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Just Can't Get Enough
No, Rick just can't get enough of Japan - which is great - I'm all for the incredible culture, awesome scenery, and not to mention the excellent cuisine!

Since we've allocated about ... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Kanto region, Japan – September 30, 2006

A Second Home
Have been back in Shanghai for about two weeks now. Was planning to venture up north, but somehow the days have passed by quickly. Ran around a lot in terms of getting some stuff done before heading h... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Shanghai, China – September 14, 2006

A Sweet Reminder
Taxied into the seaside town of Mt. Lavinia from the Colombo airport near midnight. The fresh salty sea air blowing onshore towards the guesthouse gave me a sweet reminder. Never knew how much I misse... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka – July 7, 2006

A Few Closing Notes On Traveling In Rajasthan, India
So far, it seems like many of the "backpacker" types of things we'd do in most countries, we have not done here in India. Hiring a driver is one prime example. Another is eating at a ho... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – General Tips, India – July 4, 2006

In Agra To See The Marble Wonder
At this point of the trip, both Rick and I were exhausted in terms of seeing any more forts, palaces, and monuments. The entrance fees for foreigners are quite high for the many forts, palaces, and mo... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Agra, India – July 3, 2006

Fatehpur Sikri, A Ghost Fort And Palace
I enjoyed greatly the palace-fort at Fatehpur Sikri. Designed by Persian emperor, Akbar the Great, he believed in the harmony of all religions, cultures, and peoples. He had representative symbols and... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Fatehpur Sikri, India – July 2, 2006

Entering The Golden Triangle Via Jaipur, The Pink City
Known as the Pink City and fortified by pink walls, Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan. The maharajah of Jaipur had the town painted pink (though it's actually more of a terracotta color) to welc... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Jaipur, India – July 1, 2006

Udaipur, City Of Lakes
Udaipur is considered as the most romantic town in Rajasthan. Known as the City of Lakes, the town seems to be a very touristed area, even though I hardly saw any tourists around. Quite a few Internet... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Udaipur, India – June 28, 2006

Pushkar, A Hindu Pilgrimage Town
We passed through the Muslim pilgrimage town of Ajmer on the way to the Hindu pilgrimage town of Pushkar. The Brahma Temple is located here, where many Hindus come to visit. Pushkar is also known for ... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Pushkar, India – June 28, 2006

Jodhpur, The Blue City
Okay, now it's melting/dying hot. Close to 50 degrees Celsius in the desert town, Jodhpur is known as the Blue City. Originally the Brahmins (upper caste) painted their houses blue, a holy color.... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Jodhpur, India – June 26, 2006

Ranakpur, A Change Of Scenery
On the way to Ranakpur, where the famous Jain temples are located, the scenery changed from desert landscape to forest. Definitely a breather away from the highest temperatures I've ever experien... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Ranakpur, India – June 26, 2006

The Golden City
Reached, I think, one of the hottest places on earth. Jaisalmer was 47 degrees Celsius (close to 117 degrees Farenheit!!) when we drove in. A pure and true desert town and also on the caravan trade ro... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Jaisalmer, India – June 25, 2006

Getting Hot Over Here In Bikaner
The next town, Bikaner, turned out to be much bigger and chaotic. Being closer to the Thar Desert makes it a whole lot hotter and drier (40+ degrees Celsius) than Delhi and Mandawa. Bikaner is the hom... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Bikaner, India – June 23, 2006

A Bit Of Culture Shock
Okay, I must admit that I'm glad to have gone the driver route. Especially since this is the hottest time of the year and also the lowest season for tourism. The heat can dehydrate one really fas... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Delhi, India – June 22, 2006

Mandawa, A City Of Havelis (Living Art Quarters)
We entered the small desert town of Mandawa to see intricately detailed and designed havelis. Havelis are old homes that are pretty much living art museums. A guide showed us some of the open havelis ... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Mandawa, India – June 22, 2006

Delhi
Gosh, preparing for a trip to India took a bit of research and planning (seriously, it seems like every other page in LP India has some text on warnings and how to avoid certain scams). After talking ... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Delhi, India – June 21, 2006

Soaking in Thai Mineral Waters
From Krabi, took a 7-hour local bus ride to Ranong, the hot springs center and rainiest area in Thailand. Foreigners come here mainly to do a visa run over to Kawthoung in Myanmar, in order to extend ... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Ranong, Thailand – June 20, 2006

