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

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

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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 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

SEOUL DIARIES OO5: HANGANG PARK

Yeouido Hangang Park

March 22, 2014: DAY THREE
I picked the perfect day with a gorgeous weather to explore the Yeouido Park! The trail cuts off at an intersection before leading to Yeouido Hangang Park (여의도 한강공원), which faces the Han River. Following this park trail, you can choose to jog along Han River or cross over to central Seoul via Yeoui-daero and Mapo-Bridge.

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With the endless, cloudless sky above and a shimmering crystal-blue waters of Han River before me: I’m one very blessed solo-venturer. No filters were used on these photographs! Look at the serene blueness of this beautiful scenery. I could wake up to this river every morning and lose myself in its immeasurable depths.

Hangang Yeouido Park

HAN RIVER KOREA

flowers at han river

han river seoul

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES OO4: YEOUIDO PARK

Yeouido Park Seoul

March 22, 2014: DAY THREE
Bright and early, I was up and headed for Yeoinaru Subway Station. When I found Yeouido Park (a short walk away), the place was already filled with morning joggers, cycling couples and the brisk-walking elderly!

The park is divided into theme-based sections: the Traditional Korean Forest, Grass Square, Culture Square, and Nature’s Ecosystem Forest.

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This is the Cultural Event Square, lined by zelkova trees. Loads of performances and events are held here regularly. This is also where I began my walk from the beginning of the park to the end. I made a loop around Ecosystem Forest, walk back towards Cultural Event Square, before heading in the direction of Han River.20140331-233526.jpg

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I was tempted to cycle, until I realise the bicycles had to be returned at the start of the same trail! If you’re headed for Han River, it’s not too far to just go on foot, which I did. Of course, this was not before 2 mid-morning coffee breaks at Tous Les Jours and Orange Cafe.
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Yeouido Island Seoul

In April, cherry blossoms will line the streets of Yeouido. A pity I won’t be able to catch this beautiful sight! I did get to admire cherry blossoms in Jeju Island though ^^. In any way, flowers are in abundance on Yoi Island.
4 월에 여의도 벚꽃을 볼 것이다! 꽃은이 섬에 너무 아름다워~

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Statue of King Sejong at Yeouido Park
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In Traditional Korean Forest, only traditional Korean trees are planted. The trail walk mimics the elegance of South Korean traditional gardens, complete with octagonal pavilions that extends over the ponds.20140331-235507.jpg

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A complete juxtaposition: traditional forests against the backdrop of sky-high concrete buildings in a metropolitan business city. Yeouido is also known as South Korea’s Wall Street.20140331-235534.jpg

Walking up this flight of steps made me feel like a princess / prince / servant / chambermaid from Joseon Dynasty!20140331-235539.jpg

Pucker up kissy fishies ㅋ ㅋ ㅋ 20140401-002450.jpg

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Plugged into my iPod, I’d conquered Yeouido Park in less than an hour. It’s not unusual for lone hikers/solo travellers to be walking this path alone, hence I felt completely at ease. Along the way, the scenic landscape distracted me from detecting my own exhaustion.

Perhaps of the mental clarity, with nothing in the environment I had to tune out from, a million thoughts were fighting to be heard in my head. This walk-in-the-park did me a world of good, and it just might be exactly what you need too.

I love nature so, so much.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean