I wanted to have one blog post for the entire trip in Korea, but I dont want to bore the hell out of you =)) So I’d just section them out. There’s heaps of streets and avenues that you can visit in Seoul, but of course there are those inevitable lists in most people’s suggested itineraries. Among these being Itaewon, Insadong and Ehwa University. I find that they somehow look the same, selling korean fashion clothing, cosmetics, cafes and Korean restaurants, not that it wasn’t pleasing at all, as I truly enjoyed all the walks and strolls that we did. 🙂
Insadong is crowd packed when we went. The street was just plain busy where everyone is walking, taking selfies, checking out the sidewalk stalls or like us, exploring and looking around for cool discoveries, cheap thrills or bargains. We stepped foot in Insadong, not directly at the street where most people flock in but we passed by narrow alleys with heaps of traditional Korean restos, it was like a maze!
In Insadong, we also passed by Sszamsigil, a youthful shopping enclave which looks industrial and the colors that paint the place are the stuffs being sold and the artsy stickers on the walls.
Youngsters flock and congregate on this place. You would see them chilling out on the steps, young couples being cute together, boy band like type of groups. =)) The place looks quite cool, selling mementos, tiny items, souvenirs, anything cute basically. But of course, I still find them pricey. Like $35.00 for a baseball cap, the quality of which you can find in Bugis street market of Singapore or Mongkok in Hongkong.
Back outside, at the main street of Insandong…
Coffeeholics that we are, we foraged Insadong to find where we can sit down and to have nice coffee at, as it was a seemingly nice and bright afternoon to just chill out. At one of the alleys, we find this establishment, I think about 3 floors of a cafe. Oh, we also wanted to finally try the Bingsu here, since we had the first taste of it in Singapore.
I wanted to get the chocolate bingsu which we saw on the poster outside but they said it wasn’t available that time so we resorted to the red bean one.
It was quite alright, not the type that I was expecting. The service crew wasn’t very pleasant too, they were not smiling and they do not seem accomodating. There’s quite a number of cafes to choose from in Insadong…
Itaewon looks similar, reason why I put them together in this post, is that they are like sisters, they do look the same. =))
Before going to Ehwa University, we went to Cheonggyecheon Stream. Though I believe this looks nicer in autumn or winter, we thought it might be nice to take pictures there.
It doesn’t have that much of an appeal at this time around compared to other seasons but I was amazed by how people actually visit this place and sit down, some even lay out picnic mats and kids are playing in the stream.
Continuing our walk to Ehwa…
The vicinity of Ehwa University is actually such a shopper’s delight, there are also heaps of clothing and cosmetic stores and street food stalls aplenty. The strip is nice and laid back. I was impressed by how big the space is, right around the university itself.
From among these three places in this post, Ehwa is the one that I fancy the most..
Seriously, I have never seen a place as Seoul that has so many stores closely situated from each other, long strip having just clothing and cosmetic shops!
I think a tourist can just come in Seoul without packing on anything since there’s a lot of stores to shop items at!
One of the sought after tourist spots in Seoul is the Bukchon Hanok Village which is a residential area that still has old, traditional korean houses preserved through time. Of course, you would notice that some has undergone facelifts or maintenance, but the essence, how these homes look like, still lives. From the train station, we thought it might take us only 10 minutes but it actually took us about 20-25 minutes of walking and some roads are even elevated. However, we saw shuttle buses passing by so probably you can get there aboard it but we said it might be worthwhile to walk.
We passed by cafes and quaint shops, the neighbourhood actually look homey, I am not sure if we were just lucky that time, but it wasn’t really that crowded.
There are several tourist trails or rather, observation spots scattered in Bukchon-ro. But I guess we managed to find the one where most tourists flock in. I find the houses beautiful, though you can only see the facades and the rooftops as they are still people’s residences. So we only had to make do with the visible portions of these houses to think they are enclosed with walls.
Lunch time, we decided to find a place that serves Korean food and that which we can rest ourselves first. We saw this traditional and cosy Korean restaurant and had our lunch there, the place is called Jokagbo.
We wanted the one where you have to sit on the floor, but the lady did not allow us and we were not sure why. Anyway, we ordered a meal set for two which if I remembered correctly costed us around KRW 47,000, roughly about USD 43.00 (I find this is usually the normal price range for local, korean food, a bit exy considering you are in Korea).
We love pork, so anything with it is such a treat for us. =)) However, the pork here was not as good as the one that we ate during our first night, which was in Myeongdong. I’ll dedicate a post specific to that soon. The set was also comprised of saba fish and of course, the inevitable platters of vegetables that always go with a korean meal. It was average though.
