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Shanghai, Day 15

Shanghai, China


Our last day in China.
Free time in the morning went quick. Some of us walked along the Bund, others went to visit the Jade Buddha temple and the tea shop there. There wasn't much time since we had to leave at noon. If you weren't tired when you woke up, you were now.

As we were checking out we said good bye to the memebers who are traveling longer. We said good bye to Robert who was also staying a few days longer.

And finally we had to say goodbye to our national guide Sunny. He was our hero and our support, we were sad to say goodbye.


permalink written by  Benjamin Satterfield on September 29, 2005 from Shanghai, China
from the travel blog: China Tour Fall 2005
tagged China, Jade, Temple, Buddha, Buddhism, Pirated, Bund, Shanhai, JadeBuddhaTemple and Shopping

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Luoyang, Day 4

Luoyang, China


We arrived in Luoyang by train in the early morning. After checking-in to the hotel in town, we got ready for a short drive out to the Shaolin temple. After a local lunch we visited the temple at the base of a mountain whose peak looks as though Buddha is lsleeping on his back (it kinda looks like that). The shaolin temple was one of the most anticipated sites to visit for the trip. The following events occurred:

DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAMERA?!

The Shaolin temple is pretty much on its own park. There are countless children and youth training away and maintaining their own grounds. The main focal attractions at the site are the theatre, where you can see them perform and train (its a choreographed show really) and the pagoda forest, a collection of small pagodas dedicated to the past shaolin masters. The performance was impressive but has an edge of feeling over rehearsed. After the show, which was really too short, you can buy shirts and other momentos outside. This is where we encountered the master of the five-fingered discount. I was talking with the shop keepers and students interested in buying some stuff from the store and I put my video camera down for a second. A minute later, it magically disappeared, in th emidst of only about 5 people. My camera DV got yanked! And not only that, the DVD's that Robert and I bought where bogus. They weren't the performance that we saw, it was a lame instructional video... it was a shaolin hustle. A lesson in impermanence.

Other than the slight damper of the theft, the religious ceremony at the temple and the pagoda forest were quite interesting and impressive. Although, on the way out of the pagoda forest, I did see a monk kick a blind beggar in the back to get him out. Not very compassionate... then again, there is a serious contradiction with having monks be powerful warriors. There's somehting not right about Peace, Compassion, and Butt-kicking. Still, it was cool to see all these things; monks doing head stands, breakig stuff, etc. I mean, we've seen so much stuff in film and TV, it was nice to go to the source of it all.

As we drove away that evening there was a huge reddish moon rising above the mountains. It was the start of the mid-autumn festival (moon cake festival). Later, we finished the day off with hour long foot massages. It was great and I almost forgot that I got ripped off earlier.


permalink written by  Benjamin Satterfield on September 17, 2005 from Luoyang, China
from the travel blog: China Tour Fall 2005
tagged China, Theft, Luoyang, Shaolin, Temple, Buddha, Monks, Kungfu, Pagoda and Camera

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Goa ... Mesmerising Goa

Panaji, India


Goa!! so many words that can be used to describe it .. but none of them will be as beautiful as goa really was. Iv never been there before, even tho i just live 12 road-hrs away. and it happened so so suddenly!!

it just happened that anand was gonna b in goa on a weekend ... and my family has been going through a specially hard time recently and i thot of askin my mom to come along with me for a vacation to goa and she agreed !!! so there i was vacationing wit my mom and boy friend.. wat an european thot na?

the trip there was terrible, we had sleeper seats on the bus which didnt allow us to even sit up ... and thats how we spent 16 looooooong hours. but then we reached goa finally and i caught a view of the sea... we reached hotel delmon where anand was and freshened up and went in search of a new hotel ...why? cos delmon was in the heart of the city and all we cud see was lots of cashew and wine shops...

after a lot of searching and examining, we finally settled on hotel swimsea ... which had a beautiful view and was affordable too!! then came another round of searching ... this time for a place to eat... cos it was 3.30 and all goan restaurants close at 3 there!! so here we were in panjim - the seafood and malwan food capital and u know where we ate? Delhi Darbar!! we made sure this mistake was not repeated again however ... we feasted on amazing seafood every time after that!!

then we headed on to the following beaches: vagator - where we stood on the rocks and felt the waves on us !!

