Friday, May 27, 2011

The Seoul Elements I Adore (我所想念的首爾)

CNNGo released a report on Wednesday - 50 Reasons Why Seoul is the World's Greatest City. Whether you think Seoul the greatest city in the world or NOT (like me, haha), this is an interesting read you sohuldn't miss.
CNNGo 周三刊登了一篇文章 - 為什麼首爾是世界最讚的城市的50個理由. 不管你同不同意,這是篇值得一讀的文章。對我來講,首爾不是我最愛的城市,畢竟在那度過那麼痛苦的被歧視經歷我難道會爽這個城市嗎,但是住了那麼些時候,它總是有許許多多讓我想念的理由。這篇文章裡也提到了幾個,我在後面加上我的個人腳註(原文的腳註,請移駕該文閱讀)。

Let me single out some highlights (more specifically the ones I myself appreciate), with my personal opinions
#50 From bomb shelters to bull markets (從廢墟到繁華) - Salute to the post Korean War years, and the generations that bring us what we enjoy today 向後韓戰時期的苦難歲月、以及胼手胝足創造這個城市的今日的那兩代人致敬。偉大的不是城市,是你們
#49 More side dishes than main dishes (比主餐還豐盛的小菜) - Hospitality and generosity are what I like about Korean the most. It's also embodied in their food culture 韓國人的大器是我欣賞的一點,這點也體現在飲食文化。
#48 World's most wired city (世界第一的網路覆蓋率)  - Pampered by Seoul's high-tech convenience,  you will suffer when you move to any other city in the world 習慣了首爾的便利,當你甫移至其他城市時,多少會因不習慣而痛苦一陣子
#47 Best airport in the world (世界第一的機場) - Agree with it or not (my answer is not, coz Hong Kong International Airport is my No. 1 forever!), it is awesome 同意與否,這個機場真的、真的很棒
#43 Beautiful women (正妹) - I do not think Korean girls are pretty, but they do possess better skin and fairer figure than girls of probably the rest of the world. Plus, they are pretty stylish (though in a pretty universal fashion, haha!) 我不覺得韓妹有多美,但她們膚質佳,身型好,而且很會打扮(僅管風格都差不多) 
#42 Beautiful men (美男) - "Who cares if they wear BB Cream, we'll keep staring." Ewe, the BB Cream comment is quite true, like the Korean guy sitting behind me in office (but I don't stare at him at all, he's very annoying) 原文說,"韓國男人臉上擦BB霜又怎樣,我們還是愛看",這個BB霜評價是真(畢竟我後面的走man路線的韓國男同事也光明正大的把自己的BB霜擺在桌上,有圖有真相) ,不過我才不想看他,因為他很煩
#40 Green tiramisu (綠茶提拉米蘇) - I've never been to the tart café Duex Cremes it recommended, however, Seoul is indeed a city of Western delicacies - and a lot of them are actually local brands, who are able to produce as good tastes as Western famous brands 聽起來就有夠讚。我沒嚐過文中推薦的那家店,不過我是去過不少很讚的首爾咖啡館,他們供應的點心不輸給西方的知名蛋糕店
#28 Excellence in flights (傑出的機艙服務) - Best evidence - I am going on Asiana Gold Member soon! 最好的證據是...我馬上就要升到韓亞航空的黃金貴賓啦!
#27 Heated floors (暖炕) - If you've ever lived in a cold place besides Korea, you'll just miss how close-to-your-heart(揪感心) it is. Well, of course it's not an invention that represents Korean's genius, but rather a cultural embodiment indicating Korean's "floor culture" ( on the contrary, the Chinese adopted the "chair culture" around a thousand years ago) 當你搬到寒冷地區居住時,肯定會懷念在韓國時腳下總是暖暖的那種感覺。與其說"暖炕是韓國人的偉大發明"(典型韓國人措詞),我倒覺得這是體現了韓國的地板文化,有別於中國或西方國家的椅子文化(中國在宋朝前後就從地板文化轉型成椅子文化,好險,此舉有益於美腿的養成)
#26 Bibimbap (拌飯) - It's my top 1 favorite Korean food! 我最愛的韓國食物!
#24 Superb service; random freebies, no tipping (優質服務,免費產品,無小費) - Yes, a reason I adore Korean for their generosity. I hate stingy people (but I am not sorry!). Therefore you find me so reluctant to go to places in Singapore where it's marked $XX ++ ( first + is 10% service charge, the second + is 7% GST, and it's not 17% more but 17.7%, as they add 10% first and another 7% on top of it. Leave a comment if you dun get me), I just don't understand why they don't reflect the real price I am gonna pay but instead doing so many tricks 韓國人一堆劣根性,大器則是我最欣賞他們的一點,體現在他們不吝於提供免費產品(試吃品、試用品),而且一般不加收服務費。不像某個小氣巴拉的國家,招牌上的價錢外還常要有兩個++,第一個+指的是10%的服務費(僅管他不服務你,照收咧!),第2個+則是7%的消費稅。不過總金額不是外加17%,而是17.7%,因為算法是先加10%之後,再用該金額加上7%,所以總價是外加17.7%
# 17 Palaces of Morning Calm (曙光中的寧靜宮殿) - Though mostly rebuilt, these palaces are making this city great. Unlike Beijing's palaces which seem borderless, Korean palaces are comparatively mini, therefore looking cute 僅管大都是戰後重建的,這些宮殿讓這個城市顯得深沉不浮躁。和北京堪稱浩瀚無邊的雄偉宮殿不同,韓國宮殿小得多,也顯得可愛得多
# 8 'Well-being' mania (健康飲食的風潮) - I find it hard to comment as I used to live in Sweden, which also has healthy diets. But anyway, for Asian standard, especially I am now living in a very anti-well-being country where people consume a whole lot of deep fried food 24-7, Seoul has quite a good awareness in healthy diet 韓國飲食比起日本或其他西方國家也不一定有多養生,但比起我現在住的地方實在是好太多了(嘆)
# 4 World’s most spectacular bridge-fountain (世上最令人嘆為觀止的吊橋噴泉) - I am not so much into those "spectacular" things nowadays, but Han River, and the bridges over it, are indeed spectacular. No matter where I am, I always miss the feeling when I travel across the Han River 我對那些號稱嘆為觀止的事物沒有多大憧憬,可是我確實很愛漢江,以及漢江上的那些大橋。我很懷念每次過橋時,從車窗向外所能見到的那些情景
# 2 Drama queens (電視劇女王) - Whether it be historical, comical, profound, melancholic, or simple idol-selling, the Korean dramas do demonstrate a wide range of genres. My favorite drama queens are Lee Na-Yeong (이나영, 李娜英) and Kong Hyo Jin (공효진, 孔孝真) 好笑的歷史的偶像的灑狗血的悲傷的點點點,韓劇種類相當多元。我最喜歡的韓劇女王是李娜英和孔孝貞
# 1 Galbi (갈비, 烤排骨) - I am not a big fan of meat, but how can I pass this! 我沒多愛吃肉,但絕不會錯過韓國烤肉!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cake Cutting As Culture

