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Spring in Sillim

10 May

As the college town of SNU, Sillim has a lot of indie cafes as well as all the big chains. Leave any exit of the station and you will find a cafe perfect for your mood. I have explored many of them as a local. I also use these cafes as rewards for biking along the stream (see Spring in Sillim Part 1). Lovin Spring in Seoul ♥

Spring in Sillim: FB photos

Spring Nights – The Sand (Sinchon)

8 May

“…a cool cafe to finish writing “Pop Song,” my great American novel, ojala. After visiting the puzzle cafe, My Secret Mate, I came across The Sand, but it was crowded that day. So, I sought it out this week after getting a recommendation. It was a good decision. I liked the spring time music, the dim lighting, the warm atmosphere, the large, floral painting, and the happy waitress who welcomed me as soon as I stepped in, as though she was aware of my upcoming arrival. The strawberry frappe was sufficient for a lackadaisical night or night of writing greatness, lol. “What makes for a cool cafe?” a friend asked me recently. She seemed slightly disappointed that I didn’t have a set answer. But there’s no checklist and practical protocol. There’s only a feeling. I have always been a “vibes” person. People and places give off vibes and if you can read them well, life becomes easier, less complicated. With so many things to stress out about, why not allow your innate senses to guide you on the more minor things? My motto in life…”

The Sand (Sinchon): FB photos & reviews

Directions to The Sand: “Walk straight for 150m. Turn right between Etude House & Paris Baguette. At the Y-junction, go left and head straight for 200m, looking out for both located on right side.” Pass Cafe Chloris and The Sand is on your left.

Latte@Lotte aka Float w/ Purpose

2 May

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One of my first wow-i’m-in-a-diffferent-culture moments came during my first employment in Korea as a summer camp instructor in 2007. In the late afternoon, Koreans would walk around the stadium in Suwon. They walked with a steady pace, with feet pounding the grounds and arms whipping the air. They wanted to get somewhere, so, as people say, they were getting to stepping.
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Tonight as I sat out in the cafe along side the ____Lake in Jamsil, my friend Pam, told me to take a pic of the Lotte World’s castle. As I stood on the wooden dock, I felt a sensation. I turned around and saw a crowd walk by quickly. I returned to the castle, but I felt that same sensation once again. And sure enough there was another crowd walking quickly.
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As I stared at the path, I realized people were walking around the lake. These people were walking with that same passion and drive as those I had seen in Suwon. They made walking with a purpose seem easy like maybe living with a purpose could be just as easy. (shout to my group for reading Purpose Driven Life this month with me).
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What’s your purpose? A few weeks ago my Spanish teacher asked me what my purpose in life was? I answered honestly, “Yo no se” (I don’t know). It’s not always easy to know what’s your purpose.
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Many expats move to Korea with this question in the background. They hope that changing scenery will help them detect their purpose more easily. But having new soil beneath you makes it difficult sometime to plant the sturdy roots that are essential in helping you grow and mature.
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What’s your pupose? Many nights (and days) I ponder this question as I sit inside a cool cafe in Seoul. Tonight it’s HoSoo Cafe. Set along the lakeside, the doors are opened allowing a clear view of the park lamps reflecting on the lake’s water and allowing the few breezes of the night to “float, float on…” And course, I can see the walkers; they never stop marching on (shout out to my ancestors who marched on Selma, D.C., and through the forests following the North Star).
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Perhaps tonight the light breezes will carry that walking sensation into the cafe, subtle and not abrasive. Even if it doesn’t bring a clear answer, I sense my purpose taking shape like a breath of fresh air on wintry morning in Seoul. “float, float on…come on, come on…”

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Although I went to the cafe at night and had a lovely time, I do prefer going in the afternoon. Directly in front of the lake is a free bike rental office. Beneath the sun rays of Seoul, I biked the Han River and then walked about the lake. It was a great and cheap afternoon. Lovin Spring. Lovin Seoul. Lovin Life^^

