Close to Culture, Close to Creativity, Spot on Asia.

Articles tagged “culture

Photo by Devon Wong
Photo by Devon Wong

Seeing Past Appearances: Lessons Learned in a Chinese Spa

Posted on May 9, 2016

“Bryan, you’re more Chinese than me.”

We locked eyes; his blue, mine brown. The moment concluded in an instant as we burst out laughing.

“Yes. I am.”

Here we were, two waìguórén (foreigners) sitting in an opulent dining hall wearing our respective blue and pink bath robes, exchanging stories about life abroad while we munched on pickled cucumbers, tofu noodles, and slices of watermelon. I looked more the part, with my jet black hair and almond eyes, pitted next to Bryan. But after one week in China, I could still barely mutter a xièxie without feeling like an impostor. Bryan had three years on me.  He’d mentioned some of Guilin’s local attractions during one of our lunch breaks at the Chinese Language Institute, and I’d been itching since to investigate this fabled “Chinese Spa”. 

For journalistic reasons, of course.

To date, I’ve lived in Southeast Asia for 4 years.  Dodging traffic and eating questionable street food rarely warrants novelty anymore, let alone an upset stomach.  It has become a way of life.   But walking off the cobblestone streets of Guilin and into one of the town’s most luxurious hotels for a night at the spa was almost…otherworldly.  I had spent a week sightseeing around this “small town” (a small city by Canadian standards).  But it hadn’t yet struck me that this was really it: The ‘REAL’ China, I’d set out to look for.

Photo by Devon Wong

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Creative Hub PMQ is a gem in Central, Hong Kong

Posted on July 18, 2014

Every morning, a barber shop sitting at the foot of a flight of granite stairs leading to the Police Married Quarters (PMQ) opens its shutters for business. The elderly shop owner inspects his equipment and cleans his adjustable arm chairs in a two seater shop fitted within a narrow back alley. At a time when Hong Kong island has been modernised with skyscrapers and rows of luxury fashion brands in Central, this tiny shop still hangs a framed menu of services written in Chinese calligraphy and is deck with arm chair designs that feel like they’re from the 60s.

Just across the barber shop on the side of the granite steps is the remains of rubble from the Central School built in 1889; the alma mater of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, the first president and founding father of The Republic of China.

PMQ has exhibits which showcases the building's rich heritage

PMQ has exhibits which showcases the building’s rich heritage

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Jakarta Monorail Advertising Campaign

Posted on November 12, 2013

Being stuck in traffic for hours is a common phenomenon for people living in Jakarta, Indonesia. With the planned monorail system to be built by 2016, the awarded agency, XM-JWT, was tasked to execute a campaign to convince people of all economic levels within Jakarta that the Jakarta Monorail will ease traffic congestion and help people move again.

Being stuck in traffic is a commonly accepted reason (or excuse) for being late for meetings in Jakarta. The Ngaret culture affects economic productivity and disrupts work schedules for many people as it slowly becomes the norm.

“Ngaret” is a colloquial expression in Bahasa Indonesian, which translates to “being late”, or “not being on time.” A dangerous notion to have when people develop the habit of being late without making an effort to be early.

via Flickr, Vasenka Photography

via Flickr, Vasenka Photography

Private transport ownership is extremely common in Jakarta and few would rely on mass public transportation such as public or private buses. A monorail system is expected to provide alternative public transport for the city’s population of 10 million who commute to work every day. PT. Jakarta Monorail, the company incorporated for the monorail project, entrust all activities related to branding, advertising, events, public relations to XM-JWT, a merger between digital agencies JWT Jakarta and XM Gravity.

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A Night at the Museum

Posted on October 12, 2013

Oh how the Night Festival inaugurated by the National Museum of Singapore has evolved. By evolved, I refer to the growth and diversification of its audience demographics; as well as the development in its programming. The Singapore Night Festival has developed into one of character, scale, grandeur and vision: and it can truly helm itself as one of the annual peaks one looks out for in the calendar. It was marketed consistently across the nation’s paper spreads, as well as along the transportation lines and systems. Furthermore, it was an intrajectory collaboration between not just statutory boards, but arts hubs, performance collectives, visual artists and bands as well. Held over 2 weekends in August, the Night Festival managed to not just draw in the crowd, but make a unique statement about what constitutes successful and long-term festivalisation.

Projection mapping display at the National Museum.

Projection mapping display at the National Museum.

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Reflections on Scandinavia II

Posted on September 26, 2013

It is here that I reference my experience in Scandinavia, where I spent a summer moving through Sweden and Finland meeting curators, academics, policymakers, businessmen, artists, and mostly importantly, the Scandinavians. The Scandinavian model is internationally revered in its successful implementation of the social welfare system; a system that brings about virtuous cycles of trust in its communities apart from the nuts and bolts of the system that involves high taxes on citizen’s annual incomes to fund systems such as national education, healthcare systems, and strong maternity packages, to name a few. The nations share an entangled history of overlapping geographies and languages, travelling along tangents but ultimately carving out their own respective independence. It is precisely this acute combination of shared histories, geographies and cultural influences that allow for comparison and critique. Despite the many similarities, Sweden and Finland stand far apart in the state of their art markets at present day.

Paimio Sanatorium by Alvar Aalto

Paimio Sanatorium by Alvar Aalto

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