31 Jul 2014

Handicraft Haven

To me, its definitely an experience boost when a mall gives out free helium balloons, and pretty ones at that. The three of us spent the entire early afternoon at Insadong, and mostly Ssamziegil, dragging a helium balloon around like a public nuisance.... but hey I love helium balloons more than anything so no judging alright. #thedeprivedchildhoodchoseme

As mentioned in previous posts, Seoul is a must-go destination if you are a handicraft/handmade items enthusiast, like me, and Insadong would be one of them places opened almost everyday for like-minded people to head there and blow their entire fortune away. In my opinion, Insadong is split into two sections: Ssamziegil and the rest of Insadong. The rest of Insadong mainly features shops selling antiques, like traditional Korean pottery, and also souvenirs. I would not recommend you guys to get your souvenirs here as they might charge you higher *cough*price discrimination*cough*, instead, head to Namdaemun Market for your souvenirs!

We spent most of our time at Ssamziegil (쌈지길) and it really reminded me of Singapore's SCAPE, just that it's a cooler SCAPE with so many local artistes selling their work here either in shops or carts. I adore the layout and deco inside this space, it's pretty child-like and free-spirited as they allow grafitti on the walls, there are a couple of hopscotch boxes on the grounds, photo booths/photo points at certain corners and also random 3D art installations around.

However, the best part about Ssamziegil is that, to get from one level to another, there's no need to climb steps as the pavements are all upward sloping. This means that if you keep walking, it will lead you to the rooftop of Ssamziegil, and if you walk downwards, it will lead you to the ground level. Good for sloths like me.

Admittedly, I blew n amounts of cash on many many postcards and stickers of cute illustrations by the artistes on animals, humans, numbers, objects, raindrops, you name it they have it. Sigh, someday I wish I would be as talented as those people after attending art college. It's a never-ending cycle of me seeing cute illustrations or artwork or whatnot, spending money, then procrastinating about how I do not have any self-control and the whole thing repeats itself.

To get to Insadong
Take the Seoul Metro to Anguk Station and exit by Exit #5!
Ssamziegil is the building with the huge ㅆ on it, or if you are chinese, look for the 人人, or the ^^, I don't know how you would like to interpret it.

Stay hipsterrrific,
Ming Rui

26 Jul 2014

My Fair Princess

This was admittedly one of the most touristy spots in our entire Korea trip in May. We spent an afternoon in Gyeong Bok Gung trying to step up our Korean princess game..... Min says she would like to return one day to do a palace tour in a traditional korean Hanbok. I would join her, if it was spring.

After squeezing through throngs and throngs of people and sharing a dramatic episode with the guards about my helium balloon from Ssamziegil, we found ourselves seeking for hidden corners and finds in the vast backyard of Gyeong Bok Gung with Bukhansan in the distance. Wherever that has 0 tourists, we would go "OKAY PHOTO SPOT!" We literally walked around the entire palace grounds without a map. I don't even know how we managed to do that. It was just kinda like "oh look there's a pavilion! it looks pretty! let's go check it out!" and then we read its description and wallah, move on to the next place.

I guess that is the beauty of free and easy travel with all that "own time own target" business.

Stay hipsterrrific,
Ming Rui

Seoul - Miss Lee Cafe

Hola amigoes, I bet you guys didn't know but I'm actually a cafe chain boss owning two successful cafe outlets in Korea in the HOTTEST locations: Insadong and Myeongdong. Yes, Miss Lee Cafe is mine because. I. AM. MISS. LEE. *cues applause from my non-existent fan club*

Okay jokes aside, I do not own any cafes in Seoul (even though I really wished I do). Miss Lee Cafe got famous because of the Korean variety show "We Got Married" as the Yongseo/Goguma couple visited the Insadong outlet on one of their dates while on the show.

The cafe specialises in traditional Korean school canteen food, and I'm not surprised to see many high school girls visiting the cafe for their favourite dosirak, which is the Korean version of a Japanese bento set. However, dosirak is way more fun to eat because of the method of preparation. Almost everyone can make a dosirak easily! I mean what's so hard about frying an egg, a few slices of luncheon meat and adding some kimchi into a box of rice.

