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Asia Travel

    Asia Travel

    Seven Boats, Three Days, One Rare Bangladesh

    One for the record books – our visit to Bangladesh

    Location: Bangladesh

    Throw back Monday! Enjoy this one from a year ago once again. One of my favorite experiences.

    We would not have normally come to Bangladesh, except the opportunity was here because our friend Natalie is a teacher in Dhaka.  I preach frequently the need to visit less tourism developed places – and yet am guilty of wanting to see places like the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, Table Mountain.

    One rare Bangladesh

    Beautiful Bangladeshi dancer

    And so our decision to visit Bangladesh helped us make the leap to a place no one goes, except our friend Natalie.

    We connected with Deshghuri Tours – one of a handful of tour companies catering to the few Westerners who come here, mostly Canadians, Germans and

    One rare Bangladesh

    Fort Lalbagh

    Americans.  Because our time was short we booked a three-day tour with Deshghuri.  It’s difficult to see Bangladesh without a guide.  The cities are crowded and Dhaka is plagued with air pollution.  Driving here is, shall we say, daunting.  So a tour is a must.

    Our first day was to see the densely packed city of Dhaka – home to 20 million people.  Bangladesh is the 8th most populous country in the world and

    One rare bangladesh

    At the beautiful mosaic mosque

    Dhaka has a density of 23,234 people per square kilometer within a total area of 300 square kilometers.  We spent the day weaving in and out of traffic, but also enjoying getting in and out of the car to see some remarkable sites; mosques, temples, university, and the 600-year-old Lalbagh Fort that serves as a lovely oasis in the city.  It was here we really began to feel how unusual it is to have a westerner walking around Dhaka.  Bangladeshi

    One rare bangladesh

    From on board the Rocket Steamer looking at the busy port

    stopped and gaped at us, some asking for selfies, others discreetly taking our photo without asking.  Very strange.

    At the end of the day we arrived in Shadarghat, the steamer terminal and one of the busiest places in Dhaka (which is saying something).  Here we

    One rare Bangladesh

    Rocket Steamer

    boarded our first of seven boats: the 100-year-old “Rocket” paddle wheeler that plies the waters of the Buriganga River.  These boats were, in their time, the fastest thing to ever hit these waters (thus the name), but today faster and more upgraded ferries provide service.  The Rocket continues to work however, and tours often include a night aboard these vessels for the “experience”.  It was definitely an experience as we were on one of the oldest and most worn down vessels.

    On arrival in Barisal early the morning of day two of

    One rare banhladesh

    Nine dome mosque

    our tour we were met by our new guide Ontu.  After breakfast we went by car three hours to Bagherhat, a UNESCO world heritage city and one of the most historic cities in Bangladesh. On the way to Bagherhat we rode a very small and crowded car ferry which is boat number two.   On reaching Bagerhat we toured three remarkable mosques, built in the 15th century!  All still in use today. Two of these mosques were a

    One rare Bangladesh

    80 dome mosque

    remarkable architecture design of domes rather than minarets.  The first was a nine dome and the second was an 80 dome mosque.  Truly fascinating for the time period and in wonderful condition considering the climate and the years.

    We continued by car to Mongla, where we boarded

    One rare bangladesh

    Crossing the river

    boat number three:  a small wooden pirogue which we stood in to cross the very busy river.  On the other side we boarded boat number four, known as a country boat.  It was just the two of us with our guide and we sat back and enjoyed cruising the river on this small 20-foot boat.  We enjoyed a

    One rare Bangladesh

    The country boat

    traditional Bangla lunch onboard, then went ashore at the Sundarban’s breeding sanctuary where we saw deer and crocodiles and walked the mangrove forest.

    Back on the boat and back to Mongla where we

    One are bangladesh

    On the river

    met the car, returned to Barisal (including car ferry-boat number five) and to our hotel in Barisal.  It had been a very amazing day.

