Sunday, January 28, 2007

아름다운 지리산

I used to buy postcards as souvenir. The postcards that I have collected help me to recall those places that I have visited. However, these days, I depend much more on digital camera to capture images of memorable value that I have neglected visiting souvenir shops to check on the postcards. Perhaps I should try to make a stop at the souvenir shop again next time.

In Busan, many years ago, I bought a pack of postcards on Mt. Jirisan. I never heard of the mountain and neither did I know where the mountain was. I just bought the postcards because they looked nice. Today, as I was clearing my drawer, I came across the postcards again. Pictures of mountain always inspire me. The thought of visitng Mt Jirisan flashed through my mind in that moment. But for now, all I can do is just think.

The postcard pack has some note about Mt. Jirisan. Mt. Jirisan spreads over three provinces, namely, Jeollabuk-do, Jeollanam-do and Gyeongsangnam-do. It is known as one of the three legendary mountains (삼신산-三神山). The other two being Mt. Geumgangsan (금강산-金剛山) and Mt. Hallasan (한라산-漢拏山). With its highest peak, Cheonhwangbong, at 1915 metres above sea level, Mt. Jirisan is the second highest mountain in South Korea (The highest mountain is Mt. Hallasan at 1950 metres). It was designated as a National Park in 1967.

The name 'Jiri' (智異) is translated to be "Exquisite Wisdom", a Buddhist-based term used in the Diamond and Lotus Sutras to describe the extraordinary, refined and precious wisdom possessed by Munsu-bosal (Manjusri-the Bodhisattva of Wisdom) which can be used to enlighten all the universe's beings. Mt. Jirisan has long been associated with this Bodhisattva and there is a common belief that staying for a while in this mountain can transform foolish people into wisemen.

Mt. Jirisan marks the southern end of the mountain range 'Baekdudaegan' (백두대간-白頭大幹) which run longitudinally down the Korean peninsula. The northern end of 'Baekdudaegan' starts at Mt. Baekdu (백두산-白頭山) that spreads across the North Korea and China border. Mt Baekdu is known as Mt. Changbai (長白山) in China. With its challenging terrain, Baekdudaegan is fast becoming the next favourite long-distance trekking trail for adventurers who are seeking out new destination for their adventure.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

새 산과 들

I have finally discarded the familiar "old blogger" to embrace the "new blogger" a week ago. It is always not easy to get out of one's comfort zone to adopt something new. If its ain't broken why fix it? But I guess if I don't try to fix it, I won't know what is better out there.

After converting to the new blogger I have to spend some time to redo my blog template and learn about the new "drag and drop" layout. Fortunately, the learning curve is not very steep and I have since gotten used to the new blogger interface. The only gripe I have after converting is that those non-English names in the comment pages turn out garbled and there is nothing I can do about it.

With this change, I also make a new banner head from the picture I took in front of a pond at the base of Mt. Tohamsan in Gyeongju. I like the picture for its reflection, shadow, greenery and remnant of autumn hue.

For the coming weeks, I will probably have to reduce the rate of blogging. There is a lot of work to complete in anticipation of my 3 weeks break in March. I am not yet counting down to the time I leave for my short-term study. There is still so much things to do and of course blog to update at the same time. It will be busy but interesting weeks ahead.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


해가 바뀔 때 어디에 계셨습니까? 저는 상해 난경로에 있었습니다. 사람들이 얼마나 많는지 파도처럼 끝없이 제 앞에서 밀렸습니다. 송년의 기분을 강하게 느낄 수 있었습니다. 송년회가 10시부테 시작했지만 사람들은 송년회를 본 것에 의해서 시대광장에 일찍 오고 기다렸습니다. 사실은 혼잡한 곳을 별로 좋아하지 않습니다. 그런데 송년회를 보고 싶었는데 사람들과 같이 함깨 기다렸습니다. 송년회는 끝까지 봤는데 재미없었으니까 조금 실만했습니다. 제 새해 첮째날 그런 재미없게 보냈습니다.

Monday, January 22, 2007

에추! 에추!

Click on the picture to see the flash animation

The weather has been rather erratic recently. One moment it is raining non-stop. The next moment it is bright and sunny. It is so easy to catch a cold when there is drastic weather change. So everyone out there, please take care.

제 디지털 카메라

A night scene at "Waitan", Shanghai, taken with my digital compact camera

I have been thinking of switching to a digital SLR camera for quite sometime but have not done so yet primarily because of its bulkiness. Another reason is that I have no habit of taking pictures unless I am overseas. Buying a SLR and keeping it in the drawer would be a waste of money.

In term of picture quality and colour brilliance, my present compact digital camera has its limitation though I like its compactness. Because of its compactness, I can take picture with one hand, I can place it anywhere to take a picture and I can take picture anywhere without feeling awkward. It is not a high-end camera when compared to today's standard. It is only a 4-megapixels camera but "pretends" to be a 8-megapixels through some electronics iteration process. Furthermore, I think its video camera function fares better than its camera function. It is such a "weird" camera. I would not have bought it if not for the sweet talk of the salesman. However, as I become familiar with it, I discover that its night shoot ability is actually much better than many other compact cameras in its range.

In spite of all that are said, I am still thinking quite hard of getting a SLR for the coming Korean trip. I will like to capture the mountains and fields in their full grandness which I doubt my compact camera is able to do. Nonetheless, I will still bring it along because it has been working fine so far.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

경희대에 가자

On the road to the College of Fine Arts in Kyunghee University. It was still a few weeks to spring which started in April and the trees were still bare.

Yesterday I was back at NUS Extension to submit my registration form for the 3 weeks spring intensive Korean language course at Kyunghee University. Coincidentally, three of my former classmates were also there submitting their document for the same course. It is great to know that I am not going to be the lone Singaporean in Kyunghee.

My quest to go for the 10 weeks language course at Sogang University may not have materialised as wish but I have yet to give up. It will probably take a longer time to come. Meanwhile, a short term course at Kyunghee will suffice. Every opportunity is valuable to me especially when I have to put in sacrifices to make each happens.

In Shanghai, I bought a winter coat and some warm clothing. I have started my preparation to go back to school. My mind has seldom been rejuvenated since I started to work. The routine and mundane world has taken its toll on my mind and soul. I don't think I can be the best of myself with a tired mind and soul. I thought it is about time for me to pursue what excites me so that I know I am still living.

Eight years ago while walking in a small town of Jinhae, I knew I would learn the language one day. Maybe it has taken a long time for the thought to bear fruit but it is never too late. Three weeks may be gone in a wink but to know that I have waited long for these days, I will make the most out of my three weeks in Kyunghee. In a month time I shall be packing my bag. At the same time I will be unpacking my mind and soul. It's time to live.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

창덕궁에 대해서

Of all the Korean palaces that I have visited only Changdeokgung (창덕궁-昌德宮) made it compulsory for visitors to subscribe to guided tour. While I would have liked to wander freely in the palace I was stuck in a tour group. When the time came for my tour to start, a Korean guide greeted us, "Annyeong Hashimnida" and requested politely for us to repeat after her. I was thinking to myself why wasn't she saying "Annyeong Haseyo" like what I heard in the Korean movies. Of course, she was using the most polite form while I was expecting to hear a more common form of the greeting. I only know the difference after studying Korean langauge.

I found it very difficult to take pictures when I was in a tour group. I liked to listen to what the guide was saying. Taking pictures would distract my concentration and so during the tour of Changdeokgung, I rarely took out the digital camera which I bought specially for the trip. One interesting story which I heard was about the blue tiles. The guide told us that Korea was the first in the world to perfect the technique of making blue tiles. The blue tiles she spoke about, are exactly those that are found on the roof of Cheongwadae (office of the President of the Republic of Korea). The blue tile was once a sought-after item that the Japanese captured the Korean tile artisans back to Japan to produce the tiles for them. I never thought that such simple blue tiles could be both a source of Korean's pride and sadness.

Injeongjeon Hall (인정전-仁政殿), the main throne hall where all major activities in the palace took place.

The tour also brought us to the "Secret Garden" or Biwon (비원-秘園). Biwon was supposed to be a place where the royal family once spent their royal retreat. I was anticipating something exotic and beautiful, only to be let down later by what I saw. Biwon looked aged and run-down. The garden and pond were not well maintained. The place was gloomy and bleak though I thought Biwon was as authentic as possible. The place was already history afterall. It just could not be looking like it was just renovated recently or made to give the impression that people were still living in it. Perhaps, history is best left sleeping. But if tourist money counts more than history, Biwon might have to be restored to its former glory.

Changdeokgung was not big. It didn't take many hours before I was back at the main entrance again. I thanked the guide for showing us around and left by the main entrance. I tried to recollect what I did after I left Changdeokgung but could not. It seems that memory is only lasting when something is done, regardless of whether it is interesting or not. Perhaps, I should have just lived a live without doing anything so maybe there won't be any sweet or sad memories to unsettle my mind constantly. But that is just an unpractical thought. Give me another palace and I will still visit it.

Biwon was built in 1623 and was originally called the "Huwon" or the "back garden".

잊을 수 없는 곳에

Shanghai is divided by the Huangpu River (황포강-黄浦江) into Pudong (포동-浦東) and Puxi (포서-蒲西) just like the Han River (한강-漢江) that divides Seoul into Gangbuk (강북-江北) and Gangnam (강남-江南). While Pudong is meant to be the future of Shanghai, Puxi is the old and modern-day Shanghai. The old western buildings at the Bund or Waitan (外滩) at Puxi are magnificient to look at after dark, whether from a distance or close-up.

Friday, January 19, 2007

걸었던 곳에

There was very little light at the Riverside Park in Pudong. The air was cold enough for me to keep my hands inside the pockets. It was a nice feeling sitting out by the riverside during a winter night. Darkness made lights more attractive. I could not keep my eyes off these dining outlets at the park. They look so outstanding in darkness.

[Top] Fuga Teppanyaki at Oriental Riverside Hotel. [Middle] rbt Garden western restaurant. [Bottom] The big M's drink and dessert kiosk.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

강남이 좋은 곳입니다

In Korea, Gangnam (江南) refers to the region south of the Han River (漢江). The Gangnam district (江南區), in particular, is a place meant for the affluent Koreans. Property prices are sky-high. Streets are flanked by up-market boutiques, shops and department stores. Apgujeong (狎鷗亭) is one of the most fashionable shopping spot in the Gangnam district. Of course, it is a place meant for those with deep pocket. I don't have deep pocket, so that more or less explain why I have not been to Apgujeong despite visiting Seoul on three occasions.

As I look up the city map of Seoul, I sort of realise why Gangnam district is such a sought-after place for business and home. Gangnam district is situated at the bend of the Han River and in "fengshui" study, this is supposedly to be an area that accumulates a lot of good "qi" (energy). Gangnam district, indisputably has one of the best "fengshui" along the Han River. Because of that, people who set up their home or business in this district are expected to enjoy the prosperity that comes along with the good "fengshui".

In China, Gangnam is pronounced as Jiang Nan (江南) and it refers to the region south of Chang Jiang (长江) or Yangtze River (扬子江). Jiang Nan, as I know it, is a region that has beautiful scenery that captivated the imagination of the Chinese people since time immemorial. The scenery was so beautiful that Jiang Nan was once described as a heaven on earth. But I doubt the region is still as beautiful as was described, primarily because of the rapid development and pollution in the region.

I cannot visualise the beauty of Jiang Nan's scenery until I visited Yi He Yuan (颐和园) in Beijing. I was told by the guide that Emperor Qianlong (乾隆) of the Qing Dynasty, being a filial son, built a "mini" Jiang Nan in Yi He Yuan when he knew that his mother missed the scenery and life of Jiang Nan after visiting it. Just look at the picture below to understand the beauty of Jiang Nan. I am not too sure how to describe its beauty but I would probably be inspired to recite a few poems if I am a poet.

Monday, January 15, 2007

명나라의 건축




Sunday, January 14, 2007


This bell has been sitting at my study table since I bought it in a souvenir shop in Busan eight years ago. It is a miniature replica of the "Divine Bell of King Seongdeok" (성덕대왕 신종, 聖德大王神鍾). According to record, the bell was made by the 35th King Gyeongdeok of the Shilla Kingdom to pray for the soul of his father, King Seongdeok.

The miniature replica bell gives a high-pitch and clear chime when hit as opposed to a low-pitch and dense sound made by bigger bell. Somehow, I feel that the chime produces by the bell has a calming effect on me. As and when I feel agitated, I will strike the bell and its resonating sound will slowly calm down my nerve. Quite therapeutic. Then again, bell chime is also said to be able to awaken the dormant consciousness.

I always associate bell chime to originate from a place far far away. A hit on the bell can break the dead silence of the night and bring about an awaken consciousness in mankind. It is no wonder that the chime of bell had been an inspiration behind some beautifully written Tang poems.

Trivia: According to Chinese mythology, the dragon-like creature found on oriental bell is known as Pu-lao (蒲牢). Pu-lao is one of the nine sons of dragon. It likes music and roaring and that sort of tell why it is associated with bell since the purpose of bell is to make sound.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

스카이다이빙 키스

Click on the picture to see the 3D animation

Just another animation of Pucca and Garu and that is it. I thought that this skydiving kiss is quite out of this world. I like it for its creativity in term of its idea and not its dramatic kiss. Pucca comic is all about Pucca trying to steal kisses from Garu and so kissing scene is unavoidable. Anyway, just enjoy.

여러가지 키스방법

Click on the picture to see the flash animation

Pucca and Garu are two Korean comic characters. Pucca is always on a lookout for Garu to kiss. As Pucca is more skillful and powerful, she always succeeds in kissing Garu despite Garu trying to run away from it. In this flash animation, Pucca will demonstrate the following kisses with Garu:

수중 키스 - Underwater Kiss
인공호흡 키스 - Mouth-To-Mouth Resuscitation Kiss
프렌치 키스 - French Kiss
곡예 키스 - Acrobatics Kiss
미션 임파서블 - Mission Impossible Kiss
짜장 키스 - Spicy Zhajiang Noodle Kiss

Note: Pucca will only perform the kiss if you click one of the audience. ^^

Thursday, January 11, 2007


During one of our level one Korean language class, a student asked our teacher, why is long-sleeved shirt read as '와이셔츠' (sound like 'white shirt') and not just '셔츠'? Our teacher replied, "It's Konglish". The class laughed because we instantly recognised with Konglish. Singaporeans have our Singlish too.

Since then, I have checked the wikipedia and confirmed that the word 'Konglish' does exist and is not a word invented by our teacher. In the process, I have also discovered that 아파트 (apartment) has its origin in Japanese language and 아르바이트 (part-time job) is from the German word 'Arbeit' (work).

I believe the evolution of Konglish should share many similarity with Singlish but there is one significant difference between the two forms - Konglish is accepted into the mainstream Korean language but Singlish is viewed as a corrupted form of English and its usage is discouraged. If I am to use food to describe Konglish and Singlish, Konglish is like 'bibimbap' (Korean mixed rice) and Singlish is like 'rojak' (local mixed fruit and vegetable salad).

Though the use is discouraged, if any foreigner can speak a bit of Singlish to any Singaporean, a close bond can immediately be built. I am not trying to promote Singlish here but for the fun of things I shall try to introduce a few interesting Singlish words and their usage.

1. 깨보 (kay-poh): busybody or nosy parker. 참견하기 좋아하는 사람.
I saw a big crowd at the market and being a "kay-poh" I squeezed in between them to find out what was happening.

2. 보볜 (bo-bian): no choice, no other option. 할 수 없음.
I am quite sleepy now but "bo-bian" I cannot because there is an examination tomorrow and I have yet to finish my study.

3. 시옌 (sian): bored, listless. 지루함, 마음 내키지 않음.
"Sian", I have nothing to do now.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


When South Korea announced its sunshine policy towards North Korea, the world saw the following sight.

As a result, Kim Dae Jung was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000.

When Taiwan announced its "Two-Nations Theory" or its derivative "One-Side-One-Nation Theory", the world saw darkness. As a result, 700 missiles from China were aimed at Taiwan.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

복단 대학교를 찾아갔다

Some people commented that it is easier to find one's way in Japan rather than Korea because Japan uses Kanji which is essentially traditional Chinese characters. So even if they can't read Japanese, they can at least recognise the Kanji and guess the meaning. In Korea, the signs and displays are almost in Hangeul and if it happens that there is no English translation they will be lost.

However, I do not quite agree because I travelled in Korea four years ago without knowing a single word of Hangeul. I managed to buy the right train ticket from Seoul to Gyeongju and back despite telling the ticketing staff that I want to go to "Gwongju". If he had not verified with me, I would have probably landed in Gwangju. Despite that minor incident, I never thought that I was lost at any time. I found all the places I wanted to go with the help of maps and all the tourist information booths that I can find. I felt like I was at home in Korea.

Perhaps as a city-dweller for all my life, all the cities in any countries will generally appear the same to me. I also have the same feeling of at home in Shanghai. I found my way easily and I thought it was much easier to take a public bus in Shanghai than in Singapore. The routes of all buses are written clearly at the bus-stop and there is public address system inside the bus to inform me of the name of the next bus-stop. Better still, there is bus-conductor to collect fare. Of course, it also helps that I can read and speak Chinese.

During my stay in Shanghai, I took metro and public bus all the way to the suburb in search of Fudan University. I know Fudan University because of Chinese debate. There was this bi-annual Chinese debate competition between invited universities of the world which I used to follow closely. Fudan University was known to produce very fine Chinese debaters. So like a person on a pilgrimage, I came, found and saw Fudan University campus at East Wenshui Road. Walking in the campus under the leafless trees in a cold winter morning, I felt a strong urge to go back to university. I really hope it will happen soon.

[Left] Guanghua Building (光华楼), the landmark of Fudan University. [Right] The emblem of Fudan University which can be found, at regular interval, on the fence around the campus perimeter.

Monday, January 08, 2007


Xintiandi (新天地-신천지) looks bleak in contrast with the colourful Nanjing Road. But both share a similarity - they are both commercialised. While Xintiandi still delivers a piece of the old Shanghai charm, it has since been remade into a food, drink and entertainment destination. Time wastes away history but commercialism preserves history - but only the facade. The soul has long gone.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


What am I doing in a queue? Anything that is good must be waited patiently, at least that is what I think. While I was walking in the vicinity of Xintiandi (新天地) I saw a long queue outside a shop. People were queuing up for its steamed buns that were freshly-made and sold straight from the steam racks.

The name of the shop is "港台双皮灌汤包" (Hongkong-Taiwan double-skin soup-filled bun). The shop was having brisk business. The queue moved quite fast and within 5 minutes I was served. I bought three fresh-meat buns (鲜肉包) at a cost of 80 cents renminbi per bun. Altogether, I paid less than S$0.50 for three buns. In Singapore, I can't even buy one meat bun for S$0.50.

The weather was cold but the buns was steaming hot. I just could not wait to bite into them to feel the warm. Fortunately, I am not writing a food blog or I would have committed a big sin for not taking a picture of them. I am sorry that I do not have a photo because they were so delicious that I finished them before I could say 'kimchi'. The skin of the bun was tenderly soft and the savoury meat soup oozed out once bitten. I had my hands all messed up eating the buns but it was a satisfying meal.

난경서 로부터

There are lesser crowd along the Nanjing West Road for a good reason. The shopping malls and shops along this road are meant for the rich and well-endowed. There is less dazzle but more elegance in its setting which gives it an up-market feel. Walking along this road, I cannot help but to think that if there is one city in China to have arrived, it has to be Shanghai. It is apparent that this city has its sight firmly set on New York city.

난경동 로까지

Nanjing East Road is meant for the middle-incomed masses. Wave of crowd swept non-stop through the walking street from morning to night. Be ready to be dazzled by its lights. Night comes to live under the lights and the crowd are attracted to them like moths attracted to candle lights. While I am dazzled, I would prefer to stay away from it. I still prefer fresh air and simplicity.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

그대 돌아오면

The range of Korean singer albums in Singapore is very limited. Walk into any CD shop and the rack for Korean pop is probably stacked with Boa and Rain albums. But thanks to Internet, I can still get to hear some fantastic voices from Korea without being at the mercy of the CD importers.

It is through Internet that I get to know Gummy or 거미. In the Chinese sites, Gummy is called "spider" because that is what 거미 actually means. Unexpectedly, I have learnt another Korean word here. It is usually easier to remember a new Korean word if I can associate it with an image.

Back to Gummy's song, I do not own her "unplugged" album. I watch her music video "그대 돌아오면" (if you return) in the Internet. I am impressed by her vocal acrobatic, something a good R&B singer should possess. The tempo of this song is light and easy-going, very suitable for freeing up your mind after a hectic day.

상해의 야경

The Oriental Pearl TV Tower (东方明珠广播电视塔) is an unmistakable landmark of Shanghai. The two ball-like structures have lights that changes colour like over-sized disco balls set against the nightsky of Pudong. Fronted by the Huangpu River, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower looks picture-perfect. I took many pictures of it but very few turned out well. Probably, my idiot-proof camera's limitation has been reached while trying to take the night pictures.

Darkness arrives early during winter and at about half past four, the night of Shanghai has begun. On 27 Dec, I went for a walk along the Bund (外滩). The night was starting to feel chilly. Wind was blowing and my exposed hands were feeling numb. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my evening stroll under the cold weather. I thought it would have be better if it has snowed. I found it weird that Shanghai people were wearing thicker clothing than me. I should be more afraid of coldness as the country where I come from has a perpetual summer.

A taxi driver told me that Shanghai has a lot of water but no mountain. I find it hard to believe that there can be a place in China that has no mountain. However, I witness it for myself on top of the Ferris wheel. There is really no mountain in sight except high-rise buildings. Since there is only water in Shanghai, the best place to see it is at the Huangpu River. I heard a lot about the Huangpu River from Hong Kong drama serials. Like all rivers that run through city, I thought they would have a lot of stories to tell if they can speak.

I was at Pudong on 31 Dec. Arrived there at 5pm but waited until 6:30 pm for the building lights over at the Bund to be switched on. It seemed that any reputable commercial brand would want to have a piece of action at both sides of and on the Huangpu River. A river cruise sailed past with a very huge LED display panel mounted on it. Commercials were run continuously through the display. With so many brightly-lit signboards competing for people attention, the nightsky of Shanghai was brillantly lighted up.

Friday, January 05, 2007

번화한 도시

번화한 도시(繁華都市) is what I would describe Shanghai. 번(繁) means something like complex and sophisticated while 화(華) means radiance and opulence. Taken together, 번화한 도시 means a complex and sophisticated city that looks radiance and opulence. A dictionary translation would give a prosperous, flourishing and bustling city. Though it is quite a right translation, it does not exactly describe my feeling.

The 번화함 of Shanghai has captured the imagination of my father generation. I could not really understand why my father would speak fondly of the city and his desire to visit it. He did visit it after that. But all I need is to be there in the city to understand why. The mesmerising neonlights, the pulsating city beat and the tireless spirit of the old Shanghai. As what the Chinese oldie《夜上海》(Shanghai at Night) rightly put it, Shanghai is a city that never sleep.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

봄과 약속이 있어요

Picture taken in Spring 2002 at a garden outside Gyeongbokgung

Will I see spring in Korea this year? Maybe yes and maybe no. My boss has rejected my initial request to leave for study in Korea. My organisation does have provision for personnel to go on self-paid study leave so it is really down to one person decision now. I am appealing against his decision though. I hope that what I have written in my appeal letter will be able to tug on his heartstring strong enough for him to give his blessing eventually.

I guess only those opportunities that have to be fought will be treasured. There is time when I take things for granted. But as I grow older, I start to realise that thing doesn't happen because it happens, I need to make it happens. I know what I want and I am going to make it happens regardless of the outcome of the appeal. I may not see the fully-bloom spring but I should still be going for my study in March but maybe in Kyunghee University for 3 weeks instead. Nonetheless, I will be there.

마음 먹은거니 한번 시도해 볼게요. 아자 아자!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

사진을 몇 장 찍었어

Caught in a traffic jam when we were about to cross the Lupu Bridge (卢浦大桥) from Pudong (浦东) to Puxi (浦西). Anyway, the traffic condition in Shanghai may seem a bit chaotic to Singaporeans. Just note that traffic lights are only meant as a guide in Shanghai and you should be quite safe.

These China-made bicycles just made me nostalgic. They used to ply the streets of Singapore but now they are gone - replaced by mountain bikes. We used to own a bicycle like this in our family. Provision shop assistant used to send our neighbour's grocery riding on this bicycle. How time has changed . . .

Business was brisk at this supermarket at Nanjing East Walking Street (南京东步行街). Too much things to see and buy that I did not know what to get eventually. So I was contented to just walk the street and enjoy a night of sight-seeing.

Bing Tang Hu Lu (冰糖葫芦) being sold at the Bund. They looked iressistable and delicious under the light. Heard a lot about this candy but have never seen or tasted it. Anyway, I never bought one of these though. I was satisfied just watching it.

You may be forgiven to think that this a western city. Bronze sculpture, Burger King and Coffee Bean are things that are just so western. But if you look closer, this is still Shanghai. Shanghai is not new to western influence. Western culture is part of the social gene of Shanghai.

Lang Lang (朗朗), a Chinese piano child prodigy, performed at the Shanghai Grand Theatre. He is affectionately called "The World Piano Prince". By the time I saw this big poster, his performance was over. I am no classical music fan but I still felt a sense of lost for missing the opportunity to meet the pride of the Chinese musical scene.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

상해에서 뭘 했어?

I went Shanghai because I simply wanted to experience cold weather like those in Korea. But it was freezing cold only for two days. I knew it was cold when my ears lost their sensation after being exposed in the cold air for quite some time. For the rest of the week, I did not even bother to put on my winter coat.

So I did not have a chance to go Korea because it has become such a sought-after tourist destination that all flight tickets were fully booked. But I don't think I need to be in Korea to enjoy what Korea can offer. I found a piece of Korea's action in Shanghai.

So I could not go Everland to take its Ferris wheel. Anyway I had my Ferris wheel ride in Jin Jiang Amusement Park (锦江乐园). The Ferris wheel is about 108m high and cost only 20 reminbi (S$4) per ride. Quite a steal. Except the Ferris wheel, there were probably nothing else in the park that really excite me.

So I could not go Gangwon Do(江原道) for skiing. Its alright. I had my first skiing experience at Qixing Indoor Ski Slope (七星室内滑雪场). Like all novices, I started off rolling all over the ski slope. But with some coaching, I managed to find my balance and did some decent skiing at the end. I think I am ready for some real outdoor action.

So I could not have my Korean desserts. I still managed to have my 'Pat Bing Su' (팥빙수, red-bean ice) and yogurt fruits in Shanghai. I had my share of red-bean ice in the food court at the Raffles City in Shanghai. I also had my yogurt fruits, sitting comfortably on a swing, at the Canmore franchaise outlet located at Fujian Road.

Maybe I don't really need to go to Korea for most of the actions it offers. But I definitely need to go there to study its language.

상해에서 돌아왔다

I am back from Shanghai. It was a 'fruitful' trip. I was right to think that Shanghai bookstore should carry some respectable Korean language textbooks due to the proximity of China to Korea and the presence of the Joseon ethnic group at Yeonbyeon(연변-延邊,吉林省). I bought six Korean language textbooks when I visited 'Shanghai Book City', a seven-level mega bookstore, located at Fujian Road, about 5 minutes walk from the famous Nanjing East Walking Street.

1. [Top Left] The title of this book is translated as " Standard Korean Language" and it is published by the Peking University Press. There are 3 volumes altogether and I bought all three. The book shown above is the first volume. Each volume is about 300-plus pages thick. These textbooks are the consolidated effort of the editorial teams from 25 universities in China. These textbooks should be comprehensive enough for my self-study.

2. [Top Right] This TOPIK Preparation Guide, published by Shanghai Jiatong University Press, is meant as a preparation material for students who wish to attained level 3 or 4 for the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) administered by the Ministry of Education of Korea. Whereas, the Korean Language Proficiency Test (KLPT) is administered by their Ministry of Labor. This textbook should be a useful tool for me to assess my proficiency level.

3. [Bottom] These two books explain the Korean grammars. I was so excited when I found these grammar books at the fourth level of Shanghai Book City. I know I badly need some grammar book to tighten up my fundamentals so that I can progress further in my study. These books should allow me to do cross-references if any one of the book fails to explain a grammar well enough. So far, these two books were able to answer all my doubts about the Korean grammars.

These six Korean language textbooks cost me about 186 reminbi, which is about S$37. I must say that books are very cheap in Shanghai. I may not even get two textbooks in Korea for the price I paid for these books in Shanghai. With the latest acquisitions, I hope to better my KLPT grade level to 3 or 4 by the end of this year. This should be one of my 2007 resolutions.