Sunday, June 29, 2008

Day 34- June 28th: very drunk and confused

Pic: Alex and his/our friend Balasz

Today I met up with my new 19 year old friend Alex I met in a club the night before. We arranged to have lunch together and this made me feel a little dirty and a little like Gregory (lol a little insider joke, we love you Greg). It was a interesting because I think alex really likes me and is very intrigued by me but the down fall is he speak the least English out of everyone I have met in Hungary. This meant our verbal conversation almost doesn't exist and body language, drawing and writing are more useful in this case. We managed to have a interesting time together regardless of the obstacles we faced. We took a nice walk on he Danube, went shopping on Vaci street and had ice cream.

A side note:

I was hit on by a old Hungarian man today; he pretended to be lost and asked me for directions and just would't take a hint. He was at least a little sauvey than other guys I have encountered, he also made kissing sounds at me. This happened around 1130am.

Later in the evening I went to a couple of bars and clubs and had a bit too much to drink. I got really sick and was pucking for a couple of hours... I have used up my once a year drunken privileges last night. Today I am really paying for my sins last night. my roommate Andreas took really good care of me last night and thank him for that. We always have such interesting and candid conversations.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Day 33- June 27th: Tell me why logic doesn't exist in OZ, Wonderland and Budapest!!!

pic: chairlift gondola ride down
pic: teenage train station gang

My friend Attila invited me for an outing today and I thought it would be nice to go explore the maze-like cave systems on the Buda side. We took the bus to an out-skirt part of the city and had a very nice walk in the mountain and through dense forest. The view of the hills around with Budapest in the basin was amazing. We also saw some strange wild life and tons of interesting bugs. We must have walked about 45 mins and I kept asking him where is this cave located and he kept on saying 'almost there'.

When we finally reached the mountain top but there was no cave in-sight. Only thing was a chair-lift gondola ride down the steep hills. We were both very confused and I finally called Beata and asked her the Hungarian pronunciation for “cave”. Attila was way wrong.. he thought I meant a ride down the hill but I meant to walk down underground into a 'cave'; regardless of the mistake it was a nice time.

We had a nice lunch at Mammoth- a mall built on ancient mammoth habitat (like the La Brea Tar-pit), the mall interior is dotted with display boxes of fossils of mammoth bones found on constructing the mall.

I than went to Gallert bath (built in the 1800's) by myself and it was what I expected: grand and very ornate. I actually prefer the a little run down Turkish ones (built in the 1600's) because it felt more 'real' to me and it feels like you have been taken back in time.

I than decide to go get my train ticket to Bratislava, Slovakia. I arrived at 6:48pm and was #706 and they were on the #630 I almost pass out because only 2 windows were open and 100 people waiting for their # to be called. During the 1 hour an 45 mins of my wait, I have encounter, angry, frustrated tourists, menacing teen gangs, tearful mothers, tricky con- artists, and all sorts of colorful people. Did I mention all tickets are issued by hand and written by hand! How delightful!

Also since I will be going to Prague from Bratislava I asked for 1 one- way ticket but she issued a round trip ticket I noticed the mistake and told the ticketing lady immediately but silly me; apparently one-way cost 22 euros and round trip cost 16 euros. So everyone gets a round trip ticket and save money! I am sure this experience makes going through immigration in the USA like going for a free shopping spree!

Also one additional note on the post office trip a couple of days ago, I went back and mailed more postcards and they do have computers and postage printer they just prefer to lick the stamp and stick 3 stamps per postcard manually because it doesn't matter if you help 100 guests per 8 hour shift or 10 guests. It's a government job and they just don't care... this element of the old soviet socialist really sucks ass.

Another odd thing: lot of men here mostly guys under the age of 35 shave or trimmed their underarm hair but some of them are missing more than a few teeth; try this for logic.
I have come to realized logic doesn't really work in Budapest. No one runs this country and you are govern by cashiers, train station, subway and theater Attendants. As long as you have money and a ticket you are ready to rock!

Day 32- June 26th: The island at night and lost.

This morning I finalized bookings for my travels to Bratislava, Prague and Vienna trip and I feel a great sense of relief. I can't wait to travel to these places but this also saddens me because I know by the time I am done with this I must return home. I already feel a sense of lost...

I decided I wanted to go to People's Park and it is one of the biggest parks in Budapest. I felt like Central Park in NYC and a wondeful and peaceful setting. As I was walking on the path some guy thought I was 'working'! I was deeply offended.. here i am walking in the park and he wanted to do 'sex bussiness' as he put it. What is wrong here? it like being apporched by the Mormens...maybe i shouldn't be so uptight about it.

All of us went to the art exhibit from the Artists in Residency last year and the works were very good and the gallery space was very nice. I can't believe how many people showed up and I hope they purchased some art work. After the reception we had a wonderful little wine and desert gathering at a nice restaurant and everyone had a good time.

Andrea and I went to Margit island for a night walk, the entrance of the island was packed with people on this hot Thursday evening. We walked all the way acrossed the island and realized it's a lot larger then we thought. It 22 city blocks long and about 8 blocks at the widest point. It was dark but I do think we saw some people having sex in the bushes and on the park bench. It was very dark so we didn't see very much of the island. I think I will rent a bicycle next time.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Day 31- June 25th: The dead have it all and the living have New York Palace!

Beata stopped by the hotel and checked on us this morning and she always tend to sneaks her way next to me or pop up around me. She is like a cat on the tippy toes. I am always surprise to see her or hear her talking near by and than realized she is right there, next to my face. I saw other artists work and it's so interesting and people are getting all sorts of different inspirations from being in Hungary. I know I will be doing more residencies around the world and this being my first and it will always have special place in my heart. I will never forget about these wonderful and meaningful experiences.

I tried to catch up with my blog, flicker, and email this morning and did a bit of research on fining hostels in Bratislava and Prague for my up coming travel before heading back to the States. I also went to the local post office and finally sent the postcards out. The postmasters even personally licked the stamps and put it on for me!!!! It's great but they don't use computers so everything is manual and each person takes up a good amount of time.

I than took the train to Buda side and had lunch at my friend's restaurant. This was my 6th time and he had been so nice and treated me all these times but I have also been teaching him English in return. I should really learn more Hungarian words but it is a very difficult language.
After lunch and English lessons, my roommate Andreas and I went to the Keleti Cemetery for a morbid art discovery walk. I really love this experience!!! I was amazed by how many beautiful century old tome stones are in this peaceful place. A wonderful collection of amazing art and sculpture work that's worthy of being in any world-class museums. We must have walked around for a couple of hours and took some pictures, some with strange poses that I think I might go to hell for. I did leave some flowers for the souls I disturbed. The place is so picturesque and the dead have it all. I thought about my mother briefly.

I suggested that we should have a drink at the New York Palace: a historic hotel and restaurant built by an American insurance businessman in the 1930's. Amazing building and wonderful interior, even though it's not my style of work but I very much appreciate it's beauty and details. Being in such space made me realized how the upper class must have lived and the opulence of this place really shocking. Everything is over the top, the scale of the building, the detailed of the interior are ll expensive and material used in building will sure last a few hundred more years. I notice that we were drinking water from Italy, eating Éclairs from France in a building called The New York Palace in Budapest, Hungary.

Sometimes life can be as sweet as the Éclairs I had at the New York Palace but usually one is more than enough.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day 30- June 24th: same people, same behavior, different language, different country

I forgot to mention on yesterday's entry, the heat wave made me consumed 4 ice cream cones. It's the only way to stay cool. People young and old love ice cream here and I love seeing 70 year old lady licking an ice cream cone in swattering heat. That's just too adorable.

The heat continues and I immediately ran (took the train) to the Hungarian National Museum to escape the heat. I thought it was a cleaver idea but apparently the Hungarian treasure is used to the heat to and didn't need to be kept under a air conditioned building. The ancient artifact and antique were only minorly interesting and it covers the entire Hungarian history from AD1600 to AD1990. I think the museum has great potential they just need a good curator. There are just too many filler art pieces and reproduction in this massive space.

After the museum I just took a long walk around the city and my lord, people are really just the same as in LA and only different in forms. I saw people reading a book while riding a bicycle in traffic. I see people putting on make up while riding a bicycle. It's dangerous practice but people do it no matter where they are in the world.

Day 29- June 23ed: the wave is here.

Today was a record braking day; it had the highest temperature since last summer. The heat mixed with humidity made it not easy even for the simplest task like getting dressed. It's almost 90 by 10am and of course I suffered all day in the city that doesn't know the air conditioning actually exist in other parts ofthe world. I wanted to escape the heat by going to one of the museums I haven't visited but later realized Museums are closed on Mondays just like in the US, so no luck on that. By 1pm the entire city felt like a sauna and I wasn't sure if I should suffer the heat indoors or outdoors.

I met up with my “somewhat” English speaking friend Sandor and his roommate Adam for a drink and had interesting conversation regarding popular culture and alternative life styles in Budapest. Adam is a English- Hungarian proof reader so his speak English very well and it was nice to have this conversation with Hungarians that can carry a meaningful conversation in English.

Adam left shortly and Sandor and I continued the evening without him, and a couple of hours later he too left but during our chat I ran into Alltila. This is like musical chairs of chats.... We had a fun talk with the bar tender and a Finnish pilot. He is the same age as I am and he wanted me to guess his age and I came up with 43. I was being fair and asked him to stop drinking beer because he was having his 20th bottle of beer. He was amusing and his called himself Mr. T. I don't know why but he really resents America, American politics and even the American people. I have been sensing that same emotion in Europe but usually only towards American politics.

The night falls but the heat lingered and another day ended.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dear Friends: ...

Dear Friends,

Just a little update on my latest: I finished the International Artist-in-Residency program in Budapest, Hungary on June 13th, and saw many wonderful things in this historic old city. I also created 3 really good works of art here. The pieces are staying in Budapest for at least 3 scheduled shows this year and next year. The first group show is coming up on August 2nd, 2008, and I'll send more information about it later. I also decided to stay in Budapest for another month, which will allow me to do a bit more sightseeing and traveling, with the hope of gaining a deeper understanding of many cultures of Eastern Europe.

I have already spent 5 days in Vienna, Austria, and it was a great experience. Since then, I have returned to Budapest and joined the second group of 6 artists from the U.S., Greece, and England. I also plan to make at least one more art piece. This has been an amazing opportunity for me to be here; learning, making and seeing art. I will be doing a bit more traveling in early July. I will visit Bratislava, Slovakia; Prague, Czech Republic; and back to Vienna for a total of 10 days before I return home to Los Angeles in mid-July.

For those of you that have patiently waited for my appearance on HGTV, I am sorry I just did not have a chance to email you the notice, but the show already aired during the late-night hours of June 17th and 18th. They are sending me a copy of the show, and from what I have heard... 'it looked good' but I haven't even seen it personally yet. It is scheduled to be rebroadcast at 7pm Eastern and Pacific time on August 23rd (check your local listings) .If you are interested in watching me on a design television show and can't wait that long, simply respond to this email and I will send you a copy of the DVD once I am back in the states.

Visit my travel Blog (diary) and Flickr (photos) for all of my adventures--and sometimes misadventures!--in Eastern Europe.

The links can be found here:


Day28- June 22th: Hum... not a very eventful day

my roommate: Andreas We had our art presentation today but the room was very hot and air condition didn't work. We were cooking in the room for 5 hours. I found it hard to concentrate or speak about my work. After everyone finished we ran outs like a bunch of ants on a hot stove.

I went to my friend Alltila's restaurant and had another great lunch for free and a nice chat. Not every eventful the rest of the day; managed my Flickr site, did laundry, showered, and cleaned the room. I won't bored you with it so I will stop writing.

Day 27- June 21th: Art Night, my poor feet!

There are many moments in life when pain is deeply entangled with pleasure and tonight a rare event will bring both of of them together and make them a enjoyable as a pair.

Every year Budapest throws a party for the Art- lovers. The Museums and Galleries in the city are open all day and night until 4am with a low one time entry fee at 1,200 HUF and it's good for all museum and galleries. A great bargain because that is the price for one Museum entry. The town became more alive than ever, people young and old, lovers and old friends are all around the city for this major event. Big parties, special events, and performances are scheduled at most museums.

I met up with my roommate Andreas at 8pm at the Ludwig Museum- Budapest and we started there and 5 museum and galleries later it was already 2 am and we were exhausted. The city transportation hours was extended but all lines were jammed pack with passengers. It was a wonderful city-wide event but I wish it would have longer hours or the entire week ended like The Pasadena Art weekend.

My highlights are the wonderful interior space at the Applied Arts Museum. The white classic interior and it's large Hungarian antique collection is contrasted with video displays and ultra modern art installations. It worked seamlessly and wonderfully! The electronic music echo through the space where modern and classic blends much like the attendees of the event; punks, metrosexuals and century old people.

The Contemporary museum's Roman exterior is impressive and the interior is massive. I wish LA could have similar places for modern art. MOCA is nice and the shows are good but having 3 different small to mid-size galleries just doesn't work as well as MOMA or the Hungarian Contemporary museum did for me. The art there is mostly good but with some weak pieces but it was a enjoyable experience.

We finally got back to the hotel around 2:30am and tired as hell but we slept happily after seeing so many wonderful work.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Day26- June 20th: They asked why; I said Why not?

I had a few of interesting conversations with several different people today. They didn't know one another and came from different culture and social backgrounds. They all asked why have I decided to extend my stay in Budapest? What are the things I like about the country and the city? What the the things I do not like about the city?

This might seem a simple question but it actually involves a lot of analyzing. I know there is not one thing that would make me want to stay in Budapest longer than what I am supposed to. I like Budapest because it's real, human, and imperfect. It give you a sense of place but yet it is displaced on the crossroads of industrialized and socialist society. It's so unique because it's completely foreign and take me out of my comfort zone. It's lovely, beautiful when you look from afar but rundown, dirty and smelly when you are close.

People here are either super nice and go out of their way to help you or they simply don't care and scream at you. It's the city of two extremes and the city with hope. To me Vienna is perfect and what is there left to do when you live in a utopia?

I believe human being thrive on imperfections and Budapest is the place for thriving.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Day 25- June 19th- Life without Rudee

photo: in silence we stood.

After Vienna I was exhausted and slept till 2pm. I finally got myself up and moving and went to the cell phone store and recharged purchased more air time. Waled around mindlessly and came back to the residency for an Art opening! The work was interesting and it's by an children's book artist who lived till the age of 95. It's amazing how he painted with such innocence and child like at such old age.

Andrea (my new roommate) and I went for a long walk around the city, I tried to find the Artist Club where the last residency had dinner one night but was unsuccessful. So we end up getting a little lost but we did spend some great time on the Danube's bank and watched the rights across the water. It was a wonderful and peaceful experience. Later we went for a drink and chatted a little more.

We didn't talk the whole time, sometimes there is just silence between us but we did not feel uncomfortable or had the need to fill the space with sounds; at those moments we understood each other clearly.

Vienna day 6 / Budapest Day 24- June 18th: Day of the Dead

Today is my last day in Vienna and I want to maximized my time here by visiting as many culture institution as possible. It was a rude awakening by those Canadian college frat boys in the morning; apparently they didn't sleep at all and partied all night. The ear plug did me very little good.

My eyes were puffy and emotions bitchy and I wanted to murder somebody....I decided to go to the national library to see the History of Torture and it was a perfect matched for my mood that morning. The old national library is phnominal and it really gave me a grand impression what opulent life styles the Viennese have lived in the past few hundred years. The show was wonderful too. It's a show about pain, suffering, torment, cannibalism, death and injustice in history but all these things have a silver lining of hope and how humanity overcame such obstacles. I never knew death can be so inspiring!

I walked around Volksgarden area and decided why not let's spend some more money on Death; it's the theme of the day! What would be more dead than a 3500 year old Mummy!!!!! It's the King Tut show!When it first came to LA in 1970's it was a smash hit. I wanted too see what the fuss was all about and all I can say was wow!!!!!

I was expecting some dried mummies, some artifacts but what I found was beautiful priceless art and artifacts and more beautiful than I can ever imagined (no actual mummies in the show). At the end of the exhibit there is a quote: “----people of Egypt thought they had erased King Tut from history and Egyptians believe all the kings and pherrors live when their names are remembered and for King Tut was once again reborn and when his tomb was discovered he indeed archived immortality” I was very moved and I didn't need any mummies to impress me.

