TRAVEL: Hong Kong 2015 (September 26-30, 2015)

Nightfall on Harbour City

Attraction List

  • Nan Lian Garden and Nunnery
  • Ocean Terminal and the Peak – View of Victoria Harbour (day and night)
  • Avenue of the Stars (Tsim Sha Tsui)
  • Hong Kong Museum of History

After visiting Macau and Lantau Island, we spent a few more days in Hong Kong. We last visited Hong Kong in 2010, so this entry is more of an update of the attractions one can visit.

Nan Lian Garden & Nunnery

Nan Lian Garden and Nunnery is a classical Chinese garden built among modern sky rises in the Kowloon district. As you pass through the gate, the left side houses the Chinese Timber Architecture Gallery, which houses models of historical sites from China.

Nan Lian Garden & Nunnery

The rest of garden is built in a circular fashion allowing one to take a pleasant walk under the trees and admire the flora and birds. At the center, there is a Tang-style pagoda with a red bridge leading up to it. The overall attraction is worth visiting if you enjoy viewing Chinese architecture.

Nan Lian Garden & Nunnery

Nan Lian Garden & Nunnery

Victoria Harbour is the iconic view of Hong Kong. The best views are from the Ocean Terminal and the promenade along Tsim Sha Tsui. Continue reading

TRAVEL: Lantau Island 大嶼山 and Tai-O 大澳, Hong Kong (September 25, 2015)

Lantau - View from Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car

Lantau Island (大嶼山)

  • Ngong Ping 360
  • Po Lin Monastery
  • Tian Tan Buddha
  • Wisdom Path 

Ngong Ping 360 is one of Hong Kong’s newest attractions. The cable car takes you from the terminal in Hong Kong to Ngong Ping Village in Lantau Island, allowing an aerial view of the lush verdant landscape surrounding the bronze Tian Tan Buddha. At Ngong Ping village, you can explore the various attractions: Walking with Buddha and Motion 360.

Ngong Ping 360 Village

Nearby you can ascend several steps to the Tian Tan Buddha surrounded by various deities presenting offerings to the Buddha.

Lantau - Road to Big Buddha

Big Buddha's Deities & Their Offerings

Erected in 1993, the Tian Tan Buddha, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board, faces north toward mainland China. The statue is modeled after the sculptures found in the Longmen Grottoes, which date from the Northern Wei to early Tang dynasties. Continue reading

TRAVEL: Macau 澳门 (September 24, 2015)

Macau From Above

Attractions

  • Macau Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Penha Church
  • A-Ma Temple
  • St. Paul’s Ruins
  • Monte Fort
  • Hac Sa Beach (Coloane, Macau)

In the southern Guangdong province of China lies the autonomous territory of Macau (澳门). Macau was once under the Portuguese during 1550’s to 1999. Since 1999, Macau is considered a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, meaning that the territory enjoys a high degree of autonomy with no or less control by the Central Government of China.

The Wynn in Macau

Macau is considered the “Las Vegas of Asia” with its main skyline dotted with world-renown hotels and casinos as noted in the first photo. The main languages are Cantonese and Portuguese. During our stay in Hong Kong, we visited Macau as a quick one-day trip (about an hour trip via ferry from Hong Kong). We arrived in the Outer Harbor area of Macau and rented two passenger vans since we traveled with several family members.

The weather was hot and humid, which warrants sun protection and plenty of water to keep hydrated. The first stop we visited was Macau Fisherman’s Wharf. According to Travel China Guide, it is a theme park and shopping area that utilizes different architectural themes: Dynasty Wharf (Tang dynasty), East Meets West Wharf (European), and Legend Wharf (a gaming area).

Fisherman's Wharf and Convention

Fisherman's Wharf and Convention

The vans took us to a panoramic sight on the hill, where Penha Church is located. It afforded a great view of the Macau Tower and the surrounding high rises. The church itself dates back from the 1622 and is still in use today. Continue reading

TRAVEL: Taipei, Taiwan in 72 hours (3/3)

September 22, 2015

Hazy Morning in Taipei from Park City Hotel

Attractions

  • Taipei Confucius Temple (台北市孔廟)
  • Linsheng Garden (鄰聖苑牌樓)
  • Dalongdong Bao’an Temple (大龍峒保安宮)
  • Taipei 101 and Mall

Mascots of Confucius' Temple

During our final day in Taipei, we visited some of the major sights of the city. After breakfast, we took the subway to the Datong District– an area that has several cultural attractions. First we visited the Taipei Confucius Temple (台北市孔廟); originally the temple was built in 1875 during the Qing Dynasty.

Confucius' Temple

Confucius' Temple

The original temple was destroyed during the Japanese occupation and later was rebuilt during the 1930’s. The temple walks the visitor through the story of Confucius and highlights the principles of Confucianism, such as social rituals and human virtues. The temple’s layout is very similar to that of the clan ancestral temple and has shrines to the Confucian sages, the Twelve Philosophers, and students of Confucius who made significant contributions to Confucianism. Continue reading

TRAVEL: Day Trip to Yehliu and Jiufen in Taiwan (2/3)

September 21, 2015

Yehliu Port

Attractions

  • Yehliu Geopark (野柳地質公園)
  • Jiufen (九份)

Located to the north of Taipei are two destinations that warrant a visit for its beautiful rock formations (Yehliu) and historical gold mining town (Jiufen). From Taipei, one can take the local bus to either of these sights. From our hotel, we took the subway to the Taipei City Hall exit and then walked to the bus terminal. Here we took Bus 1815 towards Jinshan. It was about a 45-minute ride to the nearest stop (Gang Dong Road) to the geopark.

