Tag Archives: shopping

From a Grand Palace to Grand Reptiles in Bangkok

The Grand Palace in Bangkok is the very definition of opulence. It has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782 and is only partially open to the public as a museum, since it still houses several royal offices. The large complex also features other buildings and pavilions, including Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). Everywhere you turn, you see some amazing building or detail, it’s almost overwhelming. Everywhere you turn, you also see droves of fellow tourists … and their parasols.

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Seriously,though, what an incredible place. Again, you have to cover up before going in. If you don’t have a wrap, they provide you an outfit.

IMG_4257 Continue reading From a Grand Palace to Grand Reptiles in Bangkok

Southeast Asia Vacation Part 2: Bangkok’s Ornate Temples & Bustling Streets

Bangkok, Thailand, seems to be a popular destination among people who travel to Southeast Asia. Personally, I think we could’ve skipped it. That’s not to say we didn’t have fun there or that the city doesn’t have anything worthwhile to offer, but we could’ve happily gone without a big-city experience during our vacation.

We were surprised during the drive to our hotel to see such a sprawling city with so many high-rises and skyscrapers — wow! I’d argue there are way more high-rises in Bangkok than in L.A. We also spotted numerous mosques and halal-friendly hotels and buildings, which was a first for us (we’d never seen entire hotels with a golden dome on top).

From humongous billboards along the highway and super luxurious shopping malls to crowded markets and dilapidated homes along the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok was a hodgepodge of sceneries. Here’s the view from our hotel, the Hotel Icon Bangkok. It was nice, our room was spacious and clean, and the hotel provides free shuttle service to the main avenue where you can catch the train.

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Discovering Busan’s beaches and local eats

As our time in Seoul winds down, I find myself busier than ever! I’ve been meaning to blog about our trip to Busan for a couple weeks now. But, I’m thankful we’re still getting to explore new places and see new things, six months in.

Busan is the second largest city in South Korea, as well as a major port city. We took the KTX high-speed train down there, about a three-hour journey, and got to see just how green and mountainous this country is.

View of the Korean countryside from the train

Countryside views on our way back to Seoul

Inside the KTX high-speed train

Busan Station Continue reading Discovering Busan’s beaches and local eats

Spring Showers & Flowers in Japan

I’m glad we went back to Japan. Our previous trip in February was fun, and we got to see much of Tokyo, but this time we got to experience springtime in Japan (including the beautiful cherry blossoms) and I was able to visit Osaka, Kyoto and Nara for the first time. Truly a trip to remember! Not to mention our smooth ride on the Shinkansen bullet train.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I have many photos to share with you, so I’ll split this into a couple posts and try to keep them brief — unlike last time!

First, we had a day in Tokyo (well, I did. Will had to work.) I revisited the Imperial Palace grounds, including the Imperial Palace East Gardens, where I got my first glimpse of Japan’s world-renowned cherry blossoms. It was late March, so it was still fairly early in the season, but I lucked out and managed to see numerous trees that were slightly full. The weather was great for a stroll.

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Girl (Shopping) Power at Ewha Womans University

Just like Hongik University is situated by Hongdae’s many shops, restaurants and nightclubs, Ewha Womans University is conveniently located near Edae, a treasure trove for young women who like a) shopping and b) good bargains.

It was hard to resist all the shops of cute clothes and shoes as I walked from the subway station toward the campus. I walked past a plethora of street food vendors, cute girls’ clothes, and even a Barbie shoe store. What?!

Barbie (shoes) store

As soon as I crossed into the Ewha Womans University campus, I liked it. It’s very open, verdant, and — oh my goodness — no motorcycles allowed on campus! Continue reading Girl (Shopping) Power at Ewha Womans University

Feeling Youthful in Hongdae

My friend has been telling me about Hongdae for a while. It’s one of Seoul’s college areas, located right by Hongik University, and she’s told me all about how you can find many eateries and budget-friendly shops (aimed at broke college students). Lively nightlife, too. While I’m just now getting around to blogging about it, I actually first visited Hongdae back in January. It was freezing that day. So cold, I had to stop inside several stores to thaw off before continuing to walk around. It was a very brief jaunt.

Hongdae is supposed to be a pedestrian friendly area, but… you still have to watch out for cars and motorcycles or you’ll end up squashed on the road. During that first trip, I came across everything from cafes and bars, to body piercing shops, nightclubs, food stands, cat cafes, nail salons, clothes shops, even a Trick Eye Museum. There’s also a CGV movie theater right when you exit the Hongik University Station. Plenty of name-brand stores like H&M and New Balance, too.

Sculpture in Hongdae.

Cafes, shops & more. Continue reading Feeling Youthful in Hongdae

Tokyo Day 2: Sensoji Temple, Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Odaiba

On our second day in Tokyo, we took the train to Asakusa to visit the Sensoji Temple (Buddhist) and the Asakusa Shrine (Shinto). It was a beautiful, clear day, which made it nice to walk around. We pretty easily found our way to the Nakamise Shopping Street, a strip of shops/stands selling souvenirs, food, shoes, and more. It was pretty crowded! I saw a lot of trinkets and items that were cute and that I wanted to buy … but Will reasoned that we’ll find nicer stuff in Osaka (we’re planning a trip there later this Spring), so I resisted the urge. We also spotted various ladies just out and about in their kimonos, which I didn’t expect.

The Nakamise Shopping Street runs from the Kaminarimon Gate to the Hozomon Gate, the entrance to the Asakusa Shrine. Both gates had those large lanterns and the guardian deities on either side, as well as tons of people trying to take their photo in the same spot (naturally).

After visiting multiple temples on this trip, I observed there are similar rituals performed at each one. Continue reading Tokyo Day 2: Sensoji Temple, Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Odaiba