140326-230317.jpg

20140326-230323.jpg

20140326-230329.jpg

20140326-230337.jpg

20140326-230344.jpg

20140326-230401.jpg

20140326-230412.jpg

20140326-230418.jpg

20140326-230429.jpg

20140326-230436.jpg

20140326-230446.jpg

20140326-230456.jpg

20140326-230504.jpg

With franchises in Samcheongdong and Garosu-gil, the novelty of Cafe 5Ci Jung is worth experiencing for yourself. I can’t express how much I wish I could be back at this cafe right now! Yes, it feels as intimate as my living room.

20140326-230510.jpg

20140326-230527.jpg

CAFE 5CI JUNG @ Samcheongdong| 까페오시정
Palpandong 57, Samcheongdong, Jongno-gu

종로구 팔판동 57Samcheongdong
02-730-2008
Monday & Sunday: 13:00 – 22:30
Tuesday – Saturday 11:00 – 23:30

CAFE 5CI JUNG @ GAROSUGIL | 까페오시정
525-11 Sinsa-dong
Gangnam-gu Seoul South Korea

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 017: SSAMZIEGIL ARTS AND CULTURE 쌈지길

Indeed, Ssamziegil is the ‘Special Insa-dong within Insa-dong’.
20140409-153538.jpg

20140409-153551.jpg

This arts and cultural heaven is made of over 70 shops, including handicraft and souvenir stores, art galleries, restaurants and eateries. Following a spiral-like staircase, you’ll arrive at Haneulmadang at the top of Ssamziegil, where you get a really good sky-view!

20140409-153558.jpg

Found: the legendary DUNG-BREAD! Bread shaped like shit. Tastes like awesome shit. For just 1000KRW.
20140409-153605.jpg

20140409-153613.jpg

20140409-153620.jpg
Just one man is single-handedly stirring up the shit.
Gosh I love this shit. #punintended

20140409-153631.jpg

20140409-153641.jpg
This place has everything you will want to get from the streets of Insa-dong street. If you have only an hour to shop in the area, this is where you need to be!

I loved the hidden beauties along the walls, in the stores and between alleys at Ssamziegil. Everything here was beautified by people with mad artistic sense and skills.

20140409-153650.jpg

20140409-153658.jpg

20140409-153708.jpg

20140409-153718.jpg

20140409-153726.jpg

20140409-153737.jpg

20140409-153746.jpg

20140409-153754.jpg

20140409-153802.jpg

20140409-153810.jpg

SSAMZIEGIL 쌈지길
Seoul-si Jongno-gu Gwanhun-dong 38
서울특별시 종로구 인사동길 44 (관훈동)

[Subway]
Anguk Station (Seoul Subway line 3), Exit 6
Walk toward Jongno Police Station and enter the Insa-dong one-way street of Crown Bakery & GS25, and go staright 100m.

Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, Exit 3)
Go towards Jogyesagil (pass 2 signals) and enter the alley next to the 7th Day Sabbath Church.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Miss Lee Cafe | 별다방 미스리

My first shake-em-up Korean lunchbox meal, also known as dosirak 도시락! At Star Cafe Miss Lee (별다방 미스리):20140326-224120.jpg

I didn’t exactly shake it, because the lady who served my lunch told me I didn’t have to unless I wanted the egg yolk to explode, and I dislike my rice soaked in yolk. But damn, this was sooooo good.
20140326-224135.jpg

Miss Lee Cafe is where Seohyun and Yonghwa met on Season 2 of We Got Married (우리 결혼했어요). For many Koreans, dosirak brings them back to the 70′s and 80′s when parents prepared little metal containers of rice, kimchi, luncheon meat, kelp and other goodies!
20140326-224156.jpg

20140326-224209.jpg

20140326-224221.jpg

It’s located right above GS25, which you will see not long after stepping out of Anguk Station Exit 6.
20140326-224227.jpg

20140326-224232.jpg

20140326-224238.jpg

I love the way they paved the stairway leading up to their diner. Everything is so vibrant and cutesy, it left me starry-eyed. I knew I was definitely in the right place.20140326-224246.jpg

20140326-224258.jpg

20140326-224304.jpg

20140326-224310.jpg

20140326-224318.jpg

20140326-224329.jpg

20140326-224337.jpg

Just as I’d pictured, the place was messy and picturesquely homely. Tables and chairs here are downsized too! Somehow being here gives you a sense of privacy, with all the overhanging messages and ceiling decorations, you can’t see the people on the other side of the restaurant.

20140326-224346.jpg

20140326-224352.jpg

20140326-224404.jpg

20140326-224422.jpg

20140326-224431.jpg

20140326-224440.jpg

 

The diner is also spammed / decorated with messages to and from Korean celebrities.