A Day in Southern Myanmar
Longtailed-boated into Kawthoung (aka, Victoria Point) for a day to get a taste of Myanmar. Rick met a local kid named Ali who showed us around. Quite a few markets and shops dot the streets in the li... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Kawthoung, Myanmar – June 20, 2006

Along the Andaman and Gulf of Thailand Coasts
Originally wanted to overland it all the way down to Indonesia from Bangkok. But that didn't happen. Rick wanted to rest after Tibet and before heading over to India. Also both of us somehow cont... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Coasts of Thailand, Thailand – June 19, 2006

Boom Boom Bangkok
Bangkok is one city that always seems to have a big celebration going on. The first time here, it was during Songkran or the Thai New Year. Songkran was marked by water (sometimes mixed in with talc) ... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Bangkok, Thailand – June 3, 2006

City of Hot Peppers, Teahouses, and Pandas
Back in muggy China again after a pretty scary, bumpy plane ride from Lhasa over some pretty high mountains (doesn't help either if you've got the plane crash scenes from the television seri... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Chengdu, China – June 1, 2006

A Route To Finding Tibet
After talking to quite a few travel agencies (the ones by the budget hotels, hostels, and hotels where most foreigners stay at, and even some Chinese ones) and travelers, we decided to forego the trad... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Lhasa, China – May 28, 2006

On the Way to the Great Canyon of Yarlung Tsampo
A lot of the places and towns we drove through, actually all, were not listed in the Tibet section of LP China (which in turn is teaching me to rely on that book less). Didn't have LP Tibet with ... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Eastern Tibet, China – May 28, 2006

Holy Sites
Ornately detailed and haunting...

Jokhang Temple

more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Lhasa, China – May 25, 2006

Lhasa, A City Of New And Old
Been wanting to go to Tibet for a very long time. I've heard from quite a few travelers, friends, and even my brother, that I may be disappointed due to much Chinese-influence and modernization t... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Lhasa, China – May 24, 2006

Shangri-La
Enjoyed the scenic ride to Zhongdian, also known as Shangri-la (the town was renamed). Passed by quite a few minority villages, gorgeous nature scenery, and even the entrance to Tiger Leaping Gorge (a... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Zhongdian, China – May 22, 2006

Loud Lijiang
At first, hardly saw any tourists and locals while walking from the bus station to Lijiang Old Town. Though once inside the old town, weaving through the hordes of massive tour groups to look for a gu... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Lijiang, China – May 20, 2006

Dali Removed
Set off to Dali the next morning. Dali used to be a country within a country, called the Nanzhao Kingdom. The Bai minority people ruled the four-walled city with four main gates before the Hans took o... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Dali, China – May 16, 2006

Kunming, An Oxymoron Almost
To my surprise, Kunming is a pretty laid-back Chinese city, which is an oxymoron almost. Walking out of the airport, we expected the hustle bustle of a modernized city, a plethora of people, and of co... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Kunming, China – May 15, 2006

Floating Village On Lake Tonle Sap
Like the floating villages of Uros on Lake Titicaca in Peru, Cambodia also has their own version on Lake Tonle Sap. The difference is that the village consists of houses and buildings made of wood and... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Lake Tonle Sap, Cambodia – May 12, 2006

Angkor Wat
Flew into and overnighted in Siem Reap for a few days to visit the breathtaking Angkor Wat. Why would anyone want to destroy this architectural masterpiece (which the Khmer Rouge tried to do)???

&l... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Siem Reap, Cambodia – May 11, 2006

Black and White: Color
Phnom Penh can have a mindful effect on you. I feel that it’s a privilege to be able to travel around Cambodia nowadays. Just a little over 30 years ago, Cambodia was in a tragic state of terr... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Phnom Penh, Cambodia – May 8, 2006

Crossing Into Cambodia And Changing Currency
If you plan to change all your dong currency into American dollars or Cambodian riels (as Cambodia uses both types of currencies) at the border, make sure you count it all. If you're in a rush, c... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Vietnam-Cambodia Border Crossing, Cambodia – May 7, 2006

Ho Chih Minh City (aka Saigon)
Ho Chih Minh City is quite a contrast to Hanoi. Being a much bigger city with a much bigger population (6 million registered, but really around 11-12 million – which is almost the population s... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Ho Chih Minh City, Vietnam – May 6, 2006

