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asiamagazine #23 | SPRING 2014 | BY CHALMERS STUDENTS IN ASIA



Chalmers International Taiwan Office


Chalmers International Taiwan Office (CITO) was opened in March 2003 and is the result of a bilateral exchange agreement between National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) and Chalmers University of Technology. CITO is strategically located at NCTU, near the Hsinchu Science Park. PURPOSE OF THE ORGANIZATION - Increase awareness at Chalmers about the development in East Asia, with focus on Taiwan. - Support mobility of students and staff between NCTU and Chalmers. - Enhance Chalmers’ visibility in Taiwan and the neighbouring region. - Act as a hub at NCTU for Chalmers students in East Asia. - Further develop cooperation with Swedish companies in Taiwan and Asia. A part of CITO’s mission is to enhance opportunities for Chalmers students in Asia. To do this we search for internships, master theses or other cooperation. If you are looking for assistance to grab the opportunities in Asia, do not hesitate to contact us today! THE CHALMERS ASIA MAGAZINE The purpose of this publication is to increase the awareness of Asia among the students and the staff of Chalmers. The articles are written by Chalmers’ exchange students within the WorldWide Programme in Asia.


ADRESS CITO National Chiao Tung University, 1001 Ta-Hsueh Rd., Hsinchu 300, Taiwan, R.O.C. web phone +886 (0) 979 18 44 30 +46 (0)31 772 10 00


Alexander Gösta |

HONG KONG: Erik Bjerke | JAPAN: Adam Johansson |

Ellen Simonsson |

INDIA: Debora Falk |

Edvard Nyman |

SINGAPORE: Jesper Andersson | Daniel Gunnarson |

Daniel Pelvén |

Johan Bertilsson | Ingrid Hagberg |

Ramiar Raissi |

Lukas Suter |

Copyright © Chalmers 2014


Joakim Ericson |

Adam Lewestam |

Front cover: Laughing 72 metres Buddha | photo by Anna Ohlin Back cover: Air | photo by Daniel Pelvén Content page photo: Earth | photo by Daniel Pelvén

asiaContents 2 | asiaLetter 3 | asiaStaff

4 | Koh rong - cambodia’s fabled paradise island

6 | SUMo wrestling - a touch of

ancient times in the modern world

9 | asiaInternships

10 | The rare urban soul of singapore 12 | A SHARP OBSERVATION OF SHARP CRAFTsMANSHIP

14 | Korean cinema - a story split in two

17 | surviving a flight to taiwan with allergies

18 | asiaPhotos

20 | an inside report from the bangkok riots

22 | asiaInSweden

- Educational differencies

between taiwan and sweden

24 | couchsurfing - the new way of travelling

27 | amazing chinese

28 | marriage and dating in europe and China

30 | XINTIANDI - TASTEFUL restoration or nostalgic commercialism?

32 | asiaInterview


36 | asiaApply



ime flies and we are already in the middle of our sec-

I want to end this text, on behalf of all of us at the Chalmers

many of the previous forewords of this magazine speak about

cially those who will maintain our office next year. We also

ond semester of our exchange studies. This means that

we have spent three quarters of a year in Taiwan. I know that

International Taiwan Office, by congratulating the students

who have been nominated to exchange studies and espe-

how wonderful it is to travel abroad to pursue exchange stud-

want to commend all the current exchange students in Asia

amazing period of time filled with a lot of fun, challenging, and

dents good luck on their journey.

ies and how good Taiwan is. I cannot say anything other than

that I agree upon what they have written. This has been an inspiring moments. I want to encourage every student who gets the opportunity to study abroad to take it!

This magazine contains articles written by students from

for providing content to this magazine. We hope you all have had a memorable time and we wish the new exchange stuEnjoy this issue of Asia Magazine.

Chalmers University of Technology that are currently studying in Asia. They are sharing their thoughts and experiences from their life in Asia. Allow yourself to be inspired by a continent

that has a past, present and future that all are equally exciting.

Patric Andersson | Head of Office

The whole CITO staff whishes you a pleasant reading.


asiaStaff Patric Andersson Head of Office

Markus Bruus Deputy Head of Office

Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Management and Economics of Innovation.

Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and Management. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Management and Economics of Innovation.

Email: Anna Ohlin Editor in Chief

Email: Pascal Csikasz Art Director

Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Infrastructure and Environmental Engineering.

Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design Engineering. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Product Development.

Elin Almbacke Academic Exchange and Alumni Responsible

Catharina Beckman Academic Exchange and Alumni Responsible

Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and Management. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Management and Economics of Innovation.

Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and Management. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Supply Chain Management.

Martin Falk Danauskis Academic Exchange and Alumni Responsible

Marcus Kalander IT Responsible

Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and Management. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Management and Economics of Innovation.

Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering - Algorithms, Languages and Logic.

Adam Johansson Corporate Relations

Sofie Weidenlöv Corporate Relations

Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and Management. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Management and Economics of Innovation.

Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechatronics and Automation. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Product Development.









You can read more about the Chalmers International Taiwan Office on page 36.


Sunrise over fishing boats near the shore of Koh Rong. Photo by Adam Johansson.

Koh Rong

Cambodia’s Fabled Paradise Island


t was one of the last stops on our backpacking trip

We stayed on the southernmost beach, Tui Beach, where

rumors about the idyllically island of Koh Rong. The bonfires

the roofs consisted of palm leaves. It was all organic and

ble backpackers on our journey, a few of who were spreading

on the endless beaches. The diving among whale sharks. The waterfalls, hidden deep into the rainforest.

We had been travelling in uncomfortable buses all night and I had spent most of the time involuntarily spooning a

passed out sweating Australian. We were finally at the ferry, which was going to take us out to the small island Koh Rong south of mainland Cambodia. After an hour the contours of an island by the horizon started to form. After two hours a

long white, knife sharp white edge of the island started to

emerge, separating the green island from the blue ocean. Maybe the rumors circulating around South East Asia about the island actually were true?

Koh Rong consists mainly of rainforest enclosed by ap-

proximately 40 kilometers of powder beaches, most of which

a couple of hostels were lo-

cated. All of the hostels were made by dried branches and probably made by the trees close by. The hostel we stayed at had no electricity during the day, but luckily the walls to the

room were poorly built and had decimeter wide holes, which allowed some stripes of daylight to penetrate. Living in this shed-like room felt quite strange, having neither electricity

nor faculty-made walls. No electricity also meant no refrigerators on the island. The island got ice deliveries every day

“ instead.

The island is as captivating as any other island in the Gulf of Thailand, but it is still relatively untouched compared to the homogenized charterexploited islands in the gulf.

through South East Asia. We had met many unforgetta-

are empty, or occasionally inhabited by happy backpackers.

The choice of dinner was easy since all the restaurants

homogenized charter-exploited islands in the gulf.

the island with small fishing boats. If you were hungry ear-

The island is as captivating as any other island in the Gulf of Thailand, but it is still relatively untouched compared to the


had the same menu - pork, chicken, barracuda or squid. The

barracudas and the squid were newly captured right outside

lier during the afternoon you had to wait - they did not start

An understanding slowly emerged, adding small pieces to-

which had to be pushed through the sand by hand. The men

the locals had created a unique, genuine and eco friendly

serving the food until they got the daily supplies. They goods came to the pier and young men waited with their trollies,

flexed their muscles, and brought dinner to the table. There was no mass-produced processed food in sight. During the evening a few bars opened up, serving drinks in one-time-

use-plastic cups. Reused one-time-use plastic cups. They quickly washed used plastic cups, and poured drinks into them again. Why have I not seen this before?

Later on, we heard rumours about a campfire on a beach ”10 minutes away”. However, no roads are to be found on the island of Koh Rong, so we had to walk on small trails through the dense jungle without any light source worth mentioning.

I did not wear shoes one single time on the island of Koh Rong, nor this night. We walked barefoot for 20 minutes

before we decided to return. The day after rumors spread

about a tribe on the island killing an American girl close to the trail a couple of months before. The mythogenesis about

the island never seemed to stop.

The mythogenesis about the island never seemed to stop.

gether; reusing of plastic cups, local produced food and not

using any electricity during daytime. I started to realize that

life style. Many would consider it to be spartan but no one seemed to miss the excesses we are so used to, not even having shoes on the feet.

I believe our experiences shape our personality. If we never leave our homogenized and mass-produced (yet effective) society, we will become complacent. Even if you have

to spoon a passed out sweating Australian and take off your

shoes to walk barefoot through a rainforest and even sometimes fail - take the risk and follow the path of the rumours about the odd and unique; they will shape you.

Markus Bruus

Text and Photo

Studying at National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and Management. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Management and Economics of Innovation.


