Tag Archives: street food

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

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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

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

Secret Garden Fit for a King

Many kings, actually. Yesterday we visited Changdeokgung Palace, built in 1405 and — second to the Gyeongbokgung Palace — the palace from which many Joseon dynasty emperors ruled, including the last reigning one, Emperor Sunjong, who ruled until 1910. Like the Jongmyo Shrine, this palace is also a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the way its buildings and design are integrated with nature. It was Will’s first palace visit in Seoul.

The palace grounds are immense, 110 acres if I remember correctly. Many different areas and so many buildings — whether housing quarters for queens, concubines, princes, or staff, or meeting halls, ceremonial halls, horse stables, storage rooms, etc. — it’s easy to get lost looking around. We were there for hours and I still don’t think we saw everything. Once you pay admission into the palace, you can explore freely. If you want to visit the palace’s Secret Garden, however, you need to pay a separate admission fee and go in with a guided tour group. They give the tours in various languages, several times daily.

The Secret Garden (aka Rear Garden) is even larger than the main palace grounds, taking up almost 60 percent of the entire area of the Changdeokgung Palace. Its acres and acres are filled with ponds, streams, gazebos, pavilions and many beautiful walking paths. The garden was meant as a place for the kings and their royal family members to relax, but also used for military exercises, archery contests, banquets and growing certain grains. Since it is also located next to the Changgyeonggung Palace, it was used by members of both palaces.

Continue reading Secret Garden Fit for a King

Dongdaemun is for Fashionistas

I took the train to Dongdaemun the other day on a mission: to finally, hopefully, find a laptop backpack I liked. See, Dongdaemun is yet another popular shopping area here in Seoul. In addition to the Doota mall, the Migliore and Hello apM buildings, and the Lotte Fitin mall, it’s also home to the Pyeonghwa Market — one of the oldest wholesale markets in the country — and the Gwangjang Market, another longstanding market known for its silks and traditional Korean clothing.

Dongdaemun is situated just south of the Cheonggyecheon Stream (remember the Lantern Festival? this stream runs for several miles). When you exit the subway station, you surface right at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza and Park and are immediately drawn to the eye-capturing structure that marks this arts and culture facility, designed by a British architect and apparently just completed in 2013.  A must-see if you’re ever in Seoul. I unfortunately didn’t go inside the complex. I ran out of time! Too busy shopping for my backpack….

Which brings me to the shopping experience. The Doota and Lotte Fitin mall buildings are each eight floors or so of high-end shopping (surprise, surprise!). Unlike the other malls I’ve visited in Seoul so far, however, these are clearly tailored for fashionistas. The clothing designs range from classic, to funky, to flat-out stunning looks you might see on the runway. That goes for the shoes, sunglasses, handbags (oh my goodness, beautiful bags) and other accessories they sell as well. Of course, good taste is usually not cheap, so…. I’ll just let you imagine what the price tags were like.

Continue reading Dongdaemun is for Fashionistas

Indulging in Myeong-dong treats and visiting a Confucian shrine

Heading to Myeong-dong yesterday — a cold, cloudy day — was just right. We knew it was a popular area for shopping since you can find many major international brands there (Zara, H&M, etc.). People love their shopping here! And we’re not even past Thanksgiving yet. But I digress. There’s a main street, if you will, and it was packed with shoppers, tourists, and … street food vendors. YES! We warmed up at Hadongkwan restaurant with some gomtang, a traditional, rich beef soup with rice in it, which was served very simply with salt, pepper, green onions and kimchi, of course. Not bad. That triggered my sweet tooth, so I tracked down where all the people were getting their tall ice cream cones from, and we also indulged. My vote for best bang for your buck! Then we ventured into the Noon Square mall, eight levels of shopping with a food court and rooftop garden. Oh my gosh I forgot the cat cafe! You’ll just have to see the pics below. All in all, nice shopping area, plenty of restaurants, more variety of street food than I’ve seen in other areas, and there are also two movie theaters there. We both agreed we’d be back. It’s cleaner and less sketchy-feeling than other parts of town.

Continue reading Indulging in Myeong-dong treats and visiting a Confucian shrine