Tag Archive | tourism

May 2014, Davao – First Impressions + Midori Inn

It’s only by God’s blessing that I have been able to explore more places of the Philippines I haven’t been to yet on this year. And man, is our country beautiful or what? Next stop: Davao!

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April-May 2013, Beijing – Temple of Confucius/南锣鼓巷/Summer Palace

Beijing Temple of ConfuciusNote to self: a neon backpack is handy for travelling with a group. Makes you super easy to spot! But anywaaaay… here comes another day of touring Beijing’s most scenic spots, this day kicked off by a visit to the Temple of Confucius. (北京孔庙)

Beijing Temple of ConfuciusBeijing Temple of ConfuciusBeijing Temple of ConfuciusBeijing Temple of ConfuciusSo, as you might have guessed, it’s basically a temple dedicated to Confucius, who most Chinese consider as the greatest teacher that ever lived. As for me, temples haven’t increased their appeal towards me at all, especially Chinese ones which tend to be really big and long-winding. One thing that never changes, though – beautiful scenery!

Beijing Temple of ConfuciusBeijing Temple of ConfuciusBeijing Temple of ConfuciusBeijing Temple of ConfuciusBeijing Temple of ConfuciusYes, those temples can be big and long-winding, but they also make for awesome places to chill and relax. Nature lovers would be SO happy here.

Beijing Temple of ConfuciusBeijing Temple of ConfuciusDetails, details.

Beijing Temple of ConfuciusBeijing Temple of ConfuciusBeijing Temple of ConfuciusSaw and captured my first magpie ever! Excited to show this someday to my students, whom I have taught “magpie” in Chinese to sometime this year.

Beijing Temple of ConfuciusBeijing Temple of ConfuciusBeijing Temple of ConfuciusBeijing Temple of ConfuciusOkay, that was Preston photo-bombing a possible shot. Here’s the real one:

Beijing Temple of ConfuciusBeijing Temple of ConfuciusSpotted a cosplay girl on our way out, and a co-teacher asked me to take a picture. Loved how it turned out!

Next stop: 南锣鼓巷 Nan Luo Gu Xiang, a.k.a. a pedestrian street packed with quirky little shops and amazing food finds! Visiting this place is especially great for around the 2pm-3pm time frame, where your tummy might start to feel a little neglected.

南锣鼓巷南锣鼓巷南锣鼓巷Cute little cafés all around! The next time I visit Beijing and this place, I’m bringing money and a good book with me. ❤

南锣鼓巷南锣鼓巷南锣鼓巷This next place was supposed to be in a separate post, but let’s just put it together here. Presenting: the Summer Palace! (颐和园)It is arguably one of the most famous tourist spots in Beijing, next to the Great Wall.

Summer PalaceSummer PalaceYou know the usual routine with tourist spots in China – a lot of the in-between “commercials” or miscellanea to look upon.

Summer PalaceSummer PalaceSummer PalaceSummer Palace

Just to break up the monotony: did you know that the Summer Palace was especially constructed for the last empress, the notorious tyrant Ci Xi? It’s like saying that today’s First Lady always complains about being bored with state affairs, and ordered the people of the state to build a MASSIVE garden for her, with all the works. Not some tiny little garden, we’re talking acres here! That’s exactly what Ci Xi made her people do, and although the resulting Summer Garden is indeed beautiful, the history behind it? Not so much.

Summer PalaceSummer PalaceWe walked, took pictures, walked some more, until one gorgeous view came right before our eyes.

Summer PalaceSummer PalaceLooking back, I actually have no idea what that tower meant, nor did we even get to that place. But look at how it’s placed! So picturesque, right? The things people did for their empress way back!

Summer PalaceSummer PalaceSummer PalaceSummer PalaceAnother one of those hundred-year-old trees. China sure has a looot of them. But seriously, tree, well done!

Summer PalaceSummer PalaceWe started going through this long hallway, which we were warned beforehand of as being one of the longest hallways in the world. However, the pretty stained and painted little shafts of windows kept us busy!

Summer PalaceSummer PalaceSummer PalaceSummer PalaceWe were supposed to go on this boat ride that would take us on a cruise where we can see sights only reachable by boat, but unfortunately the winds and water were uncooperative and especially rocky that day. 😦 Le sigh. Maybe that’s why we didn’t get to see these ever-famous bridges:

Summer Palace - Seventeen Arch Bridge at the Summer Palace

Seventeen Arch Bridge(十七孔桥)courtesy of bestourism.com

The Jade Belt Bridge

Jade Belt Bridge (玉带桥) courtesy of btmbeijing.com

Le sigh indeed. Would have loved to photograph these iconic bridges myself, but God has a purpose for everything, right? Forward we go!

Summer PalaceSummer PalaceAnd we walked, and walked, and walked… until we came into an area so unusual yet breathtaking, we thought we were in another town altogether!

Summer PalaceSummer PalaceSummer PalaceSummer PalaceIt makes me suspect if there are actually people living inside! Come to think of it, we didn’t really bother to check…

DSC_5076DSC_5079…because we were too busy buying and testing cute souvenirs (LOL) and braving a dust storm with our immediate resources! Yes, seriously, a dust storm with all the particles billowing around furiously. First time in my life to have experienced that!

Summer PalaceLast Beijing post coming up soon! Woohoo! I’m sure you’re all probably sick of Beijing now, but trust me: if you haven’t been there, you NEED to go. 😀


April-May 2013, Beijing – Olympic Park

Beijing Olympic ParkArguably one of the more distinctive tourist spots in Beijing – the Olympic park! Pictures are one thing; actually beholding the scene with your own eyes is another!

Beijing Olympic ParkBeijing Olympic ParkAnd we see it! Woohoo! I’ve always been a huge fan of the Beijing Olympics ever since their planning stage, up until their closing ceremony. I was just in awe at how everything was organized and done with equal parts of pomp and efficiency. So I wasn’t really jumping up and down when I saw the Bird’s Nest, but I was truly, truly excited and happy to see it with mine own eyes! 😀

Beijing Olympic ParkBeijing Olympic Park

Look at how considerably empty of vendors the place is. There were a couple of vendors offering us kites and various memorabilia, but there was a sense of control as to how many people sold inside. Goodness, if this were the Philippines, you probably wouldn’t have enough space to walk around because of the sheer number of vendors pushing their wares.

Beijing Olympic ParkBeijing Olympic ParkAnd yes, let us not forget the Water Cube! Seeing it made me wish that we could have visited at night to see the lights everywhere in action, but it’s fine!

Beijing Olympic ParkBeijing Olympic ParkDSC_4841Take my word for it when I say that I hardly go on tourist mode… key word being “hardly”.

Beijing Olympic ParkBeijing Olympic ParkBeijing Olympic ParkAfter business was done in the park, we couldn’t go out the same way we came in, and had to go around quite a long road to get out. There were a lot to photograph on the way, though:

Beijing Olympic ParkBeijing Olympic ParkBeijing Olympic ParkBeijing Olympic ParkBeijing Olympic ParkTruth be told, I found the sudden temple a bit random. But then again, it’s something I wouldn’t understand as well as certain other people.

Beijing Olympic ParkBeijing Olympic ParkBeijing Olympic ParkBeijing Olympic ParkBeijing Olympic ParkBeijing Olympic ParkAaaand let us end this trip with a shoe selfie. LOL that was quick, wasn’t it? 😉


April-May 2013, Beijing – Temple of Heaven 天坛

Temple of HeavenBeing probably one of the most famous tourist attractions in Beijing, our upcoming tour to the Temple of Heaven held much excitement for us. Of course, there was a lot to see along the way…

DSC_4634…such as beautiful cherry blossoms, especially when two trees with differing hues stand together. 🙂

Temple of HeavenTemple of HeavenThere’s this wiiiide open space before the actual entrance to the Temple of Heaven area. We quickly discovered that the locals have converted it into an activity area of sorts. If you’ve lived in China for a period of time, you would know that local Chinese, especially the senior citizens, love going out and moving around, dancing, doing taichi, or whatever else. Actually pretty healthy!

Temple of HeavenTemple of HeavenTemple of HeavenI mean, look at this. I’ve seen sipa, and I’ve seen ping-pong, but never the two together. We were all intrigued by this!

Temple of HeavenUpon entering the actual temple compound, we were greeted with more open spaces. A lot of the seemingly “random” objects lying around here actually served some purpose back in the old days. What’s more, this big space with all the structures was made just for the emperor to offer his sacrifices and walk around afterwards. Dayum if someone would make such a grand space for my walks, I’d be one healthy robust walker.

Temple of HeavenTemple of HeavenTemple of HeavenTemple of HeavenTake this green thing, for example. It’s supposed to be one of the many burners the emperor used.

Temple of HeavenTemple of HeavenTemple of HeavenAfter this shot and a few wacky jump shots with my co-teachers (there’s something so appealing about taking fun shots in old, serious places), I looked back, and took more pictures just to remind myself how big this area was.

Temple of HeavenTemple of HeavenTemple of HeavenWe went out from here, and stepped out into a park that would eventually take us into the actual temple. Woohoo!

Temple of HeavenDSC_4689DSC_4679Our co-teacher trying to mimic the lively dance of the senior citizens. Seriously, they have the stamina!

DSC_4690DSC_4691DSC_4695Saw for myself what all the hype about tree-hugging is all about…

DSC_4698DSC_4696DSC_4697GAWWWW I miss them already. Again, the way we got together in spite of our differences in age and thought patterns was amazing, and I had an equally rockin’ time with them as if I had been with my same-age friends. Miss you all!

Temple of HeavenRelax… it’s not this one yet. There’s this cluster of minor temples that have all sorts of ancient stuff inside, like seats and various articles used in the imperial sacrifices.

DSC_4672DSC_4673DSC_4675DSC_4676DSC_4678And here, on the big and mighty gates to the Temple of Heaven, you shall again see what I meant about taking wacky pictures in serious places:

Temple of HeavenTemple of HeavenTemple of HeavenTemple of HeavenOkay, so mostly FAIL. LOL but you didn’t come to see us make a fool out of ourselves, did you?

Temple of HeavenTemple of HeavenYou came to see THIS.

Temple of HeavenTemple of HeavenAlas, on the day that we visited there was none of the striking blue sky and pure white clouds contrasting with the temple itself, but only a murky cloudy day. Would have made for a more stunning picture!

Temple of HeavenTemple of HeavenTemple of HeavenIn this actual Temple of Heaven, they were smart enough to put a tourist guide in the form of an automated speaker that runs every 25 minutes, if I remember it correctly. We didn’t stay for the recording, though, as a lot of people were already crowded in the vicinity.

Temple of HeavenTemple of HeavenTemple of HeavenJust look at the detail inside, will you? Truly fit for an emperor.

Temple of HeavenTemple of HeavenAfter all the seriousness of our visit, our tourist guide had the sense to take us shopping. 前门大街 (Qian Men), here we come!

前门大街前门大街前门大街Aside from 王府井 (Wang Fujing), 前门大街 is like the equivalent of 北京路 (Beijing Lu) in Guangzhou. What I like about this more than the others, though, is how wide the space is. There’s a lot of people, but you hardly felt it because it was so wide, so walking was a pleasure. I also liked how it kept its stone building façade no matter what the store was. Quite pretty!

前门大街前门大街前门大街前门大街Here they have a branch of 全聚德 (Quan Ju De), which according to locals is the most famous duck restaurant in Beijing. When we passed by at this particular time, they had a booth on their first floor selling whole ducks and ducks with most of the meat gone (how do you call them?) for crazy cheap prices. Good ducks, hard to come by!

DSC_4738We couldn’t exactly bring a whole duck back to our hotel, so co-teacher Berber and I settled for good ol’ Haagen-Dazs. 🙂



April-May 2013, Beijing – The Great Wall of China

Great Wall of ChinaGreat Wall!! Yeah, baby. Who wouldn’t want to see the humongous man-made structure that can be seen from the moon? For some people, it’s just one big giant wall, but what makes me appreciative of every second I get to see it in the flesh is the FACT that it was built man by man, hand by hand, 100% manual labor. None of the fancy machines and bulldozers we have these days. Now tell me you don’t have respect for these people…

Great Wall of ChinaGreat Wall of ChinaGreat Wall of ChinaGreat Wall of ChinaWe visited 居庸关 (Pinyin: Ju Yong Guan), one of the many gates and portions of the Great Wall. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Great Wall is not one big section of wall in one place. It’s made up of different sections, separate but near each other. It’s truly HUGE. Just look at that map above – it’s long, winding and freakin’ high, and it’s just ONE PORTION OF THE WALL. 😮

Great Wall of ChinaGreat Wall of ChinaYummy goat meat sticks are to be had outside the wall entrance. Also, meet the teachers who I had fun with for one whole month! It’s amazing – different ages, cultures and backgrounds, yet we all found a way to get together and have a rollin’ time. Miss them already!

Great Wall of ChinaWithout further ado – off to the wall!

Great Wall of ChinaGreat Wall of ChinaGreat Wall of China

Define MAJESTIC. This would be the picture in the dictionary entry of the word.

Great Wall of ChinaDon’t exactly know why these were here, and the tourist guide wasn’t around for me to ask. One thing’s for sure though, these aren’t locks to symbolize couple love like how it is in… Korea? Japan? 😮

Great Wall of ChinaGreat Wall of ChinaGreat Wall of ChinaUs pretending to be the archers who shot from these walls. During those times, this wall really would look like a formidable defense against enemies.

Great Wall of ChinaTruth be told: I didn’t really climb up the wall. 😮 Yeah, I got to this section, and climbed up two sets of stairs, but it was seriously a problem for height-fearing people like me. Because the wall and everything in its structure was built on mountains, the stairs and walkways aren’t actually as straight as you would assume. They lean to the left or right, quite drastically at times, and the stairs are quite narrow. Suffice to say, my legs felt like jelly by my third set of stairs, and walking through some walkways made me feel woozy. Not kidding you. Pwedeng-pwede talaga pang-Amazing Race ito! (This really suits the Amazing Race well!) Seriously, it’s way more challenging than it looks…

Great Wall of China…so cowardly, height-fearing me just went for a stroll with an older teacher through the more stable, flat areas. LOL

Great Wall of ChinaGreat Wall of ChinaGreat Wall of ChinaThe writing on the tablet reads: “不到长城非好汉” or simply translated, “if you have not been to the Great Wall, you are not a man”. Mao Zedong is responsible for this quote… and I completely understand why. Hahaha! Funny thing was, this looks like the only tablet with this writing on it, and prior to this we were on quite a crowded area with this same tablet, and people were taking pictures with it nonstop. As in, it was impossible to get a shot with only you in the frame. We got frustrated and took our best shots, but went strolling around and found this… *lightbulb* PICTURE TIME! 😀

Great Wall of ChinaGreat Wall of ChinaGreat Wall of ChinaDidn’t have as much photos as expected, mainly because I just got lost at taking in the scenery with my eyes. This amazing wall, which in spite of the lack of modern techniques has stood for hundreds of years, framed against the natural beauty of the rugged mountains – it never gets old.


April-May 2013, Beijing – Forbidden City, All the Temples

Forbidden CityMy main point of appreciation when going to places like the Forbidden City is how in the world they managed to build something this vast (and I am not kidding – the place is HUGE) this intricate, this beautiful, considering this was all crude work with nothing of the technology and equipment we have right now. That alone makes me stand in awe at what would have been the “normal tourist attraction”.

Forbidden CityForbidden CityThe walk alone to the area was very picturesque, and it gave off this whole ancient, relaxing vibe with the ageing walls, swaying willow trees, and the somehow clear lake that beautifully reflected the line of trees on its surface. Walking through all of these, I for the first time understood how the ancient Chinese poets could be so inspired by walking around alone.

DSC_4312Forbidden CityForbidden CityForbidden CityPretty soon, we arrived at the main entrance! Word of caution: more temples and their roofs to come. Haha!

Forbidden CityForbidden CityForbidden CityForbidden CityAnd here we are! Kinda sad to see that parts of it were under repair and that we couldn’t see them, but better them being maintained than neglected, right?

Forbidden CityForbidden CityForbidden CityForbidden CityAn actual sundial from the olden times. Imagine life without watches – almost unthinkable!

Forbidden CityForbidden CityWe were with a tourist guide during all of our trips around Beijing, and while my usual first instinct is to ignore their yapping and just explore by myself. This time, however, I was glad I decided to listen – did you know how this patina came to be? This HUGE bronze pot was all coated with pure gold, but when the British invaded, along with all the other places and relics they destroyed, they wanted this pot as well. But it was just TOO huge, they couldn’t move the thing. So they did the next best thing they could think of – they scraped off as much gold as they could. :(

Forbidden CityForbidden CityForbidden CityThe inside of one of the biggest & most important temples – look at how well they were able to maintain it! Just remember, these are over a thousand years old.

Forbidden CityForbidden CityOne more thing: if you want a good workout, GO TO THE FORBIDDEN CITY. Haha! Seriously. I watched a National Geographic documentary on it once, and it described from aerial view how it was actually a whole expanse of five circles or something. (Just look it up.) Amazing stuff!!