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.
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!
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.
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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.
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.
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.
First on our list was escaping the throngs of people and making our way to the city’s castle, Osaka-Jo.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Watching the changing of the guard ceremony at Deoksugung Palace in Seoul, South Korea.
An iconic image of Japan, the majestic Mt. Fuji, can be seen for miles. Admiration for Japan’s highest and most famous peak dates back to the country’s earliest recorded literature. Today, the active volcano, which erupted most recently in 1708, continues to captivate both Japanese and international visitors. Its nearly perfectly-shaped peak is often only visible in the morning, before ducking behind the clouds. However, it’s been said that the mountain’s elusiveness is part of its charm. Visibility tends to be better during the colder seasons, when the beautiful peak is snow-capped. Continue reading
Spending a rainy day experiencing the magic of Disney at Tokyo DisneySea!
Before heading to Asia, friends gave me lists of things to do in Hong Kong and told me how much I’d love it. Well, I have to admit, Hong Kong and I got off on the wrong foot. Coming out of the subway into the sweltering heat and massive crowds, trying to find my way around, I felt like bursting into tears. I had just left my sister in Macau and was feeling a little teary-eyed to begin with. As I made my way along the sidewalk, squished like a sardine, I was completely overwhelmed by all the pushing and shoving just trying to get down the street. The Canadian in me found myself constantly apologizing as I was bumped from one person into the next. The smells, the crowds and the overall confusion of trying to make my way to my hostel had me hating Hong Kong before I really gave it a fair chance.