Jamaica parasites

Jamaica has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and I fell in love with one of them: the seven mile beach in Negril.

Jamaica

The sand is powdery, there are long stretches of it (5 miles I am told!) and the slope into the ocean is gentle and slow. Waves for surfing are not my thing as I like soft rocking motions of the ocean as opposed to strong and rough. Here in this area of Negril, the waves are my idea of perfection: gently rolling into shore.

People watching is great fun and there is no lack of opportunity here.

Jamaica Jamaica

There is a constant to and fro of fruit vendors, musicians and sellers of everything from aloes stems to cooked lobster. You can go parasailing, horseback riding and kayaking just by raising your arm and asking for the desired service.Jamaica Jamaica

 Jamaica Jamaica

 There are a few little shops on the beach selling the usual beach wear and a few bars and snack areas. In short, there are the usual accessories of any island paradise….plus peacocks!

Jamaica Jamaica

I managed to get an extra, unwanted, souvenir from Jamaica: a parasite in the foot. 

Jamaica

my “before” feet

This showed up a few weeks after my return home. It started with an itchy plaque on the sole of one foot. I saw a doctor at an emergency clinic who was not quite sure what it was and who prescribed a multi purpose cream. Nothing went away. As a matter of fact, the itchiness got worse and it was driving me crazy. A week or so later, I saw a bizarre pattern on the side of my foot. Red lines punctuated by little red dots had travelled up the side of my foot. Another line was making its way around the back of my ankle. Being more than a little squeamish, I panicked. I emailed a friend who is a doctor and asked if she wanted me to send her a picture of my foot.  So, armed with her permission, I took pictures of my disgusting foot and sent them to her.(I am not posting them here!)

She identified what it was and immediately asked me to go in to her clinic to show this to her medical students. I was happy to be a part of their education(thank goodness it was on my foot and not elsewhere!… I may not have been so compliant.) The verdict: larva migrans, a worm picked up in moist, cool sand.

To make a long story short, I ended up at the J.D.MacLean Centre for Tropical Diseases at McGill University(Montreal), where they treated it with pills taken over two days. This treatment kills all of the worms and the larvae. Goodbye itchy buggies.

The lines, however, took a few months to disappear. What did come back quickly was a good night’s sleep, without imagining creepy crawlies in my body.

Now, I am trying to find a closed alternative to flip flops to go to the beach, other than galoshes! Ideas anyone?

Please note that:

*** These exist in many tropical beaches, not only Jamaica.

***The advice is to not go barefoot in the moist shady areas of the beach and do not sit down on the sand in those areas(even with a beach towel) because they can crawl elsewhere than on the foot.

©bbunce

I have included links with information you may like to read. Be forewarned: content is for mature, and not squeamish, readers only.

Definition: Cutaneous larvae migrans is a parasitic skin disease caused by a hookworm larvae that usually infests dogs, cats, and other animals. Humans can pick up the infection by walking barefoot on soil or beaches contaminated with animal feces.
Description: Cutaneous larvae migrans (also called “creeping eruption” or “ground itch”) is found in southeastern and Gulf states, and in tropical developing countries.
The hookworms that cause the condition are small, round blood-sucking worms that infest about 700 million people around the world. Cutaneous larvae migrans occurs most often among children, those who crawl beneath raised buildings, and sunbathers who lie down on wet sand contaminated with hookworm larvae.http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/cutaneous+larva+migrans

http://adc.bmj.com/content/90/10/998.full

http://www.smn-news.com/st-maarten-st-martin-news/12418-parasitic-worms-affecting-beach-goers-simpson-bay.html

 

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Nagasaki sushi

When my Nagasaki host suggested we go to a sushi restaurant, I was quick to accept. I love sushi and Japan is the best place to enjoy it.

Nagasaki One special type of sushi restaurant is the “conveyor belt”type. This is not the usual sit at a counter facing a conveyor belt. This type of sushi fast food has booths and options of choosing your sushi either from a conveyor belt or using the computer menu at your booth.

NagasakiIt is an almost totally automated experience, innovative and great fun. At the table, you have cups, powdered green tea and hot water to make your own tea.