It was a good time meddling with death all morning and I decided some shopping would lighten up the day so I did that.. saw some really good sales and got some wonderful thing.
I have finally returned to Budapest in the evening and it was a long trip because how slow the train traveled; I went to bed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Day 5 in Vienna June 17th- Ebenfurth vs. Tonglo; what's the difference

Interesting day today; I have figured out that everyday is interesting and I wake up with excitement everyday and know that there is something in the store for me!

A great to get lost god said: so I did, I took train #8 at the train station and thought it was going to Beverdear gardens! It was #8 alright but it's scheduled to go to Budapest! I should have been on #8 street car not the train. It was 45 mins later before the first stop and I was 60 miles away from Vienna and if I had my luggage I would just go back to budapest but NO!

I ended up in a little town called Ebenfurth! I had to wait about another 45 mins for another train to come back to Vienna!
What a mis-adventure. I was amazed how the town of Ebenfurth is so much like Tunglo (Where my grand parents live in Taiwan); the train stations looked the same, the little villages feels the same, the farms look the same... I said what the hell what's the difference; people are all the same in this world. I am sure people in Tunglo have never heard of Ebenfurth and people in Ebenfurth doesn't know Tunglo exist. They live a paralleled universe!

I came back to Vienna and tried to salvage the day by visiting a the Kunsdalle Museum's Punk exhibition and it was ok... I didn't see or learned anything remarkable so I ventured near St. Stephen's church for a little shopping therapy. I feel cured, had the same dinner as I did the first night here in Vienna and went to a historical spa for some relaxation.

This is really a great opportunity for me to be here in Europe and I really thank god's plan, Beata's recognition, my mother's help and my boyfriend's support; without any of those elements I would not be here and have this amazing experience. As I was sitting on the train coming back from Ebenfurth, I rally thought of my mother and how she had always told me to 'go and see Europe, go travel', at the time I would always joke 'I have all the time in the world to see Europe after you die'. I didn't know this would be the reality of today and with the money she left me, I am indeed seeing Europe.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Day 4 in Vienna June 16th- Utopian confession

It was a great day today here in Vienna and I decided to visit the Architecture Museum based on my thoughts yesterday and after the visit my thoughts on Vienna are more defined and refined. I love it here but for some reason I really miss Budapest and can't wait to be back on Wednesday. I can't help but to draw more comparisons between Budapest, Vienna, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. LA really stands alone on this one because it's not your typical utopia, it's not even a good tourist destination and aside from it's major problems (dependence on automobile, lack of a true urban center and void of a good mess transit system) but it's a wonderful place to live. SF bay is really LA under it's facade but one has to choose: looking at the beautiful facade everyday or live in a wonderful climate. I don't think I can live in the cold climate of the bay area nor would I want to be in beauty constantly where i would loose the sense of appreciation. I think in all cases NYC is the perfect city in that sense but it's far proximity from nature is just too negative for me.

I love city life, where world class culture activities are just within your reach but we are human beings and need places to escape/ reflect and Central Park is simply not enough and 5 hours drive to get out of the city is not acceptable. This is where Budapest comes in; it's an ideal place; wonderful city life, and nature is just a bridge away; LA is that way too but the political climate and the under developed democracy makes Budapest not a suitable place for many to relocate.

Vienna is the perfect utopia in theory (or in appearance?) but very much like Communism it's wonderful in theory but humanity would not allow it and it's a wonderful fantasy. I also don't know how a middle class person would live in Vienna and it is only a utopia if you can afford it. I also feel the constant flow of tourist in Vienna is a bit tiring and the city should have a tourist containment zone (interesting architecture theory project).

After a few days in the city I do realized that If i ever give up on myself and need a third career to fall back on I should be a prostitute because there are 3 men so far, talked me on the street and made kissing sounds at me in Vienna. I now understand some women can feel totally harassed, I just want to give these guys a finger and said F you.

I also realized that my "big" sun glasses doesn't work here in Vienna and being Asian doesn't work either.... everyone dress so well here even older people. People are very fashionable without being cheap looking (like another european country i did my residency in, i won't give out any names) I can pin point whom are the locals and visitors especially Americans, they always wear shorts and a t shirt.

I miss Budapest because it has an authenticity that Vienna doesn't (or tries hard to hide or clean up).

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Day 1, 2& 3 in Vienna June 13, 14 and 15th- Reflections

If there is such thing as a perfect world Vienna would be one; cultural, clean, beautiful, historic, and wonderful art scenes. everything thing that people dream about.
I really love Vienna as a tourist just like how I love San Francisco as a tourist; at the first glance both cities are picturesque but the perfection of Vienna scares me a bit. Like many Americans dream of having that perfect white picked fenced yard, 2.5 kids, a dog and 2 mini vans. It might be someone else's reality but it's all too unreal to me. My first 2 days here have been wonderful!

Unlike in Budapest I no longer have to allocate time to schedule for peeing before being in public for a prolong period of time, public toilets are free and the Austrians are obsessed with cleaning. There are people and street washing trucks constantly cleaning washing the street all hours of the day. It seem like it's a impossible task but the city looks amazingly clean the cleanest metropolitan cities I have visited. People are so orderly here and I feel completely safe and there is no such thing as over charging here. It feels like i am in mega Mulberry st... that's what's so fake about it.
Can people be so perfect? can perfection exist?

I like Los Angeles and New York because it feels real but here not so much, this feels like Disneyland.
I spent 5 hours at the Ludwig museum one day and viewed a wonderful special exhibition called "bad painting, good art" I really enjoyed it, i found it very humorist and understood the artists messages or the lack of.