SUMO WRESTLING A Touch of Ancient Times in the Modern World


n Japan, sumo wrestling has made substantial cultural

Whilst on the topic of winners, Japan has not had a native wres-

marks during its centuries-long history. It has played an

tler that has reached the yokozuna rank for over a decade and

important role in the entertainment sector and has given joy

it was more than seven years ago since a Japanese wrestler won

and excitement to both old and young spectators. However, the

a tournament. Instead, Mongolian wrestlers has been very suc-

popularity of the sport has decreased remarkably during re-

cessful and earned several titles during the past two decades.

cent years and a series of scandals have not made things better.

The lack of a Japanese superstar has been devastating for the

The inevitable question is therefore if it is possible to alter the

domestic popularity of the sport. Nowadays, soccer, baseball and

sport’s present downward course, or if this martial art will sink

figure skating are the most popular sports to watch, and sumo

into oblivion?

wrestling is not even among the top ten in this ranking. In order

to alter the foreign dominance and regain the popularity of the

The rules of sumo wrestling are easy: force your opponent out of the circular ring or make him touch the ground with anything other than the soles of his feet and the match is over.

sport, the Japan Sumo Association has pushed for a decrease of foreign wrestlers by only allowing one foreigner in each stable. However, the sport is also facing other issues that have negative impacts on its popularity. In 2011, several wrestlers were accused for match fixing, which caused a massive outcry. The wrestlers had, through the use of text messages, agreed upon who should win the game and also planned what moves that

The rules of sumo wrestling are easy: force your opponent out

would be used and how the opponent should fall. Another

of the circular ring or make him touch the ground with anything

scandal arose when the brutal bullying and abuse that occurs in

other than the soles of his feet and the match is over. There

the sumo stables were disclosed.This sadistic behaviour became

are a plethora of techniques used to achieve this, where lifting,

public when a 17 years old wrestler died of the injuries he had

pushing and throwing are examples of the more common ones.

gotten when he was beaten with a baseball bat during training.

Many winning tricks involve manoeuvres with a grip on the op-

It seems like all this negative publicity has decreased the number

ponent’s mawashi, which is the silk belt that wrestlers wear dur-

of boys dreaming about becoming sumo wrestlers. This since

ing training and competitions. Tournaments are arranged every

the number of applicants to enter the sumo ranks has been

second month and lasts for 15 days.

continuously decreasing during the past decade.

During these tournaments, each wrestler has one match per

Perhaps it is not only the negative stories that scare the boys, it

day and the wrestler who has won most matches in the end of

might be the lifestyle itself that may seem unattractive for young

the tournament is proclaimed winner. After each tournament,

men brought up in modern Japan. The life of a sumo wrestler

the ranking of the wrestlers is updated. The highest rank one

mostly consists of training, resting and eating, and they always

can reach is the yokozuna rank and the earning of this title is

need to follow strict codes of conducts. They have to wear

not only based on performance in tournaments, but skill and

kimonos, keep their hair in well-oiled top-knots and they are

dignity are also considered.

expected to be modest and self-effacing. However, due to this


Sumo wrestlers taking each other on in a well-attended match.

A wrestler forced hazardly close to the edge of the ring.

top wrestlers are deeply respected and are surrounded by a

grand champions, the sport gains international attention and

special aura. Furthermore, they are allowed to have plenty of

may rise in popularity on a global basis. It also enhances the for-

good foods and drinks since a high body weight is a beneficial

mation of new techniques and cultural influences, which might

attribute from a competitive point of view.

attract both new audiences and regain old fans.

The life of a sumo wrestler mostly consists of training, resting and eating, and they always need to follow strict codes of conducts.

A modernization of the strict nature that surrounds sumo wrestling might be exactly what is needed right now. Just like the three-point shot revolutionized basketball, the introduction of new elements might overturn sumo wrestling. This in combination with a greater focus on entertainment and customer value can hopefully counteract the downward trend that the sport is facing at the moment. One can just hope that the future

Even though the internationalization and the domestically de-

is brighter and more opportunistic for this traditional martial

creasing popularity is seen as an issue in Japan, other countries’

art. It would be a shame if it reaches the end of the road and falls

interest in the sport could be the injection needed in order

into oblivion, not only because of the loss of historic value, but

to sustain the glory of this ancient tradition. By having foreign

also because of the loss of a true Japanese symbol.

Daniel Pelvén

Studying at The University of Tokyo.

Text and Photo

Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and Management. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Management and Economics of Innovation.




uring the fall of 2013 the CITO staff (see page 3) vis-

ited four Swedish-founded companies in Taiwan. The

people we met taught us a great deal about businesses in Taiwan and we told them about CITO and Chalmers University

of Technology.

Ericsson We visited Ericsson Taiwan at their new sales office space which is situated just a few Metro stops

from the Taipei Main Station. One of the first im-

pressions was that not only did it feel like being in Sweden seeing the Ericsson logo, the office it-

self looked Scandinavian. The General Manager of

Sandvik Sandvik welcomed us to their office and we met with their Site Manager who presented Sandvik Machine Solutions in Taipei where tools and tool systems for metal processing are manufactured.

We also got an interesting tour in their well-organized and efficient factory.

At Sandvik’s global website vacancies for internships can be found. In some cases internships can also be provided at the local offices.

Volvo Trucks

Taiwan told us that this is a part of the company’s

Volvo Trucks cooperates with a production facil-

There are possibilities for internships at Ericsson

other parts of the world. The trucks are then sold

strive to centralize as much as possible.

Taiwan, primarily during the summer. There are of course a list of vacancies at Ericsson’s global

website but there are also opportunities that are provided at local Ericsson Offices.

Swedish Healthcare Limited At Swedish Healthcare Limited, abbreviated SHL,

we met with the General Manager who gave us an

interesting insight into a company that most of us had never heard of before.

SHL is a world-leading manufacturer of drug de-

livery devices. Their products range from auto injectors, which are their main product, to hospital-

and manufacturing equipment for the production of medtech and industrial products.

SHL may offer internships lasting for at least 12 months. Master theses are possible if you provide

a project idea that is valuable for both SHL and yourself.

ity in Hsinchu. The facility assembles complete

trucks from modules that are shipped in from in Taiwan exclusively.

During our visit at Volvo two Swedish employees

presented the Volvo company, its products and the production site for us.

Since Volvo operates this facility jointly with a Taiwanese company their organization is small

and they have very limited capability to hire anyone locally. If you are interested in Volvo, you can apply through their global website.

The staff of Chalmers International Taiwan Office is happy

to help you if you want to get in touch with any of these companies. In addition to these four companies, corporate visits have been made to many more Swedish founded businesses

throughout South East Asia during the last ten years. Send us an email at and we will tell you more.

Adam Johansson


Studying at National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and Management. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Management and Economics of Innovation.


The Rare Urban Soul of Singapore T

he spirit between buildings can only be created by

At a glance, the Bridge is not normally considered as any-

effort, to discover spaces where would find identity or “soul”

because it is not generally considered to be unique. But as

life. Not by capital, nor by financial investments. Sin-

gapore is a city where it may take a longer time, with an extra in. It is the soul of the space between any physical matter we

often relate to when there is a context we like, whether the reason is conscious or unconscious. So, what is it with the bridge in Singapore? What is the soul in a space?

The Singapore River flows from the centre of Singapore and empties into the ocean in the South-eastern part of the city-

centre. Along its way there are several overhanging bridges but as it flows through the neighbourhood Clarke Quay,

it also flows under the Read Bridge. Clarke Quay is packed

with tourists enjoying the great option of pubs, restaurants

and nightlife that are being situated there. The prices here

thing special, visually or otherwise. It is not the bridge’s cultural history that attracts people. Nor its building design the bridge consists of a longitudinal concrete blockade on each side containing a planting row side by side with a row

of finished stone tiles. These tiles have become the bottom

seats for the people enjoying the bridge. Yet these walls are

too high and you have to jump up to sit, hence many people just stand on the bridge. The design purpose of the bridge

was solely for passing over. I wonder if the creators of this mono-functional design ever were imagining that the life of the bridge would become what it is today.

The life on the bridge has been evolved solely by the free

choice and recreational desires of humans. It has been de-

are relatively high but as it lies in the centre of Singapore

veloped incrementally, unlike its immediate surroundings.

with lower budgets. The official name, Read Bridge, is hardly

predetermined setting of different restaurant and nightlife

Read Bridge has become a central gathering point for people

known among the people. The social culture around it has given rise to a local name, simply – “The Bridge”.

The bridge attracts people mainly on Wednesday, Friday and

Saturday evenings and one would be likely to meet locals,

exchange students, backpackers and ex-pats with all kinds

of nationalities. It has become an obvious choice whenever

one would like to socialize, meet new people, gather for predrinks, or to sing and play the guitar. After some time when one has got to know the bridge, one may experience how

well its laidback feeling also embraces a sense of belonging, identification and character.

After some time when one has got to know the bridge, one may experience how well its laidback feeling also embraces a sense of belonging, identification and character.


