Tag Archives: tourist

#Taiwan Street #Musician

12 Apr

#China #Waterscape of Tongli

10 Apr

Some ancient #bridges on the waterways of #Tongli in Southern #China.

Book Review: “Italy Travel Guide: Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss! “

31 Mar

Italy Travel Guide:

Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss!

by Manuel de Cortes

A handy tour guide gifted to visitors in Italy.

Manuel de Cortes’s recent book, “Italy Travel Guide: Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss” is an resources for travelers or students interested in visiting Italy.  At 125 pages, the book is small but still contains quite a bit of useful information on locations worth checking out during your trip.

I’ve never been to Italy, so I cannot actually tell you if the places he recommends are truly the best. But I looked up some reviews and pictures of the spots, and I would definitely want to check them out if it were me. I’m planning my dream trip to Italy one day, and this book gave me some great ideas 🙂

There are seven Chapters, including the introduction and conclusion. He has divided the country into a general overview, North Italy, Central Italy, South Italy, and the Islands.  Each gets its own description and list of recommended locations.  In addition to brief descriptions, he also throws in the fun fact here and there  to spice up your trip.

The book is a little simple, and he doesn’t include directions or tell you how to reach these spots. And it’s usually recommending a larger area (this city, that pot), so specifics like where to find dinner or shop aren’t here.  That will be up to you. But it is a good place to find ideas if you want to get a good look at all the different areas in the country.

Writing style: Pretty good. Some of the writing could have been edited better, but I feel that with a decent editor it would read like a professional.  Mr. Cortes has written several other books, and is obviously familiar with the writing process.  The book is self-published, and you can tell in some places. But overall, I really liked the flow and all the information he includes. A lot of people seem to have really appreciated his use of pictures – he has one for almost all of the major locations. It certainly helps you find them on the streets. 

If you are planning a trip to Italy, I recommend checking his book out.  You can find it on Amazon as a cheap E-book ($2.99) so you can carry it with you as you tour 🙂

BUY ON AMAZON

First Trip to Zhengzhou

7 Sep

Last Thursday we took our first trip into Zhengzhou,

a large city about 1 hours drive from Xinzheng, my new hometown.  Xinzheng is considered a rural farming town out here in China, but it actually boasts of about 600,000 people living here.  While it has a ton of normal shopping, the prices can be a little high and the variety of items is small.  Consequently, a lot of the foreigners and students prefer to go into the much larger Zhengzhou (8 Million Inhabitants ~ the size of New York City) for a greater selection of products and more opportunities for bartering prices down.  

One of the things Zhengzhou offers that Xinzheng doesn’t is a far larger number or walk-in clinics, including one that works solely on Job Physicals or Physicals required by Visa Applications.  So this past week we were sent into Zhengzhou to visit the clinic to have our physicals for the Permanent Residency.  This was really our first major foray outside of the College Campus, since we have been so busy moving in and settling down.  It didn’t help that classes were starting last Monday and we had to instantly jump into lesson planning.  But all that aside, this was really our first adventure and we soaked up  every minute of it.  I’ll post more about the physical itself later, but here are a few things we noticed in our drive through the city:

The Traffic is INSANE!  

Two lane roads that suddenly have five lanes of cars, scooter and taxis driving down the sidewalks, huge poles holding up the overpasses above suddenly appearing in the middle of a driving lane, no merging lanes, and a complete disregard for any road signs contributes to what seems like absolute chaos.  It’s truly amazing that there are not more accidents than we saw.  There are NO traffic laws ~ at one point we had a four way corner with cars going from each corner all at the same time, crossing three lanes of traffic in any given direction. The only exception is that you are responsible for everything in front of you.  Conversely, you don’t have to look behind you at all, whoever is behind you is responsible for not hitting you.  It’s pretty confusing, but they work it out. Makes for a lot of butting into lines.  

Continue reading

Wall of Travels

16 Sep

Wall of Travels

I make no bones about the fact that I am a very, very poor law student. And by poor, I mean macaroni & cheese eating, ramen-guzzling, hold off on air-conditioning until 100+ degrees poor.  So when I have the opportunity to travel abroad, I get down on my knees and thank God for the money to pay for the hotel.  I’m incredibly lucky if I can pick up a few presents for my family and friends, but souvenirs. . . not real high on my list of what is worth spending money on (like food, and, you know, museum fees).