Anjuna - where bargaining is an art

calangute - which is horribly crowded and completely beautiful... it also has a janpath-like shopping stretch there!! after this we went to a hanuman mandir and then headed home.

A fresh sea food dinner later... we ended our first day here...

the second day we headed on to the chapel of francis xavier (where his body is) and saw the cathedral next to it too ... beautiful old churches .. wish someone wud restore them!! then we headed on to the next religious destinations namely the mangeshi and shantadurga temples (astonishing the number of temples in a place so dominantly catholic).

Then came the only so-called disappointment of the trip cos when we reached the state-owned spice gardens which were closed cos of the rains. but it was all ok cos v got more time to spend over our next seafood oriented meal!!

and then we headed to "ancestral goa" where they hav recreated old goa and the way they used to live in portuguese times.. thats all good but they hav put these amazing robotic women as guides who rattle off recorded gems like "in earlier times there were no newspapers so there used to be a khabri who wud go from village to village telling latest news" but to be fair, they had tried to recreate it as authentically as they cud!!

then v got on a sea cruise which was also s'posed to have folk dances but mostly there were horribly unfit people dancing vulgarly to latest himesh yuckiya songs... but we stayed on the lower deck where there was no one .. just us and the sea !! and we got our feet wet in the rain that was splashing in from the sides ... it was sooo amazing!!

then we headed to colva beach and watched 2 goa ppl fishing for fishies which had been caught in the sea current an brought into the shallow pools made along the beach.

we ended off our second day in goa by going shoppin for i love goa tees and found a beautiful flower market right in the middle of a dense marketplace!! and retired back amazed by all the discoveries of this day..

the last day was just caught up with getting ready to get to the airport on time and i got a huge reality check wit mrs.scatty's fone call!! but all's well ... i went to goa didnt i?????

and now i have a dream ... a dream to go back to beautiful, green, romantic, unapologetic and truly content Goa.


permalink written by  ipshi on July 13, 2006 from Panaji, India
from the travel blog: My hop, skip, jump visit to Goa
tagged Temple, Beach, Goa and Church

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? unknown. Straw crafts place possibly in Yuanli Township

Yuanli Township 苑裡鎮, Taiwan


2007-07-17 14:01. BA unsure where, but a straw-weaving/crafts place 蓬山藺草 with an instructor. Also Ol' Big 老大 gave a guided tour around the nearby neighborhood temple, houses, mentioned a bridge used to be here.

2007-07-17 16:01. BL

Best guess: near Yuanli township 苑裡鎮, Miaoli County. because peng shan ling cao 蓬山藺草 google results show it as part of yuanli township site.

permalink written by  monex on July 17, 2007 from Yuanli Township 苑裡鎮, Taiwan
from the travel blog: 2007 Overseas Compatriot Youth Taiwan 5th Study Tour (2007海外青年台灣觀摩團第5梯次)
tagged Temple, Yuanli, Straw, Crafts and Neighborhood

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Wu Long Shan Feng Shan Temple 五龍山鳳山寺 w/ giant Jigung 濟公statue

Wu Long Shan Feng Shan Temple 五龍山鳳山寺 w/ giant Jigung 濟公statue, Taiwan


2007-07-23 13:45. BA

2007-07-23 14:29. BW

五龍山鳳山寺

842高雄縣旗山鎮南寮巷37號
Cisan Township, Kaohsiung County

Staff said we would see a Toaist temple. Not sure what makes this a Taoist temple, isn't Jigung buddhist? More of folk religion than Taoism or Buddhism.

