Asia

Macau Tower

Macau Tower first opened in December 2001 and since then has become one of Macau’s best known sights and a focus of its skyline.  The tower stands at 338m and has something for everyone, from shopping and cinema to dining with an incredible view and extreme thrills. 

The Observation Deck is up 223m and offers a 360 degree view of the area. From here, you can see all of Macau Peninsula, Taipa, Coloane and across the Pearl River to mainland China. It’s a great deck for snapping photos, and for the milder thrill seeker, you can walk along the glass floor, looking WAY down to the ground below.

For the more adventurous thrill seeker, head up to the Adventure Deck at 233m. Here you can walk around the edge with Skywalk. Plunge towards the earth with SkyJump or try the Guinness World Record holder for highest Bungy Jump. For the truly extreme, there is Tower Climb, where you can ascend to the very top of the tower.

If you prefer to leave the thrills to someone else, head to the 60th floor for a buffet with an incredible view at the 360 Cafe.  Here, you can watch the bungy jumpers go sailing by as you enjoy your dinner!

If you are in Macau, the Tower is definitely a must-see!
For more info visit www.macautower.com.mo
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Exploring the Vegas of Asia

A few years ago, my sister moved to Macau, a Special Administrative Region of China near Hong Kong, to teach. Knowing I now had a free place to stay, Macau quickly made its way to the top of my “Must Visit” travel list. I arrived not knowing a whole lot about the country besides that it’s full of casinos and was a Portuguese colony for years.

Wandering around, it was very interesting to see the meeting of Chinese and Portuguese cultures, languages and food, mixed in with big, elaborate casinos. Definitely an interesting place to visit.

Here, I highlight a few of the not- to-be-missed sites found in Macau.

 

 

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Hiking to the A-Ma Cultural Village.

The world’s tallest statue of the goddess A-Ma (also known as Tin Hau) stands on the peak of a mountaintop on Macau’s Coloane Island, where the nearby A-Ma cultural village celebrates the beloved goddess.

A-Ma has long been revered in Macau as the protector of people who make their living at sea.  The plaque by the statue tells the legend of A-Ma saving sailors during a fierce storm and ascending afterward into heaven near the site of the historic A-Ma temple.

To get to the village you can take a bus or hike the Coloane Trail beginning in Seac Pai Van Park.

We opted for the hiking option and after stopping by to see the panda, we headed up the trail and the many, many stairs through a leafy forested area coming to a opening with an incredible view looking back across at Macau. Then, the trail continued up to the top of the mountain to the A-Ma statue before heading over to the nearby Cultural Village. The detail in the paintings and carvings on the buildings and gateways here are so incredibly ornate you could spend hours just taking in all the detail.

If you are in Macau, be sure to check this place out, you won’t be disappointed!

Opening hours of Tin Hau Palace: 08:00 to 18:00 daily. Free Admission

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Gamcheon Culture Village- The Santorini of Korea

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Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan is located on a hillside in Saha-gu, that was first settled in the early 1900’s by followers of the Taegeukdo religion. Over the years, the village continued to deteriorate until 2010 when the community was brought back to life as an arts and culture village, with several abandoned homes being converted into exhibition spaces, art shops and cultural facilities.

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Exploring Hong Kong

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A magical day at Hong Kong Disneyland

In my quest to visit all the Disney Parks, this fall I took the Disney tram to Hong Kong Disneyland and checked another one off my list. While Hong Kong Disneyland may be the smallest of them all, with only one park to visit, it’s still a magical way to spend a day.

Paris….I’m coming for you next!

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Beautiful Beomeosa

The beautiful Beomeosa temple is definitely one of Busan, South Korea’s must-see sights. Although it’s located within the city, nestled high in the hills, the temple seems miles away from Busan’s busy streets.
While Beomeosa is a nice place to visit at any time of year, the colourful changing leaves on the surrounding mountains during the fall make the temple’s backdrop truly magnificent.
The surrounding area is a popular place to go hiking for both locals and tourists and when the weather is nice it’s a busy place with trails leading to the temple, the northern starting point for trails across Geumjeongsan.

