Friday, November 30, 2007

천과 수산시장

Tancheon (탄천-炭川)

Reeds growing by the Tancheon stream

After living in the heart of Seoul for almost a week, I finally went out of it to the sub-urban Jeongja (정자-亭子) for an afternoon walk by the Tancheon stream.

A path across Tancheon. It reminds me of Cheonggyecheon

I had a relaxing afternoon at Tancheon park just watching those flying wild geeses making their graceful landing over the stream.

Wild geeses taking their leisure swim in Tancheon.

These wild water fowls were creating quite a din by the stream side

Students from nearby secondary school picking up litter at Tancheon

Just an afternoon effort by those students, Tancheon looks clean and nice

Noryangjin Seafood Market (노량진수산시장-鷺梁津水産市場)

On recommendation by Kaye, I dropped by Noryangjin to visit its seafood market. On alighting at Noryangjin station, I could already smell the fishy smell of the seafood market. That was so because Noryangjin Seafood Market is situated beside the train station.

The variety of seafood sold at the market was an eye-opener. As much as the market is like an aquarium, its seafood is meant to be sold and not look at. I tried to walk through the market for some sight-seeing but was pestered by almost every stall owner to buy from them. In the end, I just stay up at the second floor of the market, where all the restaurants, which cook freshly-bought seafood, are located. It was interesting to watch the seafood sellers making "hway" or 회 or sashimi for their customers.

So much variety of seafood that one is spoilt for choice

A overview of the Noryangjin Seafood Market

They don't just sell seafood, they also make "hwae" (sashimi) on the spot

Thursday, November 29, 2007

겨울 원더랜

Olympic Park

Soma Museum of Art. I believe people are like building. When they have developed a certain degree of culture, their charm will show naturally. When everything is dark they shine like a beaming light.

It was actually still early, probably about half past 5 when I took this picture. I like the light and shadow. The art museum beside the coffee bean kinda brought out my artistic flair.

A long shot of the coffee bean building in the Olympic Park. To the right of it, is the Soma Museum of Art. This is what I call "coffee-culture". I like the night glow in this photo. When there is culture and art, everything seems to look more beautiful even in a park.

Lotte World

Magic Castle of the Lotte World. There is no better place to get the Christmas feel than the amusement park. I have long outgrown fairytale but I still like amusement park. It always bring out the child in me.

The side entrance of the Magic Castle. I took many photos of the castle since this was the first time for me in the Lotte World. I paid 7,000won for the night entry ticket which was available after 7pm.

The main gate of the Magic Castle. There was long queue for any kind of ride. I was better off spending my evening walking around the park. For someone who has never been to any of those Disney-inspired amusement parks, everything looked interesting in the Lotte World.

Amusement park is supposed to bring on the smile in people and I think I have captured one of those smiles in this photo. When the mood is good, people tend not to mind spending more money. So much toys and sweets to tempt those youngs and young-at-hearts.

Christmas Musical Special - Cinderalla. Just watching this musical made my money worth. In addition, it brought on this nice Christmas spirit. This musical with beautiful songs, lights and dances made a good closing to another day in Seoul. Those racoon dolls are the Lotte World's mascots.

The prince in the Cinderalla musical "standing high". Perhaps, if I am still a kid, I may think that he is real. I may lose my sleep for days, thinking that I have finally met the prince in a fairytale. Frankly, as a kid, I always wish that those fairytales are real and this world would be so much more beautiful. I wish everyone will live happily ever after - from Seoul's Lotte World.

아름다운 날

Merry Christmas. Also don't forget to happy hor! ^^;

We have specially "reserved" a place for you to take picture with us.

Yesterday, while I was paying for my 9 additional days of room charges, I was told that 5% discount would be given since I am going to stay for more than 7 days. I was grinning from ear to ear. It means that I have more won to spend. After cancelling my Busan trip and with such cheap room rate, I am actually under-spending my budget for this trip. 어떡해...고민해...ㅋㅋㅋ

I have been longing to eat katsu for days and finally I got to have it as lunch at Myeongdong yesterday. I ordered a chicken katsu for 6,500won. The batter was of the right crispiness and the chicken meat was so tender that it almost "melted" in my mouth. Sorry, perhaps I have over-exaggerated but you get what I mean. The meat was so tender that I was wondering if it was indeed chicken meat. It was a satisfying meal.