Temple with giant Jigung statue 濟公活佛巨像


permalink written by  monex on July 23, 2007 from Wu Long Shan Feng Shan Temple 五龍山鳳山寺 w/ giant Jigung 濟公statue, Taiwan
from the travel blog: 2007 Overseas Compatriot Youth Taiwan 5th Study Tour (2007海外青年台灣觀摩團第5梯次)
tagged Temple, Jigung and Taoist

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The North Temple Pagoda of suzhou

Suzhou, China


Covering about 40 mu (= 0.0667 hectares), the North Temple Pagoda was originally the Tongxuan Temple during the reign of Chiwu of the Eastern Wu in the Three States built by Sun Quan, the Emperor of Wu, for his wet nurse. It was granted as the “Epoch-making Temple” in the Tang Dynasty and began to be called the “ Reciprocation Temple ” at the end of the Five Dynasties. So far it has a history of more than 1,700 years.

The Reciprocation Temple Pagoda, or the North Temple Pagoda, is a provincial preservation unit of historical and cultural relics and is popularly praised as the “ Number One Pagoda in South of the Yangtse River ” . Standing far apart facing the Tiger Hill Pagoda, the North Temple Pagoda is also a famous old pagoda and an important symbol of Suzhou .

The North Temple Pagoda has a long history. It was originally an eleven-storeyed pagoda built by Zhanghui, a monk in the Liang Dynasty. Then it was destroyed by the flames of war and the base of the North Temple Pagoda today was built by Dayuan, a monk in the Southern Song Dynasty.

The North Temple Pagoda is a brick and wooden Buddhist pagoda of the style of building and has nine storeys with eight sides each. With the height of 76 meters, it is the highest of the pagodas in Suzhou . It is famous for double eaves and flying corners and is a building in the same type as the Liuhe Pagoda in Hangzhou . The base of the pagoda covers 1.3 mu (= 0.0667 hectares), whose eaves are extraordinarily long. Its body consists of the outer corridors, the inner corridors and the square rooms in the center. Visitors can walk up along the wooden stairs in the internal corridors and by leaning on the railings look down at the panorama of the city as well as look at hills, waters, and rural scenery of Suzhou in the distance.



permalink written by  beijing2008 on July 22, 2008 from Suzhou, China
from the travel blog: Australia
tagged China, Temple, Trip and Suzhou

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2ième jour - Kunming / Jianshui

Jianshuigou, China


En route pour 229 Km de Kunming à Jianshui par bus. Il faut environ 4 heures. À Jianshui, on visite la ville ancienne et la "Tour face au Soleil" (Chaoyanglou) qui a été fondée en 1389. Le Temple de Confucius a été édifié pendant l’ époque mongole (1285). C’est le deuxième temple de confucius le plus grand en chine. Enfin, on visite Le Jardin de la famille Zhu.

permalink written by  Yunnan on October 12, 2008 from Jianshuigou, China
from the travel blog: Le Voyage Fantastique du Yunnan
tagged Temple, Tour, Yunnan, Chine, Jianshui, Jardin and VieilleVille

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Wo Ai Taiwan!

Taipei, Taiwan


Translation: I love Taiwan! When I learned, during my 10 hr layover in Taipei, that the gov. gave out free tours of the area, I was ecstatic. Me and a few Assies got a 1st rate tour of a small town outside Taipei, and got to see how they make porceilin, a grand Buddhist temple, and some street scenes in the area. The guides engrish was very good, and he taught us a great deal of Chinese animal symbolism and how so many small things in their world are done to ward spirits, create luck, bring prosperity, increase health, etc. (Among the most interesting, Frogs=Lucky, Dragons=wealth, Turtles=Longevity, and ALWAYS remember to rub the top of the Stone lions heads who are guarding the temple). The lions are a very important symbol in Taiwan (they refer to themselves as China), as it is their national animal. Lions holding balls are men and lions holding babies are women. Their towns are very dense and multi-storied, all clustered around a main area, usually with windy streets. The Chinese build up, not out, as is evidenced by farms coewxisting mere blocks away from 10 story buildings. But by far the wackiest thing I saw in Taiwan was their version of a funeral. Firstly, they also use Hearses for their funerals, Ifound this an interesting borrowed aspect of our culture. But every other part they get completely mixed up on. Immediately following the slow-moving Hearse is...get this...a hired band of scantily clad women wearing Hooters-orange marching outfits, banging away on their instruments, and badly. For what is supposed to be a serious and solemn occasion, and they do look at it as such, these girls are completely out of place! And following these very un-solemn looking band members are the mourners wearing white Ku Klux Klan hoods with their heads bowed. I didnt know whether to laugh or cry. Overall it was a great (and free) way to spend my layover, getting to see an entirely new country. Wo ai Taiwan!

