Tag Archive: pagoda


Hue

Got on a bus from Hoi An for 4 (turned 3) hours to Hue stopping at a lookout point called Thua Thien Hue but didn’t get enough time to go to the top (so I didn’t see the point in stopping at all). Yes, nice views, but if there is a hike why not give us time to do it? The sells were very pushy and touched me twice L we also saw a truck full of dogs three times which smelt terrible. The last time we saw them they were getting sprayed down.

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Upon arriving in Hue, we went to lunch at Ushi where I got vegetable soup that ended up being just morning glory in water…only 15,000 though. Walked to central market (went over Truong Tien Bridge which is an ugly color and has construction) which was a lot like Goje market in Busan with souvenirs because it had vegetables and cooking things and housework items. We then walked through a park next to Perfume river and I told a guy I was Korean just for him to go away. On to the Imperial Citadel (palace) which cost 105,000 (which is much more than 55,000 as advertised in lonely planet). It’s pretty much the only thing to see in the city.

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It was mostly construction and trash which makes me question Vietnamese people–why not take care of your history? This was not the first thing we had seen like this. We’re not even sure what we saw because there were no signs. Their map and the lonely planet map didn’t add up either.

The pagoda/rest area-gondola was really nice as were the bushes made like turtles which were both inside the Purple Forbidden City. There was a nice dragon statue just beyond the main gate too, but we could not get over the trash. Closed at 5:30 and one in our group was very concerned we would not get out. Just then, matt found the temples and Hien Lam Pavilion which all looked beautiful. We then walked back to the Ngo Mon gate to find it was closed…so we went around to the next gate (Hien Hhom) to leave. I tried to go in that one at first but it is only an exit. The palace is a lot smaller than it seems. Back to the hotel for 6:30 for dinner at 7:30.

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Dinner at Le’s was good food with good drinks (but really standard drink deals) but the staff were too ‘helpful’. I don’t need someone behind me the whole time or chatting to me about my water bottle and such. They gave us jenga after dinner and asked if we were too tired because we didn’t want to play. Weird. 39,000 for fried rice with vegetables but really good. They were very on top of clearing plates too. Walked to Brown Eyes for free shots after but I went home because I was tired.

In the morning, some of us decided to go to Thin Mu. It was supposed to be 3km from a bridge that was 1 km away but it turned out to be 6.4km total so someone messed up on the map.

The walk was interesting because there was no sidewalk and lots of rundown temples and trash. Another sign of the Vietnamese not taking care of their country and history. Eventually found the pagoda at 11:40 meaning we had to go straight back so 4 of the group could check out and we all could eat. Got some good pics and saw the car a monk rode in before he burned himself because of abuses the government took on monks.

Haggled from 40,000 each to 22,000 each for a boat and then she dropped us at a different spot than she said she would (1 bridge early) because of police (?)

Back to the hotel to find a good restaurant and it turned out DMZ was supposed to be good, based on Trip Advisor. Service had no idea what was going on and food was okay. #5 on trip advisor? Not anymore…Our server could hardly take our orders but she understood when I said their ranking was about to go down. Most got pizza or pasta to bulk up for a 14 hour train ride.

Woke up quite early even for Busan time but just waited because it was too early. Woke up for real around 7:45 for breakfast just after 8:15 of toast with butter and strawberry-sugar jam, watermelon and tea and terrible coffee.

Left around 9 for a day for temples. I can’t begin to describe how beautiful they are. When you think it’s the same as the last you will find something new. Pictures hardly do it justice. Many you can climb to the top via steps or find your own way (climb).

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One where I could see the tallest temple (that you could not climb) had 4 Buddha’s (like most) but the main one was original except the hair, the next original but it was black more recently turned gold via donations, the next was teak wood with original body and the last was new because of fighting in the 70s. This was seen after an AMAZING lunch at Be Kind to Animals. Mostly Indian flavors but with Myanmar tourists. Next to us were a hilarious Sigapourian-Indian couple who got all the recipes. I had a wrap which was more of Dhal with a tortilla around it which you needed a knife and fork for. Magda had a Bagan special dish that was the best of the group using a special leaf (curry). I decided the spiciness of low because it was so hot out. Also had lime soda. 5,000 kayat.

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It started to rain a bit around 3:30 so we stayed in the biggest temple hoping it would stop but it did not so we went onto the main road back, stopping once to check out some deserted temples and walk to one where you climbed the outside. Koreans were there! Then it really started to rain (5:00?) so we headed back and arrived around 5:30 to be soaking wet L shower was silly but washed my underwear (from squatters with no toilet paper) and sweat handkerchief.

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Had dinner at wonderful Tasty which had Nepolise food which I’ve never had was quite good. Lime-Ginger-Juice for 800 and 10 veggie dumplings with soup and spicy sauce for 2,500. Just soup was 1000 it took quite a while but you knew it was fresh because you could hear the chopping and frying.

Woke up at 6:30 to be ready at 7:00 but found out the bus will come to me after 7:30. Oh well. Our bus got stuck in mud for about 30 minutes a truck got stuck when it pulled over to try and help us. We went through beautiful mountains and forests but the road was so twisty I almost got sick. Almost got sick also because an old lady was smoking on the bus (cloves). Lunch was horrible veggies and rice with no flavor.

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Took a car with Mr. Linn and Felix and Kris around the towns around Mandalay.

First we saw a very famous temple and almost got lost in it. It was called Mahamuni and cost 1000 for a camera fee. It was quite beautiful but easy to get lost in.  I bought an onion (?) paint paining for 2,000 which he made in less than 5 minutes which I think was quite amazing.

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Next was more towards Amarapura to where the monks live that we can visit anytime, but lunch is best because most came out and wait. Felt kind of bad, except that people take pictures of me all the time. Some of the monks looked to be five years old.

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Next was straight to Sagaing…well if you count the huge traffic jam for the nut festivals last day.

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To get to Sagaing we had to cross a bridge and then climb a hill to reach another very famous pagoda with many Burmese tourists who wanted my photo. This temple was larger and just as beautiful. They had rabbit and frog statues too. Also clothes stores at the top which I found odd. A smaller shrine was to the right but that also looked like a care takers house because there were clothes (non monk) hanging to dry. On the way up and down there are many other pagodas and very points.

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Next we drove to the boat point for Inwa and had lunch (noodle soup) for 2,000 kayat. Many girls harassed us to buy jewelry. I said I had some and one girl said hers was more beautiful so I acted offended which made her laugh. One looked 4 but was 7 (malnourished?).  The boat was 800 kayat there and back. Once there you need a horse cart for 2000 per person. I liked our guy and horse a lot.

First were ruins which I thought were amazing, but the whole ‘island’ is basically ruins so it loses its special-ness. In this one Buddha’s face had been rubbed off or fallen off.

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The monastery was made of teak wood and you can still smell it very strongly. This one is so old it has something’s in it that you don’t see elsewhere because of changed times.

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The clock tower was sad because you could no longer go up although it looked like the leaning tower of Pisa.

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Next, and last, was another old temple, but this one was white. Great views.

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Then we took the boat back but first we saw a girl getting off who wanted nothing more than a handshake and to say thank you. I bought 2 bracelets for 1000 kayat (originally 1 for 2000) and mine were more expensive because of the elephants.

Sunset at U Bein bridge was not too special (maybe because of a cloud) but the bridge was neat and I had my photo taken a ton more. It’s the longest teak bridge in the world. A sign there for locals sounded like a threat to treat tourists nice or else. The boats were beautiful.

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We learned that government jobs pay 40,000 kayat a month which is only good for poorly educated people who have no family to support.

Booked the bus for 8:30, pickup at 7:30 for 12000 kayat which is more than De Anne paid

The truck/taxi was a few minutes late to pick me and some others up but we got to the bus at 8:00 and left shortly after 8:30 making more stops to pick up some locals. Classic rock and strange movies played in the morning and hip hop after our 20 minute lunch stop.

Gyeongju

I went to Gyeongju over the past weekend, which is well known for being a historic city. It has more UNESCO sites than the rest of Korea combined. Most of them are burial mounds. Some were excavated by Sweden, but I’m not sure why. If there are two close to one another they are King and Queen.

You’re allowed to go inside one of them as well, however you have to pay for that. It’s 1,500 for adult entry, but also allows you into a beautiful park as well. It’s difficult to get pictures inside the mound, as it is dark and everything that was inside is behind glass. You’re also not allowed to take pictures, which I saw on the way out, but there was no one there to stop me anyway.