I came across the Happy Birthday video clip of Tae Yang of Big Bang. At around 00:43, check how he cut the cake.
在網路上偶然看到Big Bang的太陽切蛋糕(第43秒),讓我想起了在韓國時切蛋糕的情景。

Blatantly cutting it into halves. That's how Korean people do. It is quite different from the Taiwanese way I am used to, that we usually cut from the center, and we do not cut cake into halves, as if implying something not very auspicious. An example of Taiwanese cutting cake (see 00:15):

I observed that Chinese and Hong Kongese do not have the same concern and they do cut cake the same way Korean do. Perhaps a matter of habit, I just dun feel right when I see cake cut into halves.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Way to Gender Equality

The Grand Narrative, one of my fav blogs on Korea, recently has a post discussing Korean woman's role of childcare. He mentioned that only woman appears in the signs that involve child caring, such as this:
The Grand Narrative最近有篇文章討論韓國女性的社會形象,他說,在他所能見到的每個和照顧小孩有關的標示裡,都僅有女人出現,暗指這個社會尚認為照顧孩童是女人的責任,同時,他也點出,在其他西方國家也會看到類似標示,顯然韓國不是孤例。以下是他在韓國拍攝的一個標示:

Which reminds me of a picture I took in Sweden several years ago:
(Ooops, this is not a very good one as both adult images are missing one leg. Can't blame, it's in the middle of the road!)

A better awareness of gender equality is one of the top reasons I admire Sweden.
男女平等是我最仰慕瑞典的原因之一(事實上,待了瑞典就難免覺得很多歐美國家相較之下在思想上仍舊相當落後,特別是美國 =.=)。

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

This Time, Yahae!

FeetManSeoul's got a sibling (hey, I'm not gonna say "sister", be no sexist, hehe!), Yahae! It's a new form of correspondence, called "social networked magazine", by one of its main authors.

Get an update of what's going on in Seoul streets, like today (image from Yahae!)
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Look at their apparel. It seems Summer is yet to reach Seoul at this time of year. Just tonight, over the phone KC told me, "It seems tomorrow's gonna be super hot, forecast said it may be 26 degrees!" Well, whereas Singapore has reached its hottest just over a week ago around 36ish degrees, and I got heat stroke.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Introducing FeetManSeoul - My Fav Korean Fashion Blog

A lot of you may have already been following The Sartorislist, savoring beautiful street scenes and stylish people in his lens. Working mostly in Europe and the States, he has recently visited Seoul and took a few snapshots. But only if you are aware, that a lot of the people he featured are not random people in the street; they are celebs, like the Korean woman he shot in Gangnam.
Whereas there's no lack of Euro-American fashion blog, I especially wanna introduce FeetManSeoul, who's got Korean high fashion  as well as down-to-earth Seoul street styles.

