Tag Archives: street performers

The Magnificent Temples of Kyoto & Nara, Part 1

I didn’t know this until recently, but Kyoto is the former imperial capital of Japan (794-1868). Having been the country’s capital and the emperor’s home for more than 1,000 years, it is home to many important temples and shrines.

Our day in Kyoto was quite the adventure! Mainly trying to figure out which buses to take — it’s a fairly big city, roughly 1.5 million people, and the temples are spread out all over the city — but Will did a great job getting us where we needed to go. (Starting at the main bus depot at Kyoto Station, across from Kyoto Tower Hotel, which you can see below.)

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Train ride from Osaka to Kyoto, not bad at all.
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To tie you over….

Going to be away for the next few days….won’t spoil the surprise for those of you who don’t know where we’re headed….but I’ll leave you with a few shots from the other day to help tie you over. And yes, you should be excited, that means some awesome pictures are coming soon! 🙂

A big crowd gathered in Insa-dong to watch some Korean folk farmers’ dancing and music, which we’ve seen a few times and I personally really enjoy. Hypnotic to listen to and watch. 

Big crowd at Insa-dong

Also, we discovered a Cafe Brahms while leaving Samcheong-dong the other day. I know my sister will appreciate this. If you look closely at the door, they serve “Coffee, Bear, & Drink.” Hehe. You can tell Will’s really excited about it, too. Continue reading To tie you over….

Christmastime in Seoul

Christmas shopping in Seoul, in my opinion, is a bit of a challenge. Yes, there are a lot of cute things! (I heart Artbox.) Scarves, stationery, printed socks, handbags, etc. But if you’re looking for nice clothes, shoes, or designer accessories like sunglasses or watches, I feel like you’re going to get ripped off. This is based on my very limited time here, but still. From what I’ve seen, things are overpriced. Way overpriced! It’s better to shop online, on Amazon or something, you’ll likely find the item for much less. The challenge for us, of course, is getting it shipped here in time.

The crowds have been insane. There are always crowds, and old ladies shoving you out of the way, but we only have a few days left until Christmas, and people are even more desperate to sift through the “sale” piles and racks and find what they want.

Regardless, I’m enjoying the season here. We’ve had days of snow and plain ol’ bitter cold. FREE-ZING. We’ve both finally bought proper, long winter coats, which has helped battle the single-digit temperatures and wind. I especially love the Christmas decorations in what seems like every plaza and shopping mall. Christmas trees everywhere, lights everywhere. Here are a few:

Continue reading Christmastime in Seoul

A Day of Firsts

I guess every day here is bound to be a day of firsts.

Yesterday I revisited Namdaemun Market, but this time for an in-depth look. Not necessarily to buy anything, just to see what they had. I walked around for a couple hours, feeling at times like I was going in circles — it’s like a maze in there! You can either explore the shopping stalls outside, or go inside and explore multiple levels of stalls, or go underground and get lost in several more levels of shopping. It feels like it goes on forever. Truly amazing! More than 10,000 shops, most items selling for really cheap. Some of what I saw: lots of clothes, including coats, PJs, military clothing, socks, ladies’ undies/bras, fashionable scarves; shoes galore; miscellaneous souvenir-type items; food; electronic accessories; luggage/purses/backpacks; jewelry and accessories.

Personally, I wouldn’t really spend too much of my money there. Yes, things are cheap, but that’s just it, they’re cheap. As in cheaply made. At least that’s my impression. Maybe not everything, but a lot of it. I’ve been on the hunt for a nice backpack, and upon close inspection of some of the backpacks there, I saw they had broken zippers.

They have a huge jewelry area (where workers were assembling jewelry — real? fake? who knows), a huge fashion accessories area, and a big section for children’s clothing (dubbed “mama children’s wear”), among others. I discovered the jewelry area while looking for a bathroom, actually. Saw a sign that said “toilet” and followed the arrows. Through the jewels and into a small, sketchy looking bathroom. I’d been told about these bathrooms — where you have to grab your tissue before going in and you have a choice of using  a “foreigners” type toilet or the other kind (don’t ask, I didn’t open the stall doors to look!). Regardless. I grabbed my tissue, went in, and it was totally fine. Clean and not sketchy after all.

Continue reading A Day of Firsts