It's a 9 story museum the architecture itself its ok and the interior was lacking other than the connecting catwalks. First floor was my last stop (entry level is on 5th floor) and now I really understand where the term "basement art" came from, Shocking!!!!!

I have never seen art like this in a major institution, photos of killing dogs and use its body parts as art and bodies on people's private parts.... ewww. videos of people eating, peeing and pooping at the same time (with zoom on the pooping part)... videos of self cutting and bleeding allover the place... photo of pretend death with animal body parts. All done in the 50-60's vienna no special effects, all real.

I don't think I have this much pressure and negative emotions viewing art. It's faces of death video! I did get the underlining message from the art works. It showed a tremendous amount of anger, social unjust, confusion and a strong desire and hopelessness to move away from the tradition and classical art form Vienna is known for.
It's a painful message for the world to see but I am glad its documented.

I think this is why the perfection of Vienna scares me... The museum visit was symbolic: everything is nearly perfect until you reach the besement and for now I want Vienna to stay perfect in my memory so this time I won't venture down the basement.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Break For Art and maybe for Vienna too...

New art work by Benjamin Page: Art opening Aug 2ed, Budapest, Hungary.
additional photos and art work detail can be found on my flickr site.

Dialog of a Modern Landscape

Stately classical buildings in the city, and beautiful historical houses in the country--Hungary is rich in architectural history and styles. The city does lack good cutting-edge modern architecture; and in villages outside of Budapest, modernism doesn't even seem to exist. This work sparks a dialog between geometries, and brings basic conceptual modern architecture elements like folding planes, translucency, and colors, inserting them into any Hungarian landscape.

The Dolls of Hungary

Where does the water of the Danube came from? Where do the once beloved dolls of Hungarian children go after they have fallen out of favor? This piece provides a dramatized answer and interpretation for these questions. The disregarded dolls of Hungarian children rise from the garbage bins and forgotten toy boxes, and transform themselves into the romantic water of the Danube, thus becoming part of Budapest's organic landscape.


Baby-kebabs; Deliciously, yummie!!!

In Hungary, puppetry is an important culture identity, and dolls are staples of people's daily lives. Some dolls are elaborately decorated and child-like in every way. They are collected by and played with by people around the world. This art piece is a attempt to dissimulate our feeling of seeing dolls as child-like, and disconnect our emotional attachments with lifeless dolls. The energy and attention is then shifted to the "real" and deprived children of under-privileged countries.

Day 25 -june 12th: the end, new starts

I slept in and didn't want to leave the room, spent a lot of time standing on the balcony and looking at different views of of the city.

I finally glued the last part of my art the my babies are all ready to be handed over to Beata. I did some touch up work so they will be in top shape when donate them to the residency. I didn't want to do too much today just catching up and finishing up the residency before I leave for Vienna for 5 days. Photos of my work and new city photos are uploaded on flicker now.

This is the 4th time I have eaten at my friend's restaurant and he has been so nice for treating me every time. It's a wonderful friendship and connection but i feel bad for just eat and leave.

I am not sure if I will be able to blog in Vienna so stay tuned. if not the pictures will be uploaded when have I return to Budapest.

Day 24th -june 11th: moving up!

After Rudee left the residency moved me to a single room and it turned out to be a suite with a loverly mid-century cold war era interior. it's wonderful, this is what I have expected from Budapest's vintage local hotels. I am now on the 9th floor with a wonderful roof top view that makes me or future guest feel like Mary Popings.

I took 2 baths that day and enjoyed the strange tiles in the bathroom.

I spent a good amount of time packing and unpacking and also got ready for my Vienna trip. I know it will be another great experience. We had a another party, get together with Megan, Lisa and i invited Attila the hotel internet cafe worker. It was a beautiful evening with lights all around the city and great company. it felt like as if Rudee had been gone for a long time and Megan leaves the next day and soon I will be the one leaving Budapest .

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day 23th -june 10th: It turned out better!

After last night's ranting on almost being over charged; a small miracle happened today!

On my way back from the frame store ( retrieved my Doll's of Hungary piece) I decided to stop in a little fruit and vegetable market a few doors from the hotel. I got some native strawberries as I had done in the past. I also saw some wonderful looking blackberries at 900 forints per box, it was too expensive so I put it back but the owner gave me a box of raspberries for free!!! It is very generous of her considering I only spent 700 forints. I didn't understand her but I felt her kindness and thank her.

Today is Rudee's last day and Maegan's last days here in Budapest and we had our last supper at the Artist club. We went to the Artist Club for supper a and it was a delightful experience. I feel if as I have stepped back in time and venture back in the 1960-1970's supper club in Budapest. It was absolutely wonderful and the meal was good but not excellent. It's a interesting concept of blending art gallery, performance space, lecture halls and restaurant in one building. It has the old Soviet sensibility and a genuine eastern European experience.

Day 22th -june 9th: It can be better

a strange mobile 3d ad truck running up and down the street.

I am coming down with a annoying cough and hope it will go away soon. We had a residency meeting today and it was very helpful as things are coming to an end on Wednesday. Other artists are rush to many culture sites in and around the city before heading home. I, on the other hand, have no rush what so ever.

I am about done on my last piece of art work and just a little minor gluing and cutting would do the trick. I can't believe I am more productive here in Hungary than in LA. This is the first time I have done 3 pieces of work in less than 3 weeks (2 weeks of that is just finding materials). Wow, I can seriously become an art factory if I ever get my act straight.

This evening I went to a bar because it's a “youth night” they have discounted entry for people under 30 y/o. I was there last week and it was 500 forints and this week the doorman is different and he insist me paying 1,500 forints. I showed him the ad in the paper and he gave me some bullshit excuses on how I have to be a member to be qualified for the 500 forints entry. I didn't want to argue with him because I know he will win any argument if we ever got into one. After a few hours there and came the time to settle my bill; he said only 500 forints. There is a god. I gave him a small tip of 150 forints.