Nagasaki

This restaurant had 2 tracks of conveyor belts. The lower one has ready made choices rolling by and you can just take what suits your fancy. The upper track, contains specific orders. If you order from the computerized menu at your booth, Nagasaki

a short while later, your choices will come along the track and stop at your table. You pick it up and start enjoying.

nagasaki  Nagasaki And, yes, the top track in this picture has ice cream sundaes. We all enjoy dessert! 

Another great innovation is a drop chute for the dirty dishes. You slide the plates or bowls into the chutes where, somehow, your order is calculated. I wish I could have one of these magic chutes in my kitchen to make dirty dishes disappear.

Nagasaki

You do eventually meet with a person to recieve and pay for your food! Then, we were given a cute bauble Nagasaki

to attach to a phone or purse or keychain. I keep it on my purse to remind me of my delightful Nagasaki experience. Thanks, YuYoung!

 There are several chains of conveyor belt sushi restaurants one of which is: Kura-Zushi. If you are visiting just ask for fast food sushi, or conveyor belt sushi. And, by the way, I had some light and crispy tempura shrimp also. It was a great feast! 

Here is a link to a YouTube video about how to order and use this type of restaurant. It is not exactly the same configuration as the place I went to but very similar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Up9EHTKWoNQ

Here is another link showing the history and growth of conveyor belt sushi restaurants in Japan.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNbTNl2q4Qc

©bbunce

 

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Seoul-food-2

Seoul is a vibrant city with a seamless blend of the old and new. Seoul Korea 

Seoul is also a great city for food.  In my last post I talked about the food carts in the Myeongdong district. There are food carts in many parts of Seoul so you can enjoy eating and shopping non-stop just about anywhere in the city.

Seoul, Korea 

If you want to realx with a spectacular sit-down experience, I suggest the Monastic cuisine of Barugongyang.

Seoul, Korea Seoul, Korea

This restaurant, also called Balwoo Gongyang, is located at the Templestay head office not far from the Insadong area and in front of the Jogyesa temple. It is by reservation only. It is worth the effort to make the call. The restaurant is a small, Zen-like area on the fifth floor of the buidling and includes traditional rooms or western style tables.

Seoul Korea I had no idea what to expect when my friend told me she was bringing me to a vegetarian restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised. Everything was laid out with care, with simple beauty.

Seoul Korea

Be prepared;bring your appetite because this is a 10, 12 or 15 service meal. We chose the 10 service meal and it was more than enough. It is one of the most fabulous vegetarian meals I have ever eaten.(I did not know it at the time but it was followed by another such meal in Nagasaki the following week!I’ll write about that in another post.)

This is a photo of the menu. The menu is available in English but many of the vegetables were unknown to me. I gave up on names and just concentrated on flavour.(Double click on the picture to see an enlarged view. It is fun to try and recognize the food names.)

Seoul Korea

We began the meal with rice gruel. It was simple and tasty, a nice way to open the meal.

Seoul Korea 

The  successive services continued. I should warn you that each service can mean 3 to 8 or more dishes. It is not just one plate or bowl. I could not believe the variey of food that the woman serving us kept bringing to the table. And everything was unique. Nothing too spicy, nothing bland. This meal was a perfect blend of flavours. Seoul Korea

One of the serving dishes, in the picture below, was a beautiful wooden bowl with a large wooden ladle. I wanted to buy the set but there were none available for sale. I afterwards searched the shops but I didn’t find one. If you know where I can find one, let me know.Seoul Korea And, then came desset, a simple pudding with fruit pieces.It was a perfect finish to a perfect meal. I will never forget this event, for it was more than a meal. It was a view into the monastic culture and way of life.

Seoul Korea

If you want to read more about  BaruGongyang, follow the links below.

http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=1645832
http://seoulfullife.blogspot.ca/2010/04/vegetarian-feast-at-baru.html
 
© bbunce

 

 

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Seoul food

I love Seoul. It is a busy, vibrant city with lots to see, do and visit. I love the Bukchon Hanok Village with its narrow streets and sloped-roof houses,Seoul Bukchon Hanok Seoul Bukchon Hanok

To enlarge any picture just double click on it.