也許你想過,有沒有一個韓國版的The Sartorialist? 我想是有的,差別是,這個韓國版的fashion blog,比鏡頭下多為模特或名人的The Sartorialist 親民得多;他眼裡有韓國的high fashion,也有首爾街頭的street style - FeetManSeoul.

(Alright, all images courtesy of FeetManSeoul, guys should all go there and check it out!)

MVIO is a mid-priced Korean fashion brand with a neat and dandy feel. I like it.
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Hey, this is how the majority of Seoul girls really look like! I really adore the girls FeetManSeoul features, I think he's got a distinct taste of Seoul girls.
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Starbucks Card in Singapore

先來一張合照,我的4張新加坡星巴克卡(按圖放大): 派克市場卡(左上)、新商標限量卡(右上)、2010耶誕限量卡(左下)、常態卡(右下)。卡為免費,充值10元新幣(約台幣225)即可獲得;此後每次充值金額皆至少為10新幣。


  1. 上網登記該卡(一個mail地址可登記一張卡),即可享有飲品任選(罐裝飲料除外,下同)
  2. 消費滿12杯飲品,可享有任選飲品一杯(需在一個月內兌換)
  3. 生日月份, 消費飲品即贈一片蛋糕(Happy Birthday!)
  4. 購買正價250g咖啡豆可享本日咖啡一杯(不限size)
  5. 購滿10包250g咖啡豆即贈一包250g咖啡豆
  6. 其他不定期優惠



Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lördag - My Home in Sweden

Early Autumn in 2008, my second time to Sweden; this time, for my Master degree.
This house is where I lived. It's owned by a Swedish couple, who were retired professors from Uppsala University. They have lived in this house for more than 4 decades, from a newlywed couple to grandparents of a bunch of cute kids.

My room is called Lördag (click to enlarge), "Saturday" in English. Just a year before I moved in, it was a tiny boutique owned by the landlord granny, and because it opened basically only on Saturdays, hence the name. It's a semi-basement, somehow a bit damp, protecting me from the dryness of Sweden.

This is what you see when you enter the room.

Other scenes of the room. You can see me studying hard in the top 2 pictures, haha. Sometimes at my desk, sometimes at dinner table. Maybe you can guess where the kitchen is. I did not have picture for the washroom, but it was the best in the world. I used to make calls to KC in the washroom, and I also love to read in there too. It's just adorable.

Because this place is so cozy, sometimes I could even stayed indoors 2 to 3 days without walking out in the freezing open. In Winter, counting how deep the snow has become used to be my daily practice. It really made me think.

Monday, May 2, 2011

My 2X3 Square Meter Home in Hong Kong

Previously I had shared my current room in Singapore. Now I am gonna recall the smallest-ever room of mine, back in Hong Kong (2007~2008).

The landlord remodelled her flat into 4 individual rooms of different sizes. Each room has a tiny washroom inside, but no kitchen. This is the door to my room.

Mine is the smallest among the 4 rooms. It's about 2X3 square meters, with a mini washroom. I have a whole side of windows to the right of my bed. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to stay in such tiny space. I am claustrophobic.

My last days in HK. Position of bed was changed by then already.

It's my smallest-ever living space, but a place where I had the biggest-ever dreams.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Singapore's Black and White Blessing ( 有寫有保佑 )

At Starbucks - "Please refrain from studying during our peak hours."
星巴克 - "門市繁忙時段,請節制自修活動"。

At M1 (telecom outlet) - "We reserve the right to refuse service to customers who are abusive."
M1 (通信公司,辦手機網路那些的) - "我們保留不為奧客服務的權力"。

My first thought - Oh, see, they are warning because Singapore's got this whole lot of abusive people.
Ah-ah, on second thought. I do not think Korea's got fewer abusive people than Singapore. So a better explanation for signs like these is probably the embodiment of Singapore's black and white culture, that everything has to be written down as evidence. Because it's written there, the Starbucks partners got every reason to ask a customer to leave if his or her drink already runs out, or, the M1 clerk can refuse to escalate customer's complaint as the in-store notice already said they do not serve whoever they deem as abusive customers and now YOU are deemed by them as abusive customer deprived of the right to make complaint.

Hence wonder not why emails are forwarded around all Singapore offices, wonder not if you received something that might not relate to you in a million years. Because by doing so, one day those forwarded or written can be the best weapon to serve certain purposes.

第一眼看到那些告示,嘴角嘲諷的微微揚起,"看吧! 新加坡就是奧客多,多到商家得寫公告"。轉念一想,也不盡然,韓國奧客的數量和功力畢竟還是新加坡奧客望塵莫及的,怎麼人家就沒想到也寫呢?
一個可能的解釋是,新加坡人有講究白紙黑字的文化 --- "不要說我不能這樣做喔,你看,我都寫得清清楚楚的!" 於是,星巴克夥伴可以在你杯子空了時請你走人,商家可以拒絕處理你的投訴因為已經明文寫了不服務奧客而現在你已被歸類為奧客啦我當然可以不服務你。