Thursday, October 09, 2014

행운

Lucky Book Store earned its fortune by selling school textbooks to students in the neighbourhood of Joo Chiat. In its prime, there was demand from six primary schools in the vicinity to fulfil. Subsequent relocation and closure of schools sealed its fate. Today, the only reminder of its existence is a pillar, intentionally left unrestored, that has its name painted on. Even that, the wordings are slowly fading into history.

Being lucky is to be given an opportunity. It doesn't matter how long the door was open, so long as it was open, I can never say I'm unlucky. I have been presented with many opportunities in life; I may not have made the most of them but I consider myself lucky because when everything comes to an end, I still have memory.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

꽃보다 할배 할매

I have a group of life-long friends who will grow old with me. Perhaps one day I will organise a group tour for them to Korea. We can have our picnic in Naejangsan under the autumn foilage, waxing lyrical about the wonder of nature and life. We can have our nostalgic moment at Haeundae beach, exchanging past secrets, regrets and shared memories till distant fishing boats' light lit up the night sea.

Who's afraid of aging?

Autumn foliage at Naejangsan - a beautiful end to an awesome spring

Peaceful Haeundae Beach - a rare moment when we can sit side by side till the end of the day 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

버리지 못한 습관

I discover a habit I have not been able to kick after returning from Seoul, that is looking out train's window. I used to confine my vision within the cabin but now, I am always looking out, not at the scenery, but at the openess. Even when the train is crowded, the stress of city life escapes me when I am looking out. I can never forget those days how I always got excited as the train was crossing the Han River.

Crossing Hangang on a rainy day

Monday, July 14, 2014

인생을 즐겨라

천천히 인생을 즐겨라. 빨리 갈 때 당신이 놓치는 것은 경치뿐만이 아니라 당신이 어디로 가는지 왜 가는지에 대한 통찰을 잃는다.

Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast - you also miss the sense of where you are going and why. - Eddie Cantor

Are you rushing today again? Where are you going and why? Following someone else's footsteps because of faith, trust or love may not always be desirable. There is no shortcut in life that does not come with trade-off. Ultimately, we have to find the answers in ourselves. How wonderful it would be to proclaim, "I am on my way.", after we know what we covet all along. I know I am on the right track when I quit the rat-race.

Red Dot Design Museum (Maxwell Road)

Street art by Lithuaian artist Ernest Zacharevic (Victoria Street)

Bauhinia kockiana enjoying abundant sunshine (Chinese Garden)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

고 대한민국 고

Twelve years have passed since Korea's football team made history by finishing fourth place in World Cup 2002 which Korea co-hosted with Japan. It was the best performance ever by any Asian football team in the international football arena. Since then, a nation awaits for history to repeat.

It is just one more day to Brazil World Cup. Pundits are not optimistic about Korea's chances of going pass the group stage. Their former coach, Guus Hiddink, was not very encouraging too. It was reported he favours Belgium and Russia to advance at the expense of Korea and Algeria.

While the odds are stacked against them, the Korean football team can take heart the Koreans are always behind them. They are their pride, win or lose. As the saying goes, the ball is round, anything is possible until the final whistle is blown.


AOA - 그대 승리의 날개를 펼쳐라



Tiny G - Go Reds Go



Keepop - 외쳐라! 대한민국

Thursday, March 27, 2014

대박 사건

One unconventional "love song" by a rookie singer, one parody and one controversy. Add them up, boom, the song becomes an instant hit.

If you don't know Korean, you would have assumed this new kid on the block, Bro, with his emotional vocal, is singing about a heartbreaking love story in his debut song "그런 남자". But no, he is actually criticising women for imposing their high ideal on men. He even boldly suggests that woman who is looking for prince should go Saudi, except that they practise polygamy.

In "retaliation", a girl group, Veloce, made a parody of the song and named it "그런 여자". As expected, the lyrics takes men to task for holding unrealistic expectation of women. Hitting back at Bro's suggestion, the lady proposes that man who wants beauty like Kim Tae Hee should go Ukraine, except that they are in the midst of civil war.

Controversy generates publicity. You don't really know if the whole episode is staged, since this is the entertainment industry afterall. I would say have a hearty laugh if you understand the lyrics and enjoy the song and parody. Both singers can be considered "실력파" (實力派).


