Busan Highlight… Knockout Café! 🤪🥊

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The majority of young people living and working in this marvelous country don’t simply drink coffee; they breathe it. Coffee shops are abundantly available; indeed walk along any city road and you are bound to come across at least one franchise coffee shop as well as a standalone, hipster vibing café. The coffee culture here is so ingrained, so ordinary that to visit a fancy café or simply grab a coffee to go from any coffee chain is a daily activity in Korea. I like to view the coffee culture in a similar way to the drinking culture back home in the UK. Normally, back home, a group of mates or a couple on a date will head out on a weekend to a bar to socialise or talk; sub the bar for a coffee shop, and replace weekend with every day, and you can imagine yourself in Korea.

The coffee culture doesn’t end with the cafés however; convenience stores and their fridges are always decked out with a vast selection of iced coffees, always on a 2 for 1 offer. Co-workers in any company will take pride in offering some of their hand-dripped coffee to their colleague, eagerly awaiting approval about their crafty, dark liquid. In addition there is always a big box of Maxim sachets on offer in every office; an easy to make, 3-in-1 coffee blend there, readily available for anyone and everyone needing a quick caffeine hit.

Have I made my point yet? Coffee is a staple part of life in Korea.

I spent the first year of my time in Busan exploring the many variety of coffee chains on offer; from the world-renowned Starbucks, to more Korean alternatives such as a Twosome Place (lovely cakes), finally ending up with the take-out kings at Compose Coffee (cracking milk tea during the winter months and a lush iced Choco Oreo latte during the summer).

The time felt right to morph in to a hipster and start exploring the more unique, standalone cafés pitched up on each and every single road, ready and waiting for its patrons to snap their insta-worthy shots.

On the daily, I walk around 서면 (Seomyeon), one of Busan’s hottest and more popular neighbourhoods, especially with the younger generations, and therefore my eagle eyes always spot a trendy looking restaurant or café that I add to my go-to list. Knockout café has been a permanent resident on my list for quite some time. Located down a side street, just off a main road (opposite the NC department store – always a good marker for people familiar with 서면), this café is dreamy from the get go.

The name of the café stands emblazoned in pink LED lettering, arching over a walkway that leads on to a stepping-stone path. The main entrance to the café lies to the left; a sliding door that opens to display the counter and till straight ahead with an arrangement of tables and chairs flanking the right side of the room. To the left is a cozy little love seat, padded with a soft comfy cushion, enough room for two people to just lie and relax, hidden away from peeping eyes thanks to the blue curtains containing it. Further beyond are the stairs that wind their way up revealing the true nature of Knockout; this is not just an ordinary café. Each and every seating area is designed and nurtured in such a specific and beautiful way; each table and set of chairs tell their own story. Some are styled to be living rooms, others are dining tables ready to host a dinner party. Go on up further and there is an outdoor seating arrangement: on one side, a wooden platform home to four tents, all snuggly inside with pillows and blankets, on the other, there are tables and chairs arranged under strings of twinkling fairy lights.

The café does not stop there; exit the main entrance and go to the left where there is a stairway going straight up with a doorway to the right. Through this doorway are more rooms with more various kinds of seating areas, all as wonderfully unique and lovely as the room that came before it. In general, the setup of and décor within Knockout are not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye but also remarkably comfortable, reminding oneself of home sweet home. A place to unwind, relax and cozy on down with a nice warm drink and sweet treat.

Speaking of a drink and a treat, Knockout’s menu provides its customers with a good variety; there are both a number of different coffees and teas, as well as smoothies, milkshakes and a whole load of cakes and other baked goods, such as croissants, scones and tarts, on offer, all lined up and on display ready for people to devour. In regards to the price, Knockout is fairly reasonable costing about 6,000\ per beverage and between 3,000-5,000\ per sweet treat. For sure there are cheaper alternatives when simply buying caffeinated drinks, both Compose Coffee and the Venti come to mind as well as convenience stores, however the coziness of Knockout is not something that can be so easily attained making it a highlight of Busan in my humble opinion and a must visit for all who crave a spot of comfort and homeliness in a city that can sometimes seem so foreign.

Spare a thought for Palestine today and every day going forward…

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This post deviates away from the norm I usually post about and despite the plethora of writing I have planned about my current time and experiences in Korea, being half Palestinian, I cannot ignore this topic as it is something I hold dear to my heart.

