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.

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