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Archive for August, 2008

Pilgrimage To Japan, The Path Of A Warrior

August 30th, 2008 by

When you think of Japan, samurais and ninjas usually come to mind. A lot of tourists come to Japan for the specific purpose of learning the martial arts that were mastered by these iconic figures. But these are just some of the arts that come from the land of the rising sun.

Samurai Fight

Martial arts is a system of practices and traditions of training for combat. While they may be studied for various other reasons, essentially martial arts share a single objective: to defeat one or more people physically and to defend oneself or others from physical threat. In addition to this, some martial arts are linked to spiritual or religious beliefs or philosophies while others have their own spiritual or non-spiritual code of honor. Many arts are also practiced competitively most commonly as combat sports, but may also be in the form of dance. For now, we will focus on martial arts that were founded in Japan.

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Taste The Wild Side Of Singapore: Jurong BirdPark

August 29th, 2008 by

There are so many wonderful things to see and to experience in the Lion City of Asia, Singapore! In previous posts, I shared my adventures at the Singapore Zoo and at the Night Safari.

Jurong BirdParkBut those are not the only places where you can experience Singapore’s wild side. You can also head to the Jurong BirdPark and be prepared to be fascinated with 9, 000 colorful birds that belong to over 600 species.

If you plan to visit the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and the Jurong BirdPark during your stay in Singapore, I highly recommend that you avail of the special Park Hoppers tickets that are valid for one month from the date of purchase. These tickets will grant you admission to all these three parks or any two for a discounted price. The 3 in 1 Park Hoppers tickets cost S$40 while the 2 in 1 Park Hoppers tickets cost S$30. You can purchase these special tickets in any of the three parks.

It is advisable to allot an entire day for the Jurong BirdPark most especially if you have kids with you. More time would allow you to savor all the attractions in this 20-hectare open-concept park which proud locals claim to be the largest of its kind in the Asia Pacific and the best in the world. Since this park is well known in Singapore, it would be best to avoid going there on weekends and holidays to avoid big crowds.

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Enjoy A Colorful Holi-Day In India!

August 28th, 2008 by

If you visit India sometime in the early spring, you might come across what looks to be a commercial for a television set. Hindus everywhere are throwing abeel and gulal all over, powders of bright red, magenta, green, and blue collecting on the streets. Children are painting different hues on their parents and loved ones.

Welcome to Holi, the Festival of Colors. It is a celebration of renewal across India, Nepal, and other parts of the subcontinent, a time of strengthening communal ties.

One of the most popular Hindu myths surrounding the Holi Festival tells of a demon-king named Hiranyakasyapu who asked for a boon from Hindu God Brahma that he be made invulnerable from harm. With each demonstration of his new-found power, the king became reckless, forcing his subjects to abandon the old gods and worship him alone. Only his son Pralad remained devoted to Lord Vishnu. The king threatened Pralad with poison, massive elephants, and venomous snakes but Pralad remained unharmed. At last, the King set him on the lap of his sister, the demoness Holi, who was wearing a fireproof shawl. They were both put on a pyre to burn, but as Pralad continued to pray for protection, the shawl magically transferred from Holi to himself. This saved the prince while his aunt burned.

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Flower Viewing Under Pink Blossoms

August 27th, 2008 by

Flower Viewing at Ueno ParkNumerous iconic Japanese scenes are concerned with viewing cherry blossoms with friends and loved ones. This tradition is called hanami and it has been practiced in Japan dating back to the Nara Period, about one thousand three hundred years ago. The Japanese people continue the tradition of hanami by taking part in the processional walks through the parks. Some hundreds of people fill the parks to hold feasts and gatherings under the flowering trees, with most of them staying until late at night. This is a form of retreat for contemplating and renewing their spirits for another year.

Hanami is the Japanese tradition of enjoying the beauty of flowers. The flowers in this case almost always mean cherry blossoms (sakura) or plum blossoms (ume). Sakura  usually bloom all over Japan from late March to early May. The blossom forecast is announced each year by the weather bureau, and is watched carefully by those planning hanami as the blossoms only last a week or two. In modern-day Japan, hanami mostly consists of having an outdoor party beneath the sakura during daytime or at night. Hanami at night is called yozakura and in many places temporary paper lanterns are usually hung for the purpose of people who go for yozakura.

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Taste The Wild Side Of Singapore: Night Safari

August 26th, 2008 by

In my previous post, I shared my adventures at the Singapore Zoo. This time, I’ll be sharing my adventures at the famous Singapore Night Safari.

