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October 25, 2010

blogging at various places: here (woodpecker pictures!)

i just thought that tumblr facilitates shorter blog posts much better. i always feel i have to write alot here at wordpress for it to be legitimate. tumblr is an in-between of a blog and a twitter.

and wordpress themes are getting sooo repetitive and boring. i will be blogging back and forth though so check back here too! can’t bear to part with the year plus of archives and photos!


The Wrong Major

October 16, 2010

I’m looking to complete my Policy Analysis and Management minor next semester and I’m fervently thanking God that I managed to surpass Cornell restrictions and transfer majors last semester.

Even though that meant that I only have 3 semesters to complete a full degree, in another college (which means many sleepless nights and overloading of credits per semester to an almost sadistic amount), I have found my semesters in a major I absolutely adore much more enjoyable than those pain-ridden 3 semesters I spent as a PAM major. So sue me, but I cannot imagine studying something I do not love.

At the risk of sounding like a geek, my main derivation of joy comes from waking up every morning knowing that I will enjoy my classes and having something to contribute and more importantly, something to take away.

For the first time in my life, I love school! I mean, I have always loved going to school for some reason or another, whether it means meeting new people or because of that one particular, sometimes elusive class (In RGS, Social Studies – believe it or not (hoho), and in AC it was History, Economics and Physics). But now I enjoy every moment (yes, even Japanese, you evil harbinger of stress, you.)!

Well, why did I go into a self-indulgent monologue? Just yesterday, I was looking at the possible PAM classes that I could take next semester to finish up my minor and I finally, after long deliberation, picked one. Then it struck me, just picking ONE class was already such a pain – what more about being a major in that department?


Thank God for the ability to indulge in an ‘impractical’ major just because I have interest in the subject without (too much) concern for job prospects, thank God for the opportunity Cornell provided me by picking me out among the many candidates to head on an expenses-paid summer to Korea, thank God for the wonderful professors and classroom experiences I have had the past year, thank God for this opportunity to go from a situation where I felt as though I wanted to be done with my major ASAP to a situation where I wish I could finish up all the classes offered by the department, thank God for the friends I have made through my classes along the way. I feel as though I haven’t truly reflected on how innumerably blessed I am in a long, long while. It’s so easy to get carried away by daily worries that you realise you haven’t stopped and smelled the roses for a long time.

So do stop now and then and write a thank you note! It’ll cheer you up. 🙂

 P.S. Was just talking to a friend who commented how I don’t post photos up on facebook. That is very true. I have maybe 4000 photos accumulated over the past few months. I will post them up, because facebook is the only way that people know you exist and have a life. ( Speaking of which, did any of you read Malcolm Gladwell’s article on social media in The New Yorker last week? Yang, if you are still reading this, you should read that article! Coincidentally, that was the first New Yorker I bought – so glad I chose that over Teen Vogue, woohoohoo.)




October 4, 2010

我又回来囖!新奇吗?对不起啦,最近忙得快要崩溃,这就是康奈尔本科生的苦头。说实在的,我也蛮懒惰的啦,有时间却没抽空来博克 update 一下,只顾着看完2006年中国版的“神雕侠侣”。把40集都痛痛快快地看完,就忽略了别的东西,有点遗憾。哈哈,但是年幼时得做些傻事才能从那儿得到什么教训。讲倒了,都不过只是借口。啊,我现在因该用心地复习功课才是但我的脑海里却一再地浮现我和父母亲共同在东京遨游的日子。那时毫无烦恼,就带着无忧无虑的心态逛街,尝试各种各样的食品等,一想起就恨不得时间倒流回到那一刻。

지금 열심히고부해야하는데 정신이 흩어짐이 많다. 우리토코에서 구경하는 기간 너무 보고 싶다. 그때는 아무리 걱정이도 없고 즐겁게 지냈다. 새로운 경험을 도 많이 생겼다. 아 真的是深深地怀念, 새로운 맛이도 있었다.

前两天受到惊人的消息。我的朋友的亲友不幸地在伦敦发生了停了让人不堪设想的车祸。To be hit and dragged for 2km by a double-decker, that’s just mind-numbingly horrific. She was my batch mate but I never had the fortune of my house mates to have known her in a personal capacity. A Cambridge medical student, not just academically brilliant, but also beautiful and warm-hearted from what I hear. It is just too senseless a death. She had everything ahead of her. I think why it hit me so strongly was because she was my age, at a similar point of life. 有些时候我有些念头,为某某事而烦恼,脾气暴躁。但是,话说回来,她这个事件,说实在的是对我们的一种wake-up call - 到底人生中什么是最重要的呢? 人生短暂,一霎那就不见掉。不管有多惨,也要咬紧牙根硬拼下去。也许说起来有点残酷,但忠言逆耳啊。不想听也要反思。May she rest in peace. ):

If any of you knew her in any capacity, please spread the word:

Trying to reach out to as many people as possible, please help spread the word: We are compiling condolences / photographs / messages and memories of Mingwei in order to give to her family.