After this we went to Cheomseongdae which was built between 632-647 and is the oldest astronomical observatory in East Asia. It was filled with dirt up to the 12th layer of exterior stones (which are quite large) and people could observe from there up to the 15th layer.

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There is a bug bus that goes around this area as well, which is super cute! This park includes a few mounds, places to keep ice, the tower above, rapeseed fields, old buildings, and at the time, a concert area.

Gyeongju 052From there we went to Anapji Pond, which is very beautiful, manicured, and mostly reconstructed.

Gyeongju 076 Gyeongju 096Nearby is the National Museum, which I didn’t find too interesting. Most is reconstructions of things you will see around the town. Also, the main part is closed right now. Good thing it’s free.

Stayed at Potato Motel which gave us a 10,000 discount from 70,000 to 60,000 when I made a face. Dinner at Han’s Deli was pretty good, but mine was too spicy. If we weren’t too tired, we probably would have sat there for longer so I could eat, but I was going to fall asleep from walking around in 90% humidity and 30C weather.

The next day we went to Bulguksa Temple which is accessible via the 10 or 11 bus which cost 1,500 won each (fitting, as the bus ride takes about half an hour). Be sure to get off at the stop next to the parking lot, not another with a similar name that is surrounded by shops. From the bus stop, go up the right walkway as it goes though a park where people are selling food, drinks and standard Korean souvenirs (the left is for cars but has a sidewalk as well).

At the top you have to pay an entrance fee of 4,000.

Once inside you walk quite a bit more. All of the stonework is original, as that was not effected when Japan burned them down (of course it wasn’t effected, and of course Japan burned it down–like everything in Korea at some point…). However, this was burned down far before the 1911 invasion.

There is still reconstruction going on. Behind the main temple and the largest stairs photoed below you can see a building which ruins the photo. We had to go around and up to see that that is where the reconstruction is going on, and the building is to protect the pieces. Current reconstruction is of a pagoda which had a crack on the 3rd level.

Gyeongju 150We had just missed the bus to go to Seokguram (they leave every hour on the hour) and it was too hot to walk the 30-50 minutes so we headed back.

Buses to Busan leave every hour on the hour, except around 6:00 when they leave at 6:00, 6:40, and then 7:40, 8:40….etc.

Buses there from Busan leave every 30 minutes.

National Museum of Korea

The National Museum of Korea has lot’s of different areas and two entrances. If you go in though the West Gate the first thing you will see is the Snack area, then the Reflecting Pond  with a Pavilion. If you enter though the Main Gate you’ll see a Gateway Pond and then the Reflecting Pond.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 228From the Reflecting Pond you’ll go up flower lined stairs to the Entrance. On the right is the free entrance, and on the left is the entrance to the special exhibits, which are not free. I went in the free entrance to the main part of the Museum.

The first floor (ground floor) covers prehistory and ancient history, as well as medieval and early modern history.  There is also a Buddhist Preceptor Wallang and Ten Story Pagoda. Below are photos from prehistory and ancient history. (1) the earliest cave paintings found in Korea, in Ulsan, which shows what people ate and how they caught it; (2) a boat dating to 6,000 BC; (3) shells and rocks with faces; (4) stone daggers from the Bronze Age and was only possessed by a privileged minority and served as symbolic or ritual objects; (4) Bronze Knife-shaped Coins with the Chinese character ‘Ming’ written on the front; (5) the Buddhist Preceptor; (6) tombs in the shape of eggs; (7) and the Ten Story Pagoda.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 232Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 237 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 242 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 245 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 250 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 259 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 278Next are photos from Medieval and Early Modern History. (1) a roof statue of a beasts head; (2) Bundles of Celadon Vessels Loaded on a Cargo Boat; (3) A game board to teach girls how to be proper; (4) a map of Beijing; and (5) a map of the body for Acupuncture.

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Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 309 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 315And then donated works. There are 9 different galleries for people (or families) and one room for people who donated one item (individual donations). (1) A ‘lion’ like no other; and (2) A mold for a roof tile.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 324 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 332On the final and third floor there are sculptures and crafts, starting with Buddhist Sculptures and moving into vases.