Clarke Quay holds a history of cultural heritage restoration but with a strategic purpose to attract tourists through a

concepts. The identity of these environments has been “com-

The life on the bridge has been evolved solely by the free choice and recreational desires of humans. It has been developed incrementally, unlike its immediate surroundings.

with close distances to popular nightclubs around the city,

posed”, not evolved, with a top-down approach. These attractions might look attractive visually – like “eyes-candy” – but

only after a short while one would wonder if that is what one really wants. There is just no laidback feeling, it is crowded

and therefore hard to interact with random people. Another consequence of the top-down approach is the heterogene-

ity of the target group, which rather reduces the uniqueness and identity as opposed to the bridge, which attracts people of a more homogenised target group.

During the past couple of decades several Asian cities have

been developed and modernised rapidly. The strong econo-

my in Singapore has made it possible to develop buildings

than tourists visited other places. So we may basically sim-

with minimal differences in identity. As Ley, D wrote back in

and thus makes it unique – the provenience of e.g. the bridge

quickly. It has given rise to big commercial areas and urban activities with unilateral, mono-functional areas that repeats

1987 in the journal of historical geography – “A corporate

urban landscape, the product of an increasingly corporate society . . //. . the planning and design of the modern city

was a blueprint for ‘placelessness’, of anonymous, impersonal spaces, massive structures and automobile throughways”. The post-colonial era of Singapore, with its declaration of in-

dependency as late as 1965, has also related to this problem as the general approach at the city government has been to

swipe away the old and poor, dependent county of Malaysia to transform it to a shining new one. This has given rise to demolition of the cultural heritage in order to give place for the modernisation.

The urban morphology has been designed conversely.

plify how urban identity is established – a supporting space for spontaneous reactions being founded by people using it in Singapore –, and a space that already carries an inherent

characteristic thanks to its “old” provenience, that makes it unique.

With this in mind and the fact that the tourism in Singapore decreased for a period, Singapore has changed its urban

strategies, planning and widened the understanding of the

urban sociological aspects. But is it to late? Maybe in a cou-

ple of decenniums the life between the buildings has evolved into new identities.

I have been stating an example of a local culture that shows

how meaningless commercial strategy principles actually are

in terms of the urban spirit and personal identity. Of course

As a pedestrian you may experience that the infrastructure

there are other urban contexts and commercial activities

phous walking structures with impaired walking rhythm.

food culture). Yet, the bridge reveals a fundamental sociolog-

is prioritized for vehicles. Perceptual and physical barriers

may be experienced and encountered, which result in amor-

that are characteristic (e.g. Arab Street, Club Street, Duxton Hill or any of the hawker centres which involve strong local

We discover places and contexts by simply being at the ac-

ical phenomenon in the public space to its extent, as it only

in the future we would like to re-experience a nice feeling.

gapore needs to extent its view of how commercial activities

tual place and making intuitive and spontaneous choices. If

we end up liking the place, we would surely return whenever But it might be hard to find those spots in this city. And with

the urban structure, it is harder to make choices intuitively due to e.g. infrastructural barriers.

We discover places and contexts by simply being at the actual place and making intuitive and spontaneous choices.

The provenience of contexts, e.g. a cultural historical heritage that carries inherently strong identity and has a story to tell, is important since people are curious and have recrea-

tional desire. In 2001 Travel Industry Association of America argued that tourists in cities and places with cultural and

historical activities spent more money and stayed longer

requires people (with recreational desire), physical support

(the bridge) and a beneficial environment. Conversely, Sincould be planned, how it can lead to life quality rather than

financial quantity, how it can lead to enhancing local culture and thus, not at least, citizens feeling of belonging.

Ramiar Raissi


Studying at The National University of Singapore.

Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Design for Sustainable Development.


A Sharp Observation of Sharp Craftsmanship


t was a cold morning in February. Here and there

Kappabashi, or Kitchen Town as it is also called, is a street

and after 45 minutes of fighting my way through the Tokyo

ever need in your kitchen ranging from appliances and furni-

you could still see remnants of the first snow that fell

the weekend before. I made my way to the subway station

rush hour and taking some unsuccessful shortcuts, I eventually arrived at my destination.

in Tokyo which consists almost entirely of stores dedicated to kitchen supplies. Here you can find everything you would

ture to kitchenware. Of course, you could also get your hands

on one of the things for which the Japanese are globally renowned – knives.

The history of knife production in Japan begins close to Osaka, in the city of Sakai, which in the 14th century became

the capital of samurai sword making. The city maintained this position into the 16th century when the Portuguese in-

troduced tobacco to Japan. Cutting tobacco requires a good

knife, so the same methods that had been used for mak-

ing swords were now applied to create top quality knives. The word started to spread and soon Sakai knives were renowned for their unrivaled sharpness. Because of political

and social reforms in the 1860s the samurai class lost some of its privileges and were no longer allowed to carry swords. This led to a decreasing demand for swords which forced

sword makers to now refocus their skills into making knives.

As I walked around Kappabashi I tried to somehow con-

nect the area I was in to this long tradition, but I found it hard to do since I did not see a single knife during the first 20 min-

utes. All I could see was different stores selling pots, plates, bowls or plastic display food. The plastic food is a very com-

mon sight in Tokyo. Many restaurants have all of their dishes displayed in the front window using these, which is as much helpful as it is weird.


Then, suddenly, I was surrounded by five or six different knife stores. I looked around in them for a while and browsed

the various knives. I saw all of the different kinds I had read


about beforehand and I started to get excited.

Traditional knife making in Japan includes several steps that all require a great deal of skill. The process starts with forging where the metal is heated and hammered into the

desired shape. The knives are then sharpened and honed. Finally the blade is attached to a haft. There are two classes of knives, Honyaki and Kasumi. Honyaki, or true-forged knives,

are made from a single material, usually high-carbon steel. Kasumi knives are made from two different materials, most

The knife that yours truly bought.

After walking around the different shops for a while I

commonly high carbon steel and soft iron forged together.

soon found myself in a store named Kamata Hakensha. The

ten made out of stainless steel.

family. They design and manufacture most of the knives in

Traditionally Japanese knives are made of carbon steel but

nowadays to make them more ressistant both types are ofNumber




Nakiri Bouchou


Udon Kiri

Noodle Cutting


Deba Bouchou


Fish and Meat

Tako Hiki

4 5







store was small and filled to the brim with all the different knives. Since its opening in 1928 it has belonged to the same

the store themselves. I looked around for a while and then I was approached by an older man who, in surprisingly good English for an elderly Japanese asked if I needed some help.

I told him I was looking for a Santoku knife. He showed me the various Santoku they had in stock and I was immediately

drawn to one of them. It was a beautiful, 18 centimeter long

knife made of three layered carbon steel with a light wooden handle. He gave me a crash course in how to take care of the

knife and how to sharpen it using a sharpening stone. He then wrapped the knife for me, and in true Japanese spirit he put a lot of effort into the packing. I left the store and thought

about all the history and tradition that had gone into making the knife I now had in my possession. I almost felt like a

proud samurai ready to brandish my new knife into the first piece of vegetable, meat or fish I could find.


Adam Johansson

Text and Photo

Studying at The University of Tokyo.

Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Structural Engineering.


Korean Cinema - A Story Split in Two W

here is your cell phone made? South Korea is not a bad guess. What about your flat screen TV? Again,

South Korea would be a pretty safe bet. And the last movie

United Korea - Off to an Avid Start in Moviemaking

you saw? If the answer here is South Korea, you most prob-

Cinema was first introduced in the very beginning of the

have a film industry that is emerging on the international

in central Seoul. Before Korea’s domestic film industry had

ably belong to a minority. But while the East Asian nation is better known for their cutting-edge technology, they also

scene. And this is not due to any kind of more recent mod-

ernization of the country - the history of cinema on the Ko-

rean peninsula far surpasses that of their technical ventures.

It also by far precedes the division of the nation into north

and south. This article looks closer on how the Korean film industry has evolved over the course of more than a century,

and how it somewhere in the middle took two radically different paths after the Korean War.


20th century to the, at that time unified, Korean peninsula.

The first movie theatre opened to the public in 1903, located started to emerge, films were imported from the United

States and from Europe. The first Korean domestic film, Uiri-

jeok Gutu, premiered in 1919. The following three decades brought much unrest to the Korean peninsula with Japanese

occupation, the Second World War and the Korean War oc-

curring in close succession. Naturally, the film production rate during this time declined substantially and the movies that were produced had to deal with heavy censorship and other regulations.

South Korea - Enthusiasm Prevails over Government Control

After the Korean War had ended and the peninsula had been

divided into north and south, the South Korean film industry flourished during the 50s and the early 60s. Unfortunately, government control increased again in the late 60s and

reached its height in the following decade. At this time, South

prison. Five years later he was brought to the capital Pyong-

yang to learn that he had been kidnapped because Kim Jong-

Il was a fan of his movies and wanted him to produce them in North Korea instead. He also met his ex-wife, who had been unaware of his situation, for the first time since the kidnappings on this occasion.

