Category Archives: Travel

Photo: buying pork products in a majority Muslim country

In many parts of Malaysia, pork and other goods deemed as haram (forbidden) by Islam can be hard to come by, as many places outside of the cities are majority Muslim regions.

In deference to those that are Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, or agnostic/atheist though, stores in these parts of the country often have a dusty shelf towards the back where devilishly delicious pork products and other forbidden goodies can be bought.

Another random fact: these stores have to have at least one person on staff at all times who is not a Muslim to handle these purchases when they are brought to the checkout, as the ones that are are not permitted to even handle these products, much less consume them. Malaysia is a very interesting country to say the least!

Best beaches in the world

Attention beach bums of the world, the three best beaches of 2015 are out! So pack your bathing suits, towels, sunscreen and sunglasses and book those tickets get your summer fun in the sun on.

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Isola Bella Beach in Taormina, Sicily

The town of Taormina is 210 meters above the sea level and below is this amazing little beach and secluded island. If you want to have a quick and easy access to this sandy beach it’s better to look for an apartment in Taormina to rent and avoid staying in the nearby villages: the cable car called funivia connects directly the town of Taormina to Mazzaró. Then you just have to cross the coastal road and walk down the stairway. If you prefer rocky coves or pebbles beaches, picturesque bays or secret grottos, there is something for you along the whole coastline. To the north and the south of Taormina are hundreds of easily-accessible natural wonders on the seaside. All are very easy to reach by car, shuttle bus, or cable car.

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Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica

The island of Jamaica has been a playground for beach bums for centuries. On the western side of the island is the town of Negril and the famous Seven Mile Beach. It is the longest continuous stretch of sand on the island, and at the very end is a majestic lighthouse. You will be in awe at the spectacular rock formations and the breathtaking cliffs that surround the entire stretch of beach. Try snorkeling, kayaking, or a glass bottom boat tour while you’re there.

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Porto Katsiki Beach in Lefkada, Greece

The little island of Lefkada is home to Greece’s most secluded yet magical beach: Porto Katsiki. In the heart of the Ionian Sea lies the beach that was named after goats, because for many centuries only goats could reach it. Now there are trails and even partial motor vehicle access, although the beach is still at the bottom of a concave cliff. It’s seclusion makes it enchanting, and it is definitely worth the 35 km drive from the center of Lefkada town.

Dubai On A Budget

Dubai is known for its luxurious fashion, hotels and nightlife. There are plenty of things to do even if you don’t have a luxurious budget. We’ve curated a list of the top 5 things do when you’re visiting Dubai when you’re trying to save a little cash.

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Abra boat rides across the creek

Dubai’s climate can be a bit unbearable to tourists who aren’t familiar, which is why this first option is not only inexpensive, but it’s also a nice way to cool down while viewing the historic center of Dubai at the Abra Dock. When you get there, you can take this boat for a whopping quarter. That’s right, a full $0.25 for this boat ride that will cool you off as the wind comes off of the water. This boat embarks from Old Souk to several spots along the river including Spice Souk, allowing you to cool down and get familiar with the Arabian banks.

Dinner against the Creek

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(Reference: https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeowatzup/4325886562 )

If you plan on spending your day at the Creek, whether it’s at a store or walking around after your boat ride, you can have an inexpensive meal against the waters of the creek. You can stay cool and watch the city buildings of historic Dubai light up your dinner backdrop. This is a great opportunity to try new cuisine such as Middle Eastern food. There are shish kebabs, vine leaf sarma, lemon with rice, bread with hummus and much, much more. But there are plenty of Islamic customs you want to make sure you follow at dinnertime so you’re not looked down upon.

These customs include:

  • No PDA with your partner while eating in public (you may even get arrested for doing so)
  • Cannot drink with your meal, but they offer “hubbly bubbly” for after your meal
  • Smoking tobacco from a hookah type setup

The Burj Khalifa

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The world famous Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. If you get too close you may not be able to get the entire structure in one photograph for your digital scrapbooks! While it’s not typically easy to get inside the Burj Khalifa, there is an Armani Hotel inside, but you won’t be allowed in without a reservation. If you’re looking to head up to the very high observation deck to see Dubai at it’s highest, you’ll have to pay a whopping 400 Dirhams or $108 bucks.

But thankfully, there’s a cheap way to get into this stunning and exquisite structure. If you book in advance, you can save almost 75% and get a ticket for $34 or 124 Dirhams. At first, you may pass because of the original price, but knowing you can book in advance will allow you to indulge when you’re actually in Dubai by saving so much money!

But that’s not the only exciting thing about the Burj Khalifa. The newest “Mission Impossible” movie was filmed in Dubai and Tom Cruise even sat on top of the needle without any harnesses. As he did this, he was able to overlook Dubai at 2,722 feet above the ground. Tom Cruise performed these stunts directly for the fourth installment of “Mission Impossible”. If you want to binge watch on “Mission Impossible”, you can hit up Netflix before the newest movie comes out. But if you’re planning to watch it in Dubai, you’ll have to unblock it on their Internet due to restrictions.

Karachi Darbar

The Karachi Darbar restaurant is actually a chain of restaurants in Dubai that’s pretty inexpensive but serves delicious cuisines inspired by the traditions and cultures in Dubai. Their eclectic neon signs draw you in for food that has a punch of flavor. Reviews all over the Internet continuously boast about their cheap prices for how good the food is. Some of Karachi Darbar’s more notable foods include Haleem, Roti, Peshawri mutton, Kadai, and Tandoori. If you’re looking to try Middle Eastern food for the first time without burning a hole through your pocket, you may want to stop in at a Karachi Darbar.

Gravity Zone

This destination in Dubai is for the adventurous only. Feel the thrill at Gravity Zone’s “adrenaline sports” location by bungee jumping a whopping 300 feet or roughly 25 stories! Your feet will be tied to the elastic bungee cord system and their guides will calm you down or help push you over the edge (in a good way, of course). There are three types of jumps including the tandem jump, the FAB bungee jump, and the single jump.

Prices vary, but for the basic, single bungee jump, you’ll be looking to pay $98 USD. This is the priciest on our list, but if with all the money you have saved, you’ll have more than enough to take a jump! This location even holds the Guinness World Record title for the most bungee jumps within 24 hours. With the previous record being 105 jumps in 24 hours, a man accomplished 151 jumps in three sections during the 24 hours. While he made the world record jump early in the morning, he decided to go for much more.

Conclusion

(Reference: www.stockvault.net)

Dubai is the heart of fun, culture, and adventure. Two of the five places on our list hold world records including the Burj Khalifa and Gravity Zone. Between the great food and many inexpensive adventures you can go on throughout your day while getting a taste of another culture, there’s no reason to not visit Dubai!

My First Full Year As A Digital Nomad: 2014 In Pictures

photo by CC user 70626035@N00 on Flickr image credit: photo by CC user 70626035@N00 on Flickr

Well, we’re halfway through January, but with all the freelance work I’ve been bashing my way through, this year in review had to wait for awhile.  In many ways, 2014 was defined by the growth of my mobile business, which caused this blog to be neglected at times ( Mama’s been busy, but I still love you all … sorry!).

In true digital nomad fashion though, I managed to get in tons of travel between the ever frequent 12 hour work days (the less glamorous aspect of the trade), starting in Chiang Mai, Thailand on New Year’s Day and progressing through Malaysia, Indonesia, Canada, Mexico and Belize.

I’m currently writing this from Guatemala, which is where I traveled to on New Year’s Day, and looking back over the past year, it was another tumultuous ride. Let’s dive right into yet another 2014 in pictures post, shall we?

January

I began my year in Chiang Mai with one final month on my apartment lease, so I took the opportunity to get out and see parts of the city I hadn’t seen. One of those spots included Warorot Market, a multi-level traditional trading house with everything from hill tribe clothes to weird Thai-Chinese food.

It was at the outer stalls where I picked up the giant blanket and pillow for my bed back in November 2013 … paid 500 baht total (bedding in Thailand is expensive for some reason).

February

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February saw me take to the road again after four months of working to get my business plane off the runway, with the end goal being Bali.  Along the way though, I spent time in Krabi (the awesomeness of Railay Beach cannot be understated) and Koh Lanta before heading to Kuala Lumpur to catch a one-way flight to Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.

In the days before my flight though, I had the chance to have a long-awaited reunion with Paul Phillip, a native Malaysian who I went to college with back in Canada from 1998 to 2003. Tiger beers were had, bowls of Hokkien Mee were greedily consumed, and stories exchanged. Can’t wait to hang out with my old buddy again (next winter maybe?)!

March

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Much of March was spent in Indonesia, but not in Bali.  The second half of February was when I explored that island paradise, leaving most of this month for me to make my way across the densely populated, volcano-studded island of Java.

This place sees a trickle of the foreign tourists that visit Bali, and in cities like Surabaya (pictured above), one can experience the real Indonesia, a place that is rough around the edges, but is still a profoundly rewarding place in which to travel.

April

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Arriving back in Canada in late March via British Columbia, I kicked off my time at home by exploring a corner of this gorgeous province that I had never explored before.  Vancouver Island turned out to be all that and more when it came to sublime beauty, with no place exemplifying this principle more than Tonquin Beach in Tofino.

May

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The rest of April was spent in Alberta catching up with friends and family, and skiing/hiking the slopes of Jasper before returning to the Greater Vancouver Area to take up my first housesit acquired through TrustedHouseSitters.

I spent three weeks caring for Cleo the Cat and Emma the Black Lab in the suburb of Surrey while cheering on my Habs through to the Eastern Conference Final. The arrangement had its challenges at times, but I find myself missing my furry roommates even as I type this.  When I get back to Canada, I will definitely be doing this again!

June

After completing my housesitting assignment ended, I began my eastward journey by checking out Whistler, then after another pet sitting date in Calgary finished up, I set out on an epic 54 hour bus ride to Toronto. You don’t want to know how smelly my feet were after that! 😛

Once I got rested up and showered, it just so happened that Toronto was hosting World Pride … camera in hand and ready for a fabulous time, I snagged an awesome spot on Yonge and watched the festivities unfold…

July

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July saw me finally get home after over two years away from Nova Scotia, and it was for a joyous occasion, as I attended the wedding of my little sister Meghan and her vertically endowed partner, Malcolm. Thanks again for two fun-filled days Meg, and congrats!

August

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Once the wedding was over, I spent a full month reconnecting with family back in the Scotia before I set out to continue my world adventures in Latin America.  On August the 21st, I landed in Mexico City, and had my intense fears surrounding the place shattered in a matter of hours.

Anybody with a modicum of street smarts and common sense will be fine here, and with a wealth of museums, fine architecture and modern attractions, nobody on a extended Mexican trip can afford to skip this place.  Set aside at least four days.

September

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While most of September was spent in balmy Puerto Vallarta, the photographic highlight of September occurred early in the month, as the mountainous colonial gem of Guanajuato stole my heart.  This was the first in a series of oustanding historic towns that I’ve seen on my Latin American journey that you all need to see with your own eyes … stay tuned for posts in the new year on these places!

October

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October was defined by a highly controversial story in Mexico where 43 student protesters (or normalistas) were rounded up my police in one of the poorer parts of the country and disappeared.

It came out later that they had been turned over to the cartels and subsequently murdered, touching off mass demonstrations across the nation, with this wall in San Cristobal de la Casas showing the signs of the public’s anger and discontent.

November

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I settled into Playa Del Carmen for most of November and into early December for both work and pleasure, with my parents joining me in one of Mexico’s best resort towns later in this month for some shared vacation time.