Temples in Korea have been a place of refuge for Korean people for more than 1,700 years. Tradition has been that these temples open their gates to allow everyone to experience the traditional Korean Buddhist culture.
Here at Beomeosa, the temple offers both overnight “Templestay” programs and 1-day “Temple Life” programs for visitors to learn about and get a feel for Korean Buddhism. The sign at the gate states “You can cleanse your mind through a meaningful journey to search your true nature while staying at a beautiful temple.”

Beomeosa is known as a Comprehensive Training Monastery and was built by Great Master Uisang, a leading monk at that time, in the 18th year of King Munmu of the Silla Dynasty (678 C.E). It is one of 25 major temples in Korea and has 11 hermitages on the mountain and more than 200 branch temples around the nation.

For more info click here

To get to Beomeosa Temple:

Metro line 1 to Beomeosa, Exit 5. Walk 200m. Catch bus 90 (1200won) or walk up the steep slope for a nice hike in the woods.
The temple is open from 8:30-5:30pm.

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Hiroshima’s A-Bomb Dome

It was 69 years ago, on August 6th, that the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Today, the A-Bomb Dome still stands, looking as it did after the bomb struck from directly above.

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An Afternoon in Osaka

One could easily spend several days in Osaka, Japan – sight-seeing, shopping and eating delicious Japanese cuisine. But if you only have an afternoon, here are some Osaka ‘Must- See’ areas.

After Tokyo, Osaka is considered to be Japan’s second-most modern city, quite a contrast for those who have just come from neighbouring traditional Kyoto.

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First on our list was escaping the throngs of people and making our way to the city’s castle, Osaka-Jo.

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With its white exterior and green roof with black and gold detailing, Osaka Castle has a fairytale appearance about it, almost looking more European than Japanese.  For 550 -600yen, you can head inside the castle and take the elevator straight up to the 8th floor observation area.

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The view from the top is incredible. You can see for miles. On a sweltering summer day, the breeze up there is also a welcome change.  Heading back down, there are displays on every floor. The seventh floor is full of information on the life of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the man who built Osaka Castle and succeeded in unifying the nation. The fifth floor was filled with scenes and information about the Summer War in Osaka. The fourth floor had artifacts from the Sengoku era and on the third floor there were facts and figures on Osaka Castle.

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The castle took a thousand workers three years to build in 1583. At the time it was thought to be indestructible, yet 32 years later it was destroyed in battle. The current castle was built in 1931.

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The area surrounding the castle has food stands and a souvenir shop as well as a small garden to wander through.  As you make your way back down the hill, the large park surrounding the castle grounds is a nice place to spend some time wandering through the gardens. Or, if you brought your sneakers, you can join the hundreds of runners that fill the park.

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Osaka was almost bombed flat during WWII, but has been built back up and is now filled with both indoor and outdoor markets, arcades, shops and restaurants.

Osaka is divided into a couple main areas – Kita, the center of retail and business by day, and Minami – the place to spend the evening. Here,  everything comes alive under the neon glow of lights and the delicious smells wafting from the many restaurants (get off at either Namba or Shinsaibashi station).

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The Namba region certainly lights up as the sun sets becoming The Times Square of Japan. Bright lights, huge signs, shops, and restaurants open late into the night. If you’re looking for nightlife this is also the place to find Osaka’s most popular bars and clubs.  Everywhere you look a neon sign is welcoming you to come in and enjoy. Until you get your bearings the whole area can definitely be a sensory overload, but once your eyes adjust, you’ll notice that this area hosts some of the greatest signs you’ve ever seen!

After a meal of the best sushi I’ve ever had and a stroll through the maze of neon lights, it was time to catch our bus.

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 Our afternoon in Osaka was a great overview, but I’ll have to make my way back and see what other gems this modern Japanese city has to offer.

 

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Deoksugung Palace Changing of the Guard

Watching the changing of the guard ceremony at Deoksugung Palace in Seoul, South Korea.

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