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A Fluid Mix of The Ancient and The Modern of South Korea

South Korea is a dream destination – an engaging, welcoming place where the benefits of a high-tech nation are balanced alongside a reverence for tradition and the ways of the old Asia. It might be scary to visit a war-infuriated country, but a quick visit to South Korea is actually worth your time and money!

Korea might be known as the ‘Land of the Morning Calm’, but dive into its capital Seoul, the powerhouse of Asia’s third-largest economy, and serenity is the last thing you’ll feel. This round-the-clock city is constantly on the move, with its work-hard and play-hard population, the epitome of the nation’s indefatigable, can-do spirit. You can hardly turn a corner without stumbling across a tourist information booth, a subway station or a taxi in this multifaceted metropolis where meticulously reconstructed palaces rub shoulders with teeming night markets and the latest technological marvel. In short, it is an urban marvel.

South Korea’s compact size and superb transport infrastructure mean that tranquillity can be found within an easy reach of the urban sprawl. Hike to the summits of craggy mountains enclosed by densely forested national parks. Some of those same mountains transform into ski slopes come winter. Get further off-the-beaten-path than you thought possible by sailing to remote islands, where farming and fishing folk welcome you into their homes and simple seafood cafes. Chill out in serene villages surrounded by rice fields, sleeping in a rustic traditional wooden guesthouse called ‘Hanok’.

A packed calendar of festivals and events means there’s almost always a celebration of some sort to attend wherever you are – it might be Boryeong for its mud fest, or Gwangju for its Biennale or its annual salute to that most Korean of foods: kimchi. Friendly Koreans are always delighted to share their culture with visitors – often that means over a shared meal with a tantalising array of dishes and plenty of toasts with local alcoholic beverages.

There are loads of activities to indulge in when you are in South Korea. Learn how to make tasty kimchi at the Kimchi Academy House! At the Kimchi Academy House, you can learn about Korean history and culture through kimchi. Visitors can take kimchi-making classes taught by a professional kimchi instructor. Participants can taste the kimchi they make, have it vacuum-packed, and take it home with them.

 

 

An amazing site you could visit in the neighbourhood is the humongous Gwongeumseong Fortress, which is the site of castle ruins located on Seoraksan Mountain. At the left side of Sogongwon, past the Biryonggyo Bridge over the ravine, there is a path which leads to Gwongeumseong Castle, but it takes over an hour of travel through a steep, rocky path, so a cable car is used. You could also hike through the beautiful mountains up there. Another amazing place is the Gyeongbokgung Palace, which is arguably the most beautiful, and remains the largest of all five palaces in South Korea. It also houses the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum within the premises of the complex.

Amid the majestic mountains of Seoraksan National Park sits an ancient Zen Buddhist temple and a monument to a peaceful unification for Korea. The temple is not only for local monks; it is also available for multi-day paid Mountain Temple Stays by visitors looking to experience Zen meditation and asceticism.

On the path to Sinheungsa, there is a great bronze statue called Bronze Jwabul Statue, which is well over 10 meters high. The Great Unification Buddha sits on a lotus pedestal, flanked with 16 inscribed panels, is the largest seated bronze Buddha statue in the world, at 14.6m high, excluding the halo, lightning rod and pedestal.

If you thought office places are plain and boring, you ought to visit the Blue Palace. The Blue House; literally “pavilion of blue tiles”, is the executive office and official residence of the South Korean head of state. The signature markings of the Presidential Residence of Cheong Wa Dae are its blue tiles. It is the first thing that catches one’s attention upon entering the premises. The blue tiles and the smooth roof blend beautifully with Bugaksan Mountain in the backdrop.

To your surprise, Ginseng is one of the most protected items in Korea, but the Matinal Ginseng outlet gives you a peek into this secret. Here, you will be briefed on the different types of Ginseng and the quality and usefulness. The Korean government has blocked and prevented 6-year-old ginseng is sold to other countries. 4 years old Ginseng and below are allowed to be sold to other countries. You will also learn how to plant and the way to take a look at Ginseng which is so sensitive to land use.

