My Experience at The 2nd Model ICAO Forum

Prelude

In November, I happened to come by an online poster from the University looking for interested students who are willing to participate in the Model International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Forum that was going to be held in Shenzhen, China. ICAO is an agency of the United Nations (UN) specialising in civil aviation. Personally, outside of aviation, I’ve always been interested in activities that relate to discussions of a multitude of global issues; and I’ve always been following Model UN activities on social media. I felt reluctant to know that there was an international event dedicated to aviation. At that point of time, I had no hesitation in showing my interest for that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I believed that it was a great way to get myself up to speed with global aviation matters.

The 2nd Model ICAO Forum was held between the 12th and 14th of December as a side event of the Next Generation of Aviation Professionals (NGAP) Global Summit. The main purpose of the event as a whole was to discuss on numerous issues with regards to civil aviation as well as looking at ways to encourage and train the next generation of aviation professionals who are eventually going to play an essential part in the industry’s growth in the years to come. For the Model Forum specifically, it provides a platform for students to gain a deeper understanding of current global issues in aviation and in some aspects, diplomacy. In the previous year, the forum was held in ICAO’s headquarters in Montreal, Canada.

The registration process was pretty straight-forward. This included the application of VISAs, which I didn’t require, creation of a profile on ICAO’s website, and of course booking of flight tickets to the city itself. During the application process, students had to pick between 4 different topics of interest;

  1. Unmanned Aircraft Systems,
  2. Dangerous Air Cargo,
  3. The Socio-Economic Benefits of Air Transport, and
  4. Aviation Security.

I chose The Socio-Economic Benefits of Air Transport since generally, I was more familiar with the area as compared to the other three. After successful application, about 1-2 weeks before the event, I received the agenda for the 3 days, a guidebook, and lastly, a study package for my topic. Specifically for my topic, the package was slightly more than 50 pages long and consisted of a number of case studies and information which we had to acquaint ourselves with prior to the event itself. In the few days before my flight to Shenzhen, I had the chance to print out the study package, did a little reading and highlighted a number of important points and data from the package. It was a lot to digest within a small amount of time but it was manageable.

The Main Event

Day 1

My flight arrived in Shenzhen on the midnight of the first day of the event. A friend and I shared a taxi to get to our hotel located in the east part of the city. By the time we got everything settled down, it was already about 3am in the morning. After some sleep and breakfast, we boarded the bus at about 9am to the event location at a guesthouse located near the central area of the city. Before the event started at about 11, there was some time for a photo-taking opportunity at the entrance and so we didn’t miss that chance.

Me posing with the ICAO NGAP Global Summit 2018 poster. Photo: ICAO

This year, roughly 180 students from 27 universities in 28 different countries participated in the Model ICAO Forum. My university alone sent 16 people to participate in the activities.

The delegation representing Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Asia at the 2nd Model ICAO Forum. Photo: ICAO

The first activity of the day was the official welcoming to the model forum. There were a few opening remarks made by important officials including Ms. Fang Liu, the Secretary General of ICAO, and Mr. Yao, the Secretary General of the Chinese Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics (CSSA). This was followed by a short introduction to the city of Shenzhen and a number of keynote speeches to get ourselves familiar with the context of the activities we were going to participate in. Afterwards, there was a brief on what we were going to be expected to do in the Model ICAO Forum itself along with the guidelines. We were also introduced to the stream/topic leaders who were going to guide us during the duration of the model forum itself.

First panel discussion of the ICAO NGAP Global Summit 2018.

After lunch, we were guided to a large hall where the opening ceremony of the NGAP Global Summit would take place. The opening ceremony included welcoming remarks, announcements of a number of initiatives by various institutions including The Future Aircraft Designs Competition, and a number of signings between important training institutions and major companies including Airbus. After a coffee break, we got a chance to listen in to the first panel discussion of the event about how aviation is going to look like 20 years down the road. A panel discussion basically is a platform where 4 or 5 different speakers from different fields get a chance to present on their content related to the main topic of discussion, followed by a short discussion on what is presented, along with questions and answers. Personally, I found the initiatives taken to prevent UAVs from entering restricted airspaces by DJI rather interesting. For this bit, the representative from the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFACTA) gave a number of opinions which highlighted the frustration of drones being a hazard to air traffic.

The day’s events ended at about 5 in the evening, after which I decided to do a little bit of solo-exploring nearby the hotel. After a little bit of Googling, I found a shopping district/night market that I could visit which was 1-2 train subway stations away in Dongmen. There were a number of shopping and food options there (including China’s first McDonald’s) and I pretty much enjoyed myself.

A selfie in the centre of Dongmen Pedestrian Street, Shenzhen, China.

Day 2

On Day 2, our shuttle bus left earlier at roughly 8am for the event location. Basically, Day 2 was dedicated to the model forum’s activities itself so it was going to be quite packed for the day. At the hotel itself, we were already separated to our different streams, and our workgroups met directly at our designated rooms at the guest house where we saw each other’s faces for the first time.

The model forum functioned similarly to a competition. In each stream, there were four working groups with 10 members each of different fields and study. A surprise case study was given at the start of the day for the teams to work with. Every working group had only 3 hours to complete a solution to the case study. After which, the working groups had to present in front of a judging panel within a 15-minute time limit. The winning working group will get a chance to present the case study in front of a larger audience the following day where they will be judged for the best overall solution.

My work group engaged in a discussion. Photo: ICAO

It was quite a challenge. My group comprised of students from different nationalities including Germany, Hong Kong, Thailand, China, and Ghana, and are studying in different fields including Air Traffic Control, Aerospace Law, Aerospace Mechanics, and even International Trade. We only met for the first time and so we didn’t know one another’s strengths or weaknesses. In order to solve this, at the start of the discussion, we gave ourselves some time to digest the information from our given case study, gave brief introductions, and suggested how we personally could contribute to the team.

My work group listing out facts of the case study on a whiteboard.

Discussions could get pretty intense. Remember that we had to complete a presentation within 3 hours. We were cracking our heads on how we should approach this, and this is where our knowledge in different fields came into good use. Our case study was on the socio-economic effects of a new airport in Quito, Ecuador. For example, the pilots in our work group could relate to the implications of moving airline operations from one airport to the other, and the teammates who had knowledge in law and international trade could work out the implications in terms of law and economical benefits. We listed out the key information from the case study on a small whiteboard and connected the dots from there. For my work group, we split up the case study into different aspects of what we should cover and assigned them to pairs within the work group itself. That way, we could maximise our work efficiency.

My notes used at the discussion.

For my partner, June, and I, we had to research on the groups that are to benefit from having a new airport in Quito. On top of that, we had to evaluate how much of an impact the airports will have on these groups of people. Some of the examples include people who work in the agricultural sector as they would have better access to exports, and the residents in Quito who would face far less noise pollution as the old Quito airport was located in the centre of the city. Fortunately, we managed to use some useful examples from the initial case study package to back up our findings as well. At the end of the time we dedicated to research, we shared our findings with the other work group members and discussed on what information we should omit or include into the final presentation, and how they can inter-correlate with one another. By the time we started forming our presentation slides, there was very little time left before the actual judging started. Just a few minutes before, we were still frantically making final touch-ups to our presentation right outside the judging room.

Our nominated presenters, Erik and Sandra, presenting our work group’s findings.

For the judging process, our team was given only 15 minutes to present, and thanks to our 2 talented assigned presenters, Erik and Sandra, we pulled it off pretty well. The work groups were judged by 4 judges who were key people in the industry. After the presentation, there was a chance for a question and answer session which was probably the most stressful part of the judging process. It was during this time where people got a chance to clarify doubts or criticise some of the solutions that were presented by the different work groups.

Our team was the first to present so afterwards, we got a chance to listen to what the other work groups got to come up with and I must say that some of them were pretty creative. I was also surprised that some teams had the time to come up with very detailed analyses of the case study. Despite our work group’s efforts, we didn’t manage to win the first round but it was quite a fun experience. And a tiring one. Even though we didn’t bring home any prizes, we did eventually collect a limited-edition ICAO pin which I, personally, was pretty excited about.

The day ended a little later; about 6 in the evening. I wasn’t the kind of person to stay in my hotel so I went out with a couple of my newly-made friends from my work group and brought them to where I visited the day before; Dongmen Pedestrian Street. Of course, we had a little bit of fun having some of the street food, getting to know more about each other, and ended the day with a hearty Chinese meal nearby our hotel.

Chinese dumplings and noodles for dinner.

Day 3

On the final day, the winning work groups from the respective streams had a chance at presenting in front of a larger audience. It was the first time getting to know findings from the other streams as well. While the judging process was meant to be set in a formal setting, some of the workgroups went creative with their presentations; even going to the extent of including some acting sketches. At the end, there was a photo-taking session and we broke off for lunch. For the second half the day, it was dedicated to the official closing ceremony for the NGAP where the winning stream work group was to be announced. For this year, the winning stream was the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and I’m happy to know that we had someone from Embry-Riddle to have contributed to the winning work group. The closing ceremony was a grand event with lights, music, prizes and everything. At the end of the ceremony, we had a chance to take a couple of photos to bring home as memories (or add to our CVs). Sandra and I had a golden opportunity to have a photo with the Secretary General of ICAO, Ms. Fang Liu.

Sandra and I with the ICAO Gen. Sec., Ms. Fang Liu. Photo: ICAO

After the event, I spent my last few hours in Shenzhen exploring the city including visiting an art district and climbing a hill overlooking the city itself.

A selfie from the top of Lianhuashan Park.

Wrapping Up

It was quite an exhilarating experience. Not only did the forum open my eyes up more to the aviation industry as a whole, but it also gave me a chance to travel, work with people from different backgrounds, and also make new friends abroad (whom I still do keep in touch with).

One final photo before we parted.

Personally, if these opportunities were to become readily available to anyone, I really do encourage people to participate. Below, you’ll find my vlog during my time in the forum.

My vlog during my time at the 2nd Model ICAO Forum in Shenzhen, China.

Not only do such opportunities come rarely, but they are also extremely beneficial for you especially in the long run. Overall, I would like to thank the organisers involved, ICAO, Embry-Riddle, and finally, my friends and college mates who made all of this possible.

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Introduction to the Javanese Script

Introduction

The Javanese script, or the Aksara Jawa, is a modern variant of the Brahmic Kawi script developed in Java in the 9th century. By the 17th century, the script is formed into the script that we see today. Due to a number of factors, since the 19th Century, the use of the Javanese script faced a decline, to be replaced by the Latin script. There have been numerous efforts to revive its use since then. Currently, the Javanese script is widely used for decorative or sholarly purposes. However, it is also noticeably used on a day-to-day basis occasionally as well. Personally, I have never been to Yogyakarta or Surakarta, Indonesia, however, if you were to look at a number of photos, you’ll be able to see the script’s use on street signs and on some notices. I have been to Bali though, and the interesting fact is that once you are used to the Javanese script, it’s pretty easy to pick up the Balinese script. Thus far, I have not seen many English tutorials on the Javanese script and that’s my main purpose of writing this post. Hopefully, one way or another, this will help those who are interested in learning more about the script and also contribute to the preservation of this aspect of Javanese culture.

I’m splitting this post up to 8 different sections: Consonants, Capital Letters, Pure Vowels, Loan Letters, Diacritics, Special Letters, Numerals, and finally, Punctuation. I’ve arranged them in a way such that it’s easier for you to learn with the more important sections and concepts at the front.

Also, a really quick way for you to pick up this script is getting a pen and paper and writing down the letters repeatedly. Either that, or learn how to write your name in the script itself.

Some things to be mindful of:

  • The Javanese script is written in Scriptio Continua. Just like other Brahmic scripts such as Thai, Burmese, or Lao, there are no spaces in between letters.
  • To give you an idea of what Javanese script is like in general, basically, letters and vowels can appear in the middle, the top, and at the bottom of the script.
  • All of the consonants by default end with an “a”.

Consonants (Wyanjana/ꦮꦾꦤ꧀ꦗꦤ)

Aksara (Root Consonants)

Let’s start off with the main letters or consonants of the script. We call the root consonants or the letters in the middle as Aksara. An example of a consonant is ꦲ (Ha). We’ll be playing a lot of ꦲ (Ha) throughout the post.

Pasangan (Connecting Form)

The pasangan is a modified form of the main Aksara, and is formed when the previous consonant ends without without a vowel or with a Pangkon (꧀). A Pangkon is a device that removes the “a” after a consonant. As mentioned previously, be default, all consonants end with an “a”. The pasangan can be located in the middle or the bottom of the script.

For example, the pasangan form of ꦲ (Ha) can be located on the second character ꦲ꧀ꦲ (Hha).

ꦲ + ꧀ + ꦲ = ꦲ꧀ꦲ

A Word about Noto Sans

Basically, the characters above are written in the default Google Noto Sans font (as of 2019 since fixes are being made). They have simplified the way the Javanese script looks like digitally from actual written forms by removing the front part of the characters. Don’t be surprised if some of the characters look different digitally.

On the left, is the written form. On the right, is Google’s Noto Sans.

Overview

So here is an overview of the consonants together with their pasangans in red. Throughout the entire post, pasangans will always be in red.

Capital Letters (Murda/ꦩꦸꦂꦢ)

The Javanese script is a weird world of exceptions. Capital Letters only apply to certain letters of the script, and there are only about 8 that you’ll have to memorize.

Murda are mainly used in names or foreign words, and do take note that they are not always placed at the front of a given word. They are only placed at the front of the word if the Capital Letter is available for that first letter. Otherwise, it will be used for the second letter. If the Capital Letter for the second letter is not available, it will be used for the third and so forth. If none of the letters are eligible to be converted to the Murda form, then there will be no Captial Letters used for that word. Murda letters are not allowed to end off with a pangkon (꧀).

Overview

Pure Vowels (Swara/ꦱ꧀ꦮꦫ)

Swara are normally used for foreign words or names, similar in the case with Murda. The good news is that Swara letters do not have pasangans.

Loan Letters (Rekan/ꦫꦺꦏꦤ꧀)

Rekan are letters that are used for words not native to the Javanese language. these letters are matched with the closest sounding consonant and adding “∴” at the top of the letters.

Overview

Diacritics (Sandhangan/ꦱꦤ꧀ꦝꦔꦤ꧀)

Sandhangan are used to modify the sound of consonants. As mentioned by default, all consonants end with an “a”. With diacritics, this can be changed. The vowels are placed in the dotted circles as seen below.

Overview

Examples

For this example, the Sandhangan will be in red.

Special Letters (Ganten/ꦒꦤ꧀ꦠꦼꦤ꧀)

As mentioned previously for Murda, the Javanese language has a number of odd special exempltions. An example would be the Ganten. For ꦫ (Ra) and ꦭ (La), when they are combined with ꦼ (e), they form ꦉ (Re) and ꦊ (Le). Notice that their base aksara have been changed respectively.

Overview

Numerals (Wilangan/ꦮꦶꦭꦔꦤ꧀)

Numerals are normally written in two Pada Pangkats or Colon Marks to avoid confuson with other letters. Most of them look similar with some of the consonant letters.

Overview

Punctuation (Tandha Maca/ꦠꦤ꧀ꦝꦩꦕ)

I have listed the important punctuation below for the script.

Conclusion

To conclude, hopefully this helps with your learning of the Javanese script! These graphics were extracted from my book, Gampang, avaialable here! However, I have made a PDF version avialable for free (and it will be up soon). In the book, I have added some additional graphics for each letter so that it’s easier for learning. And thats all for the Javanese script!

Publishing My First Application: Hourrency

Ever since I started working part-time alongside college, I started looking at prices as work hours. This was an effective way for me to budget my money and make sound decisions on spending on luxuries and needs. Looking at work hours as a form of currency did change my perspective of things. It made me think whether spending my money on a product was worth the hours of work I did to earn that same amount of money.

Years went by and I realized it was kinda inconvenient for me to constantly whip out my calculator before making a decision to buy a product. Thus, came an idea for me to code an application for myself so that I don’t have to keep opening my calculator app and trying to remember how much I was earning per hour at my job. However, I had just one problem. I didn’t know how to code.

Over the past couple of weeks, I overcame the biggest hurdle of making my idea a reality – which was to learn how to code. Through various guides and how-to-code applications, I learned how to find my way round Java as well as Android Studio. I spent sleepless nights squashing bugs and figuring out why my application didn’t work or kept crashing. After countless days and nights, I came up with a simple savings-goals application that keeps a list of stuff that the user want to save up for and allows the user to convert prices into work hours. On top of that, users are able to see how many shifts they’d have to work to be able to save up for the item. Well. Not bad for a beginner.

Hourrency Banner
Promotional Banner for Hourrency

I decided to name the application Hourrency. It’s like a combination of “Hour” and “Currency.” I spent hours on cleaning up the user interface to make sure that it’ll look comfortable on the users’ eyes. Over time, I’ll definitely add new features based on feedback, and I’m curious to know what you think! One thing I learnt from this experience is that doing something as simple as this is tedious and time-consuming and we probably owe it to the developers that take the time to develop the software that we take for granted day-to-day.

You can download the Android App here:

Get it on Google Play

Airplanes

His heart is melting,
from the warmth of the engines,
that take him off into the skies,
like the flare in her eyes.

And she’s stalling,
deep inside,
And in the March monsoon that’s coming,
she’s getting out of sight.

And in the name of the crosswinds of the Straits that meet,
and the South China Sea,
up high, he’s gliding through thousands of feet,
to ground the agony she sees.

But in the cold rough clouds that are bitter,
and it hurts it’s a distance to reach her,
he looked up to the stars at Orion in vain,
“Why can’t we just love like Airplanes?”

Love like Airplanes.

And When His Shield Broke

And there was once a boy from the East Coast. Who had dark brown eyes. And jet black hair, that covered his head like the branches of the palm trees from his hometown. With his black hair, he donned his black rectangular eyeglasses that complemented his lightly-tanned face like grills to a window. And he had a wide smile that never failed to frown be it in the darkest storms of the night or in the brightest sun of the day.

But what nobody else did know was that wherever he went, he would carry along his shield in the pocket of his dark blue jeans. He would carry it to school into his classes, downtown as he hung out with his friends, and into his bed when it gets cold after 10. His shield served as his only protection. His only protection from his enemies; the canon fire, the swords, and the torch arrows that lay siege to him every single day. And at the end of every attack, the shield would always remind him in an assuring and calming voice, “I will always be there to protect you.”

And by the belt of Orion in the equatorial night sky, and the monsoon clouds of the South China Sea, the shield never failed to defend the boy; the one person it unconditionally loved and supported for years. However, the love wasn’t surprisingly mutual. The two never looked eye-to-eye with each other. The boy was pretty much discarded by the cracks on the shield’s metal plate and the blows it took to make sure that he was able to breathe through life safely and soundly. And never did he ever thank the shield for its service to him as his protector because he knew the shield was merely observing its God-given responsibility.

But then came an unfortunate time, when the boy’s Golden Age had begun to fade away, and the invasions and attacks became stronger and stronger. And although the hordes came pounding and knocking on his walls, the shield held firm unwillingly to surrender. But as the walls begun to crumble, realisation hit the boy like a twenty-pound sledgehammer — the shield he held on to was not going to hold out any longer. In desperation, the boy closed his eyes and waved his shield in the air knowing that it was his only last line of defence against the invasion. Wave after wave the shield took the blows of longswords that mercilessly strike at it, and the arrows that puncture through its already cracked-filled weakened skin. And this was when not even hope and love could keep the shield together. And when a clamorous thud of canon fire was heard, the boy opened his eyes to only see ashes in his hands. The shield he had held firmly in his hands for years had been broken.

Danish Danial on the staircase shot.

And when his shield broke, nothing else could protect him from the continued attacks. And all he did was vigorously spread his arms, looking left and right in disarray trying to pick up the ashes of the shield and hoping that it would come back to shape. And all of this was pointless and the boy knelt down crying burning tears of hopelessness as the attackers crawled their way into his heart and begun hammering it down ferociously. As cracks expanded like creases to paper on his heart, and as spears impaled through like sticks to a fruit, the boy did nothing and only stood there hoping for a miracle to happen. As his heart was starting to break, the dark brown eyes had begun to turn blood red. His jet black hair that covered his head began to shed like trees in autumn. His eyeglasses dismantled into countless pieces. And for after a long time, his wide smile began to frown.

But he knew deep inside the very same heart of his, he shouldn’t let the attackers break him. He knew that if he just stood there, the cracks on his late shield’s metal plate and the arrow blows it took was all for nothing. And he didn’t want to disappoint the shield that loved and cared for him all of these years and continue the legacy that his shield fought and protected for.

And by the belt of Orion in the equatorial night sky, and the monsoon clouds of the South China Sea, he stood back up, clenched his fists and fought back the invaders. His enemies went down one by one, repelled away, and started to retreat. And as he saw the invaders run away like an army of ants from a gust of wind, he realised that all this while he was able to protect himself and he took his late shield all for granted. And finally he glanced at the ashes of his shield, with love and tenderness, and in the same calming voice, he replied, “I knew you were always there to protect me.”

The Fall Of Societies

PREFACE

Personal Dwellings

I have to disclaim that writing about the functionalities of communities ain’t my forté, and what I’m doing here is simply publishing right out of my alley. I’m no doctor nor professional analyst, for what most would call what those people do, but I’m just one of them who had been intrigued by this topic of study for a couple of years now, and I believe I wanna write down what I had found so far. I have to admit though that my thoughts can go all over the place so, some headings seem not to kinda link to each other. My language isn’t proficient as well to express my ideas.

An Introduction to Technology

It has become increasingly obvious to anyone that with the advent of rapid advancements in technology, our human-to-human interaction started to fall apart. These advancements in technology would essentially include the usual social media platforms we use everyday, the addictive mobile games that we have on our phones, and entertainment applications such as YouTube. These mobile applications are accessible anywhere so long as you still have some of that charge on your mobile phone. It is no doubt that in the oblivion of the masses of people utilising these, not only do they play a huge part in our modern lives, they also consume the social aspects of them. Well, if you are unaware of how troubling this is, if by any chance you are at the dinner table with your friends or family whilst reading this, I bet that a majority at the table are staring at their mobile screens at the current moment.

“I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” – Albert Einstein

Social Media

My Take

While I do agree that this advancement in technology brings some benefit in bringing our loved ones far away closer, at the same time, it does in a way push those close to us farther. Saying this, I still do believe that it is a double-edged sword starting to grow sharper on one side, and blunter on the other. This is something that I personally take as an extremely worrying issue because not only does it eat up our lives, it is starting to integrate into our lively routines as if it had always been. It is integrating to the point where we are dipping into an age where passion becomes only interest. Interest becomes routine. And routine becomes chore.

typical interior of smrt train

Take for example the role of social media for instance. I have to admit it’s something closer to me since I am a victim myself. Social media is a place where I find most of my comfort. On Facebook especially, I can find funny videos and pictures all at one go on my news feed, and Instagram where I can go all out creative with my photos. The problem here is that initially, from platforms that help me update my friends on what I’m currently doing, they turn into popularity-greed tools. With reference to the popularity idea, over time, social media start to appeal to the narcissistic side of people which start to grow and overwhelm them. This means that users don’t go to social media for information on their close ones’ well-being, but rather go there to check on the number of likes or followers they have. Contrary to some belief, these numbers do actually result in users worrying about the syntax of how these numbers grow and fall. It’s funny because eventually the amount of concern they put into these numbers grow to become much more significant than the amount of concern they put into the issues they are facing in real-life, and this is already an example of how social media is already starting to occupy a huge part of our lives. As a consequence, these users tend to post content that would get a lot of attention to maintain their “numbers”.

On Passion and Sincerity

Nowadays, content that would get a lot of attention are those that appeal to people’s pathos, or the emotional aspect. A really good example would be volunteer work. While volunteer work is a good thing, making it a big thing over on social media can spoil it. Taking reference to the idea of popularity, obviously, the insincerity of the person doing the work can be highlighted in the over-emphasising of the “good” work he or she had done in the bid to get more attention. This is an example of how passion subsides to become a chore. A chore in trying to attend as much volunteer work and get as much media coverage as possible to share it with people online. Social media does a great job in a way in creating a barrier where people pretend to be someone they are not. How does this contribute to the fall of a society? Well, if social media already set the trend, we can only expect more “insincerities” in the next generation thereafter, and we can only watch this tradition grow. This is a bad thing especially if we want to see a harmonious community in the future connected by strong passion and belief to help one another in terms of volunteer work.

With relation to content-making, in the light of a couple of funeral events for the past few years, you can see huge numbers of people whipping out their phones to record almost every single moment of the funeral. This is starting to be sort of the trend now, and it’s sad because the tradition and the elements of sorrow and forlorn in the funeral service would just eventually disappear over time. Life will just turn into one whole concert. The problem here is that once a community abandons its traditions, you can only expect its downfall.

“Social media sites creates an illusion of connectivity .” – Malay Shah

Human Interaction

On Comparison

In the past year, my family and I went on trips to a couple of cities overseas which included Bali (well it’s technically an Island), Busan, and Seoul. For me, there was a really huge contradiction between these cities, and it came to me as a big surprise.

Bali

Bali, the most technologically underdeveloped region among the three, consists of quite a number of villages that are still trapped behind time amidst all of the development of the top-tiered cities of the country. We cycled down Mount. Kintamani and followed a tour where we passed by a couple of traditional Balinese villages and communities. It was quite a heart-warming experience. As we passed by houses, children and people would come out and flail their arms in the air and greet us, and this happened not only in a particular single community, but multiple communities as we cycled down the roads. We would also see kids running around the fields and pathways playing their own mini games as they should be, and grown ups grinning at them as they play.

balinese man construcing balinese village house.jpg

It is quite evident here that instilled in every villager here is the sense of community, working together to get through with life affairs, and at the same time, striving to become happy while doing so. It’s surprising that they don’t need the help of technology in doing so.

Busan

Moving on to Korea, we visited the cities of Busan and Seoul. Although both of the cities are situated in the same country, the two cities do differ quite significantly in a number of ways. For Busan, I noticed that there was a higher percentage of elderly people as compared to Seoul. Keeping in mind the higher proportion, usually, we would assume that the elderly are not the kind of IT savvy group of people, and so largely, Busan’s population is not really hyped with all of the technology. In the subways of Busan, I had a very unique commuting experience. Most of the commuters didn’t really have their phones with them. Instead, they would talk to the person next to them and ask about how they’re doing, how they’re coping with life, and sometimes, they would share stories of their own as well. As an added bonus, there were multiple times when the elderly would actually offer to have my youngest sister on their laps throughout the train journeys and I thought that it was something very sweet.

I remember finally getting a seat next to this elderly man after standing for a long period of time. Well, I was minding my own business staring blankly towards the floor when he started gently tugging my black glove that I was wearing on my left hand. In my head I was thinking, “What is this guy trying to do?”

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I mean it was out of nowhere and I didn’t know the man at all. So I turned my head towards him with the “confused-stare” look and he immediately asked me with a smile in a soft, frail voice, “Cold?” I replied with a simple nod of the head.

He went on to ask, “Where you are from?”

“Singapore,” I acknowledged.

With a heart-warming grin on his face, “Welcome in Busan.”

He continued by asking for my age and he started talking about the things that he did when he was my age. He also shared about his work life and stories when he was transitioning into his work life. It was evident he was not proficient in English but he did make the effort to form coherent sentences for me to understand. I went ahead to ask for his age and to my surprise, for such a fit looking person, he claimed that he was 72 years of age. For me the fact that he was 72 is surprising for me since he probably saw the war happened when he was a kid.

After a little bit of story sharing, the train finally reached his intended stop. He gave a small bow, stepped outside of the train onto the platform, and waited for the train to leave. Only when the train left, he gave a small bow and waved at me with the same heart-warming grin on his face.

I guess I can say that what really made my trip here in Busan memorable was the people. How they made me feel like I’m no stranger here, and made no one else feel like a stranger here. I really do believe that the impact the people and then culture left on me here is really something that I will not forget for a long time.

Seoul

Seoul is probably a city that I would safely compare with Singapore. A city going through rapid development, having a very tech-savvy population, and behind the concrete urban jungle, there’s all sorts of cultural elements. To my shock, when I arrived in Seoul from Busan, I notice that there was a change in culture, I would say. It had begun to remind me of Singapore. Commuters all focused on their mobile screens. I didn’t at all have the same experience and hospitality that I received in Busan (not that I expected really).

Precision

On The Smallest Of Things

Thanks to analog, we now have good degree of precision be it in calculation or checking the time. In precision, we tend to care for the smallest of digits, and the smallest of things, and in this, we make the smallest of things look big, in a way. Sadly, while precision does have its benefits, we human tend to take the psychology and thinking from this and apply it wrongly to real-life. Take the time to scroll down Facebook and read the comments sections of articles that mainly talk about “new measures” or “new initiatives”. Even if the article talks about initiatives that actually benefits the community and public, there are bound to be comments that actually find a way in complaining about the matter. This growing culture of complaining is worrying since it is drowning out the amount of appreciation that we have for the good things that we have currently, and this is just something that deviates us from the golden principles and traditions that we had.

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Fin

What This Means

I read this article on The Straits Times last week about how Singapore isn’t the same as it was back in the 1960s. It described how development destroyed the “kampung spirit” that we have in Singapore. In a way, this can be attributed to the advancements in technology that we are currently experiencing. How so? As I described, technology such as social media plays a part in drenching our minds in self-interest, and it is this self-interest that leads to the breaking up of communities. Along with this, without us knowing, it invites us to slowly walk away from our past traditions, as well as moral values.

So What

We need to pay attention and study the human-to-hardware interaction, and make ourselves understand that whatever happens in the hardware itself is something separate from how we get through with our lives. In gaming terms, it’s sorta like an extra DLC to a game. In order for our next generation to not be consumed by such a technology, we need to make them understand the ethics and morals of such technology usage in a bid to not allow them to be faced with these extra negative side-effects.

If this were to continue, in the future, we can only see ties of kinship be severed, and people will only free those whom they only know, and we will witness the fall of societies.

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Publishing Little Gray Dot

After a long school term,

I’M BACK.

Well, life at school had been quite hectic. Submitting assignment after assignment, and it seemed as if I didn’t really have time to do the other things that I loved to do, including blogging. It’s finally the summer holidays and I am looking forward to the long 2 months of relaxation ahead of me!

During one of the weeks of the school term, I suddenly had this whole crazy idea of publishing a book. Well, it’s crazy because number 1, I suck at writing. Number 2, I’m still quite too young to publish a full fledged book. However, just recently, I saw that dream came true for me, and that dream was the Little Gray Dot photo-book.

At the end of the term, I compiled all of my notes together and stitched them together to form pages of little paragraphs to accompany my photos. Afterwards, I started choosing the photos that I really liked to go into the book. To be specific, the photos were street and cityscape photography that I had taken over the past few years since I started my interest in the field of photography. I really feel that this book would work because I doubt that nobody out there have ever stitched together a nice little book comprising of photos that weren’t even captured using professional cameras. That’s another double-edged sword thing because I realised that the quality of the photos won’t look as great as well… however I just went with the risk.

Singapore Skyline

The aim of the book is to show people around the world a different perspective of Singapore. Most people think that Singapore is a very typical city, however, I believe otherwise. Under the rapid development and behind the concrete jungle, there are things in between that people tend to miss that makes Singapore, Singapore. Those little things are what I like to call things that contribute to the diversity of the society of the city that I live in.

For the cover page, I managed to choose this picture of the Singaporean skyline that I took from the rooftop of a residential block. I spent a few hours designing the cover page as well as testing out what fits. Afterwards, I went ahead to choosing how many pages I wanted and so, I stick to about 100 pages since it fitted nicely within my budget. Then comes the tricky part of how I wanted to place my photos. This took me a few days because I couldn’t perceive how large the photos would look in real life. The other part of the book I had to complete is the writing bit. Well, this didn’t take me long because again, I basically just stitched up my past writing work into paragraphs.

Cardboard collector in Telok Ayer.

After a few days of hard work, I finally did it. I published my first book ever. And I am really excited to hear responses from the public on my book! It’s exciting because I know I’m a guy who loves to hear criticism from people and through that, I can improve myself! Nevertheless, this is definitely a milestone in my life and something that I would definitely look back to in the future.

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You can find the book below!

Siemens C651 Memory Project

AHOY TO ALL TRAIN ENTHUSIASTS!

According to a few sources on the internet, as well as The Siemens C651 Train Fact Page on SGTrains, the Siemens C651 trains running on the East-West and North-South lines are going to undergo a refurbishment and upgrading process. This process involves changing the look of the train, interior and exterior, as well as changing the engines (WHICH MEANS THAT THE MELODIOUS TUNE IS GOING TO GO!).

I believe that for most of us, we regard this train as something that’s very dear to us; the yellowish-stained interior, the unique tune it has to its engines, the original white and red livery it has. Ever since I was little, I get really excited once I catch such a treasure because again, I really like the melodious tune of the train engine and the unique look it has as compared to the other trains. For me, personally, I know that I am going to miss the train in the future once they’ve all been refurbished with completely new looks.

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ALRIGHT SO…

For the past few months I have been working on a personal project to archive some images and videos of this particular train after hearing that it’s going to undergo refurbishment for the next few years. Only now, I decided to open up to the public to share pictures and videos of your own and probably share your own stories with this particular train, well, since it going to be a “completely new train” once it’s all refurbished.

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I am interested to see what all of you can come up with. It can be some sick serious photography work or like a picture of yourself with the particular train. If the response is really good I might actually feature a few pictures on my Facebook page for your viewing pleasure. On top of that I might actually create a forum thread in the future on SGTrains on this particular project and see how it goes. In the meantime you can always send the photos through the Facebook messenger, or email them to danishdanial@danishdanialbinanuar.com, or post your stories on the SGTrains thread!

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The other reason as to why I started up this project is because I want the future generation of train enthusiasts to know what trains were like in our current time. My secondary objective is to also encourage creativity among the public. Anyways, I really hope that this project will go better as planned as compared to my other public projects and I’m waiting to hear from all of you soon. (:

As always, time is ticking.

Facebook | SGTrains Forum Thread

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Tempeh In A Pot Of Kimchi

So.

After 3 years with my phone, it died of the cold here in Seoul. All of my work, projects and photos went with it. However, I looked at this more of an eye-opener rather than a… erm… loss. I mean from what I learnt in Busan, not having a phone actually made me realise the importance of disconnecting with the virtual world and re-connecting with the real world. I was able to appreciate every moment and every second of my time here in this vibrant city.

Anyways, like I said, I lost most of the pictures I took here (coincidentally, ALL of them were pictures of food) in Seoul, and as a substitute for my phone, I brought along my MacBook Pro and used the front facing camera to take photos. So, I’m sorry if the quality of the photos degrade as you scroll down this post.

THROWN INTO THE POT

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It was about a 2-hour bus ride from Pyeongchang to Dong-Seoul Bus Station where we rode a taxi to our little motel in Hyehwa. The long journey was painful but the sights and views as we went along actually helped alleviate the strenuosity of sitting in a tight, confined seat for a long time.

My first impression of Seoul was that it was a City of Bridges. I mean… it’s kinda hard to miss a bridge here. Well, they have to build the bridges to link up both sides of the Han river that cuts through the city core. There are bridges of all kinds ranging from suspension bridges, to regular beam ones. Most of them have eye-popping architectural features that make them stand out in the city skyline.

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PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

As always, the subway is a popular choice of public transportation for tourists. Like we did in Busan, we did face some complications using the subway system for the first time. I’ll just list some tips here in case you want to know how to get around some of those problems.

  • When entering the gates, tap once and enter immediately. I was confused the first time because when I first saw the gates fully opened the first time, I thought the gate was faulty.
  • If you were rejected entry after tapping (like me the first time), go over to the wheelchair gate, and press the “HELP” button (or a huge button there).
  • Make sure you take note of our destination station, and take note of the next station after your station of departure that is in the direction towards your destination station. This is so that you enter the right platform when you tap in the gates since the most of the platforms are separated.
  • If you happen to enter the wrong platform, tap out, and proceed to point number 2.
  • Remember to get your refunds for your single use cards.

…and here’s a remix of Seoul’s Subway announcements I did when I was bored.

Alright. Now that’s out of the way…

I feel that there is a huge different in environment and culture here in Seoul’s Subway as compared to Busan’s. Like I said in my blog post about my experience in Busan, smartphones seem to disconnect people from the real world which takes away opportunities to socialise with people and getting to know one another. In a developed and hectic city like Seoul, of course people have to be stuck to their phones to keep up with… “important” matters.

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Once again, it’s a developed and hectic city. So, I expected a lot of traffic going through the system which means that peak hours were a “blast.” Like really. I pulled my hair out looking at the crowds that swarmed through the stations.

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Did I have to stand for long periods of time? Surprisingly not! There were actually many kind citizens that gave up their seats to us tourists!

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Oh yeah. We had to walk quite a bit in the underground link-ways that connected the different lines in interchanges.

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Surprisingly, there little shops that actually sell food are common along those link-ways. It came as a shock to me because in Singapore, food and drinks are not allowed to be consumed in the subway. Other than food, goods that are sold include apparel, toys, and even fruits!

COMMIES IN SIGHT

On our third day here, we got DMZ (The Korean Demilitarized Zone) train tickets to take us towards Dorusan, which is the northern-most station in Seoul. We simply got the tickets at the main ticket counter at Seoul Station. It takes about 2 hours to get there.

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Dorusan is located in the DMZ Zone, which is a buffer zone that separates North and South Korea. It was created in an agreement in 1953 during the Cold War. It is considered to be one of the most dangerous places on Earth since both the North and the South have never signed a peace treaty. So basically, while you’re on tour there, bombs and rockets can start to fly and bombard out of the blue.

Sadly, we only stayed around Imjingak, which was the station before Dorusan. At Imjingak, there was a carnival (I thought it’s kind of weird) and a couple of tourist attractions which include a bunker that showcased art from the Korean War, and an observatory that allows you to peek into the opposite side of the border.

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There were also a couple of monuments to honour those that died protecting South Korea against the communists from the North.

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I think what I learnt from my trip to the DMZ was that actually, behind all of the “aggression”, the Koreans one day long to re-unite the two Koreas under one flag.

And actually… I made this post on Facebook…

Interestingly… if you walk around the souvenir shops, if you look closely at the maps and the globes that they sell, especially the ones that are made in Korea, the entire Korean Peninsula is combined into a single nation, with Pyongyang and Seoul as twin capitals. One day, the people hope that someday… Korea will be united under a single flag

THE OUTSKIRTS

So… to Everland we go… It was quite a distance actually. We had to book a taxi to get here. Everland is basically a theme park with loads of attractions which were unfortunately closed due to the bad weather. …and the weather literally turned Everland into EVERLAND. I mean it takes you to a different place when the heavy fog kicked in.

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Of course we wouldn’t end the day without fireworks!

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STREETS

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Like I always say, my favourite part of the trip is to sit by the side and watch how people carry out their normal lives, and you can pretty much find all of these in the streets. It can be a really fascinating place to understand better one’s culture.

For me, I understand culture not only from the “people”, but also from studying architectural structures. You can find this wall entrance at Dongdaemun.

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…and this is the Lotte Tower which is under construction.

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…and some other buildings…

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Here… we explore deeper into the minor lanes and streets…

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Like in Busan, cardboard collectors were a common sight.

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Well, after 10 days in Korea, I can say it was an exhilarating experience. For more pictures from Seoul, you can head over to my VSCO Grid!

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The Stronghold Of Busan

HISTORY

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Busan, located at the South-Eastern tip of the Korean Peninsula, is widely known by historians as the city that bore the brunt of the Communist Invasion by North Koreans in August of 1950. While the rest of Korea was subdued under Communist control, the tide of the Korean war depended on the defence of this last remaining city. Of course, the UN was successful in pushing back North Korean forces in the September of 1950. Well, considering the fact that this only happened 65 years ago, which is relatively not too long ago, I was excited to see for myself the scars left behind by the Korean War since I’m a history junkie.

 

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

It was about a 7 hour plane ride after a few-hour transit in Kuala Lumpur. From the airport, we took the subway to our little motel in Haeundae, where we stayed for the next 3 days. For the most part of our trip in Busan, we used the subway to get to places, and this is probably a much better option than taxi or bus if you really wanna get to know more about the culture and the people here.

In this city, it seems that a high percentage of the demography go to the elderly since I pretty much see a lot of old people everywhere. Well, my first impressions of the people here are great! Especially the elderly. From what I observe, they must really love children since on almost every train ride they go, they would invite my 6 year old younger sister to sit on their laps, and they would play with her, or give her a treat or two.

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To be honest, subway rides can be a little boring and strenuous. Especially when you have to travel long distances or you have to transfer train lines a couple of times (which means that you can’t sleep for the entire duration of the journey). However, my experience in the subway here is way different than what I normally have in the MRT back in Singapore. Keep in mind that most of the people are the elderly, and of course, they are not the tech-savvy group of people who would stick their faces to their smartphones (which I highly doubt they own) playing Candy Crush or fishing likes over at Instagram. Instead, train rides are opportunities for them to socialise, get to know others, and share stories.

I remember finally getting a seat next to this elderly man after standing for a long period of time. Well, minding my own business staring blankly towards the floor when he started gently tugging my black glove that I was wearing on my left hand. In my head I was thinking, “What is this guy trying to do?”

I mean it was out of nowhere and I didn’t know the man at all. So I turned my head towards him with the “confused-stare” look and he immediately asked me with a smile in a soft, frail voice, “Cold?”

I replied with a simple nod of the head.

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He went on to ask, “Where you are from?”

“Singapore,” I acknowledged.

With a heart-warming grin on his face, “Welcome in Busan.”

He continued by asking for my age and he started talking about the things that he did when he was my age. He also shared about his work life and stories when he was transitioning into his work life. It was evident he was not proficient in English but he did make the effort to form coherent sentences for me to understand. I went ahead to ask for his age and to my surprise, for such a fit looking person, he claimed that he was 72 years of age. For me the fact that he was 72 is surprising for me since there is a high possibility that he saw the war happened when he was a kid.

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After a little bit of story sharing, the train finally reached his intended stop. He gave a small bow, stepped outside of the train onto the platform, and waited for the train to leave. Only when the train left, he gave a small bow and waved at me with the same heart-warming grin on his face.

Who knew the subway can be an interesting place!

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I notice that here, there are quite a number of Christian Missionaries too, preaching at entrances.

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MARKETS

In Busan, the best place to try seafood would be at the World-Famous Jagalchi Market at Nampo. It offers a wide variety of seafood that you can take away or that can be cooked on the spot by the stalls there. However, Winter isn’t the best time to look for seafood since most of the seafood isn’t available during the season. Due to the limited selection, I didn’t actually try the seafood since (fun fact) I don’t like to eat Crustaceans; but my other family members seemed to enjoy it.

We visited a couple of different markets selling all sorts of things from clothes, to food. I think the most interesting thing I noticed was the street food. Usually, you would buy the food at the stall, and then walk away with the food, or there are tables for you to actually enjoy the food; but here, they prepare the food for you, and then you consume the food on the same table while standing. I have no idea what I tried that day (it was good though) but it seemed to be some form of “vegetable pancake” sort of thing (I’m not a foodie so yeah). And of course who would forget the Kimchi. To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of Kimchi before I visited Korea; this absolutely changed my perception of this dish.

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For some reason, I really do enjoy the being in the environment of a wet market. Seeing the hustle and bustle of it, people calling out to each other, neighbouring stall owners joking with one another, it feels like you’re in a vibrant and colourful place.

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As I walked down into the corridors, I noticed that majority of the stalls sold Kimchi, and there were many different ways to prepare them. This whole time I thought Kimchi was like a single dish on its own (again not a foodie). There were some mixed in with fish or even crab.

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Apparently the people here are like really hyped up about churros because you can really find them literally everywhere.

SIGHTSEEING

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On our last day here, went sightseeing around town in a tour bus, and later on, in an open-top bus. The tour bus went through a couple of hills where we got sort of like a bird’s-eye view of the shores of Busan, and also a little bit of nature.

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We unexpectedly stopped by an aquatic museum of some sort since the bus driver wanted to have his lunch. In the museum, were displays of preserved fish and live fish in little aquariums. There was also a small bay next to it where fishermen just do their thing.

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Later on, we transferred to an Open-Top bus at BEXCO to do some sightseeing. The temperatures was about 10 Degrees Celsius, and it sounded like a bad idea to sit in an open area when the bus is moving at such a high speed, but it was all worth the fun. Instead of being just a mundane bus ride, it somehow “transforms” into a roller coaster ride when cold wind gush into your face at high speeds. On top of that, there were breathtaking views too.

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STREETS

It gets dark like really early around say… 6:00pm, and so there isn’t really much to do at night except to just watch the people of Busan carry on with their normal lives. Well, I did a little bit of experiment with long exposure on my phone’s camera and it produced some spectacular results!

Anyway, the most interesting part of my stay here is watching the people of Busan carry on with their normal lives. I mean it’s something I really do appreciate; seeing people load carts off carts, children playing “catching” with one another, couples teasing each other, and you can find all of these on the streets.

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…and we have construction workers too.

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…little children going on field trips.

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Apparently, here, cardboard collectors are a common sight too.

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I guess I can say that what really made my trip here in Busan memorable was the people. Like how they made me feel like I’m no stranger here. I really do believe that the impact the people left on me here is really something that I will not forget for a long time.

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For more pictures from Busan, do head over to my VSCO Grid!

 

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