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Newport in May


It is always too difficult to book a room in Newport, Rhode Island. It is just way too popular even on off season. While we are now looking forward to warm weather in the East Coast, it takes a while till it gets warm in the New England States. Places like Newport that is close to the water takes way more longer because of the wind chill factor.


Fleet Week - USS Lassen

Fleet week is one of my favorite traditions during Memorial Day weekend. It is a weeklong event that starts with a line of visiting military ships that cruise over the Hudson River. You are allowed to visit these ships through a guided tour.

This year, we decided to head over to Staten Island, New York to visit the guided missile destroyer, USS Lassen. It was first commissioned in 1991 and was among the largest and heavily armed destroyers ever built.


Seen at Gyeongbokgung Palace


The Gyeongbokgung Palace was originally built in 1395, it was the royal palace and center of government during the Joseon Dynasty. It was destroyed by the Imjin War and was abandoned for two centuries. Later it was restored to its original design that incorporated the traditions of the Joseon era.


Gwanghamun gate. I have been here a couple of times but it felt like seeing this place with fresh eyes. I forgot how magnificent this place was.


Our Last Full Day in Seoul

It is our last day in Seoul, we had enough exploring and now its time for more serious stuff like shopping. Usually, I don't like to do a lot of going back and forth as I want to save my energy and focus the task at hand-- shopping for the kids.

Today we went around in the morning in Itaewon, Namdaemun in the afternoon and dinner in Noryangjin.

Itaewon


We stumbled upon this large store in Itaewon. It is a store full of cartoons called the Line Friends with merchandise. There were giant stuff toys. It's like a wonderland chock full of cuteness. I saw a recent billboard in Times Square, New York, I assume they would open a store here soon.


Trip to Gyeongju


Before the Joseon dynasty, there was once an ancient kingdom referred to as Silla. It was composed of three kingdoms that unified the Korean peninsula. Gyeongju was its capital and it became one of the prosperous and wealthy city of its era. Political instability had contributed to its decline until it was succeeded by the Goryeo dynasty.


There were two options on travelling from Busan to Gyeongju, it is a choice between bus or train. You can easily catch the train from the Busan Train Station and the bus from the Bus station one subway stop from Beomeosa. If you ask me, it is better to take the bus since the bus station in Gyeongju is in the middle of town compared to the train station which is located on the outskirts. If you count local traffic, it is another 45 minutes of travel time.

After we got off the bus station, we are all hungry and would like to start our second leg of our trip with a full belly before heading back to Seoul. We chose this non-descript place that serve the usual Korean food. We ordered a simple Seafood Pancake and Tofu Stew. But while we are waiting for our main meal, here is the ban chan (side dishes) spread they provided us. This is local food at its best.


Beomeosa Temple

Beomeosa Temple means the temple of heavenly fish. It is said that a gold fish came from the sky and settled on the well on top of Mount Geumjeongsan.


The original temple was built 1,300 years ago until it was lost during the Japanese invasion in 1592. It was renovated in 1713 and became one of the most delicate architectures in the Joseon era.


Trip to Busan


Busan is South Korea's second largest city. You would have heard this name from popular movie such as Train to Busan, it was also on the list of New York Times' 52 Places to Go in 2017 (it is number 48 on the list).

While Seoul is a bustling metropolis with people in suits, in Busan it is the largest industrial area and at first glance it is mostly blue collar. It has now gone through a renaissance and it has established itself as a creative and international center for hosting sports tournaments and events like the Annual Busan Film Festival.


Second Day in Seoul

It is our second day in Seoul. The night before we were so tired that we did not even finished the baseball game in Jamsil Stadium. We slept early but woke up at 3 am and so hungry that we can't even go back to sleep. Instead of fighting the urge, we went outside the hotel where there was a 24 hour restaurant. It turned out that this will be our breakfast routine for the next couple of days.


This was our first breakfast in Seoul. One thing about this city that there is always a place to eat round the clock. You would never get hungry in Seoul. I am  beginning to love this city a little more.