Taking A Breather In Hoi An
Hoi An offers a much slower pace of life in Viet Nam. Less traffic and noise, not too much city, close to beaches, basically, a more peaceful setting. Am Unesco World Heritage site, Hoi An is also ver... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Hoi An, Vietnam – May 5, 2006

Hue
The more I travel in Viet Nam, the more it feels like I'm seeing China for the fifth time. There's an incredible amount of Chinese influence in the country, from the architecture to art to c... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Hue, Vietnam – May 1, 2006

Annoying Hanoi
Landed in a city that's almost completely opposite of the towns we've just passed through. LP SE Asia was right on about Viet Nam (in general) being a shock to one's senses (though not ... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Hanoi, Vietnam – April 29, 2006

Dreamy Halong Bay
Ahh, Halong Bay. One of the places I've been wanting to visit in Viet Nam after watching Anthony Bourdain's episode on Vietnamese cuisine.

The next morning, we got on a boat for a relaxin... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Halong Bay, Vietnam – April 27, 2006

Good Morning Viet Nam!
Said goodbyes to the Lao Loum village and bussed across the border into Viet Nam. Started in the mountains on the Ho Chih Minh trail, which changed to little towns and rice paddy fields and farmland. ... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Laos-Vietnam Border Crossing, Vietnam – April 26, 2006

Nutty Ninh Binh
Overnighted in Ninh Binh before an excursion to Halong Bay. On the way, noticed the scenery changing from endless fields of green rice paddies to more endless fields of green rice paddies but with sli... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Ninh Binh, Vietnam – April 26, 2006

Happy Homestay
Passed through the Annamite Mountains to get close for border crossing into Viet Nam the next day. The limestone mountains are quite picturesque and somewhat surreal. Made me wonder if they look simil... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Hinboun Prefecture, Laos – April 25, 2006

Capital Vientane
The slow-paced lifestyle experienced since the Mekong cruise to Luang Prabang made it feel like I was there for a good month or so, even though it had only been around five days. So, it felt like bein... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Vientane, Laos – April 24, 2006

Lazing About in Luang Prabang
Reached the sleepy and peaceful riverside town of Luang Prabang in the afternoon of the second day of the Mekong river long-tailed boat cruise. Luang Prabang is quite a laid-back city without the big ... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Luang Prabang, Laos – April 23, 2006

Border Crossing Across the Mekong River
From Chiang Khong, we crossed the Mekong River into the Laos town of Huay Xai. It was an interesting experience changing baht into kip - you get lots of it. After all the border crossing procedures, w... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Thailand-Laos Border Crossing, Laos – April 21, 2006

Bordertown
Took a long minivan ride to Chiang Khong, a little town which borders Lao People's Democratic Republic. The town is quite small and surrounded by lush greenery and lots of mosquitoes. Chiang Khon... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Chiang Khong, Thailand – April 19, 2006

An Elephant Ride Thru Hilltribe Territory
Chiang Mai is a town especially known for Thailand's ethnic minority groups. Most of these ethnic groups originated from Tibet awhile back.

Before I got there, I imagined Chiang Mai to be som... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Chiang Mai, Thailand – April 18, 2006

Bustling Bangkok
If you've seen the opening scene from the movie, The Beach, then you've probabl... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Bangkok, Thailand – April 14, 2006

Shanghai Spring
After coming from a warm and sunny place (Rio de Janeiro in the midst of summer), to a month of nonstop, cold rainy weather in northern California, it was nice to finally reach a part of the world tha... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Shanghai, China – April 7, 2006

Colonial Architecture In Macau
Macau, once a colony of Portugal, still retains much Portuguese influence. A day trip can be made to this interesting city by the water via ferries from Hong Kong.


more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Macau, Macau – November 14, 2005

Hong Kong: A City Literally By The Sea
Some parts of Hong Kong reminded me of the Chinatowns in the US. I think it was because Cantonese is widely spoken here. Restaurants, dried seafood and traditional herbal shops line the streets as wel... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Hong Kong, Hong Kong – November 13, 2005

A Few Tips For Traveling Taipei And Surrounding Areas
- Take the Air Bus from the airport (100 NT or $3 USD). Taxis can cost from 1600 NT (around $50 USD) and up to get to Taipei central.
- The Taipei Mass Rapid Transit is very easy to take and very con... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – General Tips, Taiwan – November 12, 2005

Getting To Ninefen
Rick: I'm feeling a little better, let's go to Jiufen today.

