Peek-A-Boo: That famous curved-wall building of a fabulous entertainment agency 🙂
Such a BEAUTIFUL day! Sunshine and blue skies heralded a promising day for our walkathon west of Seoul. One of the places we ABSOLUTELY wanted to visit nestled in Hapjeong. What could that possibly be?
But first, we wanted to check Edae out, the other shopping haven near Ewha Women’s University. I was informed that some of the boutiques here had unique range of clothing and were sold at even more reasonable prices. After emerging from the subway station exit, we bumped into two young ladies who were part of Seoul City Tourism campaign. When they saw the Edae map I had glued in my moleskine, they offered the latest map (it was in Japanese, but we still could make out the landmarks), circling the pertinent recommended shopping and scenic stops. Cool! Gumapsumida!
9am in Edae: boy, do they open early for business!
Our “get-an-edgy-hoodie” mission was accomplished in Edae too. Just a few doors to the right of the intersection of “Shoe Lane” (pictured above), we spotted a striped, knitted hoodie hung amongst its colorful brethren. Like a magnet, we were simply drawn to it and began inspecting its quality. It had quilt-finishing inside and it’s hood was layered in wool. Originally priced at W45,000, we successfully negotiated the price down to W35,000. YAY!! With a smattering of Hangul and being the first customer of the day, he agreed to our asking price. Having that monkey off our back, we continued exploring Edae in lighter steps.
Further down the street, and to the left, we saw the elusive Hanskin store. AT LAST! I have found you!
Hanskin has one of the best skin care range in Korea. On our first day in Seoul, we were on the hunt for this store in Myeong dong because the map I had downloaded indicated its location as closer towards Nature Republic’s stand-alone building.
Perhaps the map I had was out-dated… had a feeling FUBU took over its spot…
Nothing was gonna spoil my Hanskin shopping spree in Edae!
It was almost 11am by the time we stepped out of that shop (tee hee!) and since we were already in the area, might as well say Anyeong to Ewha Women’s University grounds. Regrettably, we should have stayed longer and ventured further on campus, but the highlight of the day was starting at 1pm in Hongdae.
This is at a junction at the top of the hill, but look to the left and you’ll see –
Main entrance to Ewha Women’s University
Tick tock! Time’s a wastin! Gotta hop on the train to visit that iconic address in KPop-dom. It was Saturday, so the subway stations were uncannily empty. Anticipation was building up as we took a short leisurely ride from Edae to Hapjeong.
Mental mantra “exit 8. Keep right. Pass two gas stations. Pass a hotel. Cross the road. Keep looking to the right”…
Ladies & gentlemen of KPop-dom, I give you:
The YG “Crib”
Gawd that was AWESOME! Could not believe we were standing right in front of YG Building. Apparently we weren’t the only fans spazzing by the roadside. The foreign fans were growing in size right at the gates of YG building. Some even had shopping bags probably containing gifts for their YG artist biases. We didn’t want to get too close and be part of that probable mayhem at the entrance. One of the security guards repeatedly gestured for the crowd to break up and back off, but somehow those fans pretended not to understand him and persisted in handing over their gift bags. Chuckle, chuckle… ok we’ve had enough shots of this building and it was time to hunt down a restaurant in Hongdae for our first REAL MEAL since arriving in Seoul:
Salad Eat Bear? Bear Eat Salad?
Apparently this place has an awesome vegetarian spread and worth looking for in Hongdae.
Tip on Hongdae: A place where it’s good to get lost in. It was apparent as we trudged along the narrow streets and alleys that majority of the population here were caffeine addicts. Forget your Starbucks chain. Almost every cafe we saw had its unique charm to it.
A Japanese restaurant
One of the many coffee stops in Hongdae
…another cool coffee stop?… office?… it is just cool
Aha! The landmark we were looking for! At this intersection, turn left, down the hill and look to the left for “Castle Praha”…
This awesome building boasts a great stationery collection by independent designers on Ground Floor. And of course I had to detour in there for 10 minutes just to appease my curiosity and to convince myself that it was ok NOT to buy everything in sight!
Looking ahead as we walked downhill, we were scanning for any sign that had “Castle Praha” on it. I was informed it was actually a bar and it was next to the restaurant we were headed for. At the next junction, we peeked to the left in search of Castle Praha.
That is one Cool Bar…
Cool is a word that is overused for Hongdae.
But I can’t help it.
Picking up our jaws that were dragged on the road, we grinned at the sight of the much-anticipated vegetarian meal at Bob Cafe.
One advantage Hongdae has is that English is spoken (and understood) here. A Korean friend of mine empathized with our issues when ordering food at restaurants because menus were in Hangul.
Cut to the chase, he told me to order item #8 and that should satisfy our hunger for decent Korean meal.
There were only a few empty tables available by the time we stepped into Bob Cafe, and the owner himself was gracious enough to explain the menu to us in English.
But I was too hungry, so I simply said “Cheoggi, my friend recommended item #8 on your menu. Enough for two persons?”
He was surprised we came prepared with such knowledge! 😀
“Oh, can we also have this pancake? Kamsahamnida“
Within 10 minutes, the waiters deftly placed the feast below:
Yum Yum Yum!
Does that look SMASHING or WHUT?!
Unfortunately, it was not our order, but our neighbors’.
Fortunately, we were busy taking snapshots of this mouth-watering spread that we did not dig in immediately upon being served.
THIS was our VERY FILLING meal:
This spread was under W25,000!!
So, if you happen to be in the neighborhood and would like to chill at Bob Cafe, this is a quick guide:
Oh, now I remember what that cool building at the intersection was: Sang Sang Ma Tang (or something like that…)
We were SO FULL after that dee-lee-cious meal, and thank goodness for Hongdae Art Free Market because that meant another leg of our walkathon in the area. This market is open for budding or established independent artists who are given the opportunity to sell their hand-made, one-of-a-kind wares to the public. An annual event, it begins on the first Saturday of March and runs through November. Cash basis only… and time flies at warp speed when you immerse yourself in this market.
All I have to say is, “what luck we had planning our first trip to Seoul which coincided with this happening event!”
The venue for the Art Market is the Children’s Playground near the entrance of Hongik University (if I’m not mistaken, the scene where Han Geol and Eun Chan got back together again after a big fight in First Shop of Coffee Prince was shot here).
Views you would encounter en route to the Art Market:
Can’t miss this sign board!
“Patchwork House” 🙂
The imposing entrance to Hongik University
Ahh! Soak in the campus life… I’ve paid my dues decades ago 🙂
Finally arrived at the playground. Live music to boot!
That was the only shot of the Art Market I took.
I know. Pathetic.
However, the only thing you would see if I did take pictures is the ocean of people. Just People. Can’t even see the stalls because the playground was PACKED with eager buyers and window-shoppers. Aisles were just IMPOSSIBLE to squeeze through (unless you’re like that Super Mom from The Incredibles). You had to step out to literally BREATHE again.
SInce it was the first day of the Art Market, the number of booths were confined only within the playground. Methinks the booths will sprawl all along the streets, right up to Sangsu station, as we move deeper into 2012.
So, would that be reason enough to return to Seoul so soon? Tee hee! 😀