After lunch, I went over to Natuur Cafe for ice cream dessert. I was looking for my favourite red bean flavour but was disappointed that it was not available. As I was checking out the flavours, there was this flavour called "라이스" which caught my attention. It took me quite a while to connect that it actually meant "rice". The shop assistant, seeing that I was puzzled, explained that "라이스" is "쌀". I wonder if his explanation would have help anything if I do not know Korean. Perhaps he thought that I am a Korean but anyway I was interested enough to try the rice flavour. So I ordered a double sccop, rice and hazelnut walnut flavour, which cost 4,000won. The rice flavour turned out quite nice.

My lunch - Chicken Katsu. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside.

My indulgence-Natuur ice cream with rice and hazelnut walnut flavour.

I have an appointment with Kaye in the evening so before that, I spent the rest of my afternoon in Myeongdong. It seems to me that everyday is like a festival at Myeongdong and I like festival mood. Even though the place was crowded, there was absolutely no stress walking among the crowd unlike when I am stuck in a crowded airport. It is always good to see what is new at Myeongdong since things change quite frequently there. Every visit is a new feeling.

Caffe Pascucci and Bean Pole are two very nice buildings in Myeongdong.

A nice glass wall with a giant-sized Jang Dong-gun fronting it.

Is Kwon Sang-woo selling thefaceship or the other way round?

A pushcart selling "ho ddeok". A winter food that gives energy.

There are many small alleys in Myeongdong to explore.

One last look at Myeongdong before I went into Myeongdong station.

I was back to Hoegi again. I was meeting Kaye for dinner at 6:30pm to celebrate her successful attempt in landing a job in Korea. She proves what I believe in - If there is a will, there is a way. Congrats Kaye! (I think I have forgotten to tell you that yesterday evening.)

Back at Hoegi station again. Everything looks so familiar.

BBQ chicken on a stick made me hungry when I get out of Hoegi Station.

After the dinner, Kaye introduced me to a traditional teahouse near Kyunghee. I actually never realised that there was a teahouse there. It is called "nogwon" (녹원-綠園) and it is located at the basement. It was the first time I sat in a traditional teahouse in Korea. I really like the atmosphere here.

"Nogwon" definitely looks traditional. Messages left by customers on the wall

Be it cafe or traditional teahouse, the atmosphere is always great here.

While on way home on a taxi, I actually had a conversation with the taxi-driver in Korean. Naturally, the first question he asked was where I came from. So I replied I came from Singapore. He then went on to say that he heard that Singapore is a very good place but he has not been there. I was surprised when he brought up Mr Lee Kuan Yew later. I didn't expect that our MM is so popular in Korea to the extent that even a taxi driver in the street also know his name. So I asked him why Mr Lee is famous in Korea. He said that it was because of his thinking. Also, in the 70s, Mr Lee visited Korea and met with Mr Park Jung Hee, the ROK's President then. Apparently, it was a high profile meeting in Korea. He said that after the meeting, Mr Lee Kuan Yew brought back to Singapore what he learnt about the "Saemaul" movement, initiated by Mr Park Jung Hee, and from there, Singapore's economy went on an overdrive. By the way, "Saemaul" (새마을) or the "New Village" movement was credited for transforming the Korea's economy and Mr Park Jung Hee was always remembered by the Koreans for what he did for their economy.

After I get out of the taxi, I was smiling. I thought I passed my first simple conservation with a native Korean in Korean. It was that suddent realisation that I can finally speak that brought me joy. Just like the joy we have when a baby starts to speak a proper sentence. Perhaps, like what our SKS principal said, he suddenly found that he could speak Japanese after participating in a Japanese Speech Contest. I think he is right. ^^

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

고민을 다 잊어버렸다

For the past few nights, I have been falling asleep while uploading the photos into my blog. Yesterday night was no different. Though I came back at 9pm with the intention to update my blog before sleep, I fell asleep by 10pm without much done. I woke up naturally today at 7am but continue to stay in bed until 9am. The winter weather just makes me feel sleepy which I think is good. I need to rest well during my holiday so that I can fully recharge. The feeling is good when I am following my own schedule.

As I was walking to the metro station yesterday, I was kinda distracted to explore the district I live in. One of the information board wrote that this area is known as the North Village or Bukchon (북촌-北村). In Joseon Dynasty, it used to be an upper class residential area for the royal blood and high officials. Today, however, it is a common residential area. Nevertheless, it still feels good to know that I am living in an area with good "fengshui".

Traditional Korean-style and modern houses are interspersed in Bukchon.

View of Namsam Tower when walking down a slope in Bukchon.

