Seoul: More Street Art In Hongdae

I usually hang around the Hongdae area that is closer to the Hongik University subway station.  That’s where I go to eat my favorite churros at Churro101, or have an expresso at Coffee Lab.  This time, I wandered around on the other side of Hongdae, the area closer to the Sangsu and Hapjeong subway stations, where Fell+Cole ice cream and Ok Lu Mong patbingsu are located, and stumbled onto street art in several places along the way.

 photo DSC_0321-140721-v2__zps04058b35.jpg photo DSC_0323-140721-v2__zps77d554c0.jpgIn a back ally where a number of interesting restaurants are located.

 photo DSC_0324-140721-v2__zps0f2ee2a2.jpgMusical notes covering the outer wall of a residence.

 photo DSC_0335-140721-v2__zpsbbef8a61.jpg photo DSC_0337-140721-v2__zpsd7823eb5.jpgI like sitting around watching people.  A cornucopia of different things that make up an interesting street scene.  It looks messy though – with ugly wires criss-crossing overhead, street vendors parked randomly by the sides of the streets, an array of restaurants, boutiques, cosmetic shops with contrasting facades, fashion-conscious youths, the elderly, and a group of nuns strolling along the streets…

 photo DSC_0336-140721-v2__zps3fd87424.jpgWhat an eye-catching chicken mascot.

 photo DSC_0338-140721-v2__zps71f5cefd.jpgI love dessert crepes, especially the ones that come with fresh bananas and chocolate sauce.

 photo DSC_0329-140721-v2__zps989b5d5e.jpgWandered into a colorful playground across the road from the main entrance of Hongik University.

 photo DSC_0332-140721-v2__zpsb23eedae.jpgI saw a number of elderly ladies sailing out of this building.  I have no idea what it is used for.

 photo DSC_0344-140721-v2__zps860bedca.jpgI love the vibrant and colorful cafe scene in Korea.  Each and every shop – including the chain stores – looks and feels different.  There is almost always a eye-catching decor, or a strong stamp of individual style.

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 photo DSC_0342-140721-v2__zps8a40c39a.jpgShould have bought one of those bags!  I was eyeing the one with orange triangles.

 photo DSC_0363-140721-v2__zpsa5084172.jpgI came across quite a number of soft-serve ice cream parlors that have sprouted up all over Myeongdong and Hongdae after my last trip to SOFTREE in Garosugil.  Must say that it was the life-size stand-up of Kim Soo Hyun that first caught my eye.

 photo DSC_0358-140721-v2__zpsa64c6328.jpg photo DSC_0356-140721-v2__zps3427da76.jpg photo DSC_0352-140721-v2__zps6a528b7d.jpgStumbled on the Hongdae outlet of SOFTREE!  Also spotted one at Itaewon when I was there shopping in Comme des Garcons.

Chirashi At Hakumai

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I wanted a good meal to chase away the Monday blues. So we popped by Hakumai at International Plaza for a quick dinner before heading home. $40 for a generous bowl of chirashi, truffle chawanmushi, a bowl of botan jiru and fruit. Great value for money.

How is it that I am exhausted after only one month at work when I had 8.5 months of rest….?

All I want to do for the rest of the night is to watch the Korean drama, Flower Grandpa Investigative Team, and laugh myself silly, before I climb into bed.

Seoul: Fell + Cole Gastronomic Ice Cream In Hongdae

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I finally got around to visiting Fell + Cole, after hearing good reviews about their ice-cream.  I had some trouble locating the store in Hongdae, not realizing that it was closer to the Sangsu subway station then the Hongdae subway station.  I often forget how big Hongdae is.  While trying to find it, I ended up in Ok Lu Mong the first time round, and managed to locate the ice-cream store on another day.  If I am not wrong, Fell + Cole has an outlet in the Grand Seoul Mall in Jongno, and another in Apgujeong.

The shop is located in one of the back alleys that run parallel to the main road.  You cannot miss the bright blue shop front from a mile away.  The shop is quite small, and does not have much seating space.   