The highlight of our time together was our swim and trek through Rio Secreto, which was an enclosed cenote with some of the purest, most effervescent water I’ve ever seen. For those scared of organized tours, go ahead and give this one a go!

December

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The final month of 2014 had me blissing out in Belize, with my time split between Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker and San Ignacio.  The above pic comes from a breakfast cafe in CC, where the silky breezes of the Caribbean combined with the eye candy to give me a moment of solace in a year where there have been precious few.

Business is hard and can consume your life occasionally, but it beats not having control of your time, and better you get at running your own affairs, the more it becomes possible to do things that just aren’t possible in a 9-5 career.

Tentative plans for 2015

As far as my business is concerned, I have more freelance work than I can handle at times, so the emphasis will be on improving the quality of work that I accept going forward, and freeing time so that I can work on personal business projects that have been on the back burner in my brain for far too long.

I got an idea journal full of potential websites, products, and so forth just waiting to be acted on … I just have to clear enough slots on my dance card to give them the attention they need to take root and grow.

On the travel side of the coin, the goal is Ushuaia, Argentina.  The bottom of the world.  How or when I get there in 2015 is immaterial. If I can gaze towards Antarctica (the trip to the frozen continent will have to wait, as I don’t have $5,000 laying around at the moment) from the rocky shores of the bottom of the civilized world, standing astride with some penguin friends, my journey will be a complete success.

What are you up to in 2015? Tell us all about it below! 

Making A Pilgrimage To The Baebang Buddhist Temple

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While Christianity has a significant presence in Korea, Buddhism also has a large following as well.  On a typical weekend off from teaching in Baebang, I decided to seek out out local temple.  After hiking into the hills above my town through rice and kimchi farms, I finally reached its hallowed grounds. When you are faced with a view like the one displayed above, how could you not build a shrine to your deity of choice?

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Despite arriving at its doorstep on a weekend afternoon, all was quiet. Perfect for a spot of exploration and a rare moment of serenity in a nation as crowded as South Korea…

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Unlike more elaborate inner sanctums that one would find in halls of worship in places like Seoul, Beijing or Bangkok, Baebang has kept things simple, with a small idol of the lord Buddha accompanied by offerings of abundance and sublime style elements.

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One thing I wasn’t able to figure out during my time in this country was the purpose behind altars built in the honor of seemingly prominent Koreans. Not sure who this guy was, but I’m sure he was integral to the building up of this nation, or at least this community.

Ever visit a non-descript temple, church, or mosque that captured your heart?  Let us know below!

Have An Exciting Vacation In Branson, Missouri with the Family This Year

The Thousand Hills Resort

The following is a guest post by Joseff, who is an online publisher for Thousand Hills Golf Resort in Branson, MO. He loves to share tips about the best places to visit in Branson Missouri and outdoor activities like golf, travel and vacations. Hope you all enjoy it! 

Traveling with the family to new places is a nice way to strengthen everyone’s bond. As the family discovers things for the first time, each family member gains new experiences and insights.

These experiences become memories that he or she can share with the rest for a long time. This is why traveling is a good bonding moment for the entire family and it is highly recommended that you plan a trip for your family too.

The Best Place for a Family Getaway

When planning a family getaway, you need to pick a place that is a popular destination for the family. This means, you need to choose a family-friendly destination because this place has everything your family needs including great accommodation, delectable cuisine, amazing attractions, and full of family bonding activities. That is why for this kind of trip, I highly recommend Branson Lodging for your vacation in Branson, Missouri.

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Branson Family Hotels and Resorts

A family getaway begins with a decent accommodation. Branson has hotels, lodges, and resorts that are perfect for the entire family. You can choose from budget-friendly lodges to hotels and resorts with five star ratings.

These establishments have amenities for the entire family. Some of the family friendly hotels and resorts worth noting include Marriot’s Willow Ridge Lodge, Big Cedar Lodge, Savannah House Hotel, and Twelve Oaks Inn.