Korea was among the countries with the heaviest regulated

movie industries in the world. Nevertheless, the strong culture that had been built around cinema managed to prevail.

During the 80s and 90s the government eased up on censoring laws and the filmmaking industry thrived once again.

North Korea - Government Control Smothers Enthusiasm

The quickly developing movie culture of the early 20th century was enjoyed by a unified Korea and gave a foundation

for South Korea to build on when the division was made. In contrast, their neighbours North Korea failed to capitalize on

that success due to the establishment of an autocratic communist rule, which is still in power today. The government

restricted the freedom of speech until it became virtually non-existent, and all movies produced in North Korea were more or less propaganda films for preserving the status quo. With its borders shut tight to the rest of the world, those

movies were in effect the only cinema that North Koreans were able to experience.

Even though North Korea isolated itself to an extreme degree,

its leaders still recognized the potential in collaborating with

Shin went on to direct seven movies with Kim Jong-Il as an executive producer. One of those movies, Pulgasari, a giant-

monster movie in the same vein as Godzilla, went on to become North Korea’s most successful film of all time and one of the very few to have been shown outside of the country.

Shin’s wife (they remarried on Kim Jong-Il’s recommendation) also starred in several of his movies, although not in

Pulgasari. The couple eventually fled to the United States while attending a film festival in Vienna in 1986.

South Korea Today - Quota Systems and Film Festival Successes

people from other nations. Therefore, they planned an elab-

While clearly running a much fairer game than its northern

Eun-Hee, in Hong Kong in 1978. Shin went to Hong Kong to

do not concern content; instead they control the distribution

orate scheme to kidnap South Korean director Shin Sang-Ok.

It started with the kidnapping of his ex-wife, actress Choi

investigate the matter, where he himself got kidnapped and taken to North Korea. He was placed in comfortable accom-

modations, but after an escape attempt he was relocated to

Shin went to Hong Kong to investigate the matter, where he himself got kidnapped and taken to North Korea.

counterpart, South Korea today retains more regulations on the film industry than the average nation. These regulations

and screenings of domestic films and imported films. South Korean cinemas are required to play movies produced within the country for a minimum of 73 days each year and on ca-

ble TV at least 20 per cent of all films shown must be domestic. The purpose of these quota systems is to give the South

Korean film industry competitive power equal to that of Hol-

lywood and other foreign big productions. Judging from the results, the quota system seems to work well: by 2005, South

Korea was one of the few nations on earth where domestic


films surpassed imported films in viewings. For example, the

into actions. Had this philosophy only been applied to de-


unfortunately present in all aspects of everyday life for the

time as Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and outsold them

The heavy promotion of the country’s own film industry has also made it one of the world’s largest producer of movies in the last few years. Several recent efforts have resulted in in-

ternational success, such as Oldboy, which placed second in

the Cannes Film Festival in 2003, and Pietá, which grabbed

first place in the Venice Film Festival in 2012. Many more South Korean movies make it on the international scene in the form of remakes, such as the previously mentioned My Sassy Girl, The Uninvited and Mirrors.

Reflections and Recommendations

sirable film directors the damage would not have been too extreme. As is apparent for most of the world, though, it is

North Korean people. When one thinks about how much one

can enjoy and learn from films made here in the free world, it is easy to realize that the medium of film is a frightfully powerful tool for totalitarian regimes to control their people.

Their northern neighbours, on the other hand, have closed themselves off and the concept of “artistic freedom” is something that their residents must have only a vague idea of.

romantic comedy My Sassy Girl was screened at the same

It is interesting to follow the very different fates of these two

We have watched several South Korean movies and com-

to be quite unique and effective in supporting domestic film-

rather explicit. This is only due to an inclination of yours

once united nations. South Korea is today a country with

great confidence in its film industry. The quota system seems making while still allowing much international influence.

The strong tradition of cinema has spawned many world-

class actors, producers and directors as well as movies making international impact.

Their northern neighbours, on the other hand, have closed themselves off and the concept of “artistic freedom” is something that their residents must have only a vague idea of.

The story about the abduction of Shin Sang-Ok is in one way

amusing in the way it seems to reflect the backwards mentality of North Korea’s leaders, who apparently believes that enslavement can bring out the same results as encourage-

ment. On the other hand, it is also an unsettling display of their warped worldview and how readily their ideas are set

Pascal Csikasz

Studying at National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design Engineering. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Product Development.



piled a list of the movies we enjoyed the most. It seems that

they have a specific type of grit in common and they are all truly - no matter what kind of movies you like, you can find

a well-made one of that kind from South Korea. We also included North Korea’s previously mentioned one and only major international hit Pulgasari, from which you can get

a feeling of what North Koreans get to see in the very best case, as well as plenty of laughs.

Movies we liked the most Oldboy

I Saw the Devil New World


Pulgasari (North Korea)

Marcus Kalander


Studying at National Chiao Tung University Taiwan. Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering - Algorithms, Languages and Logic.

Surviving a Flight to Taiwan with Allergies


s I promised in the last edition of Asia Magazine, I am back with exciting information regarding my status of

I really needed to get myself back to Taiwan but I could not afford to be denied boarding again. Therefore, I did a thor-

surviving Taiwan with allergies!

ough investigation, of what the airline companies serve to

since my previous article, I have also found out that they are

that no one, with airborne nut allergy, is able to go to Taiwan

There has been no trouble with my allergies in Taiwan, but

a little bit lighter than what I always thought. Airplanes how-

ever, have caused me a lot of trouble. The air seems to be the only place where nuts are mandatory.

When I was going back to Taiwan, after spending Christmas

their passengers. It turned out that no airline company could

take me to Taiwan without any nuts on board. This means by plane without risking his or her life!

When I finally got back to Taiwan, I had missed the New

Year’s celebration with my friends, that came all the way

from Sweden to visit me. I also had a couple of late bills in the

in Sweden, the situation was completely different from what

mailbox and very little time to study for my exams. However,

and what happened? I was denied boarding! With no refund,

found out that I am no longer allergic to peanuts, and have

I ever experienced before. This time I told the staff about

my allergies earlier than usual, when I checked in my bags,

even though I insisted on going anyway! Since I really needed to go back rapidly, I tried my luck with another airline

company. This time, I informed them about my nut allergy

when I booked the ticket at their office.

I got back because of one great fact – I am not as allergic as

I always thought. And after several tests at my allergist, we no longer an airborne allergy. Hence, I am free to travel with any airline company today. I just wish everyone would be as free as I am.

The first short flight went fine, but when I was to transfer to the next longer flight in Amsterdam, it happened again! I was denied boarding and found myself stranded at the airport overnight. Again I wanted to take the risk and go anyway, but

the ground staff did not allow me to. The next day I was sent back to Sweden again.

How we can stop the airlines from driving us (with) nuts As you can see, flying with nut allergy can be very problematic. I am therefore asking you all for a small but

giant favour for all the people that suffer from airborne nut allergy: Next time you receive nuts, peanuts or

almonds on a plane, regardless of it is served as a snack or in a cookie et cetera – Ask for a nut free option! The more people that asks for nut free options, the bigger the chance that the airline companies get the picture and finally change to nut free flights all together!

Sofie Weidenlöv


Studying at National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Automation and Mechatronics. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Product Development.


asiaPhotos Earth, water, fire, and air. These four elements are the components in the classical Buddhist view of how the world is constructed. We asked our contributors to submit their best pictures featuring any of the elements. You can see the winning pictures, taken by Daniel Pelvén, on the back cover and on the contents page. These two photos, two runner ups and a collage of the best of the rest are presented here. We thank everyone that participated!

Back cover photo

Content page photo

Title: Air Location: Japan Photographer: Daniel Pelvén

Title: Earth Location: Japan Photographer: Daniel Pelvén

Runner Ups

Title: Water Location: Philippines Photographer: Elin Almbacke 20

Title: Fire Location: Cambodia Photographer: Adam Johansson


Protesters lining a street in Bangkok.

An inside report from the Bangkok Riots

An Inside Report from the Bangkok Riots


pproximately 350 000 Swedish citizens visit Thai-

situation was calm, however,. What we saw and heard were

for two friends and I traveling around in South East Asia af-

streets. After walking around for a while it became obvious

capital Bangkok for a couple of days. This was also the case

ter the Christmas holidays. An unplanned visit to the occupied area after a night of clubbing made me more interested in the situation. These are my experiences and thoughts of the current political situation in Bangkok and Thailand.

There has been a constant news feed about the ongoing pro-

tests in Thailand and the protesters’ shutdown of Bangkok.

Although we did not notice anything particular of the com-

motion when we arrived to the city, things turned out differently after our one and only night out in Bangkok.

After having explored the Thai nightlife, we walked a block away from the crowd to catch a taxi back to the hotel.

speeches by different key figures at the Democracy Monument and people listening, walking around or sleeping in the that the protesters are devoting their lives to what they be-

lieve in, which is something I always find very impressive.

