Gabae Naru | 가배나루

Hiking around Chungjeongno 충정로동 revealed many surprises about Seodaemun-Gu. First, I managed to catch the splendour of spring flowers at Dongnimmun, and was then awed by the grandeur of South Korea’s Independence Gate. Not forgetting Seodaemun’s Prison History Hall, reminding us all of mankind’s ceaseless war amongst ourselves.

Out of the blue comes this charming red cafe all white-washed walls and scruffy front yard, with a deservingly quaint name! Gabae Naru does legit hand-drip coffee, and mostly serves nine-to-fivers from neighbouring high-rise corporate offices (as far as I can observe).

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After much snooping around, I discovered the Gabae Naru brand is creative brainchild of one Ham Soohyun, mastermind behind concepts of various other coffeeshops.

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Mostly, the interior is peppered with keepsakes and mementos belonging to the cafe owners. Anyone can help themselves to the books on display. I especially loved the owners’ scattered polaroids of friends and customers. Goes to show that owning a cafe is indeed a personal and very sentimental affair. 20140401-133255.jpg

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I love a place that can fix a good cuppa iced cappucino. The espresso is hand-dripped, blended with ice, then frothed with a layer of milk. So much work goes into making it instead of pouring pre-made coffee over hot milk, then adding ice, which is basically what the big names do. 20140401-133425.jpg

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Let’s go see what’s on the upper floor shall we?20140401-133441.jpg

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Basically, the second floor is dedicated space for smokers. 20140401-133514.jpg

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Such a lovely hidden gem in a busy part of town, way too out of the way and underrated. This would be one of ’em cafes that locals frequent, and the occasional tourist stumbles upon.20140401-133541.jpg

Gabae Naru 가배나루
348-1 Chungjeongno 3(sam)-ga
Seodaemun-gu, Seoul

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Cafe Joenill | 카페 조에닐

20140401-125835.jpg Late night shopping at Hongdae with iced peach tea leads to planting thy ass at this comfortable hideout, tired out from endless sights, walking with wedge-heels, and very fascinated by observations I get from people watching at Cafe Joenill. Also, it had been drizzling, and I still wanted to keep my nose. 20140401-125840.jpg 20140401-125846.jpg Earpiece-plugged, this was the time I fell in love with EXO’s Peter Pan (the only song from their album I actually can’t stop listening to). I can only hope nobody in the cafe noticed my feet tapping to the beat. Nightfall sentimentalises all my favourite semi-emotional songs. xoxo, Viktoria Jean

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.

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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).
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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

SEOUL DIARIES 016: SNAPSHOTS @ INSADONG

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

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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 010: HAN RIVER 한강

Mission Crossing the Hannam Bridge 한남대교 Accomplished!
With this incredible view of Seoul’s Han River before me, the feeling is indescribable.

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Basically, I walked from Hannamdong (Itaewon district) to the other end of Hannam Bridge, which connects to Sinsa-Dong and Gangnam-Gu.

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The closer I got to the bridge’s midsection, the wind got crazy. I swear it’s entirely possible (though I’m not physically small or light) I could have been swept into the sea.

Physical evidence 1: Wind in my hair – just a little bit.20140405-114111.jpg

Evidence 2: Had to close my eyes.20140405-114129.jpg

Evidence 3: Can’t control my hair anymore.20140405-114136.jpg

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An attempt at a semi-proper smile.20140405-114150.jpg

At this point, my face is beyond recognition from all that hair-whipping. Plus my scarf was threatening to strangle me from all angles.20140405-114202.jpg

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But truth be told, the view was spectacular. 20140405-114213.jpg

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I spent close to an hour just walking across the bridge (with the rush of cars just alongside on the traffic lane). The pedestrian lane was uninhabited by anyone else besides me.P1000887

How could anyone walk past this scene and not stop to simply stare? Captivated my heart and soul.P1000890

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A total of 27 bridges cross the Han River in Seoul, Gyeonggi and Incheon. This is not a joke – I really want to walk across all 27 of them! By default of travelling via Airport Railway, I’ve already cross Gimpo Bridge and Gayang Bridge, so that makes 3 already.

2015 #bucketlist ? ^^

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

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SEOUL DIARIES 008: CAFES IN ITAEWON

Along the glorious and vibrant district of art museums and galleries are laid-back cafes offering all-day breakfasts and a myriad of flavoured coffees. In close association to the indie Hannamdong Cafe Street, coffee culture in Itaewon is self-directed and expat-friendly. Expect top-notch Americanos and loads of Seoul Design-Spot cafe galleries! Here are some of my favourites!

Glamorous Penguin

For more updates on Glamorous Penguin.

Ways of Seeing Art Cafe
For more updates on Ways of Seeing Art Gallery / Cafe.

