Thank You to All Cardamom County Staffs & Friends

Even though I’m truly happy to be back at school, saying farewell to the staffs that I have been working with for more than 2 months was not easy. Every day I would pass by them saying “Namaskaram” which is “hello” in Malayalam or “Sukamano?” which is “how are you?” For every encounter, they kindly answered back to my poor Malayalam greetings and made my Kerala experience SUPER (as Indians often say)! To show my gratitude to all resort staffs, I drew some sketches as thank you notes. Thank you all, and I hope to see you soon. 🙂

Project Management and Homestay in Kerala, India

Last week, I was very fortunate to be invited to live, work, and learn development process with a project management company here in Kerala, India. I have to say that it was a short but a very meaningful opportunity: both culturally and academically. Here is a story of my two day journey:

Fresh Lime Juice with Banana Chips @ Break time

In the US, the concept of project management is very common, and thus most construction projects often include a project management company; a mediator that facilitates the communication among the client/owner, architect, interior designer, and the various contractors by managing construction schedules, budget & estimates, and translation of design to actual building structure. However, in India, many construction projects happen without project management, which may cause all kinds of issues. So, when I first heard that RAXA was hiring a project management company, I was thrilled to meet the project managers and what I’d be learning from them.

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What I brought back from Switzerland: Collection of Alpine Flowers

From my recent trip to Switzerland in early June, I took numerous photos of flowers. As my family and I hiked up the Alpine mountains, I was completely taken in by these flowers covered and surrounded by icy snow. This is a story of Alpine flowers.

p.s. Because I am not a flower expert, identifying the names of flowers was a challenging task for me. Thus, I welcome any feedback and hope everybody can help me finish identifying flower names! 🙂

Burnet Rose / Rosa spinosissima

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Colorful Wonderland: Fort Cochin, Kerala

Five hours away from Thekkady is a colorful land of ornate architectures and a hometown of many fishermen that represent the historical harbor city, Fort Cochin, Kerala. The narrow and winding streets are filled with houses and churches that clearly showe their Dutch, Portuguese, or British influence from the colonial time. As I carelessly stroll down the streets only with my camera and some rupees (Indian currency) in my purse, I didn’t mind the stares from the local village people, nor the heat and humidity that made me drench in my own sweat; but, my mind got carried away seeking the remains of what time had left us.

Blue door and window with a wagon

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Learning a New Language: Malayalam

Many Cornell “hotelies” are multilingual; not only bilingual but often speaking three or four languages. Their coursework is in English, they may speak Spanish or French from high school education, and Chinese helps as the number of Chinese travelers increase every year. For example, my good friend from the Cornell Hotel School speaks Spanish because she is from Venezuela, speaks Chinese because her family is a Chinese-origin, speaks English just like all my classmates, and maybe she speaks some other languages that I don’t even know about. Similarly, I speak English, Korean, and some Spanish and Mandarin. So, as an hotelier, I called myself a multilingual and thought I could easily communicate with people anywhere I go. Until I arrived in Kerala.

Learning Malayalam is the first time in my life trying to learn a language that has a totally different alphabets and pronunciation.  So the experience is totally different from learning English, Spanish, or French. One of my colleagues here learned Hindi before she arrived in Kerala for her studies but Malayalam is so different from Hindi that it doesn’t help her communicate. The one thing that saved all of us (Interns from US) is that English is an official second language in Kerala so all of the resort staffs here speak English pretty well. However, most of them speak Malayalam to each other during work and speak English only with foreigners, so I thought that learning Malayalam would be a good idea to get to know the culture and people better.

My first step in learning Malayalam started with memorizing some simple words and phrases so that I can initiate conversation with everyone.  So our journey of learning Malayalam started by asking around for some Malayalam lessons.

Ayuraveda Therapists & Receptionist

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Many Stripes. Many Tales. Few Tigers.