If you knew Mingwei in any capacity, send us your messages and memories of her in soft and/or hard copy. Please send them to us as soon as possible, hopefully within the next 2-3 days, to:
– Primary school and RGS friends and teachers
– Family friends and all who knew her outside school
– RJC friends and teachers
– University friends

For all hard copies, please email – tell us your location and we’ll give you the nearest address to send it to.


September 25, 2010

I really should not have found the whole version of 神雕侠侣 online!

Can’t. Stop. Watching. This is horrible!

Boryeong Mud Festival

September 4, 2010

On a fine, rainy Saturday, we decided to head over to another city for the annual Boryeong Mud Festival. This was a festival that involved – you got it, mud. Initially, I was a bit apprehensive about paying for a 3 hour trip there and back to wallow in mud with sweaty strangers for a whole day. Also, the most pressing concern for me was,”What if I soil my camera?”

In any case, the thought that it’s now or never and the plain fact that I probably would not have the motivation nor the time to head out there on my next trip (in the future) made me geared up for the journey out to the mud festival with classmates.

We woke that morning at 4:30am and took a reserved taxi down to the 영산 station that has express train lines that lead to other cities. On the way out of my dormitory (it was pouring), I saw a taxi pull up and an obviously drunk girl stumble out of the taxi and lie down immediately on the wet road while the alarmed boy was frantically trying to pull her up. Drunken Korean students at the crack of dawn!

In any case, we got to the station without any mishaps and proceeded with our day of adventure. The express train was really comfy and had swiveling seats, much like the kind that the Japanese express trains had, I later learnt. A round trip ticket cost 28,700 won (approximately $35). In this sense, it was probably slightly more expensive than Japan. A train to Yokohama from Tokyo only cost 350yen ($5), but we accidentally took the luxury train on our first day and paid an additional 400yen. But of course, Yokohama was much closer to Tokyo and Boryeong to Seoul so maybe my comparison isn’t all that fair. In any case, it was sporadically pouring once we reached the beach so we were freaking out that our whole day would be spent in cold, wet and miserable weather – not what we planned for an ideal day at a beach town.

The rain made beautiful deltas in the sand though (: Anything for a good photograph.

Seeing that the festival is primary a tourist event, it was no surprise to find ourselves in foreigner land. The festival only began in recent years when Borgyeong, a small seaside agricultural town decided that holding a mud festival generates more revenue for the town than through its conventional means of farming. Borgyeong mud is supposedly skin food, and nourishes the skin – how true it is, I don’t know but all I know is that you don’t want to accidentally get it into your mouth!

Fantastic caricatures of the foreigner types we got at the mud festival. They were very game though so it made it really fun. Except for this guy who kept running up behind us and screaming at us several times just for fun while his friends laughed (I wanted to punch him in the face but he was huge and obviously mentally unstable therefore potentially dangerous), it was a pretty fun experience.

There were also fun looking mascots walking around offering fantastic photo opportunities for us enthusiastic snap-happy tourists.

There were colored human statues walking everywhere! The blue one (shown above) was my favourite! There were hoards of people and the rain finally cleared up so we spent most of the time on the beach, away from the main crowd. That was my favorite part of the day, just picking up starfish that got caught in the sand during low tide and rescuing them by placing them back in water-filled areas. They were beautiful and it was an afternoon filled with sweet, damp romanticism (unfortunately punctuated by screams and shouts coming from the party area) as we ambled slowly away from the main crowd along the long stretch of beach.

(Above) They had colored mud booths where you could get yourself artistically decked out in…mud.

(Above) The rowdy party area I felt compulsed to escape after observing chaos on the stage and the party scene. Didn’t help that I was already showered and did not wish to get muddy/sweaty again by rubbing shoulders with these obviously inebriated strangers.

Speaking of showers, the whole management was a rip off with regards to shower organization. They did not charge an entrance fee into the festival but hey, when you have a festival involving mud, you would expect visitors to need to shower after romping around. The basic shower was in a bare area, and as you would realize in Korean baths – there are no cubicles and while I initially shied away from such showers, they became a kind of liberating act – no one bats a second eye. The shower cost 2,000won ($3) and they sold packets of soap and shampoo at the door also. You had to bring your own towel and there was no warm water. It was really scanty and not very well managed for a large scale annual event which has been happening for nearly 10 years. I wouldn’t mind paying for the shower, but to shower in freezing cold water on a freezing cold day after romping around in wet, watered-down mud? Ick. They could reorganize their showers and offer them for free, with hot water, soap and towels, while charging an entrance fee.

Anyway, off to the beach we wandered.