Other amazing cafes in Itaewon / Hannamdong:

☆彡 Flying Pan Blue
123-7 Itaewon-Dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Daily 10:30am – 10:30pm
☎ +82 2 793 5285
Americano 4500₩, All Day Breakfasts 15000₩

☆彡 Passion 5
272 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Daily 730am – 10pm
☎ +82 2 2071 9507
Nearest Station: Hangangjin
Americano 7000₩, Cakes 5000 – 10000₩

☆彡 Take Out Drawing
140-861, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
☎ +82 2 790 2637
Nearest Station: Hangangjin

☆彡 Tartine Bakery & Cafe
Famous for: Being the Pie Shop from Running Man episode 71
4 Itaewon-ro 23-Gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Daily 10am – 11:30pm
☎ +82 2 3785 3400
119-15 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-Gu, Seoul
Nearest Station: Itaewon (Line 6) Exit 2

☆彡 Coffee Chu
682-10, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
(7 Itaewon-ro 54-gil)
☎ +82 2 790 6821
Nearest Station: Hangangjin

 

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 007: ITAEWON

March 23, 2014: DAY FOUR

Itinerary
[10:00 AM] Breakfast @ Thanks Nature Cafe 양카페 – Hongdae

[10:59 AM] Grabbed Kyeran Bang 계란 빵 from a street stall! My favorite street food from Korea!

[11:00 AM] Travel to Itaewon!

[11:20 AM] Sat down for a strawberry latte at Glamorous Penguin. Also to leech onto their WiFi for Google Maps.

[12:00 PM] Explored Itaewon on foot, to Hangangjin Station

[01:10 PM] Visited LeeUm Samsung Museum of Art (scroll to the bottom for more pics)

[02:15 PM] Walked to Hannamdong Cafe Street

[03:00 PM] Grabbed Iced Latte from Ways of Seeing Cafe slash Art Gallery

[04:00 PM] Walked across Hannamdaero Bridge to Jamwon-Dong (at Sinsa-Dong and Gangnam district). I loved the insanely strong winds! Nobody else was on the bridge. I was walking against the rush of traffic and enjoying the sea breeze. Will post pictures of this soon enough.

[05:00 PM] Explored Jamwon-Dong all the way to Banpo Station. This was an insanely long long walk, but absolutely refreshing!

[06:00 PM] Sat down for dinner at Banpo Station. For the first time in my life, I ATE SOONDAE 순대!!! Basically it’s blood sausage, made  by boiling or steaming cow or pig’s intestines that can be stuffed with pork blood, fermented soybean paste, glutinous rice, kimchi, and soybean sprouts. Best thing of all, I hadn’t realised it was Soondae ):  It tasted really good though. But now as I recall what it actually is…eurgh!!

[06:45 PM] Travelled back to Hapjeong Station (Seogyo-Dong district at Hongdae) for more cafehopping adventures

[07:20 PM] Book Cafe Jaeum and Moeum 자음과모음 북카페 – Blueberry Banana Smoothie

[08:30 PM] Travel Cafe 트래블 카페 @ 홍대 – Cinnamon Earl Grey Latte

[09:30 PM] Late-night shopping at Hongdae!! For an entire week, I did this every night before heading back to my guesthouse. Hongdae only gets fired up after 9PM, especially on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. So much shopping to do, so little time.

[12 Midnight] Bought Kimbap from No.1 Seogyo BapJip for supper!

☆彡☆彡☆彡☆彡☆彡☆彡☆彡☆彡☆彡

Travel Diary

홍대에서 아침 식사
Breakfast was too good to be true!! Had the most amazing BerryNana waffles from Thanks Nature Cafe 양카페, Hongdae’s first and only sheep cafe, before making my way to Itaewon. Only in Seoul, you get to dine with a lamb! Strawberries + Bananas = BerryNana. My morning is complete with a cuppa peppermint tea.

Itaewon’s over-the-top architecture propels the casual pedestrian into a distant future. Stepping onto a set of a science fiction futuristic movie must feel like this!

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Love the exterior of this Starbucks – so much effort goes into designing it.20140403-142909.jpg

The exterior of a hotel:20140403-142914.jpg

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The further away you get from the artistic galleries of Hangangjin, the buildings get less dramatically sci-fi. Loads of cafes thrive in this area, for many expats that work in Korea live in this district of Itaewon.

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Walked the entire length of Itaewon to Hangangjin station, before diverting to art museums that require an uphill climb. This is where I visited the gorgeous LeeUm Samsung Museum of Art.

There are 2 separate galleries within, showcasing traditional Korean art and contemporary art. In both, photography is banned. This place is definitely worth visiting. Museum 1, designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta, houses the national treasures such as folk paintings, ceramics, manuscripts and traditional stoneware. Museum 2 is the masterpiece of French architect Jean Nouvel, boasting of permanent exhibits by Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Yves Klein and Donald Judd. Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas designed the Samsung Child Education & Culture Center.

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Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art
747-18 Hannam-dong
Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
10:30 am – 6:00 pm
+82 2-2014-6901

The inspiring pieces from Museum 2 really had me filled with awe, whereas Museum 1 gave me the chills. Ancient art is too profound and somehow unreachable to me, in the sense that the millenium-old items show another chapter in human history that will always be a mystery to mankind, no matter how hard our attempts at recreating or reimagining the unknown era.

