Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday at Sensoji Temple

The Grand Kaminarimon Gate

Learning to navigate around Tokyo using the subway system was a liberating experience. I could explore with no qualms of getting lost in this mega city. The possibilities were endless. Except for the fact that I would get tired sooner rather than later because I was trying to do too much in one day. In the morning I strolled up and down Omotesando, shopping for gifts at Oriental Bazaar and checking out the Hiroshige exhibition at the Ota Memorial Museum of Art. Refreshed and rested after a big lunch, I took the subway across town to Asakusa to see Sensoji Temple once more.

Nakamise Street

Sensoji Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo, dating back to 628.  The Grand Kaminarimon Gate leads visitors to temple grounds. This is a favorite spot for meeting friends or photo ops with the massive red lantern in the background. Nakamise Street extends 250 meters from the gate to the temple. It is lined on each side with tempting stores but on this Sunday, it was impossibly crowded and I could only move to the flow of the crowd.


I took the side alleys to avoid the crowds and was surprised to see this rickshaw driver and delighted to have a photo of this woman in her beautiful kimono.


Here's the fountain from where the worshipper cleanses himself/herself before going to the temple.  In the central courtyard is the censer where people gather to draw the smoke emanating from the burner and rubbing it on their bodies to get rid of stress and prepare the mind for worshipping in peace.


In an area beside the temple, I found a peaceful spot to commune with Buddha.


This quote from Buddha hits the mark. It says so much about our personal journeys in life.
"You are far from the end of your journey.
The way is not in the sky.
The way is in the heart.
See how you love."

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Images by Charie

Sunday, January 23, 2011

2010 Travel Highlights

Zion National Park, Utah

      Poulnabrone, Western Ireland                                                         City Center, Las Vegas

In 2010 I traveled to (what for me) were uncharted territories like Western Ireland, El Nido Resorts, Palawan, and Zion National Park. I was awed by the incredible natural scenery of these places. In Roxas City, I was moved by the schoolchildren at Conrado Barrios Elementary School who were wonderfully responsive during our impromptu Q&A and how happy they were with the prizes they received for giving the correct answer to our math and history questions. We marveled at the works of art at the Aria Hotel and City Center in Las Vegas. In Tokyo, I learned to go around town by using the subway system and it felt terrific to explore confidently and have no worries about getting lost in this mega city. And in Ko Olina and Lake Tahoe, I understood what it means to slow down and take notice of the beauty and serenity of my surroundings. What a fun and memorable year 2010 was! Looking forward to more discoveries in 2011 and making new friends where my travels take me.

   Ko Olina Resort, Oahu, Hawaii                                       Conrado Barrios Memorial School students


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Images by Charie  


Saturday, January 08, 2011

Travel Destinations for 2011

El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

The lists are out and the hot spots for 2011 have been picked by Lonely Planet, Frommer's, The New York Times and National Geographic Traveler. Are there any places you'd like to see in 2011 from these lists?

Lonely Planet 10 Best Value Destinations for 2011
LP put together this list of places where the traveler's dinero can go a long way: Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Washington D.C., Paris, Namibia, Philippines, Argentina, Naples, Ukraine, and Syria. 
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/bangladesh/travel-tips-and-articles/76216?affil=fb-fan

Frommer's Top Destinations for 2011

Cliffs of Moher, Western Ireland

Frommer's authors and editors picked these winners as their top destinations for 2011: Rio de Janeiro, Santiago in Chile, Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica's Caribbean coast, Taipei, Hokkaido, Ponza and the Pontine Islands in Italy, Kent Coast in England, Stockholm, Doha, Cesme Peninsula in Turkey, Atlanta, Nahanni National Park in Canada. This year's Reader Favorite is Ireland. And mine too. It's such a beautiful country with so much to offer and the people are warm and friendly. 
http://www.frommers.com/micro/2010/top-destinations-2011/index.html

The New York Times 41 Places to Go in 2011

Oahu is #13 on NY Times 41 Places to Go in 2011

You can go far and wide with this list. Here are the top 10: Santiago Chile, San Juan Islands Washington, Iceland, Milan, Republic of Georgia, London, Loreto Mexico, Park City Utah and Cali Colombia. For the other 31, follow this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/travel/09where-to-go.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=homepage&src=me

National Geographic Traveler 20 Best Trips of 2011

Palawan, Philippines

Here are the picks of the editors of National Geographic Traveler: Ulaanbaatar Mongolia, Plitvice Lakes Croatia, Sardinia, Tasmania, Fjord Norway, Uruguay, Shimla India, Messinia Region Greece, Dominica, Namibia, Laos, Kodiak Island Alaska, Scottish Highlands, Tunisia, Palawan Philippines, Black Sea Coast Crimea, Gaspé Peninsula Quebec, Shikoku Japan, Papua New Guinea, Kurdistan, Iraq.
http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/best-trips-2011-photos/#/20-ulaanbaatar-mongolia-gandan-monastery_30422_600x450.jpg

Common Denominators:
Palawan, Philippines is the choice of the editors of National Geographic Traveler and a Lonely Planet Value Destination.
Santiago, Chile appears on both the Frommer's and NY Times lists.
Namibia is a favorite of both Lonely Planet and National Geographic Traveler.
Kurdistan, Iraq was picked by both NY Times and National Geographic Traveler.

What's your favorite? Where do you plan to travel in 2011? Send me your comments please.

Happy travels!

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Images by Charie