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It took me ages to decide on the flavors that I wanted.  All the available flavors were so tempting.  After much hemming and hawing, I decided on two scoops in a cup: blueberry cream cheese (squashed at the bottom of the cup) and dang…I cannot remember the second flavor!  I think it is honey lavender…but I remember it having an earl grey taste.  That’s what happens when I don’t Instagram my photos as soon as I can.  

Anyway, the ice cream was super – creamy without being too sweet and the flavors were so unique and different from what I am used to eating. 

Another must-stop that is pinned to my Google Maps for Korea.

Tokyo: Abura Soba

 photo DSC_0802-140329-v2__zpsca5bdce8.jpg I was writing posts of my Japan trip in sequential order.  Then I got a little bored with doing so, became distracted with doing a bunch of other stuff, and now I am trying to get back to finishing up the Japan posts.  I still have one or two more meals in Kyoto that I would like to write about, before going on to Takayama.  But I have decided to fast-forward and move on to Tokyo. Abura Soba.  The first meal that we ate after arriving in Tokyo from Takayama on the shinkansen.  The journey took us several hours and one change of trains at Nagoya.  We alighted at Tokyo Station and took the Yamanote Line to our hotel, Royal Park Shiodome at Shimbashi station.  Thank goodness the ride from Tokyo Station to Shimbashi station is a short one ‘cos managing two large suitcases on the crowded Yamanote Line was quite a stressful exercise.   The great thing about staying at Royal Park Shiodome is the accessibility to three subway stations.  The hotel is connected to the Shimbashi station on the Yamanote Line, the Ginza Line and the Asakusa Line.  If you fancy having a sushi breakfast early in the morning, Tsujiki Market is just a short walk away.  And last point in favor of Royal Park Shiodome – it is one of the few hotel stops on the Haneda airport limousine route.  The rooms are a decent size and affordably priced.  This hotel is definitely my first choice in Tokyo in the future. Back to Abura Soba.  We arrived in Tokyo slightly after lunch, and were feeling hungry after dropping off our bags at the hotel.  I wanted to eat cakes at HARBS but the outlet that we visited in nearby Yurakucho was packed.  So we decided to look for Abura Soba at Akasaka-Mitsuke which is on the Asakusa Line.  We got slightly lost and frustrated trying to look for the right exit in the Akasaka-Mitsuke station – it is quite a huge station – which would lead us to Abura Soba.  Finally, we spotted this big, flashy signage which meant that we had arrived at our destination.  photo photo1-140329-v2__zps3120fec2.jpg I was ravenous, but couldn’t really figure out how to place the orders using the vending machine.  There were so many options, and I gave up trying to work it all out on my own with my very basic knowledge of Japanese.  The staff helped us out, and before long, two luscious bowls of ‘dry’ noodles, topped with an onsen egg, scallions, bamboo shoots, nori and thin slices of charsiu were placed before us.  We were instructed to toss the noodles and eat.    photo DSC_0804-140329-v2__zpsa1db9a28.jpg  photo photo2-140329-v2__zps280dca3b.jpg Abura means ‘oil’ in Japanese.  Unlike the name suggests, these noodles did not taste at all oily, at least not in the way that I would associate ‘oily’ with food.  Unctuous, but not oily. I have no idea what goes into the sauce.  I suppose it is a special sauce containing ingredients that I can only hazard a guess as to what they are – chili oil, vinegar, soy sauce, *i give up*.  Mixing the sauce, the gooey onsen egg and the rest of the ingredients together gave the bowl of noodles an incredible flavor.  I usually avoid these fat yellow noodles ‘cos I don’t like the texture and taste, but these ones were so springy and light, like fat versions of Hakata ramen. It was an immensely delicious and satisfying meal.  I wanted to pick the bowl up and lick it clean. Directions: Alight at the Akasaka-Mitsuke Station on the Ginza Line or Marunouchi Line. Leave the station at Exit #10. You should see a BIC Camera store ahead of you. Turn right after BIC Camera and before long, you will see the huge 油 signage of Abura Soba (see above).