Then there’s the fact that I’m moving in less than a year, hopefully abroad, and that means GARAGE SALE!  Woot, woot! I get to get rid of all my stuff/treasures or figure out how to pay for a storage unit for it all.  Adding to the stuff I have to get rid of is hardly an incentive when looking at the prospect of buying souvenirs. If it isn’t worth keeping in a storage unit; it’s not worth buying in the first place.

And none of this takes into consideration the issue of packing. . . . I’m a professional packer. No, seriously, people should pay me to pack for them.  I came home last summer with 1 suitcase at 49.3 lbs and the other at 49.7 lbs on a 50 lb. free luggage limit (the guy at check-in was incredibly impressed 😛 ).  This summer, it cost me a pair of holey shoes, a few underwear-related items, and a buttload of beauty products but I got my suitcase through at 48.8 lbs.  But I’ve had a friend who insisted on buying so much stuff she had to leave some souvenirs behind and it broke her heart. So I’m always a little cautious about buying things that will either break in transportation or weigh too much entirely.

Instead, I’ve stumbled upon the beauty of postcards.  Usually people buy postcards to give away or to mail back home, but I actually like to keep them.  I have a few rules before buying a postcard:

  • It has to depict something I’ve actually seen — i.e. the building, the artifact, etc.
  • It has to have been bought at the place where I saw it/or at a related place on the same day (If I’m visiting a bunch of temples in one day, I might pick up a package at one that has a picture of several I visit that day).  
  • It has to be worthwhile–a picture of the airport doesn’t count 😛
  • I don’t get a bunch of the same place. I have to choose what is the best image.

I’ve actually been collecting postcards for several years now, and each one has a special memory attached to it. I’ve got everything from the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, to one of the churches in Savannah, Georgia, to a dolphin I saw at the zoo in Seoul.  I have cards from the whirlwind tour my aunt, mom, and I took when looking at colleges where we covered the greater East Coast through Texas in 2 weeks.  There are cards of the trip my mom, aunt, and I take on their birthday (they each have one in the same week) every year (we’ve gone all over the US).  I have some from China, and from the temples of Japan.   

But I don’t just collect post-cards; I also save some small gifts that I’ve been given during my travels.  For example, the Red, yellow and blue fan was a present from a tourist-helper on a particularly hot day when I was dying of heat.  There is a small, pocket-sized good luck charm someone gave me before my exams in Japan when I visited a local temple.  There is also a sheet of paper I was given at the book expo in Seoul; the guy hand printed it with a replica of the world’s first movable type printing press.  

I’ve been working on this wall for 4+ years now, and finally I have completed one portion of the wall!  You can’t really see it, but I’ve filled up the rest of the wall with some hand-outs I’ve gotten from temples, a timeline of Korean history I got at a museum, etc.  None of it cost me more than $3; many were gifts.  They are flat and easily transported when I move; and they connect so carefully with all of my happy memories of these places.  I hope to continue gathering my collection until I can fill up all 4 walls of my room.  Each one a great memory; reminding me of the best of my trips and encouraging me to carry onward in the future.

Tread Lightly When You Travel: My Reputation Goes With You

7 Aug
Traditional South Korean drummers

A traditional South Korean Band playing at a Red Cross Conference in

It seems counter-intuitive, but the art of being a good traveler is disappearing nearly as fast as globalization increases.  Having extensively traveled abroad in recent years, I can safely say that I no long wonder why tourists often rank amongst the most disliked people in the world. But it isn’t just the tourists; it’s the students, the businessmen, the soldiers, and the politicians. There is something about going abroad that causes many people to leave behind all the manners and rules of civilized behavior they would normally adopt at home.  And we get it, it’s nice to just abandon all your reservations and let loose once in a while. But people forget that they aren’t just representing themselves abroad; they are representing their entire nation and culture.  Even if nothing they do ever comes back to their families, the locals will remember “that idiot from ***** country”.  And when the locals have to watch over and over while the travelers repeat the same ignorant, reckless behavior, it becomes a stereotype applied to all traveler’s from that background.

“Oh, stop being such a sourpuss!,” the excuses run. “We’re just having fun.” “We’re paying good money to be here.” “Who cares what they think?”  Well, serious travelers care, for one.  I personally am sick and tired of being brushed with the “stupid, rude, careless, obnoxious, disrespectful, American tourist” stamp. Over and over, I enter a new country only to find that the travelers before me were wildly and Continue reading

10 Things I Will Miss About Japan (and 1 Thing I Won’t)

25 May

Page 1Arashiy

Is it possible to fall in love with a country in just two weeks?  In some ways, Japan is very similar to the US. Every other block has the old, familiar sight of a Starbucks, McDonald’s, Seven-Eleven Convenience Store, and bus stops.  Go to a store and you’ll find Pringles and Doritos chips, Tide laundry soap, Dove shampoo, and Apple computers.   Afternoon tv shows tend to be some serious drama that is reminiscent of US soap operas.  Despite the language barrier, you can always still recognize that look from a Japanese mother towards her child that means innately “sit still.”  

Sharp

Recognize this company? Take a look at your local TV store!

 But at the same time, there is something so unique, so different about life in Japan.  So here are 10 things Continue reading

48 Hours in Seoul: Day 2

24 Feb

48 Hours in Seoul: Day 2

An Itinerary for Getting the Most From A Too Brief Trip

See the introduction here.

See Day 1 here.

Note that all directions & prices were true as of mid-late 2012; I haven’t check back since then. I’m headed back this summer, so I’ll look and see then if I can. 🙂

Itinerary Summary–Day 2

  1. 8:00 a.m.-9:30 a.m. *** Breakfast at Myeongdong 
  2. 10:00 a.m. -11:30 p.m. *** Namsan Tower and the Cable Car
  3. 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m. *** Lunch in Coex Mall
  4. 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m. *** Shop and visit the Aquarium in Coex Mall 
  5. 3:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.***  Korean National Museum
  6. 5:30 p.m.- Whenever you leave *** Shop and enjoy Dondaemeun 

I tried to leave enough time for travel between each stop, but this means you may have a little more or less time depending on how long it takes you to move from one place to another.

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Breakfast/Shopping: Myeongdong

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Why?

Most touristy places in the city aren’t going to open up this early, so this is a good time to wander around and grab some  breakfast if you’re an early riser.  Myeongdong actually opens up pretty early because it caters to tourist shoppers; in fact you may hear people calling out in Japanese, since most of the tourist come from Japan.   Myeongdong is traditionally considered a shopping central for all fashionistas.  It’s got purses, clothes, glasses, beauty supplies, shoe stores, beauty parlors, etc.  Honestly, I preferred some other places more for actual bargain shopping (note that this is where the upper crusts shop as well; we’re talking Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana stores) , but it is an awesome place to grab coffee of a morning.  They have plenty of pastry/coffee shops like Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, etc.  Plus, the stalls are fun to wander if they’re up before you leave, and you can sometimes walk away with a handful of free stuff from the hawkers. If you’re low on funds, maybe save your shopping $$ for later though. Continue reading

48 Hours in Seoul: Day 1

5 Feb

48 Hours in Seoul: Day 1

An Itinerary for Getting the Most From A Too Brief Trip

See the introduction here.

See Day 2 Here.

Itinerary Summary–Day 1

  1. 8:30 a.m. -1:00 p.m. *** Gwanghwamun Square
  2. 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m. *** Lunch in Itaewon
  3. 2:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. *** Shop in Itaewon
  4. 5:30 p.m.-7:45 p.m. *** Dinner at a Korean BBQ (It’ll be 5 before you get there)
  5. 8:40 p.m.-9:10 p.m. *** Take the Hangang Ferry Cruise
  6. Head in for a good night’s sleep/Party all night.

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History: Gwanghwamun Square

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Why?

Gwanghwamun Square is both amazing and one of the most important things to see while in Seoul.  You don’t have time to visit every major palace and museum in Seoul, but this palace both palaces and museums in one spot.  The Square itself is fascinating; because this is such an important place politically and culturally, the streets are lined with different political protests.  When I was there, you saw a long row of cages marked with signs protesting North Korea’s treatment of its citizens.  It is quite literally a square,  in the center is a long grassy strip with two large, very famous statues.  Then at one end you will find Gyeongbokgung Palace.   Continue reading

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