City of Passion

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

This is the first country in Europe that I really wanted to see.  Last 2013, I had a vacation in Paris and indeed the city is really lovely!

Transportation

At first, any tourist might be confused, since there a lot of train lines in Paris but I find Paris’ public transportation very useful, especially if you want to go from one tourist spot to the other within a matter of minutes. Therefore, it is really needed to get a map once you are in the city.

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Arc de Triomphe

This famous tourist spot is situated at the center  of Place Charles de Gaulle, where you can also find some shops nearby. This monument commemorates all those people who died during the French revolution and Napoleonic war.

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Eiffel Tower

If we talk about Paris, it’s a must to see the Eiffel tower. It is really romantic especially at night, with its sparkling white light.

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However, I really recommend that it’s worth it to see the city at the top of Eiffel tower. The view is indeed majestic! There might be a long line using the elevator going up, so it is better just to walk. The ticket is also cheaper when you choose this option. Aside from that, there are also a lot of trivias which you can read while walking up.

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Notre Dame

When I was here, the child in me was hoping to see Quasimodo or Esmeralda. However, I found more than what I expect. Notre Dame is  big compare to a normal church and its structure and design are really worth your attention. It’s also a great place to reflect and be closer to God.

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Sacre Coeur

Aside from the fact that there are a lot of hostels and restaurants near Sacre Coeur, this elevated point gives you a view of the city. There were also street performers that we saw outside of the church.

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Louvre

Second to the Eiffel Tower, I just want to see Mona Lisa in Paris and I did it! Louvre has some ticket discounts depending on your age so how I wish that I should visit it when I was a little bit younger.

I recommend to spend a whole day here if you are really an art enthusiast. The museum is so big that I s had the chance to see some of the artworks which we had in our textbooks back in grade-and high school.

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Moulin Rouge

If there’s a French sentence that I can say, it is definitely one of the lines in Lady Marmalade. However, it would be definitely be off if you walk along the streets of Paris’ red light district. The nearest metro station is Blanche and once you are there yiu can see a lot of adult shops and who wouldn’t miss the famous  cabaret, Moulin Rouge! Just book a ticket reservation beforehand, if you want to see the show.

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Drinks

Aside from croissants and other French bread or dishes, what surprised me is the taste of French coffee. It’s a mixture of coffee, alcohol, and cream and I didn’t just know how to distinguish the taste when I tried it. Go, have a drink and taste for yourself!

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There are a lot of exciting tourist spots that I would love to see when I come back in Paris! I’ll come back that is for sure!

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Cheeky Guide To German Culture: “German Men Sit Down To Pee”

When one lives in another country, one will be confronted with a lot of cultural differences or some unique things, which one will be confused whether to accept or shrug off. I also have my fair share of these scenarios as well.

Calling a Medical  Clinic

I needed to call  a medical clinic to book an appointment. Since the lady who received my call cannot speak English and I didn’t have that good German proficiency at that time, she really did not understand me. As a result, she just dropped the call. I was thinking that if this is an emergency situation and they cannot speak English or don’t have any patience in understanding a person who has a bad German proficiency, would they care to save a life?

Fried Rice for Breakfast

We Asians are rice lovers since we eat it with every meal. A warm fried rice with a lot of garlic is our staple breakfast meal paired with fried eggs, tapas or any other fried meat. Some Germans find it awful having rice for breakfast as well as the smell of garlic early in the morning.

At the End of Class Presentations or Sessions

After one finishes a class presentation or after a seminar or lecture,  it seems so weird for me to knock on the desk. I just go with the flow every time most of the Germans do it but I exactly don’t know why they do it.

Asian and German Pairing

When I arrived in Germany, most of the Germans asked me whether  my  ex- boyfriend and I met on the internet. I don’t have something against  people meeting on the internet. Most of them do really have successful relationships. However, I need to admit that the stigma of mail-ordered-brides or an Asian woman marrying a white Guy just for money  is still there.

It is really difficult to comprehend these situations. I always question myself whether I’m wrong or not. How much of my own culture or traditions do I need to change just to adhere to German traditions? What can I do to belong and how can a foreigner delineate Germans’ directness and rudeness?

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This book German Men Sit Down to Pee, which is written by Niklas Frank and James Cave, may not answer every question that I have. However, reading this book is a  good starting point in understanding the German culture.

 “The problem  with stereotypes is that they’re limiting”(10).