Every meal ordered at Miss Lee Cafe is accompanied by a small dish of traditional Korean sweet snacks. I have no idea what is it called but it tasted like super sweet malt candy, super crunchy as it is coated with sesame seeds. Min, Ying and I ordered a dosirak each and they came with a bowl of soup too. And here's how you prepare your dosirak!

Step 1: Mash up all your food into small bits and pieces

Step 2: Mix the ingredients all together with your spoon

Step 3: Close the lid of the dosirak box and start shaking it violently so that the dosirak will turn out to be a real good mix!

And you are all good to eat.

To be very very very honest, Miss Lee Cafe's dosirak is NOT the best we had in Seoul as the best dosirak we had was in Myeongdong. But I'm sworn to secrecy to not spread the location to anyone by Min soooooo if you really wanna know badly where to find the best dosirak we had, please do come ask me personally! :> Miss Lee Cafe's dosirak is so-so to me, maybe because I did not really like their kimchi and luncheon meat as the kimchi used was more towards to sour side, whereas I'm a fan of spicy and slightly salty kimchi (like the Bibigo kind). I find that Kimchi is a key ingredient in the dosirak, so if you want to try making dosirak yourself, do use good kimchi! I tried making a few times and my friends all said it was pretty good hehehehehehe.

ADM kids please do come to me if you want good dosirak. One box $3, okay I'm just kidding.

Most people visit Miss Lee Cafe for the quirky nature of the cafe and also if they are fan of Seohyun/Jung Yong Hwa. I can't even define a theme for it, it's just so "chapalang" with like their patron's messages written on papers hung all around the cafe which makes the whole place look super chaotic yet it still feels pretty homely. I would not actually go back but, if I was in the Insadong area, I would drop by Miss Lee Cafe to have a not-so-filling lunch if I would like a late morning brunch. Sorry, Kpop stars do not really have that much of an influence on me hehe.

Stay hipsterrrific,
Ming Rui

24 Jul 2014

The Praguematic: A Photo Journal

Prague Castle

St Vitus Cathedral

Charles Bridge

Old Town Square

Dinner on top of a hill overlooking the old town

Holla at my Eastern Europe trippies (trippies actually make it sound like something real trippyyyyy), I have finally uploaded some europe photos on my blog. Hard to think that this trip has been over for more than half a year, but it just seemed like yesterday where we were all doing that whole long walk from the Castle District to the Palladium Shopping Mall nearby the Old Town Square.

I am absolutely in love with Prague, maybe because I wasn't one of those unlucky ones who got pickpocketed. It is such a romantic city with couples everywhere making you feel like you're forever alone if you are not here with your other half. I would say this, is indeed THE city exactly like it came from a fairytale book. All the castles, bridges, baroque-style architecture buildings and hot Czech princes, made me feel like I'm being whizzed into an alternate universe where everything is dreamy and good. I would say this is one of my top five favourite cities in Europe, with London being the first.

It was a pity that I only spent a day and a half in Prague, sigh, the disadvantages of joining a tour package. We started off the day with a really long walk from the Castle District, stopping by St Vitus Cathedral with its impressive gothic architecture and stunning glass paintings depicting the story of Jesus, running through grape vines surrounding the castle district, taking a short break to munch on potatoes-on-a-stick, crossing Charles Bridge, and where our legs almost gave up on us upon reaching the Old Town Square where we finally saw the famous Astronomical Clock. I stood under it trying real hard to figure out how it works but to no avail, so if any of my readers know how...... please do comment below and show the young padawan here the ways... of thy Astronomical Clock with all the stars.... and moons...... and constellations.....

Had lunch at Palladium and then we had so much time to spare around the Old Town Square. I absolutely adore heading to Europe in December as there are Christmas markets EVERYWHERE. So much good food and cute trinkets on sale.... my only regret was that I didn't have enough money to have a mug of Czech beer (well I heard that it was good) as Prague was the second last city I visited.

I will be back soon, but meanwhile, continue staying awesome Prague!

Ming Rui.