    Day three we were up early, and instead of car we were in a Tuk Tuk before the sun had risen, driving an hour from Barisal to the banks of the Shondha River. Here we would board boat number six, a long deep river dwelling vessel,  for what would turn out to be my favorite part of our

    One rare Bangladesh

    Floating vegetable market

    tour.  Cruising through the backwater region of the Shondha we enjoyed the floating vegetable market as well as seeing the river people going about their daily life – scratching out an existence on and in

    One rare Bangladesh

    Meeting the friendly locals

    the river.  The river is both highway and washing machine, bathtub and food source.  We got off the boat several times, including a visit to an ancient and scrabbled together Hindu village where the people were so kind and generous and interested in us.  When we tell them we are from

    One rare Bangladesh

    Meeting the locals

    the United States they say it is their honor to have us in their country.  This is the Bangladeshi way – welcoming, kind and generous; even if they have nothing to give, they will offer you a cup of tea.

    It was particularly interesting to me how astonished everyone – men, women and children – were with my white hair.  They found it fascinating and we felt like celebrities.  Very

    One rare Bangladesh

    Laundry

    humbling experience.

    We learned a lot about river life, about the kindness of strangers, about how important community is to this ancient way of life.  We learned about religion (Islam is the largest religion of Bangladesh; Muslims constitute over 90% of the population, while Hindus constitute 8.5% and Buddhists 0.6% are the most significant minorities of the country. Christians, Sikhs, animists and atheists form 1%), we learned about food, we learned about education.

    One rare Bangladesh

    River life

    But mostly we learned about how much we take for granted.

    Saying farewell to our boat driver we were back in the Tuk Tuk for the hour ride back to Barisal where

    One rare Bangladesh

    Iron workers at the market. They asked us to stay for tea.

    we had time to tour the market before our departure.  The market was remarkable to me mostly because not a single tourist item was there.  This was perhaps the most authentic market I have been to (except for Ethiopia and Burkina Faso).  In fact I have not even been able to find a postcard in this country – a sign of how small the tourism

    One rare Bangladesh

    Beautiful Bangladesh

    industry is here.

    We said goodbye to our wonderful guide and boarded a river ferry, faster and more modern than the Rocket, for the overnight return to Dhaka. Boat number seven.

    Seven boats, three days, one rare Bangladesh.  I’ll not forget my time here.  Unique, remarkable, rewarding and above all, humbling.

     

    Asia Travel

    Korean Spa – Some Like it Hot

    Re-visiting a Favorite Past Blog

    Location: Korea

    Korean Spa – Some Like it Hot

    On the 5th Anniversary of this particular blog, I thought I would share it again.  One of my all-time favs!! Enjoy!

    I’m discovering the Korean people love to be hot.  Setting the temperature in our hotel room lower than 80 * Fahrenheit is nearly impossible.  The toilet seat is heated and so are seats in the car.korean-spa

    And they love their hot baths and saunas.  And now I do too.

    I was a little apprehensive about going into the sauna the first time.  Only apprehensive because I’m not used to walking around naked with people I don’t know. This apparently is not a problem for the Koreans.  And frankly why it is for Americans I don’t know.  We do obsess a great deal about our bodies.  God knows mine is far from perfect.  But what is perfect anyway?  Wouldn’t it be great if we all just were satisfied with ourselves?

    I tried to think like this in the sauna.  No one paid any attention to me here.  You shower first, then choose between three different pools; hot (44 C), medium (41 C) and cool (21 C).  There is also a 95 C dry sauna, a 73 C wet sauna and a sun lamp room in addition to several stations to wash and scrub yourself.

    After two days of visiting the spa I decided to tackle the massage and body scrub.  I was met by a tiny little lady,

    This is not me. I found this on the internet.

    the only person in the spa wearing a bathing suit (or perhaps it was her underwear, I’m not exactly sure). She motioned me into the small room adjacent to the spa and encouraged me to get up on the bed face up.  She spoke only Korean except for the word “okay” which she used to show me I was following her instructions correctly.

    She then proceeded to scrub the hell out of my skin.  Using what I think was mitts on her hands that were abrasive and using some abrasive concoction she scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed.  With my eyes closed I had the image of me in my kitchen at home using my Brillo to scrub away baked-on macaroni and cheese. She scrubbed every nook, cranny, crevice and crease of my body, and I mean every crease and crevice – she was very thorough and diligent in her task.  For an hour she scrubbed away years of dead skin, old suntans and crud.  She even tried to scrub away a few scars. I have a permanent mark on my sternum where my running bra abrades me.  She did her best to scrub that sucker away.