My Gorgeous Lunch Time View

 photo photo1-140819-v2__zps4853ae17.jpgI have just gone back to work after a 8.5 months break. Having led an easy and carefree life for many months, I am facing some adjustment issues of being back working in the fast-paced CBD.  I am just not used to the crowds and noise at peak hours and during the lunch hour.  

Last week, I was stressed out trying to find a place to eat lunch.  There were long queues everywhere, and I hate wasting my time queuing for food.  

So this week, I decided to bring my own lunch to work.  I eat my lunch on one of the floors in my office which offers a gorgeous view of the Marina Bay Promontory.  It is so calming to eat a quiet lunch by myself, and enjoy a much needed respite from the hectic work day.  This will be a great spot to watch the fireworks display during National Day and New Year’s Eve.

 photo photo2-140819-v2__zpsdefb1f18.jpgAfter experimenting with several bentos for my husband to take to work during my break from work, I am finally making one for myself to take to work.  

Seoul: Rose Organic Bakery in Hannam-dong

 photo DSC_0523-140723-v2__zps2db2da82.jpgI enjoy Korean food too much to eat anything else whenever I am in Seoul. I was shopping at Comme des Garcons when it started to rain, and I was trapped in the beautiful six-storey glass-steel building without an umbrella.  So I decided to have lunch at the Rose Bakery located in the CdG building, and wait for the shower to pass.  

I have been to one of the Rose Bakery outlets in Tokyo – the one at Kichijoji – for coffee, but did not try the food.  Opened by a French-British couple, Rose Bakery sells food made with organic produce, and has outlets in Tokyo, Seoul and Paris.

 photo DSC_0530-140723-v2__zpsc2ebd99b.jpg photo DSC_0528-140723-v2__zps37f0bfb0.jpgI love the bright, airy and spacious feel of the cafe.  I gazed out of the windows, imagining how beautiful the street scene would be come autumn, when those gorgeous gingko trees lining the streets turn from green to yellow.

 photo DSC_0527-140723-v2__zps9a337cad.jpgI ordered an omelette sandwich and a glass of wine.  I was not expecting the food to be any good.  I was also a little put out at having to eat one less Korean meal on this trip.  I told myself to just eat a little of the sandwich, finish up the wine and when the rain stops, I would go and get myself a tasty Korean meal somewhere else.

I was SO WRONG.  This is the best sandwich I have ever eaten (and I am not someone who enjoys eating sandwiches on a regular basis).  I have no idea what they did with the ingredients to make the sandwich so damn tasty.  After all, it was just an omelette with a slice of bacon on toasted brioche.  Perhaps it has to do with the fact that they use good quality, organic produce in their food.  (Though I suspect that brioche makes most sandwiches taste fantastic.) I gobbled all of it down so quickly, I contemplated ordering another one.  In the interest of my waistline, I did not.

Rose Bakery is a great place to head to if you are in the vicinity to visit the Leeum Museum, or when you have had enough of Korean food and want something simple to eat.   I am definitely going to make a repeat visit to the Rose Bakery the next time that I am in the city, or in Tokyo.

Rose Bakery
Address:
739-1, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul (서울 용산구 한남동 739-1 1층)

Directions:
Take subway line 6 to Hangangjin Station.  Leave the subway station by Exit #1 and walk straight ahead, until you arrive at the Comme des Garcons building. 

Seoul: Patbingsu At Ok Lu Mong

 photo DSC_0379-140721-v2__zps2b3d009d.jpgI was wandering around Hongdae looking for the Fell + Cole ice-cream parlor, when I spotted this traditional-looking cafe in front of a large open-air carpark. Looking at the menu that was displayed outside the cafe, the place specializes in patbingsu, a popular Korean shaved ice dessert that comes with a variety of toppings, such as sweetened red bean, or fruits. Quite similar to our ice-kachang (except that any ingredients in ice-kachang are buried under the pile of shaved ice, and not piled on top like a patbingsu).

