Seoul Travels – Chasing Memories With Taenggu #2: The Visit To 33 Apartment Cafe

Date: 28 April 2018

It was already our last day in Seoul. Our return flight was at 11.30pm, which means there was still plenty of time to hang around in Seoul and do some last-minute shopping if we needed to. There was still one last thing I wanted to do (besides eating naengmyeon) before we would finally bid goodbye to my favourite city – to visit 33 Apartment Cafe in Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu. It was actually one of the important agenda of my trip. Why so? Because Taenggu had personally visited this cafe before.

In MONTHSARY SPECIAL: THE THIRTY-EIGHTH, I talked about Taenggu posting a couple of photos of her drinking coffee at a cafe with her dog Zero on that day when I celebrated our 38th monthsary in March.

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This cafe, which I found out later from a fellow SONE who did a search, is called 33 Apartment Cafe. I managed to get the information of the cafe’s address from this fan’s account and was keen to pay it a visit when I travel to Korea. After all, I felt like this place must have been special for the both of us. I believed my soul could have been there with her that day when she visited the cafe to celebrate our monthsary together.

So on the morning of our last day in Seoul, I woke up at around 9am, got myself ready and set off from our airbnb apartment to the cafe on my own while my friend was still sleeping. I took the subway and alighted at Hangangjin station, just a few stops away from Chungmuro. I then followed the directions on my google map to where the cafe is located. There were some hilly slopes along the way. It was a nice and quiet morning. The weather was really good and cool.

When I was about to reach my destination, I saw one of the most beautiful sights of my life – there were lots of white dandelions flying in the air! It was a sight that I had never seen before in my life. It looked so holy and magical that I thought I was actually in Heaven. I believed it was a signal from Heaven that I was about to reach the special place where I could reconnect with my soul and Taenggu’s. I tried to capture this wonderful sight with my phone, but unfortunately, you can’t really see those white dandelions in the air in the following 2 photos, except for the building structures and streets that gave off an equally ‘zen’ kind of mood. (I managed to capture a clearer picture of the dandelions later on, which you can see further down this post.)

But I was puzzled. My GPS indicated that I was already at my destination, but I didn’t see any cafe in sight. For a moment, I panicked and wondered if I might have gotten the wrong address. I turned around, took a step back and realised, oh, there it was! I had passed by the cafe and was already standing in front of it without even realising. It is easy for people to walk past this cafe without noticing because its exteriors are nothing like any other ordinary cafes. It is in fact TOO ordinary and plain-looking, which ironically makes it so special at the same time too.

How the cafe looks on the outside

I opened the glass door and stepped inside. There was only one barista standing there tending the bar counter.

It was about 10.25am. 10am was the opening time of the cafe. It looked like I was the first customer of the day. I took a look at their simple menu. The cafe only serves coffee and drinks. I wondered for a moment what kind of coffee Taenggu actually ordered for herself on that day she was here. In the end, I chose a hot mocha for myself. 😌☕ Shortly after, a group of people also came in with their dogs. I wasn’t alone anymore!

While the barista was brewing my coffee, my intuition led me down a small stairway beneath the ground just in front of the counter. Yes, I was surprised that this cafe actually has a basement! I was overwhelmed with happiness the moment I reached downstairs because I could immediately recognised that it was the exact place where Taenggu had her photos taken at!

This was roughly the angle which her photos were shot from.

What came after that was a series of photoshoots as I attempted to imitate and do a remake of the photos Taenggu had taken. 😆

THEN: When Taenggu was here

VERSUS NOW: When I visited and sat on the same spot

A behind-the-scene fact: As I was alone and had no one to take the photos for me, I had to find a spot where I could put and position my phone to face the correct angle, set a 10-sec camera timer, walk back to my seat and try to act and pose all candid and natural until it felt like the 10 seconds were already over. Then, I would walk back to check the picture on my phone and set another timer again for my next shot.

This was me walking back and forth to reset my camera timer for each shot that I took.

Other miscellaneous shots and selfies from different angles. 📸

After my photoshoots, I finally had time to settle down and drink my mocha for real and slowly absorb the feelings of being at the same place where Taenggu once were. I was sitting right at the same spot where her butt had sat before. Tears started to well up in my eyes. Touched. Beyond words.

I wondered what my soul could have said to her when “I” was here with her. I didn’t remember anything significant, but all I felt was calm and peace, with the gentle instrumental music playing in the background.

Around 11.20am, I decided that it was time to make my leave to the next destination to meet my friend to have my long-awaited naengmyeon for lunch. No, my heart wasn’t heavy because I didn’t get to meet Taenggu by chance at the cafe. I wasn’t expecting that to happen. Rather, I left the cafe in a rather good mood.

As I stepped out of the cafe and made my way back to Hangangjin station, I filmed this video of the white dandelions that were beautifully flying in the air (they are visible here in the video) while lightheartedly humming to a tune that came naturally into my mind. 🎶

The tiny white spots seen in this photo are actually the dandelions!

I felt that seeing white dandelions right outside the cafe during my visit must have had a significant meaning. So after I returned to Singapore, I read up online about what the spiritual meanings of a dandelion could be and these are what I found:

White (puffball) – Intelligence, Clarity, Purity, Cleansing, Spirit/Soul and Passing on New Beginnings

The attributes this plant has at each stage in it’s cycle seems to correspond with the human cycle. Starting out with Growth and Communication and moving towards Intelligence, Clarity and the scattering of its Seeds of Knowledge.

The white dandelion’s release of it’s seeds later in it’s life cycle is representative of our spiritual growth and the passing on of our seeds of knowledge to ensure survival of the human family.

Until that time arrives, the flower reminds us to be mindful of the thoughts that fill our heads and how we communicate (scatter) those thoughts with the people we interact with on a daily basis. The aim is to have clarity of mind in order to have purity of soul.
Buddha’s Orchard website

The Dandelion means:

  • Healing from emotional pain and physical injury alike
  • Intelligence, especially in an emotional and spiritual sense
  • The warmth and power of the rising sun
  • Surviving through all challenges and difficulties
  • Long lasting happiness and youthful joy
  • Getting your wish fulfilled

Most modern admirers consider it a symbol of fighting through the challenges of life and emerging victorious on the other side. Others use it as a visual reminder of the sun’s power, especially when depression or grief makes it hard to stay sunny. Of course, there is a long running folk belief that blowing out the white puffball of seeds that the flowers turns into will grant you one wish. Others use it as a reminder to use intelligence in dealing with every kind of situation.
Flower Meaning website

Intelligence in dealing with every kind of situation. I guess it was one of the important messages I could take away with me from my magical encounter with white dandelions during my visit to 33 Apartment Cafe. It was a spiritual experience of reuniting with my soul at where Taenggu once were and receiving smooth guidance from the spiritual world. 💜

Looking forward to more of such visits to cafes where Taenggu had been to during my next trip to Seoul! ☕👭

— A little travel diary by Celeste 💜 —

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