Archive for the ‘Our life’ Category

Korean First Birthday

Author: Jamie

This is what the whole set up looks like.

In Korea, the first birthday, called Dol or Doljanchi is a major milestone. This is because in the olden days, many children didn’t live through the first year, often due to malnutrition, disease or even issues such as hypothermia (it gets cold in winter) or from overheating in the summer (it can also get quite hot). So sufficed to say, the first birthday is an auspicious symbol of health, long-life and good luck.

The celebration is quite elaborate and as is usual in Korea, quite colourful. I’m going to try and describe the meaning behind a lot of various elements so that when you see the pictures from Kalden’s first birthday, you’ll have a better understanding of what was involved. Here are the key elements:

Decor – Traditionally, the ceremony was done in the home and the whole village used to celebrate a baby’s first birthday, sharing food and wishing for long life and fortune for the child. However, these days, because many friends and family members are usually invited, people have started going to restaurants and special halls to celebrate. This is because of the food and elaborate decorations involved, it is somewhat easier to let a catering service handle everything.

Korean first birthday

These are the many items that will be laid out on the tables. Everything has a meaning.

The main elements for overall decorations are a colourful backdrop and/or elaborate screen, a small throne, a table with traditional food, each with its own meaning and another table or tray with specific items on it. I’ll try to explain each one.



  • Ball of thread –  This represents a long life
  • Tie – We’re not sure what this is…
  • Boots – This represents a life well-travelled
  • Table – The table holds all of the food and other decorations
  • Calligraphy Brush and Ink –  This represents good education and intelligence
  • Tray of Items for the choosing ceremony – See below
  • Bowl of daisies – In the olden days, as villagers would travel to the ceremony, they would pick wild flowers from the side of the road to offer the child as good luck.
  • Tin trays and serving bowls – These are for laying out the fruit and rice cakes that are offered as part of the ceremony.
  • Pin cushions – This is placed for girls as part of the ceremony to represent being good domestic workers.
  • Pendant – In the olden days in Korea there were people who held very high positions for the government whereby they would dress as commoners and observe society, reporting back to the Emperor on trends, potential societal issues and gather intelligence. This pendant was all they had to identify themselves when needed. It represents the importance of being grounded and humble.
  • Tied water celery –  This represents fertility, love and connectedness.
  • Bow and Arrow – One of the choosing items that represents strength.
  • Peonies – Peonies and the vase represent a peaceful existence.
  • Throne and throne cushion – Because he is a little Emperor for a day!
first birthday in Korea

Kalden will be sitting on a small throne like this. I don’t know how we will keep him still on it though.

Costume – The birthday babies wear a hanbok and a traditional hat: a jobawi or gulle for baby girls and a bokgeon or hogeon (호건) for baby boys. The hat Kalden will wear has what appear to be pointy elf-like ears and eyes on it. It looks pretty cool. Sort of like the boy below.

One year birthday in Korea

Here’s a young boy wearing his hanbok and fancy hat.

Food – At home family members give thanks to Samshin (three gods who take care of the baby’s life while growing up) by serving plain rice, seaweed soup, and rice cakes. For the party, parents prepare a special ‘Dol’ table, where food is stacked high to symbolize a life of prosperity for the baby. The table is set mainly with a rice cake of pretty rainbow layers, seaweed soup, and fruits. Miyeok guk (seaweed soup) is served on every birthday after the first birthday to remind people of what their mother went through to bring them into the world.


Rice cakes and fruit are decoratively displayed and offered for the spirits. White rice cakes invite the spirits of our ancestors while black bean rice cakes ward off evil spirits.

Ceremony – The highlight of the dol is a ritual where the child is placed in front of a table of foods and objects such as string, brushes, ink and money. The child is then urged to pick up an object from the table. It is believed the one selected will foretell the child’s future. For example, if the child picks up a brush or book, he/she is destined to be smart. If he/she picks up money he will be wealthy; If he/she picks up food that means he/she will not be hungry. If the child picks up the thread, it is believed he/she will live a long life. The types of objects placed on the table for the baby to choose has evolved over time, as a reflection of society’s evolving perception of successful occupations. However, many parents remain more traditional in their selection of objects to place on the table. This is followed by feasting, singing and playing with the toddler. Most often, guests will present gifts of money, clothes, or gold rings to the parents for the child at this time.