Since I left my place quite late yesterday, by the time I reached Apgujoeng, the sky was turning dark. It was completely dark by 6pm and beautiful Christmas lightings were up everywhere. You probably cannot miss "the Galleria" if you have been to Apgujeong. This building is almost like a landmark in Apgujeong. From a distance, I was already mesmerised by its LED screen-like facade. The facade was displaying Christmas animation in all sort of brilliant colours. The building looked so glamorous at night that I could not take my eyes off it.

The Galleria displaying Christmas animation in brilliant colours.

The temperature fell below zero yesterday night for sure. If not, I would not have to keep my hands in the pocket constantly to keep warm. Because of the chilly weather, I found myself more acceptable to a Christmas display with an Arctic theme. Due to that, you get to see the display on photos or I would have ignore it completely if it is in Singapore. The polar bears and igloos set up beside the Galleria attracted a steady stream of people snapping pictures with their camera phones.

Polar bear family inside a man-made igloo. Very nice for photo.

Adorable polar bear ready for you to hug and take a picture with.

Stars and fairy lights telling you its going to be Christmas soon.

Since I have been to Apgujeong a few times, the place no longer gave me the "wow". However, I still quite like looking at some of the buldings and shops there. Very nice to look at but I will hesitate to go in unless I have money to burn. I was looking for "Ah Kun Kaya Toast" at Apgujeong but found that the shop has since closed down. Does it means that kaya toast and high class does not mix? What a shame.

Amelie sells beautiful cakes and cheesecakes. Be prepared to pay more.

Blue Moon jazz club is a filming site for My Lovely Sam-soon.

Homestead Coffee, another famous brand name in Seoul.

One last photo to end the day. The busy street of Apgujeong.

My original intention is to move to Busan today. However, perhaps my experience with Air China flight delays and being stranded in an overcrowded Beijing Airport has taken away my urge to move from place to place. So I will be staying in Seoul afterall until I depart for Beijing again. Being very comfortable in where I am staying now is also a reason why I decide to stay. I think it would be better to save the time spent on travelling and finding accommodation for something more meaningful. I shall be taking short trips out of Seoul by train and then return at the end of the day. Any place within 2 hours of travel from Seoul will be nice.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


After visiting Yonsei, I went searching for the 1st Shop of Coffee Prince in the vicinity of Hongdae (Hongik University). I shall include the map here. The direction given in Tour2Korea was not written in very proper English. Fortunately, my English is also not that good, so I still manage to find my way there. This is probably an example of two negatives giving one positive. Anyway, this is my account of how I found my way there.

I took metro line 2 (green line) to Hongik University (홍대입구-弘大入口) and exited the station via Exit 4. The first building I saw was the Seven Springs Salad and Grill Restaurant.

Seven Springs is also a filming site for the Korean drama "Alone in Love"

I turned right into the road before this restaurant. After a short walk, I reached the first intersection and crossed it. At the next intersection, I turned left and kept to the small road on the right side. As I walked along this small road, there was an open area to my left. After about 100m of walk, there was a 90deg bend to the right. I followed the bend and continued to walk on the right side of the road. The road after the bend was a straight and uphill road that led to a main road at the end. The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince was located almost right at the end of this road. That was about 500m of walk after the bend.

At the 1st Shop of Coffee Prince. The cafe has a big "P" at its front.

Will Coffee Prince become a successful brand like Starbuck one day?

The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince was not as crowded as I have thought. Also, it's customers were largely Koreans and not tourists. If I have not read about this coffee shop, I would not have known that it was a filming site for a Korean drama. Though it looks like many other coffee shops in Seoul, I still like the place for its simplicity and because it was located at a quiet corner near to Hongdae.

An innovative way of using space. A boutique underneath Coffee Prince.

A full view of 1st Shop of Coffee Prince.

Night was falling at about 5pm when I took these pictures.

I was sorry to have peeked inside. After that, I couldn't resist going in.

After enough of photo-taking from outside, I could not resist going into the shop to have a nice cup of Iced Mocha. To be frank, I was thinking for quite a while whether this shop was really serving coffee or everything else that I saw was a mock-up for visitors. But of course, I was quite a "babo" to even think of that. They do sell coffee and drinks like any other cafes. I paid 7,000won for my Iced Mocha. Though it didn't cost me a hand and leg but it was quite expensive as compared to other cafes. I tried to reason that perhaps 3,000won of the 7,000won is meant as an entrance fee to the shop.

A look around Coffee Prince. A small and comfortable place to meet up.

My Iced Mocha which cost me 7,000won. I like the chocolate swirl.

A last look at Coffee Prince radiating its charm after nightfall.