Monday, July 20, 2015

Day 5 of #seoulstylo.

Day 5 was spent at Itaewon, which is my favourite place in Seoul. Itaewon houses MMMG, D&Department, ÅLAND, A.P.C. and lots of cafés. I didn't get to visit the cafés but I will still be providing the addresses to some of them at the end of this post.

Itaewon is seriously a must-visit. Alight at Hangangin Subway Station to find Hannam-dong Yongsan-gu - the street lined with lifestyle and fashion stores. I alighted at Itaewon Station instead and took a while to find Millimetre Milligram (MMMG) but when I saw the building, I was literally dashing into the shop space. Haha. MMMG has a great tagline that brings across their concept very well - "everything is something to us". It's a well curated store that sells a little bit of everything, from notebooks, stationery, fashion accessories to kitchenware. You will also find a café there.

The same building also houses my favourite shop in the whole of Seoul - D&Department. D&Department is a vintage kitchenware heaven. Some of the stuff are brand new, but many of them are used pieces. They are all in great condition though, and I got myself a plate and some chopsticks (new) while I was there. If only I could get some of those bowls! I was worried that they might not last the way home so I didn't purchase any ceramic or glass tableware. Some beautiful vintage Seiko clocks were also available for sale. The prices are a little steep but they are worth every penny. I really didn't want to leave the place!

Post Poetics can be found on the third floor of the same building. Pity that it was closed when we were there. They seem to carry a great collection of art books.

Also along the street of Hannam-dong is a two-storey A.P.C. I couldn't afford anything there, yet, haha but I went in and feasted my eyes on every piece. Really love A.P.C's aesthetics and I think I will be their loyal customer in the near future!

We also spotted ÅLAND at Itaewon, but the outlet there is smaller. You can also find Åland in Myeongdong, Garosu-gil, Hongdae etc. I prefer ÅLAND to Style Nanda, as they carry more unique pieces from different labels. Prices are slightly above mid-range (think Zara, COS) but mid-range is still not my range so I didn't get anything from them, haha.

Day 5 was spent shopping and we visited Hongdae as well. Style Nanda has a huge outlet at Hongdae so if you're a fan, you have to visit their space there. I very much preferred the boutique stores that lined the streets of Hongdae. Managed to find two pairs of quality trousers at a discounted price at a store by the corner and I'm still very much in love with my purchases.

We also visited Ewha but it started raining heavily so I didn't manage to take a decent picture of our shopping spree there. I really thought that I would go home with a bag of new clothes after shopping in Seoul, but I think I went home with less than ten pieces. Seoul is a great place to find quality basics but I skipped the other pieces because there were either sheer, too oversized or just out of my budget. For affordable pieces, you might be able to find some at the basement of Myeongdong's subway station or at Ewha. But don't expect a crazy shopping spree like one in Bangkok. The Seoul shopping experience should be quality over quantity. Glad that I went ahead and invested in some blouses and trousers, I've zero buyer's remorse.

Ended the day with a mandatory Korean BBQ dinner! This one was near our accommodation at Yangjae, recommended by our Airbnb hosts. They serve crazy good pork and the side dishes were really good too. We didn't have trouble ordering food there because it seemed like the popular restaurants all hired some helpers from China. I really love eating at restaurants recommended by the locals as I enjoy observing tables around us. Those scenes in dramas where people down soju shot after shot, and have ten over empty bottles on the table are not exaggerating. That's really the lifestyle there haha. It's lively and vibrant but even when drinking, there are rules to follow depending on who you are having the meal with. Refilling glasses for the seniors, covering half the face while downing a shot, not refusing a drink from the seniors are just some of them. It's interesting! If you are interested to know, we had the BBQ at 잰부닥. The place is near Yangjae Station, Exit 4. Once you are out the exit, walk to the street right beside the Pho restaurant. Then walk downhill and the restaurant will be on your left.

*Subway Station | Venue

Hangangin | MMMG/D&Department 
Hannam-dong Yongsan-gu, 12nn-8pm 
Closed on last Monday of every month 

Hangangin | A.P.C.
736-14 Hannam-dong Yongsan-gu

Hangangin | ÅLAND
736-10 Hannam-dong Yongsan-gu, 12nn-10pm

Hangangin | A&ND (café)
684-53 Hannam-dong Yongsan-gu

Hangangin/Itaewon | Honeyst (café)
325-6 Itaewon 2-dong, Yongsan-gu

Hangangin | Peer Coffee Roaster
684-32 Hannam-dong Yongsan-gu

Hongdae | Hongdae Shopping District
Exit 5

Hongdae | Style Nanda
Wausan-ro 29 da-gil, Mapo-gu

Hongdae | Your Mind Bookshop
5F, 326-29 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu
Highly recommended by my friend Pimpiga but I didn't manage to find it. :(

Hongdae | Tailor Coffee
329-15/338-1 (2nd floor) Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu
Open Mon-Sun 12pm-11pm
Once you spot this cafe, turn right and Style Nanda should along one of those few streets.