Here are a few of the items that Kalden will have to choose to determine the direction of the rest of his life!!!

For example, if the object is a:

  • bow and arrow – the child will become a warrior or have a military career
  • needle and thread – the child will have a long life
  • jujube – the child will have many descendants
  • book, pencil, brush – the child will be a successful scholar
  • ruler, needle, scissors – the child will be talented with his/her hands
  • knife – the child will be a good cook
  • money or rice – the child will be wealthy
  • cakes or other foods – the child will be a government official
  • stethoscope – the child will become a medical professional (preferably a doctor)
  • gavel – the child will be a successful lawyer

We’re taking bets on what Kalden chooses on Saturday. Feel free to place your bet in the comments!

Cobb_090807_31813_First Birthday Celebration_돌잔치돌잔치돌잔치

As you can see, some people really spend a lot on their ceremony.


As you can see, this family is taking a new direction on the tradition. Rory and I will be doing ours more traditionally and will be wearing our own hanboks as well.



If you’re a Korean student, it’s where you want to land a job. If you’re looking to get married and the potential significant other isn’t a lawyer or a doctor, then mom and dad will want him to be working for a Chaebol (재벌). Chaebol are a form of Korean business conglomerate that are often family controlled. Many you will have heard of, such as Samsung, Hyundai, LG and Kia to name a few, are usually into a lot more than you realize.

Samsung, for example, is the world’s biggest producer of electronics, such as phones (the world’s largest mobile phone maker) and other household electronics. But did you know that they are also the world’s second biggest shipbuilder? The world’s second largest microchip maker? One of the world’s biggest construction companies (they have built some of the most iconic buildings in the world: one of the two Petronas Towers in Malaysia, Taipei 101 in Taiwan and the Burj Khalifa in United Arab Emirates)? The world’s 14th largest life insurance companies? A huge aerospace and defense company? And the world’s 16th biggest advertising agency?

Interestingly, two of Samsung’s major clients are also intertwined with the province I grew up in and the country I spent the last 6 years in. The United Arab Emirates government has awarded a consortium of South Korean firms – including Samsung, Korea Electric Power Corp and Hyundai – a deal worth 40 billion dollars to build nuclear power plants in the United Arab Emirates. This relates to a post I did on here when Etihad opened up it’s flights to Korea.

The Ontario government has also signed off one of the world’s largest renewable energy projects, a $6.6bn deal that will result in 2,500 MW of new wind and solar energy capacity being built. Under the agreement a consortium – led by Samsung and the Korea Electric Power Corporation – will manage the development of 2,000 MW-worth of new wind farms and 500 MW of solar capacity, while also building a manufacturing supply chain in the province.

The Chaebol grew out of the Korean war and began diversifying and solidifying their monopolies as the Korean government turned its focus on industrialization and nationalization. It was because of the Chaebol and their heavy industrial leadership, export and manufacturing, that South Korea became one of the four Asian Tigers.

But it was not until the Asian financial crisis in 1997 that the weaknesses of the system were widely understood. According to Wikipedia, of the 30 largest chaebol, 11 collapsed between July 1997 and June 1999. The chaebol were heavily invested in export-oriented manufacturing, neglecting the domestic market, and exposing the economy to any downturns in overseas markets. In competing with each other, they had built up unsustainable overcapacity. For example, on the eve of the crisis South Korea, with a population only ranked at #26 in the world, had seven major automobile manufacturers.

As with any monopolistic conglomerate, eventually investigations began exposing widespread corruption in the chaebol, particularly fraudulent accounting and bribery, but also involvement in political corruption. Most chaebol have played a significant role in South Korean politics both publicly and very much behind the scenes. Despite recent government attempts to reform the economic system, the chaebol continue to dominate South Korea’s economy. Hyundai and SK Group have been implicated in separate scandals involving both presidents. Samsung President Lee Kun-hee resigned amid charges of tax evasion and breach of trust in April 2008. The Federation of Korean Industries, a consortium of chaebol, has taken a leading role in resisting changes.

So Chaebol will remain, and in fact are flourishing more than ever. Samsung is one example, however, Hyundai is also doing very well. There is also a world cultural export of Korean pop music, movies and television, which has given Korean brands a new panache.

