culture shock

faces that made me love Asia (1): Leslie Cheung- 张国荣

Let’s take a little detour in Hong Kong. That’s how my whole passion for Asia actually started. And thanks to the movies.

I am the type of person that can spend the whole day just watching movies. It is my way of creating a little cocoon that makes me forget my everyday life and makes me travel.

So, when I was in highschool, I was going everyday, during the summer, to the videoclub next to my apartment in Montpellier, and I was renting any movies that seemed interesting. And there, the clerk advised me to watch some HK and Chinese movies.


For some people it’s not about the destination but about the journey.

Today, I met a French guy who crossed half of the world riding a motorbike. It took him 6 months. From France to Vladivostok on his bike, then on a boat to Japan where he stayed one year. Then a boat again to Busan. One moto, few months and that guy probably has stories for the rest of his life.

3 years ago, I met some Finish people who crossed half of the world riding horses. It took them several months but finally arrived in Beijing, China. They rode their horses on Tian An Men. They got arrested for that, and almost got deported but finally, with some help from friends at their consulate managed to stay longer in China. Horses, few months, and those guys probably have stories for the rest of their life.


those little things that make your life so much spicier

Sometimes, it is just good to let go and shout all those little things that are different and remind you that you are, indeed, on the other side of the world. So here are some examples of some little things  I noticed about Korean life. Sometimes it makes me laugh, but sometimes it’s just too much.  Feel free to add anything on that matter if you wish…


Dollhouse

It's been clear to me for some time that the Korean maternity experience differs radically from the British one. One important respect in which this difference manifests itself is postnatal care - it isn't uncommon for a new mother to spend two to four weeks at the hospital's 'sanhujoriwon' (산후조리원') postnatal/postpartum clinic recuperating in Korea. By comparison, the National Health Service hospital in one British city states the average length of stay in their postnatal beds in 2009 was 1.2 days.

Comédie!

Another weekend another festival. This time it was the Busan International Performing Arts Festival, or 'BIPAF'. Invariably all festivals in Busan are inexplicably 'International', but this one genuinely warrants the name in that it involved productions from France, Italy, Japan, Taiwan, Russia, as well as Korea. We travelled to the 'Busan Cultural Center' in Daeyeondong, Namgu, to see a performance unambiguously titled 'Comedy' by the - according to the announcer beforehand - 'world famous' Nasser Martin-Gousset Company otherwise known as 'La Maison'. I can't speak to the veracity of this claim, but Nasser Martin Gousset does at least have a page on the French version of Wikipedia.

Zelig

"Everyone must take part in the beatings."

I'd been out with Korean friends and eight of us wended our way back to one of their apartments. A Japanese Nintendo Wii sat next to the television, but it had been borrowed so nobody knew how to use it. My wife showed them and before long games of Wii Sports Tennis and Baseball were generating considerable competition within the group. There would be a party a week later here, and perhaps aware that ultimately, this was not a truly interactive experience for everyone, attention turned towards discussions of what activities could be organised for the day of the event.

Wedding Crashers

Sunday was the day of our friends' wedding, and it would be the first ceremony I'd attended in Korea where I was merely a spectator, rather than a participant. Surely being on the other side of the fence would be less stressful? Maybe not so much.

Suiting Up

Event Horizon

"Chuseok is one of Korea’s most largely celebrated holidays. It is a time when families and friends gather to share food and enjoy their time together, giving thanks to their ancestors for the year's bountiful harvests." - Korea Tourism OrganizationBut there was no bountiful harvest for me on Saturday - except of misfortune; Chuseok will now also be known as the day I caused the Great Internet

Question from a reader: giving gifts to a director

A reader writes in with a question:


I am on my way to Incheon in a few weeks to start teaching at a hagwon. I'm both excited and terrified (in a good way), and can't wait to leave!

I have read that it is a good idea to bring your Director a gift, and doing so usually starts you off on a good note with them. The problem is I haven't found any examples of the type of gift to bring. Any ideas?


J.


Hi J.,

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