Monday, 20 November 2017

This and that in Venice and Seoul

A lot of people in Asia will travel far to get a scene like this and in London all you have to do is go to the parks.


When I go to Asia now, all the palaces and temples don't interest me as much as the little differences in daily life like the food shopping.

Dried fish is a very bit part of Korean cooking.
They reconstitute it like the Portuguese bacalao ( dried cod ) but also use it in stews and season it as a side dish.  It is very nutritious but of course the origins are from the lack of refrigeration.
And as such there are big variations and nuances to dried fish as seen in the picture below.
The different grades and thicknesses of the fish are a different as a cuts of beef for Koreans.






I  am in take your time and be a tourist even in London mode so I took the long way to the gym and I walked through the maze bit they built a few years ago at Kensington Palace.

L


The highlights of my long trip to Korea was the fabulous weather we had every day I was there - 23 degrees and sunny.

I rediscovered our Han river which cuts through Seoul.

Plus I loved this private library which I thought was a bookstore until I tried to buy a book and they looked at me like I was a weirdo and said this is a library. 
They said to look at the sign.
( the sign does indeed say library but I thought it was marketing.)
But I haven't been to such private libraries open to the public before.

I loved these traditional compacts made by a local Korean cosmetic brand.



I saw the Damien Hirst exhibition in Venice and I was confused to what was impressive.

The art or the setting?
It was the setting actually as you could have had a kindergartener's scribbles in the building and it would have look curated.

Venice was nice but surprisingly I know a few people who just don't like the energy of it.

Funny because I chose this time in November because I wanted to see Venice in the fog and yet it was sunny every single day.
But definitely more pleasant than summer.
People say the water taxis in Venice are expensive but then they go on gondola rides that essentially take you to where they pick you up.
This way - you get a boat ride, a seamless journey from the airport to your hotel, and a taste of the canals.
Don't hesitate!

I like the water but terra firma has its charm for sure.
I went to a Christmas fair and the people were going crazy buying so many decorations.
It was as if none of these people had a tinsel in their storage anywhere.
Design glut when an optometrist has to decor it up and you don't know if you entered a hotel lobby or a banker's hobby art gallery in Shoreditch.

I do like that art has pervaded everywhere despite some lateral off shoots that are eye-roll worthy.
This is a double knot traditional cloth wrapping for presents at the cosmetic store that is now a stand alone quasi museum in Seoul.
Isn't it pretty?

Please excuse the editing - if I wait until I get a hang of the laptop I will never post anything ever...

Stay well! x

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Cultural Feels

I have just gotten back from a long trip to Korea.

I did the usual internal cultural comparisons of food, customs, and daily perceptions of Korea versus other places.

I thought about not only how linguistics affect a mindset of a nation but also the emotional make up.

I had rewatched a film that hit upon this old masochistic Korean nerve.

It is an art film that did also manage to do a great box office back in the 90's.

If you think you are having a bad day, then please watch this movie. ;P

The movie is called Sopyongjae and not only tackles the concept of 'han' but also the struggle of poverty, being a woman, and the plight of an artist.


I wrote in this post about words that are not in the English language - a premise that almost seems unfair with the notion that it is English that is lacking. There are plenty of English words now permeating other languages for words that those respective countries don't have a word for.

But I digress, I was thinking about an episode that Anthony Bourdain had about a specific Korean notion called - han ( please click on link for proper explanation ) - when he did one of his - can only get as deep as a 3 hour dinner party conversation - tour of Korea Town in Los Angeles.

Of course like any Brit yelling at the TV when an American actor does a weak or wrong accent of any region of the U.K., I also felt this frustration at its explanation of that certain yearning.

Portuguese has a similar word called - saudade. This is like 'han' but softer and more tropical.

Japanese have - natsukashii.  Though this is a longing without the pain.

But 'han' is not quite like the Russian word- toska. Toska seems more bleak without the slightly bitter enjoying of the masochism.

All the words have links to give you a proper explanation that I would not be able to really provide.

I think I am now at an age where I finally understand the term - the good ol' days.

I spent a month in a city where I grew up but is now still a bit foreign to me and with the modernisation process, a lot of my physical memories have been bulldozed to make way for office buildings or an ugly pre fab of an apartment building.

I am not sure if certain cultures own specific sentiments and in this politically correct climate wouldn't want to publicly assert any such thing.

However, to conclude I think this might have to do with the universal concept of middle age which every culture seems to have a word for!!!

Hope you are all well x


PS I wish I could have posted more from Korea but latest IOS updates have negated my blogger app...