The weather was wretchedly hot that day, and a bowl of shaved ice sounded like the thing to cool me down.  I have visited Korea so many times, but this is only my second time eating patbingsu.  The first time I had patbingsu was at InSquare cafe in the Heyri Art Village.  I didn’t quite enjoy the dessert then, and I wanted to give it another try at a different place.  So for this trip, I marked out a couple places on Google Maps that I hoped to visit.  It turns out that this patbingsu cafe that I stumbled into is Ok Lu Mong, one of the two patbingsu places on my to-go list.

 photo DSC_0366-140721-v2__zps1414243f.jpg photo DSC_0377-140721-v2__zpse23d90ba.jpgFrom the outside, I was expecting Ok Lu Mong to have a rather old-ish decor.  But to my surprise,  the interior of the cafe looks like a hipster cafe with an industrial vibe – dark and moody atmosphere, exposed lightbulbs swaying from the ceiling, unpainted cement walls.  

 photo DSC_0367-140721-v2__zpsbd3b251e.jpg photo DSC_0371-140721-v2__zpsd486c54d.jpgI ordered the green tea patbingsu, which came with a generous mound of sweetened red bean, and served in a beautiful brass bowl.  The texture of the shaved ice was velvety smooth, almost like eating whipped cream.  Unlike our ice-kachang that comes with colored syrup, condensed milk, red beans, cubes of jelly and corn, which makes every bite feel decadent, the Korean patbingsu tastes more bland by comparison.  

I have to say that the patbingsu isn’t one of my favorite Korean things to eat.

Ok Lu Mong
402-12 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Directions:
Leave Sangsu Station at Exit 1. Walk straight until you see a big parking lot. Turn right there and it is on the left side, very close to a Cafe Droptree.

Seoul: Watching Korean Musicals – Dracula & Blood Brothers

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There is just so much shopping, eating and drinking that I can do in one day when I am in Seoul. In the evenings, I like to watch a musical in one of the theaters in the city. (No late-night Dongdaemun shopping for me…!) Or if nothing interesting is playing, I will go to my favorite joint to eat spicy pork bone stew and drink a bottle of makgeolli.

Before I leave for Seoul, I will check out Interpark to see what musicals are playing in the city.  If there are performances that catches my eye, I will buy tickets through Interpark using my credit card.  I collect my tickets at the theatre’s ticketing booth on the day of the performances. All I have to do is to give them the booking number and show them my passport for verification.  It is so convenient for foreigners to create an account and purchase tickets online.

In my last few trips to Seoul, I watched several musicals – The Sorrows of Young Werther, Elisabeth,  Joseph and the Technicolour Coat – all of which had Song Chang-ui as the lead.  (I have been a fan of Song Chang-ui since I watched his sensitive portray of a gay doctor in Life Is Beautiful)   In this trip, I caught two performances – Dracula at the Seoul Art Centre, and Blood Brothers at the Hongdae University Daehakro Art Centre.  In case you are wondering, the performances are in Korean. No, I do not understand Korean, and no, the theatre does not provide English subtitles.  But the language handicap has not stopped me from enjoying myself immensely at these performances.  It is not much different from watching an Italian opera.  

I was surprised that I managed to get a ticket for Kim Junsu’s performance in Dracula, because tickets to his performances are usually sold out very quickly. The performance was fantastic!  It was a very high-quality production – from the stage, to the props, costumes, cast, orchestra.  I found it to be every inch as good as the ones that have a mostly Caucasian cast.  In Dracula, the stage was as gorgeous as the one in Les Miserable, and every member of the cast, whether it was a minor or major role, turned in a wonderful performance.  They all have such beautiful and powerful vocals. 

Hmmm, having finally seen Kim Junsu in the flesh, I have to say that his singing voice and stage presence is not something conjured up by the media and his ginormous fan-club. He is mesmerizing on stage.  (Being a successful K-pop idol helps cultivate the shiny stage presence bit.)