Night Safari Singapore

I’ve always wanted to go to the Singapore Night Safari. I’ve heard so much about it and have seen so many pictures. My excitement in seeing the Night Safari was based the fact that it is the first wildlife park that was specifically built for night visits. Furthermore, it is one of the few places in the world where one can actually see the animals in their element at night. It has received a lot of good reviews since it opened back in 1994. Even my hotel, the Marina Mandarin Singapore, highly recommended the place by saying that no trip to Singapore would be complete without going to the Night Safari and this is why about a million visitors drop by the Night Safari every year.

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A Dazzling Symphony Of Lights In Hong Kong

August 25th, 2008 by

It is 6pm in Victoria Harbour and visitors from here and abroad are massing along the waterfront of Tsim Sha Tsui. Slowly, as the skies darken towards night, the buildings across Hong Kong Island are lighting up, transforming the cityscape once more into an illuminated gem of the Chinese coast. But, as the crowd already knows, something even more dazzling is approaching as the evening draws onward. They are waiting for the Symphony of Lights, an awesome display of modern music and colored lights that uses the entire Hong Kong skyline as a multimedia stage.

Sunset at Tsim Sha Tsui

The Symphony of Lights was commissioned by The Hong Kong Tourism Board to capitalize on the city’s majestic harbour view that reflects the vibrancy of the former British colony. Every night at 8pm, some 33 buildings from both Hong Kong Island side and Kowloon side participate in a choreographed display with 5 different themes, each celebrating Hong Kong’s cultural and economic energy. The Guinness Book of World Records has named The Symphony of Lights as the “World’s Largest Light and Sound Show”, an artistic achievement that creates an impression that some renegade computer hacker with a sense of grandeur has taken control of the airwaves and power grid to turn the metropolis into his personal playground.

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Biggest Comic Market In The World

August 23rd, 2008 by

Comic Market or Comiket as it is popularly known, is the world’s largest comic convention. The event is so huge that it encompasses the whole of Tokyo Big Sight, from top to bottom and from the conference tower to the west exhibition hall. There is a Summer Comike usually around the 15th of August and the Winter Comike around the 28th to the 31st of December at the Tokyo Big Sight Convention Center in Odaiba, Tokyo in Japan. The gates opens at 10:00 in the morning and closes at 4:00 in the afternoon. The most recent Comiket (Comiket 74) was held last 15th to the 17th of August 2008. The next Comiket (Comiket 75) will be on the 28th to 30th of December of this year.

Crowded Tokyo Big Sight

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Taste The Wild Side Of Singapore: Singapore Zoo

August 22nd, 2008 by

The dynamic and bustling city of Singapore has so much to offer its visitors from all over the world. There are numerous shopping destinations like Orchard Road, delicacies to try and attractions to devour.

If you have been to Sentosa and you’re still craving for more adventures then it would be a wonderful idea to sample other attractions that will give you a taste of the wild side of Singapore. Why not go to the Singapore Zoo?

Singapore Zoo

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Hadaka Matsuri: Naked Festival In Japan

August 21st, 2008 by

Hadaka Matsuri doesn’t mean “No Worries”. It literally means, “Naked Festival”. Every year for thousands of Japanese men, it means suffering the winter cold with minimal covering for a chance of good fortune. And for the one man chosen to absorb the sins of the other revelers through touch, it means “all worries”.

It should come to no surprise that Japan, a country of high technology and fashion, has rituals involving men wearing only loincloths (fundoshi in Japanese). Don’t forget that the national sport of the Land of the Rising Sun is Sumo, a wrestling match between two oversized men in the buttocks-revealing strips of cloth. Of course, it’s not uncommon for a few individuals to be crushed unconscious when thousands of their barely-covered brethren get out of control.

Video courtesy of Gimmeabreakman

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Delightful Sunday Mornings At Jalan Gaya

August 19th, 2008 by

A short airplane ride from the Philippines brought me to Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah. It is another exhilarating destination in Malaysia on the tropical island of Borneo. I arrived on a Saturday night and was so happy to meet my hotel’s representative who picked me up from the airport. I was surprised to find out that my hotel in Kota Kinabalu was only a short ride from the airport.

Upon check–in, I immediately asked the hotel’s concierge on what Kota Kinabalu attractions would be suitable to be explored by a first time visitor like me. I found out that my timing was just perfect as the following morning would be a great chance for me to experience the famous Jalan Gaya Street Fair. It is during this time when about a half kilometre length of Gaya Street is closed to traffic to make way for a different kind of Sunday “party.” Hearing that surely got me so curious that I found it hard to sleep because of the excitement of what the morning will bring.

Jalan Gaya Street Sign

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