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A Day of Temples and Shrines in Kyoto

Kyoto, one of Japan’s most famous tourist destinations, was at the top of our list for places to visit in Japan.  Everyone who has visited Kyoto will tell you that the city deserves more than a single day. And while that is true, when we looked at booking accommodation in Kyoto, we were out of luck. We looked about a month in advance (thinking we were getting ahead of the game) and booking.com was almost 100% sold out! We managed to find a few hotels and upscale guesthouse but nothing for under $100 CAD a night, which was way over our budget. I guess we should have expected inflated prices and full occupancy given we were travelling in the busiest time of year – cherry blossom season. When we found a private room in Osaka, a 30 minute train away, for only $40 CAD a night we really couldn’t justify the stay in Kyoto. And that’s how we ended up with one day to see and explore as much of Kyoto as possible. Continue reading

500 Day Route

500 Days

Celebrating 500 days since we began our trip around the world!

I can’t believe we’ve visited 160+ destinations in 47 countries; it’s been quite the journey!

We are just one flight away from completing the circle around the globe.

For a full list of places we’ve visited, check out “The Route: By City and Country

Trip Collage

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Busan & “Fan Death”

“Fan death” isn’t really specific to Busan, it’s country wide; however, this is my last post about Korea and I just have to talk about it. Fan death is a very serious thing and not something to be taken lightly in Korea. Fan death is the misconception that leaving an electric fan running in a closed room (no windows or doors open) can lead to death, literally, death. To try and get across just how seriously this is taken in Korea, consider that in 2006, the Korea Consumer Protection Board (a government-funded public agency) issued a consumer safety alert and published the following: Continue reading

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Spa Land: Our Jjimjilbang Experience

Korea was full of new experiences; and our Korean spa experience was no exception. I would be at a ‘jjimjilbang’ every day, or at least every week, if I lived in Korea. A jjimjilbang is essentially a large, public bathhouse (gender-separated) furnished with hot tubs, showers, saunas and massage tables. Every spa offers unique features; however, there are often snack bars, ondol-heated flooring for lounging and sleeping, wide-screen TVs, exercise rooms, ice rooms, heated salt rooms, and even sleeping quarters. Most jjimjilbangs are open 24 hours and are a popular weekend getaway for Korean families. During the week, it’s common for business men to stay overnight after either working or drinking late. *The one we visited is one of the only ones in Korea that closes at midnight and has no sleeping quarters. Continue reading

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Bulguksa Temple Stay

A temple stay was one of the things I was looking forward to most in Korea; which brings us back to the fact that disappointment is most prevalent when expectations are high. We had made our reservation through templestay, an organization in Korea that opens up several Korean temples to foreigners to “experience the life of Buddhist practitioners at traditional temples.”

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Gyeongju (10)

Gyeongju: A Museum Without Walls

After almost a week in Seoul we headed south and spent two nights in Gyeongju, the last capital of the Silla Kingdom. The city is often referred to as ‘the largest outdoor museum in the world‘ and its history dates back thousands of years to the start of the Silla Kingdom in 57 BC. A vast number of ruins and archaeological sites from the almost 1000 years of Silla heritage remain in the city. The Gyeongju Historic Areas were designated as a World Heritage Site in 2000 and encompass the ruins of temples and palaces, outdoor pagodas and statuary, and other cultural artifacts left by the Silla Kingdom. The historical treasures the city holds play a large roll in drawing over 6 million tourists a year to the city, including 750,000 foreigners per year. Continue reading

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Eating Our Way Through Seoul

Growing up, my family hosted home-stay students from around the world who were studying English in Vancouver. Soo Yeong lived with my family in 2002. Years later we reconnected through Facebook (the magic of social media!) and I reached out when we were travelling through Asia. Dan and I were unsure if or for how long we wanted to visit South Korea for but shortly after talking with Soo, we booked our flights to Seoul. Having her as our personal tour guide and local friend was probably one of the main reasons that our stay in Seoul was so fantastic! No matter how many “travel like a local” blogs you read, you never really experience a city ‘like a local’ unless you are with one. Continue reading

Macau (4)

Macau: The Vegas of Asia

Macau, officially ‘the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China’, is a autonomous territory on the southern coast of China… just like Hong Kong. When we read that it was the “Las Vegas of Asia” and only a short ferry ride from Hong Kong, we decided to do a day trip. We left Hong Kong in the morning and returned in the early evening. Continue reading