Monday, August 15, 2011

Cafe Mahsil, Seoul

Cafe Mahsil
2nd Floor, 62-2 Taipyongro-1 Ga, Jung-Gu, Seoul
2층, 62-2 태평로 1가, 정구, 서울

Hooray for long weekends! Yesterday (August 15) was Korean Independence Day (광복절, Gwangbokjeol), so I didn't have to work. I spent my time pottering about, watching TV and movies ("G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra" was terrible, but unintentionally hilarious) with half my attention on other things, and reading (last book of the "Benedict Society" series, I quite like them and am sad that I'm almost done!).

Saturday was spent in Seoul, running about. The first stop was in Gwanghwamun (광화문), a neighborhood in Seoul. I still don't quite understand the way Koreans separate their neighborhoods, districts, counties, cities, states, and all that. It's confusing. So I met my cousin (the cousin who was in the States for Christmas a couple years ago) at a place ambiguously called Gwanghwamun, which was very convenient for me because I could take one subway there, rather than having to switch lines, which still unnerves me a bit.

We went to lunch at some Chinese restaurant (we always eat Chinese food when we're together, it's funny), which was yummy, then went to have coffee. It's very much in the style of our family (he's a maternal cousin- his father is my mother's older brother) to linger over coffee or tea. We wandered around the neighborhood in a very light drizzle and stumbled upon a sign that looked promising.

Traipsing up a flight of stairs, I was encouraged by the look and feel of the place. It didn't really seem like a cafe, more like a little bistro.

For a Saturday, it was really quiet. My cousin ordered coffee, I ordered iced omija (오미자) tea, a Korean herbal tea that's mostly made from berries (hence its pretty color) and tends to be on the sweet side. It was delicious, with crushed ice rather than cubed, and the color made me happy. (Yes, I can sometimes be girly and get happy based on a cheery color.)
We talked about this, that, and everything in between. One of the best things about Korea has been the fact that, for the first time in my life, I live in the same country as many members of my extended family. I've never texted or just randomly called my cousins or aunts before, and though it's a small thing, it's something that has made me feel closer to my family.

This cousin, in particular, is the only cousin I have that is older than me (on either side of my family). Granted, he's only a year older than me, but there's still something about being younger than someone. I don't know quite how to describe it, but being older lends a certain ... responsibility, maybe, in Korean culture. Even in modern Korean culture. I like the change in being younger, it relaxes me. Don't get me wrong, I like being the older, responsible one, but every so often, it's nice to be the baby.

I have yet to go to my hometown (Jeonju, 전주), but I'm sure I will one of these weekends. There's a lot going on in Jeonju (my aunt and uncle that live with my maternal grandfather are building a house to move into, and construction is running behind schedule), so I'm not sure when I'll make it down there. I'm thinking that maybe I'll go to Daegu (대구) next weekend (hi, William!) and check out the sights there, hang out with William, ride the KTX for the first time, and probably eat a lot (every time those 조인성 Outback Steakhouse commercials come on, I think of you, William). Who knows, though, things change constantly.

For posterity, I took a picture of my cousin at the cafe. He used to have long hair (see the linked Christmas post above) and recently chopped it all off. I didn't recognize him the first time I saw him a couple weeks ago- he had been wearing a shirt that I had given him last year, which was the only reason I had known it was him.
That's his 멋있는 pose- he's acting distinguished in his Konglish shirt. 엄아, 잘 보고있어?? None of the rest of our family has seen his haircut, so I'm making it public!

After our hours over lunch and tea, my cousin took me on the subway to Myeongdong (명동), where I met up with a family friend. She just graduated from college and came to Korea in June for vacation (her father's here, her mother and brother are still in California). It'll be my next post, probably, because I'm exhausted from my relaxing weekend.

I just discovered a couple days ago that another family friend (our mothers are friends and my mother taught the kids piano) is in Korea. She's quite a bit younger than me (I feel so old in this country) and in the U.S. Army, stationed in Korea. Maybe I'll have an "American in Korea" experience sometime.

Short week! Thank goodness it's already Tuesday, because I'm ready for another weekend. I'm antsy to go somewhere (I'm eying Japan, even though my parents do not approve. It may end up being Singapore or Thailand) but I can't leave the country for a little while yet. I'll have to content myself with weekend excursions in Korea- there's so much to see here, and I haven't done any of it!


william,  August 17, 2011 at 4:50 AM  

give me some notice before you come! also, as i am broke at the present, please come after august 25th, if you do come at all.

hoping that you do.

jeanny August 17, 2011 at 8:02 AM  

Deal, after August 25! I'm excited- apparently, Daegu is pretty awesome (so says the internet, which I believe).

Get ready to have your picture taken constantly!