Would you be surprised to learn that even the Germans left their colonial legacy in Asia? In a continent full of Spanish, Portugese, British, and French influences, the landlocked country of Germany, which for centuries was a loose group of independent states until the late 19th century, was able to put its stake in the resource-filled lands of the East. The most distinctive place is the city of Qingdao (pronounced “Ching-daow”), whichÂ was occupied by the Germans when all of China was being divided into spheres of influences among the European powers back in the 19th century. Today, Qingdao is one of the country’s economic centers and its 4th largest port, yet still retains much of its German heritage through its architecture and culture.
Archive for April, 2009
Nestled within the heart of the Philippines are the Chocolate Hills of Bohol. If it weren’t for the fact that there are so many hills one might believe that these hills were man-made, though they are not. These incredible natural hills remind many of “giant mole hills” and draw more tourists than any other area in the country.
About the Chocolate Hills of Bohol
Image Credit : wisdoc
The first part of our trip to Coron has been quite an experience and we haven’t even visited the beach yet.Â We had an incredible time catching the glorious sunset at Mt Tapyas, buying souvenirs and other delicacies from the Coron Public Market, and capturing the majestic sunrise on Lambingan Bridge.
On the day of our scheduled tour, we had our usual morning breakfast of delicous danggit (a kind of dried salted fish) which we enjoyed together with fried rice and perfectly done sunny-side-up eggs.Â At around 8:30 am, our tour guide Arjel loaded our picnic basket to our shuttle service then we left for the pier located at the back ofÂ the Coron Public Market.Â We met our designated boatmen also at the pier.
Buddha’s birthday is an informal name for Wesak Day, a holiday which encompasses the birth, enlightenment and passing of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. The decision among Buddhist leaders to celebrate Wesak as Buddhaâ€™s birthday was formalized at the first Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists held in Sri Lanka in 1950. Wesak is the highlight of the Buddhist year and is officially observed in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and other Asian countries. Malaysia, in particular, has declared Wesak a national holiday since 1962, in strong effort by the Chinese community to uphold the universal virtues of their religion. Each temple in the country has its own traditions in celebrating the holiday, though there is a spirit of unity among all Buddhists (almost all of which are overseas Chinese). Joss sticks and candles are lit by the thousands, for example,Â and many burn oil lamps as a symbol of lighting their lives and avoiding problems and disease. The Mahindarama Temple in Kampar Road, Penang, in particular, lit 2,550 yellow lotus candles during the 2,550th anniversary of Wesak last 2006. Flowers are also laid at the feet of their teacher, an act which reminds devotees of the brevity of material things as symbolized by the eventual decay of these beautiful blooms. Some temples display a small figurine of the baby Buddha in front of their altar in a small basin of water that is adorned with flowers.
As the month of March gives way to the month ofÂ April, people who live in countries which have long hard winters usually look forward to the advent of the season of spring with much eagerness. However in India, it is not the change of season that excites the populace during this period, for the Indian subcontinent located as it is in the tropics doesnâ€™t really experience the drastic change in seasons as do other countries. All over India and especially in the countryâ€™s financial capital of Mumbai, people eagerly look forward to the end of the month of March as it heralds in the Indian mango season which usually extends until the end of May and early June.
Indians are extremely fond of the this juicy and heavenly fruit which appears only for three months of the year ,when the many mango trees whose long and narrow shiny leaves are otherwise used as accouterments in IndianÂ religious ceremonies get heavy with their precious bounty. India is the worldâ€™s largest producer of mangoes and it produces many varieties of this soft and juicy delight which is absolutely adored by much of its population.
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Taipa is another outlying island of Macau like Coloane Island.Â Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, this island of Taipa was composed of two islands and a sheltered port that served as a place where ships dropped their anchor to engage in trade with mainland China.Â There were also smaller shipping vessels that carried different products such as opium and other produce up the Pearl River to reach Canton.Â On the way back, these vessels in turn carry items like silk, porcelain, coffee or tea that they will carry on their journey for export to other parts of the world.
Currently, Taipa is still considered a gateway to other countries ever since the Macau International Airport started its operations. Â Aside from trade, Taipa is a highly popular destination among tourists who find themselves in colourful Macau.Â This is because there are so many interesting things to see in this enthralling island.Â The island is considered an excellent choice for sightseeing opportunities and the entire place can be explored either on foot or even on a cycle.
Westeners who visit Tokyo may recognize the many karaoke bars which are present in every corner; after all, this sing-along system has spread throughout the rest of the world. They will also be familiar with the ubiquitous convenience stores, another Japanese export. What they may not recognize are the series of parlors that have saturated the length and breadth of the country but remain relatively unknown beyond it. They are distinctive by their vivid neon signages, loud electronic noises, and row upon row of shiny, flashing machines. They are the pachinko shops.
Eastern and western traditions tend to differ from each other significantly. Perhaps this is the reason why we were at first a bit taken aback when we heard about the Tibetan sky burial – a cultural and religious ceremony performed upon the passing of a family member or loved one.
Busuanga is in the island of Palawan in the Philippines. Palawan is locally considered as the last frontier of the Philippines mainly because it is blessed with virgin beaches and pristine waters that are home to the most colourful corals and fishes that one can only sometimes see in picture books. A very short plane right brought us to the newly opened Busuanga Airport. Our shuttle pick up service met us outside of the airport to bring us to our destination, Coron.
Hue, Vietnam was once the capital of Nguyen emperors and was modeled after Beijingâ€™s own Forbidden City. Cut across by the Perfume River, the old within a citadel lies on one side while the more modern habitats and establishments are built on the other. Hue today is more of a university town due to the concentrated number of students lurking in the streets. The city itself is very friendly to tourists, with a lot of historical sites and natural wonders to explore, and many of which are accessible by foot or by motorbike.
Here are some things you can do in Hue:
Climb up the Ho Quyen Tiger Fighting Arena – A relic of old-school animal cruelty, this arena once pitted tigers against elephants for the pleasure of the emperor and his more blood-thirsty subjects. Ho Quyen is built along the southern bank of the Perfume River, and consists of two circular walls, with a flight of stairs heading its way to the top. The arena is remarkably intact; even the tiger cages still have claw marks. The fights themselves, which have since been discontinued in the early 20th century, were fixed: the tigers were drugged and always lost to the elephants. As tigers symbolized rebellion and elephants represented the monarchy, itâ€™s no surprise the emperor wanted a demonstration of his unshakeable supremacy along with fur-flying entertainment.
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