You can't be sure of anything in Hungary..... they have local price and tourist prices on most goods and services (even this hotel have a discreet Hungarian price, I heard). I don't even look at things if they don't have a price tag because I know they are just fishing for tourist.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Day 21th -June 8th: Working , sleeping and eating not in any particular order

pic: men at work: flyer handler in traffic

After staying out late and a little weekend drinking, my internal clock still wakes me up at 930 am just in time before they take the breakfast away at 10am.

It took about 2 weeks for me to completely getting over having cake for breakfast . Lately, I feel nothing when I see a large variety of cake all perfectly lined up on the buffet table each morning. Can it be that I am now an anti sugar zombie? I moved to the yogurt and cereal table and had a quick breakfast.

I than came back to the room and did a little thinking about staying in Budapest for a longer period of time. I think I want to do it because this is a significant event in my life; here being in eastern Europe and only saw a fragment of what it has to offer. I want to see as much as possible before returning home because I am not sure when will be the next visit would be.

I took a nap and finally recovered fully from my weekend hangover. Even with a population of over 1.4 million people Budapest still feels like a small town. The night life happens on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday most businesses are closed and there are not really a a lot of stuff to do other than drinking (which can take place anytime, any day or anywhere). I spent a couple of hours working on my last project and took the train to my friend's restaurant for ice cream and golush soup and for everyone's information: I had ice cream FIRST!!!!! hahahah it's great being an adult! I can do whatever I want.

It didn't take long before I left the restaurant and came back and worked more. I am pretty happy on how it's turning out and it's about 90 percent finished and just a little minor touch up and gluing it will be finish. Hopefully a wonderful collector will buy!

Day 20th -June 7th: Granny Sunglasses and a Clown

An interesting thought came to me today:

I have been getting a massive amount of attention here in Budapest since day one; for just being myself: Asian. It's strange that many people glance over, often time a couple of second looks and sometimes just stop and stare ( This happens more with children).
I first didn't understand why but now it's clear to me.

There is a small Asian population in the city but very sma
ll, and most are working class and older people. In addition the majority of Asian tourist seldom venture into the city center, they usually stay with tour groups or in the buses at tourist sites. They usually are “hit and run” tourist on their way to Vienna. It's rare to see any young, normal, clean- cut, hip looking young Asians in town. I don't think I have seen more than 5 of them since I have been here. When I walk into a bar sometimes the entire bar turns their head and the air flow seem to stop. It's funny!

This topic also links to another subject my bf and I have talked about. He hates when I wear my favorite light brown, retro granny sunglasses in LA. He thinks it's too loud, feminine and too wild.
I disagree with him because it's a nice touch when I am just wearing something simple and dark tone. It bring out a bit of fun and style statement (it would be totally wrong to wear patten fabric and have those sunglasses on, that would be way too much). I have worn those sunglasses here many times in Budapest and I don't feel I am receiving extra attention with them because in Budapest I am the light brown, retro granny sunglasses.

I meant to post this picture the other day... I brave myself and took a picture with the “artist” clown!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Day 19- june 6th: sort of uneventful

We had meetings on our residency for over 4 hours and went over our art work and statements as well as bio and pricing. Things are coming to an end in less than a week and i am still working on my last piece of art work, i hope i can make it in time before i got to Vienna.

I have talked to my boyfriend and decided to stay in Budapest for another month so it should be very interesting. I cant wait to do everything here in town and venture into other countries...

I work on my art for a few hours today and thought I would go down to the Danube for another wonderful sunset. It was sure amazing!!!! I didnt see the rent boy i winder what had happened to him. Later, I ventured into a bar and now sitting here .. why cant American bars have free internet access at the bars. it just make sense when they are no one but older men here... i guess I would pour myself another drink.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Day 18- June 5th: Music Of The Night

I worked a bit last night and finished one of my art pieces and went to the framer today. It cost 17,000 forient to get it frame (only 2,000 of that is labor and the rest material). This further confirm my theory that there is no mid price goods. The art works are finally coming together and I need to work more in the next few days.

I have been thinking about staying in Budapest for a longer amount of time, maybe a month more? I talked to my boyfriend about it and he is supportive of my decisions. He is always so encouraging and supportive of what I do. He is really good to me and it makes me so happy that he is my life and sad that he is far away.

The four of us and Beata went to a art opening tonight and mistakenly arrived 1.5 hour early so we made our way down to a coffee shop by Hero Sq. We all had a good time talking and waiting for our food which took about an hour.

The Art opening is in basement studio/ gallery space in a vintage building. The building is interesting but the quality of art work is spotty. There are several very nice pieces and a very strange 2 person band played; a loud experimental sound filled the windowless basement. Rudee wasn't feeling well so she left early; I think it's from climbing up and down the subway and building stairs. I hope she feels better physically so she can see more sights in the city before we leave the residency in just less than a week now :(.

I came back to the room and worked more on my art but had fallen asleep... it was 2:30am the eerie songs of the homeless woman awake me from the sleep. She sometimes sings in the park in early hours of the day from her drunkenness and her rusty off-key vocal resonated between the tall historic apartment buildings. It is surreal!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Day 17- June 4th: Lost and Found

(I meant to write about this 4 or 5 days ago but haven't had a chance to)

It was one morning when I stated to plan my daily material hunt and site visits than I noticed my map is gone. I became frantic and started to panic because it became my perfect assistant and it was tattooed with notes, dots and routes taken. It's a young map but had aged gracefully with layers of tapes to keep it in shape. I felt this was personal lost, as if I have lost days of experiences. I than realized even the physical map is lost the mental map is still fresh in my mind.


