Wednesday, March 27, 2013

인천 아트 플랫폼

About 10 minutes walk from Incheon Station, located right next to Incheon Chinatown, you will come face to face with the Incheon Art Platform. What catches your attention immediately are the red-brick warehouses which have served their purpose and are reborn as creative spaces for art and culture. Built in the 1930s-40s, the buildings' old world vibe blended well with modern steel and glass structures to create a platform for both local and international artists to come together to communicate and cooperate. In the Korean drama "Dream High", this place is home to "Kirin Art School".

Filming location of "Dream High"

This is not Kirin Art School; this is Incheon Art Platform.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


My one-day itinerary for Gapyeong (가평, 嘉平) includes visit to Nami Island, Petite France and the Garden of Morning Calm (아침고요수목원). Getting around Gapyeong is quite easy. Its various places of interest are served by city tour bus which operates between Gapyeong Bus Terminal (first bus 9:00am) and the Garden of Morning Calm at an hourly interval. A one-day bus pass, which costs 5,000 won, can be bought from the bus driver when you board the bus. Besides Gapyeong Bus Terminal, you can also board the bus at Gapyeong Station (가평역, 嘉平驛), Cheongpyeong Bus Terminal and Cheongpyeong Station (청평역, 清平驛). Of course, the bus also makes stop at Nami Island and Petite France. Each bus comes with a tour guide but it will not be of any help if you cannot understand Korean. The bus route, with an end-to-end travelling time of 1.5 hour, is shown below:

Gapyeong Bus Terminal → Jara Island → Gapyeong Station → Nami Island → Geumdaeri Community Hall → Petite France → Cheongpyeong Bus Terminal → Cheongpyeong Station → Yim Elementary School → Garden of Morning Calm

The Garden of Morning Calm usually holds its lighting festival from early December to early March the following year. The scale of its lightings is of several magnitude bigger than those you would see at the garden in front of Lotte Duty Free Store Myeongdong. Lights are switched on at 5:30pm. I arrived at the garden at 4:30pm which was quite a good timing. The next bus would only reach at 6:30pm and it would be a bit too late especially when you have to catch the last city tour bus leaving the garden at 7:30pm. I have about one and a half hour to enjoy the lightings but I don't think it is enough. Probably three hours would be good but that would only be possible if I have my own vehicle.

I left on the last bus and alighted at Cheongpyeong Station and from there, I took a train back to Seoul. It is quite convenient travelling around Gapyeong on its city tour bus. If you understand Korean, you may even enjoy the jokes and stories which the tour guide tells along the way. The detailed bus schedule is attached at the end of this posting.

A small chapel at the end of "Road to Heaven"

Magic forest came alive upon nightfall

Almost heaven

Shimmering cool white lights along the "Road to Heaven"

Flower lights in "full blossom" in the dead of winter

You ain't see anything yet. The Garden of Morning Calm's Lighting Festival is about a whole arboretum in lights
Love theme is a must

Dazzled by lights
White snow and colourful lights

Overwhelmed by lights at "Sunken Garden"

Lights makes winter night lovely

Gapyeong City Tour Bus Schedule - From Gapyeong Bus Terminal to Garden of Morning Calm

Gapyeong City Tour Bus Schedule - From Garden of Morning Calm to Gapyeong Bus Terminal

Sunday, March 17, 2013

모습이 달라진 삼청동

In my recent memory, Samcheongdong was never so devoid of crowd and traffic. But on a cold winter night, I guess people would rather stay indoor and keep themselves warm than to tempt the biting cold. The atmosphere at Samcheongdong was as cold as the winter night. The warm light radiating out from the many up-market boutiques, cafes and restaurants that lined the streets was perhaps the only consolation. Samcheongdong has seen much changes since I last visited but its allure at night has not diminished.

Monday, March 11, 2013


Sanmotoongi (산모퉁이) means a corner of a mountain foot (山脚下的一隅) but Sanmotoongi Cafe & Gallery sits on a high point in Buamdong (부암동, 付岩洞). Folktale has it that long time ago in this area, there was a two metres high magical rock. Villager who wanted a son would rub a number of stones equal to his age on it. When he released his hand and the stones stuck, he would have his wish filfilled. From this, came the name "bu-am" which literally means "attach to rock".

Located behind Gyeongbok Palace and the Blue House, Buamdong is a world apart from the hustle and bustle of downtown Seoul but yet, it is geographically not far away from it. I hardly met any people on the streets. There was a sense of loneliness which was quite out of place in a city with a population of more than 10 million people. I like loneliness but I not lonely.

I did not know exactly where Sanmotoongi was in Buamdong. I only remember I have to walk up some "ridiculously" steep slopes before I came across it. Seoul was still quite cold then, at about -7°C. On entering Sanmotoongi, I ordered a cup of hot mocha and warm up my body a bit before exploring the place.

Sanmotoongi is a 3-level building with both indoor and outdoor seatings. At level three rooftop, I have a lovely view of the night scenery of Seoul and Buamdong. Level two is where the cafe entrance and counter are and level one, the main gallery. After the place was made famous by the Korean drama, the "1st Shop of Coffee Prince", it now looks dated, but still good enough as a short get-away from the stressful city life.

Sanmotoongi Gallery & Cafe at Buamdong

Sanmotoongi is built over a slope. What looks like a 2-level building is actually 3 levels

Terracotta horses stood guard on the side of the entrance

Looking out from my seat
Potraits of the cast of the "1st Shop of Coffee Prince

Sanmotoongi's logo was seen all over the cafe

Part of exhibits at level 3 indoor

Couple having a quiet time at level 3

A closer look at the seat vacated by the couple

Night has arrived at Seoul and Buamdong

Some memorabilia from the Korean drama that brought it fame

Stairs to level one - the main gallery

Doll in a lightbulb

This room at level one can only be used by a group of  four or more people

A fish tank in an old television shell

Part of exhibits at level one

Outdoor area

Warm light from inside Sanmotoongi

"Gallery" extended even to the side of the road outside Sanmotoongi