20140326-224449.jpg

20140326-224457.jpg

20140326-224508.jpg

20140326-224515.jpg

It was exactly 11am when I reached Miss Lee Cafe, and they had just opened their doors to their first customers – a couple on a date, and I the solo venturer.20140326-224524.jpg

And so I ordered their iconic dosirak and a cup of rosemary tea. 20140326-224535.jpg

My lunchbox arrived with Korean dessert-snacks and seaweed soup!20140326-224545.jpg

20140326-224552.jpg

20140326-224601.jpg

I loved the lunchbox set! I guess kimchi makes rice taste so good, and top it off with eggs and seaweed…you’ve got yourself a winner. Plus the novelty off Miss Lee Cafe has been upped after its popularity shot through the roof with YongSeo couple on We Got Married. There’s no need to emphasize how this is a must-go for Seoul-enthusiasts!20140326-224612.jpg

20140326-224620.jpg

Even their menu is so pretty ^^20140326-224629.jpg

20140326-224639.jpg

Just look out for this sign when you exit Anguk Station and reach the head of Insadong!20140326-224648.jpg

Miss Lee Cafe 별다방미스리 인사동점
144 Gwanhun-dong
Jongno-gu, Seoul
South Korea
Daily 11:00 am – 11:00 pm

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 016: SNAPSHOTS @ INSADONG

20140409-153313.jpg

You know you’re in Insadong when traditional imperial-entertainer masks are sold at every corner.
20140409-153321.jpg

20140409-153331.jpg

And you find loads of antiques at pretty good prices.20140409-153339.jpg

There’s the occasional fabulous art gallery.20140409-153347.jpg

And tourist traps with iconic Korean souvenirs.20140409-153357.jpg

20140409-153404.jpg

Not forgetting name-stamps! I think these are just so cute. When I get to graduate school, I’m getting one to mark all my books ^^20140409-153411.jpg

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 014: CHEONGYECHEON STREAM 청계천

For serenity and peace in Seoul’s busy boulevard, Cheongyecheon’s mini waterfalls, crystal clear stream and quiet walking lanes is where I found clarity for my thoughts.

20140409-152053.jpg

20140409-152110.jpg

Honestly this 8.4 km / 5.2 miles long stream wasn’t as grand as what I had in mind, but still a picturesque sight in the city! Many couples were seen holding hands, strolling leisurely as if they had multitudes of time.

Cheonggyecheon Stream is near to Deoksugung Palace, Seoul Plaza, Sejong Center, Changdeokgung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, and Insadong street (where I had walked from!) It’s also close to major shopping malls like Lotte Department Store.

20140409-152102.jpg

20140409-152117.jpg

20140409-152135.jpg

20140409-152124.jpg

20140409-152145.jpg

20140409-152154.jpg

20140409-152214.jpg

20140409-152223.jpg

20140409-152239.jpg

20140409-152254.jpg

20140409-152306.jpg

20140409-152315.jpg

20140409-152324.jpg

20140409-152341.jpg

 

20140409-152231.jpg

20140409-152349.jpg

Hi there o(*゚▽゚*)o 20140409-152358.jpg

 

Not much wildlife here – I wasn’t the only one snapping pictures of this lonely duck.20140409-152406.jpg

20140409-152415.jpg

20140409-152716.jpg

 

In such a busy business and shopping district, a leisure strolling canal holds a hell lot of appeal. Especially since it’s the best place to go before or after a shopping spree.

20140409-152725.jpg

CHEONGYECHEON STREAM 청계천
110, Sejong-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 중구 태평로1가 ~성동구 신답철교


Accessible from
– City Hall, Jonggak, Jongno 3-ga, Jongno 5-ga, Dongdaemun, Sinseol-dong (Seoul Subway Line 1) – City Hall, Euljiro 1-ga, Euljiro 3-ga, Euljiro 4-ga, Sindang, Sangwangsimni (Seoul Subway Line 2)
– Jongno 3-ga (Seoul Subway Line 1, 3 and 5)
– Dongdaemun History & Culture Park (Seoul Subway Line 4)
– Gwanghwamun (Seoul Subway Line 5)

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 013: BUKCHON HANOK VILLAGE 북촌한옥마을

For history buffs who wish to experience a well-preserved slice of Korean history, Bukchon Hanok Village is where you need to be! The residential district of Bukchon (literally meaning north village) housed high-ranking government officials / nobility during the Joseon Dynasty. Here, traditional Korean houses known as Hanok (or Joseonhouses) were re-built or re-furnished from the olden days.