Yehliu

Admission to the geopark during our visit was $80 national Taiwan dollars per adult. The geopark contains unique rock formations that have been shaped by sea erosion. The first part of the park shows several mushroom rocks.

Yehliu

The second part shows rock formations that have been given names; one may see and line up for a photo opportunity with the iconic Queen’s Head.

Yehliu - Queen's Head

Yehliu - Pineapple Bun

Finally, the last part takes us over to the steep hill on the other side of the cape. Continue reading

TRAVEL: Taipei, Taiwan in 72 hours (1/3)

September 20-23, 2015

Map of Taiwan (courtesy of Nations Online Project)

Map of Taiwan (courtesy of Nations Online Project)

Attractions

  • Mengjia Longshan Temple (龍山寺)
  • Ximending (西門町)
  • Red House (西門紅樓)
  • National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (中正紀念堂)
  • National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine (國民革命忠烈祠)
  • Shilin Night Market (士林夜市)

During the end of September 2015, we found ourselves an opportunity to visit Taipei in Taiwan for three days before heading to Hong Kong for a major family gathering. After hearing so much about Taipei from one of my classmates, I was decidedly excited to see and experience for myself the Taiwanese culture and history. September is one of the better times to go; the weather starts to cool off although there may be a typhoon.

We stayed three nights (September 20-22) at the Park City Hotel- Luzhou Taipei located above the Saint Ignatius High School subway exit. The hotel room is very clean and the hotel offers free self-service laundry facility, which we used before we left for Hong Kong on the 23rd. Upon our arrival to the hotel after the 12-hour flight on September 20th, we were too early to check in so we stored our luggage with the hotel staff. We then washed up and refreshed ourselves before heading down to the subway.

At the station, we purchased Easy Cards for each member of the family. Each card requires a $100 deposit of national Taiwan dollars and then you may add your desired monetary amount to the card. It saves time from having to buy a fare for each trip on the subway. See the Taipei Rapid Transit website for more information. On our trip, we deposited $2000 national Taiwan dollars total and this covered the entirety of our trip and the bus ride to Jiufen (side trip on September 21).

We took the subway to the Mengjia Longshan Temple (龍山寺), a temple that was damaged during World War II but renovated to its current revered state. The elaborately carved dragons guard the tiled roofs.

Longshan Temple

Inside, one can see people praying and chanting. There are also several Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian statues. There are deity charms and jade bracelets in the temple shop. It was definitely worth visiting.

Longshan Temple

 

Longshan Temple

After exploring the temple and paying our respects, we walked to the Ximending (西門町) district along the busy streets. On the way there, we encountered the red-bricked buildings of Bopiliao Historical Block (剝皮寮歷史街區).

Old Taipei Street

It was still early in the morning and some shops were in the process of opening. We were lucky that a pork and beef jerky shop had just prepared a fresh batch of jerky when we popped in to buy some for ourselves and relatives.

Fresh Jerky

We continued our trek and browsed a couple of the shops and temples, until we finally reached Ximending (西門町)— a popular district for fashion, hip bars, and other trendy shops.

Streets of Taipei

Continue reading

Resolutions for 2017

Resolutions for 2017

2016 was a challenging year, in terms of life and work. I changed jobs but had to adjust to the new work culture and how to handle different colleagues. I determined what steps I wanted to take for my future. I bonded closer with my family and extended family. I used the time I have off to do what I need to achieve my goals and to maintain my well-being. I bonded closer with friends and got started on a story collaboration that will be coming in the future. There are still multiple things to accomplish so hopefully things keep on coming in 2017.

  1. Exercise regularly (at least 3-4 times per week).
  2. Continue to face difficult situations and once done, it’s done.
  3. Learn Mandarin Chinese.
  4. Draw or write at least once a week. [Including blog posts]
  5. Reduce the amount of possessions and unused items (physically and digitally).
    [I have already eliminated my Crunchyroll subscription so I resolve not to watch too much Japanese Anime this year]
  6. Read regularly and complete the 2017 Popsugar reading challenge.

Travels in Italy 2015: Overview

Regions of Italy

Regions of Italy (courtesy of World Atlas)

During our trip with Trafalgar, we explored several different regions of Italy in 14 days. After the tour, we spent 4 additional days in Rome on our own. Below is our itinerary.
Key: [region]

 

References

Italy Guides. (n.d.). ItalyGuides.it: A Sightseeing Revolution – A Virtual Travel of Italy. Retrieved from http://www.italyguides.it/en/

Machiavelli, F., Martin, S., Townsend, H., & Tyrrell, N. (Eds.). (2014). Italy. New York, NY: DK Eyewitness Travel.

Rick Steves. (n.d.). Italy Travel Guide by Rick Steves. Retrieved from https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/italy

Italy