They begin the book  by pointing out that there also stereotypes that have been associated with Germans throughout different time periods. One of which is: “Planning is such a big part  of the German psyche that everyone expects everyone else to be organized as well” (106-07). However, I meet a lot of  Germans who just chose  not to be organized.

As foreign readers, the book gives us a lot of perspectives about German life, culture, tradition, celebration, entertainment, food, drinks, etc. There are also some trivia which I never knew before like:”April Fool’s Day… is said to have originated in Germany” (34).

The book has also an in-depth explanation about some interesting German terms such as Preis-Leistungs-Verhältnis, Freikörperkultur, etc. The book has many different short chapters, which makes it easier for readers to understand and remember the content. The information in the book is short, concise, and  direct with some given historical or social context.

As a reader, I highly recommend this book because it is useful if one can read this before they embark their journey to Germany or if one still want to try to make sense of the German culture. There are a lot of interesting information here and you will basically know the truth  and the reason whether German men really sit down and pee 🙂

The Authors are currently working on a printed version of the book. Interested readers can find more information  at www.germansbook.com.

Spinach and Mushroom Cream Pasta

Here’s another recipe which everyone can enjoy without feeling guilty that it’s not healthy. I’ve incorporated  spinach and mushroom as the  primary ingredients to the cream sauce so rest-assured that you would have the necessary nutrients in this dish.

Spinach and Mushroom Cream Pasta 

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  • 5 cloves          garlic
  • 1  piece           onion
  • 1 bowl             spinach
  • 250 grams     mushroom
  • 200 grams     cream
  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon  chili flakes
  • vegetable oil
  • pasta
  • fried ham
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sauté chopped onion and garlic in vegetable oil. Add mushroom and add a little bit of water. Let it simmer for around 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the cream sauce and cream cheese. You may also add salt and pepper to taste and chili flakes to have that tang. Mix the sauce and let it simmer for 6 minutes then add the  spinach. Turn off the heat after a minute.  If you are not a vegetarian, then you can also add fried ham or bacon on top.

Mung Bean Soup

During the Lenten season, my grandmother would always prepare Ginisang Munggo or Mung Bean Soup. We usually eat this every Friday, because we believe that it is a part of fasting. Not eating meat (chicken, pork, or beef)  can be considered as a part of one’s repentance or sacrifice. Since this is the first Friday of Lent, I try  to recreate this tradition by cooking my own version of this dish.

Ginisang Munggo  or Mung Bean Soup

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  • 2 pieces       tomato
  • 2 pieces       onion
  • 5 cloves        garlic
  • 1 plate           fresh Spinach
  • 100 grams   small shrimp
  • 200 gram     Mung Bean
  • smoked mackerel
  • salt
  • pepper
  • paprika powder (sweet)
  • olive oil

Boil the Mung Beans with water. Usually, it takes around 1 hour or more to make it soft. Others also soak the beans first for 30 minutes to an hour before boiling them.

In another pot, put olive oil and sauté chopped onions and garlic. Add  the shrimps and tomatoes. You may also want to put a pinch of salt, pepper, and paprika powder to taste.

After  2- 3 minutes, pour the pre-boiled beans to the pot  and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, or paprika powder depending on your preferred taste. Turn off the heat and put the washed spinach  and stir the soup.

Serve hot and put smoked Mackerel as your topping.

 

Dramarasmus: Transit

I’ve just watched my first ever play in German language.

Transit is a one and a half hour play presented by Dramarasmus, which is a theater project for international and local students. It is interesting to see different actors from all around the globe share their passion on one stage, speak their own language, and also, act in German. I definitely understand that it is really hard to erase the accent and I commend most of the actors for speaking clearly. Since I think most of them are not native speakers, it helps that most of the time they speak slowly. As an effect, a non-native audience like me  can really follow and somehow grasp the story.  I also love that there are some movements in between. This serves as a good transition from one play to the other. The last part is really powerful when the actors spoke German and their own native language alternately.

However, here are some points for improvement:

Acting

When it comes to acting, I personally look for the “truth.” This means that every movement that an actor does on stage should be justified and through characterization, it would be easy for an actor to differentiate the roles that he or she plays. Voice can also be used as a tool to further deepen the character so it is really a must to project one’s voice well.

If a wife removes her wedding ring in front of her husband, will she feel pain or relief? Does she feel regret or freedom?

If someone points a gun at you, what will be your expression? Will you be brave to face death or afraid that you just want to run away?

