Posts Tagged ‘travel’

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


Gangnam Style

It was innevitable that we would eventually cover some sort of story on Gagnam Style, the crazy hit song by Korean pop antihero, Psy. I’ve tried not to comment on this before because it seemed like there was little intelligence in any commentary I could give. There has been plenty of discussion about the social subversion the song encourages, as well as the tongue-in-cheek way that the singer pokes fun at the mostly oblivious purveyors of the neighborhood, Gangnam. (I recently visited Gangnam and heard the song playing at a Starbucks where many young women, whom the song makes fun of were sipping lattes.)

However, a recent interview with Psy for Rolling Stone, sheds some light on, what I find to be the most interesting element of the song… the music video and the many odd locales where Psy does his little pony dance.

So here it is in all it’s glory. Click through the link to find the interview on Rolling Stone’s website.

And for anyone living on the moon who hasn’t yet witnessed this masterpiece, here is the music video. Enjoy.



Korean’s, when prompted, will quickly inform you that their country has four seasons. Well, as we transition into the third one, CNN Go has put together a great list of Korean festivals that should entice you to visit.

Busan in Fall

In order, they are:

1. Busan World Fireworks Festival

2. Busan International Film Festival 

3. Jejudo Olle Walking Festival 

4. The Hallyu Dream Festival 

5. Andong International Maskdance Festival

6. Korean Food Tourism Festival

But you’ll have to check out the full details at CNN Go at this link. 


Step into Seoul!

Author: Jamie has a pretty cool Facebook app that lets users experience various elements of Seoul, South Korea. It’s part of a bigger push by Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to attract visitors to the Peninsula. In fact, Korea, China and Japan in a (rare) showing of solidarity, are in the process of identifying and developing tourist routes to promote tourism in the greater East Asia region.

Seoul, South Korea

When I travelled Asia, I felt that Korea, being situated between Japan and China, was often overlooked by people on the backpacker trail. Of all the cities I went to though (aside from Hong Kong, which I loved) I felt Seoul was a perfect blend of Chinese tradition and conservatism, Japanese style wackiness, Western influence and thousands of years of uniquely-styled Korean culture that results in an amazing experience. I highly recommend anyone to go there for at least a week.  In fact we are travelling there for the Chinese New Year in January. We’ll definitely be posting about our trip so stay tuned.

Check out the Travel Details section of this blog for information and maps on getting around the city and what to see and do.

Visit Korea

A poem I wrote about Seoul :)


Walled city of Suwon

When I was travelling Korea in 2005, one of my favorite day trips from Seoul was the walled city, Suwon. In fact, it is the only remaining Korean city with a complete wall intact. I had a great time walking around the top of the wall, posing for young school children who wanted to take my photo and enjoying the spring weather.

Suwon Fortress

Suwon was an hour’s subway ride outside of Seoul and short bus trip from there to the wall. The city is quite large, with over a million people, but I was more interested in the historical significance and beauty of the wall and the interior city with its markets and busy alleyways.

Hwahongmun 화홍문

Hwahongmun, otherwise known as Buksumun, is the gate under which the river flows. The gate has the obvious function of being a bridge, but also housed cannons for defensive purposes.


The walls were one of Korea’s first examples of paid labour. The walls still exist today, though they, together with the fortress, were damaged severely during the Korean War.

colorful Suwon

The city was full of colour

According to Wikipedia, Hwaseong Fortress (which means Brilliant Castle) was originally constructed under the guidance of philosopher Jeong Yag-yong. In 1800, shortly after the death of King Jeongjo, a white paper detailing the construction of the fortress was published. This proved invaluable during its reconstruction in the 1970s.

colourful lanterns

These lanterns were hanging in someone's driveway

The fortress walls once encircled the entire city, but modern urban growth has seen the city spread out far beyond the fortress. The walls are now a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and often used in materials promoting the city.

Suwon fortress

The main gate of the wall is now a through way for the city's traffic

I would suggest it to anyone who has a day to spare while visiting Seoul.

Here’s a CNN documentary on the fortress:



Korean Nights

Author: Jamie

Another beautiful video about South Korea. I need to get me an HD video camera when I go there for Korean New Year, write some music in the meantime and put it all together. I’m inspired by this and the one I posted earlier called “Do you know South Korea?

Korean Nights from Ricardo Mendialdua on Vimeo.


Do you know South Korea?

Author: Jamie

So my dad sent me an email, as he often does when he finds interesting tidbits online that he thinks I will like. Normally they are funny jokes or interesting brain teasers but this time it is a real gem.

David Dutton, a filmmaker of fabulous and beautiful short vids and music videos has compiled an assortment of moments from around South Korea and stitched them together in a way that brings me back to those places while at the same time reminding me that I have to go back.

Three reasons this video is great:

1) Do you know South Korea? is a short video that shares smiles from young and old, the glamorous and the gritty, from Seoul to Busan. It’s as though he somehow went back to 2005, when I was first visiting that country and marveled with me as the sunshine pressed against red maple leaves and fish markets bustled with activity.

2) It is anchored by the melancholic Chemical Brothers song ‘The Pills Won’t Help You Now‘ and a folksy Korean tune I don’t know.

3) The last segment in the last seconds is from a TV commercial I was fascinated with for cellular company I believe. It has  a catchy tune that I am now singing in my head. :)

Check out the video.

Do You Know South Korea? from David Dutton on Vimeo.


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.