Here are some rules of thumb you need to keep in mind when visiting South Korea:

                     Don’t call a person over with your palm facing up

                     Don’t take a seat on the first half of the bus

                     Don’t tip in restaurants

                     Try your best not to refuse food or drinks

                     Learn the social conventions for friendships

                     Do get out and experience South Korean festival culture

                     Korea is a country with a rich drinking culture. So, do drink!

No matter when you travel to South Korea, you will be surprised with breath-taking seasonal changes in nature, such as cherry blossoms in the spring, flower fields in the summer, colourful foliage in the fall and a white wonderland in the winter. So, pick a date from your calendar and head straight to this heavenly destination for your next trip with Travel Treasures!

 

 

 

The Architectural Marvels of Russia

A trip to Europe is the best thing that one can enjoy in their lifetime. With varied culture, architectural marvels, delicious food, natural wonders and much more on offer, there is nothing better than a well-planned trip to this continent. However, before you experience the architectural marvels, enjoyable food, or enjoy the culture and natural wonders, it is important to create your to-do list.

A European vacation can be overwhelming but with good planning (like setting up an itinerary, arranging proper transportation and having expectations in place), it would surely become one of the most memorable trips. Getting a tour package helps to set up a fixed plan in place, however, that is at the cost of flexibility. The usual recommendation is to plan your trip on your own to extract the maximum from your holidays. Make sure to get your documents in order so that you have the required permit to travel across Europe.

Don’t forget to establish a budget for your European trip as costs can go higher, or if not, set in order. Plan your itinerary and pick the destinations carefully. Make sure to arrange your trip to cut down on unnecessary travelling across Europe. Pick up the locations that are on your must-see list. Research cities and the sites that you want to explore, and book your transportation accordingly. Due to numerous types of accommodations and the associated costs, it is important to plan your stay as per your planned budget.

Accommodation and travel during peak seasons, like summer, will be costly. Therefore, make sure to plan and book early to get the best deals. Consider travel insurance from a proper insurance company. This helps avoid any unfortunate incidents related to flight cancellations, lost luggage, medical emergencies and similar situations during your holidays. Understand the local rules and laws of the places you plan to visit.

Okay. This time Russia is our destination. What’s there awaits? The imposing snow-capped mountains, golden coloured sandy beaches, deep lakes, numerous rivers, icy tundra and picturesque villages. Those are the perfect destination for holidays. The world’s largest country also boasts of culture, architecture, history, and some incredible works of art. With its large coastline and impressive cities with charisma and drama, there is a plenty on offer for travellers in this country.

Moscow, one of the main cities has an extensive history of fabulous art and culture. Many major historical places for tourism is located in this mega-metropolis. Red Square, for example, one of the largest and famous squares in the country is located here. This place has a hypnotic pull on visitors to the city. In the past, the Red square used to be a big marketplace with traders from all over the world descending here. Post the Revolution, Red square continued to remain as one of the most important locations in Moscow. All major roads in the city lead to this spacious place surrounded by attractions, such as Lenin’s Mausoleum, GUM Mall, St Basil’s Cathedral, The Armoury Chamber and Kremlin.

St. Basil’s Cathedral was constructed by Ivan “The Terrible” in the mid-16th century to honour his military conquest. This Cathedral looms majestically close to Kremlin and is one of the centrepieces of the Red Square. This building is witness to countless historical and political events in Russia’s history. The Cathedral has a 156-foot central nave surrounded by nine small separate chapels, four of which are raised such that their position displays the location between heaven and earth.

The Armoury Chamber in the Kremlin Museum showcases valuable gold, silverware, ceremonial arms and armours, as well as artefacts that peak into 12th to 17th century. Another major attraction is The Moscow Kremlin. This fortified complex near the Red Square serves as the official residence for the President of Russia. The complex is majestic and overlooks the Moskva River to the south. The Moscow Kremlin is one of the best-known Russian citadels with the Grand Kremlin Palace located inside it.