Me: Okay, sounds good.


more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Jiufen, Taiwan – November 11, 2005

Lost In Yamingshan
One day, Rick and I went to look for this public bathhouse (Matsu Village), recommended by LP Taiwan, in Yamingshan. Yamingshan is just up the mountain from Beitou. So we took the bus up this windy ro... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Yamingshan, Taiwan – November 10, 2005

Recuperating In Beitou
Rick's immune system blew a fuse after coming from China and he ended up recuperating for most of the time in Beitou, a therapeutic hot springs area near Taipei. I found it quite a funny thing to... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Beitou, Taiwan – November 9, 2005

Taipei Night Markets - Bring Your Tastebuds
Taipei is inundated with night markets - they are everywhere! The night markets are an excellent place to try the hundreds of different types of Taiwanese street food. Various street snacks range from... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Taipei, Taiwan – November 8, 2005

A Few Tips For Traveling China
I found traveling in China to be quite rough, so my advice is best to be prepared. A lot of it was due to traveling in an environment that is bombarded with pollution (smog, smokers, other colorful ch... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – General Tips, China – November 7, 2005

Taiwan: A Warm Island
Flying into Taipei from Shanghai with a stopover in Hong Kong, I had no idea what to expect. I didn't know if it was going to be a mini-China, a mini-Japan, like Hong Kong, or a combination. Turn... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Taipei, Taiwan – November 7, 2005

A Day Out Of A Possible Movie Scene
Decided to head to Shanghai for a flight to somewhere warmer. By this time, Rick was not getting any better from his bronchial bug(s). So we headed off in a rush to the Suzhou train station after view... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Suzhou, China – November 5, 2005

Suzhou: Garden Central
Took the 2 1/2 hour soft seat train from Nanjing to Suzhou. Suzhou is known for its many beautiful classical stone gardens as well as other types, quality silk, tasty food, and beautiful women.

Ar... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Suzhou, China – November 4, 2005

Ladybugs At Sun Yat-sen Memorial In Nanjing
In Nanjing, we visited the Sun Yat-sen Memorial. An unbelievable number of steps to climb to the very top, but the view was breathtaking and worth it. While I was taking a picture in front of the main... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Nanjing, China – November 3, 2005

A Cancelled Flight Situation
Made it to the Xian airport in time for the flight at 1pm. Unfortunately, the flight got cancelled and the next one was scheduled at 6:50pm. A big angry mob of locals ensued quite quickly in front of ... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Xian, China – October 29, 2005

A Breath of Air
So, I arrived sick as a dog by the overnight train from Beijing to Xian. I'm sure by now I've picked up all sorts of bacteria, viruses, and not to mention some funky chemical pollutants from... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Xian, China – October 27, 2005

Xian As A City
Xian is known for its intact city walls and drum and bell towers. The city is also home to a few ethnic minorities, like the Hui. A majority of the Hui are Chinese-Muslim and live in the Moslem Quarte... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Xian, China – October 27, 2005

Taking A Local Tour Geared Towards Foreigners
Before going to China, I was strongly advised to go on a tour geared towards foreigners, so I can escape the pains of organizing everything on my own. So, I took one. All I can say is one is enough to... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Beijing, China – October 23, 2005

Beijing: Under Construction
Visited many of the main sites in Beijing and found that quite a few are under construction for the Olympics in 2008.


more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Beijing, China – October 22, 2005

Beijing: Not All Under Construction
Although many of the sites are being renovated for the Bejing Olympics in 2008, many of the sections of these sites are still open for viewing.


more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Beijing, China – October 22, 2005

Zhujiajiao: An Ancient Water Canal Town
Less than a couple of hours by bus away from Shanghai, I visited a preserved water canal town called Zhujiajiao. Many of the Shanghainese consider this place as the countryside, which I found pretty f... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Zhujiajiao, China – October 19, 2005

Old Shanghai
Decided to wander around the "old" parts of Shanghai today. Well, I guess the Bund would be considered old too, and I did that the other day... Anyway, headed off to this renovated part of t... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Shanghai, China – October 17, 2005

Have You Been Shanghai-ed Lately?


tasting shiao long bao (crab and pork dumplings filled with soup, you have... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Shanghai, China – October 15, 2005

Akihabara Police
For the last day in Japan and Tokyo, I was hoping we would be able to explore more of Tokyo. First we walked to the Imperial Palace (note that it's mostly closed, but the gardens are open everyda... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Tokyo, Japan – October 14, 2005