Going back to the station, we find bits and pieces of interesting things such as cafes and food.
Generally a good trip in this tourist spot, though I recommend that if one is not into walking, you can opt to take the shuttle bus that goes up and down Buckhon-ro. Also, we went on a weekday so probably why it was less crowded at that time.
There could be inevitable moments where your body just wants some pampering, to feel that pressure on some points badly needing attention. Working in front of the computer for an average of 9-11 hours a day, it could sometimes take its toll, and by that I mean the undeniable call of your body for something soothing.
Singapore’s spa and massage scene is utterly expensive. An hour of massage would cost you an average of 60 and that is only to those neighbourhood “under the HDBs” form of establishment. Looking for something different, thank you to Google, I managed to find a place where not only would you undress, lie down and get massaged, but you can also stay there for a good 24 hours! Yes, you heard it right. Not much establishments in Singapore are open late what more 24 hours, and this one also has unlimited food and drinks during your stay and free usage of its facilities.
Went off to the one in Guillemard, an unassuming establishment with a huge korean bbq place at the ground floor, where the lift also is situated. You had to take that to go to the 2nd floor where the spa is.
In contrast to the lift, which somehow looks daunting =)) the entrance boasts of a simple and elegant front.
After registering and choosing the desired service, got myself what they call “Gateway to Vitality” which is $155.00 for non-members. Yeah, there are moments like this when I dont care splurging for the sake of experience. =)) They would then hand you a bracelet that looks like a watch but is actually some sort of a magnetic key that you have to tap onto your assigned locker. Women and men’s rooms are of course separate.
In the locker, you will have your spa attire and slippers to go with. The locker room is well organized and clean with complimentary tooth brushes, hair combs, hair bands etc.
First order of business? Eat! =)) The dining area is like a tropical jungle theme, a bit dim, probably to give away that relaxing ambience. Men and women are dressed in the kimono like spa attire.
Heavy meals are of course only until around a certain time, 10pm if I remember it correctly, while the rest like dimsums are available round the clock. I got myself some hot soup which is Bah Kut Teh and some ham and cheese toasts, I think since the place is not really about food, of course expect that the food here are average.
They would call you out when the service can already be done, where they will lead you to the massage area.
To tell you, I dreaded the massage scene in Singapore. I had tried so many and I was consistently disappointed and regretted paying for the service right after. Have tried all those, in the hotels, malls and HDBs. But, this one turned it around. By far, the best masssage that I got in Singapore! After my honestly wonderful massage which my body was really thanking me for, we headed to this lounge area which is barely lit and has lazy boy seats with monitors attached to them and a number of movies and songs you can choose from. Pardon my blurry shot. The place is like a sleeping pod.
Relaxed for a good, more or less an hour and decided to hit the jacuzzi. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the area, not to mention the soothing sound of water.
Stayed and sweat for about 45 minutes and hit the showers. Complete with fresh towels, shampoo and soap and disposable undergarments. Oh yup, you can choose to get downright naked =)) or wear those disposable ones. I did the latter! Feeling so fresh, decided to hit the dining area once more where I brought my Surface Pro and blogged and ate again!
From among all the food, this unassuming one below is the one that I really liked. It tasted well.
Headed home I guess around 2am, it was utterly a pleasant experience. Although pricey as you may say, I think it was worth it. When you choose a service, using the facilities are free however, should you decide not to get any massage, they also offer $68 and you can stay for 24 hours and it already comes with the food. 🙂
After hours of reading at the National Library, I was feeling famished and did not want to eat at food court. I wanted to sit down laid back style sans the crowd. I was sauntering, out and about, and saw this unassuming cafe. From afar, it looks like a store of some sort but a tiny banner gave it away and I went it.
I find the interior very appealling. Not very lavish or complicated, but it is seriously cute! =)) The ordering station seems like it was taken out of a truck container with crates on it then a display of artisinal ice cream assortments! They seem to be famous for waffles, I wasn’t sure, but given the smell, it was just too inviting not to give in. I did.
I am not a dessert person and not really a sweet tooth, so I opted out of ice cream on top of waffles thingy and simply ordered the “Spectacular” which is a fluffy and crispy snowflake shaped waffle served with delicious spread of crunchy caramelized gingerbread. Same with waffles, not a fan of it, but this one was an exception. It was really good. I think I finished it in 10 minutes. (yes, right, remember I was famished?). It wasn’t too sweet and the waffle itself wasn’t too dry. Their coffee was equally nice too.