I worked on my art today and did some writing. I spent a good amount of time in the park painting and prepping my art pieces for the next stage of production. I feel the sense of urgency to speed up my work as the residency is coming to an end. It has just over one week left.
Around 430pm I decided to take a break and visit the Terror Museum 2 locks away. It was a very unique experience and the museum is devoted to the history of the Hungary's Communist rule and Nazi period before the Communist occupation.

The museum is divided into exhibition “story rooms” and each room is design to reflect different historical events during the occupation. The museum is very well designed and modern. It really conveys the massage through its minimalistic design and color representation. It is so powerful it made me completely uncomfortable and I can sense the sadness and hopeless of these people of the time.
I had tears in my eyes as I walked through the exhibits, some imagery are too hard to watch and stories are too tragic to listen to.... this experience was nothing but the triumph of humanity and once again the Hungarian people found themselves.

This experience made me have a even greater appreciation for having been born in Taiwan, not China and for living in the United States.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Day 16- June 3rd: Dramagalore

The day starts around 5 am just 3 hours after I had gone to bed. My suitemate got sick from the paint thinners I left in the living room. It was overlooked mistake anyone could have made and is solved by communication instead I got slamming doors at 5am, a note in the bathroom at 9am, and dirty looks at 10am.

We did talk about the situation and came up with some sort of solution but I do not know if it will work because she constantly victimized herself in every situation. She wants to be heard so she talks about her life for hours to us and other strangers in the city. I think this entices her and makes her feels alive.

I understand and am sorry that she got sick from the paint fumes and it is my fault but she plays the victim's card so well it's a bit disturbing to me.

Maybe I should also leave her nasty note in the bathroom one day as means of “good communication”.

  • Please turn down your terrible music at night.
  • Please keep the windows closed so there are not 1000 bugs in the room.
  • Please check the toilet after you have done shitting so the next person doesn't see your dinner from last night floating in the toilet (this happened twice).
  • When you ask someone to turn the water faucets tightly make sure you do it too.
  • Please keep your “group therapy, sob stories, personal experiences, and family drama” conversation to a min of 5 mins per day instead of wasting hours of other people's valuable time. (countless hours wasted; I have stood and listened to her talking about her life for 1 hour more than a couple of times and now I just make up excuses and leave but still I give her at least 10 mins to speak to about herself, daily).
  • Please be respectful of other members in the group when doing a group activity.

I know I am just being mean now but I feel that she takes advantage of people's sympathy for her disability and use it for her constant self reinforcement of “being the victim” is simply unacceptable.
Of course I won't write her the note above and in many ways I still feel for her physical and psychological sufferings and I do hope she is able to get something out of this Residency by interacting with others in a social and urban environment before returning to her seclusions in South Dakota.

Good to get it out of my system and I do hope her a peaceful life.

oh, we also took a very wonderful roadtrip to a little artist village and visited a few art galleries with Beata.

Day 15- June 2ed: Working; Networking

It's another day filled with running around getting materials and some work at the hardware stores. I went back to the same shop where I had first got my plywood board cut. This time they recognized me and is very helpful and not much English was needed other than some sign language and easy phases.

I later ran to my friend Utilla's restaurant and had more Goulash soup and deep fried catfish with almonds. It was like eating at Coco's, a bit strange to be eating this in Hungary, I don't even eat this 'American' in the US, but hey it's free. He can definitely do this for a living in America.

Megan, Lisa and I went to a art opening that night and it was “interesting” because entertainment is planned. This just happens to be a crazy, singing, dancing and painting Clown!!! It's absolutely insane and he looked so scary and full of that 'Clownergy', I was even brave enough to have taken a picture with him. We met some local people and chatted with them; good times!

I than took off to a bar and met up with some Canadian friends visiting the city at a local joint and chatted with one of them. The other guy is Chinese living in Canada and he seems bossy and I didn't say much to him.

I got back around 1130pm and worked on my art for a bit before going to bed.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Day 14- June 1th: Opera!

It's a sad day for my ipod, the headphone finally broke but it did lasted for over 2 years. Most of my friends' ipod headphones only lasted a year and half or less. I almost think the headphones self destruct after a Apple's set expired date. I went to the mall and got myself new headphones for 65 USD and they were 15 dollars more than what I would needed to pay for in the States. Oh well, I needed them.

I had to cancel dinner plan at my Hungarian chef friend's restaurant because I have purchased tickets to the Opera. He asked me to come back the next day for another free meal and how can I say no to that! He is very gracious and I got him some sunscreen and kin lotion for his 32 birthday.

The show is Csojkovszkij's Anyegin and it's a three hour long production with two intermissions. It's a beautiful production with contemporary set design and modern custom design. The opera was sang in Italian with Hungarian subtitles, so I didn't understand very much of what's going but it is one of those moments in life language is not required for communication. Three hours past by quickly and before I know it it's over.

The Opera is stunningly beautiful and the craftsmanship amazing!!! Although it's a little smaller than what I have pictured and it also made me appreciate historical theaters in Los Angeles like the Pantages, Los Angeles and the Orpheum. They are also very worldly and wonderful but their history can't compare to the Hungarian opera house.

yes, I am working on my art work in case I havn't talked about it! I am always very serective during the production phases of my work.

