[ROME] INNER TRIMMINGS OF THE VATICAN CITY

Be amazed at what human beings have achieved. Some dedicate their lives to creating art – intricate gold and bronze details adorn every inch of the ceiling at the St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City. How did they get there, you ask. How did the people of the past achieve incredible feats like these. Patience, loads and loads of personal devotion to their craft. In short, people lived and breathed their art.

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[ROME] THE VATICAN CITY

We arrived, early summer morning, at the smallest internationally recognised independent state in the world! Dan Brown aficionados would undoubtedly link Vatican City to Angels and Demons, in which our all-time favourite Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon fights to stop the Illuminati from destroying Vatican City with the newly discovered antimatter. I loved every sequel, but Angels and Demons is by far my favourite Langdon novel. I was extremely psyched about seeing the Vatican with my own eyes!

The exterior was breathtaking – the pristine white columns, striking obelisk, and hordes of tourists snapping photos at every single picture-worthy monument. Summer is the best time for touring Rome. Sharing some of them lovely shots I took outside of the Basilica. Enjoy!

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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!

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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

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.

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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.

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

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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

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.

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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!!!

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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’.

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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??

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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 ^^

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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^)/

 

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafè

Sydney Guylian Cafe

Sydney Guylian Cafe Strawberry Tart

Sydney is home to this restaurant slash patisserie bearing the name of a famed household chocolate brand. Guylian Cafè didn’t disappoint, probably as the tarts we ordered came at a time where we were too hungry to be picky. The glazed strawberries didn’t taste as fresh as I’d imagined. But for a quick spike of blood glucose the dessert certainly worked its sugar-laden miracles.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Circular Quay
Shop 10, Opera Quays
3 Macquarie Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Australia
Sun to Thurs 8am – 11pm
Fri & Sat 8am – Midnight

[THAILAND] oo9.Leaving on a Jet-Ski

Eight of us embarked on 4-hour jet-ski safari that took us on a tour of 7 of Thailand’s offshore islands. While Josephine maneuvered the ride for the journey to the snorkeling island, I drove both of us back to Koh Samui. We had aching arms for days after the ride. Jet-skiing is such amazing fun once you get the hang of it…the way you handle the waves, rising tides and getting soaked from top to toe…it’s all about taking the plunge and just trying. I never thought I would like jetskiing but I’ve seriously fallen in love with the sport!!

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet-Ski Koh Samui

Jet Skiing Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui Girls

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Thailand

Jet Ski Thailand Island

Jet Ski Thailand Samui

Life Vest Girls

Girls Island

Jet Ski Thailand

Jet Ski Thailand Sun

Sun sand sea jetski

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For a list of island water activities – such as kitesurfing, paddle-boarding and scuba diving – visit Water Edge Sports!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg

Swans at Schloss Leopoldskron

A glimpse of the rococo villa from the bank across, while surrounded by a gorgeous bevy of swans. Contrary to popular belief, the Schloss Leopoldskron palace was never used as the Von Trapp villa in Robert Wise’s Sound of Music!

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Leopoldskron Palace is privately owned and not accessible to the general public, unless you’re a registered resident of the castle accommodations.

Schloss Leopoldskron River Palace
We were in Salzburg mid-September while temperature hasn’t descended to an insane low, though dark clouds and rain weren’t merciful enough to spare us.

Swans Schloss Leopoldskron
One of 3 scenes filmed here was of Julie Andrews and the children falling into the Leopoldskroner Weiher. I remember that so well now!

Schloss Leopoldskron

Sound of Music Tour
Our larger-than-life, don’t-seem-like-she’s-been-doing-this-everyday-for-twenty-years tour guide.

Swans at Schloss Leopoldskron

Schloss Leopoldskron Swans riverside

Schloss Leopoldskron Salzburg

Schloss Leopoldskron Salzburg
Friends who were excited at meeting swans who aren’t people-shy.

Schloss Leopoldskron
Leopoldskronstraße 56-58
5020 Salzburg

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

5 Things I Learnt about Dubai

This weekend, I’m in Dubai, feeling so lost about the city’s roads, culture, everything.

With Harper’s Bazaar World of Fashion, Fashion Forward Season 2, Global Village 2013 – 2014 and all those exciting events going on, no doubt Dubai deserves being hailed as the regional fashion hub. There are just soooo many things I can’t get used to.

It’s a lovely lovely city, especially Downtown Dubai! People actually offer to hold your bags while you fish for your wallet at small local delis. The grocer at Robinsons hands you your change on a dish like in Japan and waves you goodbye. And everyone holds doors for everybody else.

Fascinated by this city, really. Here are 5 things that sprung to my mind.

1. There are no Cafès. Period.
Gosh. What’s their secret? How do people get their daily cuppa?

2. You get stared at, if you’re female and alone.
Then they start walking backwards with their eyes still trained on you.

3. You get stared at, if your skin colour is different.
Yes I know I’m pasty and practically translucent

4. Barricades in (some very rare) Starbucks are meant to separate  men and women
That being said, I’m darn impressed by Starbucks’ Dubai interior designers. Omg SO PRETTY
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5. Everyone walks > an arm’s distance apart.
I thought it was just me. Until I observed and realised they just don’t walk close to anyone else. Like a habit.

Also, girls can bear their skin. It’s not a sin.
Contrary to my misguided belief, it’s alright for tank tops in the sweltering heat! It is just very uncommon. The girls here are also very very pretty.
Well, seems like I’ve learnt something new!