[THAILAND] o17. AYUTTHAYA – OF RECLINING BUDDHAS AND WISHING WELLS

Following a seafood-induced food coma and a brief exposure to Thai Buddhist rituals at renowned Wat Phanan Choeng, our local Thai friends took us on yet another cultural tour – the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, also known as Wat Lokkayasutharam. At this point it would be useful to note there are more than 2 Temples with Reclining/Sleeping Buddhas in Ayutthaya – one of which is indoors at Wat Pho, and 2 others are documented below.

In good faith, devotees typically purchase incense sticks for prayers, which came with flowers, candles, joss-sticks and 2x2cm flecks of gold paper for ‘dressing’ the Buddha. A huge test of devotion often involved patience for adhering the flimsy pieces of gold, bound to escape like seeds of the dandelion in the wind.

The first thing about ‘Sleeping Buddha’ at Wat Lokkayasutharam that amazed me was its absolute size, followed by the sense of peace upon seeing the gentle unassuming smile of the sacred giant. Putting aside fatigue of travel and accumulated stress, an aura of serenity took precedence as all else fell into the background. Away from the bustling city was this figure of faith on which many troubles were unloaded, to which hopes and dreams were articulated.

IMG_6601
Gold Flecks on the Reclining Buddha

IMG_6605

It suffices to say that the Kingdom was wealthy, to be in possession of enough to construct multiple such shrines in praise of its gods. IMG_6665

IMG_6657

IMG_6649

IMG_6644

IMG_6643

IMG_6623

IMG_6638

IMG_6637

IMG_6635

IMG_6629

IMG_6619

IMG_6615

IMG_6597

IMG_6591

Within the shrine more surprises were in store. Wishing wells, treacherous stairs, relics from another life. To make a wish at this particular wishing well, you have to conquer a tough flight of stairs.

IMG_6627
Wishing well for the weary – only by conquering a treacherous flight of stairs could you be deemed eligible to cast your wish

If one reclining Buddha wasn’t enough, we visited and prayed to yet another, this one albeit with a much brighter smile in my opinion! Don’t you feel instantly cheered up by this mega-watt beam? For a truly cultural experience this part of Ayutthaya is definitely not to be missed. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing the the local customs of praying and showing respects to local monks, as well as learning to different eacf part of the city from another by events that went down post Burmese-invasion. I don’t think there was any other way I could have learnt more from the trip.

IMG_6722

IMG_6725

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[PARIS] oo8.GALERIES LAFAYETTE

And Paris is a woman’s town, with flowers in her hair;
– Henry van Dyke

A full-blown visual tour of Galeries Lafayette’s gorgeous interior: other than to gush over luxury goods I took the liberty of snapping otherwise passed-over gush-worthy details. Has anybody ever really highlighted the architectural wonder that is this shopping mall?

P1070154 P1070156 P1070157 P1070159 P1070161 P1070164 P1070165 P1070166 P1070167 P1070168 P1070169 P1070170 P1070172 P1070173 P1070174 P1070175

Top-storey view: gorgeous and lofty. You could pretty much see a 360 of Paris.

P1070177 P1070180 P1070181 P1070182 P1070184 P1070188 P1070189 P1070190 P1070191

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Cafe aA Design Museum | 카페 aA 디자인 뮤지엄

Imagine my joy when I finally found my way to Cafe aA in Hongdae!
20140413-165525.jpg

“Seoul Design Spot” identifies 250 unique architectural creations or designer venues selected by 100 famed designers. Cafe aA Design Museum is a European-style hangout which falls under both museum and cafe categories. I was really excited to hunt for this chill-out museum.

The cafe currently occupies the ground floor of the 5-storey building, with the basement still under construction. The remaining floors showcases designer furniture, fashion, and art.

20140413-165859.jpg

A while ago before heading to Korea, I came across these pictures and decided I just had to see this urban chic coffeehouse and view their art gallery! I’m not much of a big eater, but I snack heavily. This place provides really light bites (nuggets, pancakes, salads, risotto) and a good range of coffees for the after-work socialites, and the university kids looking for a conducive study cafe.

20140413-165556.jpg

20140413-165608.jpg

20140413-165616.jpg

My dream came true in the form of Kahlua Cinnamon Ice – coffee with Kahlua topped with milk, cinnamon flavoured syrup and cinnamon flakes! At a reasonable price of 6,500 KRW, it totally made my day. 20140413-165626.jpg

20140413-165636.jpg

20140413-165644.jpg

20140413-165702.jpg

According to the owners, the lowercase in ‘aA’ stands for art, architecture, and alive. The capital A is an unchanging value, that one can expect ‘the best a person can get’.20140413-165725.jpg

20140413-165744.jpg

20140413-165801.jpg

20140413-165835.jpg

The interior seems pretty bright over here because I’d adjusted the colour but it’s actually pretty dark inside. The walls are a grungy mix washed-out greys and chipped tiles, which I really loved because stepping alone into Cafe aA felt a tad spooky as if I’m paying a visit to a haunted house. Various elements funkified the dark atmosphere – designer coffee-table books and artistic pamphlets.20140413-165843.jpg

20140413-165852.jpg

20140413-165908.jpg

20140413-165915.jpg

20140413-165922.jpg

20140413-165930.jpg

20140413-165939.jpg

20140413-165947.jpg

20140413-165957.jpg

20140413-170014.jpg

Check this out: Big Bang’s TOP contributed this vintage metal bench to aA Design Museum!20140413-170031.jpg

20140413-170022.jpg

20140413-170040.jpg

20140413-170052.jpg

Selfie time in the creepy basement where I was all alone.20140413-170105.jpg

Best thing about this cafe? Its sheer size. It’s impossible not to find a seat, or you could always order up, take a walk in the gallery, then come back and get yourself a table. Am totally in love with this place. 20140413-170118.jpg

20140413-170138.jpg

20140413-170150.jpg

aA Design Museum
서울시 마포구 서교동 408-11
Mon – Sun: 12:00 – 24:00 
http://www.aadesignmuseum.com

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

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).

