Hong Kong & Macau, China

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Hong Kong always had a special place in my heart. Although I visited for a very short amount of time, there’s something about it that makes me want to go back. Sure, I always want to go back to Japan but Hong Kong feels like home. It’s very weird since I don’t speak an ounce of Cantonese. But I do believe it’s because I have heard so much of the place from my parents. In fact, they got married there! So that’s probably why Hong Kong is very special to me. Oh! And we watch a lot of TVB dramas too!

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I stayed in Kowloon area. I remember the feeling of excitement. The streets were a bit dirty, neon lights brightening the streets and signs were everywhere. It was rainy when I arrived, I didn’t have an umbrella, but I managed to stay dry thanks to all those signs. I wish there was more I could say about Hong Kong, or that I had more pictures but I believe that gives me more of a reason to go back. So Hong Kong, to be continued!!

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To many, when they hear Macau, they will either think about the numerous amounts of casinos or the Ruins of Saint-Paul Cathedral. Not saying that it is wrong. Pictures don’t do justice for the facade. It’s absolutely stunning to see it in person. The cathedral was built in 1602 to 1640 and it was the largest Catholic church in Asia at the time. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by fire during the typhoon in 1835. Macau’s importance was declining and so was the cathedral’s fortune, hence why reconstruction was not possible. Today, the facade stands loud and proud, and it’s definitely a place worth visiting.

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I, on the other hand, when I hear about Macau, think of my mother’s refugee camp. I think about my parents’ struggle, about the sacrifices, the number of lives lost and the great gamble for a better life. I hear about it countless of times. So when we arrived in Macau, it was a very emotional experience. We walked around outside the camp, my mother remembered everything; where her room was, who her neighbors were, the officers who took care of her, the letters she would send to my grandmother… Luckily, my mother spoke Cantonese, so she was always favored and had it a bit easier. Though I know we will never fully understand what our parents went through, I think it’s extremely important to at least learn and be curious about it.

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Putting the deep serious talk aside, Macau is extremely fun to go shop and eat. I think everywhere in Asia is fun to eat. This was one of the many small streets with cafes, boutiques, restaurants and markets. I don’t remember eating in an actual restaurant during my stay in Hong Kong and Macau. We ate so many street food and snacks. And everything was so good and cheap! I remember there was a place that only sold jerky. There was such a large variety of jerky! I believe there were literally hundreds of kinds, and they actually let us taste them all!! Anyways, I hope you guys still enjoyed this post despite I didn’t have much to say since I didn’t stay there very long.. I’ll try to cover something more in detail next time!

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Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto, Japan

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During my short stay in Japan, I visited a beautiful Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera. Can you guys believe how old this temple is? It originated in 778 when a monk, Enchin, envisioned Kannon — Lord of compassion, Goddess of mercy — on the mountain overlooking the Otowa-no taki Falls. Then, in 798, general Sakanoue no Tamuramaro built a Buddha hall there, following which the Kiyomizu-dera temple came under the official patronage of Emperor Kanmu. It was repeatedly destroyed by fire over the centuries, but thankfully was rebuilt on each occasion. The central building (top picture), the Hondo, was built in 1633! So much history! And wanna hear something even more amazing? Of course you do. Not a single nail was used in the construction!

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Down here is where you can find the Otowa-no taki. It is believed that the water has therapeutic properties, so many visitors come and drink for health, wisdom and longevity. So obviously, I went there and drank a ton of that blessed sacred water. Is it just me, but doesn’t it look like a small secluded ninja clan neighborhood? I could just imagine ninjas jumping around here and there.

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This is the Torii of Jishu-jinja, a matchmaking shrine dedicated to Okuninushi, a god of love and “good matches”. There, you will find two stones a few meters apart, and if you successfully walk safely from one stone to the other with your eyes closed in one try, your wish will be granted soon. If you fail, it will be very long before your love will be realized. So it is safe to say that there are many visitors here, especially young girls.

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If you do plan to visit Kiyomizu-dera, I highly recommend to go early in the morning since it’s a very popular place to visit in Kyoto. I went there around 6AM when they open, and the streets were all closed. It was very peaceful. I like visiting shrines and temples when there aren’t many people. I mean, you want to feel calm and zen when you’re at these type of places. But perhaps, that’s just me. I’ll end the post here, with a few more pictures. If you guys would like to hear more of my trips or see more pictures, let me know!

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Mui Ne, Vietnam

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In 2009, I went to back to my roots, Vietnam. I’ve travelled every corner of the country since my huge family was dispersed everywhere. One of the place I visited was Mui Ne. My uncles and aunts from my mother’s side of the family decided to go there for a mini family trip since one of my uncles was a head chef in one of those fancy resorts. You can say Mui Ne is a hidden gem of Vietnam. You would expect a ton of tourists where the beaches are but the area was relatively quiet.

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We stayed at Blue Ocean Resort and the food there amazing. Compliments to the chef! The staff was lovely and we had a whole section of the beach to ourselves. I felt so rich with our own “private” beach. Of course, it only happened because my uncle was an important member of the team, nonetheless, it was still awesome. We even had a private pool. I think people call it a “family bungalow”. As I mentioned before, it was relatively quiet. During our stay, I roamed around the resort and there were only a few people in. But it’s probably because the rest of the tourists were in a cheaper hotel. However, if you do have the money, I definitely recommend Blue Ocean Resort!

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When people think of Vietnam, the things that come to their minds are probably; hot weather, coconuts, beaches, pho, motorcycles, etc. But I’m pretty sure they would never expect to find a desert. Yup, there’s a mini desert in Mui Ne. It’s not tiny, but compared to the Sahara, it’s tiny. Where there is snow, people go snow sledding. Where there is a desert, people go sand sledding? Indeed, there were quite many who were doing that. It looked extremely fun sliding down the sandy hill, but going back up is an other story.

 I had such a hard time walking around in the desert. My dumb self thought it would be like walking on the beach but I was so wrong. It was 50x harder. And it was so hot. Everything was hot; the sand, the air, my breathing, my hair, my glasses, everything. However, it was still nice. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to experience the desert without dying.

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So you rode a horse or a camel? Bitch please, I rode an ostrich. I was on a bird! Now how many people do you know who rode on a friken bird. That’s right, not many. Or even none! My life was flashing before my eyes. I don’t know who came up with the idea, but that person is crazy. The ostrich kept glaring at me and turning his head towards me. It was so scary. I thought he was going to poke my head with his beak. And he was running so fast! I almost fell a few times! I don’t know where else you can do this, probably somewhere in Africa or in Australia, but you can do it in Mui Ne for sure. It’s definitely a once in a lifetime experience. But I don’t know who would want to do this though.