I love the Insadong area for traditional arts and crafts and the endless shopping possibilities from mega stores to designer stores to areas filled with small shops and street vendors. One of my favourite areas is Myeongdong.

Seoul Myeong-dong

There is something here for everyone and at a reasonable price. The Koreans are very style and beauty conscious and this is reflected in the many beauty shops and fashion shops.

 Seoul Myeongdong

Best of all, Seoul offers so many options for food lovers. If you are a shop-till-you-drop kind of shopper, a great alternative to a sit-down restaurant is to pick your meal from the numerous food carts.

Seoul Myeongdong Seoul Korea Seoul Korea 

In Myeongdong, an area of about 4 by 8 city blocks, there must be 20 or more food carts. They are pushed in at around 4p.m., many lining up in the middle of the main pedestrian street, hooking their electrical cords into the store outlets on either side of the walk area. I never saw anyone trip on one of these meandering wires and I did not want to be the first, so I took great care.Seoul Korea

Most of the carts sell fried foods. Right on their cart, in the middle of the hustle and bustle, are the hot griddles and the large open pans of hot oil, with the cook dipping in meats and other foodstuffs. To my mind, this is another accident waiting to happen, but no one seems as nervous as I am. Everyone is eating, walking around with skewers in hand, munching on snacks, appetisers or dinner. I must be an accident control freak because I saw this as another posible accident: skewers left and right as shoppers dip left and right. Thankfully, everything runs smoothly and everyone enjoys their tasty tidbit.

Seoul Korea Seoul Korea  Seoul Korea Seoul Korea Seoul Korea 

A few carts had healtheir choices such as the one with crepes and Nutella, a reminder of Paris, and one had dipped strawberries. The strawberries were yummy. Very sweet.

Seoul Korea Seoul Korea

Next to the food carts was a stand that sold clothes for your favourite friend…real or stuffed!Seoul Korea

see  also:
http://discoveringkorea.com/081028/seoul-bukchon-hanok-village/
http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SH/SH_EN_7_4.jsp?cid=527734

 

 ©bbunce

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Japan hot springs

Japan Unzen hot springsUnzen, Japan, has a spectacular, winding trail through a series of hot springs up the side of a volcano. It is an awesome walk through(on a path) these hot springs up the gentle slope of the mountain. I gasped at the beauty of it all the way. The walkway is made either of wooden slats or stone and gravel with lookout points at strategic places.

Japan Unzen hot springs  Japan Unzen Hot Springs

There are signposts warning not to touch the scalding water. As you pass by the smokier areas, try not to breath in…the sulphur smell is awful.

Japan Unzen Hot Springs  Japan Unzen Hot Springs

The path leads through the lush forest as you go from one hot spot to another. It is breathtaking, in more ways than one.

Japan Hot Springs  Japan Hot Springs

HONGKONG camera 596  HONGKONG camera 604 Unzen Japan  japan Unzen

This marvel is on the island of Kyushu, just a few hours drive from Nagasaki. The drive takes you through magnificent forests of pine and cedar and young bamboo, in the Unzen Amakusa National Park, one of the first national parks in Japan. On the way, we stopped at the town of Obama Onsen(hot springs), a town, established in the year of 713 as a hot spring resort. It has a hot spring in the town center with pots where you can cook your own food or buy some eggs and make yourself a snack. It also has the “Hot Foot 105“, at 105 meters the longest hot spring water footbath. The foot soaking(ashiyu) is along an ocean view promenade beside Tachibana Bay. There are also hotels with ensuite hot spring baths.

obama Onsen japan  Obama onsen

obama onsen japan Obama onsen

If hot water is not your cup of tea, but you do like a hot cup of tea,

try the beguiling pastry shop next to the square. It has yummy pastries Obama onsen, Japan

with an upstairs terrace with tables and a view to admire for hours.

obama Onsen

©bbunce

 

 

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Hong-Kong-Food

It is not easy to find a place to eat in Hong Kong.

Peninsula Hotel HK

Peninsula Hotel HK

I’m sure there are numerous excellent restaurants but most restaurants are not open to the sidewalks. By that I mean that the entrance is not visible. Often there is just a sign on a placard and an arrow leading up a few flights of stairs or down a narrow alley way. I don’t like to wander off the main drag when I am alone, so that makes finding a place difficult. On my first night in Hong Kong, I had dinner at one of  the hotel specialty restaurants: the Chinese dining room. It was noodles with nuts and mixed mushrooms. Simple and simply delicious. This plate, with Perrier water and dessert cost me 183.60 HK$. That is approximately 26 US$,(divide by 7) which I consider reasonable for this healthy meal.HONGKONG camera 007

Whenever I was going out later in the day, I would have a simple soup, sandwich and tea ”special” in the hotel lounge. The price was 96.80HK$.

I always travel with breakfast included and this is a great way to ensure starting the day off with a good, hearty meal. The breakfast at the Kimberley Hotel was varied and included eggs, ham, breads and pastries and fruit as well as Asian dishes. I tried congee,(cooked rice ceral) and liked it well enough. A hotel buffet is also a free and easy way to try new dishes.

HONGKONG camera 192

Luckily, several of my meals were included in group day trips I took. One tour was to Lantau island and lunch was at the Po Lin monastery. It was vegetarian, of course, and full of flavour. The group at my table went at the food so quickly that by the time I took a picture, half was gone. This is a good sign.

Hong Kong    HONGKONG camera 249

I also don’t like to go out alone at night so I will often have my larger meal at lunch time. It is also cheaper to eat in nicer places at midday. One day I went walking in downtown Hong Kong Island and had lunch at the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel: crab soup, pasta Bolognese, bread and tea. The decor was sleek and modern, a contrast with the traditional Asian decors often seen.

 

The price was approximately 24US$.Hong Kong

Another wonderful midday treat I had was High Tea at the Peninsula Hotel. Yes, there is always a lineup because they only take reservations for the overnight guests, but you are serenaded by a string quartet and there is lots to look at. It is a stunning lobby, very Victorian looking. It is not cheap at 400HK$ but it is a meal and an event all rolled into one. On the tray are delicious little cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon on cream cheese, prosciutto and a mini vol au vent. Then, the second layer on the tray has the wonderful scones, with cream and jam. If you have room for more food, there are 4 delightful little cakes on the top tier. Eat slowly, sip slowly and savour the food, the moment and the tea.

HONGKONG camera 191      021HONGKONG camera 189      HONGKONG camera 188

On my guided visit to Happy Valley and the Hong Kong Jockey Club, dinner was included in the price. It was a huge buffet with food choices ranging from roast beef to fresh fish delicacies. The dining rooms are for small groups with sliding glass doors opening onto the private balconies overlooking the track. It was magical, with the high rises in the background and the lights shining on the race. If you go to Hong Kong, don’t miss it.HONGKONG camera 105 HONGKONG camera 114

Another of my favourite meals was at the Dim Sum Restaurant at the Golden Mile Holiday Inn. I had read a good review and the hotel was within walking distance, so I decided to have a look. Again, the restaurant is not visible from the street. Walk into the entrance of the Holiday Inn, go down the escalators to the basement and walk to the end of the corridor. There it is. I thought is would be deserted but it was bustling with the noon hour crowd of well heeled ladies and lots of businessmen. I was lucky to have a nice table off to the side. The waiter suggested the combo plate and I took his advice and sipped tea and ate peanuts while I waited. I soon had a plate with four beautiful, fresh dim sum. The fillings were abalone, shrimp, lobster and vegetarian. One dim sum had gold shavings on top. .This is supposed to bring me good fortune for the New Year. The price was 168HK$.

Hong Kong Dim Sum The one on the right facing you has the gold flecks. They had no particular taste but I hope they bring me particularly good luck.