    I wear a patch on my belly that is hormone replacement therapy.  I hadn’t even thought about the patch, but she scrubbed that away too.  I have no idea if she knew what it was but I felt it rip off and I laid there mentally calculating how many more I had with me, hoping the loss of one wouldn’t make me come up short before I headed home to my pharmacist.

    She scrubbed my armpits and I was wishing I had shaved that morning.  She scrubbed my breasts and I opened my eyes to peek and make sure my nipples were still there.  She scrubbed my neck, my ears and every toe and finger.

    She then soaped me up and I nearly shot right off the bed like an oiled pig for being so slippery…she tossed large tubs of hot water all over me and I nearly drowned.  And I loved every minute of it.

    “Okay, Okay” she said and sent me off to shower and soak in the pools while she cleaned the room and spaprepared for my massage.

    I returned and she was waiting for me and I laid down again, top up.  She rubbed me down, starting with my face with an oil that smelled of the sea, fresh but also of seaweed.  She used another implement that was wood and covered with nodules to rub my body head to toe.  She occasionally would throw a bucket of hot water on me and then begin again.  She covered my face with a hot towel and then I heard her scraping something.  It sounded like my kitchen grater…and then the unmistakeable smell of fresh cucumber.  She grated and grated and then proceeded to artistically cover my entire face with the freshly and finely grated cucumber mash.  And suddenly I was hungry.

    While lunch sat on my face she continued my massage.  She found the knot in my neck where my massage therapist at home has spent a lot of time and energy.  My Korean masseuse was hell-bent on un-tieing this knot and she worked and worked it.  It was both painful and pleasurable.  She even massaged my belly, almost as if she was trying to manipulate my liver and kidneys.  Oops, and my bladder.  I hoped she would avoid that area or else I wasn’t gonna make it through this torture without a potty break.

    Finally she removed the salad from my face, lightly washed and dried my face and then it was time for dessert.  Yes I said dessert.  She drizzled honey all over my face and rubbed and patted it into my skin before saying “Okay okay” and had me roll over to my belly.

    And then she started on my backside.  During this 30 minutes she made my sciatica feel fabulous and my lower back feel young again.  She used a pumice stone on my feet and scraped away the dead skin and calluses.  She kneaded my neck further and worked my shoulders and arms.

    “Okay okay” and I rolled over again, thinking we must be done, but no.  She washed my face again, poured more water all over me and then had me scoot all the way to the top of the table where she proceeded to wash my hair and scrub my scalp.  Really, when has your masseuse ever done this?

    Finally, after nearly three hours, “Okay okay” and I am done.  Off to the showers I was sent.

    My day at the Korean spa was not just a body scrub and massage, it was a facial and a hair care and pure ecstacy.  My inhibitions are gone forever and I am now a super fan of Korean Spa Life.  I will absolutely do this again.

    And by the way, three hours and all this only cost me $75.  Wow. I’m really starting to enjoy Korea.

     

     

     

     

     

    Asia Travel  --  Everything Else Fabulous

    500 Days of Summer

    A Sunny Travel Life

    Location: Lombok Indonesia

    Today marks 500 days on the road – and our grand adventure living 500 days of summer.  Coming from the often grey and misty state of Washington in the Pacific Northwest, 500 Days of Summer was the goal.

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Australia

    When we started planning our grand adventure, we set an itinerary

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Tunisia

    that kept us away from cold and rainy places.  And not just because we love the sun – but also because it’s easier to pack for these climates.

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Guam

    And so it has gone along this way now, for 500 days.  Waking each morning and opening my eyes and saying “hey, it’s still summer.”  Nice.

    Now we can’t say we haven’t seen some cool, even cold days.  We were in New Zealand as

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Morocco

    summer turned to fall and we had some pretty chilly nights.  Even in North Vietnam the nights were cool and in Halong Bay the mist hung low and we never saw the sun. In Morocco the wind was brisk and our night in the Sahara Desert camp was downright nippy. Here in Indonesia, our time in the

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Maldives

    mountains brought thankfully cooler temps, but certainly not cold.

    500 days of aummer

    Sunny Portugal

    But mostly it’s been warm to hot to REALLY hot as we have navigated this summer life.  More than 16 months on the road and I’m on my third (and a half) swimsuit and needing a fourth.  I’m on my

    500 days of summer

    Sunny New Zealand

    third sun hat, second pair of sunglasses, second set of beach towels  and second pair of flip-flops. I’m on my third selfie stick, my tenth bottle of sunscreen and my fifth water bottle – misplacing

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Bulgaria

    four somewhere along the way. My sundresses are tired and faded from sun and sweat and constant washing.  I will retire all of these soon and go on a big shopping trip for fresh and new when

    500 days of summer

    Sunny India

    we get back to the states.

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Namibia

    Because after our visit to the USA (May 14-Aug 7),where we hope it will be summer, we head off on the next phase of the grand adventure, at least

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Spain

    another 500 days of summer.

    But until then, summer continues here in Indonesia.

     

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Seychelles

    And life is sunny and fabulous!

     

    This post contains affiliate links and we may be compensated if you make a purchase.  All money earned goes back to the cost of maintaining this blog.  Thank you.

     

     

     


    Asia Travel

    Finding an Oasis at Puri Lumbung Cottages

    Munduk Bali Indonesia

    Location: Munduk, Bali, Indonesia

    We veered off our normal routine of staying in Airbnb’s these past few days. I am so glad we did, taking a chance on a little resort I read about in Lonely Planet, and finding an oasis in Puri Lumbung Cottages.

    Finding an oasis

    Mount Batur on our wat

    I could spend a month here.

    We are high (800 meters or 2500 feet) in the Bali mountains north and west of Ubud. We had a wonderful (but steep and winding) drive from

    Finding an oasis

    Temple Pura Ulun Danu

    Ubud to Munduk and saw many beautiful views in lush green terraced rice fields, lakes, volcanoes and temples.

    The weather here is cool and comfortable. Mornings are sunny and afternoons usually bring a

    Finding an oasis

    The view

    shower.

    This hotel has been a wonderful experience. We have a spectacular view overlooking the valley with the Java Sea (Pacific Ocean) in the distance about 7 miles away.  I love sitting on our balcony and watching the changing colors and cloud formations throughout the day – fabulous.

    Finding an oasis

    Beautiful gardens

    Finding an oasis at the Puri  Lumbung cottages was our lucky break.  With our friends John and Carole we paid $650 USD and here is what we got;

    • 2 beautiful cottages with bedroom, bath and balcony set in the rice fields overlooking the valley.  The cottages are historic rice barns
      Finding an oasis

      Our cottage

      that have been converted into cottages. The price included three nights.

    • Breakfast served in the restaurant each morning. Sometimes a buffet and sometimes ala carte, we enjoyed American style as well as Indonesian and Balinese style breakfast.
    • Guided trek to the local waterfall. We enjoyed this on our first morning and it was a tough
      Finding an oasis

      Waterfall trek

      and steep three mile hike. Very invigorating and boy did we work up a sweat.

    • Massage in the spa.  Our price included one massage for each of us, but since Arne doesn’t like massages I got two! Boy did that feel good after the hike!
    • Afternoon tea served on our balcony each
      Finding an oasis

      The village market

      day at three o’clock.

    • Guided trip to the local market followed by a cooking class for the four of us.  Here we learned to make a feast of local dishes using local ingredients. We then ate everything we
      Finding an oasis

      Our cooking class

      cooked and were so stuffed we didnt even need dinner.

    All of this included in the price.  Dinner was not included, but we ate dinner in the restaurant only one night and only spent $25 including drinks.

    So finding an oasis in Puri Lumbung cottages has been a special treat.  The staff is so friendly.

    Finding an oasis

    A “road” in the village

    Always smiling and happy. The hotel was started back in the 1940’s as a way to give the local people jobs.  Still today the friendly locals from the tiny village of Munduk work here.  Everyone from the receptionist to our trek guides.  The gardeners keep the grounds pristine.  The chef creates delicious food.  The housekeepers are excellent.  The massage therapist amazing. We have no complaints.

    Oh and the view. Bonus.

