Thursday, January 26, 2017


Trip in UK: Lots of Culture Shocks

Embark on the trip from Stuttgart airport. I felt the Taiwan, ROC passport is really difficult to use, since the name is really similar to China, they are checked a lot longer. Since UK is not part of Schengen, the two inexperienced lady spend lots of time checking the passport, make me feel really sad.

 The lady at the costume asked tones of questions to assure you are not a terrorists. That gave me a very bad first impression, as if it didn’t welcome tourists. My first culture shock is how popular UK is for Indian and Chinese, Southeast Asia tourists. The total number of visitors lining up at the costume were so much that I felt London is really a convergent point of all nations. It is indeed an international cities that filled with perspective young people coming here to either make a living, or to pursue their dreams.

The costume staffs consists of predominantly Indian descents. I don’t know how many generations are there for India immigrations. It just stroke me that London is an immigrant society, pretty much like Berlin. I was not my first time having this ethnical melting pot shock, but the intercultural fusion and interchange in London is magnitude higher than Berlin.

Although I was a tourist who visited London for the first day, I felt there seems to be a camouflage for minorities (tourist / Asian ) to get away with discrimination either simply because of novelty, or real resistance to immigrant/foreigners in UK. The reason is there are simply too many people come and go from UK everyday. Business travelers, foreign job seekers, tourists, students, or immigrants and immigrant’s children. They all bring in their own culture, and therefore resulting in an organic, vibrant, and tolerative community. 

I can imaging such an influx of emigrants should have formed a strong social anxiety to the native anglo-saxon citizens, because the immigrants are changing their original way of lives. The traditional Christian values of society were deprived from orthodox, and the veils and robes that from Arabic countries starting to take an important seat in the scene of the city. Muslim culture is extremely adamant, even though the immigrant group were outnumbered by the native citizens. It is because Islam is monotheism, and the doctrines has a very strict rule of how dividends should be punished. Islam was like the old Christianity before the 30 years war. Christians learned the lesson and modified the doctrines after the 30 years war, henceforth built up a tolerant religion. However, Islam has not learned that lesson. The fast growing Islam community in London has caused a strong pressure to people who wants to keep their original way of lives. To harness the cheap, young manpower that form the fundamental base of the mechanistic of the city, old Londoners gave up their own cultural dominance bit by bit. More and more Islam women wearing robes and veils on the streets. It can be a seemingly harmless cultural preference, but would it not be a sign that the gender equality, the decree of a modern society, is actually being compromised ? Yes, regarding to the upcoming referendum whether UK should leave EU, Kent 

Should the social tolerance should be unlimited expanded, allowing some radical extremism to eroding the basics of modern Christian values that hold the peace and growth of the country ? How can we guarantee the equality of all race, religion, and gender, while preventing extremism to take over ? The line of enforcement is actually very blur.

Aside from pessimist sociological discussion, the immigrants have brought vitality to the society, they provided new perspectives to old problems, sparks ingenious ideas, and injects adventurous genes to the country. Walking out of hammersmith Bush Market Station, I found most shops around the stations were run by immigrants. They are the small business owner, and blue collar labors that fill the strong demand of cheap labor of UK, a rich, powerful economy. On the other hand, a morality of white Englishman, and a small group of Indians, and East Asians occupy the top of the economy hierarchy. They work in financial or technological companies seated in modern looking glass skyscrapers around bustling business areas, such as Liverpool station. They work 8 to 5, wearing tailored suits and letter shoes, commuting either by bikes, or via tube. The society doesn’t really achieve the Utopia of all-equal. But more like the Utopia depicted by Huxley, where the homogeneous equality is not the wisest way for humanity. Mega cities like London is stratified, and it is hard to conceive how this kind of stratification, results not from race, but parenting and education, which is strongly correlated with race and their culture, would not fall pray as an easy target to opportunists to provoke hatred and class struggle, or social conflicts. Beyond all this foreseeable issues, London seems to be a harmonious society. One is that the immigrants are not as strong to contend the upper-middle class, the Anglo-Saxon class. Two is that the thriving economy brought about by this subtle collaboration have benefited the both sides. They are both very contended right now. Would it be the peacefulness before the arrival of thunderstorms ?

As mentioned, skilled foreign workers, second generation of immigrants have made it difficult to tell one’s origin in an international city. It shocked me how quick I was able to adapt to this new norm. Staying in this international environment truly converted me into a non-chauvinists individual. Here in London I finally was converted into a devotee of global citizen. Nationality, race, religion, gender cannot be used to define who we are, because we are all imperfect, or perfectly imperfect. In Monkeys in the tree, I met funny looking British guy Jonathon (reminds me of Dobbey), a transgender Danish freelancing engineer, Kent. He is a senior developer for a company called ARM based in Barcelona. He inspired me to invent my own career, and design my own ‘University’ for myself. Also, Ariana, a business contractor and a life coach. She taught me the way to think of the long term goals as composition of thing that can be done in 24 hours, which is really powerful.
There are Italian guys coming to London to find a job. It let me see the dark side of Italy that is usually unseen.
The hostel is full of amazing people. Yes, I see the world in a hostel in Fish Bush Market, London.

Interesting people I met

Gordon & Chris Canadian Engineer and Financial consultant.

Markus Karlesrule based software engineer.

Kent del Pino, an expat inventor live in London. He talked about a hacker/maker’s studio. It charges monthly to the members. But the amount of fee is totally voluntarily. I think it is a good idea that should be implemented in Taiwan. He also mentioned the double deck bus hostel/ or lunge bar. I also like that Ideas a lot.

Mirian a young lawyer in Montreal

She was an extraordinary nice person.