©bbunce

 

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Hong-Kong

Hong Kong was all that I thought it would be: high rises everywhere,noisy and crowded.

feb2014 037   HONGKONG camera 083

I expected the towering skyscrapers. I was certain Hong Kong would be a busy city. What did surprise me was how clean Hong Kong is. There are street cleaners everywhere. imageFood and beverages are forbidden in the Hong Kong Metro system. I did not notice people walking on the streets with coffee cups or donuts in their hands. This would actually be dangerous because of the large crowds. I was there during the week of Chinese New Year, so the crowds were thick, and everywhere. These were the crowds waiting in line, at either end, for the Victoria Peak Tram. I was disappointed in that ride. The trees are so overgrown, there is not much to see. And, if you get a foggy or rainy day like I did, there is even less to see., other than the crowds.HONGKONG camera 032

HONGKONG camera 038 HONGKONG camera 045

Nathan Avenue, in Kowloon, is a shopping paradise. There are designer stores for purses, shoes and jewellery amidst hawkers for fake Rolexes and handmade suits! The jewellery store windows are golden,showy and extravagent. There are approximately 3 such stores for every block, on either side of the street. It is too lavish to believe. And every store was filled with buying customers.

HONGKONG camera 381HONGKONG camera 382

It is not the only place to shop, though, as it seems Hong Kong is based on either huge upscale malls or junk outdoor markets. Harbour City is a multi-level building with 450 shops, mostly designer. There are also 3 hotels, 50 restaurants and 2 cinemas. http://www.discoverhongkong.com/us/shop/where-to-shop/malls-and-department-stores/harbour-city.jsp#  I went at the beginning of February and the entrance was decked out in hearts and pink balloons. It was pretty and exhuberant, a nice touch in such a large city.

HONGKONG camera 186 HONGKONG camera 183

If you want to get away from shopping, I suggest having high tea at the Peninsula Hotel. http://hongkong.peninsula.com/en/default

Tea is served in the beautiful lobby, with a string quartet playing in the balcony. They don’t take reservations unless you are a guest, so you have to queue. The line is indoors, but there is music to listen to and ornate ceiling to examine while you wait. HONGKONG camera 188It is an oasis of calm and the sandwiches, scones and cakes will substitute for dinner. Worth the wait and the cost.

HONGKONG camera 187   021

HONGKONG camera 191 It was nice to sip my tea and dream of colonial times, with neither shops nor hawkers. I eyed my new jade ring as I lifted a sandwich to my lips. I should buy earrings to match, I thought.

©bbunce2014

 

 

 

 

 

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Amsterdam

Five things to do in Amsterdam:

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Amsterdam is a “wander around” type of city, with streets intercepting canals and one district following another on the other side of any given bridge.

0068_IMG_1195  0122_DSC05819

I would love to go back to Amsterdam for a few weeks to take the time to do this, slowly, instead of rushing from point A to point B. Unfortunately, most of you are like me, with limited travel time and a desire to squeeze as much as possible into a short time frame. So, if you have just a few days in Amsterdam, here are my ideas of special places to visit.

1. Museum place:

 0119_DSC05822

Museum Place is a large green space spanning several city blocks, with an outdoor area for concerts, paths for cycling and walking and lawns for picnics. At one end is the national museum, the Rijksmuseum (with a large collection of the old masters), the Van Gogh musuem, the Stedelijk museum and the Concertgebouw(concert hall). I advise you to make reservations for the museums ahead of time as there are always large lineups. It is easy to do online. http://collector.amsterdam.ticketbar.eu/en/

0072_IMG_1191This is the amazing Rijksmuseum. Plan to spend a good half day or more. The luncheon area is small so either be patient or find a small café outside of the museum.

2. Flower markets:

0055_IMG_1212Tulips are symbolic  of Holland but these are not the only flowers around. Stores and outdoor markets of all kinds feature an overwhelming abundance of blooms. The most impressive is the Floating Flower market and I’m sorry to say that I missed it. However, there are numerous places with flowers and tulips galore. You can even buy bulbs and seeds to bring home. Here is a link to the many markets available: http://www.amsterdam.info/markets/

3. Red Light District: This area is not particularly  interesting except for the obvious reasons: the numerous girls posing in the windows. I went with a guide, thinking it might be dangerous but it is completely safe during the day. I don’t know about night-time atmosphere and safety.

