In Paris, there is magic at every corner. From the flowers spilling out of their window box to the smiling waiter at the corner cafe, everything is a piece de resistance. The towering arches and cobblestoned streets are like glamorous movie sets, replete with their own dramatic lighting and every stone set in the right place. In all of this curation, a closer look reveals that there is no perfectly manicured setting. The dulled edges and wonky surfaces add a certain personality that makes the city even more charming. Paris is for the curious, for those who want to discover the centuries of history beneath its peeling wallpaper. Because the paint was never there in the first place to cover up anything. It was to reinforce its magic.
Indonesia feels feral and raw. Zipping by rice paddies and sacred temples on a motorbike lends a sense of adventure unfamiliar to a Westerner. The beauty of a shrine with its turquoise-tinted stone gates seems almost too precious to venture in and explore. It commands an overpowering respect to art and tradition that detaches me. Maybe because the sight is representative of something beyond the individual, and instead of a society, a civilization, or a religion.
Singapore is everything a home ought to be. It has comforts you didn't know you needed. Super efficient transport, beautiful parks, and a modern utopia at your reach. Everyone also seems to be family ("aunties and uncles everywhere"), even at first meeting. It's the Southeast Asian embodiment of "hygge."
Seoul is complex and strong. It feels the country is constantly at war - with itself, its neighbors, its history. But that doesn't stop it from putting on its best suit of armor, be it the latest fashions, makeup as war paint, or even silicone supports.