This place is not just cute and instagram worthy but it serves honestly good waffles. I can come back here again. 🙂
If you have been following my blog or if lucky me, you have browsed through the pages of this site, I think I have pretty much established myself as a person who find fascination in neighbourhood cafes. One cheap thrill that never fades to perk me up and at the same time relax me… imagine a hot latte on a bright, sunny afternoon.
Frankel, one of the posh estates in Singapore, a place that I get to love not because it is tad upscale but because I feel like I am not in Singapore when I am here for the reason that most of the houses are landed ones hence making me feel that I am just back in my country home, where HDBs and condos are not really the usual mode of residence.
I got to discover this place while I was on Uber car, the strip of cozy food place and cafes got me interested. I saw Dutch Colony and googled it straight away and most of the hits that I got mention that it’s one of those that serve quality coffee.
I love the interior of this cafe.. casual, communal, very inviting, nothing much going on but a place to just sit down and sip a latte and converse with friends and families. On all the occassions that I went, it was normally crowded.
I tried their cappuccino and latte, I wanted to try their brewed coffee by steampunk apparently that time I visited, I think it wasn’t available or something like it was not working at the moment. For those two, the quality of the coffee is really there. I love their type of brew as it is very bold, not too acidic, chocolatey. This is the kind that I am in love with.
As for the food, they offer very limited ones. Only few pastries and cakes.
The sea salt caramel cake was quite nice, not too sweet and not too dry which is the exact opposite of the Thai Milk tea loaf. I do not recommend ordering this, it was really very dry, the quality is not there and I can’t really taste the thai milk tea that was supposed to be.
The spinach and salmon quiche was just average likewise for the pain au chocolate. I think if I would have to recommend this place it would be their coffee and the place. Their iced variations were also good, below are Iced Mocha and Iced Latte. Accessibility wise though, I think would be best to drive here by car.
Price wise, I find the food a bit unjustified for the quality and taste. But the drinks are practical. Do I suggest going back here? Yes, but make sure you are full to just have drinks. 🙂
Capitol Piazza becomes one of my favorite afternoon hangout spots for coffee and light snacks. I find that I am usually there on bright, sunny afternoons prior to doing some personal errands. Another cafe that tickled my interest was Angelina which was straight from Paris and actually has no other branches than Singapore and Paris itself.
Since it was light bite that I was looking for, I decided to try their Croque Monsieur, pommes frites, mesclun de saison which I guess translates to a ham and cheese grilled sandwich with french fries and some side salad? =))
I initially doubted it while I was ordering because it might just be an average toast that somehow there could be a probability that toast from Toastbox would be better, but alas! When I took a bite, I find it really good. It was a sandwich that was made with quality ingredients and not those typical ones.
For the drinks I got myself their old fashioned iced chocolate, which the lady said to be their best seller and one of their nicest drink selection. So I gave in.
This one is a honest to goodness iced chocolate. The slight touch to the tongue would tell you that they are using premium, quality chocolate here. I liked it.
Although pricey really, I think I can go back here again should some friends or family invite. But of course, visiting this might be on a once in a bluemoon sort of thing. SGD 40.00 (gst & taxes included) for the entire afternoon snack is of course exy unless you just wanted to give it a try.
Capitol Piazza had been recently renovated but it was only until when I needed to have my laptop serviced in Asus did I come across this place. I was quite surprised to see that the interior was very inviting, simply elegant, not the crowded place to dine in at (which is really a plus factor for me, I hate huge crowds), very spacious and bright. It was a relaxing ambiance to have a leisurely stroll at. Right when I got in, I was feeling hungry since it was almost lunch time but I would not want to eat the usual hawker food, food court and the likes and I opted for something I haven’t tried before. I spotted this Tiffany themed cafe and did not think twice to give it a try.
I sat myself in on one of the cozy corners where beside me were also girls that couldn’t wait to order and try the food, I guess most of the people dining it at this time were ladies! haha.
I think I anticipated it, given the venue and the location, that of course, cafes like this are normally expensive, but hey for the sake of trying, I do not mind paying for it plus the fact that it’s food I am paying for, so might as well try than get curious.
I honestly do not know what to order since at that time my palate had no craving for anything, which was out of the ordinary, so I just went with poached eggs on brioche with cream spinach and parma ham finished with hollandaise and micro herbs.
As for the drinks I went for the Fresh Kiwi Juice which costed me SGD 7.00. Hmmm honestly, it was very average and I do not get why this meal would cost me that price. Since I can order the same brunch meal on other equally decent place at a lower cost. Well yes, I guess it would still boil down to the place.
I don’t think I will visit this place again, one of those cafes that one is enough and that’s it.