This “window-shopping” area is made up of several small pedestrian streets, almost alleyways, lined with small buildings each having one large window and one door at street level. The girls pose in the windows dressed in their skimpiest lingerie. When I was there, some girls flirted with the pedestrians; some looked pretty bored. What surprised me was that 2 girls had the same outfit on; I think I was the only one who noticed or cared.  So much for fashion originality!

Those interested, in the girl not the lingerie, stop, look and approach the door. I suppose there is some sort of negotiation that goes on and then, the customer goes in and the window curtain is pulled. The show is over, at least for the outsiders. By the way, don’t take pictures.

This is Albert, my guide, whom I highly recommend. He is knowledgeable and interesting and is flexible in the type of tour he gives. When he meets you, he asks you what your preferences are.  Private guide:Albert Walet ab4services@gmail.com

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4. Boat excursion:

0129_DSC05812  Amsterdam is a city built around water so the logical way to visit is by boat. There are many boat excursions along the canals and it is impossible to miss an opportunity to take one or two. This overview of Amsterdam from the water is relaxing, efficient and intimate. The houseboats which line several canals are a unique part of the canal city and are now prime pieces of real estate. Some offer bed and breakfast so do a search if this is something that interests you. Here are a few pictures:

0127_DSC05814      0126_DSC05815

Here is a link to more information on the 165 canals of Amsterdam. http://www.iamsterdam.com/en-GB/experience/what-to-do/activities-and-excursions/canal-cruising

5. Apple cake: The best apple cake, or pie, I have ever had was in Amsterdam, at a corner café called Winkel 43. This cake looks like a pie but is piled high like a cake and is served with whipped cream. Delicious is an understatement. Winkel’s is a small place, in a lovely old house, and the turnover is quick, the service efficient. There are indoor and outdoor places to sit and the waiters run back and forth all day. This dessert, or main meal as I called it, is fabulous. Walk or bike to get there as you will have many calories to burn. The bus and tram routes in Amsterdam can get you almost anywhere, and there is a stop not too far from this little gem, so hop on, hop off and walk. There are also plenty of spots for bicycle parking! Check the website for directions. http://www.winkel43.nl/

0053_IMG_1214  0054_IMG_1213

Where to stay: I stayed at a great Bed and Breakfast, “The Collector”, which is on a trolley route and within walking distance to a large grocery store and museumplatz. Breakfast is serve-yourself with an abundance of cheeses, breads, fruit, meats, jams, and fresh eggs from the hens in the backyard. There were fresh flowers in the room everyday! Wonderful place!   http://www.the-collector.nl/

0050_IMG_1218 0134_DSC05807 ©bbunce

 

 

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korean temple stay

I have been looking back on some of my memorable travel times and one of my most challenging and disappointing was my “temple stay” in Korea. A “temple stay” is available at various Buddhist temples throughout Korea. These stays are for Koreans and westerners alike. They are intended as a way to understand Buddhism and a time for meditation and prayer.  When I signed up for a “temple stay”, I had visions of being on a mountaintop, with a view and perhaps a little lake, spending the day walking, reading and meditating. Not so. I was disappointed to find myself in a small compound with chunky gravel in the yards and a view of rooftops and backyards.

Korea temple    Korea Temple

The temple, however, was beautiful, with walls of golden Buddhas, large and small. There was no charge for the stay but there was a box in the temple for a voluntary contribution.

Korea Temple Korea temple

Korea temple  DSC00248

January is cold in Korea and the small heater did not provide me relief. I was too cold to sit on the floor for the meditations so I sat on a bench at the back, wrapping my jacket tightly around me. I was so cold that I could think of nothing else. The dampness went through my coat and mitts and scarf.

Come bedtime, I was shown to the female residence, called the “empty mind house”. I don’t know why it was called like this and whether this was favourable or not and  I didn’t know how to ask. The dorm was simple but I was happy to snuggle on my western style bed under a thick comforter. Books were forbidden but I had snuck one in and read until they clapped for lights out. (I can’t believe that I, a mature adult, did this. But I did. I need a book before bedtime.) My only company was a Korean lady who did not speak English so I went to sleep quickly: no chatting. The school boys in the room next door(often classes are brought here for several days of instruction) laughed and hooted for a while but I fell asleep regardless.