Lenin’s Mausoleum also famously known as Lenin’s Tomb is situated in the centre of Moscow near the Red Square. This granite structure monument is the resting place of the famous Soviet leader, Vladimir Lenin. His preserved body kept here is on public display since shortly after his death.

For shopping enthusiasts, the Red Square has the GUM and TSUM malls. These are the most over-the-top shopping destinations in Moscow with a wide variety of things on sale.

While you are in Russia, for sure you want to swing by at St. Petersburg’s. This city boasts of culture and heritage with palaces, museums, winding canals and broad avenues. St. Petersburg’s history is filled with numerous architectural and artistic treasures, making it one of the most visited cities in Russia. Often referred to as the Museum city and cultural capital of the country, this place has close to 100 museums showcasing the Russian history of literature, art, theatre and music.

One of the famous attractions, The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, was constructed at the same location where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated. The summer and Winter Palaces located in this city were the official residences of the Russian Monarchs. These attractive buildings have a lot of history associated with them.

Another major tourist attraction is the Hermitage Museum that has an impressive collection of paintings. This museum of art and culture is the second largest in the world and is home to the largest collections of paintings in the world with six historic buildings containing these collections.

Well, that’s all folks! I’ll see you on the next trip!

Embrace the creative side of you in Balinese Dance

Photo courtesy of Nusa Dua Beach Resort

We were recently enchanted when we had a chance to visit and attend to some of the Balinese Cultural Creation centre, located in Denpasar. We were so happy to get to meet the local actors and dancers in person and participate in different workshops. Walking through the complex we could experience how beautifully green the plants were and feel the odor of their flowers. The scent of earth, water, wind, and flowers imbued our senses and mind, leaving us in romantic space. My five year-old, especially, appreciated this chance to meet this side of nature she rarely get a chance to see at home, so she couldn’t be happier. Moreover, she was having his birthday party among the trees and on grass, and then she surprised me by saying that he would want to learn to dance Balinese Dance.

I was not sure what she was talking about at first, because she kept uttering and repeating “Balinese, Balinese,and Balinese”. This occurred after she had visited a local event that performed Balinese dance however I was not sure what it was, so I looked it up online.

It turned out that Balinese is a beautiful traditional form of dance, performed by Balinese people that have been part of their religion and their culture since ancient times. I have gotten so puzzled to know first-hand what this dance was all about, especially since there was plenty chance to attend different activities,both outdoors and indoors at one’s own convenient time. This represented an ideal opportunity to keep my son occupied by artistic yet dynamic activity, all year long.

As soon as I found Balinese Cultural Creation, I was impressed they offered so many activities and cultural activities, at such affordable terms, that I immediately booked a stay, to my own and my daughter’s amusement. Once we got there I was amazed at all the activities we could take part in so we both enrolled in a class in Balinese dance. From the minute I sat down to watch the dancers I was mesmerized, wishing to teach myself these wonderful invigorating movements, while my daughter was overwhelmed by excitement and joy. On the beginning I was clumsy with moves, but my daughter caught on like a pro, since kids are like sponge easy to adopt new skill when they are young and loving it.

Photo courtesy of Four Season Jimbaran

The instructors were particularly motivating and patient with us and everyone else, applying right balance of being friendly, yet enforcing everyone to learn the dance movements and rules correctly. However, this beautiful dance was hardly our only activity -we learned how to make a kit for example from beautiful natural materials. My daughter was successful and let his kit go fly in the sky, while I have not had much luck making it. I learned about Indonesian philosophy which includes learning how to dance as each step, each movement represented some deep insight into the nature of life and universal law surrounding us. The garments, the costumes, the colors all represent a unique aspect and harmony of life. My daughter and I learned a lot; more about the dance for her, and for me about the life philosophy.

Other activities that we participated in together included batik painting a t-shirt, with a paintbrush and colored paint, while my daughter was assisting me. She was such really enjoying showing off her artistic skills for the first time in his life. With paintbrush in hand, colors by the side we were ready – Balinese Art of batik painting is attractive with bright colors among lovely designs, traditional and quite unique. Philosophy, culture, and the respect for natural order can be seen through all their art, dance, and more.

Trying out and eating Indonesian cuisine meals together was also great fun, playing games with the other kids, and learning a new culture will definitely make my daughter more versatile woman when she grows up. I highly recommend everyone bringing your children to this kind of magical place. You will never be the same again, as it would leave you feel enriched, content, and more intimate to each other. The smile on my daughter’s face was what made the trip worth it.

“Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life–learn some as well as think some and also draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.” – Robert Sharma

 

Indulge your ceramic interest at Jenggala Keramik

Bali is a most memorable destination hotspot for many international and local tourists. This is because the islands of Bali are graced with gorgeous and breathtaking scenery, bountiful cultures, delectable cuisines and cocktails in the various restaurants and bars and a place to explore and indulge in many watersports as amply availed by the various clear water beaches with fine white sands.

One of the reasons I was inspired to come over to Bali was to soak in all the knowledge I could regarding the vast Balinese culture. And as I went along visiting as many historical places as I could manage and talking to the indigenous people, it was brought to my attention to visit Jenggala where I could find and indulge in the Jenggala Keramik.

Jenggala Keramik is a ceramic warehouse where clay is given the utmost respect and treatment to create beautiful tableware and home ware pieces that many restaurants and homes all over Bali use. And as in the case of the international tourists, the exquisitely handcrafted products are a beautiful way to gift your friends and family back home or keep as souvenirs of your visit to Bali.

The clay for over thirty years that is used is the finest of its kind to create the wondrous formulas used to create and showcase their aesthetic products. Also various techniques are employed like casting and throwing on a potter’s wheel but for the most part are all handcrafted. The technique to be used depends on the intricacies of the product in question. A lot of time is given in the thought, design and quality control processes of each and every product. These ceramic Balinese inspired products are offered in a wide array of shapes and colors, in sets as well as in single pieces. A gallery with a wide inventory is right round the corner where anyone that wants to purchase a piece or two can go right ahead and do so. All of them are at affordable prices and there are discounts and promotions available making the shopping experience all worthwhile and interesting.

For the most part, my time at the Jenggala was spent participating in the ‘Make a Pot and ‘Color a Pot’ program that is provided by the Jenggala Keramik team to its visitors. And I must say that it was time well spent indeed in that well air conditioned space. It reminded me of all the fun I had making various home ware pieces out of soil with friends as I was a very little girl. The beauty of this program is that it can be enjoyed by people of all ages and sizes, as a group or as an individual. I am pretty sure that many kids preferably of three years plus get a kick out of creating something using their own hands. For the adults, I believe that aside from being a fun way to spend time with friends and family, it is a very good activity for soothing oneself and get one with nature.

Everyone is given a chance to come up with their own design idea and the staff is always there to lend a hand if needed. I love that the visitors get to test and build their creative side. You are left to your own devices and you can create a mug, a bowl, a plate and so on. These have to be fired and so will be ready after four or five days. Hence make sure that your activity is well planned for so as to get to enjoy your final ceramic pieces. Your creation can be made as beautiful as you would want for paints and glazes are provided for your use.And if anyone is interested in having a one on one class, all can be arranged. All one needs to do is ask. I have found that large parties attending these workshops and they can be as fun filled as one wants them to be. So if you want to have a birthday party or anniversary party activity, then Jenggala Keramik is the way to go. All your guests will thoroughly enjoy themselves. Payment for participation is not set but depends on the number of pieces one wants to make or paint.

However if you are also one of those people that would rather feast with your eyes rather than participate directly, it is quite alright. A viewing area is provided for you to view whatever is going on in the studios.

My love for food greatly appreciates the fact that there is a café and restaurant a few minutes’ walk from the workshop and gallery where anyone can feast on the various mouthwatering Balinese cuisines on offer. So after a hard work on your special project, it is a great place to relax and catch one’sbreath with a very good cup of coffee in hand.

All in all, a visit to the Jenggala Keramik is one that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a fun activity in Bali that will also draw them closer to Balinese history. Just make sure to secure a booking ahead of time so as not to be inconvenienced. It is also the place to be if you are looking for a venue to keep your guests entertained for whatever occasion you might have in mind. Visit Jenggala Keramik today and witness the magic.

 

Phnom Penh – Pear of the Asia

Phnom Penh didn’t start life as a main defrayal until behind the Angkor time in which Angkor Wat plus the nearby cities grown to fame. King Ponhea Yat in the mid of 15th century escaped a Siamese attack in Angkor and established in a piece of what is nowadays Phnom Penh, ascertaining a palace.

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A week long fun at Visakhapatnam

However, there are countless tourism places in India. One may find cities of Historical forts, temples, battle fields, beaches, hills, caves, etc, yet there are cities like Visakhapatnam where one may find plane, hills, ocean and historical temples in a single city, even caves are nearby.

Varahlakshminarsimha templeVisakhapatnam is well connected with national capital Delhi, City of joy “Kolkata”, IT hub Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. One may travel by train to enjoy multiple days journey or may reach by air within two hours. I spent one week with my family there. AC Hotels are available from Rupees one thousand onward for double bedroom. We reached there in the morning and stayed at Hotel Krishna near railway station. In the evening, we hired an auto and started sightseeing from religious places. That evening we spent in Varahlakshminarsimha temple and Rose hill church. Autos are available from Rupees three hundred onward for this trip.

Deity Darshan Next day, again we hired the auto for day long trip in Rupees twelve hundred. We started the day with Deity Darshan at Simhachalam temple which is around ten kilometer from railway station. Then we went to Film City. The road is adjacent to sea and it’s nice to see the film shootings on the way. The film city has a film museum which includes all the film making equipment there. This film city, located on Bheemli Beach Road, is built on the top of Rishikonda hills serves an enticing bird’s eye view of the Bay of Bengal. Dr. D. Ramanaidu, the owner of this film studio, was conferred with Dadasaheb Phalke Award in the year 2010. He is highly respected for his contribution to the Indian Cinema. His name is in the Guinness Book of World Record for producing films in maximum number of regional languages. On 18th February 2015 at the age of 78 this genius passed away after a prolonged illness.

Rishikonda BeachNext stoppage was at Rishikonda Beach. As always, we enjoyed the coconut water and local shopping. The calm blue water of this beach is a sight to sore eyes, and you can indulge in some quiet, peaceful time with friends and family here. You can take a walk along the stretch of the sand, and the sunrise and sunset are especially beautiful here. Then, Zoo is also there at walk-able distance. It was great pleasure for children. Next, we went up the hill to visit VUDA park at Kailashgiri. There we had good food for lunch and toy train riding. It is also a best place for children. Kailasagiri is a hill top park. The hill is at 360 feet and it overlooks beaches, forests & the city. It is one of the best tourist spots in the city for a bird’s eye view of the bay. The Kailasagiri Park is well known for its panoramic view, peaceful atmosphere and its scenic beauty.

Vishakha MuseumThen we headed towards Vishakha Museum. This route is well connected to city’s most popular beach “Ramakrishna or R K beach” where Kursura sub-marine museum, Kali temple and Matshyadarshini aquarium are located. Kursura sub-marine was isolated by Indian Navy years back and now turned into museum at sea beach. If you are in this city, stop to witness the only Submarine Museum in the entire of Asia. Matshyadarshini aquarium is just a fish collection where we have seen variety of fish live. The Aquarium has many marine varieties including the long horn cow fish, butterfly fishes, surgeon major, peacock wrasse, the lion fish, stone fish, red squirrel fish, perch dusky, trigger fish, clown fish, damsels, sweet lip rabbit fish, angels, electric ray, porcupine fish and many more.

It was 9 pm, almost 12 hours journey with lot of fun so we came back to our hotel.

Author: Prakash Vir Sharma

Email: prakash2484@gmail.com

Prakash Vir Sharma

Quick Stop at Bangkok

This trip gave me a face of Thailand that perhaps only few have seen. I met some local people and had a sight into rural life. I found that Thai people are very down to earth, kind, and actually wants to give everyone insight into real Thai culture.

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