What we were a little surprised about was that the whole occupied area was like a community of its own. There were

food stalls everywhere, numerous different kinds of souve-

After walking around for a while it became obvious that the protesters are devoting their lives to what they believe in, which is something I always find very impressive.

land every year and most of them make a stop in the

That was when we saw the occlusions by the anti-govern-

nir stands where you could buy classical touristy souvenirs

area, which was huge. Probably over ten blocks had been

broadcasts from the key figures’ speeches and news around

mental protesters further down the block and decided to pay a visit. After passing several guards we entered the occupied shutdown by the protesters and they were everywhere. The


and religious articles. You could also find a workshop for mo-

torbikes on the sidewalk, along with big screens showing the Thailand.

We spoke to a couple of locals in order to get their point of

view of the situation. Although their English was limited we understood that the common denominator was that they demanded the resignation of the government and thus, accord-

ing to themselves, the rooted corrupted culture in Thai politics. After some final exploring of the area, we finally headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

With my curiosity sparked about the ongoing situation I did some further research. The available information points to that the protesters are from the middle class, live in urban

which is to liquidate the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The protesters think that he is still controlling the

government through the current Prime Minister in Thailand Yingluck Shinawatra, his sister.

Even though the demonstrations started relatively calmly

they escalated just a couple of days after we left Bangkok. The protesters shut down even more blocks in the city, reaching

to our hotel in Sukhumvit. Since the start of the riots over

ten persons have been forced to immolate their lives, which

It will be interesting to see what the next move will be from the opposition; as the time passes they seem to run out of options.

areas and that they are all striving towards the same goal,

to be the real threat against the Thai democracy. This is not

was one of the reasons that all the opposition’s members of

a justified way of acting. Even though the results from the

Minister called for an election that was boycotted by the op-

by Thailand’s court of law.

the Parliament stepped down. After several events such as

threatening to storm the prime minister’s office, the Prime

position. The election was held anyway but the result has still not been published.

I think it is easy for an outsider to take standpoint for

the protesters, since there seems to be a lot of noteworthy

question marks in Thai politics. But one should remember that the current government has very big support in rural

areas where the majority of the population lives, and that the

chances are big that the sitting party would win a fair election.

During the election in February, the protesters used methods that surprised me a lot. They used violent methods to block

polling stations, which hindered voters, and also systematic

threatening against people planning to vote. I consider this

election has not been publicly presented, the opposition sent

in a petition to nullify it. This petition got rejected in the end It will be interesting to see what the next move will be from

the opposition; as the time passes they seem to run out of

options. And since the government does not want to con-

front the protesters with violence to force them away, this may result in a long deadlock without a fully functional government, which in the end would hammer the Thai economy. Hopefully we will not see a physical scenario as in Ukraine.

Adam Lewestam

Text and Photo

Studying at The Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and Management. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Quality and Operations Management


asiaInSweden Educational Differences Between Taiwan and Sweden


am a Mongolian that is studying in Taiwan. In my

feels unfair. For example: if you take 3 exams and get 4, 4 and

den. Both Taiwan and Sweden have been an amazing experi-

this sense the Swedish grading system is a more jealous-free

senior year of my Bachelor I had the chance to go on

an exchange to Chalmers University of Technology in Sweence for me. In this article, I want to share my experiences of

both educational systems and to analyse them from my own perspective.

When I was tutoring Taiwanese kids I learned that they

have a huge amount of things to do everyday. Right after

school they must attend cram school. Why? Every school ranks their students! Grading is not anonymous until uni-

versity level. Everyone knows whose kid gets what grade. Parents are extremely obsessed with getting their kid listed among the top three students. If their kid are not among the

top three, they feel upset and push them even harder. The higher the rank, the better. This obsession with grades con-

5 respectively then your final grade is 4. However if you only

get 3, 4 and 4 on your exams, your overall score is also 4. In

and straightforward system where you can see your level approximately.

As I have mentioned above, in Taiwan, grades are the most

important factor influencing your future career and once again I was deeply shocked to find out that grades do not

really matter that much in Sweden when applying for jobs. Students at Chalmers informed me that an important factor for getting a job is to have a strong resume and adequate real life work experience.

It feels like the Taiwanese educational system only emphasizes theory while Swedes prefer practice over theory.

tinues at the university as well. At university level all grad-

In Sweden, many master students do their master thesis

or less everything in Taiwan. If you want to apply for a good

the best way to make connections with people in your field.

ing is anonymous. However, you still receive your ranking

among your classmates. Grading and ranking decides more

job or a good school, grades are one of the strongest factors


In Sweden, parents and students are not as obsessed with ranks and grades.


for acceptance.

In Sweden, parents and students are not as obsessed with ranks and grades. I was amused to learn that they do not grade secondary school students at all until they enter 6th

grade. In my opinion this significantly reduces the expectations on young pupils and most importantly helps them to

build their self-confidence. In Taiwan the grading is made on a scale from 0 to 100. In contrast, the Swedish university

grading system only consists of the grades fail, 3, 4 and 5, with 5 being the highest possible. It is a low-stress system where you do not have to compare your grades with your

classmates point by point. In some situations, however, it

Yours truly on a trip with friends to Narvik. 24

Photo by Martin Jungreithmair

at companies, which is a great opportunity for them to ap-

ply their acquired knowledge in practice. Furthermore, it is

Unlike Sweden, all of the master theses in Taiwan are con-

ducted at the university. A majority of the undergraduate and graduate students in Taiwan therefore lack the practical experience of working at companies.

There are some specific differences in the teaching style of the universities. Universities in Taiwan treat students like high school students, telling them what they should and

should not do. In Sweden, universities treat students as adult

with the help of teaching assistants. In Sweden, professors

individuals who are responsible for their own decisions. For

were somewhat hard to find and make appointments with.

every single class. In contrast, attending class is a personal

problems. Most of the time masters students work as teaching

example, in Taiwan attendance is an important factor con-

sidered when grading. It is compulsory to attend to almost choice in Sweden, except for those few classes where attend-

ance is required. Furthermore, in Taiwan we have numer-

ous quizzes, pieces of homework and assignments in order

to complete the courses. Professors push students to study by holding quizzes every week. When taking a course at a Swedish university, things are different. All the tasks, expec-

tations and planned lectures are clearly presented in the be-

ginning of the course. Advice is given on how students most easily can pass the course. Students can then choose to fol-

low the guidance given or to study the way that they them-

selves deem to be most fitting. The workload is often much heavier than in Taiwan and therefore you could face serious

problems at the end of the study period if you do not manage your time well.


Universities in Taiwan treat students like high school students, telling them what they should and should not do.


During the exam preparation in Taiwan, it is very helpful to have a teaching assistant to turn to. Particularly if you are

an international student who does not know how everything

works in class, it was a perfect way to catch up the lectures

The only way to communicate with them was through email and there was no specific person who could help us with our

assistants in Taiwan, which means that it is easy to visit them in their office and ask them directly if there is any problem with your studies.

Another aspect that deserves a few words is the lecture style. When I was studying in high school back in Mongolia, all

the students were allowed to stop professors any time and ask questions if the content was unclear. When I started my bachelor degree in Taiwan, I realized that nobody asks question

during the lecture. It is allowed to do so, but nobody wants to embarrass themselves by asking questions. Therefore, stu-

dents ask questions after the lecture. I adopted this non-inter-

active style during lectures for my 4 years in Taiwan. In contrast, most of the Chalmers lectures I took involved massive

interactions between students and professors. Every issue brought forward by a professor was discussed in small groups

and arguing with the professor was not considered strange. It took some time for me to get used to this over-interactive

style of lectures, yet the lectures that left the deepest impressions on me were the ones that featured group discussions.

In conclusion, it is difficult to say which educational struc-

ture is better since Taiwan and Sweden are two completely different countries with different cultures. However, I think

that Taiwan should adopt some Swedish methods to improve

creativity and the confidence of students. Since the grade is foremost criteria of worship in Taiwan, only hard working stu-

dents are appreciated by the public. With that said, being creative and confident does not come from having good grades.

Khongorzul Boldkhuyag


Studying at National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan.

Currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and Management. Former exchange student at Chalmers University of Technology


- The New Way of Travelling


re you tired of expensive hotels with impersonal bedrooms? Tired of cheap hostels without hot water

in the shower? Tired of boring breakfasts with over-cooked or raw eggs? Then you should try couchsurfing!

Couchsurfing is exactly what it sounds like: travelers meet locals to sleep in their houses, to learn more about

their culture or just to hang out as friends over a cup of coffee. While the notion of couchsurfing is as old as the traveller and the friendly houseowner, it has become a hugely popu-

lar and well-organized concept in recent years thanks to the ever-increasing access to Internet.