Korea temple  Korea Temple

At 3:30 in the morning, there was a knock on the doors to wake all of the guests for morning prayers and bows. Many bows. I could not move. I ignored the call and slept until I was once more awakened, a few hours later.  I was told that breakfast was ready. I threw on my coat, gathered my bathroom necessities, and walked across the grounds to the shower and toilet house. It was cold and damp but the shower was nice and hot.

Korea Temple

I got ready as quickly as I could and ran to the dining hall. Imagine my embarassement when I saw everyone, including the young boys, sitting quietly waiting for me before they eating. I rushed through the buffet, taking note of the instructions to be sure to take only what I could eat. One must finish the plate of food taken. I sheepishly slinked to my place, sat down and the signal was given for everyone to begin. I was the oldest one there and apparently the least disciplined. My imaginary bubble of this experience had really burst.

After breakfast, I gathered my belongings, and took the shuttle van to the train station. I was disappointed in a way. I had not lived my romantic view of this experience. I did, however, discover a new appreciation for the discipline of these Korean children and adults. If you go, let me know, and we’ll share thoughts.

Here is a link to an article I had written for Transitions magazine. I kept it positive, not wanting to discourage anyone from living this experience.

http://www.transitionsabroad.com/publications/magazine/0611/stay_at_a_south_korean_temple.shtml

©bbunce

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packing

Fighting with luggage is not a pleasant part of a trip. There is an easy remedy: pack light.

380Dubrovnik 2012 150  377DSC05451

The idea of packing light leaves me feeling insecure because I like to have choices. I tremble to think that I might have to wear something by default. But, I had suffered with my heavy suitcase on the steep sidewalk stairs of Dubrovnik and I vowed that this would not happen again.

So, I decided that I would pack light for my next trip.

  • I read blogs
  • I downloaded lists and
  • I examined every piece of clothing for its possible inclusion 

Eventually, I had a carry-on size suitcase, which I checked in because I also had a backpack and a travel purse. A backpack is not very elegant but it does leave your hands free to hold on to escalators, open doors, manipulate documents etc. I could have brought less but I had packed for the possibility of cold weather and it happened to be warm and sunny every day. That’s okay: I was ready.

The first steps to packing light are the 3 steps I took: read, list and examine. There is lots of information in travel books and on the internet. Start there and then apply this information to your own needs.

Next, you have to fix your priorities. Note what you plan to do. Are you going to go out to fancy restaurants? Are you planning to spend your time on the beach? Will you be doing lots of hiking?

Then, take out the appropriate clothing for your trip and lay it out in piles according to tops, bottoms, dresses, sleep and intimate wear. Add a sweater and a jacket and the footwear. This visual will probably tell you that you have too much. SO:

  • Start eliminating.
  • Choose clothing which will dry overnight, which can serve more than one purpose and which you like.
  • The general idea is to have 2 bottoms of each kind, several tops to go with each kind of bottom and 3 underwear/pairs of socks. For women, a few dresses are handy.
  • Pick clothing items which are wrinkle free, which cross match each other and which will be appropriate for your particular trip.
  • Wear the heaviest shoes and clothing for travelling.
  • Cosmetics and personal care items should be  transferred into small containers.
  • Buy travel size of as much as you can.
  • The key word is minimize.
  • Be ruthless.

It really is liberating to have light luggage.  Trains, high shelves, cobblestones and indoor and outdoor steps are no longer enemies. Just remember to leave a little room for souvenirs and the possible perfect buy. No matter how disciplined I am, I know I will fall in love with some Christmas tree ornements or plates or a great blouse. Keep a little wiggle room in your bag. Shopping is, after all, part of the fun!

Here are a few links to sites that are a big help:

http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/pack-light.htm

http://www.onebag.com/

http://theplaidsuitcase.com/packing-tips/vacation-travel-packing-tips.html

 ©barbarabunce
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