20140401-133222.jpg

20140401-133233.jpg

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

20140401-133241.jpg

20140401-133249.jpg

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

20140401-133307.jpg

20140401-133301.jpg

20140401-133318.jpg

20140401-133324.jpg

20140401-133345.jpg

20140401-133312.jpg

20140401-133336.jpg

20140401-133330.jpg

20140401-133403.jpg

20140401-133351.jpg

20140401-133408.jpg

20140401-133357.jpg

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

20140401-133416.jpg

20140401-133433.jpg

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

20140401-133451.jpg

20140401-133458.jpg

20140401-133505.jpg

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

20140401-133531.jpg

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.

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

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

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.

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

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 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.

P1000884

P1000886

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

20140405-114048.jpg

20140405-114055.jpg

20140405-114100.jpg

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

And now, IT’S ALIVE20140405-114144.jpg

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

20140405-114208.jpg

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

20140405-114221.jpg

20140405-114228.jpg

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

P1000892

P1000894

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

20140405-121040.jpg

20140405-121047.jpg

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!

20140403-142903.jpg

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

The exterior of a hotel:20140403-142914.jpg

20140403-142925.jpg

20140403-142933.jpg

20140403-142940.jpg

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.

20140403-143000.jpg

20140403-142944.jpg

20140403-142953.jpg

20140403-143007.jpg

20140403-143023.jpg

20140403-143016.jpg

20140403-143036.jpg

20140403-143042.jpg

20140403-143029.jpg

20140403-143051.jpg

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.

P1000799

P1000801

P1000802

P1000804

P1000806

P1000807

P1000811

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

Cafe True Us @ Insa-Dong | 인사동맛집 카페트루어스

Lemon and Mint-ade after spending a long afternoon exploring Bukchon Hanok Village and Samcheongdong. Cafe True Us 카페트루어스 is located along the antiques street of Insadong, with the nearest station being Jongno-3-Ga Station. Its triple-storeyed interiors are furnished to match its physical location – Insadong is home to cultural arts and crafts that go way back in time. Polished teakwood tables and chairs in Cafe True Us brings back the nostalgic air of the roaring ’80s.

20140401-012527.jpg

20140401-012613.jpg

20140401-012535.jpg

20140401-012540.jpg

20140401-012545.jpg

20140401-012550.jpg

20140401-012556.jpg

20140401-012601.jpg

20140401-012607.jpg

20140401-012618.jpg

20140401-012623.jpg

카페트루어스
전화: 02-722-4855
종로구 인사동 146 (인사점), Seoul
146 Jongno-Gu Insadong, Seoul

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES OO6: SHOPPING @ IFC MALL & LOTTE OUTLETS

MARCH 22, 2014: DAY THREE
Despite my frequent travels, I don’t do a lot of shopping overseas. Seoul is probably the only place where there’s never enough space in my luggages for my shopping loot! Hongdae’s open-till-late vintage and indie stores are just about my favourite places to go. Right up there on my favourite shopping places in Seoul: IFC MALL @ Yeouido and LOTTE OUTLETS @ Seoul Station.

Following my solo-venture to Yeouido and Hangang Park, I took exit number 3 at Yeouido Station. This exit will lead you to IFC MALL directly! It also links to Conrad Seoul, where my colleagues and I stay when we travel to Seoul. Mostly, IFC Malls boasts of international boutiques and luxury franchises. In major shopping districts like Myeongdong, Migliore (Dongdaemun), IFC Malls, Lotte World, Lotte Outlets etc, you get to shop Tax-Free and get your GST refund from Incheon International Airport.

Lotte Outlets is at Seoul Station – the one-stop place where you can check in for your flights, deposit your luggages for a small fee, and shop till you drop right up to an hour or so before your plane departs! The mad convenience is why Lotte World is shopper’s paradise!

롯데아울렛 서울역점
LOTTE OUTLETS SEOUL STATION

45-205 Dongja-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Monday – Thursday: AM 11:00 ~ PM 09:00
Friday – Sunday: AM 11:00 ~ PM 10:00

SEOUL STATION

SEOUL STATION SKYLINE

P1000643

Lotte Outlets Seoul

.:*・°☆.:*・°☆.:*・°☆.:*・°☆.:*・°☆.:*・°☆

IFC MALL
10 Gukjegeumyung-ro, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul
(before) 23,Yeouido-dong, Youngdeungpo-gu, Seoul
IFC MALL: AM 10:00 ~ PM 10:00
IFC STREETSHOP: AM 10:00 ~ PM 09:00

You might love: YOUNGPOONG BOOKS, Raum Edition, 8 Seconds, Bean Pole, Beaker Lab
Food: CAFFE BENE, Baskin Robbins, Parkgabudae, Olive Market, Cheiljemyunso, Le Brunchic

IFC MALL

IFC MALL KOREA

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean