Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hello & Happy New Year from Taiwan

I hope you like these photos I took of Taipei 101's New Year's fireworks. It was really amazing but way too short. I waited one hour for three minutes of fireworks. And then it took two hours to get home.

Friday, December 25, 2009


I watched Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire on Christmas Day. It is not exactly a Christmas movie, but Precious was a great choice. The story is quite simple: a coming of age story of a young, obese, and illiterate African-American girl growing up in Harlem with an oppressive, sinister, and demanding mother. Precious, played by Gabourey Sidibe, is only 16 but is pregnant and forced to run her family; Precious has to cook, do the dishes, and get welfare checks while her mother, Mary, played by Mo'Nique, orders Precious around while watching television and chain smoking.

The film gets incredibly violent and heartwrenching as Mary verbally and physically abuses Precious. Despite her family conditions, Precious perseveres in becoming a more educated individual with the help of Miss Rain, played by Paula Patton, a kind and selfless special education teacher. Mariah Carey also has an interesting role in the film as a social worker who tries to help Precious.

What I liked about the film is the acting by Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique. Even though I have not yet seen other Golden Globe nominated films, I will be disappointed to see Sidibe or Mo'Nique walk away from the evening without a win. The two actresses make believable characters. By the end of the film, I was sincerely rooting for Precious and waiting for Mary's downfall.

This film brings the audience into a world that you might read in newspaper and see on the news about sexual and child abuse but never witness in real life. The acting in conjunction with the occasional documentary filming style make the film utterly authentic. It brings to light the grim reality that some children face in their homes and in life: illiteracy, poverty, and physical, sexual, & mental abuses.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

a remote cabin in Northwestern Wisconsin

Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago isn't the latest hit album nor recently release. But, I just can't get over it. Released in 2008, the two best tracks in the album, For Emma, Forever Ago and Skinny Love, are just so perfect for play in a remote cabin in Northwestern Wisconsin during the winter with lots of snow and a crackling fireplace (and hot chocolate and s'more and a warm blanket). Wouldn't you agree? =D

The cinematography as created by Vincent Moon for Le Blogotheque makes the whole thing even that much better.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


View from St. Paul's Cathedral

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Beautifully bizarre. Note the hollow figure on the upper left hand corner and the serpent bodied girl.

Bronzino, An Allegory with Venus and Cupid, 1545, Oil on canvas, National Gallery, London

Friday, December 18, 2009


My camera failed me in Helsinki. It took acceptable night shots in Paris. But, in Helsinki, the shots came out blurry even during the day.

Uspenski Cathedral

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Copenhagen is enchanted.

My friend and I arrived at the train station in Copenhagen at around 12 pm. It was quite an easy journey from the Copenhagen airport to the city. The train only took around 10 minutes.

This is the view from our hotel room. It's the Marriott Copenhagen by the water. It's not in the center of the city but it was only 10 minutes away by foot. It had a fantastic view of the water and the island across from mainland . After staying at Happy and Young hostel in Paris, I will never stay in a hostel ever again. I showered in a stall that flooded with other people's hair and had my luggage opened. So I had to pick a nicer hotel this time around.

View from the hotel's 9th floor. The spire is from the Church of Our Saviour (Vor Frelsers Kirke). Not only is it unique and decorative, but the spire also serves as a staircase for visitor to climb and see the city. In the distance, which you can barely make out, is the Middelgrunden which is a wind farm in the sea. There are 20 giant turbines and they power over 3% of Copenhagen.

Another view of from the hotel. This picture shows one of the thing I love about Copenhagen--the city is so beautifully unified by the towers and green patina roofs. Each and everyone of the towers is unique but still they bring together a sense of uniformity for the skyline.

A closer look at the tallest tower from the picture above. It is the City Hall.

Don't really know what that building is, but that Christmas tree is powered by these bicycles that you can ride at the base of it. I got quite a work out from trying to light up the tree myself. It shows how Denmark is addressing the problems with energy and the environment. It's such an innovative solution to lighting up the tree. Throughout the city are also bicycle lanes. It's amazing how many people ride bikes here!

On the Strøget, the longest pedestrian-only shopping street in Europe, with another beautiful tower. But I don't know what it is.

The Magasin du Nord, the biggest department store in Copenhagen. Quite fancy with expensive Scandinavian fashion that I, sadly, could not afford.

The Royal Danish Theatre--reminds me of a smaller, less ornate Opera Garnier.

It's hard to believe that the building in the centre with the tower is home to the Copenhagen Stock Exchange. The CSE is the oldest stock exchange in Europe. And that wicked tower is made up of the tails of four dragons twisted into a spire. It's unlike anything else huh.

The Rosenborg Castle--a former royal castle.
It houses the royal jewels but we didn't know that nor did we go in. Since we only had one and a half day in the city, we pretty much just wandered around the city. We thought going into museums and castles would have killed too much of our time. We wanted to see as much of Copenhagen as we could in the short amount of time we had. Thankfully Copenhagen is not a big city so we got to see just the right amount of sights during the time we were there. While I didn't know what was what, I still got to learn and appreciate the city just from the architecture.

The gardens of the castle.
Sadly, most of the leaves were gone.

Child strangling a goose with a lot, a lot, and a lot of leaves all raked into the fountain.

Row houses in a nice colour palette.

A windmill!

This was the sight as we walked to see the ever so famous Little Mermaid sculpture. The body of water that is closer to you is a moat surrounding a fortress.

The Little Mermaid!
...who looks quite sad and Survival of the Fittest featuring the Fat Lady, Justitia, sitting on top of a poor, starving African Man. It was put up for the UN Climate Change Conference. The sculpture is meant to symbolise the rich countries making "the best" decisions for poor countries.

The Copenhagen Opera House.
It's quite monumental and nicely designed. Don't you think so?

The Amalienborg.
This royal palace was kind of disappointing. No crowd was gathered there to take pictures like how people gather at Buckingham Palace. And it doesn't seem to have heightened security that shouts "if you trespass, we will shoot you." Queen Margrethe II, the reigning queen, is said to be quite beloved by the people. She's a major chain smoker and is friendly to her people.

The Marble Church!
I was completely surprised when we stumbled upon this. We were walking in, what we thought was, a residential area. The buildings were all kind of the same then we came around a corner to see this beautiful domed church. It was also free to go in. The inside wasn't as fantastic as the outside but we got to heat up a little bit inside.

The Nyhavn.
It's a canal lined with some very colourful buildings and restaurants. We ate there on our last night. I had a piece of deer, a chocolate cake, and the best mulled wine I have had. The mulled wine had some sort of nuts in it with raisins.

A closer look at the Church of Our Saviour.
It was closed that day but I got a peek of the inside which had an incredible altar piece.

Dinner on the first night.
We tried for like an hour looking for a place to eat that night. It was completely dark by 4 and a lot of restaurants were closed or asked for reservations. We finally found this place after walking around in the rain. That beer was also the beer I've ever had. It was a Christmas beer that is only made during the holiday season. I think it had cranberry juice in it.

The Tivoli!!!
Sadly, we didn't go in but it looked like tons of fun. They charge an admission fee and also a fee for each ride. Walt Disney is said to have been inspired by the Tivoli.

Tivoli at night.
All in all, I completely loved Copenhagen from start to end. I talked so much about it that my friends got tired of me. It was the perfect city for the amount of time we had. We did not need to take the bus or metro during our time there. It only took us 45 minutes to walk from one end to the other. Although the locals didn't seem particularly friendly at first, they were nice and helpful after you approach them. Best of all, they all speak perfect English. That made traveling, asking for information, and ordering food a lot easier.

The city was also a pleasant break away from all the other cities I have seen, especially Italy. I absolutely loved the green patina roofs that are scattered throughout the city, the unique towers, and the brick buildings that were everywhere. Like the title of the post suggests, Copenhagen is enchanted. ;)

Monday, December 7, 2009


I do not know where to start describing the beauty of this city. It's just so...fantastic!