Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A cup of coffee at Leina's

A real cup, that is. Because sometimes you want your coffee in something other than a paper disposable or a mug.

Despite my being a serious wino, if push comes to shove, I'd choose coffee over wine any day. I'll never, ever, ever be able to stop drinking coffee. It's what wakes me up in the mornings, what comforts me on gloomy days, what accompanies me on the all-nighters I spend writing, what makes time with friends even more joyful, and what uplifts my moments of solitude.

Leina's is hidden away in the busy back streets of Gangnam, inconspicuous among the numerous takeout self-service coffee chains. I only noticed it for the first time last year because of the Billy Elliot promotion banner. The café looked promising despite it being on the second floor of a busy building.

Ah, table service, how much do I love thee? Leina's offers coffee from all over the world including my favorite blends Indonesian Flores Bajawa and Tanzanian AAA Ruvuma. Available in slow drip or siphon, the menu kindly explains the coffee's strength per item.

The brewing counter. The baristas all wear crisp clean uniforms; they're friendly and efficient.

Although the view outside is just a city back alley, I usually sit by the window to enjoy the light and watch people going by. The café provides warm woolen blankets, something the miniskirt wearing girls really need. These people definitely know how to cater to their clientele.

The café doesn't hold many people, but I've never seen the place packed. The third floor is the café's wine section, but I haven't been able to check it out yet.

Besides the higher-priced specialty coffees, "regular" press coffees (espresso, latte, etc.) are available as well. The café also provides free refills with their house blend during the weekdays.

Leina's is situated in Gangnam: walk up the alley of City Movie Theater and it's on the rightside corner of the first crossroad you meet.

Metro: Gangnam station (Line 2, exit #7), walk from the exit until you see City Movie Theater
Bus: Kyobo sahgeori stop, walk towards City Movie Theater
Tel: (070) 7569 - 0090

Thursday, January 20, 2011

An evening walk in the snow

It has been freakishly cold and snowing a lot in Seoul lately. I took a short clip on a snowy evening, walking in Apgujeong.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rock islands in the south sea - Haegeumgang

Down south of the Korean peninsula lies emerald waters adorned with weather-worn islands of rock cliffs and pine trees. This natural spectacular wonder is familiarly called the Hallyeosudo (한려수도), i.e. the Hallyeo Waterways, and formally Hallyeohaesang National Park.

As 2010 was drawing to a close, I made a trip to breathe in the cold winter sea and reflect on the passing year.

(Click on picture for bigger view)
Haegeumgang (해금강, 海金剛) is a series of rock islands in the seas of Geoje. Although it can be confused as a 'gang' (강, river) with the name Haegeum, it's actually named after the breathtakingly beautiful Geumgang mountains. The 'hae' (sea) indicates that the islands are the marine version of their counterparts on land. If you're Korean, the Geumgang mountains are always hailed as one of those places you have to see before you die, but since the mountains are in the North with ever-changing tourism policies, Haegeumgang may be the nearest thing that you'll be able to see.
In order to reach the islands, you go by ferry. The ferries leave from a port that is shared with village fishing boats.

You buy the tickets from the cozy ticket office. I love the atmosphere of these places - so friendly and homey.

Our boat was called "Sea Travel 2". A truly no frill name...

...but with a frilly inside. To the left of the captain (who was very, very loquacious) was an assortment of snacks, disposable cameras, water and other goods which he kept hawking over the loudspeaker. I wondered if captains on the other ferries were doing as hilarious and an ineffective job as he was.

People were allowed on the side deck to take photographs. The deck was so narrow that we were standing single file, but I managed to place my skinny behind on the ledge and hold on to the barrier while shooting.
The boat ride and entry to the famous cave inside the rock island:

Close to the ferry port is a rocky cliff where you can climb and view the waves, called Shinsundae (신선대), "the place where gods dwell".

I took my mini Kuma on this trip. People were on the beach collecting seashells for souvenirs.
The sun was just setting. Probably my favorite time of the day.

Official site for Korea National Parks

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011, keep your head up!

SM Entertainment's official YT channel

...although the now-a-duo DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki thinks you should keep your head down. Still gutted that the group split, but I'm supporting the breakaways JYJ as well, although my Yunho bias keeps me rooting a tad bit more for the ones who stayed.

And behold me, whose first post of 2011 is about a boyband. Oh, well. Some things never change.

I spent the first days of 2011 battling a terrible cold. I still have it, although I can now speak without sounding like a dying carburetor. Luckily my fridge is stuffed with New Year's leftovers that Mum packed for me, which I'm still eating and will probably last for another week. Trying to cook while sick isn't fun, so much thanks to Mum.

Decided not to make grandiose resolutions this year. I do have a key word, though: ORDER. I have been living in a pell-mell fashion for so long; my life could use some structure. Not that I plan to live within strict guidelines or start living a conventional life - I don't think I'd be able to even if I tried - but I realize I could be achieving so much more with a bit more discipline. (Procrastination, I will kick you to the curb!)

We'll see how I did in another 12 months.

Happy New Year~!