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Ueno Park

I went into the zoo without going though the park, but left though the main entrance which goes though the park.

When I walked out I went though Toshogu Shine but I was unimpressed. There was a huge expensive restaurant inside, unless I walked out and didn’t know it.

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I then saw the Statue of Prince Komatsunomiya Akihto, who started the Japanese Red Cross Society, which I think is pretty great.

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I went back a few days later and went in the South entrance, going by a temple, Buddha and pagoda.

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There was also a farmers market going on at the time (on a Monday) that was wrapping up. Before the National Museum there is a pond with a fountain.

Gwangju

This weekend I went to Gwangju with two friends and continued onto Naejangsan National Park for a Sunday hike. The bus from Sasang in Busan is about 3 1/2hours (but on our way back it was only 2 1/2  so that was pretty amazing). You can also leave from Nopo but that adds more than 1/2 an hour to the time and costs more than 5,000 KRW more.

One friend had already been to Gwangju and there were certain things he had not seen before and wanted to see this time so we headed off from the bus station towards the river and to the Gwangu Student Independence Movement Memorial Tower. Let’s just say that the map on how to get anywhere in Gwangju is very deceptive in the scale. We walked, and walked and walked and walked while checking the map I had taken a photo of on my real camera and Googlemaps on our phones (had to cross check as the memorial tower is not in Googlemaps). Let me simplifiy it’s location for you, as their tourist map is also a bit wrong: go to the Yangdong Market stop and check out the market for a bit (if it’s open, we were there midday on a Saturday and things looked a bit closed). Either cross the river at that train stop bridge or the next bridge south. Keep walking down the street of that second bridge and you will see a few rocks with carvings and a nice building that looks a bit like a police station. Go in there and keep walking ahead. The shrine is surrounded by trees so we almost missed it from within the park! Fair warning: it’s not very big.

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After that we headed down toward Art Street which was 1 km away. There were some interesting statues along the way, and a park that had a great performance area (more on that on our way back). We headed down towards Wongaksa Temple to see that before art street and it was quite a beautiful temple in the middle of the city. Art Street is more of ‘Art Academy Street’ as there were many academy and not so much people selling art on the street, which is what we thought it would have been. After that, we headed back to the park, going towards the 5-Story STONE Pagoda. I’m only seeing the word stone now that I’m looking at the map, as we thought it was going to be a real pagoda. In the park there were some rapping 20-something Koreans that I wish I had taken a video of since they were free-styling but I was a bit nervous to just pull out my camera then. It took us awhile to find the pagoda since, again, it is not on googlemaps and the tourist map is a bit deceptive as to where things are.

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After this we had coffee and warmed up in Hans and Bean which is a great coffee shop! Haven’t seen them in Busan, but they were all over Gwangju.  We then found out that we were in the perfect area for what we were looking for that night–pubs and great food–around the culture complex subway stop.

Our first stop was the Speakeasy, used to be called Mike and Dave’s Speakeasy, which was an expat Irish-Ameircan pub with Guinness and Smithwicks. The bathroom had a ton of interesting and hilarious (and sometimes hateful) writing. Next was Tequilaz Mexican Grill and Bar where we had TG Tequila which was the best tequila I have ever had. The manager was trying to sell it to us hard and said “I won’t even give you a lemon, it’s that smooth” and he was right. We also had fantastic tacos, chimichangas and nachos there. He suggested that we go to German Bar Two, but after we got there it was more of a club which was not what we were looking for so we headed back to Soul Train (not related to the one in Busan) which was a bit expensive but had pool.

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Spent the night in Starbucks Spa (Starbucks was the name of the building, but there was no Starbucks Coffee to be seen) which was pretty standard other than the washrooms which had personal jacuzzis.

The next day we went to the park for the hike and that post is here. We returned in time to explore Gwangju a bit more, but using the same map we did not find much. We tried to find the Hwadamsa Shrine but I’m pretty sure that was taken down as we walked a circle around where it should have been and only saw 2 Christian churches there. Also tried to find the May 18 Memorial Park but there was no park to be seen, unless it was inside an apartment complex.

Overall, Gwangju was interesting and I do plan on going back to do another hike in that park and for delicious Mexican food, but this time I’ll keep my expectations low about the tourist map and if things will actually be where they say they are.