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Posts Tagged: sights

Chengdu Day 3 - Day 3 was a busy sightseeing day with the wife as she finally got free from work activities.  We hit three sights and started back at Jinli Street.  How do I describe this street???  Let’s see.  Very touristy… lots of shops… redone to look like the old days… section of ear pickers/cleaners…and one street of it is full of small eats vendors!!!  That’s the best part.  Check out the pics of the street first and then another post of just food pics to follow.

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Long 4 hour layover in Tokyo means more blogging catch-up.

Chengdu Day 2 - So, on this day, I went to see another famous temple… Wenshu temple. It is a very pretty temple with quite large grounds.  Highlights were the garden, the Jade Buddha, and the Thousand Buddha pagoda.  From this temple, I walked down to Tianfu Square, which is flanked in the north by the Sichuan Science and Technology museum (I did not go in) and a mega size square.  Surrounding the areas were nice department stores.  I found a Starbucks to chill for an hour or so before I walked towards Jinli Pedestrian street area.  I won’t post too much about Jinli as I walked through it quickly, because I would come back here with the wife the next day to try all the street food snacks!  So, pics about Jinli in a couple more posts.

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Chengdu Day 1 -  I headed to Qingyangguan next.  This is one of the old famous Daoist temples in Chengdu and was built during the Zhou dynasty.  I saw a lot of monks at the Two Immortals Monastery toward the back of the temple.   After a bit of research, this makes sense as the Two Immortals Monastery is the only Daoist monastery in southwest China authorized to certify Daoist training, initiations and the passing of lineage.  Anyways, a very pretty temple, especially the center structure with the fall foliage in the background!

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Chengdu Day 1 - So, entering Dufu Thatched Roof House museum…  The highlight of this outdoor museum is of course Dufu’s thatched roof house.  Dufu is perhaps the most famous poet in Chinese History and is from the Tang dynasty.  He’s been referred as China’s Shakespeare and his works has been critiqued/translated over and over again in many languages.  Instead of boring you with description of the museum… let’s just end this post with a Dufu poem entitled “I Stand Alone” (translated by Sam Hamill)…

A falcon hovers at the edge of the sky.
Two gulls drift slowly up the river.

Vulnerable while they ride the wind,
they coast and glide with ease.

Dew is heavy on the grass below,
the spider’s web is ready.

Heaven’s ways include the human:
among a thousand sorrows, I stand alone.

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Chengdu Day 1 - Jumping to Chengdu… after breakfast, I head off to sightsee.  Main agenda are Dufu Thatched House Museum and Qingyang Temple.  Jumped on the metro by the hotel and headed into town.   Note to visitors… if you want to tour Chengdu… do not stay at the Intercontinental or Holiday Inn at World Center (convention area) as it’s 30 minutes away from center of town.

Anyways, on the way to Dufu Thatched House, I walked through Qintai Street.  It’s a touristy street with restaurants and shopping along both sides.  There is also a Chinese Opera Theater which looked nice.  The nice thing is the the buildings are all redone in the old architecture way so you can sort of get an idea what a street may look like in the past.

i eventually made my way to Dufu Thatched House area… and surrounding the museum is a large nature area that’s Poem themed.  Makes sense as Dufu was a famous poet in Chinese Literary history.  It was quite pretty and very clean.  Lots of ducks and cranes running around doing their thing.

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This past week, my parents relaxed in our place a lot… and watched a ton of k-drama.  Yep, yep, yep.  We did manage to go out a bit and walk around the city.  Showed them some sights and took them to the famous wonton noodle place along with other good eats.  Here are some random pictures from this week.

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Istanbul Day 4 - This was our last day and we had a really late flight (midnight) back to Guangzhou.  The nice staff at Neorion hotel let us stay in our room all the way until 8:30 PM without extra charges.  This allowed us to pretty much have another full day of touring.

So, we took off for the Spice Bazaar in the morning and walked through it.  Similar in setup to the Grand Bazaar and although the spices looked good… we did not buy anything.

The next big thing we did was the Bosphorous Tour.  This is the tourist circle tour that lasts about 2 hours with just one stop to pick up additional passengers.  What was awesome is that it only costs 10 Turkish Liras per person!

The cruise itself was really nice… great weather and we got there early to grab a shaded bench in the back of the boat with a nice panoramic view.  Got lots of pictures of famous sights along the way and I would name some of them… but I don’t want to bore you to death (plus, I would have to look at the brochure to make sure I am stating the right things!).

Anyways, enjoy the pics.

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Istanbul Day 2 - After touring the main palace, we went to the Harem.  The Harem itself is the home of the Sultan’s mother, wives, concubines, children, and their servants.  This Harem wing was added at the end of the 16th century and offers a small glimpse (a lot of the areas were off limits) to how the women/children of the Sultan lived.  What is nice is that most of the tourists and especially those in big tour groups do not buy tickets for this section, so if you want a little bit of peace and quiet as well as some shade from the sun…. this section is highly recommended!!   