    Finding an oasis

    Afternoon tea

    Our Bali experience has been wonderful overall, but we will always remember our special time at the hidden Puri Lumbung (translation Rice Palace) where we relaxed and found some of the Bali of old – a bit lost in time where hospitality is king. It was our lucky day finding an oasis in Puri

    Finding an oasis

    Beautiful gardens

    Lumbung cottages.

    Matur Suksma (thank you very much)!

     

    Asia Travel  --  Everything Else Fabulous

    Silver Jewelry Making Class in Ubud

    In the heart of the Bali Art Scene

    Location: Ubud Bali Indonesia

    I’ve purchased a charm in every country I’ve been to except one. There is no charm on my bracelet from Bangladesh. But here in Bali Indonesia there are lots of options to buy silver jewelry. But for the first time I decided to try something new – I signed up to take a silver jewelry making class in the heart of the Bali Art Scene, Ubud at the Craft Workshop.

    Silver Jewelry Making class

    We began by drawing on a piece of silver

    I spent three hours and less than $30 to create my own one of a kind charm. To be honest, it might be a little too big for the charm bracelet. But I like it anyway and I had a fascinating experience learning this craft.

    Silver jewelry making class

    Cutting the shape

    With eight other students I learned how to cut and shape the silver, file it and imprint it and clean it. I learned how to solder and mold and buff and shine. Most students attempted more difficult projects than mine, with varying degrees of success. Two women actually brought gemstones to class to have set in rings. Those were my favorite pieces of the day. More elaborate than. what I attempted.

    Silver jewelry making class

    Adding a second layer of silver

    Mine is very simple, and a bit amateurish. But I am, clearly an amateur. So no matter. I really enjoyed the experience, in an artisans studio, in the middle of a rice field. My little silver lotus blossom charm will be a happy memory of my

    Silver jewelry making class

    Polishing and shining

    time in Ubud.

    At the end of the class our jewelry instructor presented me with a little silver band.  He had seen me admiring the ring one of the other women made.  So he quickly formed a pinky ring for me.  Thoughtful.  A perfect memory

    Silver jewelry making class

    Gem stone rings

    too.

    Next time you are in Ubud go in search of the old school artisans, hidden amongst the hustle and bustle that now is Ubud.  But you can still find the artists.  They are

    Silver jewelry making class

    With our instuctor

    there, still working like the old days.  You’ll enjoy an afternoon if you pursue silver jewelry making class in Ubud – in the heart of the Bali art scene.

    Silver jewelry making

    My new lotus blossom charm

    Asia Travel

    Visit South Korea – Spend a Weekend with the Monks

    Location: South Korea

    Visit South Korea for some amazing experiences, delicious foods, spectacular scenery and to spend a weekend with the Monks. You won’t regret it.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    Our group together

    I’ve done a lot of cool things in my life.  A few experiences stand out to me.  As I have aged I am more aware how unique some of these moments have been; taking a shower on the Serengeti with water heated over an open fire, eating honey and coffee with the leaders of a village in Ethiopia, sitting cross legged on the floor in the traditional home of an ancient Japanese master paper umbrella artist while he gave my family a personal demonstration of his craft. Swimming with sea lions in Galapagos, dolphins in Zanzibar and Manta Rays in Hawaii.   Participating in the annual bird inventory on Molokai and summiting Warma Wanusqa Peak (13,500 feet) on the Inca Trail in Peru. I’ve danced with the natives in a Burkina Faso village, and discussed motherhood with the Himba women in Namibia.  Remarkable experiences all.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    Enjoying our vegetarian meal

    I never really set out to accomplish anything specifically unique.  I only have found myself in situations that seem unique to others.  And these moments are the ones that have defined me and have broadened my awareness of the world.  These moments I hold dear, each difficult to describe or put into words and accurately share.  They are the definition of indescribable.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    Learning about the prostrations

    In Korea I had an indescribable experience lucky enough to spend a weekend with the Monks in the Geumsunsa Temple in the mountains outside of Seoul.  Adding this to my list of unique and memorable life experiences.  I really recommend both a visit to South Korea and a weekend with the monks.