Yesterday, 14th of May 2018, the US unveiled their new embassy in Jerusalem, an event that has been planned since December of last year after the almighty Donald Trump (insert sarcastic standing ovation and round of applause) made the decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Jerusalem is a city, a holy place that is so integral to not only one, but three worldly religions. Christianity, Islam and Judaism alike hold Jerusalem in high regard so why designate it as the capital of a Jewish state? The bloodshed such a decision has caused is painful to contemplate. To read stories about so many Palestinians, children and disabled included, suffering and being killed for protesting against something they deservedly have the right to fight against is mindboggling. So spare a thought for those people today, consider their plight and the daily struggles they go through. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would feel if you are consistently denied basic human rights and ultimately punished for believing you should combat such oppression. I cannot fathom the idea myself personally and I write this today in the hopes that one day, all people, no matter race, religion, sexuality, gender identity, etcetera can feel and experience an unbiased and uniform kind of equality, for not one person or group of people are worth more than another and therefore should not be treated better or worse dependent on what they are, what they believe, where they come from or what they stand for.

And before I receive any hate (fingers crossed I don’t – the internet should be regarded as a place for free expression after all!): my belief that people should care more about the Palestinians and their sufferings does not make me anti-Semetic in the slightest. Instead, it simply highlights my humanism, my decency and my compassion for everyone who feels slighted, ignored and abused by governmental regimes.

Peace: an achievable concept if we all open our minds and our hearts and work together to make our world a better place for everyone who walks it.

 

Manchester: the ultimate busy bee!

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Manchester: a city that stands united.

Sadly the above sentence was borne out of a tragic event; the suicide bombing that occurred ten months ago at the Manchester Arena during an Ariana Grande concert. Manchester was thrown on to the world’s stage as a place shrouded in grief; it’s citizens were locked in a state of utter turmoil and despair following the wake of the atrocity and Mancunians (myself included) could just not understand how or why something so awful could happen to their beloved city and why so many innocent people had to lose their lives due to one person’s senseless, selfish actions.

annes square

The abundance of flowers in St. Anne’s Square – in memory of those we lost ❤

But despite it all Manchester pulled through…

When the initial reports started filtering through the media that something had happened during the concert at the Manchester Arena, hundreds upon hundreds of people were sharing information, doing their utmost to provide help, transportation and lodgings to those who left the event disorientated. I would refresh my Facebook timeline every thirty seconds and see dozens of new posts offering a sofa for people to rest their head or listing the names of children and teenagers they were keeping safe amid the chaos. At that moment, I could not have been prouder of my birthplace, my home, my Manchester and so I decided to write this post dedicated to the best city in the world!

Things I LOVE about Manchester

  1. Number one should be kinda obvious if you read my introduction… it is the PEOPLE! The wonderfully warm and wacky people nicknamed Mancunians! They are the beating heart of the city, the essence that gives Manchester its notoriously friendly and welcoming atmosphere. I love going for walks with our Lazza and being greeted numerous times by fellow walkers; a simple ‘good morning’ is SO refreshing these days considering the majority of people live their lives behind a screen and thankfully Manchester has not kicked the ‘old age’ tradition of speaking to people face to face.
  2. The endless varieties of food on offer! Arabic, Indian, Chinese, Italian, Korean… Manchester has it all and none is in short supply! I loved my time working in Rusholme because of the available food options; I would shuffle over to Falafel for some creamy hummus and warm pitta or make my way over to the Afghan Cuisine for a steaming kobeda kebab. Akbar’s on Liverpool Street is my go-to Indian; they have the most flavoursome seafood balti and supersized naan breads that come to your table hanging further than the length of a 30cm ruler. Yard & Coop is the place to go for some fried chicken! Marinated in buttermilk, it is super juicy and tender whilst the batter is amazingly crispy. Dazzling Café is a fairly new place but it has the most awesome collection of pizzas! I tried the pesto duck pizza the week before I moved and it was so tasty. The pesto was super green meaning it was freshly made and the duck complemented it well. I also tried their honey toast for dessert: a massive mountain of sweet bread, smothered in hazelnut sauce and cream…yummy! Almost Famous has an eclectic collection of burgers and fries; some include frazzles, there is bacon rain…it is every Burger Queen’s heaven! Ultimately Manchester is the place for all the foodies out there!

    dazzling pizza

    Dazzling Cafe’s amazing duck pesto pizza!