A Few Tips For Traveling Japan
- Japan Guide is very, very useful in terms of planning your trip. I also used the Let's Go Japan guide an... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – General Tips, Japan – October 14, 2005

Going For A Ride In Shanghai
Flew into Shanghai from Tokyo and took the crazy No. 2 bus from the airport to Jinan Temple. Too bad I couldn't get any good shots of the ride. I was sitting in the front, right behind the bus dr... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Shanghai, China – October 14, 2005

Kakunodate: Samurai District
We went to Kakunodate to explore the preserved samurai district. Stopping by the day before on the way down from Tazawako would have been a better idea, as it is only 15 minutes from there. The samura... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Kakunodate, Japan – October 13, 2005

Ginza Nightlife
We checked in at Tokyu-Stay Higashi-Ginza again. This time I booked a bigger room, which was well worth it (only $5 more, should've done it for the first night too). The room was much more like a... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Tokyo, Japan – October 13, 2005

Tazawako: Kogen Bus Stop
We left Yamanoyado Bekkan pretty late at around 11:15 am due to missing the courtesy bus at 9:30am to the Kogen bus stop (taxi to the Tazawako JR Station is $60!). We finally got to the Kogen bus stop... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Tazawako, Japan – October 12, 2005

Back In City-Suburb
We kicked back for the rest of the day. Ended up wandering around the shopping area which had a mini-Harajuku (young people dressed up in anime/goth/etc. costumes). We then had a nice Japanese-version... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Sendai, Japan – October 12, 2005

A Sleepy Fishing Town
Had some extra time before heading off to our first onsen and ryokan experience in Tazawako. So we decided to make a mini-excursion to Matsushima Bay, noted by Japan as one of the three most scenic sp... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Matsushima Bay, Japan – October 11, 2005

Tazawako: Traditional Ryokan And Onsen
After sleepy Matsushima Bay, we headed back to Sendai, grabbed the backpacks and got on a bullet train heading for Tazawako – this time reserved! Tazawako is known for its deepest lake in Japa... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Tazawako, Japan – October 11, 2005

Kyoto: Do Not Book In A Crap Location
The morning of the second day in Kyoto was a bit messed up in terms of timing. Being so used to the fast and on-time bullet trains, taking the bus towards the next Kyoto accommodation was not so much ... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Kyoto, Japan – October 10, 2005

Himeji Town & Castle
The town of Himeji seemed to be a bit gray and dreary. Himeji town was very much a suburban sprawl with a main street of shops and a couple of malls leading to the castle. On the way to the Unesco her... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Himeji, Japan – October 10, 2005

Sendai, City Suburb
Arrived in Sendai during rush hour with no reserved seats, which meant standing or sitting in between the trains the whole way. Sendai Station was quite huge as well, but not as dazzling as Kyoto Stat... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Sendai, Japan – October 10, 2005

Takayama Autumn Festival
After another filling breakfast, we headed for the Takayama Autumn Festival held at Yatakaikan Temple.

more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Hida Takayama, Japan – October 9, 2005

Kyoto, A City Of Contrasts
Kyoto Station turned out to be one huge mall as well – the crowds were unbelievable. Walking forth from the station, I found Kyoto to be a city of contrasts. In my mind, I was expecting Kyoto ... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Kyoto, Japan – October 9, 2005

Viewing Shirakawa-go Ogimachi From The Lookout Point
After breakfast, we took a small hike up to the lookout point in some light rain. You can see the whole village from there – serenely gorgeous in the morning mist.

more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Shirakawa-go Ogimachi, Japan – October 8, 2005

Hida Takayama
Left around 10am and took the two-hour bus ride back to Takayama. After checking into another minshuku (not gassho-zukuri style), more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Hida Takayama, Japan – October 8, 2005

Tsujiki Fish Market
After a great night... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Tokyo, Japan – October 7, 2005

Shirakawa-go Ogimachi, A Unesco World Heritage Site
After the four-hour bullet train ride from Tokyo to Takayama, we took a two hours bus ride through th... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Shirakawa-go Ogimachi, Japan – October 7, 2005

Tokyo Ni Ikimasu!
Finally arrived in Tokyo around four in the afternoon after a ten-hour flight via Japan Airlines. Very surprised by the service – excellent – JAL made sure you were well-hydrated as we... more
Posted by SUEP in Asia – Tokyo, Japan – October 6, 2005

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