Dear Inquisitive Stranger,
I am writing this letter to you from the wonderfully named Bookpark, attracted to the books and their glorious incense of inky pages.
A fact about the letter author: I am an avid book sniffer. A master at this subtle art, I can stealthily bury my nose in a spine of ‘Great Expectations’ without attracting shifty sideways glances from nearby souls.
The world is divided into 2 camps: people who would wear gasoline as a fragrance were it not for it’s bothersome flammable property and those who would rather use a plastic picnic spoon to open a can of baked beans than spend any time at the petrol station.
I fall into the latter, choosing instead to prance in a fragrant forest, waking pine cones that snooze on deep, mossy beds as I kick through luxurious heaps of leaves upon warm earth. My happy place is a rich, mahogany study cloaked with the toasty scent of Christmas. The smog of burnt toast and cigars hanging thickly in the air. Peace is sipping peaty Laphroaig while swivelling like a Bond villain on a creaking leather Chesterfield.
The countryside has the richest aromatic pickings. A great place to stockpile scent memory is the landscape surrounding my parent’s home. Their digs are so deep in rural country that a grass river snakes the middle of the track to their village (Exaggeration, it’s a hamlet. Population: 23). Magnificent manure, dense donkey droppings, fresh birch wood and sooty chimneys on a crisp, winter day. I retreat to this perfume bank when pumping petrol.
As a connoisseur of the sensual essence of books, I am exceedingly content in the company of ancient atlases, dusty photo albums and smudges of inky newspaper. This pilgrimage is inevitable. My appetite is too great!
Behold! The book shop!
But I digress. I am here to investigate coffee and ambience.
Bookpark, a wonderful jumble of books and staircases, seemingly challenges gravity to mimic the enigmatic illusion of a M.C. Escher lithograph. In this fairy tale land of all fiction great and small, telescopes have been helpfully scattered around for a giant who left his reading spectacles back at the castle.
As thunder bangs outside, I am content to wait out the storm settled in one of the many comfortable reading areas. Behind a stack of over-sized coffee table books, I am entertained playing ‘Picture Fiction’, a game creating stories from photos on random pages.
Bookpark is parked inside Blue Square, a cultural event space where you may also wish to investigate what is playing in the theatre, hanging in the gallery or being referenced in the lecture hall. If, however, jungles of cookbooks and kooky hotel picture manuals, Roald Dahl escapism and Korean poetry, Star Wars reference tomes and second-hand classics, vinyl records and stationery gifts are more your scene, then step right up to Bookpark. Within this emporium there are two coffee shops on different floors offering an excellent opportunity to sip while you flick, however I invite you to venture to the basement for some liquid and creative refreshment in Two Hands cafe. Here, you can stock up on art supplies, join an art class or sketch at a table using the coloured pencils laid out to use at your leisure. Arts and crafts good times.
Exploring Blue Square is a lovely way to spend a stormy Saturday afternoon. I have been productive – books have been covertly sniffed and my fragrance memory banks are restocked. My nose and I have been doing the fandango with woody whiffs so I invite you, Stranger darling, to do the same.
Envelope yourself in an aromatic land of milk and honey.
Lather up in a rainstorm of foamy, fragrant freesia.
Bury your nose in the linolen of a woollen jumper.
Soak in soapy sea salt suds.
Launder your socks in go-go ginger and orange bitters.
Buy a bath bomb (just be wary of the glitter variety as that stuff is a bugger to dislodge from the tub).
Christmas is a comin’ so embrace the boundless bouquet of the winter wonderland. Yuletide, the season with most evocative festive branding, is a marketing man’s dream so don’t disappoint him by slighting the scented candle aisle that clocks-in at every shop this time of year. Make sure you also stock up on a variety of twee candlestick essences that can be lit during the rest of the year. ‘Plastic paddling pool’ and ‘Easter bunny’ will be trending in 2018 – you heard it here first.
Remember the first rule of fragrance is that you should be wafting great billows of scent in your wake. Perfume is not a luxury saved for best, so spritz yourself in your favourite cologne before leaving home, then see your aura turn noses in the street.
Fire up your olfactory system! Give your nose a workout and make your nostrils quiver. Swaddle yourself in scent that makes you smile and punch-drunk in pungent perfume. The magical alchemy of fragrance is just a captivating sniff away.
Peace, love and cha cha cha.
Bookpark – the book jungle
Two Hands Cafe – arts and crafts and happiness
Blue Square – culture vulture centre
294 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Hangangjin station, line 6, exit 2
Monday – Sunday 10:00 – 23:00