Day 13th- May 31th: Inspired hate and Negative Feeling

pictured: the $40USD "Antique" painting with holes

My experiences in the last couple of days had been strange and I feel I am obligated to write a darker, negative elements of my visit. I think all the positive things written in the last 13 days or so might have been overwhelmingly one sided and this is my attempt to balance things out a little and examine Budapest under a different light.

This blog is inspired by a young 25 year old tourist visiting from Israel. He is having a complete different experience than my. He hates the city and wants to go home after 3 days of being in Budapest (his trip is for 5 days) He feels Hungarian people are rude, inconsiderate, unfriendly, do not understand English; the city is dirty, and outdated. He loves cities like New York, Paris and Los Angeles. He can't wait to return to Tel Aviv and escape Budapest for good. This blog is devoted to him.

The following the things I dislike about Budapest:

  • Public drinking and drunkenness:
    One of the biggest problems facing the city. Liberal drinking policies and the culture acceptance to public drunkenness is insane. Drinking every hours in the day and streets filled with drunken people at night can be a bit unnerving and annoying.

  • Water pressure:
    Many Hungarian establishments (modern or vintage) do not have good plumbing systems. No water pressure and water closets on top of toilets.

  • Impossible to get a late night bite other than American fast food.
    Kitchen in restaurants close around 9 or 9:30pm and only serve alcohol after that time. Only eating establishment open for business are American Fast food joints and forget about eating anytime after midnight.

  • Expensive American fast food
    Value meal starts at 8 dollars and more for a standard 4- 5 dollars meals we get in the US. I have had American fast food here at least 4 times now and It's very rare for me to eat this in the states, maybe 2 times a year.

  • The none- existing middle-class
    The daily necessities are cheap comparing to the States but anything imported are expensive. There is no middle- class here and there are almost no mid- price goods. We take Gap, Banana Republic, Crate and Barrel, Kenneth Cole and A/X for granted. Also aside from imported taxes the sales tax here is 20 percent.

  • Lack of casual coffee shops and the abundance of watering holes.
    Replace your big American city Starbucks or take away coffee shops and replace them with watering holes or beer joints you will have a good idea how many of these beer joints are in this city.

  • Lack of air conditioning
    It's early summer and it's hot and humid but no air conditioning in most buildings and even some nice stores they do not have air conditioning installed. I heard from July- sept the heat is excruciatingly hot.

  • Flea Market “Antique” dealers
    Crooks, most of these dealers are not dealing with antique but junk or garbage they found around the city. They have open price police and they rip people off. If things are in disrepair and the goods have no value It can't be called antique.

  • Tourist trap, rip offs and be aware of your surroundings
    Tourist beware, restaurants without pricing or menu posted are traps. Taxis are traps!!! I have noticed (and been told) locals are very aware of their surroundings they will start moving their purses, or bags in front of them when others walk close.

  • Weekend store closures and short business hours
    Most places, other than the mall is closed on Sundays and some closed on Saturdays even. Their business hours are short too. Most stores are closed by 7, no shopping is possible after that time.

  • Lack of Asian cuisine
    I have seen one sushi restaurant and a couple of cheap Chinese restaurants... Asian cuisine doesn't exist here in Budapest.

  • 20 something's without teeth
    In America we have 2 types of people: people with good teeth (naturally or had braces), people with bad teeth (cruet). In Hungary, there are 2 type of people also, people with good teeth or dentures (most with dentures if they have good teeth) and people with no teeth. I am not talking about 60 year olds with missing teeth but 20 somethings with only a couple of teeth left. This is rampant especially if you are the lower class. It will happen to anyone if they smoke, eat all these sweets and don't brush or seek Dentists' care. Although I don't understand why people don't take care of their teeth because health care is free to it's citizens.

  • Littering
    I love how they have public trash cans on almost every corner of the streets but people still litter especially in parks or any where that offers a sitting area. Most popular trash item, beer cans!

  • Disable unfriendly if not hostile
    It's sad to be handicapped in Budapest and its darn right impossible because the Metro system does not have elevators. None of the underground cross ways have elevators and no eased curbs and forget about ramps!!!. Maybe their plan works because since my arrival, not a sight of anyone with disabilities just many tired mothers trying to lift their strollers up and down 2-4 stories of steps.

  • Money charging public bathrooms
    No free use of toilets! No matter it's government or privately own proprieties. They cost money, train stations, parks, museums, public market places, even at Burger King it cost anywhere from 90 to150 forints. So far the only place withs free toilets I have found is the mall.

  • Public urination
    Well this is the consequences of the last item. Some people just don't want to pay and many places in the city do smell like bathrooms especially in parks, streets and alley ways off the main boulevards and underground cross ways. Yuck!

  • Chain smokers
    This is the land of chain smokers! I have never seen so many people smoke, it feels as if the entire population smokes. By the end of the day your clothes will smell like an ashtray if you should decide to do anything outside of your home.

  • People with bad personal hygiene
    I believe the weather is partially to be blamed, it's hot and humid right now and people smells bad especially in enclosed areas like stores, subway carts or even at bus stations. The lack of air conditioning is also to be blamed because Taiwan is far more hot and even a higher level of humidity but every building is air conditioned and you get a chance to “dry out”. In Budapest you just sweat all day and it builds up. For a couple of those really hot days I have had taken 3 showers in a 24 hour period and I know it's hard for most people to do but some people really smell like they had not shower for 5 days.

  • Humidity, heat, pigeons, motorcycle street racers, aging public transit stations, tourist, inconsiderate tourist, limited transit hours on the metro system, Few people understand of speak English. A good amount of great buildings in disrepair.

The above are minor and no city is perfect, I certainly don't expect Budapest to be. They are really just problems that most cities have to deal with.

ok, I am done bitching!