정지영커피: Cafe that overlooks the Suwon Fortress

If you’re located in the Suwon/Yongin area in Korea, visiting the Suwon Fortress is an alternative travel plan to braving the Seoul Subway system to explore Gyeongbokkung and the surrounding Hanok Village. The neighbourhoods surrounding the huge fortress, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are super trendy yet quiet. The combination of the early spring weather and the lack of customers due to coronavirus made us feel like we were on a mini-vacation. We had a hard time choosing which amazing cafe to go to, but 정지영커피 was our final choice! There were two other couples waiting to go inside when we arrived. The interiors were simple, yet industrial and modern. We had a delicious coffee each and enjoyed the view of the Suwon Fortress from the rooftop while soaking up the afternoon March sun. We were also able to plan our route along the fortress while enjoying our coffee.

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Jung Jiyoung Coffee Roasters

Follow me on Instagram to see more (edited) photos and story updates. I would also love to hear your Korean cafe recommendations, I am always on the lookout for new places to go but they usually just stay saved in my phone for several months before I get there. Wishing you a happy and healthy week ahead!

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Healthy Banana Pancake Recipe

Not sure what to do with your old bananas when your only cooking appliance is an electric stove? Make delicious banana pancakes that have 4 ingredients! Okay, 5 if you include the butter/oil to cook them in!

I make these pancakes all the time as a way to satisfy my cake cravings, in a slightly ~healthy way. The only sweetener I use is honey and the bulk of the mixture is banana. I usually make these without a recipe and just add more/less of what I need depending on how I feel (and how hungry I am). Keep reading for the recipe!

Ingredients:

1 x Banana (on the mushier, sadder side)

1 x egg, whisked

Tiny bit of flour

Honey, for sweetness

Makes: 2 Medium sized pancakes

Add more bananas to make more pancakes!

Mush bananas in a bowl, add egg, mix. Add in flour and honey and you’re good to go! It’s really that easy so I don’t know why we’re here!

Here’s a GIF I made to show you each step… because I’m a nerd!

Korean Skincare and Daily Makeup

Hello, welcome to my freezing cold bathroom! In my latest YouTube video, I take you through my 3-step Korean skincare routine. I also threw in a little makeup routine at the end because my skincare routine is very simple.

I have very sensitive, acne-prone skin, so I like to keep my products to a minimum! If you’re curious to snoop around my bathroom/living room, take a look!

I am very new to YouTube but I LOVE making videos! They’re such a great addition to my blogging hobby. Do you like Korean skincare? Let me know if you have a YouTube Channel, we can be YouTube friends!

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Apgujeong’s Elite Keeping Korean Architects in Business

Apgujeong is one of Seoul’s more affluent neighbourhoods. There is no shortage of designer clothes, expensive schools and plastic surgeons. Today, I spent the morning walking around Apgujeong Rodeo Street (not to go shopping because I’m not a bajillionaire). Instead, I admired all of the amazing buildings in the area that house some of the world’s most expensive designer brands.

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As a designer, I looked at these creations in awe. The craftsmanship, the beauty, and the detail were spectacular. With the facades on these buildings, they were worthy of being in every design magazine.

However, when I looked at them as a human, I couldn’t help but feel it was all a bit too… too much. It almost seems like a waste to have all of this design reserved for the filthy rich. It would be great to see more of this incredible creativity distributed around other parts of Seoul. Should this all be centred around one neighbourhood of Seoul? One street for that matter.

City Hall, Lotte Tower, and the DDP are all places that people can enjoy together. They are examples of architecture that enable all walks of life to share the design. Shouldn’t we save our creative energy for everyone to enjoy? I guess not… otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about this. One or two amazing buildings in a street, yes, but for every designer brand to have its own unique facade? Come on, guys! It’s too much! But I did appreciate the cool petrol station.

Highway Rest Stops, Korean Style

I wanted to use this powerful blogging platform to share with you one of my favourite tourist attractions in South Korea: the humble highway rest stop. Perhaps it’s because of the relief from getting out of a car during a long trip to stretch your legs. Or maybe it’s the delicious offerings that they have? In Korean, these little pockets of road trip heaven are called a ‘Hyugeso’ or 휴게소 in Korean!