Temple Food - Balwoo Gongyang

For our trip in Seoul, I made sure that our itinerary were more focused on new experiences. I have always admired travel shows where they show you how to prepare Buddhist temple food from scratch. They seem to be pain staking since they made it by hand and no short cuts.

All reviews for Balwoo Gongyang seem consistent. They were all good and well recommended. It is walking distance on the main Insadong area. Convenient enough that we booked lunch reservations earlier through email. They were accommodating and had us on the list on the day and time we wanted.



Our DMZ Tour




The DMZ tour was something that I skipped the last time when I was in South Korea. I know it would be on my list on my next visit.

We were picked up at the hotel lobby and the car dropped us off on the meeting place where the bus (a brand new one!) was waiting for the rest of the tour group.

Once were off the road, the tour guide gave us an insight and history of Korean history and the creation of DMZ (De Militarized Zone). She had us fill out our name and information on the list to get permission to enter the zone. You also need to bring your passport.


Baseball in Seoul


I didn't even know what to expect on a South Korean baseball game. It turns out that the experience isn't any different from ANY game but it is geared to entertainment and much more.


We head our way to buy tickets. It was on a Friday afternoon and an hour before the game starts. The ticket window is right in front of the subway entrance, it was hard to miss as people line up for tickets. There were a handful of vendors selling foods such as chicken, beer and snacks. Apparently, you are allowed to bring your own food inside the stadium.


Franciscan Monastery, Washington DC

Tucked in a quiet neighborhood in Washington DC is a Romanesque monastery. Completed in 1899, the Mount St. Sepulchre has 15 chapels and has grounds that were replicas of the Lourdes Grotto and various shrines of the Holy Land.



Urbanspace Vanderbilt NYC



Random Photo: Colonial Williamsburg Christmas


There is a subtle elegance on how Colonial Williamsburg is decorated during the holidays. It is spare and always items that where you find nature. It teaches you to be festive without overdoing it.

New York Times Travel Show 2017

The New York Times travel show is the gold standard in the travel industry. You would be able to come across all travel related companies here from tour companies, cruise lines and countries that promotes tourism would have a booth here. The main floor had all the travel pavilion which were grouped by Continents then the tour companies and cruise lines. Downstairs were the seminar rooms, book store and book signing booths.




Random Photo: In the Berkshires


Seen on the grounds of the Mount in Lenox, Massachusetts. Worst time to see them during summer at dawn when the mosquitos start to buzz over your head.

Random Photos: Deep fried Pickles



Nothing can be more addicting than fried pickles. We bought one to try and bought some more. Madison is crazy on eating anything pickled.

Fleet Week - New York City

Fleet week is a time honored tradition where New York City and its surrounding areas would have the opportunity to meet the men and women of the Navy, Marines and Coast Guards. You would see them walk around Times Square in uniform. It is a sight that never fails to put a smile on my face. It is also an indication that Memorial Day is coming soon and it is the unofficial start of summer (or at least you know it is coming soon).

This year we decided to go to Staten Island and line up to see the participating ships this year. We head up to downtown New York to catch the ferry to Staten Island. The ferry trip often gets skipped by the tourists to New York City. It is free and one of the best way to see the Downtown New York from the water and the Statue of Liberty, even from afar.

Diamond Head - Oahu, Hawaii

e on a roll in terms of hiking. The guidebook states that it is a challenging hike due to the stairs but the reward would be spectacular 360 degree views. Sounds good. We decided to go first thing in the morning, we heard that it can get crowded and parking is limited.


Halfway through the hike, we can now feel the sun bearing on us. We were rewarded with this view.

KCC Farmer's Market - Oahu, Hawaii

Another wish crossed off on our list. Farmer's Market is usually set up on a weekend morning. And since we are on limited time in Oahu, we ended skipping this adventure. I am glad we were finally able to visit one.

The KCC (Kapiolani Community College) Farmer's Market is organized by the Hawaii Farm Bureau which was originally started by a group of local farmers to promote and advocate the locally grown commodities.

We started our day early and was able to get a close parking spot. Then it started to rain.