When I decided to come to Kerala this summer for my internship, I got most excited not entirely about my work, but really about seeing a tiger. I can’t even remember the last time I went to a zoo, but I know deep in my closet I have a dusty photo of me and a tamed tiger from Thailand. At this time, seeing a wild tiger was actually more of a WILD idea. Since I’m working next to the Periyar Tiger Reserve, a home to approximately 40 tigers and many other animals, I’m practically neighbors with them and awaiting a miraculous moment to see a tiger before my trip to Delhi.

As a Korean descendent, I must introduce you all to some Korean culture and explain why I’m writing a blog post that is dedicated just to tigers. I’m sure a lot of my Korean folks will agree that tigers and Koreans go way back. My relationship with tigers started when I was 3 years old when my grandmother told me a story about a tiger that smoked using bamboo pipes.  My reaction was: “Really? Tigers smoke, too?”

Source & Credit: Picture of a Tiger at SamChunSa (삼천사) at BookHanSan (북한산)

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Art of Taxi Driving

It has been a week since I arrived in Kerala, India. Not surprisingly, my first cultural shock was the ear-piercing, honking sound of rickshaws (small Indian taxis) that welcomed me when I stepped out of the Cochin airport. In the beginning, I thought the drivers here were just a little more aggressive or would get frustrated easily: the reason why they honked so much. But, as we drove away from the airport, our driver explained to us that these drivers honked to show their existence and alert others. In addition, drivers in India tend to not keep to their lanes. They use the entire road sometimes driving on the left side, right side, and in the middle…so ALL sides! These days, many young Indians are actively protesting to eliminate this unnecessary honking and to reduce noise pollution. So, increasingly you can see many signs like “Yi Horn Not OK Please.”

Rickshaws in India

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Hide and Seek with Matterhorn @ Alps

Looking back on my family trip to Switzerland, I realized that the most prominent aspect of the humungous mountain tops covered in snow was not their size but the fact that they are shy during the day and bold in the morning and night. Whenever my family and I hiked up or took the cable cars up the mountain to see the famous peaks, the clouds kept blocking our views while we were trying to take a picture. However, we didn’t give up and kept waiting and waiting just to get a quick glimpse of the peak that was revealed for literally five seconds until the next cloud came. So, here we go!

Matterhorn, Zermatt was the toughest of them all. Its great height (4477m), steep front face, and isolated position from other peaks create the well-known “banner clouds” which make Matterhorn look like it’s blowing out smoke from the lee side.


Panoramic View of Matterhorn at 3pm, Zermatt, Switzerland 

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Baby Red-Tailed Hawks Hatching at Cornell University

Today, baby red-tailed hawks hatched out of their eggs. According to my friend who works at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the mom hawk “Big Red” was covered in snow and couldn’t move around because she had to protect her baby from the cold weather (it snows in Ithaca in late April).


Here is a link to the Livestream video of the hawk nest. Enjoy!

Sustainable Water System in Your Own Garden!

In my opinion, the major benefit for attending Cornell is an opportunity to meet diverse industry leaders face-to-face. This week I was fortunate enough to meet the Sales Director of Aquascape, a water-gardening company dedicated to creating/installing a sustainable and, at the same time, beautiful and decorative water features in your garden. The main way they recycle the water is through rainwater harvesting – by capturing, filtering, and reusing the rainwater. Instead of letting it flow back into the body of water, we could be converting the impervious surfaces (which cause stormwater runoff) to permeable surface that allows us to capture and reuse the rainwater. With this captured grey water, you could be washing your car, irrigating your garden, reusing in water features, etc.

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Green Lifestyle Everywhere You Go in a Concrete Jungle

This will be my first post that I’m writing for Raxa Collective. To be honest, I was waiting for a great idea to jump out at me that will brilliantly catch everyone’s attention. But, now that I think about it, blogs are more about sharing a stream of mind in our daily life, so here I am.

As I’m spending my spring break in NYC, I’ve been observing a range of eco-lifestyles all around me, even in this urban area. You may think that New Yorkers care less about the environment because they live in a “concrete jungle”, but it’s proved to be wrong. In NYC, there are so many organic stores, restaurants that serve organically and locally grown vegetables and fruits, farmers markets, etc. – the list goes on and on. Seriously, there are even farming and gardening classes and programs for both children and adults! Continue reading