I left the museum deep in thought, having been exposed to such great inspirations. I headed next for Hannamdong Cafe Street, but found that I’d much preferred Itaewon’s bustling roadside cafes. The cafes at Hannamdong are small, and most of them were takeout cafes which didn’t provide much indoor seating. Itaewon is, all in all, a westernized zone, home to far-flung imaginations and art in all its re-created beauty.

In my next update, I’d bring to you some of my favourite cafes in Itaewon-dong ^^
Till then!

 

xoxo,
Vikoria Jean

Travel Cafe Hongdae | 트래블 카페 @ 홍대

비행기 타기를 즐기십니까? Do you love plane rides and travelling?Personally I’m a huge fan of the Travel Cafe in Hapjeong/Hongik University district.  Amongst an abundance of travel inspirations and books on various attractive destinations, this is the perfect place to plan for your next trip, or simply to relive the excitement of a plane ride. When you order something to eat, your food is served as a set on a tray, just like in an airplane – appetisers, main course, drinks and dessert.

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I can never get tired of looking at pictures in travel books and magazines.

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Cinnamon Earl Grey Latte: 7000KRW20140326-222239.jpg

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At 9PM late evening: couple of stragglers still lingering in the Hongdae area. This cafe is open till pretty late in the night (11PM) so go ahead and chill-out in the comfort of this homely space.

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트래블 카페 Travel Cafe
서울특별시 마포구 서교동 398-11
398-11 Seogyo-Dong, Mapo-Gu Seoul
홍대 근처: 서교초등학교 정문 맞은편
Nearest Stations: Hapjeong/Hongik University Station
12:00~23:00
TEL: 02-322-9050

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Book Cafe Jaeum and Moeum | 자음과모음 북카페

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Major Korean publishers Jaeum and Moeum (자음과모음) releases the latest bestsellers via their flagship bookstores, as well as this dainty and elegant book cafe situated in central Yanghwaro, Hongdae. An all-day set menu includes a cup of coffee bundled with new releases.

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Book cafes are where publishers highlight noteworthy books that haven’t received much publicity or marketing opportunities. It truly is a welcome sight to see the literary scene being embraced and appreciated! ^^

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I can’t think of a better environment to cram for an examination, or just to cuddle up with a good book in a cozy little corner. The ambience was thick with an air of contemplative silence with a rhythmic tap-tap-tapping of fingers on keyboards.

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Blueberry smoothie to accompany this need for books and people-watching. This is where I finally finish reading A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian!20140326-220707.jpg

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Read:
[Korea Joongang Daily] Publisher cafes a welcome success story

Book Cafe Jaeum and Moeum | 자음과모음 북카페
Mapo-gu Yanghwaro 6gil 49
02-333-1775
Nearest Station: Hapjeong/Sangsu

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Ways of Seeing | @ 한남동 이태원

A perfect collision of art and coffee culture – what better way to kick back in appreciation of art installations with a coffee in hand! Ways of Seeing is a cafe slash art gallery along Itaewon. The local indie artsy-types would definitely know this place – it’s probably their favourite hangout.

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They have the standard coffee menu plus sandwiches, ciabattas, cakes and more. Opted for a standard latte and I’m surprised at the sheer size of their take-out cups. Though it may look small in this photo, it’s almost a Starbucks Venti.20140326-024719.jpg

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Stores with a Seoul Design Spot banner on its storefront are definitely places you must visit. A few museums, galleries and cafes which I’ve been to are marked out and labelled as a Seoul Design Spot for various reasons! Ways of Seeing is also on the design spot list.

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With ever-changing installations, this refreshing hideout is worth a return visit. Equidistant between Hangangjin and Itaewon subway station, the area is extremely accessible though it’s closer to the residential buildings! Itaewon is on my list of favorite districts in Seoul, for the sheer amount of cafes and museums to check out is startling! I love this district.

 

683-134 Hannam-dong Yongsan-gu
서울시 용산구 한남동 683-134 지하1층
Free WiFi
Map: http://goo.gl/maps/RnFdp

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Glamorous Penguin | 글래머러스 펭귄

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Glamorous Penguin is established within the expat-friendly Itaewon locale which is home to a myriad of private and national art museums, and also a walking distance from Hannamdong Cafe Street. Despite being a weekday mid-morning, Glamorous Penguin was already bustling with a caffeine-hungry crowd! Itaewon is the artsy-fartsy neighbourhood similar to Gangnam, but with less self-established private corporations. The entire Itaewon is more or less a controlled tourism district.

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Looking for somewhere to rest your feet? These cute twin penguins will definitely capture your attention!

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What looks good: cheesecakes, carrot cake, muffins, polenta, velvet cake, home-made chocolate cookies. The double-storeyed bakery cafe has plenty of seating spaces, although it can get pretty crowded.

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Ordered a strawberry latte! Plenty of fresh strawberries to chew on in the mixture of milk and juice.

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The nearest station is Hangangjin and if you keep walking along the main street in the direction of Itaewon station, keep to the right side of the road. You make to make a right turn into an alley and you’ll spot a couple of chic trendy diners. Voila!

글래머러스 펭귄
Hannam-dong, Seoul, Korea 743-41

Daily 10am – 10pm

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean