North Korea

North Korea is the best example for having a controlled media by the political party. We all have an idea about what is going on in the country but no one really knows the truth. I wanted to learn more about it, so I tried to find as much information and attractions I can. When you search up North Korea on the internet and how the travelling works, there aren’t many websites that show us what is great about the country. There are photos of black and white buildings and some blogs people have that talk about their own experiences but it’s hard to find any information or photos of how it really looks like.

Travelers are allowed to come into the country, but the North Koreans are not allowed out. We only know what the political party tell us which is usually not the truth but we find the truth from the very few lucky people that were able to escape the country. It is truly tragic and breaks my heart to hear about what they have to go through and how they lived there lives in North Korea. They talk about how they are taught to love their leaders and to put their leaders before anyone else at a very young age. There was a very sad story, about a young boy that over heard his mother and brother talking about escaping. He was taught that if you hear anything about running away or anything of that sort than you have to tell your teachers and you will be rewarded with food. He didn’t know what the consequences would be and he didn’t really think anything of it. His mother and brother were murdered in front of his face and he didn’t get rewarded. They don’t know anything that is going on outside of North Korea, because they aren’t allowed to communicate with anyone outside. There is no internet, television that has broad castings from outside North Korea, cell phones and radio. They have television and radio that brainwashes them even more about how the political party is great and to love your country. They eat very little with hardly any nutrition. The worst of it all is if they do something bad or were born in the wrong family they are sent to a camp. In these camps they are tortured, treated brutally and are basically slaves that work all day. These camps has no television at all and receive even less food than the normal people get.

I have always been very fascinated by North Korea because I believe that it would be a great experience to gain. I’ve read a few blog about different people traveling to North Korea, and many of them said the same things. To go to North Korea, you have to travel through a tour company; they will not allow you to travel on your own. They say that once you arrive on the plane, the sturdiest tries to get information out of you by asking plenty of questions about what do you do, why you are travelling to North Korea, what did you bring, how long you are staying and the list goes on. He said that once landed any phones or laptops are not allowed in the country, so they have to leave them at the airport. I think this is very scary because what if anything happens to you, how are you suppose to contact for help or even communicate with the outside world. That is the whole point; they don’t want you to communicate with the world. They also talk about how you are not allowed to take photos of the people but only photos of yourself and the background; if you decide to and an officer sees you, you can go to jail. The tours are only allowed to show you certain parts of the main city but everything else is restricted area. Everything you do there you are being watched or patrolled. It raises the question of why is everything so secretive? what are they hiding?

It’s interesting because doesn’t this remind you of the novel 1984 or the NAZI period? We need to step in and help these people before its too late. Its sad to know that our government, countries around the world and even the United Nations have an idea of whats going on in North Korea but are just sitting there and allowing it to happen. We need to learn our mistakes from the past and to prevent these things from happening again!


Decieving Media

When we are travelling to other countries, we are so unaware of certain laws and regulations. Ones that can get us into massive trouble. For instance, in China, there are boundaries that travellers cannot cross. These boundaries are the ones that the North Koreans cross to escape the country’s communist regime. There was an incident that happened in March 2009. Laura Ling went to China and without knowing crossed one of these unknown boundaries. She was there to report on the North Koreans who were attempting to escape. She was not just taken and locked up. She was violently attacked by the soldiers that caught her. They were taken to a North Korean prison and were held captive there for 140 days. Laura’s sister, Lisa Ling (The Oprah show correspondent), fought to get her sister back home safely. Laura and her colleague even had a guide that was taking them around and making sure that they were safe. Their guid seemed to be very aware of all of the surroundings up until that point. There were no signs up anywhere to be seen, making it impossible for anyone to know that the area was forbidden. The two innocent women were kicked in the face by the gaurds and they were dragged accross the frozen river back into North Korea after running back to China. Laura was hit in the head by one of the gaurds with a rifel and she blacked out. Laura’s sister tried for ages to get them released, but there was no use. They eventaully were released, but after 140 days of the two of them being stuck in a 5-by-6 cell. This just goes to show how unfair certain governments are. Two innocent people were beaten and taken into captive for crossing over a non existent border line.

More of the story below:

Egyptian Vacation?


I have always been interested in visiting Egypt, mostly to see the Pyramids, learn about the history of the Egyptians, and to see a part of Africa. I have learned about the pyramids, the sphinx and Cleopatra all through elementary school and a little as a grade eight in high school, therefore all I knew about Egypt was the famous landmarks and people who lived in ancient Egypt. No one I knew when I was younger had visited Egypt so I could not even ask my friends what it was really like. Until I saw Egypt on a travel show in grade 8, I always thought the grand pyramids were in the middle of the dessert, untouched by tourists, and preserved by the native Egyptians. I found out that was not the case, the pyramids are in the center of a city called Cairo, and are bordered by pizza huts and housing. The sand around the pyramids is covered in garbage and does not look like it does in the post cards. Later on in my high school years I met a girl who was Egyptian, but had moved here when she was four, so she did not really know what Egypt was like. She went later on to visit her relatives, but went to a poor village where she was from, she never saw the pyramids, visited Cario, or went to the tourist attractions. This did not give me any indication of what the tourist part of Egypt was really like, because I had never experienced anyone who has been there. Now that I am older, all I hear about Egypt is on the news, and it is plastered with war and violence. The news has covered stories about Mubarak being the dictator of Egypt and the army siding with the people over Mubarak and finally he was forced out of the county. The army was then in control of the government, and promised the people an election.  They had an election and Morsi won, creating a “new democracy.” In between all of the army and elections, there were many riots that were shown on the news and in the newspapers. Replacing the beautiful pictures of what I had been taught about Egypt and filling them with guns and riots. Either the country itself has changed in the time span of my childhood, into a place with more violence, or because I didn’t watch the news or read newspapers as a child, I had no clue what Egypt was really like. So the only way to really know for myself what Egypt is really like is to go to there myself and see. Therefore now I am stuck with the choice of going to Egypt to explore what I had wanted to as a child, or believe what the media is showing me and maybe pick a different destination for my long awaited vacation.

Festivals Around the World

       Famous festivals and celebrations around the world are practiced by the country, but are known all around. Celebrations like “Festival” in Rio, “Chinese New Year” in China, and the “Oktoberfest” in Germany, all started in different centuries, but all have significant meaning. Festival in Rio started in the 1700’s, Oktoberfest in the 1800’s, and the Chinese New Year in the 1900’s. Each celebration is unique to the county of origin, though countries like Canada have adopted these practices and have had similar alterations to them. “The Festival [in Rio] was considered the most important religious celebration in nineteenth-century” (Abreu, 2005). The Brazilians celebrate the festival with parades, like the Samba Parade, balls, street parties, and bands (Franco and Isabel, 2013). In Quebec they also celebrate Mardi Gras which is a religious festival that is also connected with Carnival. Even though it originated in Brazil, Canada has adopted this celebration and rejoices the festival here. When With alcohol, partying, and celebrations, this festival is known all around the world to be one of the most colourful and upbeat. Another festival with a variety of colour and tradition, is the Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, is a massive celebration for Korean, Vietnamese and other East Asian cultures. The holiday celebrates the New Year, but not the way that we do. It is based on the cycles of the moon. This celebration is a time for family’s to be united and a time for the family to pass the New Year season as a collective group. Preparation for this tradition occurs a while before the actual day. The families emphasize keeping peace between each other so that everyone can enjoy the reunion meal when the time comes (Tan, 2001). It has become a part of the Canadian culture also. We have adopted many of the traditions that these cultures express during this time of year. Vancouver is known for being multicultural which means that we have to adapt to different cultures and assume new traditions that are brought to our attention. We have big celebrations in the downtown core to show that we are involved in the culture that we have taken in. Canada’s adopting of the festivities that come along with this celebration has made it easier for the Eat Asian cultures to fit in and feel at home. Every culture adopts different traditions that they strongly believe in. Living in a multicultural society allows us to also adopt these different traditions and celebrate the ones that we choose to. It is a great way to open your mind to all of the different cultures and really see how cultures that are not your own celebrate and enjoy life.  One country’s citizens enjoy their lives in a significant manner.  For the people of Munich, Germany this sense of satisfaction is received through large amounts of alcohol and oxen.  With the marriage of the crowned prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen on October 12th, 1810, one of the largest and most intoxicating festivals known as Oktoberfest was born.  While over 200 years have passed, this party stills lives on, including litres of beer and pounds of oxen still being distributed in vast quantities to a demanding public.  Marked as the world’s largest fair, Oktoberfest is an entertaining and attractive way to celebrate Bavarian traditions and cultures.  The true Oktoberfest is always held at Theresienwiese which consists of 103 acres where, “more than six million visitor who consume roughly six million litres of beer, 80,000 litres of wine and 100 oxen.” (Kasey, 2010) Meet to celebrate this centuries old tradition.  Not only is it free entrance into Oktoberfest but it is also forbids sponsorships (with the exception of the Munich breweries) which makes it quite impressive with a revenue of 450 million Euros generated within the fair grounds.  The Schottenhamel tent, one of thirteen other beer halls is where Oktoberfest officially kicks off.  This tradition begins with the lord mayor of Munich tapping the first keg on the first Sunday at noon while calling out “Ozapft is!” (“It’s tapped!”).  Once this tradition has occurred the beer may flow.  To really get the full sense of this celebration, outside the fair grounds are vendors who sell traditional attire such as lederhosen for the boys and dirndls for the ladies; a word of warning for visitors though, change rooms are slim, if not non-existent.  Oktoberfest extravaganzas are held throughout the world celebrating this 200 year old tradition. However none can grasp the levels of intensity, intoxication and excitement than the true Oktoberfest festival held in Munich Germany, has to offer.

Paige Chapman, Matthew Black, and Nicole Samson

                                                              Work Cited:

Abreu, M. (2005). Popular culture, power relations and urban discipline: The festival of the holy spirit in Nineteenth‐Century rio de janeiro. Bulletin of Latin American Research, 24(2), 167-180. doi: 10.1111/j.0261-3050.2005.00130.x
Coholan, K. (2010). Oktoberfest: Munich. Canadian Business, 83(16), 85.

Ford, R. L. (2005). Get involved in the Lunar New Year. Public Relations Tactics, 12(1), 6.

Franco, R. S., Isabel, V. (2013). Rio Carnival. The guide for Carnival  in Rio de Janeiro.
Shirley Lewis. (1998). Dragon new year: A chinese legend. Bowie: E L Kurdyla Publishing LLC.

Tan, B. S. (2001). The Contextualization of the Chinese New Year Festival. Asia Journal Of Theology, 15(1), 115.

The significance of festivals to rural economies: Estimating the economic impacts of scottish highland games in north carolina. (2003). Journal of Travel Research, 41(4), 421-427. doi: 10.1177/0047287503041004012

Western Culture influences Asian Society

The diversity in Canada ranges from all different types of races and backgrounds. As of 2013, Canada is one of the most well known multicultural countries in the world today(CBCNEWS, 2003). Out of the 1.8 million immigrants that arrived in Canada from 1991-2001, 58 percent were from Asia. (CBCNEWS, 2003) There is a China town in downtown Vancouver, hundreds of Asian markets scattered around the country, Asian communities and schools built within these past 50 years. We all know that Asian culture has recently made big influences on western culture, but Western culture has also recently made a great impact on Asian culture as well.

Western Culture has made a huge influence on the Asian society after World War 2(Thompson, 2011). The rate of travelers coming to Asia has increased and the Asian culture has been more modernize than before.(Thompson, 2011)  Many people in Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, and many other countries have the desire to look Caucasian and be more westernized by eating westernized foods. As a child, I have always been told by my parents that white, light skin, big eyes, tall and skinny was considered beautiful.Korea holds the title of having the highest rate of plastic surgery in the world(Holiday). Both men and women get surgery to make their eyes bigger, jaw lines defined, bigger lips, higher cheekbones, and bleaching of the skin to be whiter(Dolnick, 2011).  It’s amazing to see what plastic surgery can do to a person. Where do they get these ideas of what is beautiful and what is not?  We see that most of the famous people in the world carry these traits.  The media makes a big influence on what many people consider as beautiful. These people are fascinated by Western culture and they see all these beautiful people on television looking this way and they want to look just like them. Western culture has also influenced Asia by the food they eat. 50 years ago, you would never be able to find a McDonalds in China, now there are hundreds of McDonald’s restaurants all around Asia(MacDonald,2013).  I went to Vietnam when I was 7 years old, my cousins always talked about how they wanted to try a pizza or burger because they saw it on TV and they think that’s all we eat in Canada. At the time they didn’t have many restaurants that sold burgers and pizza, only super fancy restaurants that were extremely expensive. When I recently went to Vietnam 2 years ago, I noticed a big change. There were KFC’s on every street, burger restaurants and pizza joints everywhere. I was amazed to see how much has changed and how westernized it had got.

I have moved to Canada for eight years now, and during these years, I would go back to visit Taiwan if I had the chance. One thing that has come to my attention is the cultural diffusion between western and eastern countries; holiday celebrations are especially interesting because I have found that the influences of cultures show the most in them. For example, “Christmas prevails as the most widely popularized American holiday among Japanese festivals” (Konagaya), and more interestingly, “the Japanese since World War II have adapted the holiday to their cultural context and added distinctive features not found elsewhere in Christmas customs” (Konagaya). As Konagaya has mentioned, the adapter cultures not only take the traditions from the origin cultures, but they also add on their own cultural characteristics. When Japanese celebrates Christmas holiday, they use “a round white cake decorated with red strawberries” because it “expresses symbols that communicate cultural values, social relations, and the distinctive identity of modern Japan” (Konagaya), and that’s definitely a special tradition that Americans don’t have when they are celebrating Christmas. Also, the Japanese see the holiday as “an environment for them [Japanese] to detach from the routines of everyday life and experience an American milieu,” while Christmas in the West has a religious value rather than a relaxed holiday: the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Nowadays, “for Japanese, Christmas continues to provide an arena to rehearse American values” (Konagaya), and this shows how the cultural differences have influenced one culture and another. Even in my home country, Taiwan, people celebrate Christmas as if it has always been one of our official holidays, and sometimes this fact makes me wonder if they actually understand the meaning of Christmas. One thing I am sure about is that everyone enjoys the experience of sharing the same value with different cultures.

By Sally Tran and Cheshire Lin

Work Cited

CBCNEWS (2003). Census shows Canada truly multicultural. Retrieved from

Dolnick, Sam. (2011). Ethnic Differnces Emerge in Plastic Surgery. Retrieved from

Konagaya, H. (2001). The Christmas Cake: A Japanese Tradition of American Prosperity. Journal Of Popular Culture, 34(4), 121.

Mcdonald. (2013). Resturant locators. Retrieved from

Thompson, Mark. (2011). Pacific Asia after “Asian Values’: Authoritarianisms, Democracy, and ‘Good Governance’. Third World Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 6. Pp. 1079-1095.

Traditional Chinese massage

idiot abroad is a show that I currently follow which I believe portrays several miscommunications when it comes to traveling.  An episode which clearly depicts a lack of understanding is when the idiot abroad (Karl Pilkington) visits China.  The scene that I found quite entertaining is when Karl has an appointment with a massage therapist to receive a traditional Chinese massage.  Expecting the European treatment of being seated in a massage bed with scented oils and candles, Karl is actually “relaxed” with flaming oils and cloths. While he is being patted and smothered down with flaming cloths Karl cannot become frantic and twitchy.  From receiving this version of a massage Karl has received quite the opposite of what he initially thought he would be experiencing.  The denotation that exists is depicted in Karl’s definition of what a massage is and how it is performed which varies from what a traditional Chinese massage is and how it is presented.  This scene acts as perfect miscommunications between two different cultures and how expectations are when traveling may not always match the believed outcome

An unforgettable memory

Back when I was still in elementary school, my brother and I would fly to Thailand during our summer vacation to visit our relatives there. Jia-Jia, my older cousin who was very close to me, would hang out with me whenever she had time in Thailand. I remember one day we went to school to pick up her younger sister, who is my younger cousin, and while waiting for her, we stood between the street market. Many of the stands are selling special cultural Thai food. Jia-Jia was trying to introduce them to me in Mandarin; because we often visit each other, she was pretty fluent in Mandarin, and I was able to speak some Thai too. Then we walked past a stand that’s selling some kind of roast insects, and to my suprise, she went up to buy some. She asked me if I want to have some with her, but to me, a foreigner, I thought that was really gross. I asked her what those insects are, and Jia-Jia told me they are cockroach eggs. I was so disgusted by the fact that Thai people eat not only insects but cockroach eggs, and I didn’t want to share any food with my cousin for the rest of the vacation…. In fact, I didn’t share any food with my cousin in the next few years. However, years after that, I asked my parents if they know Thais have this weird eating hobby, and they told me my cousin probably didn’t understand what cockroach was; perhaps she mistook cockroach to be some other insects. Now that I think of it, the denotation of cockroach gives her a different connotation than mine: she was probably thinking about locust while I thought it was the black, disgusting, garbage-grown insects. This difference in understanding is probably why the miscommunication took place between us.