If you are a mother and wife who has some issues with your husband and there’s a chance to talk to him again, what will you feel? Do you still love him or you just want to lie?

When I watch a play, I always want to connect to the story through the actors’ acting. I want to forget that I am not in the theater, but I am with the character on his or her journey.

I think Jonas Lunte, Aleksandar Zekic, and Ana Brinzila really did a great performance.

Technicals

I think, it would be great to play a background sound or music to establish the location of the scene while it is still dark and the actors are still preparing.  This will also help the audience to better understand the scene.

I really love theater and this experience really brings a lot of memories to me. Congratulations to the whole team in Dramarasmus and maybe next time practice the curtain call 🙂 You deserve all the applause for all your hard work 🙂

If you are all in Marburg, Transit will still have shows in Wagonhalle on February 1 and 2 at 8 pm.

 

Beef Nilaga

Yes, it is really cold outside. The common saying that it’s better late than never might be definitely right considering the snowfall this winter season.  I think you would agree with me that one way to fight cold and the feeling of depression is to have a good warm soup. This recipe  is just perfect for this season!

Beef Nilaga

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1/2 kg        Beef (ideal with bones)

2  pieces   onions

1 clove       garlic

2 pieces    corn (cut into three)

3 cubes      beef broth

5 pieces     potatoes

1/2              China Kohl/ Cabbage

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Boil the beef with onions and garlic for 2 hours using medium heat, if you don’t have a pressure cooker. I always prefer to make the meat softer and easier to chew. Put the corn, potatoes, and beef broth and wait for 10 minutes before adding the China Kohl or Cabbage.

Serve hot.

Hong Kong

If you want to shop like you’re in Thailand, visit Mickey and the rest of the gang in Disneyland or just enjoy mouthwatering dishes, then Hong Kong should be definitely your next adventure.

It’s ideal to be in Hong Kong around December to February since you will really enjoy the cold weather especially if you’re living in a tropical country here in Southeast Asia. Last January 2013, I got the chance to visit this lovely city.
There are numerous airlines that offer affordable flights to Hong Kong.
For the transportation within the city, I never took a cab since they have a good  train system as well as there are also buses from the airport to the city. Just make sure that you purchase an Octopus Card upon your arrival in the airport. You can use this card in their public transportation.

Do you want a cozy and affordable  place for accommodation?

Please do note that any accommodation in Hong Kong is really costly. Ms. Rainbow from OiSuen Guesthouse is really nice and friendly. She offered a lot of tips on how to reach various tourist destinations and how to deal with locals especially if you want to shop in the night markets. OiSuen Guesthouse rooms are quite affordable as well as they have indeed good service (room cleaning, assistance etc). Discounted tickets may also be purchased in the hostel. After a tiring day, it was nice to have a chat with Ms Rainbow about my experiences and she also shared some unforgettable  memories of  other tourists. Staying there is an enriching experience.
Here are some of the places that you shouldn’t miss:
Ocean Park

You can do a lot of things here, that’s for sure. You can go to there magnificent aquarium, visit other animal sanctuaries, try their park rides, play games, shop for souvenirs  or  watch shows. I really like here because your ticket is really worth it!

 

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Disneyland
If you’re a child at heart then  you  really belong in this place.When I saw Mickey Mouse or just even the palace, the magic and  excitement  just came back to me. Indeed, Disneyland will bring you back to the time when you believe that fairies and happy ever after do exist.
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Avenue of Stars/ Symphony of Lights
When I watched the Symphony of Lights, my first reaction was “how did they do that?” Synchronizing the lights of every building is quite tough but then they pulled it off. After the show, I  strolled  along the Avenue of Stars where you can discover Hong Kong’s film history and stars.
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Big Buddha
When I went to the Big Buddha, I rode this Crystal Cable Car (If you are adventurous, then try this!) It has a glass flooring which let you see the scenery. For the Big Buddha, I felt  peace while we were there on the top. You can also visit the temples nearby if you want to commune with nature and reflect.
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Night Markets (Ladies Market)
Just a tip, try to bargain  for the lowest price then if  they can’t give your demands then look for another stall which has the same product that you want. You can see a lot of merchandise along the streets and  a good way to get the most affordable price is to look around first then bargain 🙂
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Food in Hong Kong
In a cold winter, all you need is a hot noodle soup 🙂
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Sidetrip:
Once you are in Hong Kong, you can also take a short day trip to Macau. There you can see Saint Paul Ruins, Casinos and the heavenly, egg tarts.
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