permalink written by  JohnJack_Crestani on January 16, 2009 from Taipei, Taiwan
from the travel blog: I Meet the SouthEast
tagged Temple, Taipei, Taiwan, Funeral and Porceilin

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Dreadlocks and Ladyboys (Bangkok Part 2)

Bangkok, Thailand


Through all the dazzle and glory of Bangkok's economy and culture lies massive amounts of pollution and Western influence. The photos above were taken from a longboat on Bangkoks main river, Chao Phraya. Los Angeles has nothing on this! The taste of pollution and raw sewage in many places are enough to give the average person headaches.

Although the boat tour through the city led us through some of the most pollution infested areas of town (Chinatown and industrial areas), once we got towards the suburbs of the city I was able to experience scenes, normal people living, that you would never get in the touristy and city areas. Interestingly (to me at least), the suburbs of Bangkok are surprisingly integrated in their mixtures of social classes, especially up against the model of US cities. Rich estates and their gardens reside next to farms, peasant shops and makeshift housing peacefully. An upper-class house averages around $200k, about half is the land. Their gardens sit right next to subsistence farmers, who live almost completely unaffected by modernity, and only sell meager amounts of their crop to the market if they have extra left over.
Riding my bike through the elevated sidewalks/roads which snake around the suburbs, kids would shout friendly 'Herro's to me, as I am guessing they don't often see white faces, something completely different from the city. Life is calm here, and not much seems to have changed over the centuries in these parts.

Western influence has affected full-force the high-society and upper/middle classes of Thailand, and although I am standing in front of a special walk for chinese new years, it is a part of a megamall that is perhaps the greatest symbol to Western influence in Thailand. Siam Paragon, a recently built megamall features multiple McDonalds, Dolce & Gabbana, Quiksilver, H&M etc, etc, etc. It is completely and absolutely indistinguishable (creepily so...) from a USA mall scene...except all the people are Asian. From flirtacious and gossiping teenagers, to desperate housewives, to young adults on dates at the movies, to prep students finished with school, and every other mall stereotype, it can be found here 5000 miles from Los Angeles.

This was the only place where I felt really awkward, like I didnt belong. My school group was not part of the actual makeup here, this was no tourist site, and they didn't specifically need our money. The art installations and center-mall galleries were absolutely stunning on a scale not seen in America. Hands down nicest, cleanest, richest mall I've ever been to...and I am in a 3rd world country. (Side-note: I actually walked into the mall during a Thai movie premier happening there which added to the feeling of being in my native Los Angeles, very glitzy)The one quite different aspect from American malls is the presence of many white-Thai couples here on dates.
The amount of prostitutes in Bangkok (in the downtown area near the nice hotels, not where the other backpackers and I were staying) is absolutely insane. Tens of thousands of women come from all over SE Asia to be sold for about $30 to Western customers coming from mainly around Europe, Australia, America and the Middle East. The amount of creepy old white men walking around with their Thai 'girlfriends' is stunning, mainly because it is such a common sight. Places like Starbucks, mid/high-end hotel lobbies (nice hotels are around $100-600/night) and street promenades are very populated by such dates. Although it is sad that women feel the need to sell their bodies, I feel it is also an equally bad problem that generations of men have been raised unable to successfully bed a woman, or achieve a happy relationship, that they must resort to a 3rd world country for a relationship.

Overall, Bangkok has been quite a trip, it is a fast-paced, multifaceted city full of delights, joys, beer, women, tourist attractions, culture, cheap goods, and something for anyone and everyone. I highly recommend a visit to Bangkok for all, it is an incredibly safe city (the laws protect foreigners more-so than the native Thai), and I never at once felt at unease.

