Ihwa Mural Village

And it’s back to Korea! Today I’ll be showing you around the picturesque Ihwa Mural Village (이화 벽화마을), located in Ihwa-dong.

In 2006, as part of the Naksan Project, approximately 60 artists were commissioned to paint walls and install artworks around the Ihwa neighborhood. As a result, the area was reborn as a tourist attraction – visitors can come admire the many galleries and small stores selling handmade items among the prettily adorned concrete walls.

The neighborhood boom was not without its controversies, however. Many residents, constantly disturbed and harassed by the noisy tourists (and the trash they leave behind), have protested against the Naksan Project by painting over landmarks with grey paint. Wandering around the neighborhood, angry red messages spray-painted onto walls were not uncommon either. I could understand why they would be protesting, though – many tourists were blatantly ignoring numerous signs posted asking them to respect private property and keep noise levels to a minimum.

In spite of the controversy, there were still many murals left untouched, thankfully. I do hope that in the future, tourists are more considerate of the people who make their homes here.

One store that I really enjoyed visiting was Suga M, located at the bottom of one of the many hills. A small leather-working store, the owner was very friendly as she talked us through all of her pieces. Her store had not been open for too long, but I hope that she gets a lot of visitors (and business) soon!

We passed by a small wooden bench under some pieces of dyed fabric. I’m not entirely sure what they were there for, but they were quite pretty all the same.

There were a number of tiny museums dotted throughout the Mural Village. It was a shame they weren’t advertised more clearly; the only reason we found out about them was because we accidentally stumbled into one. One of them was showcasing traditional Korean embroidery, used in traditional Korean weddings. I loved looking at the intricate details of the richly embroidered dresses and bed-covers.

We also stopped by a small cafe, occupied by two adorable Siamese kittens that I played with as I sipped my iced cappuccino.

Despite the sweltering hot weather, we had a lovely trip to Ihwa Mural Village. I hope that in the future, some sort of agreement is made between the residents and the tourist board, to ensure everybody benefits equally from the Naksan Project.

Signing off,
Marie

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The Owls Cafe

Today we’ll be taking a break from my Korean photos and will be having lunch in Malaysia! The Owls Cafe, located in the Bukit Jalil suburb of Kuala Lumpur, was an unexpected, but nonetheless, lovely little gem of a coffee shop. Having just stumbled into the place while passing by, I entered without any real expectations and was pleasantly blown away by the quality of food and coffee, and adorably cozy decor.

Upon entering, the crowded and noisy atmosphere was a little bit overwhelming at first, but we were quickly attended to by a friendly and courteous staff member who directed us to our table. Ordering was done at the counter, with payment made simultaneously. Having placed our order, I quickly snapped a couple of photos of the numerous owl figurines huddled together on cozy wooden shelves throughout the place.

Our coffees arrived fairly quickly, with our meals following not too long after. I was a little startled at how quickly the food came out, which made me initially suspect that the food was simply reheated in a microwave. But after closer investigation and tasting, everything was delicious and fresh.

I ordered the Muffin & Lox (RM18, about 4.40 USD) and the Flat White (RM9, about 2.20 USD). The coffee was very well balanced with the milk, and not too sweet nor too bitter. The adorable latte art was also a plus. The salad, drizzled with roasted sesame dressing, was very fresh and crisp, while the smoked salmon was complemented by the smoothness of the cream cheese and coolness of the diced cucumber.

We also ordered the English Muffin (RM16, about 3.91 USD) and the Long Black (RM6, about 1.47 USD). The egg mayonnaise on the deliciously buttered muffin was not overly rich, thanks to the sun-dried tomatoes mixed within. The buttered parsley potatoes were roasted to perfect doneness, and this salad was also very crisp and fresh.

Overall, our lunch at The Owls Cafe was delicious and our visit a pleasant one. If I had to identify one fault, it would be that the tables were placed too closely together, and there were a couple of loud and unruly children (which isn’t really the establishment’s fault). There were numerous delicious looking cakes on display, but unfortunately we were too full to have any. There will definitely be a second visit here however, maybe for some tea and desserts.

The Owls Cafe also has an Instagram account here, where you can browse photos of their delectable creations.

Signing off,
Marie

Coffee Break

While in Korea, I went to a number of lovely cafes with delicious coffees. I thought it would be a nice break from the usually (overly) wordy nature of my blog and just share some pretty pictures.

The first place was Alex the Coffee. Located in Yongin, the cafe was built almost entirely out of glass. Beans were purchased directly at the source by the owners, who also had installed a top of the line stereo system so you could enjoy lovely music with your cuppa.

The second place was Somethin’ Else, a tiny cafe located in the quaint artisan district of Yeonnam-dong. Flanked on one side by an old railroad track that has now been converted into a neighborhood park, we enjoyed our delicious coffee and blueberry muffin that was roasted in-store to some smooth jazz.

The next cafe was actually just a gift shop for the LINE characters located inside a mall, but the packaging and interior decorations was just so cute! One side of the cafe/gift shop was even lined with character plushies wearing adorably knitted sweaters. The coffee was so-so, but the green tea and cream flavored roll cakes were delicious.

And last of all was a small cafe located at the top of the Ihwa Mural Village. Being an extremely hot and sunny day, the small air-conditioned house and the ice-cold coffee was a welcome escape from trudging up the hilly paths. I loved the little floral motifs on the cups and saucers. ♡♡♡

Coffee, glorious coffee. Hope you enjoyed, and I’ll see you all later!

Signing off,
Marie