(Above) An elderly couple enjoy a quiet moment.

Looking for starfish, in perfect formation!

(Above) Found some!

(Above): Me with a starfish. Ignore my blowfish imitation face, and the lovey couple behind me. 抢镜头!Haha, I’m kidding. They were a really sweet couple and it was a fantastic backdrop, I’m so zhordeng here. *facepalm


We met some ajummas who were collecting seashells. Or some kind of small clam like things.

(Above) A close up shot of what they were collecting.

Yuri and I with our saved starfish of the day. We deposited them into deeper pools later. Aren’t they beautiful?

With Luying and Miki! 🙂

Yuri carved ‘Level 3’ into the sand 🙂 Wooo Level 3!

Hm, I think they were looking for starfish 🙂

It was a really good day for me to experience what seaside towns in Korea feel like. The photos taken were just spectacular and a beautiful keepsake of good memories.

Korea’s Most Beautiful Palace (경복궁)

September 4, 2010

I’ve already uploaded the pictures you’re going to see here on facebook so it’s not going to be anything fascinating to those who are my facebook friends. This is extreeemely belated (as are the following posts about Korea/Japan from now on) but I just thought that I blog reminders of my journeys for myself before my memory fails me (You’d be surprised at how quick, hoho).

Pearly, another Singaporean girl studying at SNU, and I arrived at Kyungbokgoong at nearly 1 in the afternoon, and seeing that it was summer, it was hot and sweaty and not at all a great time to be exploring the city. The heat in Korea and Japan (Japan’s worse) is worse than humid, sticky Singapore. This is relentless, cloudless, sunny heat that beats down on anyone and anything that moves.

But we are fearless explorers and onward we proceed!

Because we timed our entrance (for real), we managed to catch the procession of changing of guards. It was pretty grand but very touristy.

경복궁 is reputedly the most beautiful palace in the whole of Korea. To be honest, it was a beautiful day and the skies framed everything nicely (such that it actually was not even necessary to edit any of the photos) but the expanse of the palace grounds was so large that by the time we reached the end, we could not even tell the previous building from the other. The entrance fee for the place was only 3,000won (around $4) so it offered a good, inexpensive alternative to even Korean families who want to take a weekend stroll in someplace more exotic and filled with historic value than a neighborhood park.

It is beautiful, but as agreed to by some of my friends and I who have been to palaces in Beijing, this pales in comparison.What detracts from it further is the fact that every one of these buildings here are reconstructions, meaning that the Japanese burnt down the original hundreds-year-old monuments during their colonial period and reestablished the Japanese government offices on the very same grounds – a historic, epic slap in the face that leaves no wonder to why Koreans still feel a certain sense of resentment toward their colonized past and to the Japanese. If I am not mistaken, when the Japanese colonial period came to a fortunate, fiery, atomic end, the Koreans burnt down the Japanese governmental offices in a very tit-for-tat fashion. In the audio-tour that we paid for, the commentators made every effort to reinforce the fact that this cruel act fashioned by the Japanese will not be forgotten. Emotionally-charged words (Yay, Secondary 1 RGS History!) were used to describe the Japanese army, its government and their actions at every, single description of every, single building. It became a tad laborious after a while.

(Above) This is what I meant by unedited skies. It was an absolute delight to upload all my pictures and realise that they were a gorgeous shade of blue, even on the computer screen.

We got up close and personal with some of the buildings. Unfortunately, because they all looked pretty much alike, I cannot remember what each building is for. But still, enjoy the pictures!

The upcoming pictures are that of the most beautiful building within the grounds. It’s like a fort, but much prettier.

We also went into the Emperor’s resting place. As a sign of respect, we had to take off our shoes before entering the area.

Overall, it was pretty underwhelming but still a must-see if one ever heads over to Seoul. It’s kind of one of those things you have to check off on your tourist checklist. I guess the most disappointing part of it was that everything was new and recreated and did not contain the flavor that one would expect of an old majestic compound.

Seriously, Senior Year?

September 1, 2010

I’ve been on an extremely long hiatus and wouldn’t blame you if all of you have forgotten about me and the existence of my blog. The last few weeks of Seoul were extremely hectic, trying to squeeze in interviews, study for my Korean finals and hand in final papers for my long distance classes and such. And then the parents came, and then Tokyo happened.

Speaking of which, Japan was amazing!

So now I’m back in boring, scenic Ithaca and while I’m thankful for the temporary reprieve from chilly, frostbitingly bitter winter (we all know that the good weather now is a farce, to lull naive freshmen in), the work isn’t making it much easier to handle.

But I’m determined to make this senior as good as it gets and you’ll be expecting a flood of belated updates on Seoul/Tokyo/traipsing around Ithaca very soon.

Back to plunge into my 100+ page film readings now. Ciao~