At the same time, I am glad to be out of the smog, traffic, sellers and commercialism and out in the country now.


permalink written by  JohnJack_Crestani on January 25, 2009 from Bangkok, Thailand
from the travel blog: I Meet the SouthEast
tagged Temple, Buddha, Thailand, Bangkok, Watpho and Dreadlocks

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City of the Soaring Dragon

Hanoi, Vietnam


Hanoi is the capital and also the largest city in northern Vietnam with 7 million people. Ruthlessly crowded with motorbikes, people and goods-for-sale along the tiny winding roads, my first impression was that this city was completely nuts. Coming from the jungles and mountains, I felt overwhelmed at first by the congestion, claustrophobia, and from crossing the street even in this super-dense city. Nor would it be considered a particularly pretty city; there aren't many parks and exhaust fumes tend to discolor most of the buildings, and the weather is gray cloudy most of the year.

Things are even CHEAPER in Hanoi though, than from the rest of the cities I have been in thus far! I am constantly amazed to see how cheap things are and am just surprised they can go lower than Bangkok or Chiang Mai. DVD's were only $1.75 and entire shows or sets of movies could be purchased for $5. Movies and TV shows are categorized completely differently than they would be in a Blockbuster or Best Buy back in America, they are organized by actor, director and show, not by genre. There are set compilations offering all movies by a certain actor such as Brad Pitt, or all the seasons of The Simpsons in a little box. And yes, they all work.

Our Pacific Discovery group also had the privilege of visiting both the 'Temple of Literature' and a prison used for the imprisonment of American's during the Vietnam War. The Temple of Literature was slightly interesting, it was Vietnams first university and founded almost 1000 years ago. A little band played ethnic Vietnamese music which made it worth it for my easily-bored self. The prison was more interesting, it housed John McCain during his time as a P.O.W. The walls and the cells looked haunting (pictures to come soon, bad internet here...) and the aura of the atrocious conditions made everyones mood very weary. The text along the walls explaining both the French treatment of Vietnamese prisoners and the Vietnamese treatment of American prisoners painted completely different stories, and was obviously mostly propaganda. I somehow doubt the Americans received 3 healthy meals a day and mostly played chess, basketball, and helped plant trees.

The Vietnamese tend to like Americans, and I have not encountered any situation during my time here to suggest otherwise. The population is mostly young and under 35, and American's were part of a long chain of attackers in the quest for a sovereign nation including France, Japan, and China. By the time we had come along, war was a very ingrained part of their world. Their war was not about communism, as we believed, but about independence and local rule. Ho Chi Minh simply chose communism because it provided the most distinct roadmap for economic, social, and political processes for the founding of an entirely new nation. The Vietnamese did not hold to any ideals other than a Vietnamese nation, communism was an easy path of action and nationalism to rally people under. The Communist experiment failed by the mid to late 80s in Vietnam, perhaps quickened by the West's embargo against the nation. It now seems to be a very capitalist society, allows foreign ownership of businesses, houses, etc, and actively courts foreign investment for factories. Its chief export is oil, and is the 3rd largest rice-exporter, just behind the US.

I will post more analysis of the situation here in my next post, when I am able to upload more pictures. I am currently in Saigon (in the south) and my next post will be from Cambodia. All the best!

The Lego House in Hanoi

People park their motorbikes on the sidewalk so most of the time you have to walk on the street.

A woman at the market wearing a funny t-shirt "Hunk if you (heart) my body!" They sell alot of t-shirts and jeans with misspelled words or meaningless English on them which usually turns out to be pretty funny.

A FOUR story KFC in Hanoi. Order on the first floor, recieve food on second, sit on 2, 3 or 4. Symbolically American food chains such as McDonald's or 7-11 haven't been allowed in Vietnam because of the war, although even these restrictions are starting to loosen as time goes by




permalink written by  JohnJack_Crestani on February 27, 2009 from Hanoi, Vietnam
from the travel blog: I Meet the SouthEast
tagged Temple, Vietnam, Hanoi, JackCrestani, Johncrestani, Prison and Johnmccain

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