This is probably why, as a recent article in Bloomberg described, many university graduates in Korea are turning more to Chaebol rather than become lawyers and doctors. “As more Korean companies become global brands, their appeal to alumni of the nation’s top schools will strengthen, says Jasper Kim, an international studies professor at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. The key is what Kim calls “the SNS trifecta” of stability, nationalism, and social status. There’s “a unique sense here in Korea that working for a large Korean firm is not just valuable for the job seeker, but also good for the country itself,” Kim said in an e-mail. This “resonates not only with the individual job seeker, but also with the individual’s collective networks—from family to friends and even one’s foes.”

I find the notion of Chaebol fascinating. Please share your own thoughts in the comments.

Other articles:

The Economist – The Chaebol Conundrum


Sorry for not keeping up

Author: Jamie

Since moving to Singapore and becoming a dad, I’ve been really horrible and keeping this blog updated.

I am going to try and be a bit better moving forward. I’m hoping to begin taking formal Korean language classes, which should open up a bunch of new topics for discussion. If there is anything of particular interest in regards to Korea (fashion, food, culture, underground scenes, images, tourism, etc.) let me know. I’m also thinking of opening up the blog to guest posts from people who have recently visited, to get their perspective of the country. So if you have been to Korea and would like to share a unique commentary on what you felt, saw, ate and experienced, I’d be happy to collaborate. I’m also open to posting unique video and images.

As for us, Kalden, Rory and I are doing well. We are mostly settled now in our apartment. I have been doing some travelling for work but we do plan to go to Korea in January for Kal’s first birthday. We should have some nice photos to share from that. In the meantime, I’m going to aggregate some images from Instagram, as a friend recently went to Korea and some of her photos were stunning.

Stay tuned and thanks for sticking around.



We live in Singapore!!!

Author: Jamie

Hello. Sorry for being so terribly bad at updating this blog the last few months. We have a good reason. It’s a long explanation though so bear with me.

Singapore Marina Bay

After Kalden was born in Korea, we flew with him back to Dubai. I was then given an offer on a job in Singapore, which I took. We then had to move out of our apartment and into a hotel for a month in Dubai while we arranged the details of the move. After selling all our stuff and putting the rest on a boat to Asia, we then flew to Singapore for a brief visit and then continued on to Korea. We stayed in Korea for a week and then took off to Canada for an extended visit with family. We stayed in Sudbury at my Aunt and Uncle’s lake house and then at my Dad’s place in Ottawa. From there we went to Toronto for a few days before heading back to Korea. Rory stayed back in Korea while I went to Singapore to start the new job. Rory followed a week later and we stayed once again in a serviced apartment. We looked for houses, bought furniture, worked hard and managed a few nights out as well.

Tomorrow we move into our new place!

This will be the first time in 6 months that we will be settled and hopefully won’t move again for many years. Through the whole nonsense, Kalden’s been amazing (and Rory too for that matter). I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful and flexible family who are willing to move around the world for me.

Singapore Skyline

So here we are in Singapore. A new job, new son, new city, new part of the world and new beginning. We’ll be going to Korea much more now (for work and family) and being in Asia, will have a lot more exposure to Korean culture and people. I hope that I’ll be able to keep this blog going and provide a lot more interesting insight into our family, into Korea and into our new experiences abroad.

Thanks for sticking through it all.

Sincerely, Jamie, Rory and Kalden


We have a son!

Author: Jamie

Rory and I are the proud new parents of a beautiful, healthy baby boy. His name is Kalden and we only just got to meet him. I’ll be sure to update everyone with pics and videos when we can.

Kalden's foot



South Korea in Summer

Author: Jamie

Packed Beach

I’ve never been to Korea in summer. Crazy, I know. I’ve been in winter many times and even spring, but never when the weather was really nice and warm. That will all change in a few weeks. I am heading over to Seoul with Rory to visit the family again but this time, I will frolic with the students playing guitar on park benches, ogle the sea of short skirted and high heeled ladies and get out of the city into the rugged countryside of a beautiful country. In fact, we’re going on a road trip!