The couchsurfer community was founded in 2004 by Ca-

50 students offered their homes to this stranger. He realized that the willingness among people to help travellers out was

probably not limited to Iceland but existed worldwide. The idea was then born to create a platform on which people could offer their homes as a place to stay for anyone who

happened to come by their city or town. Fenton’s assump-

tions were shown to be true - the service was a great success

and today more than 7 million people located in 100 000 cities are members of the community and have made the deci-

sion to become a part of the couchsurfing family.

He realized that the willingness among people to help travellers out was probably not limited to Iceland but existed worldwide.


sey Fenton. After finding a cheap ticket from his hometown

Similar to other web communities, a person who wants

he asked for a place to stay. The response was very good -

event. When you are travelling, use the surf tag to search for

of Boston to Iceland, he was struck by an idea. He sent an

email to 1500 students at the University of Iceland in which


to be a member has to sign up and create a profile. The community is divided into three major categories: surf, host and

people in a certain city and ask them if they can host you.

a review function where other people who met the member

the host page you can describe how many people you can

tive and give a comment of what you did or about how the

cepted”, “maybe” or “declined”, attached with a comment. On host and if you have any special requirements of the peo-

ple who stays in your house. Do not forget to answer when you receive requests for hosting even if you have to decline

them. The third main category is events. When you are in

a city where you unfortunately cannot host anyone but you still want to meet travelers or locals, just create an event and

try to gather as many people as possible. Ask if they want to

team up for a bowling night, football match or just go out and have a beer.

All the contacts you will make begin at your profile. Therefore upload a picture or two, write down your inter-

ests and hobbies and why you want to be a couchsurfer. Try to sell yourself and write few interesting facts and sentences about your life and make sure that the readers get interested in you and contact you.

As always when meeting people online you have to be

careful. Use common sense and trust your gut feeling - if

something seems off about a potential host or guest, it is better to decline the offer or request. To improve the safeness of

meeting people for the first time, provides

before can write comments about him or her. After you have

met a person, rate your meeting as positive, neutral or nega-

other person was. Those reviews can be viewed by other

members so take a look at the reviews before your make an

appointment with someone.

My first experience of couchsurfing was in Yangoon, the capital of Myanmar, where my friend and I were hosted by two friends we met in a bar.

After that, you will receive answers to your requests as “ac-

My first experience of couchsurfing was in Yangoon, the cap-

ital of Myanmar, where my friend and I were hosted by two friends we met in a bar. The experience was really interesting and I decided to sign up as a member in the community.

In Singapore I have hosted two persons from Germany and Latvia and I will probably continue to host people back in Sweden.

My friend Paco, who has been a member since 2012, introduced me to couchsurfing. You can read an interview with

him on the next page where he talks about his experiences with this new way of travelling.

Potential boards for Couchsurfers.


What is your advice regarding the profile? The key to couchsurfing is the reference system and to get good references you have to be nice to people. You must

highlight all the positive facts about you and try to write it in an interesting way. A good thing to do before you start

to travel is to attend meetings and meet people just to give and receive some reviews. Your profile looks much better

if you have a couple of positive reviews. The meetings are always free and the people are nice so the only thing you need to sacrifice is your time.

Name: Paco Muro Age: 21 years

Nationality: Spanish

Couchhosted: 5 people Couchsurfed: 5 times

Why do you use I use it to get more information from locals about their

culture. When I meet a guy and he says he uses couchsurfing, I know for sure that he is open minded and wants to meet new people and share his experience. If he would

not be interested of meeting new people then he probably would not have registered himself to the community.

Do you have any favourite memory connected to couchsurfing? When I host people I try to take them to cheap places

without any entrance fee and just walk around the city or

use the local transportation system. This story is from the first time I hosted someone, a Polish girl, and she laughed so hard all the time. She laughed at all bad jokes which were not funny at all but she liked them somehow and

Do you think it is difficult to use the Couchsurfing platform? No, it is as easy to use as Facebook. You just search for

people by their names or a city and probably you’ll have a lot of matches. Look at their profile and pick someone to start a conversation with. Couchsurfing is not just about hosting people; if you live with your parents you can at-

tend meetings, do language exchange, sport activities or help someone with his/her project. The average age is

20-30 years so almost everyone is in the same age which makes it easier to find interesting topics to discuss.

Is there any fees to be in the couchsurfer community?

It is free to become a member but if you want to verify

your profile with your real name, an extra fee of 25 USD will be charged. About 1 million users are verified but none of my friends are so in reality it does not matter.

So if you want to try a new way of travelling and meet new locals or foreigners - go to, sign up,

when we sat on a bus taking us to one of the parks down-

create an interesting profile and I guarantee you that you will

others beside us started smiling and laughing. That was a

Joakim Ericson

town she started to laugh and all passengers onboard the bus started to stare at us. She continued laughing and the funny moment.

meet a lots of new friends.

Studying at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Applied Mechanics.




Amazing Chinese he Mandarin language has over 1 billion speakers,

which is more than for any other language. It is spo-

ken mostly in China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, but also widely used in so called Chinatowns all over the world.

As I am sure you are well aware of, Chinese is written with

characters, not letters. Chinese characters actually represent the oldest writing system in the world. Archaeologists have

found early forms of Chinese writing on cattle bones and tor-

toise shells over 3000 years old! The characters give another

dimension to the language, but it also makes it hard for foreigners to learn. Fortunately, in the 1950s, a system called

pinyin (meaning spelled-out sounds), was created in order to be able to write and pronounce Chinese with the Roman


Actually, there are two types of Chinese characters: traditional and simplified. The version you choose to learn is up

to you; Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong and overseas Chinese communities use traditional characters while China uses

stead of saying “I want to ask you”, said “I want to kiss you”.

These misunderstandings are fortunately not that common since words are always put in a certain context.

In every language you can find a tongue twister - an combi-

nation of words that is really hard to pronounce. Chinese is no exception. If you can get this sentence right, you can label

yourself as master of tones. If you arze interested of how it sounds like, go to guide/facts.shtml.

四是四,十是十,十四是十四,四 十是四十,四十四只石狮子是死的 Sì shì sì, shí shì shí, shísì shì shísì, sìshí shì sìshí, sìshísì zhī shí shīzi shì sǐ de.

“Four is four, ten is ten, fourteen is fourteen, forty is forty. Forty four stone lions are dead.”

simplified. The difference between the two is that simplified

Interested in learning more? There are plenty of ways to get

Chinese character for country (pinyin: “guó”)

Lǎoshī, an American who teaches Mandarin Chinese in a fun

characters have fewer strokes than traditional and take a shorter time to write.

国 國 Simplified


In Chinese, the use of tones plays a vital part. It is said that

people who have a good singing voice will learn to speak

faster. Mandarin Chinese has four tones, meaning that each syllable can be pronounced in four different ways. Usually, each tone gives the syllable at least one meaning, which

might lead to confusion if the words are pronounced wrong. In the following example the only difference between the two sentences is the tone mark above the “e” in the syllable

“wen”, but the meaning is entirely different. If you intend to

ask someone a question and begin your sentence with “Wǒ xiǎng wěn nǐ” as opposed to “Wǒ xiǎng wèn nǐ”, you have in-

to it today and start learning by using online tools. Search for “Chinese with Mike” on YouTube and you will find Mike and educational way by using 10 minute clips with various topics.

You can also visit, to get a new perspec-

tive of how to learn Chinese. Start by listening to the founder, ShaoLan Hsueh, talk about her views of Chinese: www.ted. com/talks/shaolan_learn_to_read_chinese_with_ease.html Good luck!

Elin Almbacke


Studying at National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and Management. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Management and Economics of Innovation.


Photos by Crist Tsai.

Marriage and Dating in Europe and China B

efore two people assure their feelings for each oth-

er, going on a date is the most common and essential

step to get to know more about one another and maybe in the future become husband and wife. However, the ways of dating often vary between different cultures. If you are dating a foreign person and you are

not sure about the dating culture he or she has, it is likely that you

might embarrass yourself on the date and end up having an unpleasant dating experience. Also,

because of these cultural differ-

from both Europe and China. They hope to make a good im-

pression during the date. However, the women from China

usually expect much more than the European women. They

would expect the man to plan the date in beforehand or to make a reservation in a nice restaurant in advance. If a man

“If you are dating a foreign person and you are not sure about the dating culture he or she has, it is likely that you might embarrass yourself on the date or end up having an unpleasant dating experience.�

ences, the importance of marriage

invites a Chinese woman out on a date and asks her what they should do when they go out, it would more or less destroy the

impression that the woman has

of the man. You might wonder

what happens if it instead was the woman who asked the man out.

might differ a lot between the two potential lovers. This arti-

Actually, Chinese women value tradition and do not want to

ferent perspectives they have about marriage.