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Istanbul Day 2 - After the Blue Mosque, it got really really hot, but we braved the temperature and spent about 3 hours at Topkapi Palace.  Topkapi Palace was the home of the Sultans for about 400 years during their 600 years reign.  The buildings were built and added through out that period of about 1465 - 1856.

Today, it is amongst the groups of buildings comprising a UNESCO World Heritage site in the old city and contains a lot of Muslim holy relic.  It is also know as the best example of an ensemble of palaces during the Ottoman period.

It is a huge place and there are lines going to the more important rooms.  It makes for a very tiring day, but of course, highly recommended!  I would say… come a little later in the afternoon as the crowds seem to die down by about 2 PM.  We got there right about 10 AM and it got very crowded.  Also, buy the tickets online so you bypass the ticket lines.  Our hotel concierge took care of that for us (love the Neorion Hotel!).

Within the palace is the Harem quarters, which comprised of more than 400 rooms, which will be shown in the next post.

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Istanbul Day 2 - this was a jammed pack day.  We started the morning by visiting the Hippodrome, which once held chariot races for spectators up to 100,000 people.  Now, it’s an open area where a lot of people congregate and relax.  The Hippodrome is just west of the Blue Mosque and from the west entrance, you get to see the Blue Mosque in its symmetrical form.  It’s quite impressive to see from the outside and the interior is very beautiful with hand painted tiles and walls everywhere.  The mosque was completed in 1616 by Sultan Ahmed I and is still a working mosque.  The main dome is huge and the ceiling is dominated by blue colors and hence the name.

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After the Basilica Cistern, we headed to the Hagia Sofia or Aya Sofya  depends on how you say it.  The Hagia Sofia was a formal Orthodox church that was later used as a mosque and now preserved as a museum.

The beautiful structure is famous for its massive dome and considered one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture.  The structure was completed in 532 and was the largest church for close to a thousand years.  Pretty impressive.

Walking inside, you are certainly in awe at the massive amount of space inside.  Also, the amount of mosaic work that must have adorned the building is ridiculous even if a lot of it have fallen off today.  Also, you can clearly see the islamic influence during the days it was used as a mosque so it’s quite interesting to see the mixture of religions.

My wife and I really liked the Hagia Sofia.  It’s really beautiful and we hope that they continue to restore it.

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So, after Brussels, we stopped over in Istanbul for 4 days for a quick mini-vacation.  We (and my wife especially) have always wanted to visit Istanbul and since we are flying Turkish Airlines, it was a no brainer to stop over.

We stayed at the Neorion hotel, which is a highly rated boutique hotel in Sirkeci, which is an area of the old city.  The location couldn’t be better as we were no further than a 15-20 minute walk from all the attractions.  The hotel itself is new and the level of service, rooms, freebies, and that roof top deck… yes, that beautiful roof top deck with the sunset view of the city is a great bonus.

So, we arrived around Noon on a Thursday and got into our room.  We then went out to see our first sight, the Basilica Cistern.

The Basilica Cistern is well, a cistern… which back then is used to store water.  This cistern is named as such because it was built from a converted Basilica that was built by Emperor Constantine that sat on top of the First Hill of Constantinople.  This particular cistern is the largest of several hundred located in Istanbul and built in the 6th century by Justinian I.

Enough history lessons… just enjoy the pics.

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More Brussels pics!

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Ok.  Yeah, I’ve been missing in action for a little while.  Will try to post about the Brussels/Istanbul trip.  I’ve been just so tired since getting back from Istanbul and then I’ve been getting some sort of allergy reaction since Istanbul (I’m thinking due to all the pistachios and nuts that I ate there) where I’m getting a bit of recurring hives for the past 1.5 half weeks.  Getting better though.

So, Brussels…. I posted a bit before from my phone and it’s a very walkable city.  As for sightseeing… probably not a whole lot to cover 4 days, but I managed to hit a Art museum to see the Rene Magritte exhibit on the last full day by myself and also toured the old underground archaeology site of the old palace (The Coudenberg).  So, this next couple posts just contains the photos from that day as I walked about Brussels.

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Saturday in Macau - The next day, we hopped on a free shuttle and headed to the historic center of Macau which as a whole is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The main point is to check out the architecture, Portuguese influences, Senado Square, and the ruins of Saint Paul.  The square is quite beautiful and festive with all the tourists, shoppers milling around and all the buildings look great.  Walking up to the ruins of Saint Paul, which my wife described to me as one of the few things she remembered when visiting Macau with her family as a kid… ‘only the facade is left’.  She was not kidding.  Literally, only the outer front facade of the church is left and it is quite beautiful.  We checked out the grounds and the little museum and excavation exhibits… we climbed up to the upper section of the facade and looked at the city of Macau from there.  Caught the gawdy looking Grand Lisboa in one of the shots!

It was really hot at this point so, we did stop to take a break and get a bite to eat… which will be posted next!

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