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I struggled a little with Blood Brothers, because unlike the other musicals, this one had more talking and less singing.  I could follow the story in general, but I could not understand all the jokes and conversation.  In this musical, the leads were required to play roles of their characters from the age of 7 to adulthood.  It was interesting to see how they pulled it off so well.

Ah, I wonder what performances would I get to watch in my next trip!

Seoul: Jaejoong’s Cafe Jholic In Myeongdong

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I was wandering around the shops in Myeongdong when I saw a bright lemon yellow signboard of a cafe called Jholic. The name of the cafe sounded like the one opened by Jaejoong of JYJ. So I popped into it to check it out. Yup, it is Jaejoong’s cafe alright.

I was surprised to see that the cafe is a small one, and quite an ordinary one – there was nothing special or noteworthy about the cafe (besides the bright lemon yellow colored theme). I expected something more showy, or snazzy. It was occupied by mostly Japanese women, both young and middle-aged. Must be the Japanese fans of Jaejoong!

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I ordered a coffee, and waited 30 minutes for it. The coffee was not bad, but a waiting time of 30 minutes…? Unacceptable.

Cafe Jholic
Address: 8 Myeongdong 6-gil, Jung-gu or 54-6 Myeongdong 2-ga, Jung-gu. Located above the Mag & Mag fashion store.
Hours: 11am to 10pm

Directions:
For directions, use the map below, or follow the directions on this blog.

Seoul: Spicy Eel Soup At Yeosu Handurae At Gyeongbokgung

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I just spent one week in Seoul on my own, indulging in my usual activities of eating, shopping, cafe-hopping and watching musicals.  I was not feeling too great during the trip because a pinched nerve in my lower back has been troubling me for a while.  So I had to take it easy and very slow this time, and sadly, did not manage to cover half of the items on my carefully researched food itinerary.

While I did not manage to tick off most of the items on my food itinerary, I discovered one or two little gems quite by accident on this trip, and Yeosu Handurae at Gyeongbokgung is one of them.  I was looking for a nyaengmyeon place on my food itinerary along Hyoja-ro at Gyeongbokgung. It had started to drizzle.  To my utter disappointment, the nyaengmyeon shop was not opened for business.  I have no idea if it has moved to another location, has closed permanently, or just closed for the day.  By this time, the light drizzle had become a light rain which threatened to turn into a downpour.  I needed to find shelter, so I ducked into an eatery – which I learnt later was called Yeosu Handurae – that I saw earlier walking up Hyoja-ro.  

Opening the menu (which came with English descriptions – lucky me), I was happy to see the item ‘eel soup’ (because I love eels) and ordered it immediately.  The owner gave me a thumbs-up for my choice, and told me in English that this soup (which he refers to in Korean as ‘jangeo tang‘; ‘jangeo‘ is freshwater eel) is a good summer food for the body.  

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The spicy eel soup was SO good.  The broth was very spicy (not for the faint-hearted; I sweated profusely throughout the meal) yet refreshing, and it contained a generous assortment of ingredients –  gosari, leeks, onions, bean sprouts, and small pieces of eel.  This giant bowl of soup  came with a bowl of rice and seven side dishes.  All of this for KRW10,000 (about USD10).  Incredible value for a delicious and nutritious meal.  This restaurant is definitely going into my ‘repeat visit’ list.  Besides spicy eel soup, Yeosu Handurae also serves Yeosu-style sashimi (I have no idea what that is, but sounds like something that I will like) and gaejang (marinated raw crabs which I love).

I know many people feel that Korean food all taste the same – spicy, spicy and more spicy.  I beg to defer.  This spicy bowl of jangeo tang tastes so different from the other spicy soups that I enjoy, such as kimchi jigae, yukgaejang, and soondubu jigae.  I am looking forward to eating this again.