You can only really access these stops if you’re heading out of town. Most bus trips that are long enough will take a 15 minute rest at one of these places. My face literally lit up when I heard the announcement that we were about to pull into a Hyugeso over the weekend. We travelled from Yeosu to Seoul which is about a four hour drive so a stop for hotdogs and walnut cakes was a necessity! However, the short allotted time period will make you feel like you’re on a reality game show where you have to see how much street food you can consume in 15 minutes with a toilet break thrown in somewhere. Continue reading to see the rest stops in all of their glory.

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Lots of buses at the highway rest stop, South Korea

It is widely known that when the sun starts to set in the mountains, it is time to stop at a ‘Hyugeso’ and eat until your heart’s content. It’s a very famous proverb first used during the Goreyo dynasty. That’s a ‘chicken or egg’, ‘car or rest stop’ question we don’t have time to answer here today and I am obviosly joking.

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a highway rest stop, South Korea
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People buying food at the highway rest stop in South Korea
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A corn dog at the rest stop in Korea
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My favourite! ‘Walnut cakes’ at the rest stop in South Korea
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Korean Walnut Cakes

So, let me introduce you to the main reason I love Hyugeso’s: walnut cakes. In Korean they’re called ‘hodu gwaja’ which translates to walnut snacks. (The word ‘cracker’ really undersells the soft pockets of heaven that you will find in your $3 bag that you will inevitably buy after reading such an influential blog post as this). The walnut cakes are filled with sweet and silky red bean paste and are best served hot, fresh from the Ajumma selling them to you. These are tricky to find beyond the confines of a Korean highway rest area but, in my not so humble opinion, it’s worth organising a quick bus/car getaway to try them out. Or even worth an impromptu South Korea trip you didn’t know you needed. Not really. But really.

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Have you tried anything at a Korean highway rest stop? Let me know what your favourite snacks are and I’ll be sure to give them a try! Leave a comment below!

What Christmas (kind of) looks like in Seoul

Merry Christmas one and all! This year, I spent Christmas day with my dreamboat boyfriend in my literal fairytale land; IKEA! But not just any IKEA, IKEA in Seoul! IKOREA! We traversed through the psychological minefield that is IKEA and avoided collecting unnecessary cheap items along the way. However, we did stop for a feast of traditional Christmas day Swedish meatballs and salad. It was very difficult to say no to my second family, cake, but I soldiered on sans cake and continued to lug home a giant blue IKEA bag full of sheets and pillows and complimentary Christmas decorations.

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We travelled home to assemble our new LACK table, a name which completely undersells this bad boy, I mean…it has a shelf. A whole shelf. How could it lack anything… apart from real timber, a lifetime guarantee and structural integrity? It’s fantastic. Then, we feasted on another traditional Christmas day meal: fried chicken and pizza. There is a chain restaurant here in Korea that sells amazing fried chicken and incredible pizza for about $20. The food chain is called ‘Come and claim your reduced life expectancy’. It’s a hoot. It’s important for this unimportant story that I tell you that we ate said chicken on pizza on aforementioned LACK table. This photo is not really “blogger” worthy but it just sets the mood. This is my real life, how could I think about aesthetics when I had all of this food in front of me?

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Finally, we ventured back out into the ice cold outside world and travelled to Cheonggyecheon Stream to see all of the pretty lights along the river and of course the gorgeous Christmas tree of lights. It was a human hot pot with almost every South Korean couple turning up for the occasion. You can see all of them in these images below.

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I had a beautiful Christmas season both in Melbourne and in Seoul. I am so lucky that I was able to spend time being festive in both places with all of the people I love. If you want to see how I celebrated an early Christmas with lunch in Melbourne, check out my previous blog post to compare and contrast and discuss the cultural differences with whoever is closest to you, perhaps your Starbucks Barista. I wish you an insightful and intellectually stimulating conversation. Be merry and be healthy in this new year and may all of your wishes and short-term goals come true! Let me know how you spend your December holiday time from your part of the planet!