Branson Attractions

A family getaway is not complete without visiting popular attractions. Branson has several of these amazing attractions for the entire family.

One of Branson’s top attractions is Silver Dollar City. It is a popular theme park filled with awesome rides and spectacular shows that the whole family can enjoy. Wildfire Roller Coaster, Outlaw Run, and Powder Keg are rides perfect for thrill-seekers in your family. There are also historical adventures in SDC such as a tour inside the Marvel Cave, an educational tour at the Hillcreek Pottery, and a look back at the life of Valley Wood Carvers.

Apart from these attractions, the family can also enjoy musical shows prepared by SDC’s in-house performers. This holiday season, these performers are set to play a series of Christmas shows.

Branson’s Family Friendly Entertainment

Branson is known around the world as a true entertainment capital. There are hundreds of theaters operating in the area especially along 76 Country Boulevard. One of the forerunner theaters is the Andy Williams Moon River Theater. It features world class acts from various performers like singers, illusionists, comedians, and actors.

Another show that will surely give your family a wonderful time is Acrobats of China. The show features stunning circus feats performed by professional acrobats and circus performers. The shows are truly jaw dropping and the production is mesmerizing. This is one show that your family will talk about for a very long time.

Branson Cuisine

Apart from wonderful attractions, Branson is also famous for its delectable cuisine. So for your family getaway, you should definitely try various dishes served by famous restaurants and cafes in Branson.

For the whole family, a perfect dining experience would be Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. The restaurant serves authentic southern cuisine. And while the whole family is enjoying their food, performers provide entertainment which involves animals and themes. Performers even include guests in one of their acts.

This is also a good opportunity for the whole family to enjoy meals from around the world. Branson has several restaurants specializing in world cuisine. If you are craving Indian food, India Clay Oven Restaurant serves excellent Indian cuisine. But if you want traditional meals, head to restaurants that serve authentic southern food like Danna’s Barbecue and Burger Shop, Black Oak Grill, and Farmhouse Restaurant.

There are plenty of reasons why you should bring the entire family to Branson (I haven’t even scratched the surface yet personally). It is up to you and your family to discover other great things in Branson, so book a trip now and enjoy a getaway with the entire family in Branson. 

The Wonders of Vancouver’s West Side

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While most that visit Vancouver hang out on the downtown peninsula, there is so more more to the city that they are missing out on.  Case in point: Vancouver’s West Side (not to be confused with the west end, which refers to the westerly portion of downtown that’s one of the most densely populated parts of Canada, or West Vancouver, which is the uber rich enclave on the North Shore near the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal).

This place is home to the ultra hip neighborhood of Kitsilano, two beaches where young Vancouverites go to see and be seen during the summer time, and the campus of UBC, where smart kids from across British Columbia, Canada, and the world come to further their studies.

Above all else though, the views and the surroundings of this part of town are truly out of this world…

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Walking along the shore of Burrard Inlet, a portion of land between the end of backyards of houses residing on Point Grey Road (of one Vancouver’s most elite addresses) and the ocean makes for a very scenic trail.

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While Kits and Jericho Beach are far more popular among the scenesters on the West side of Vancouver, no beach has the size and serenity that the Spanish Banks do. Located just before the UBC Endowment lands, there is no shortage of places to lay out a towel, play a game of beersbie with your friends, or just drink in the timeless view of the North Shore Mountains and ruminate how friggin lucky you are to live here (and if you don’t, you’re starting to work out in your head how you could make it so).

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Honestly, how can you go wrong with a view like this at any time of year?

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While summer and early Fall is an excellent time to be in Vancouver, I’ll heartily put in my vote for dropping by during mid Spring.  From Late April into May, cherry blossoms blow up all over the city, and with the streets of Kitsilano being lined with these beauties, your head will be swimming in a dream world of floral awesomeness.

The only proper way to head a day here into continue up the street from the waterfront to West 4th Ave and have a drink on one of many, many patios that exists there and nearby (Vancouver has such a competitive food and beverage industry that ridiculous deals exist everywhere here, so don’t be stingy … enjoy your time in this heartstoppingly beautiful place!

