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?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

남이섬의 겨울

I been to Nami Island twice - one in spring and one in summer. But I am not satisfied until I see the island covered in snow. So a day after it snowed in Chuncheon, I changed my travel plan and headed to the island for the third time. I used to like the place when it was less crowded. These days, there are just to much disturbance to its tranquility and scenic beauty. I doubt I will visit it again after this. I have seen enough of it that it no longer evokes as much feeling as my first visit in spring 2006.

10여년 상전벽해(桑田碧海) 이제 주인공은 한류스타답게 다들 부자가 되었구나

이런 겨울 분위기가 참 좋다

나도 눈놀이 하고 싶다

이 드라마는 누가 아직도 기억하나요?

낙서로 만드는 기억들

Monday, November 25, 2013

겨울 열차

After a day of snowing, I got on a train. Destination was not important, the journey was. Outside the train window, mile after mile of snow scenery brought me calm and peace. It seems like snow has the magical power of purifying and rejuvenating an otherwise dusty and worn-out land.

Snow-covered mountain and field

Rejuvenated farmland

A scenery of calm and peace

Snow valley

Frozen north Hangang

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

몽환적인 만남

A man and woman arranged to meet each other on top of 63 Building. The meeting time was set an hour before sunset. It was their first meeting. In this connected world, physical meeting is not a prerequisite to befriend someone.

The woman was half hour late for the appointment. She swept her eyes across the hall, hoping for an eye contact which intuitively say, "It's him!" There was no one within her sight who was looking her way. She decided to take a seat and wait till sunset. Soon, a man walked towards her.   

"Are you waiting for someone?"


"I think he is not coming."

"How do you know?"

"If he would come, he would have come."

"Who are you?"

"I am just a passerby who is curious why a lady is sitting here alone."

"I think he is a little bit late."

"You trust him?"


"How much you know about him to hold such trust?"

"Not much, but I just feel he is a trustworthy person."

"In case he is not coming, are you interested in knowing me?"

"Well, not really."


"Because you are not the person I am waiting for."

"How unfortunate. Anyway, have a good day. Even if your friend does not turn up, it is still worth staying for the night scenery. Personally, I think it is much better than Seoul Tower.

"You are not staying."

"No, I have seen it too many times."

"You are leaving now?"

"Yes, I have done what I am here for."

"What is it?"

"I have just finished meeting a friend, bye."

By sunset, the man whom the woman was waiting for did not show up. Night fell quietly on Seoul and the city lights on both banks of Hangang lit up brilliantly. "That stranger was right, the night scenery is really worth the wait. I am glad I made the trip here.", the woman thought.

There is dream encounter and there is just dream. Either way, they are beautiful.

"That stranger was right, the night scenery is really worth the wait..."

Thursday, November 07, 2013


When a Chinese says "再會" (literal meaning: meet again), he means "goodbye". When a Korean says "재회" (再會), he means reunion. The two meanings of "再會" are nothing but two sides of the same coin. Without the sadness of separation, how would we ever know the joy of reunion. With each goodbye, the question that always lingers in my mind is, will we meet again?

Four years after I left Seoul, I met my friend again in Hoegi-dong for Samgyeopsal dinner. We attended two terms (one term is equivalent to 10 weeks) of Korean language class together. On completion of course, I left for home while she pursued her master in journalism and mass communication at Hanyang University. She was the "모범생" (模范生, model student) in our cohort, highly gifted in Korean language. While I struggled to compose a sentence in Korean, she wrote essay like a native Korean.

Four years is a long time but thankfully, none of us has changed. It felt like we have just met last week. Our conversation was like a continuation of where we left off last time than it was a start. Our day ended with coffee at Cafe Bene. When it was time to bid farewell again, we parted like we were going to meet again next week. Bye, 再见,또 만나, 또 연락해줘.

Will we ever meet again? Maybe.

Samgyeopsal sizzling on the grill plate. 오랫만입니다.

도네누 향기로운 볏짚 삼겹살, 맛있더라

Thursday, October 31, 2013

자라던 어린시절 동네

The blue-red flag of North Korea fluttered feebly on a flag pole inside a compound where a huge 3-storey house stood. Parked at the porch was a glossy black European full-size luxury sedan that oozed opulence. The splendid ambassador's abode betrays nothing of a hermit kingdom with rampant report of starvation (or is it a figment of the foreign media's imagination?).

The once middle-class neighbourhood I grew up in has gone high-class. Not only does it attracts diplomat, it draws in high net worth expatriates who make their home there. The neighbourhood exudes an old world charm. The streets are adorned by rows of beautifully restored peranakan-style houses. Carefully tended tropical blossoms such as frangipani and bougainvilla on the "five-foot way" added a touch of greenery and class.

The mom-and-pop provision stores which used to sell sweet flavoured "ice bag" to sweaty school kids were long gone. From afar, a caucasian lady was busy tending her potted plants outside a house which was once a provision store. The school I attended has stopped existing. There is nothing left to tell a story of my childhood except an empty piece of land. I am dislocated with the present as much as I am a stranger in my past.

Sun-loving frangipani

"Five-foot way" - five-feet wide walkway in front of old shophouses

Wild Water Plum has a sweet fragrance similar to Jasmine. The wetter it gets, the more it blooms.

Saturday, August 31, 2013


We can read about all the wisdom in the world, but our lives are not long enough to understand it all. The only light we depend on is our own experience and that limits how much we can see. Unfortunately, we can't get help from others.

We must seek out happiness ourselves. That's why we have to undergo endless pains and countless disappointments before we learn to become happy. Happiness is appreciating the simple pleasures in life that are always within easy reach of our mind and heart but this truth is good for nothing unless we put it to test ourselves. 파랑새는 다른 곳이 아닌 우리 가까이에 있다.

여름에 팥빙수 최고! 한 입만 바로 행복을 느꼈다.

한국 카페 달라도 너무 달라. 무선 인터넷이랑 충전 다 할 수 있으니까.

Monday, August 12, 2013


당근이니까 당근(Sure)이지
This is one mistake learners of Korean language as a foreign language will unlikely make.

A test answer script of a Korean student was uploaded on a Korean online community site quite some time ago. Foreigners would have no problem finding the right English word for "당근" which is "carrot".  But to Korean students who are exposed daily to "newly-formed words" (신조어, 新造語) in the age of Internet, confusion may arise.

"당근이지" is a slang which originates from the word "당연(當然)하다". It means "sure" or "of course" and uttered when one agrees with his or her partner's suggestion or wants to give assurance that something said would materialise.

I don't view this incident as something particularly embarassing. We all learn from mistakes, don't we? Making mistake is part and parcel of learning something new.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

지상 낙원

River Ill flows through the city of Strasbourg and the picturesque Petite France. Not to be confused with the one in Gapyeong, Petite France Strasbourg is home to some of Strasbourg's most beautiful half timbered houses and cobblestone streets. It is located on the Grande Île which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

River Ill has more to it than its size suggests. What amazes me is this small river actually has a series locks to allow river craft to move up and down the river which would otherwise be impassable. Furthermore, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights are located by the river which give it a sense of importance.

Picturesque River Ill

By the river

River cruise boat waiting

Start of river cruise

River Ill at the end of the day

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

스트라스부르 대성당

From Black Forest, our guide pointed at a faintly visible tall structure across the plain of Alsace and said, "Do you see that building over there? It's the Strasbourg Cathedral. We're going there."

I always thought my first visit to France will be in Paris but here I am, crossing the River Rhine to Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace in eastern France.

Towering central portal of Strasbourg Cathedral

Flickering candle lights lit the four corners of the cathedral

The nave and chancel of the cathedral. It is hard not to look up inside this "gigantic and delicate marvel".

The narthex with rose window, typical of Gothic architectural style. Suspended pipe organ on the right.

Across the nave

The "Pillar of Angels", a representation of the Last Judgment

At 18 metres, the astronomical clock, at the south transept, is one of the largest in the world

Marvellous craftmanship

Exiting by the south aisle

Despite an incomplete south tower, at 142m, Strasbourg Cathedral is one of the highest medieval structures

Sunday, August 04, 2013

로맨틱한 라인강

The River Rhine forms by melting snowcaps high up in the Swiss Alps, meanders over 700 miles through the heart of Europe and empties its contents into the North Sea. A voyage through it is a journey into Germany's rich medieval past and a brief introduction to Romanticisim of the late 18th and early 19th century. The Upper Middle Rhine Valley, a 65 km section of the River Rhine between Koblenz and Bingen was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage in 2002. Majestic castles, lush vineyards, medieval churches and historic towns on both banks of the river make River Rhine one of the most romantic rivers in the world.

My tour covered the stretch of River Rhine from Assmannshausen to St. Goarshausen which was roughly about half of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. The 1.5-hour ferry ride exposed me to a world and time which I thought only exist in fairy tales. More information of River Rhine at Loreley-Info

Ferry departing Assmannshausen

Leaving Assmannshausen and its vineyard behind

Castle Rheinstein, on the opposite bank of Assmannshausen

If the castle is real, then fairy tales must be true too

Castle Rheichenstein

Passing by the town of Trechtingshausen

Castle Sooneck coming up at the next bend

Castle Sooneck

ICE3 high speed train speeding through the town of Niederheimbach

Hill after hill of vineyards on both banks of the river

The parish church of St Martin, Lorch

The Gothic parish church in the town of Lorch, one of the most beautiful churches in the Rhine Valley

Castle Stahleck, above the town of Bacharach, now a youth hostel

The city of Bacharach, one of the famous wine cities along River Rhine since Middle Ages

Built in 1327, the ship-like fortress Pfalzgrafenstein at Kaub served as a toll station until 1866

Castle Gutenfels above the town of Kaub, now a hotel

The town of Kaub

Castle Schönburg - "the most beautiful refuge of the Rhine romanticism", now a hotel

Remains of medieval town fortification can be seen in the city of Oberwesel below Castle Schönburg

Campingplatz Loreleyblick - camping ground on the bank opposite of Loreley

Loreley - the narrowest and deepest section of the Middle Rhine

Statue of Loreley - washing her hairs by the river and bewitching passing boatmen

Summer is not about heat, it's about holiday by the water

Castle (Cat) Katz above the town St. Goarshausen