Original Song - 그런 남자 by Bro 

Parody - 그런 여자 by Veloce

Sunday, March 23, 2014

결산

The 'official' status of this blog is: It's semi-retired. Despite not posting much these days, I still change my blog banner regularly. It's probably the only sign to say I have not abandoned it yet. Looking back at the banners I put up last year, here are some which I like and my thought about them.

Snow field, Daegwalleong - It started to snow as the bus left Gangneung for Hoenggye. I was soon caught in a jam caused by heavy snowfall. Slippery road and low visibility slowed traffic to a crawl. What was supposed to be a half hour journey became two and a half hours. By the time I reached Hoenggye, there was only an hour of daylight before sunset. But it was enough to have some fun in the snow field of Daegwalleong. I waded through knee-deep snow like I was on my way to Lapland. I lied on the soft snow like it was the most comfortable bed in the world. I did what I always wanted to do with snow. I made up for the regret I had in winter 2008. Back then, it did not snow a lot.

Hyeri Art Valley, Paju - I am Zakka (iamzakka.com) is a lifestyle store and this store is located in Hyeri Art Valley. It was a freezing cold winter day with plenty of sunlight. The glass wall of the store threw off a vivid reflection of the gloomy winter landscape, naked trees and hazy sky, a direct contrast to the lovely items displayed indoor. I enjoy roaming in Hyeri, an open space where arts and leisure come together. There is always something new to see and experience. Sip a cup of coffee, read a book, visit a museum, do some handicraft and watch the pace of life slows down. A great getaway from the crowded Seoul.

Azalea, Kyunghee University - Sunshine duirng springtime is most comfortable and anything that soaks in it looks miraculously beautiful. It is a season worth waiting for even if it means to endure the harshness of deep winter cold. The feeling of seeing sea of flowers right before my eyes was surreal. That's nearly heaven to me. I could not stop taking picture of them in fear they would fade away tomorrow. Beautiful time is short but it can always live in memory and photos. That was spring 2009, when I discover how lucky I am.

Frankfurt Train Station - Every year during summer, our suppliers from Europe would send us notice of their summer vacation period so that we can plan our order in advance. Sigh, they go for vacation while we continue to work despite everyday is summer in Singapore. Last June, I have the chance to visit Frankfurt for product training. Travelling on the autobahn, I saw many cars with trailer in tow, carrying bicycles, motobikes and even powerboat, probably on their way to camping site or resort. At city central, food and beer festival was in full swing. There is excuse to stay out late everyday because summer night only arrives after 10. That's summer holiday alright. It was my first trip to Europe and it has piqued my interest to explore more of the continent in future. 

Yeongdo, Busan - The sea was calm but the day was breezy. Every now and then, a strong gust of wind sent ripples spreading across the sea surface. Fleet of weather-beaten fishing boats berthed at Yeongdo, swayed gently as they caught the wind. No busy traffic and no one was in a rush. Pace of life came to a standstill. A peaceful fishery port and a scene of tranquility when seen from far. It was a worthwhile stop-over even if it was just to savour a moment of serenity. There is a part of me that is always connected to the sea which makes every encounter joyful.

Autumn hue, Baekyangsa - I first came across the 의태어 (擬態語) 울긋불긋 while preparing for my KLPT in 2006. I gave back everything I learned after the test, except maybe 울긋불긋. Someday, I thought I would see for myself the "autumn hue" in the word. My 9-month stay in Seoul in 2009 excluded autumn which became one of  my regrets. But I made it up in 2010 with my autumn trip to Mt. Naejang and Baekyangsa. Walking on road covered by fallen red and yellow leaves, I saw more than colours; there was sorrow, pain, relief and peace interspersed among them. Pain because it ends and relief because it ends. If there is one thing I wish I can learn from nature is to make each ending beautiful.

Donghae, Jeongdongjin - I like this banner most as it evokes a sense of direction amid turbulence. The original words on the sign are "정동진역" (Jeongdongjin Train Station). Except the word change, the picture is authentic. I travelled 14 hours by air and land to reach Jeongdongjin on the final day of 2012. I have a simple objective and that is to witness the first sunrise of 2013 and wish for stability in the coming year. There were too much ups and downs that I yearned for a firm ground to land on. I didn't see any sunrise the following day, as it started with an overcast sky. But I do believe my wish was somehow registered. 2013 was a year of peace and stability just like what I wished for.

Ice crystals, Taebaek Station - The morning I left Taebaek city, the city was deeply frozen at -20°C. Passsengers inside Taebaek Train Station would not wander outdoor because of the freezing cold but I didn't care. Outside the station, the sun was shining brightly but the delicate ice crystals on the station's window were in no risk of melting away. I stayed 3 days 2 nights at Taebaek city for the sole purpose of climbing snow-covered Mt. Taebaek. It was a challenge that I was not too sure I could complete. But like all previous challenges, I just put out my first step and move ahead. I must say, it was awesome standing on top of Mt.Taebaek. I now beg for more challenges.   

Frozen North Han River, Chuncheon - "I want to visit Nami Island when its snows", I told myself. I missed the winter window in 2008 as I was busy settling down in Seoul, or maybe, I was too settled down that I did not feel like travelling anywhere far. I did not forget I have an unfulfilled wish when I left Seoul after my study. Four years later, I set foot in Nami Island on a light snowing day. The island was covered in snow alright but there was nothing romantic about it. Too many people I guess. Looking out from the island, away from the crowd, the frozen North Han River, offered a moment of peace, which is what I like about it when I first visited it in 2006. With this trip, I have one less regret. 

Sunday, March 02, 2014

인사말

If you are here because you are looking for Korean greetings then you are probably on the wrong page.

We like to think of greeting as good manner, something positive and socially pleasant. But sometimes, it may not be what we think it should be...

"Greeting" #1
Simon arrived at the office and saw his colleague Peter reading the newspaper at his desk.
Simon: Good morning, Peter.
Peter: What is so good about morning? Can you explain to me?
Simon: .....

"Greeting" #2
It was 6:30am in the morning, Daisy was sipping her coffee in a coffee shop when she saw Mary.
Daisy: Hello Mary, you're early.
Mary: I'm already late. Early, early your head lah!
Daisy: .....

"Greeting" #3
An old man got on a bus and saw an old friend sitting at the rear.
Old man: Hello, long time no see.
Old friend: Really long time no see. You're not dead yet?
Old man: .....

Well, if you ask me, there is something in life one doesn't need to be too creative about and greeting is one of them.

오랜만이어서 글을 올린 김에 인사를 드려야 지 싶다. 비가 없는 건조한 3월 첫 일요일 꼭 잘 보내세요. 봄이 다가오니까.

Monday, January 06, 2014

웃음이 필요해

Who is the greatest competitor of Kia?
(Hint: It's not Hyundai and Daewoo is long gone)

Answer: [Nokia]


How do you say "오뗑"in five Korean words?
(Hint: Think simple)

Answer: [뗑뗑뗑뗑뗑]


아몬드가 죽으면 무엇이 될까요? (What does almond become when it dies?]
(Hint: 100% Konglish)

Answer: [다이아몬드(diamond)]


양을 보고 싶은 닭은? (What do you call a chicken that misses sheep?)
(Hint: Food)

Answer: [양념(念)치킨]


What do you call a "닭 박사(博士)" in Korean?
(Hint: Konglish please)

Answer: [닭터, Doctor]


To whoever still reading this boring blog, Happy New Year ^^
항상 미소를 짓고 자신있게 멋지게  살길

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

최초는 최고

There are many changes to Petite France between my latest and last visit. What were once pure white buildings are now painted in soft pastel colours. More murals were painted but regrattably, some original ones were painted over. The place was still work in progress on my last visit with few french-related exhibits, but now, the place is "overflown" with them. Development is the enemy of nostalgia. For me, the original Petite France is still the best. If it has snowed on my first visit, the memory would have been perfect.

Colourful buildings are not quite as harmonious as the original white buildings

The only regret of my first visit - no snow scenery

Many french-related exhibits to occupy your time

Little prince leaving home latching on to a flock of migratory birds

Did little prince ever tell you it does snow on asteroid B-612?