P1010051

Tourist information centers are tactfully located in all the right places so there’s no chance of anyone ever getting lost. Bukchon village has been urbanized, no matter what’s being said about its cultural antiquity. Along the way, stone-paved alleys between hanoks are dangerously steep (uphill and downhill), I was tired when I reached the highest peak of the alleys! Here’s a compilation of snapshots I’d taken on the uphill climb ~ Enjoy!!!

P1010052

P1010056

Neighbourhoods within the Bukchon area consists of Wonseo-dongJae-dongGye-dongGahoe-dong and Insa-dong, with many clusters of privately owned traditional hanoks. Each cluster generally look pretty much alike architecturally – it’s as if they have their own ‘themes’.

P1010057

P1010058

P1010060

P1010061

P1010062

P1010063

P1010064

Funfact: Hanoks are classified according to social class. The upperclass (yangban) houses has tiled roofs (giwa). House of commoners typically has rice-straw roofs (choga). No matter how hard I tried to differentiate, all of the houses looked upperclass to me. Can you spot any rice-straw roofs??

P1010065

P1010066

P1010067

P1010068

P1010069

P1010070

P1010075

P1010074

P1010073

P1010072

P1010071

P1010076

Other preserved Hanok locales:
彡☆ Namsangol Hanok Village – Pil-dong neighborhood of Jung-gu, Seoul
彡☆ Hahoe Folk Village – Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do
彡☆ Yangdong Folk Village – Gyeongju
彡☆ Gyeongsangbuk-do – along the Hyeongsan River.
彡☆ Korean Folk Village – Yongin, Gyeonggi

Really enjoyed this refreshing tour of hanoks! The village houses look a lot more sturdy and concrete than I’d imagined, though this could have been a result of refurnishing and preservation efforts. Best thing of all, people actually still live in them. From a certain time onwards, visitors to Bukchon Hanok Village are told to keep their volumes low so as not to cause disturbances to the residents. Next time round, I would love to stay at a Hanok guesthouse ^^

BUKCHON HANOK VILLAGE 북촌한옥마을
Exit 3 of Anguk Station (subway line 3)
종로구 계동길 37, 서울특별시, 110-250

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

 

P.S. This is cheating but since I took zilch selfies at Insadong and Bukchon Hanok… so here’s one from Jeju ^^

Viktoria Jean.jpg

I’m spending most of April in Europe. It’s so hard to find Asian food here! Right now I’m craving Jjajangmyeon and sushi!! ): Been surviving on fruits, nuts, chocolates and bretzels.
Anyway, have a good week ahead guys! \(^o^)/

 

SEOUL DIARIES 012: ART @ ANGUK STATION

The thing about travelling alone is this:  you’ve got to find ways to entertain yourself.

Every empty street and silent alley is a selfie moment…
20140405-122948.jpg 20140405-123509.jpg
or in my guesthouse room, every morning, before I see the world.

On my way to Insadong and Bukchon Hanok Village, I captured these paintings at Anguk station’s underground platform. To passers-by these might be very ordinary art-pieces but while I was alone, on an insanely early chilly morning, I found myself captivated by artwork along the subway.

20140405-174636.jpg

20140405-174646.jpg

20140405-174651.jpg

20140405-174641.jpg

20140405-174708.jpg

20140405-174656.jpg

20140405-174702.jpg

20140405-174718.jpg

20140405-174727.jpg

20140405-174735.jpg

20140405-174746.jpg

20140405-174754.jpg

20140405-174801.jpg

20140405-174807.jpg

20140405-174813.jpg

20140405-174820.jpg

Going to foreign places alone is easy when you’re the extreme ends of the social-activity spectrum. The born-introvert embraces the loneliness while the social butterfly would gravitate towards making friends on every journey.

You don’t necessarily need friendship to make a lasting impression. The briefest conversation, the slightest smile and the quickest exchange of knowing glances. In my mind these images become the most vivid recollections.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 011: SOONDAE 순대

Introducing Korea’s traditional blood sausage: 20140402-223524.jpg What it is:

pig’s intestines stuffed with fermented soybean paste, glutinous rice, kimchi, cellophane noodles and pork blood.

To this date, I can’t believe I had eaten this!! It’s pig intestines and I actually finished this whole plate of SOONDAE without knowing what it is!!

Having walked across Han River via Hannam Bridge, I walked further into Jamwon-dong and reached the laidback station of Banpo. Whilst looking for dinner in the substation, this caught my eye. So I thought, why not? Let’s try this for the first time.

20140402-223534.jpg

Truth be told, it TASTED GOOD. Like chewier, tougher and blacker sausages, with rice and traces of kimchi in it. Only afterwards, I found out what it is… EURGH!!

20140402-223529.jpg
Well friends, this was my yolo moment. It’s actually a pretty good side dish and street food!! Just don’t think too much when you put this in your mouth.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean