Archive

Heart of My Seoul

The Royal Palace

The Royal Palace

phnom5

S-21

S-21 Prison Museum

phnom3

Russian Market where you can find anything here

Vibrant night lights

nightmarketnightmkt2

nightmkt6

nightmkt3

Busy, hectic, messy, vintage but yet developing and vibrant; the best words to describe the city of Phnom Penh. As the Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh is now the centre of economic and governance. Used to be ruled under French, a lot of French colonial architecture can still be found in the cities. French language still also holds a privileged place in Cambodian society and widely spoken especially among the educated members of the older generation.

Behind the current developing state, Phnom Penh keeps Khmer’s dark history. The city becomes the silent witness for the worst genocide history in 20th century.  Up to 2,000,000 Cambodians, nearly a quarter of the country’s then population were mass-killed. The remaining of the victims (bones and the clothing) have not been excavated in the memorial park at Choeung Ek and the Killing Fields and (Tuol Sleng) S-21 Prison is now opened as a museum to public as a commemoration to the victims.

I did not visit the memorial park and the Killing Fields, but the (Tuol Sleng) S-21 Prison Museum. It was already heart-wrenching enough for me. The feeling of walking through the memorial places of the mass killing has never been not soothing at all. However I learnt to understand how the genocide was carried out and how the aftermath still affects the people in Cambodia today.

If the memorial park is too disturbing, try The Royal Palace. The grant architectures remind me of the Royal Palace of Thailand. The complex is not as complex as the Thai’s and it is easier to explore too. Guided tour is also available for visitors. I did not spend too long at the palace compound, probably less than an hour as we still had the next stop to visit ; RUSSIAN MARKET!

Russian Market, what more can I say…. shopping, shopping and shopping! The place is very huge to the extend you may get lost here. It’s pretty similar as Chatucak Market in Bangkok. You can find almost everything here. There are actually 2 main markets in the city, Russian Market and Central Market. My driver was the one who recommended the Russian Market. Well, the locals are always be the best tour guide, aren’t they?

The night life in Phnom Penh is more vibrant compared to Siem Reap. The riverside is where the most swarmed with tourists. The innermost part of the city is the alive at night with many cafes and restaurants around. Every night, there will be a night market held in the area, goods sold varies from clothes, arts and handmade accessories to local food. It is better for ladies travellers to wear modest clothing while in Cambodia. Although there are many Caucasians, sexy attire still attracts attention and it can be uncomfortable. I, myself was annoyed with the unwanted attention from those wandering eyes because of my tank-top.

After all, visiting Phnom Penh is another unforgettable experience. For those who love to blend in authentic South East Asian culture, Phnom Penh is the perfect place to show them all.

cat1For cat lovers travelling to Seoul, this place is a must to visit for you 🙂

Seoul has a lot of quirky and unique cafes, each with their own speciality. One of the unique cafes in Seoul is dog cafes and cat cafes. There are a few of cat and dog cafes spread around the capital. But only a few outstanding ones.

One of the cleanest cat cafe I’ve been to is located in Myeongdong, one of Seoul’s busiest shopping places. The cafe is located in the top level of one the shop houses and it makes a perfect place to getaway from the hustle-bustle in the street below.

Look out for this Garfield cat! He was dancing Psy's Gentleman with another mascot...

Look out for this Garfield cat! He was dancing Psy’s Gentleman with another mascot here…

Don’t worry not to be able to find the place, because the cafe’s mascot, Garfield the Cat, will be walking around on the main street of Myeongdong. He will show give away the leaflets with map details.

Before entering the cafe, you need to take off your shoes and change into slippers. To sit down in the cafe, you pay a small admission fee that includes any hot or cold beverage of your choice. But you can stay as long at the cafe as you’d like. There are a few rules how to handle the cats too.

This cat is welcoming the guests at the counter

This cat is welcoming the guests at the counter

The cats here are clean and don’t smell. Almost most of them are adorable cats. But they are not as active as dogs. Most of them will only approach you if buy cat treats. Most of the cats when I came were sleeping, so what we did not interact much with them.

Snacking time!

Sleeping…

and sleeping…

The cats here wear cute cat collars and most of them are made by the staff here. The cats even have their own special toilet. Different from the dogs in the dog cafe which can just anywhere produce their waste, the cats knows the right place to do their business.

cat3

If you are a feline, this Cat Café is a must to go to. Overall, it is really quite a nice and clean cafe for relaxing, especially when you want to take a break from the busy shopping activity in Myeongdong.

Admission: 8,000KRW for entrance and a drink.

How to go there: 

Take subway to Myeongdong Station (Line 4, blue line) and get off at exit #6. You will see Uniqlo just right in front of the stairway exit and turn left from the exit. Walk straight towards the BSX shop and turn right. The cafe is on one of shophouses on the right side (you’ll see the banner)

Kongbul at Hongdae

Kongbul at Hongdae

My first time dining at Kongbul 콩불 was at Hongdae outlet with my mom and my brother. After walking around Idea almost the whole afternoon, we were starving. Since our next destination was Hongdae, we decided to have our late lunch there.

Kongbul 콩불 is franchise restaurant and has many other outlets across Seoul. Initially I had no idea about what food they serve here. But the menu pictures outside attracted me. The idea of a huge platter of meat and lots of veggies sizzled together on a pan was so tempting.

kong1

We walked into the restaurant. Since it was not a lunch nor dinner hour, there were only 2 other guests besides us. After choosing our seats, I went to the counter to order. From the menu, they basically served only one type of dish with different choices of toppings.

kong2

kong3

From the menu here, there are 2 types; with / without squid (ojingo 오징어). There are sets for 2 with options of toppings of noodle, cheese, fried rice and bacon and drink. We ordered for Kongbul Set A (without squid and bacon). And because there are 3 of us, we have to add extra a la carte for one person.

Other side dish such as fried rice 볶음밥 (2,000KRW), udon noodle (1,500KRW), rice (1,000KRW) are available. They also serve soju 소준, beer 맥주, raspberry wine bokbunja 복분자, plum wine maehwasu 매화수, coke 콜라, cider/sprite 사이다, calpis 쿨피스, etc…

Before cooked

Before cooked

Finally it's ready!

Finally it’s ready!

They brought out a huge pan of uncooked food onto our table, which had an integrated stove. Now we have to wait till the meat and the veggie was cooked. Despite of having the integrated stove on out table, the staff would do the cooking for us.

After 10-15 minutes, finally the food were cooked! It was so good! I’m personally a fan of bean sprouts. Although it may be a simple meal only with pork meat and bean sprouts, it is cooked in a teppanyaki-style. Just slightly before the meat and veggie was cooked, the udon noodles went in.

For those who can’t eat spicy, unfortunately this is not a good option for you. This delicious dish is spicy. Even for me, who love spicy food, admit that this is spicy. The drink that came with the set was our saviour for the meal. It could really cool down out the hot taste of red chilli paste gochujang 고추장. 

Last but not least, when we were already almost full, the staff went back to our table and throw in the rice with more red chilli paste gochujang 고추장. If you eat enough of Korean dish you will encounter that some dish mix rice only towards the end of the meal. This is what they called fried rice or 볶음밥.

The serving maybe intended for 3 people, but I’m pretty sure 2 serving is enough for 3. However, it is pretty much a steal at ₩15,000 🙂

 

How to go there:

Take subway to Hongik University station 홍대 (line 2, green line) and take exit #9. Turn left to the street and keep walking towards the Aritaum cosmetic shop. Before you reach the Aritaum, turn right and walk along the restaurant streets. The restaurant is on the left hand side, located just a few shops before Gong Cha bubble tea shop.

sam0The area around Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace connects a few unique places that worth of visit. From Buckhon Hanok Village to InsadongSamcheongdong is another street that famous for its numerous art galleries, shops and restaurants and is an appeal to artistic types.

The houses in Samcheongdong is unique because of their architecture is a combination of both Hanok (Korean traditional houses) and modern houses. The cafes are decorated in cute and cozy ways so the visitors can enjoy delicious food with beautiful views.

sam2

sam

There are a few famous street food here too. The famous one is hotteok 호떡. Previously I’ve mentioned about hotteok 호떡. in my post about Insadong, which is a variety of filled Korean pancake, and is a popular street food of Korea. It is quite easy to spot the stall, because there will be a staff marketing along the street and most of the time, there will be people queuing buying the snack. Another famous street snack here is the chicken skewer (did not take any photos of it).

Japchae Hotteok 잡채 호떡

Japchae Hotteok 잡채 호떡

The stores have different operating hours but most open around 11AM and close at 9PM. My friend bought me to one good cafe here. The cafe name is Huidong-a Oemada 희동아 엄마다. The cafe specialises in cakes made with ddeok (Korean rice cake). They also offer patbingsu (sweet ice flakes topped with fruit and red bean paste). The cafe is located quite inside, but they put their signage on the main street.

sam3

Samcheongdong very quiet and less commercial than other notable shopping districts, but that’s what make me fall in love with the place. Strolling through the street makes me forget the noise and very mind-relaxing. The street towards the end of Samcheongdong will bring you to Bukchon Hanok Village. 

How to go there:

Take subway to Anguk Station (Line 3, orange line) and exit #1. Walk straight until you see there is a street on your right side. The street all along is Samcheondong.

Han River passes through Seoul city and there are many bridges cross the Han River. One of the famous spots amongst the tourists to enjoy the magnificent view of the river, is Banpo Bridge. It is famous for its Moonlight Rainbow Fountain.

Banpo Moonlight Rainbow Fountain is the country’s premier light show extravaganza and the world’s longest bridge fountain. The fountain is programmed to play different shows during the day and night. During the day, the fountain shows a hundred different configurations meant to evoke waving willow branches and willow leaves. At night, lights will illuminate the fountain and sends up dancing, rainbow-colored jets of water in the air in synchronisation with music.

han

Waiting for the show to start

Visitors can see the show from April to October, 5 times a day on the weekdays, 6/7 times on Friday and weekends. There will be no show during the winter. The show is about 20-minute length. The water jets will dance along in musical styles including classical music with commentary, acappella, popera, jazz, brass bands and orchestras.

We will need to walk for about 20 minutes to the bridge from the nearest subway station: Express Terminal Station. There is a huge underground shopping centre, bigger than Gangnam station underground. It is better to come here earlier since you have to take a 20 minutes walk to reach the bridge.

All the tiredness from walking will gone once one sees the beauty of the dancing fountain. It is really beautiful and romantic. Banpo Moonlight Rainbow Fountain is indeed a must visit place for those who are going to Korea.

han3

han2

Show Times:

Monday – Thursday: 12:30, 15:00, 20:00, 20:40, 21:20
Friday – Sunday: 12:30, 15:00, 17:00, 20:00, 20:40, 21:20, 22:00

How to go there (nearest way):

Take subway to the nearest station is Express Terminal Station (Line 3, 7, and 9) and take exit #8.1. Go straight for 250m, turn right at Express Bus Terminal 4-way intersection. Continue going straight for 400m and cross the street at the crosspark. You will see an underground passage. Walk into the underground passage and take the first exit.

My favourite place in Seoul? Absolutely Insadong 인사동. Located nearby Bukchon Hanok Village and Samcheondong, Insadong 인사동 is another centre of traditional Korean arts. Here, I could find various Korean traditional souvenirs, antiques, pottery, calligraphy and other artistic pieces of art that I could not find in Seoul’s modern districts. Art galleries and traditional tea houses add to the interest of the area.

insadong4

Although most visitors are foreigners, locals still coming here to look for traditional crafts, chill out at Insadong‘s unique cafe or simply to take a walk. What I noticed here, cosmetic shops names here are written in hangul (korean alphabets) since it is a very traditional and cultural area. Not only Korean brands, such as Etude House or Nature Republic, even international brand such as Starbucks too…

Shops names written in hangul

Shops names written in hangul

Another popular shop at Insadong, 'swirling ice cream cone'

Another popular shop at Insadong, ‘swirling ice-cream cone’

Things that I like to do when coming to Insadong 인사동 besides looking for artsy stuffs, are to eat their street food! Definitely hotteok 호떡 is a must to have here.. Hotteok 호떡 is a Korean street food snack made of dough and is usually filled with sugar, honey, nuts and cinnamon. There is a famous hotteok 호떡 stall in Insadong where people are willing to queue for it. It is located at the main street and the shop name is Sambodang 삼보당.

There are sweet hotteok 호떡 and japchae hotteok 잡채호떡. Japchae hotteok 잡채호떡 maybe similar to the sweet hotteok 잡채호떡, but the filling is japchae 잡채 (stir-fried glass noodle). It may seem to be a funny combination, but to my surprise, it tastes good! Compared to the sweet one, Japchae hotteuk 잡채호떡 is a rare find. There are a few shops selling around Samcheondong area and Insadong 인사동 (near Anguk subway exit).