  3. The weather! Always a bone of contention for most Mancunians but not for me. I have always preferred the colder season of winter back home; nothing better to me than being snuggled up warm at home on an early dark evening listening to the pounding rain outside. Don’t get me wrong… I enjoy the days of sun we do get during summer, feasting on my dad’s exquisitely marinated BBQ food or by strolling around one of the many parks, however winter is my buddy! So much so that the first time it chucked it down over here in Busan, I simply sat under a shelter and enjoyed the sight, smell and sound!

    bbq

    Cheeky summertime BBQ!

  4. Northern Quarter! Is there any where better for a cheeky couple of cocktails and a slut drop extravaganza than Manchester’s very own NQ?! No, there is not. Favourite place to let my hair down on Fridays and Saturdays has to be Lost in Tokyo! Decent drink prices and a blend of RnB and Pop music. Majority of the time I stumble over to Twenty Twenty Two’s once LIT kicks me out for a few tipsy rounds of ping pong! The nightlife does not end here however… there are countless bars in the NQ where you can just enjoy some drinks and a chill with mates. I’m always either in Affleck & Brown (awesome cocktails) or The Freemount (awesome live music to tap your feet to). Also the NQ has served as a filming location for Peaky Blinders and Captain America in the past!

    twenty twenty twos

    Twenty Twenty Two’s! 😛

  5. Afflecks Palace! Integral part of the NQ! A fantastic, multi-storey complex where you can find one-of-a-kind clothing, buy unique barbells or hoops for your piercings, or get a new tattoo. My favourite thing about Afflecks is its inclusivity; it does not judge, it does not hate and it states this the moment you walk through the door. It’s anti-phobic stance is emblazoned across the stairs going up to the first level from the Short Street entrance. Anywhere that treats everybody as equal feels like home to me!

    afflecks

    Afflecks Palace FTW

  6. Royal Exchange Theatre! I have seen countless shows at the Royal Exchange (‘Macbeth’, ‘Sweeney Todd’, ‘A Streetcar named Desire’, ‘Helen of Troy’) and so far none have failed to disappoint. A personal favourite would have to be ‘Fatherland’; a brilliant performance fulfilled by 13 cast members about contemporary fatherhood and how the past has shaped it and what hopes there are for the future. Although the entire cast were phenomenal, the standout performer for me was Tachia Newell; Manchester born and bred, he was a student at Xaverian College (incidentally where I worked before moving to Busan) and he starred in ‘Waterloo Road’ for a few years. During ‘Fatherland’, my eyes were instantly drawn to him each and every time he was in the centre of the theatre. His performance was so raw, organic and he is definitely one to watch!
  7. Surrounding areas! There are so many nearby areas to venture out to if you ever want to get away from the city for a little break. Lyme Park is in Cheshire and it is such a wonder patch of land to go for a Sunday stroll. There are quite a few, cosy and dog-friendly pubs nearby as well serving delicious food! It also served as Pemberley in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice; I like to picture Mr. Darcy waiting for me there! Formby beach is just over an hour away by car; we always take Lazza there as he loves the feel of the sand underneath his paws. There are also some amazing country spots where you can go for a long walk. Ladybower Reservoir near the Snake Pass is beautifully picturesque at any time of the year and Mount Shutlingsloe is lovely but make sure you wear the proper sort of walking shoes as it gets quite steep once you reach the top. I, of course, wore Nike Air Max and was slipping and sliding all over the place. There are so many other places to explore which I have on my to-visit list once I return! 
    laz on the beach

    Lazza on Formby!

    ladybower

    Ladybower reservoir!

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    On the top of Shutlingsloe

Honourable mention: iFly! Before I traded Manchester for Busan, I went to iFly near the Trafford Centre with my family to do indoor skydiving! It was such an awesome experience, a mad adrenaline rush and it has made me want to experience outdoor skydiving! It has been added to my bucket list!

ifly

EmmaFly!

Any Mancunians who think I’ve left something vital off this list? Anyone ever visited Manchester and have a favourite place to walk/shop/eat? Let me know in the comments! 😊

Welcome 😄

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Hey!

I’m Emma.

A self-proclaimed film nerd, food critic and avid traveller.

Welcome to my life!

This blog will detail everything and anything to do with my quest to find groundbreaking films, my mission to try and recreate delicious food from every country in the world and my travelling adventures around Mother Earth.

For now I will leave you with a collage of my life so far… I hope you enjoy!