Yeosu Handurae (여수한두래)
Address: 5, Hyoja-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울시 총로구 통의동 35-84번지 1층)
Opening Hours:  Monday to Saturday, 11:30 am – 2 pm / 6 pm – 10 pm
Tel: +82-2-737-4343

Directions:

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(Photo courtesy of Visit Seoul

Leave Gyeongbokgung Place subway station by Exit 3. Once you are at the top of the staircase leading out of Exit 3, turn backwards and you will see the palace walls of the National Palace Museum. Walk about 50m towards the wall until you come to a street in front of you – this is Hyoja-ro. Turn left and walk along Hyoja-ro; the palace walls should be on your right. You will arrive at a small street known as Jajamun-ro-2 gil, and Yeosu Handurae is right in front of you.

Soi 19 Thai Wanton Noodles In Ang Mo Kio

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Having seen this wanton noodles stall being written up in several food blogs, I decided to check it out today.  

Unlike the Singapore-style and Malaysian-style noodles, this bowl of Thai wanton noodles does not come with a sauce.  The springy noodles are flavored with pork lard and a little oil.  Very tasty!  A $3.50 bowl contains a generous helping of char siew, vegetables, two fried wantons and two wantons in the soup. I am going back to introduce this stall to the husband this weekend.  

The coffeeshop is in a block of flats that is opposite my now-defunct primary school, Hong Dao Primary School.  I was happy to be re-visit this part of Ang Mo Kio where I spent six very happy years in primary school. (I wish kids these days can say the same about their primary school days.) I looked forward to school everyday, ‘cos it was fun.  Oh, I have so many good memories of those school-days.  My classmates and I wanted to be prefects, not because of the prestige or CCA points that come with it, but to enjoy the privilege of going out for recess earlier than the scheduled time – no need to queue for food!  We also competed to be appointed as librarians because librarians could take out an additional three books.  End-of-semester parties were something that we looked forward to twice a year.  We had pot-luck parties, played games and dressed the classroom up with confetti and paper chains.

I still keep in touch with several of my primary school classmates, and I wonder about how the rest are doing.  

Soi 19 Thai Wanton Mee (十九街雲吞麵)
Address: Blk 151, Ang Mo Kio Ave 5
Opening Hours: 7.30am to 3pm

Braised Short Ribs Donburi

 photo photo2-140714-v2__zps6c902a24.jpg I was in the Tiong Bahru neighborhood and decided to pop into Foodie Market Place to have a ‘look-see’. My friend, who frequently cooks at home, recommended their beef short ribs because ‘they are the cheapest in town’.

Okaaaay. I am suspicious of things that come with a ‘very cheap’ price tag because there is no free lunch in this world, right?  I am usually happy to pay for good quality meat from Huber’s or The Butcher, but there is no harm in trying out a new place.

Foodie Market Place was very crowded on the Saturday that I was there. I bought 3 kg of beef short ribs (S$100), a packet of salami (S$3), a piece of flank steak (S$5) and a packet of frozen New Zealand littleneck clams (S$10).  The prices are very affordable, which probably explains why the shop was packed with Singaporeans hunting for good deals.  

Verdict. The salami and littleneck clams were lousy, and I would not buy them again.  The flank steak, stir-fried with vegetables, was not bad.  I used 1 kg of the short ribs to make a Korean-style braised dish – something along the lines of galbijim – using Maangchi’s recipe.  It was quite good eaten with rice, an onsen tamago, nori and toasted sesame seeds.

Braised Short Ribs Donburi
 
Author: Bee
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 1 kg of beef short ribs, trimmed of excess fat. Score them down to the bone a few times.
  • 1 large onion (about 1½ cups)
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • 2 Bosc pears (about 1½ cups), peeled and cored
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Blanch the short ribs in boiling water for 5 minutes. Rinse them in cold water and drain.
  2. Puree onion, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, pears, soy sauce, ground black pepper, and 1 cup of water in a blender.
  3. Place the short ribs in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add puree to the short ribs, and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the ribs turn shiny and the puree is almost gone. Keep stirring to prevent burning.
  4. Top the dish with toasted sesame seeds, or pine nuts.
 