Chinese woman you should always take the initiative and

tions for the men are usually pretty much the same for men

bly will make the blossoming relationship eventually die out.

cle gives a clearer picture about the dissimilarities between

the Chinese way of dating and the European way and the dif-

Everyone going on a date has expectations. The expecta-


risk losing their face and for this reason this situation is very rare in China. Therefore, if you want to go on a date with a

never wait for her to ask you out. Otherwise you can expect to have slow progress between the two of you, which proba-

Another thing about going on a date with a Chinese wom-

parents until they reach a quite mature age. This often con-

pect men to pay for them. Not only for the dinner, but for

Therefore, it is not unusual to find married Chinese couples

an is that the man should make sure his wallet have enough money to pay for two persons. Chinese women usually ex-

every expenditure during the date. This is different from the

European viewpoint. The same thing is also expected during

the whole relationship later. Unlike the European perception on equality between men and women, in China it is normal

to have the men to pay for everything. This idea most likely

tinue even after people have got married. The reason is usually that they cannot afford to pay for their own apartment.

living together with their parents after marriage. After a Chinese couple gets married, the man usually is the one who

goes to work and supports the household, while the woman

comes from the traditional Chinese concept about men play-

ing a stronger role in the society compared to women. This practice in China is so prevalent that if the man does not pay for the woman on the date, he could be regarded as impolite

and rude, and the woman can use this as a justified excuse not to date this man anymore.

“This practice in China is so prevalent that if the man does not pay for the woman on the date, he could be regarded as impolite and rude, and the woman can use this as a justified excuse not to date this man anymore.”

Chinese and European people see the importance of marriage in different ways. Compared to Europe, the marriage

ratio in China is considerably much higher. It is because the Chinese people are deeply affected by the ethical ideas of

Confucianism and therefore they highly value the significance of establishing their own family. A family established without the support of marriage would appear strange in the

eyes of the Chinese people. From their point of view, marriage is an official act of recognition of accepting someone to be a part of a new family, and this act of recognition is very

important in the Chinese society. In contrast to this strong belief, Europeans tends to have a more casual attitude to-

wards marriage.

The married life differs a lot between the European culture

and the Chinese culture. In Europe, it is common for a young adult to move out from their parent’s home at a rather young

age. In China, however, people often choose to stay with their

usually stays at home and does housework. In Europe, on the other hand, both the man and woman should work and do

housework for sake of fairness, so they make equal contribution to the household.

As dating cultures and marital practices are varies, being open-minded and understanding are the keys to maintain a relationship between people coming from different cultural

backgrounds. Therefore, genuine and open communication are of particular importance to the couple as it is the criti-

cal way for them to understand and adapt to each other’s culture. Nevertheless, despite the potentially higher amount of difficulties they may have compared to a couple with the same cultural background, as long as the love is true and genuine, they will overcome any barriers.

Erik Bjerke


Studying at City University of Hong Kong. Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Automation and Mechatronics. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in System Control and Mechatronics.



Tasteful Restoration or Nostalgic Commercialism?


n the heart of buzzing Shanghai lies a tranquil urban oasis named Xintiandi, literally meaning New World.

Among traditional brick houses you find jazz bars and peo-

The project was developed by the Shui On Group, who origi-

nally wanted to construct new high-rise hotels and shopping

centres, but was hindered due to the Asian financial crisis.

ple dining as well a steady stream of camera wielding tour-

Shui On was forced to rethink their development plan and


original Lilong houses on the site, an idea that was appreci-

dio Shanghai with head architect Benjamin Wood and was

some houses, but also kept in some areas. Without an origi-

city and one of the most well known commercial spots in

The Xintiandi development project was designed by Stu-

completed in 2003. Covering two city blocks in the Tai Ping Qiao area in central Shanghai, it houses commercial busi-

nesses such as restaurants, bars, high fashion dress shops and a few museums. The blocks were originally a traditional

Lilong residential area, but were redesigned into a mixed-

use commercial area after need of renovation. The Lilong housing, (“li” means community and “long” means lanes),

is a type of community-and-lane urban dwelling form. This was the predominant housing type in central Shanghai from the 1870s until 1990s when development took a new turn.

The Lilong housing areas consist of a block containing different numbers of houses and lanes dependent on when it

instead go for lower buildings of five stories. Architect Benjamin Wood proposed to preserve and re-use some of the

ated by the government and developers alike. The original masterplan of the area was modified with the demolition of nal intention, Xintiandi, being a commercial success, has be-

come a milestone for preservation architecture in Shanghai as well as the rest of China.

Without an original intention, Xintiandi, being a commercial success, has become a milestone for preservation architecture in Shanghai as well as the rest of China.

ists. Since 2003 Xintiandi has been a trademark for Shanghai

was built. In the block there are two different kinds on lanes,

When the Lilong was first built, it was for the middle and

can get to the sub lanes, which lead you to the private homes.

housing became heavily populated, and an apartment for one

main- and sub lanes. The main lane is usually wider and leads to the entrance of the houses. From the main lane you

This “lane net” creates a special and unique community and connects private homes to each other.


working class, and had a good living standard for that time.

When more people moved to Shanghai in the 1910s Lilong

family became a home for up to four families. The Lilongs of today are still very crowded, more or less dilapidated and in

a great need of improvement. The living standard is poor with lack of running-water, electricity and heating. Still the

residents in these neighbourhoods thrive with a great sense of communion that exists between the houses in the main lanes and the sub lanes.

The idea when redesigning the blocks was to preserve

the outside walls and Lilong style but completely redesign

the interiors. The roofs were lifted and strengthened with reinforced concrete and then reinstalled. Some of the old

houses were demolished and replaced by modern shopping malls, its steel and glass structures highly contrasting the

ning) to far away suburban housing blocks, leaving only the

The Shui On Group made no secret of wanting to make a

You might call Xintiandi nostalgic commercialism. But

there are many wealthy businesses in the area, providing

Chinese accounts for nearly 50 percent of the world’s luxury

old brick houses.

high standard development. The restaurants and stores are for those with good salary. Being very central in the city an elite clientele. Prices are much higher than other places

in town and many locals feel rejected, even using phrases like ‘not daring to go there’.

Prices are much higher than other places in town and many locals feel rejected, even using phrases like ‘not daring to go there’.

That being said there is no doubt that the two small busi-

ness blocks have a special atmosphere. Inside the old brick

walls, beneath the trees, there is a relaxed environment that is relieved from Shanghai’s constant alarm of traffic.

Comparing it to the first intended high-rise shopping malls,

there is a genuine city vibe here. But calling it Lilong, as in

community lane, would be unfitting. The previous residents have been relocated (the Chinese standard for urban plan-

Alexander Gösta

Text and Photo

Studying at Tongji University, Shanghai. Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture and Engineering. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Architecture and Urban Design.

facades of the Shikumen Lilong behind.

we would rather see it as a merge of the new Shanghai with

the old. Shanghai is the shopping Mecca of China and the consumption. For a project to be viable in central Shanghai

shopping malls seems to be a necessity. In Xintiandi the developers have managed to use the commercialism to be able

to preserve something of the historical spirit instead of creating another soulless indoor air-con environment.

In 2003 the “Preservation Regulations of Historic and Cultural Districts and Historic Buildings of Shanghai City” was enforced. In its wake more projects show a will to also look

back at the historical context of the site. For example there is the Tianzifang art district and the smoking hot Rock Bund

neighbourhood by the Bund, both preserving the original facades and renovating the insides, more and more conserv-

ing the traditional construction methods and thus the old feeling. We look upon Shanghai’s ambitious attempts to pre-

serve intimate historic places with hope. In the midst of the speed breaking development of shining glass towers in the

new China, some projects are fighting for the cultural heritage carried by architecture.

Ellen Simonsson


Studying at Tongji University, Shanghai. Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture and Engineering. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Architecture and Urban Design.


asiaInterview Photo by Marcus Ahlberg.

Describe a normal day at work! My work is pretty varied so there is no real normal day at work. Sometimes I will be drawing the circuit diagrams

for the machines, looking up the data for different components and such. Other times I will be writing the control programs for machines and testing to make sure my

program works. Every once in a while I will even spend

a day or two in the workshop, doing wiring an electrical

panel or so, it’s a nice break from sitting in the office chair for eight hours.

Name: Anders Twetman

Education: Automation and Mechatronics

What is the biggest difference between working as an engineer in Sweden and in Taiwan?

Works at: Swedish Healthcare Limited

Anders was the Editor in Chief at Chalmers International Taiwan Office 2008/2009.

Why did you choose to move back to Taiwan? I must admit, the main reason I moved back to Taiwan was so I could be close to my Taiwanese girlfriend. Of course

she could have moved to Sweden but I was kind of unsatisfied with my job, so instead of just changing jobs, I took the opportunity to move to Taiwan.

How has your exchange year affected you and your professional life in Asia?

I think the biggest difference is in the attitudes of my colleagues and the way work is structured. In Sweden, the

managers usually focus on the administrative duties and have very little, if any, knowledge of the actual engineering. Here the managers are more directly involved with

the engineering work. In Sweden I also find there is more freedom in your work, the managers trust that you do what you are supposed to and it’s much less formal.

What advice would you give to a Chalmers student wanting to work in Asia? My advice for anyone wanting to work in Asia would be to prepare before you go, try to study a bit of the local lan-

My exchange year at NCTU has given me a great deal of

guage, or if you have the chance, do an exchange year like I

my friends and family and it was frustrating to not speak

contact the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in the country

ability to solve problems and to deal with life in general.

active around and directly after the Chinese New Year, that

life experience. There were times during that year that

were really tough. I felt the weather was too hot, I missed the language; but I made it. I came out on the other side

stronger, with more confidence in myself and in my own And of course, I learnt a new language and got to meet

new people and experience their culture, and I had a lot of fun on the way. As far as my professional life goes, I think that having that experience before coming to work here

has been very useful for my ability to communicate. Not only do I speak the language, but I also understand the

Taiwanese peoples logic and way of thinking. I also feel my experience from the exchange year make me more valu-


able in the job market in general.

did. It could also be a good idea to talk to anyone who has

knowledge of the particular country, if nothing else, try to you want to go to. Be prepared for longer hours and less

vacation. When you are looking for a job, make sure to be

is generally the time when the companies have vacancies.

Anna Ohlin

Studying at National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan.


Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Infrastructure and Environmental Engineering.

A Burmese fisherman collects the catch.



George Orwell, influential writer and social critic of his time, was stationed in Burma in the 1920s. He once said that among the colonies in the service of the British Empire, Burma (or Myanmar as is the official name since the government’s controversial renaming in 1989) was the one possessing the highest potential to succeed after being declared independent. On a December trip to this beautiful country, I found myself enchanted by its people and atmosphere.


eneath Burma’s azure sky and dense forests lie

ment nationalized or gained control over commerce, indus-

percent of the world’s teak and rubies respectively). Know-

rest of the world. During this period Burma became one of

vast amounts of resources such as minerals, oil, natu-

ral gas and precious stones (it supplies 80 percent and 90

ing this, I could not help but wonder what changed the country’s bright future into being ranked the poorest country in the world, along with Ethiopia by the British weekly maga-

zine The Economist in 2000.

My newly awakened curiosity rallied me into finding out what happened to the once wealthiest country in Southeast

Asia. Having been a British colony for 62 years, Burma was

declared independent in the aftermath of World War II. Af-

ter initial years of civil war, Burma started to rebuild and to recover economically with the help of foreign aid. However,

the political situation escalated and the Army Chief of Staff

General as well as the leader of the caretaker government staged a coup d’état and seized power in 1962. He transformed Burma from a multi-party union into a single party

state where only the Socialist Party was allowed to operate.

This was the starting point of the world’s longest running

military dictatorship. Over the following years the govern-

try and media. In addition, a Soviet-style central plan model was implemented, fully isolating the young republic from the the most impoverished countries in the world.

If the struggling economy and racing inflation was not enough, there was another hassle during these times. A fellow traveler enlightened me of the troubling superstitions of

the former leader of the military government. Apparently he held a fascination for lucky numbers, inducing him to change the denominations of bills constantly and declaring old bills

useless. Examples of this irrational power abuse are the 75

kyat notes introduced to commemorate the general’s 75th birthday, or the 45 and 90 kyat notes, both multiples of his favorite number 9.

When I strolled through the vibrant streets of Burma’s biggest city Yangon I could see posters and paintings of

Burma’s democracy fighter and leader of the opposing party,

National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San Suu Kyi hanging everywhere. I bet not too many years ago people would have been arrested for having such pictures out in the

open. In 1988, when the ruined national economy caused yet another giant currency devaluation, massive street pro-

tests emerged. This caused the military government to con-

fidently call a national election in 1990 only to see Aung San


Suu Kyi’s NLD win a raging 80 percent of the assembly seats.

Despite the sad history of this poverty-stricken coun-

tinued to more or less rule the country until 2011 when the

that tourists have not been allowed in the country for so

Having placed Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest prior to

the election, the military refused to give up power and conjunta was finally dissolved.

Things started to look brighter for Burma and since then

the government has initiated a couple of democratic reforms as well as releasing Aung San Suu Kyi from her house arrest.

Opinions still differ, nonetheless, regarding the true inten-

tions of these reforms. This was confirmed when I met one third of comedy trio the Moustache Brothers, once imprisoned due to government criticism at their comedy club with the same name. He told me that being military or in a mili-

tary family gives you superior benefits, not applicable to the rest of the population, confirming the ongoing abusive military rule.

Things started to look brighter for Burma and since then the government has initiated a couple of democratic reforms as well as releasing Aung San Suu Kyi from her house arrest.

try the friendliness of the charming Burmese is not to be underestimated. This might partially be due to the fact

long. Nevertheless, the curious Burmese is always eager to engage in conversation and will approach you if you

are standing still too long in the same place. With un-

derstandably poor English skills and a lot of enthusiasm

they sure do their very best to socialize with the foreigner in the street. The greeting “Hello where you from” are

followed up by noun-pointing in the proximity, “boat -

restaurant - fisherman” and so on. The pleasant encounter usually ends with a good bye and a bloody beautiful

smile, literally speaking. The Burmese are very fond of

chewing “Betel nut”, their domestic version of chewing tobacco that has a deep red color often covering big parts of their mouth and teeth with blood-like substance.

Burma might not have turned into what was once pre-

dicted and it is indeed still a troubled land. But with a wind of change blowing, consisting of reforms and in-

creased foreign influence I can only hope that the openhearted people of Burma one day get what they truly deserve.

Johan Bertilsson

Text and Photo

Studying at The Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Supply Chain Management.


asiaApply Chalmers International Taiwan Office - A part of Chalmers’ WorldWide Programme


he economies in East Asia have showed a remark-

able development during the end of the 20th cen-

tury. Japan has become accompanied by China among the

world’s economic giants. The region is interesting, dynamic

Chalmers International Taiwan Office staff 2013/2014. Photo by Mattias Skog.

from Singapore to Japan within their professions. With this

How to apply for WorldWide

and challenging. Among those with technical education, an

increasing portion will have contacts in the whole region in mind, Chalmers has developed a special exchange pro-

gramme based in Taiwan, giving students an opportunity to

study in and gain experiences from these economies.

The exchange programme, called “The Asia Programme”, is located at the National Chiao Tung University (NCTU), which

is one of the foremost technological university in Taiwan. NCTU is especially profiled within electronics and informa-

tion technology. However, in cooperation with the neighbouring National Tsing Hua University, the exchange covers

all the five-year programmes at Chalmers. Courses held in

either English or Mandarin can be chosen.

Parallel to the studies at NCTU the students maintain the

Chalmers International Taiwan Office, CITO. The work at

CITO includes arranging representation events for Taiwan-

ese students at NCTU, visiting companies and representing

Chalmers throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia as well as producing this magazine.

Contents of the Asia Programme Intensive course in Mandarin, 4 weeks in July August at NCTU in Hisnchu, Taiwan

Full academic year of engineering or architectural studies at NCTU

Maintenance of the Chalmers International Taiwan Office at NCTU

Company visits throughout East Asia



ou apply through the MoveOn portal (

php) before the 1st of December. Attach a cover letter along

with a photo of yourself. If you are a student of Architecture

or Architecture and Engineering you need to submit an additional portfolio. Choose two universities but do not forget to

find courses that match your master programme and double check this with the coordinator of you master programme.

The selection of which student that will be nominated for

Main requirements for WorldWide You must have:

Reached your third year of studies at an engineering or architecture programme The minimum average grade of 3.7

Finished at least 120 hp by the 1st of December which university is based only on the grades of the students and the cover letter is used to distinguish between students

with the same average grade. In the beginning of January you are informed whether or not you have been nominated for a

university. If you are not nominated, for any of the universi-

ties you applied for, you still have a chance to study abroad by applying in the second selection for the universities that still have vacancies to fill.

For more information, visit

CHALMERS IN ASIA Studying at Chalmers does not limit you to Sweden. Through the WorldWide program, Chalmers students are given the opportunity to study at a range of Asian universities. Likewise, students from many different countries are invited to study at Chalmers in Sweden.

Sendai, Japan Tohoku University

Beijing, China Tsinghua University

Tokyo, Japan The University of Tokyo Tokyo Institute of Technology

Shanghai, China Tongji University Shanghai Jiaotong University Seoul, South Korea Konkuk University Seoul National University

Dehli, India Indian Institute of Technology Dehli

Hsinchu, Taiwan National Chiao Tung University

Chalmers International Taiwan Office

Hong Kong, China City University of Hong Kong Chinese University of Hong Kong The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Singapore Nanyang Technological University The National University of Singapore



Chalmers University of Technology

SE-412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden Phone: +46 (0)31 772 10 00

Profile for CITO

Asia Magazine #23  

Asia Magazine #23  


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