Ever been to Vancouver in the spring?  Love the west side of Van City and have an awesome recommendation for a place to eat and/or drink? Tell us all about it below!

Malaysian Food in Borneo: Delicious Eats On Gaya Street

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Everywhere you go in Malaysia, one life-changing meal after another can be found in the numerous cafes, food courts and restaurants can be found on the main streets and back alleys of its cities, towns and villages.

While the home of Malaysian society can be found on the Malay Penninsula south of Thailand, the lip-smacking cuisine (such as the claypot chicken and mushrooms with rice dish above) can also be found throughout its holdings on the northern third of Borneo.

Malaysian food in Borneo is taken very seriously, so any foreign tourists that come here expecting a good meal are in for a serious treat!

Being one of its largest cities here, Kota Kinabalu is a natural home to the best of Borneoan cuisine, which is a mix of Indian, Malay, Chinese, and indigenous styles of cooking.

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No matter your preference though, coming in one of these homely places and merely ordering a random dish will likely end with a pleasurable result.

With most meals costing less than $3 USD with drink included, it’s hard to go wrong (especially when you’ve got pork slices slathered in gravy, chicken noodle soup, and a refreshing mug of freshly squeezed pineapple juice sitting before, as it was for me above!)

My First Blogger to Blogger Interview: Speaking with the Couple behind KarolinaPatryk.com

Karolina and Patryk have had the honor of being part of my first blogger interview ... check it out!

While I have struggled to update and post on PoE in recent months (for the most part due to attempting to balance running a business with traveling and other aspects of my personal life), I have started to right the ship in recent weeks.

One of the things that has come out of the increased free time that I have had as a result has been my first blogger interview. Karolina and Patryk from karolinapatryk.com are a Polish couple who has been exploring the world for the past 18 months or so, and have also succeeded in making an income from the internet in the process.

Click here to read my thoughts on travel, life and work … hopefully this blogger interview is the first of a series of guest posts and such that will increase my site’s profile across the travel blogosphere … enjoy!

Gagwonsa Temple: A Chief Cultural Attraction In Cheonan, South Korea

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With South Korea having the rich past that it does, its not long after a foreigner arrives here before they go searching for relics of its heritage.  As such, I also went looking for the most vaunted cultural attraction in Cheonan, Gagwonsa Temple, within the first few months of being settled in South Korea (little did I know that it would be close to the end of my stay there, but c’est la vie).

Located up on the slopes of Taejosan above the rapidly growing industrial, high-tech and research city of Cheonan, this place is one of serenity and peace from the hustle and bustle present in the streets below.

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After taking a bus from the entertainment district of Cheonan, I arrived in the relaxing mountain village that lies just below the temple complex itself.  After a bit of a walk in the sweltering 32 degree heat (not counting the heat index), I finally made it to the most famous sight of Gagwonsa – The Bronze Buddha…

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Noted as one of the largest sitting Buddhas in Asia, it was a worthwhile sight to see on this day … but there was still more exploring to be done.

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To those not familiar with Asian religious history, the symbol of the swastika on these venerated temple structures may come as a bit of a shock.  They were used as Hindu and Buddhist symbols for thousands of years before the Nazis co-opted this icon for their own nefarious purposes.

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Heading down into the courtyard, I simply couldn’t come here without taking a look inside…

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Shoes off before going in!

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I wasn’t sure if cameras were frowned within the inner sanctum, so I snapped a pic before stepping inside.  Anyone in the know about this, please inform me on the proper protocol!

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I was going to go on a mountain hike on this day, but with the heat so overwhelming on this day, I thought better of it on this day and turned back at this point. Summer is a terrible time to go peak bagging in Korea, spring or fall is your best bet!

Do you have a favorite local temple in Korea where you live?  Have you visited one on holiday here?  Tell all in the comments below!