Monday, 18 September 2017

In the Mood for Love's QiPao Dresses

I have been doing a lot of rewatching some of my favourite movies.

I watched the movie, In The Mood For Love directed by Wong Car Wai and the extraordinarily beautiful cinematography shot by Christopher Doyle.

The traditional dresses that the actress Maggie Cheung wore were so beautiful and so telegenic.

They were a certain type of cheongsam - traditional Chinese dress.

This was the more casual version of the qi pao( another word for Cheongsam).

I was so entranced by it that I took a picture of every dress she wore through the film!


If you aren't into moody and cinematic mid life crisis-esque love stories, then this isn't for you.

But perhaps the wardrobe might keep you entertained?


The movie is set in 1960's Hong Kong so the dresses aren't Halloween or brothel related as these dresses now tend to viewed in the west. In Asia, it seems dresses such as these are related to holidays and once again...brothels!


But Maggie not only wears it as part of her daily wear but with such grace.


The design as illustrated here works with so many different fabrics and slight variations of the neck, sleeve and button placement.


From quotidian to evening wear.


When I first watched the film when it was released 17 years ago, Mad Men was not even created.


But Maggie plays very much the Hong Kong version of a Joan character as she is a secretary who is visually distracting and used a typewriter.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Time Vacuum that is the Summer of 2017

Hello!

Sometimes you leave it too long and you don't know where to start...

Well I saw some coliseums in June that gave the one in Rome a run for its money.


I went to Provence in June.  

I did Avignon, Nimes, and Arles.

In a nutshell, I didn't like Avignon the first day, then got used to it.

Fell in love with Nimes from the moment I arrived and now want to move there.  But I think I just stayed at one of the most fabulous hotels I have ever been to and ate one of the top 50 meals ever had a lot to do with it.

I hated Arles initially - it was an energy thing - but then I got into its different vortex on the last day.

Then when I went back to Avignon, I was so happy to be back.

It made me realise that emotions are silly and fleeting and one really needs to let thing rest and all things and people deserve a second chance. 

But not the third.


Last year I had decided to grow snow peas on the railing of the terrace.
It was going well until we had a massive heat wave in June.
But I was still happy with the results.


Forget Frieze.
It used to be amazing the first few years but now it has become a bit banal.

Go to Masterpiece.

It has got art, antiques, furniture, restaurants - the lot.
It would be a top rated museum if things weren't mostly sold by the end of the fair.
Duncan Grant series at Philip Mould gallery at Masterpiece

It is at the end of June and there are so many art previews and auctions going on.
It was one of those times where I feel so thankful to be in London.

For those not interested in art, Wimbledon is on at the same time.



I hung up my Korean straw handmade bird hut out my house.
No birds yet but invitation is still there.


Do you have a hotel that you always have a great time staying?
Mine is the Principe di Savoia in Milan.
I have stayed there a number of times and I have always just had the best memories there with friends. My trip there for a few days in July was no exception.


Plus I love how they tie ribbons to the most mundane item to zhush it up.

The service in the U.K. isn't great and in some ways it would be lacking compared to Italy.

But in Italy they have their own quirks.

I ate at this restaurant every night in Milan because they serve great local cuisine but they wouldn't give lemon for the milanese cutlets because they said it would ruin the flavour. 

Customer not always right.


I rediscovered this chickpea dish called - farinata.


It is the northern version of the fried chickpea fritter they have in Sicily except the northern version is baked.


This was a very popular snack snack and wish London would open a branch selling this healthy food.

I hadn't been to Venice in decades.

It is a lovely city but I was always put off by the excessive tourism.
I felt almost guilty to partake in its sinking.
I didn't want to be evil eyed by the local residents because who needs that?
Plus there are horror stories like the one where my husband paid 8 UK pounds for a cappuccino in St Mark's square back in 1991. 

Did a lot of being a cultural peeping tom in Venice.

I think they must be trying to remedy this because I asked for a cappuccino and was ready to be ripped off - just the once - but I was only charged 1 euro 50 cents. 
That is cheaper than London!


Funny because Heather in Lost in Arles did a blog on this very exhibit today.


I'll keep it short.

It was one of the most wonderful exhibits I think I have ever seen hands down and those of you who read this know I go to a lot of exhibits and museums on a regular basis.


That is seating by the very Axel de Vervoordt if you are wondering if it looks like something he would do.


The Palazzo Fortuny not only is a wondrous space but each floor held something wholly unique.



So much so I am determined to go to Venice again just for this exhibit because let's face it, you don't go to Venice for the food.