    I went into this with next to no knowledge of Buddhism.  I still know very little, but I did gain awareness of a way of life that is not a religion, but a goal to practice living life with an open heart. According to Buddhist traditions a Buddha is a fully awakened being who has completely purified his mind of the three poisons of desire, aversion and ignorance.

    The Geumsunsa Temple is perched on Mount Bukhan to the North and West of Seoul.  We arrived late, our GPS refusing to cooperate and maneuvering through the streets of Seoul without it proved a difficult task.  Once we found the parking lot at the base of the mountain we hiked the last quarter mile straight up the mountain to the temple entrance – the only access to the temple is on foot.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    Arne at the silent breakfast

    Arriving late I was frazzled and frantic, and certainly not in a transcendental state of mind, but I took a few deep breaths and prepared myself to spend a weekend with the monks.  We entered in a room with about a dozen other people where the orientation had already begun. We sat quietly in the back trying to catch our breath and catch up on the presentation.  It was presented in both Korean and English.

    We were given a tour of the temple and some history.  The 1000-year-old temple is small compared to some (five monks when some temples have 200) but it is very beautiful and well maintained. I wish I could visit in spring or fall, I’m sure it is spectacular when all the foliage on the mountain is out.

    South Korea a weekend with d with the monks

    Dinnee

    We were served a very good vegetarian dinner with soup, rice and multiple kimchee and vegetable choices.  We were instructed that we had to eat everything that we took, down to the last grain of rice.  No food could be wasted.  We were shown how to use an apple slice to clean our plates of all food remnants so they almost appeared to not even need to be washed.

    South Korea a weekend with d with the monks

    Mindfulness

    Following dinner we were escorted to the Buddha room, a beautiful part of the temple adorned to praise Buddha, the teacher. A Buddhist temple is called Vihara and is a place for education. In the shrine room of each temple is where a large Buddha and statues of his disciples are. Here is where we began our 108 prostrations.  I was worried about accomplishing this task.  Starting in a standing position to lying prone on the floor, methodically and with purpose 108 times in a row.  I was already finding my body was having a great deal of difficulty sitting cross-legged on the floor – an unnatural position for most Americans.  We were instructed how to do the prostrations and how to release our minds from turmoil. The practice of Buddhism is the never-ending humbling of the ego. Humbling yourself before the world, by lowering your body you realize that you are one with everything. Performing 108 prostrations is yet another path towards the realization of the True Self.

    And so we began.  108 times; each prostration symbolizing a goal, or gratitude or repentance; For example; I prostrate myself to show appreciation to my parents for giving birth to me.  Or I prostrate myself to ask forgiveness for people I may have hurt. Or I prostrate myself for a humble mind. Or I prostrate myself for peace among all countries and an end to all wars.

    And on and on, 108 times.  It lasted about 30 minutes and I was sweating and exhausted when it was over.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    The beautiful temple

    We were later asked to choose one of the prostration sentences that spoke to us specifically and we drew pictures then shared with the group.  Many people in the room were brought to tears during this circle time; some feeling stress in their jobs or sadness in lost relationship, and others wanting to show love to their parents who are ailing.  It was an emotional experience for many.  I chose the one that asks to be more humble.  This is truly a goal I have been working on for some time, so it called to me.

    I thought doing 108 prostrations would be the most difficult thing I did during my visit, but no.  Sleeping on the floor was.  Or trying to sleep I should say.  We slept side by side (men and women separated) on an extremely hard floor with a blanket and pillow.  It was a very, very long night.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    Arne being flipped during the exercise program

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    Tea with one of our host monks

    The bell chimed at 4:30am for wake up.  I wasn’t sad to get up.  I really couldn’t lie there anymore.  Our morning was spent in silence and meditation followed by wake up exercises harder than my yoga classes and then a vegetarian ceremonial breakfast, very ritualistic and eaten in silence.  We all then shared in chores around the temple before sitting down to have tea and a conversation with one of the monks. I think this was my favorite time.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    We really enjoyed our friendly monks

    The monk prepared and poured the tea for us as she answered each and every question we had about her life as a monk, Buddha and Buddhism, philosophy, the temple and much more.  It was fascinating and enlightening to see a human being choose to live this life and walk away from everything materialistic and dedicate everything to the practice of becoming Buddha.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    On top of the sunny mountain