Sambodang Hotteok 삼보당 호떡

Sambodang Hotteok 삼보당 호떡

Japchae Hotteok 잡채호떡

Japchae Hotteok 잡채호떡

Coming to Insadong 인사동 means you have to visit Ssamziegil 쌈지길.  It is marked as the ‘Special Insadong 인사동 within Insadong 인사동’. This unique area was designed in such a way by connecting its charming alleys in the form of a spiral-like stairway towards the open Sky Garden where you can get a clear view of Insadong. Along the way to the top, you can window shop through the small business stores owned by young-established artisans.

Ssamziegil

Ssamziegil 쌈지길

One of the alleys towards towards the open Sky Garden

'Poop' cake. Cute cake with red bean filling in the shape of poop

‘Poop’ cake at Ssamziegil. Cute cake with red bean filling in the shape of poop.

Insadong 인사동 has a lot more to offer. Traditional korean restaurant where you have to sit on the tatami floor and dining on a low table, looking for souvenirs and antiques, handmade goods, museums and the list goes on… It is where one can forget the modern city life and immerse in a traditional Korean culture.

How to go there:

To Insadong:

  •  Take subway to Anguk Station 안국역  (Line 3, orange line) take exit #6. Walk straight from the exit and take a turn left after 3 minutes walking. You will reach Insadong gate; or,
  • Take subway to Jonggak Station (Line 1, dark blue line) and take exit #3. Keep walking for about 300m, and turn left at the 4-way Intersection. Go straight for about 100m and take the left road towards Insadong-gil Road.

To Ssamziegil:

  • Anguk Station (Line 3, orange line), take exit #6. Walk toward Jongno Police Station and enter the Insadong one-way street of Crown Bakery & GS25, and go straight for about 100m; or
  • Jonggak Station (Line 1, Exit 3). Go towards Jogyesagil (pass 2 signals) and enter the alley next to the 7th Day Sabbath Church.

 

Don’t like to go to museums because you think they are boring? Try visit the Trick Eye Museum in Seoul. It is not the same as other museums and you will be able to to interact with the artworks. The art gallery exhibits 2D paintings created with techniques to give the illusion of being 3D. The visitors can pose just right so that  they look as if they are part of the paintings.

There are a few Trick Eye Museums in Seoul. Hongdae’s is one of them. The museum located in the basement level of Seogyo Plaza apartment building within the shopping area of Hongdae. It is very easy to find its location and if you were to get lost, most people will know the location.

It is better to have a companion when visiting the museum so you can take turns taking picture. My friend and I visited the museum in one afternoon. We purchased the tickets at the counter, rent a locker to keep our bags and bring our cameras. We did not want to carry our bags while doing poses :p

They also have “The Scream” here

All the drawings are done on the wall! But the effects are 3D and seem to be real. To be part of the paintings, we have to do funny poses and expressions. Most of them do not work with only ‘smiling’ pose, such as sitting inside a big gigantic fish… And at some popular paintings, we have to take turns with other visitors.

Some paintings may require you to lay down or sit on the floor. So it’s better to wear a proper attire especially for ladies.

Help!

Help!

I wish they are real money

I wish they are real money

How fun it is! The admission maybe a bit pricey, but it is really a worth of money. We really enjoyed everything and most of the photos we took turned out to be funny and nice.

Recently, they just opened another new attraction and you can enter with one ticket. It’s called Ice Museum. I’ve never been to the Ice Museum before. But as seen from other blogs, it exhibits ice sculptures in a freezer room, but still in the same concept as the Trick Eye Museum. I’ll visit the Ice Museum next time!

Opening Hours: 9AM – 9PM (Last admission is at 8PM)

Admission: 15,000KRW (adult) / 12,000KRW (children below 18)

Website: www.trickeye.com

How to go there:

Take subway to Hongik University Station 홍대입구 (subway line 2, green line) and take exit #9. From the exit keep walking straight passing by KT Olleh shop. You will see the Angel in Us Cafe on your left side. Cross the big street and turn to your left. Walk towards Tony Moly cosmetic shops and turn right into the second alley just before the shop. Shortly you will see the signage of Trick Eye Museum and the stairs to the basement level of Seogyo Plaza.

%d bloggers like this: