I am not afriad of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today~William Allen White

Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

What is Beauty?

The Beauty series uses the wounded faces and bodies of women who have recently undergone plastic surgery to show the physical cost of adhering to social pressure in Korea. Plastic surgery has become an integral part of Korea’s current culture, often regarded as a integral step in the in self improvement process. Going under the knife, enduring bruises, scars, and being under general anesthetic several times are no longer considered risky or extravagant. They have all had multiple procedures and have plans for future augmentation. The photos were taken directly after their operation while they were resting and waiting to be healed.

the_beauty_001-copy

The latest raw data compiled from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in 2010, confirms that South Korea is indeed the country with the world’s highest per capita rate of cosmetic plastic surgery. It is a culture where men are judged on their financial balance sheet and women by their beauty. The male-dominated media endlessly reinforces its model of the ideal woman. As a result of these cultural forces Korea has become a beauty-oriented society where people are judged more for their appearance than their character. Korean women, often fall into the trap of trying to live up to the ideal personified in the media. The combination of these factors has dramatically increased the burgeoning plastic surgery industry while creating another set of standards for women to adhere to.

The following link shows a series of photography taken by Ji Yeo of women after plastic surgery
http://agonistica.com/beauty-recovery-room-by-ji-yeo/

Chinese new year in Singapore

This is the first time I spent Chinese New Year (CNY) in Singapore and Chinatown is definitely filled with bright red colors and the mood is festive and boisterous leading up to the celebration.

the year of the dragon started off on a good sign, a rainbow over Chinatown

this is the year of the dragon, one of those really great signs within the zodiac

The Chinese character for "blessing"

lots of flowers and positive and happy blessings written on red scroll paper to ring in a new year

lots of sweets for many happy sweet moments for the new year

traditional snacks for guests who stop by to greet and wish each other a great year ahead

the temple in Chinatown is decorated and prepared for all worshippers to ring in a great year

candles are lit for blessings made

wishes are written on placard and become a part of the wishing tree

 

My visit to Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh is not the capital of Vietnam, but the economic artery of the country.  It was an eye opener to me when I visit Vietnam, there are definitely a lot of madness, chaos, and craziness with the city, which I believe are evidence and signs that it is continually developing.  I actually had a lot of difficulties crossing the streets because first of all, there are hardly any traffic lights, and at the tourist areas where there are traffic lights, motorcycles really don’t give a crap.  Second, there are so many motorcycles on the road, it makes one’s head spin!  If you want to cross the street, you basically need to pretend the hundreds of motobikes coming at you don’t exist, or else you would literally be standing and waiting for something that will never happen–> all the motorbikes to pass.  Anyway, by the third day of the trip, I pretty much can cross any streets without my legs shaking, pumping heartbeats, and bewilderment in my eyes at what I am about to do.  In fact, when returning to Singapore, the way I decided to cross the streets bewilder other rule abiding Singaporeans.

While I feel very blessed to have grown up in developed Canada and lived in modern cities of Hong Kong and Singapore, the travelling I am doing continually open my eyes to so many amazing and crazy things that go on in the world.  In Vietnam, a family of four could all be seated on a motorbike while the mother carry a baby on her lap.  In the West, we freak out over car seats and baby proofing everything; but the babies in Vietnam grown up just fine without ever hearing about car seats or strollers.  In fact, if you have a stroller, that might be a dangerous hazard itself, I don’t know how you can possibly cross the streets.

Below, I share some pictures I took of this chaotic city that has taught me to cross the streets anywhere in the world.  Believe me when I say if you can cross the streets in Ho Chi Minh, you can cross the streets anywhere else in the world.

i realize my whole entry is pretty much about motorbikes, so I must show you what I am talking about

this is near Chinatown, close to the hotel we were staying at and close to where we sat at some plastic table with stools with a local friend sipping strong coffee with sweet milk

the saigon river is a strip of restaurants on boats and they will take you down the saigon river for a 45 min ride. It's very touristy, though the strip look nice on the outside, there really isn't much of a view to speak off across the saigon river and the food (western) isn't cool, I love local food way more!

the oldest pagoda in ho chi minh

the war remnants museum is really worth a visit to see what kind of war and pain the country has suffered

cool huh? a giant plate of donuts on top of the man's head

A taste of Vietnam

For me, there are a lot of eating when I travelled to Ho Chi Minh, and I really enjoyed all the foods I got to taste on the trip.

See my previous blog on Hue Cuisine  (imperial court cuisine) foods in Vietnam

Of course Vietnam is famous for its coffee and beef noodles (pho)–> both of which I ate a lot of!  But there are a lot more yummy and local foods I got a chance to experience and really like.  I find some of the tastes and foods are quite similar to Chinese food, but different at the same time.  I noticed with Vietnamese foods, it involves a lot of vegetables, dipping sauces, and wrapping of foods because the ingredients used are so fresh and can all be pretty much eaten raw!

this was such a treat for me, we were pretty much sitting on one the tables in the middle of the road and being served a cup of coffee while watching the city and motorcycles whizzed by. I really recommend all travellers to do this, but you do need a local around because there are no menus, you just sit on a stool and order away. My local friend was wonderful, while sipping the cup of coffee, we enjoyed some local treats she enjoyed on a regular basis.

this is a breakfast snack and I absolutely love it! It's a clear rice paste and inside are dried salty shrimps, it reminds me of Chinese Cheong fan (shrimp rice rolls), a dim sum dish, but I like the Vietnamese one, it looks so cool and it tastes very good

you would expect me to show a picture of pho (beef noodles), I had this at some outdoor eating shop, it was cool. In general, the pho I had outside of Vietnam are quite good, but I think it's because the soup base are all pretty much the same (MSG!!!), but I think the beef are better in Vietnam

Vietnamese drip coffee is famous, I had it everyday when I was in Vietnam. This is actually the civet coffee...you know the beans that went through the system of the civet cat?! Anyway, Vietnamese coffee tends to be stronger in general and we are not supposed to inhale and gulp the drink down like a lattee, rather you sip it and let it stay on your tongue, so it can take quite some time to finish the actual cup (though small) if done the right way

Here, we have the Vietnamese pancake, the one we ordered have mushroom and cheese inside. There is definitely French influence in Vietnamese food, but the Vietnamese love thier vegetables, so you actually use a fork to pull some of the pancake and put it on top of a piece of vegetable and then dip it in sauce before eating it, and it's very good

i cannot tell you how much snail I had when I was in HCM, this is snail cooked in sauce, but I love the minced up snail with stuffed meat the most, which I shared in my "hue cuisine" blog

on one of the evening, we went to a grill restaurant and had a lot of grilled food such as grilled fish and meat, and of course, you wrap all the grilled food in vegetables & dip in suace before eating ^0^

this looks cool huh? You will basically take some of the fish and put it on rice paper with veggies, wrap it and dip in sauce before eating....like I said over and over again, lots of wrapping going on with Vietnamese food, you got to work before you can enjoy ^0^

vietnam’s imperial court cuisines

“Hue Cuisine” is also known as “imperial court cuisine”, and it is of course regarded as the best and most delicious cuisine by Vietnamese.  Though the name implies it might only be eaten by kings and emperors, these traditional everyday Hue cuisine tells the life and story of Vietnamese people.  For me, it serves an important purpose– it provides delight and pleasure to the palettes, we were in food heaven.

this is definitely a very famous and delicious dish of steam cake with a bit of dried shrimps on top. Hue cuisine tends to have a lot of sauces to match the dishes, and I must say the taste of the sauces is another delight in itself. There was a group of 4 Japanese tourist sitting at the table next to us and all they ordered were a basket of these steam cake for each person. It really is THAT GOOD

mussels with grilled cake--you basically scoop the minced mussels onto the grilled cake and dip in sauce to eat

i don't remember what this is, it's some kinda of shrimp wrapped in rice wrap--lots of seafood in Vietnam

this is pork paste wrapped in banana leaf--I don't really like eating it plain like this, I prefer it in noodles or wrapped up with rice paper dunked in sauce

haha, grilled pork paste with Vietnamese rice noodles follow

i am not even going to share how many of these stuffed snail I had in Vietnam, this is definitely one of the top dishes I enjoyed most!

Vietnamese cuisines consist of a lot of food wrapped in rice paper, noodles, and variety of vegetables, this one is wrapped with grilled pork paste

this is a beef rice noodle wrap

this is a shrimp rice noodle wrap--at the end of the trip, I decide I can make a lot of rice noodle wrap at home for lunch too! The most interesting thing I have discovered is they use star fruit and pineapple as part of the wrap and I really like how it taste

 

 

Temple Street Market

 

at night, temple street is filled with open stalls

In a city that never sleeps, strolling the Temple Street Market delights the senses in the various crafts and souvenirs that are available.

magnets showing all the yummy eats in HK

 

so pretty, i want to buy them too!

 

aside from handicrafts, streetwears are available

 

believe it when you see it! there are sexy lingeries in open stalls

 

i love this wine holder!

 

love this exotic fabrics & prints

 

pretty cool, cross over temple street are rows of feng shui masters, palm readers, anything to do with superstitions

Bunga Bunga

 

Let’s take a look at how women are portrayed on Italy TV. These shows occur on prime time TV, not late night shows. Italy Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi owns and controls over 90% of the media and TV, and he is famous for his “bunga bunga parties”. Is he a good Prime Minister? I don’t know, but he is definitely not a good role model.

front clevage is not enough!
need back cleavage too!

let’s reveal all to the world…let’s have a man come in!

yes, that’s a boob, just hanging out, this is Italy
seriously, this is uncensored TV in Italy

Prime Minister  Silvio Berlusconi has a message for everyone:

“The human face holds a message:  total vulnerability.  That is why we hide it, change it, embellish or modify it even with surgery.  This explains why it is so hard to accept one’s own face: it is like looking at an image of total vulnerability.  How can we remain vulnerable and ourselves, in a world where you can only win if you are thoroughly invulnerable?  This is a tough choice for women!  Invincible amongst the winners or vulnerable and forgotten?  Vulnerability, however, is the most fascinating aspect of a face.

Best lunch on weekends

Over the weekend, the restaurants in Causeway Bay or anywhere for that matter are usually jam-packed with people, waiting for a table can be frustrating.  The best lunch is the “not so healthy” lunch of street snacks!  I am super happy with a skewer of meatballs and a bubble tea to quickly charge me up, and both items cost me less than $3USD!  The best part is, I feel like I had a complete meal, because I am full, so  happy happy! 

I have mentioned this before and I’ll do it again.  What makes me happy about living in Asia is the selection of cheap street snacks available that can fill my stomach!  When I was visiting my sister in Canada, I got a bit hungry in the middle of the day, so I started looking left and right in Downtown Vancouver for a cheap snack to munch on.  OMG!!!  THe cheapest thing I can find is like $8USD, NOT ME!  Though I must admit I love buying hot dogs in Downtown, they’re so good!  But $5CAD for a hot dog is super-duper expensive for someone living in Asia!  That’s like a 3-course set lunch with a free drink!

the most expensive snack this stand sells (street snacks w/ noodles) is no more than $2USD, but I wouldn’t be surprsied if it makes over 5 digits a day
i personally find this skewer of meatballs oh so yummy, i love how the shop lightly grilled it so it’s crispy on the outside
these yummy street snacks have taken so many allowances of elementary and high school students
threre are a lot of bubble tea stands all over HK, this chain is my favorite because of its wide selections that appeal to me and the staff are very friendly

taro slush bubble tea & original bubble tea

A Rap of Hong Kong

Even if you have not been to HK, you would probably crack a smile at this video, it’s created by students as a grad project at an international high school and I think it introduces HK in a nutshell.

Lyrics:

Yeah I’m out in Central

Now I’m down in Times Square
Right next to Victoria Park
But I’ll be local forever
I’m the new Donald Tsang
And since I made it here
I can make it anywhere
Yeah they love me everywhere

I used to club at Prive
Go with all my banker friends
Right there off of Lan-Kwai
Brought me back to that McDonalds
Then off to Tsui Wah
Se-ven-E-le-ven
Mixing cheap whisky with coke straight ballin’
Cruising down Queen’s road
Silver Mercedes
Driving so slow
But Fei Jai we call it “Ben-ze”

Me I’m out in Wan Chai
Home of them hookers
Got some Ebeneezer’s
Then drop by at Carnegie’s
Say what up to the Guai Los
Still sipping bubble tea
Sitting in a tram
Amy Chua give me high-fives
Teacher, I be gettin’ A’s
Gonna pass my CFA
Tell by my attitude that I’m most definitely from

Chorus
In Hong Kong
Concrete jungle where we eat dim sum
Special admin region
Now you’re in Hong Kong
The shops will make you feel brand new
The sales will inspire you
Let’s hear it for Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Roll up to the Jockey Club
Bettin’ on some horses
Sippin’ on the cheap beer
Ain’t no better place to play
I think I have swine flu
Hand me a tissue
It don’t stop me chilling on the street, eating great food
Welcome to the finance hub
Every corner selling grub
Chung King Mansion curry spot
Home of the shark fin
Red cab, green cab, blue cab, holla back
At Yung Kee like a tourist eating roast duck
7 million shopping malls, everyday they get packed
City it’s amusing half of y’all speak Engrish
Me I gotta plug a special and I got it made
Citi never sleeps, Merrill Lynch B of A
J P Morgan, HSBC, Chinese New Year, rest in peace Bruce Lee
Wan Chai Convention Centre, long live the Star Ferry
Long live the king yo, I’m from the S-A-R that’s

[Chorus]

Work is tiring
Homes need helpers
They come out on a Sunday
Hang out at the Jollibee’s
The tutor comes in with formalities
Who teach the math casually
Then maybe some science
Don’t skip the violin
Caught up in the in crowd
Now you’re white-washed
The winter gets mild, en vogue with your Uggs out
The colony passed back to the main-land
My boss is an expat, the city’s filled with them
Mommy sent the kids to an international school
Now they can’t read Chinese, less employable
Hail main-land to the city they buy LV
Gucci, Prada, we got everything they need
Came here high school, graduated elsewhere
Medicine, finance, engineering or law
Openrice.com got you feeling like a champion
The city never sleeps, gonna make my first billion

[Chorus]

Hands up in the air for the big city
Neon lights, big banks all looking pretty
No place in the world that can compare
Put your iPhones in the air, everybody say yeaaahh, yeaaahh

[Chorus]

Credits: Soo Jin Koh, Shao Ong, Charity Battad for her excellent singing, Brandon Koh, and Simon Li

Little Phillipines, Little Indonesia

Phillipino helpers tend to choose Central as their gathering place--this is HSBC HQ in Central

Comes Sunday or holidays, the streets in Causeway Bay and Central are transformed into live street parties congested with foreign domestic helpers from Indonesia and Philippines.  Over 3% of the population (approx 300,000) is made up with this group of house-maid/nanny and it is easy to spot them chilling and relaxing on their day off every Sunday on the streets laughing, mingling, singing, and dancing. 

Unlike Singapore, there really isn’t any designated shopping mall or indoor venue for the helpers to entertain themselves on their day off, so they usually sit around on the streets in groups every Sunday.  While they do clog up specific streets and cause a bit of a nuisance for the rest of us trying to walk by, I think we should all keep an open mind that aside from mingling on the streets, they really don’t have any place for recreation amongst themselves on their day off.  To a certain degree, I do understand they are really clogging up the streets on Sunday, but instead of giving them dirty looks or frowning at them, I think the government should offer them a venue to chill and relax.  I am actually cool with seeing these helpers mingling every Sunday, I find the atmosphere so vibrant, since they usually sit in large groups singing, playing cards, enjoying food together, I love that camaraderie.  Since Indonesia is a muslim country, on Sunday, the streets are filled with girls with colorful head scarves and I think it is a very beautiful sight.

i love her smile

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