Kyoto: Wandering Around The Streets Of Kiyomizu Temple

 photo DSC_1022-140322-v2__zps9a7d41ac.jpgWe started the day by walking from our hotel to the Chion-in temple.  Sprawling grounds, quiet and calming.  

 photo DSC_1029-140322-v2__zpsfd0f6ee2.jpgA rare photo of me where my face is not out of focused.  My husband struggles to grasp the basics of using a DSLR…

 photo DSC_1066-140322-v2__zpsd4ee2a7c.jpgFrom Chion-in Temple, we cut across the Maruyama park to get to the shopping streets around the Kiyomizu temple.

 photo DSC_1099-140322-v2__zps9c901653.jpgOne-eyed monster.

 photo DSC_1073-140322-v2__zps058b26be.jpgThis gorgeous little pussy with liquid gold-coloured eyes was the centre of attraction in the park. 

 photo DSC_1067-140322-v2__zpse8b78147.jpgBesides aesthetics reasons, do these bamboo tubes serve any other purpose…?

 photo DSC_1089-140322-v2__zps579539b1.jpgWe walked into the Yasaka Shrine, a Shinto shrine along Gion, and caught the tail-end of a wedding procession.

 photo DSC_1090-140322-v2__zps24cc9a21.jpgThe bride is so pretty.  She looks like Haruka Ayase, the lead actress in Dr Jin.

 photo DSC_1094-140322-v2__zps1d89b35e.jpgI have no idea why I am so fascinated with the Kanji characters on these lanterns.  

 photo DSC_1105-140322-v2__zps9bb30db6.jpgShe makes washing the floor look classy and elegant, doesn’t she?

 photo DSC_1127-140322-v2__zps387bd226.jpgWe ate our lunch – hot soba – in this beautiful traditional restaurant.

 photo DSC_1148-140322-v2__zps657062d1.jpg photo DSC_1132-140322-v2__zpsa85ad8b0.jpgI am not sure if this is Ninen-zaka, or Sannen-zaka.  Hoardes of people were thronging these streets during the weekend that we were there.  No matter how lovely these streets are, I wanted to get out of there.  I felt horribly trapped by the crowds.  Needless to say, we never made it to Kiyomizu Temple.  We walked a bit more before heading back to Gion.

 photo DSC_1146-140322-v2__zps83308910.jpg  photo DSC_1144-140322-v2__zps5bd5134a.jpgSticks of piping hot grilled mochi.  I cannot appreciate this.  Give me a stick of gyutan any day… photo DSC_1141-140322-v2__zps0eee3398.jpg  photo DSC_1142-140322-v2__zps79655d3a.jpgMaikos.  Just ask them politely if you could take a photo of them, or with them, and they will usually be happy to oblige.  That’s my experience.

 photo DSC_1136-140322-v2__zpse7e37f43.jpg photo DSC_1134-140322-v2__zpsf55d8b81.jpg photo DSC_0006-001-140322-v2__zps1001a97b.jpgQueues everywhere.

 photo DSC_0012-001-140322-v2__zps50b86f42.jpgThat’s Okutan, the other famous tofu kaiseki place in Kyoto.   We went to Tousuiro.  

 photo DSC_0007-001-140322-v2__zpsdcca1420.jpg photo DSC_0041-001-140322-v2__zps5f228de3.jpg photo DSC_0047-001-140322-v2__zps93db575e.jpgI wish I could plant a plum blossom tree in my HDB flat.

 photo DSC_0050-001-140322-v2__zpsb9059177.jpgIn Japan, you can spot an ice-cream shop from a mile away.  They always have this big plastic ice cream cone on display outside the shop. I have seen white, green, pink and yellow ones.

 photo DSC_0048-001-140322-v2__zpse91d893f.jpg
 photo DSC_0054-001-140322-v2__zps8f28bede.jpgNope, we  definitely didn’t make it to the Kiyomizu Temple.  

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