    Finally we headed up the mountain for a beautiful hike on the cold and sunny morning.  We spent time sitting at the top of the mountain enjoying the spectacular scenery and each other’s company and meditating on our time together.  We hiked back to the temple for our vegetarian lunch, paper lantern making and then farewell to our new friends and Temple Geumsunsa.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    Farewell to our new friends

    My back and hips were killing me and I was desperate for a nap and a large coffee as we hiked down the path to the car, but my heart and mind were full as I thoughtfully considered what I learned from this experience.  I felt validated in my Fabulous Fifties objectives to not look outside for approval and rather to find it within.  My knowledge that being true to myself, despite what others believe and grateful for all things in my life, good and bad, is the best destiny.  Being honest, forgiving, following my intuition and celebrating the one short life we have is my practice.

    I prostrate myself for a humble mind. Fabulous.

    Note – find out how you can have this experience at http://koreantemples.com/?p=6684

     

    Asia Travel

    Singapore After Dark, Fun and Free

    Location: Singapore

    The most expensive city in the world can put you back quite a few dollars. Beautiful Singapore is a colorful and glamorous destination where a beer will cost you $15 and the smallest of hotel rooms (closet more like it) will start at $100. But there are ways to enjoy this sparkling island city state without breaking the bank. Especially in the evening. Here are some tips on Singapore after dark, fun and free.

    Gardens by the Bay

    After a day enjoying the city have an early dinner in the less expensive Clarke’s Quay area (older port area of warehouses now mostly restaurants) and then walk (free) or take a River Cruise Boat ($24) at dusk to the One Fullerton Pier. As

    Art along the Singapore River

    the sun sets the Singapore River and its bridges are lit and beautiful. Be sure to enjoy the historic Fullerton Hotel after dark as you begin your Singapore after dark fun and free tour.

    Fullerton Hotel

    Stop to pose with the famous Merlion statue after dark then wander along the bay.  Get comfy in one of the many seating areas and and get ready for the Marina Bay Sands Hotel Laser Light

    The Merlion is the symbol of the city

    Show.  If you want to spend the money, it’s fun to go up to the observation deck at Marina Bay Sands ($23).  But if you are on a budget you can skip it.  We did it in the afternoon and enjoyed a way-too-expensive gin and tonic in the roof top bar.

    Laser show at Marina Bay Sands

    The laser light show is every night at 8:00 and 9:00.  Coordinated with music and fountains it’s a pretty amazing show in a pretty amazing location.  A great way to enjoy Singapore after dark fun and free.

    Spend the money to enjoy the stunning Gardens

    Gardens by the Bay

    by the Bay sky walk ($8) and the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome ($28) during the day(definitely my favorite Singapore attraction). But by night make sure you position yourself to enjoy the free and spectacular Gardens by the Bay light show. You have two chances to

    Gardens by the Bay

    see the show each evening at 7:45 and 8:45.

    We made our way to the Gardens by the Bay over the red lighted Helix Bridge following the Marina Sands Laser show. If you hurry you will have just enough time between shows to walk there.  Some people stay in one place to watch the Gardens light show (15 minutes) while others lay on the concrete below the towering trees to hear, feel and see the music and lights. For me I enjoyed walking all through the forest and taking

    Gardens by the Bay

    advantage of so many different photography angles. The colors were incredible.  If you are in Singapore for several days this is worth seeing

    Year of the Dog

    more than once.

    We only had two full days in Singapore. We decided to skip Sentosa Island (more family amusement park kind of activities

    Street in Chinatown

    both day and night) and spent our second day in Chinatown.  There is great food and a wonderful and pretty inexpensive selection of shops for souvenirs. After dark Chinatown glows in gold and red and orange. As part of our

    Chinatown

    Singapore after dark fun and free tour Chinatown is worth walking through to enjoy the lights, colors and food!

    Lucky for us we were in Singapore during the Asian New Year (Year of the Dog).  Singapore’s

    Chinatown

    population is 74% Chinese (Mandarin is the second language after English) and both Asian New Year and Chinatown are bustling, popular, colorful and most definitely worth a visit.

    Singapore after dark, free and fun! Fabulous!