Sangsu | Fell + Cole
Exit 1, 310-11 Sangsu-dong, Mapo-gu
Come out the exit stairs and turn around and begin walking towards Hongik Univ. Turn left into the very first small alleyway, maybe one building after the exit. Follow the exit as it goes curves and goes downhill. As the alleyway meets a T-section, Fell + Cole will be on your left. It's a 3-minute walk from the station. 

Ewha | Ewha Shopping District
Exit 2

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Day 4 of #seoulstylo.

We spent most of our day at Nami Island on the fourth day of the trip. It's populated with tourists and it does feel like a 'man-made' tourist attraction when you're there. There's even a small Merlion replica in the park greeting tourists from Singapore, haha. But I actually liked it there. We managed to walk to the tip of the island and there was this sign that pointed us to our geographical location. Seoul is right in front when you stand at the tip of Nami Island.

We had lunch at a restaurant on the island. The set meals were pretty good, so if you're hungry just grab some food there! Food sold at tourist attractions usually come at crazy high prices but it was ok there. We also had some red bean buns for dessert and it was really good. It's steamed at the spot so the bun was really soft and the filling was still hot. Give it a try if you spot it!

The trees were beauties too. They were tall and straight, and stood in parallel rows. Pity that there were so many people walking around (taking selfies or jump shots), I waited but still didn't manage to take a full-length shot of the trees.

I found the quieter spots cosy. If I wasn't touring the area, I might have a book in hand and a pot of tea beside me, haha. Lots of couples cycle around the island too. Seems like it's a popular place for dates.

I took a while to research on how to get there because most sets of directions found online included 'take a cab' and I was concerned about the transportation costs. But really, haha, the best way includes taking a cab, and it doesn't cost much. From wherever you are, take a subway to Gapyeong Station first then grab a cab there to get to Namiseom dock. I think it costs around S$5? Haha, it's really better than rushing or waiting for the coach. You will need to take a ferry to the island from the dock.

I think we ended the excursion to Nami Island in the early evening and I decided to go to somewhere alone. My sister and mum went to Dongdaemun but I chose to visit a Mark Rothko exhibition at Seoul Arts Center. I chanced upon the advertisement on the exhibition when I was having BBQ octopus for our first dinner in Seoul, haha. I was really excited when I heard about it and made the decision to visit the exhibition even if it meant navigating around on my own. It was the best decision I've ever made - that solo trip was one of the highlights of #seoulstylo. I've never heard of any museums in Asia showing Rothko's works and I didn't even know about it until I saw that ad on TV. It was like checking off an item on the bucket list unexpectedly.

I'm a fan of abstract art. Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Constantin Brancusi, Ethan Cook, Josef Albers and recently Richard Serra, Ellsworth Kelly, Lee Ufan are some of the artists I love, but Mark Rothko is right at the top. When I stepped in, I was already almost crying. Haha. I've never imagined myself standing so close to his works, I kind of wasn't even ready for it I guess. Later, I did feel rows of tears flowing from my eyes but at that point it was an emotive response when I sat inside Rothko Chapel. The labels beside the art pieces were all in Korean and that didn't help communicate anything across so I could only rely on how I felt to experience what was there. I associated the sight I saw with issues and thoughts that I didn't prepare myself to think about. Then I just felt something so strong... Helpless, almost.

Seoul is really an amazing place if you are an art lover. Recently, the house of Dior (Raf Simons!) opened their stand-alone boutique in Seoul (464 Apgujeong-ro Gangnam-gu, Cheongdam Station) and is currently holding an exhibition in conjunction with the opening. It's held at Dongdaemun Design Plaza and you really have to go if you're visiting Seoul soon. There's also an exhibition about Frida Kahlo at another museum. Will be leaving suggestions on museums you should visit below!

*Subway Station | Venue

Gapyeong | Nami Island
Grab a cab at Gapyeong Station to get to Namiseom dock, then take a ferry to the island.

Gapyeong | Petite France
We didn't visit Petite France in the end but many visitors choose to visit both Nami Island and Petite France on the same day.
Directions to Petite France can be found here.

Nambu Bus Terminal | Seoul Arts Center
Leave the station from Exit 5 and walk about 5 minutes to reach the museum.
The Rothko exhibition has ended but do check the site for new exhibition details!

Hangangjin | Leeum Museum of Art
Tuesday to Sunday, 10.30am to 6.00pm
From Exit 1, walk 100m towards Itaewon. Make a right turn at the first alley then walk up the hill for about 5 minutes.
We visited the museum but my companions weren't interested to pay to enter so we didn't manage to view the exhibitions. Note that there aren't any free exhibitions, unfortunately. Would also suggest that you visit this museum before or after exploring Itaewon! The museum is really close to Itaewon.

Ichon | National Museum of Korea
Exit 2.
Visit this museum especially for artefacts relating to Korea's rich history and culture.

Mongchontoseong | Seoul Olympic Museum of Art
Exit 1. Head right for about 200m inside Peace Gate.
The Frida Kahlo exhibition will be held till September 4th.

Anguk | National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
Exit 1. Or alight at Gwanghwamun Station, walk towards Exit 2.
It's really near Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Dongdaemun History and Culture Park | Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Exit 1. Walk 60m straight then turn right and continue walking aprrox 70m.
DDP currently houses the Esprit Dior exhibition that will be held till 25th August.