Trip to Paris

Paris Diary

Day 1, Friday

Visited Musee du Louvre, and stayed in the museum for more than 6 hours.
Met Florent in front of Mona Lisa.
Saw many sculptures and paintings.
Had a great dinner together.
 Ate chicken and white wine, very delicious.
The Airbnb was kind of shitty. No wifi, and no cooking.
Food is very expensive here. I guess the dinner cost over 20 per person, but Florent paid for me.

Day 2, Saturday
Musee d’Orsay
Another great day for 18,19th century arts.
Saw many famous paintings here, too. Learned a lot about Impressionism here. To put Impressionism in one word, is they emphasis the effect of light, more than the accuracy of the object itself. This was manifested in those works with sunset sky. Where everything was covered with a pink-orange hue. Besides, they found the shadow is not merely different shade of black, but the complimentary color of the objects color. They were playing the illusion of human vision that makes the painting more realistic to our experience instead of perception. 
There are free wifi outside the museum, which saved my life. I am able to contact Gordon and Chris, Thi.
After visited the museum, I went to Notre Dame by bus. The Church is on Cite Island. 
So many people. Food are also very expensive there, but the snacks were delicious.
There were police and securities checking backpack at the door of every tourist site. But the enforcement is the loosest I have ever seen. I bumped into a small inn in the Alley. Beautiful.
Then when I was looking for wifi and cafe. I met an old men who recommended me to have some Crepe. So we shared 2 crepes. One with chocolate bananas, another with bacon and cheese.
I gave up contacting Gordon. and I found the old man is a conductor/cellist living in Basel, Switzerland. We agreed to keep in touch, and I will listen to the Music he recommend. His name is Albert Roman. And hopefully I will go back to Shanghai on 15th September, and we can meet there again. We took some photos together in front of Notre Dame. And we walked to a pub area near Chatelet Metro, passing Pompidou Museum. There we found a good outdoor table and have beers.

I went home, slightly drunk as yesterday. I used the microwave to warn the frozen pizza as dinner at 1 am. I took a shower, and the condition of the shower compartment was a disaster. I should give it negative review on Airbnb.

Day 3, Sunday

Today I woke up pretty late, and one to Musee Rodin. Great sculptures in the park and in the mansion where he used to use a his studio in the last part of his life. To be honest, his work before his 40 is just mundane. He, like many other painters, mature in his own style after 40. The muscular from of the male sculptures captures the animations and mortal nature of humans. The object of his works are the normal people, thanks to his patron. So he more of less broke the limit of the purpose of art — doing portraits for the royals and higher class. There aren’t too many of his work there. The best sculpture might have been seen somewhere else before I visited here. The thinker is on repair. There are tons of young Korean tourist everywhere. That will make a huge change to their country in the next 30 years. After Rodin Museum, I went to Grand Palais, but did not enter. Tens of thousands of tourists were gathering alone Champ Elisee, to welcome the end of the France de Tour, the biggest cycling race in the world. That was really exciting to be part of it. I also went to Eiffel Tower. it was beautiful. There’s nothing to see on Camp de Mars. and River Siene is just okay, the scene is not as beautiful as in Cologne, or Florence. I went home early around 8 pm

Day 4 Monday.

Today  I packed up and went to Notre Dame, and it was just okay. Not very big, and not especially decorative comparing to other Cathedrals. I checked in around 11:30 at Sant Mercel, and found Bastille a bustling place to visit. Many cafe there, and much fewer tourists. To my surprise, the room was even worse. I realized probably that was what you can get if you want to be in that location with that price. Then I went to Pompidou Museum. I got a shrimp curry and rice noodles in a Chinese fast food shop nearby. Tasty. There is a high proportion of East Asian descent in Paris. Even locals can’t tell I am a tourist. Meaning I am not getting a lot of attention on the street, making my trip very comfortable. In addition, there are Asian tourists everywhere in Paris, but I approve it is one of the most impressive cities in Europe.
Pompidou is the Louvre of Modern Arts. All famous works in Dadaism, Cubism, etc can be found here. Once again Picasso proved he was a genius.
I left there, and went to Bastille, and found a good restaurant and dug in my medium lamb shaft. Delicious. 

Day 5 Tuesday.

So the last day in Paris. I visited the famous cemetery that buries historical figures such as Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Ingres, Dumeire, Proust, Bellini, Bizet, Jim Morrison, etc. It was for free. A must see in Paris.

Then I had lunch in a Korean restaurant. Tested good.

In the afternoon I went to MontMarte. It is a high ground where you can overlook the whole Paris, and on the very top of it stands a Basilica, which is much magnificent than Notre Dame. It was the area where painters like Van Gough and Cezanne, Picasso gathered and worked because it was cheaper in their time. However, it has become very expensive after the tourism comes in. Most of the streets are filled with cheap souvenir shops, and not so much about artists anymore. The food here is cheaper than the city center though.

Before I left the place, I started random wandering in the region to kill the remaining time. Montmartre now then showed its most lively part to me when I went off the main tourist route. It was the area that locals considered ‘dangerous’ at night. It is an area where black people live. There were Afro barbershops, cheap electronic, clothes, and many other things. I think it not dangerous before sunset, and it was indeed an eye-opener to me.

I think I have seen a lot in this trip, and shortly touched the real life of Parisian in the last minute. I saw Gypsies got searched by police and soldiers patrolled in small groups with machine guns. However, Parisians were not scared and loose their friendly nature as I experienced many time when I was looking for directions. As long as they are still having the long noon coffee break and enjoy their lives just seating at an outdoor table watching papers or taking sunbath. The ‘No Problemo’ philosophy will marched on, until the defeat of terrorism.