That’s right, Rory and I are planning a 4 day trip around most of the peninsula. We’re open to taking any suggestions from readers who might suggest some great stops along the way, but here is the general plan:

Day 1 – From Seoul to Gwangju: We don’t expect the drive to be too exciting along this route but the destination is. For anyone that knows me, I love bamboo. I believe it is the most versatile, renewable material on earth. The Chinese build 50 ft scaffolding with it, it’s edible, bugs don’t eat it, it grows faster than anything, and it doesn’t rot. I also think it’s beautiful and some of my favorite scenes in Asian martial arts movies is when they have elaborate fight scenes in majestic bamboo forests. So that’s where we’re going on Day 1.

Damyang forest outside Gwangju, is a very popular spot in Korea. Damyang plays host to the Damyang Bamboo Festival which is located within a forest of 2.4 kilometers of bamboo and includes many activities celebrating the beauty and function of the bamboo plant. We won’t be there for the festival but I still hope to take some fun pictures there. So stay tuned.

Bamboo forest

Day 2 – From Damyang to Gyeongju: After a nice winding drive through South Korean hillside, we will arrive at Gyeongju, also known as the ‘Museum without Walls’. Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla (57 BC – 935 AD) which ruled about two-thirds of the Korean Peninsula between the 7th and 9th centuries. The city has 31 National Treasures, and Gyeongju National Museum houses 16,333 artifacts. There are four broad categories of relics and historical sites: tumuli and their artifacts; Buddhist sites and objects; fortresses and palace sites; and ancient architecture.

The Museum without Walls

Royal tombs

Day 3 – From Gyeongju to Donghae: The next leg, and the longest will see us up the Eastern coast of the Korean peninsula. I’m really looking forward to this drive as it will be most beautiful, winding through mountain roads with the China Sea on our right. We will spend the night in a coastal city called Donghae, which is famous for its scenery and beaches and the next morning will venture to one of the most popular beaches in Korea, located in Gangneung. We expect it will be extremely packed, much like the image below, which is kinda why I’m excited to go. It looks absolutely nuts.

Korea beach

Day 4 – Gangneung to Seoul: The last leg of the trip will have us going through some lush mountains, back towards Seoul.

All in all, it’s a pretty fun 4 days that I get to spend with Rory all to myself. I’m really looking forward to it.

I’ve added the spots to our Google Map of Korean Tourist Destinations. Check it out and feel free to let us know what other great road trip destinations we should add on the map.

By the way, here are some other great Korean Road Trip Blog Posts:


Happy New Year! Lunar New Year that is.

2012 New Year Dragon

I’m currently writing this while visiting Korea and preparing food for the Ancestor Ceremony tomorrow morning.  This year in the Chinese zodiac is the year of the Dragon. Most people know the Chinese zodiac to have 12 animal signs but what they don’t often realize is that each animal also has one of five elemental signs. These exact signs only repeat every 60 years. This is the year of the Water Dragon.

Chinese New Year

According to the zodiac, dragons in general tend to be popular individuals who are always full of life and enthusiasm, with a reputation for being fun-loving and a “big mouth” at times. People born in the Chinese New Year of the Dragon are healthy, energetic, excitable, short-tempered, and stubborn. They are also honest, sensitive, brave, and they inspire confidence and trust.

People with the dragon sign neither borrow money nor make flowery speeches, but they tend to be soft-hearted which sometimes gives others an advantage over them. People under this Chinese New Year zodiac are well suited to be an artist, priest, or politician.

Generally, dragons are compatible with Rats, Snakes, Monkeys, and Roosters.  They also tend to exhibit characteristics like-

  • Enterprising
  • Innovative
  • Self-assured
  • Flexible
  • Passionate
  • Brave
  • Unanticipated
  • Scrutinizing
  • Generous
  • Charismatic
  • Free spirited
  • Smart and witty
  • Original

However, they possess a couple of negative characteristics as well. For instance, they crave for attention and are egoistical by nature. They aren’t modest and have a bossy temperament. Their general tendency is to dominate others. They detest solicit advice and may be insensitive and tactless to their partners.

Dragons are often blessed with good health. The only thing that bothers them is stressful situations. At work, dragons are pretty imaginative and prefer taking a radical approach towards their work.

Dragons share similar kind of objectives as well as goals in life. The best suited occupations on their part are as follows-

  • Inventors
  • Computer analysts
  • Campaigners
  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Philosophers
  • Lawyers
  • Brokers
  • Advertising agents
  • Psychoanalysts
  • Salepeople
  • PR People
  • Managers
  • Officers in the armed forces
  • Politicians

The key to the Dragon personality is that dragons are the free spirits of the Zodiac. Conformation is a Dragon’s curse. Rules and regulations are made for other people. Restrictions blow out the creative spark that is ready to flame into life. Dragons must be free and uninhibited. The Dragon is a beautiful creature, colorful and flamboyant.

Water Dragon statue

An extroverted bundle of energy, gifted and utterly irrepressible, everything Dragons do is on a grand scale – big ideas, ornate gestures, extreme ambitions. However, this behavior is natural and isn’t meant for show. Because they are confident, fearless in the face of challenge, they are almost inevitably successful. Dragons usually make it to the top. However, Dragon people should be aware of their natures. Too much enthusiasm can leave them tired and unfulfilled. Even though they are willing to help others when necessary, their pride can often impede them from accepting the same kind of help from others. Dragons’ generous personalities give them the ability to attract friends, but they can be rather solitary people at heart. A Dragon’s self-sufficiency can mean that he or she has no need for close bonds with other people.

The water dragon, born in 1952 and 2012 has slightly unique characteristics compared to others born wiht the dragon sign.

Water has a calming effect on the Dragon’s fearless temperament. Water allows the Dragon to re-direct its enthusiasm, and makes him more perceptive of others. These Dragons are better equipped to take a step back to re-evaluate a situation because they understand the art of patience and do not desire the spotlight like other Dragons. Therefore, they make smart decisions and are able to see eye-to-eye with other people. However, their actions can go wrong if they do not research or if they do not finish one project before starting another.

For all those born this year, yours is a unique an coveted sign in the Chinese zodiac. Use it well.

Sehai Pok Manu Paduseyo 새해 복 많이 받으세요 (Happy New Year)!


Korean New Year

Rory and I will be in Korea for the 2012 Lunar New Year. I’m excited, even though I’m told that it is a very family-oriented holiday, without a lot of activity and fanfare in the community. My impression, mostly from seeing Chinese people in Canada celebrate the New Year, is that there should be lots of festivities and parades and firecrackers, etc.

In a way, Koreans still hold many of the traditional values around the holiday that have been commercialized in surrounding Asian countries. This is why I am most excited to go this year. Korean New Year, or Seollal (설날),  is the most important of the traditional Korean holidays. The three-day holiday is used by many to return to their home towns to visit their parents and other relatives to perform an ancestral ritual. This year, Rory and I will perform the ancestral ritual known as charye (차례) in our colorful hanbok.

What is the ritual you ask?

Firstly, the room must be spotless cleaned first, then a screen and a table altar are placed in the room. On that table several foods are presented. The placement of the food has a certain order.
Jwa po woo rye: On the left, jerked meat. On the right, rice drink
Doo dong mi seo : East : head. West: tail
Hong dong bek seo : East: red color. West: white color.
“Chi bang” is the paper where the names of ancestors are written. On the left men’s names are placed with women at the right. Written vertically from left to right the order is: great great grand parents, great grand parents, grand parents, parents.

Lunar New Year

When offering to ancestors, transparent liquor is served. Vegetables may include ko sari, doraji, sookju namul. The broth is made of mussels, shrimp and pulp or squid fish. Jerky can be both of fish or beef. There are some specific rules, however. For example, peaches are not included among the fruits offered (can someone tell me why?). Also, fish with names ending in “chi” like kong chi, kal chi are no used either. These rules are commonly observed, but people tend to serve what the deceased liked most while they were alive. The idea is that the deceased ancestors must be well nourished so they have enough energy to give many blessings to their descendants.

This is an illustration of the various elements involved in charye:

Offering to ancestors


Performing the ritual is called Chesa (Charye) and it involves the following:

  • Oel mo shim : After placing the altar table, at the right time, as a sign to request the spirit to lie down upon them, the head of the ceremony (probably Rory’s dad) lights the incense, and pours some liquor in the glass, then pours it in the bowl with sand. Later on he bows twice in front of it.
  • Il dong be rye : As a signal that the ceremony is commencing all the participants bow twice.
  • Offering of the first drink : The head of the family steps forward, kneels down on his left knee and awaits the reading of chuk mun.
  • Chuk mun reading : The person who reads the chuk mun kneels down on the left side of the head of the family. After he finishes reading, everybody bows twice.
  • Offering of the next drink : The next person who offers the liquor steps forward, empties it on the teoju bowl and pours liquor, offers it and bows twice.
  • Offering of the final drink : The person who offers the third drink steps forward, drops the second drink on the teoju bowl, serves the third drink and bows twice.
  • More drink : The head of the ceremony steps forward and pours in the last glass three times and beats slightly so the liquor overflows it.
  • Putting a spoon in the rice : The head of the ceremony then opens the cap of the rice bowl and places a spoon facing east as a signal to request the dead ancestor to receive the offering, everybody prays lowering their heads a little bit.
  • “Soong nyoong” offering : The bowl of broth is lowered and “soong nyoong” is served and 3 spoonfuls are placed in the “soong nyoong” bowl.
  • General bow : As a sign of ending the ceremony everybody bows twice.
  • Receiving of blessing : The head of the ceremony eats a piece of meat and drinks some liquor
  • Removing the offering table : At the end, food is shared and the list of names and chukmoon are burned.

Here’s a video on the proper way to bow for New Year’s (in case you ever find yourself with a Korean family)

I’m also excited to take part in the tradition of sebae, which is a traditionally observed activity on Seollal. Children wish their elders (grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents) a happy new year by performing one deep traditional bow (rites with more than one bow involved are usually for the deceased) and the words saehae bok mani badeuseyo (새해 복 많이 받으세요) which translates to please receive many blessings in the new year. Parents typically reward this gesture by giving their children new year’s money (usually in the form of crisp paper money) and offering words of wisdom, or deokdam. Historically, parents gave out rice cakes and fruit to their children instead. I’m looking forward to the money though.

In addition to these traditional rituals, many Koreans also greet the New Year (both Western and lunar) by visiting East coast locations such as Gangneung and Donghae in Gangwon province, where they are most likely to see the first rays of the New Year’s sun. Many traditional games are played with children as well. The traditional family board game Yunnori (윷놀이) is still a popular pastime. Traditionally children would fly kites and play jegi chagi (제기차기), a game in which a light object is wrapped in paper or cloth, and then kicked like a hackysack.

On New Year’s eve, people clean their houses and light it with colorful lamps. Koreans will also often take a bath with hot water and burn bamboo sticks to casts off the evil spirits.

See the latest post on the Chinese New Year of the Dragon and what it means.


The Obama family stopped by Dubai recently and asked us to be in one of their Christmas family portraits. How do you think it turned out?

President Christmas

Those elf costumes were a bit itchy


Etihad is now flying daily between Seoul and Abu Dhabi

Etihad Airways, the airline that Rory works for, has officially begun flying between Abu Dhabi and Seoul, Korea. Rory was part of the crew that flew out before the launch and took part in the press conference as well as events with high-level Korean officials.

This is great news for Rory, as she can now visit her mom whenever she has to work on a flight to Korea and it is good for me also, because now I will be able to see my in-laws as it makes going to Korea a lot easier.

I think that this new service route was a long-time coming. Recently, there has been a lot of big business deals between the UAE (particularly Abu Dhabi) and large Korean businesses (Chaebol 재벌).

I want to do another post that explores the huge Korean conglomerates in more depth. But I think this shows how there are many ties between Korea and the UAE.

For anyone interested, I have put together a map of Korean restaurants, groceries and entertainment venues in the UAE. If you know or find somewhere that isn’t on this map, please feel free to suggest it in the comments and I will add it.

UPDATE – I just saw in the National newspaper today that there will be a Korean film showcase in Abu Dhabi hosted by the Korean Embassy. The free, three-day Korean Film Series will be held at Abu Dhabi Theater starting on Saturday, December 18, marking 30 years of diplomatic relations between Korea and the UAE. A Korean chef will prepare food during the screening and free flights to Seoul will be given away. Abu Dhabi Week did a good article on it too.

Apparently, the event is co-organized by the Embassy and King Sejong Institute, which was founded at Zayed University this past October and is the the first organization to teach Korean language and culture in the UAE.

You can see the schedule here.

Korea in the Middle East

Korea and Middle East countries, particularly the UAE, are benefitting from a strengthening relationship

See Etihad’s commercial here. The site also has some tourist suggestions.