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Kate Wu

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Arriving Sapporo, the Odori Park is the definitely the first stop of the Snow Festival because it is right in the city centre, only 10 minutes walk from Sapporo JR station. Since 1950, Sapporo has been holding a week long snow festival every year. There are three main sites in Sapporo: Odori Park, Susukino Site and Tsu Dome Site. The Odori Park is the largest in scale, stretching 12 city blocks over 1.5 kilometres long. The snow festival in Hokkaido is a big event in Japan, attracting over 2 million visitors every year, many of them locals. I have been to the Snow Festival in Hokkaido a couple of times. I really enjoyed it. In 2016, the event will be held from February 5 to 11. Be prepared for a few hours walk in an open space. So keep warm. The ground may be slippery. 札

Designed by a renowned award-winning architect Zaha Hadid, Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is the world’s largest three-dimensional amorphous architectural structure with 45,133 external aluminium panels that are all different in size, curve and pattern. Zaha Hadid, or should be called Dame Zaha Hadid, DBE is an Iraqi-British architect who was the first woman recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004. With a design concept of “Metonymic Landscape” and reminiscent of flowing water, DDP adopts a fluid design with curved walls and a free-form shape. This beautiful three-dimensional amorphous structure employs an innovative design approach called Building Information Modeling (BIM) as well as mega-trusses and a space frame to minimize the use of columns and create a massive open space. It is spectacular on the outside and breath-taking inside.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is the newest and most iconic landmark of the Korean design industry. In addition to the art halls, the whole area inside out are filled with interesting designer products and display. I remember seeing an international brand creating a special design road show to enhance it brand awareness and uplift its artistic image. In light of the vast space at DDP, this article will focus on the outdoor display of designer art work. I will write more about other areas in separate posts.

The LED Rose Garden at Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in Seoul was a major attraction since last autumn. The 25,550 LED roses were set up as one of the exhibition to celebrate the first anniversary of DDP, encouraging continued support by the local communities to this new landmark of design and creativity. The 25,550 roses are also symbolic to the 70th anniversary of the South Korea Independence Day (70 years  x 365 days = 25,550). Meaningful, thoughtful and beautiful!  Beauty is one of the key elements in art and design. The white roses are well made and the glow at night using LED lights have created a vast starlight field of roses. Each rose is planted independently on a real grass field. You don’t see any messy electric wires on the ground. The rose garden is set up on a slope, enabling visitors to get good view in every angle. Well thought out and excellent execution! All roses are lit up from 6pm to 10pm every day, attracting many couples, families as well as tourists to take a walk and capture the…

Petite France in the countryside of Seoul has become very famous after the popular Korea television drama series “My Love from the Star” was filmed in the park. Similar to the story of Little Prince who came to the earth and longing to go back to his left behind rose, the main character of “My Love from the Star” came to the earth 400 years ago and was due to go back to his planet when he fell in love with an actress. The romantic episode was filmed in the park! Locating near Namiseon Island and the Garden of Morning Calm, Petite France is one of the attractions in between around Gapyeong and Cheongpyeong area. The theme park was built as a French cultural village and a youth training centre (it was originally a youth training site). “Flowers, stars, and the Little Prince” encapsulate the theme of the park but I think that these three elements are one – the Little Prince story if you are familiar with it. That’s because I didn’t see many flowers in the park, the Little Prince paintings and…

Miss Lee cafe is a must if you are a Korean TV drama fan. The second season of the Korean reality show “We Got Married” was filmed in the Insadong branch, one of the three Miss Lee Cafes in Seoul. As you can tell just from the name of the show, this coffee shop was where the actor and actress dated. Like many other film locations, this coffee shop has become famous after the show was broadcasted. Well, there is always a reason why it was chosen as a film location to begin with. The interior decoration and the atmosphere of Miss Lee cafe is indeed nice and sweet. Before I stopped by, I have not seen any of the TV show nor done much research about the coffee shop. I only remember seeing the logo somewhere in a guide book. It was time to have lunch. So I looked at the menu and decided to give it a try. The restaurant is not that small. There is an outdoor sitting area and there are quite a few tables inside. The main feature is the…

Many tourists go to Taipei will visit the popular Jiufeng where a famous movie was filmed a long time ago. Tourists like to visit Jiufeng for unique scenery of concentration of small houses built on the hill with small alleys and stairs connecting each other. And it’s a place for the gold-digging dream back in the glorious gold mining period. Not that many people know that Jinguashi was a even bigger mining site that left abandoned. Jinguashi literally means “golden gourd rock” in Chinese.  Local people named the area according to the pumpkin shape of the gold mines. Taiwanese call pumpkin “Jingua”. Now, you may complete the picture of the good old days of gold mining industry in Taiwan by visiting the Gold Museum in Ruifang district. Opened in November 2004, the Gold Museum is designed to be a Eco-Museum, retaining the historic and cultural assets, encouraging participation of the community, and showcase the history of precious metal mining industry. The Gold Museum is not a confined space with walls and gates. It covers a large area on the hill side where the gold mining industry took…

There’s always a way to enjoy life. The popular hot spring Beitou area in Taipei has a lot to offer. You may easily spend a whole day walking around, visiting museums, enjoying hot springs, and have a nice meal in a private kitchen. Locating in an old commercial/residential building, “A Jiao House” is a cosy private kitchen that offers creative Taiwanese cuisine. Like other private kitchens, there is no menu. Yet there are some signature dishes that are served often. There is a price range of TWD 1,000 to 1,500 per person. You may set your budget but it is also subject to the availability of food ingredients. Smart Travel: please call in advance as soon as you confirm your trip. Last minute cancellation and no show will be very damaging because the owner has to prepare for all the logistics and shopping. There were only two of us during lunch hour in our last visit. Just think about how much work there were to prepare a full meal with so many courses for just two customers. Be a considerable traveller.

The name of Yong Kang Street literally means “forever healthy” in English. It’s a good name. This street is famous for the concentration of popular restaurants and eateries, including the main branch of the best dumpling restaurant in Taiwan, Din Tai Fung, which has become an internationally well-known brand for decades. In recent years, this area has attracted many international restaurants, coffee shops, snack and dessert places, offering a lot more variety of food and drink for both locals and tourists. Every restaurant and eatery looks so appetizing that you will not stop eating and drinking. With increased traffic, the area has expanded from one street to cover a few small blocks, forming a commercial community. There are also many gift shops, spa and foot massage, natural and health care product shops that you can enjoy shopping in between your meals and drinks.

I was lured by the introduction of “Picasso Street” on a Korea travel guide book from a friend and made a trip to take a look at the “Picasso” art work in Seoul. It took a little while to find the exact location.  It’s a retaining wall at the back of an alley! To be honest, it was disappointing. I would not call myself an artist but I have seen enough of master pieces that I would not associate any paintings in the area with Picasso. Street art? May be. Graffiti? Some of them are definitely graffiti. When it comes to contemporary art, it’s personal. You have to come see it yourself. Having said that, the area is very interesting though. It’s a centre of young culture. University areas are always filled with young and energetic atmosphere, particularly in this Hongik University (or Hongdae) area. The school is a famous Fine Arts and Design university in South Korea. There is an annual street art exhibition event, attracting art school students and young artists to flock to this area. Weekend evenings are the most…

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