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Free Bike Rental @Jamsil Info

A dream of ones own cafe

28 Apr

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I’m in the middle of finishing my first pop song novel. And as with most challenging things, I’m making that final push towards the finish line as my writing retreat enters its final days. Seoul has been a great artistic escape. I couldn’t have landed in a better place to get my creativity on.
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What some people thought was strange, absurd, improbable, illogical was what I needed to put thoughts into actions and create productions. Of course, I am unsure if my pop productions will sell but that is the gamble in life. It’s a gamble that so many Koreans take in opening up cafes in Seoul.
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The dream of Seoul (for foreigners, countryside folks, and natives) is to have a piece of it for yourself, and for many it is in the form of a cafe. Today I’m in a cafe with penguins. Last night I was in Little Latin America. Yesterday I was in an elegant black & white cafe that got the decor perfect and then added to it with Charlie Chaplin figures on the wall.

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Owning a piece of a dream in life is not just The American Dream, which I ran from; it is a struggle to be more than your insecurities want you to be, to do more than your slacker colleagues want you to do, to think more than your people think is wise to think…a dream is worthy of hard-work, sacrificing at night out at Club Naked, quitting that overhyped uni job in Seoul (that’s right damn those five months of paid vacations).
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A dream is a blueprint for what you can and will be once your real peeps support you and you get into the zone. “Don’t let me get in my zone….I’m definitely in my zone…”

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Directions to Coffee Break-Season 1: Sinchon Station (Green Line). Exit 6. Make left at corner and walk straight up. Coffee Break is on your right, before Sogang University entrance.

Coco Bruni – Seoul City Hall

25 Apr

“Sometimes I just wander through Seoul because it’s a great modern city…It is during these strolls that I usually come across various cafes. Coco Bruni is a little more upscale and sophisticated than I’m used to, but it is good to try different styles of cafes, be it a chain cafe or an over-the-top posh cafe or an one-man-show cafe. Like urban men, I like them all. This cafe was another back-up plan to Cafe Mama…”

Coco Bruni – Seoul City Hall

Gangnam — Charlar y Cafe (Cappuccino Strip)

19 Apr

“… As American writer James Baldwin wrote about living in France, “they [French people] did not know enough about me to be able to correct me…I might live there forever and it would never be my home.” Friends make your community and a community is your home. But, once you find those “good people,” you have to enjoy the friendship like cherishing a cool cafe. Cappuccino Strip received mixed reviews on its drinks (Wine Macchiato and Strawberry Latte were misses for me; however, my friend liked the Wine Macchiato and Sweet Potato Latte). But the cafe’s chill vibe, comfortable couch, natural light and good R&B jams made it perfect for chatting with a friend for hours…”

Charlar y Cafe – Gangnam: FB photo & review

Directions: Gangnam Station (Green Line). Exit 11, walk straight down to you come to the first street with a proper sidewalk. (Same street as Brick Oven Pizza) Make a right and and then a left. Cappuccino Strip is on your left above the Irish pub.

Sinchon — Puzzle Cafe

12 Apr

“… so I opted for the brightly blue painted cafe with the catchy title “My Secret Mate.” As I sat down and settled in, I quickly noticed that everyone was hunched over tables. A closer look revealed puzzle pieces and fingers moving them around. My first puzzle cafe was upon me. In addition to the clever name, the menu had appealing drink names, such as “Love Latte” and “Nutelle” and “Winter Wind Latte.” I opted for the last. The cinnamon and honey drink was served in a cute and colorful Totoro mug, flashing me back to my two years in Japan (Kochi-ken wa natsukashii, ne). For two hours I wrote my great novel (lol) while others put together beautiful puzzles. Maybe next time…”

Sinchon — Puzzle Cafe: FB photos & review

Directions: “you can find My Secret Mate down the back alley where CM’s Box is next to Hana” (will try to post better directions from station later)

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