gà Đông Tảo: the dragon-legged chickens of northern Vietnam

While in northern Vietnam, I visited a chicken farm just outside of Hanoi. But, these were no ordinary chickens – they were Dong Tao chickens. A breed of chicken that is endemic to this area of Vietnam. The meat is prized as a delicacy and has traditionally been reserved only for royalty. It is currently available to the public, but it costs a pretty penny. Of the whole chicken, the legs are particularly considered a delicious delicacy

What is so special about this chicken and its legs? Continue reading “gà Đông Tảo: the dragon-legged chickens of northern Vietnam”

The Philippines

The blue and white Palawan Cathedral, a photo

On the main highway in Puerto Princesa in Palawan is the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. It is the island’s central church, and in front of it is the Rizal Monument and Park.

The cathedral is 300 m from the Palawan Baywalk Park, or if you are feeling energetic right off the plane, it is 2.5 km from the airport. The cathedral is a tourist attraction, so you will surely be able to get directions if you get lost along the way. If you’re not in the mood to walk, you should have now problem getting a tricycle from anywhere in town.

The blue and white architecture on the outside is lovely, and inside the cathedral are religious edifices that are over a century old. The cathedral was built in 1872, during the Spanish occupation.

It is free to visit the church, and anyone is welcome to join mass, of which the schedule is posted on the door. Continue reading “The blue and white Palawan Cathedral, a photo”


Jingoism at the Wagah Border Ceremony: India

The Wagah border is the national border crossing between India and Pakistan. It divides the Indian state of Punjab and the Pakistani province of Punjab.

The border serves as a goods transit terminal, and there is railway station nearby. However, the border is better known for its Wagah border ceremony. The ceremony happens every day, two hours before the sun sets and is held on both the Indian side and the Pakistan side.

While a lowering of the flags ceremony, the performance is alternatively viewed as a symbol of rivalry between the two countries and also a symbol of brotherhood and cooperation.

I went to the border ceremony on the Indian side and came by car from Amritsar in Punjab, India, which is 32 km away. When I arrived, there were already many people making their way to the stands. Because I was a foreigner, I went through a separate security check, and you must have your passport here. Continue reading “Jingoism at the Wagah Border Ceremony: India”


Shirakawago in March

In Gifu Prefecture in Japan is a historic village in the mountains called Shirakawago. The roofs of the houses are shaped like hands in prayer and are called gassho zukuri. The site has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


It is a small village, with one main road running through it, and there are houses, shops, museums, and displays for tourists. There are no convenience stores or train stations. You must come by car or tour bus. Continue reading “Shirakawago in March”


What to know before hiking Mt. Taebaek in the winter

Mt. Taebaek is in Taebaek Provinvial Park in Gangwon-do on the eastern side of the country. It is the highest peak in the Taebaek Mountains at 1567 vertical meters. It’s famous for it’s beauty and is a popular hiking destination, even in the snowy winter months.

I hiked Mt. Taebaek during the weekend of the Taebaek Snow Festival in January, and it was very busy.  It was cold, but luckily the weather was clear and not too windy. This was my first experience doing any kind of mountain hike in the snow and ice, and I was unprepared, to say the least. Still it was a magnificent experience that I will always remember.

If you are thinking about hiking Mt. Taebaek in the winter, here are some points to keep in mind before you go.  Continue reading “What to know before hiking Mt. Taebaek in the winter”


Mini guide to Shuzenji hot spring

What is Shuzenji?

There are many hot spring resort towns scattered throughout Japan. One of the oldest and most famous of these hot springs is Shuzenji Onsen. It is located on the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka prefecture, and the peaceful scenery is popular among Japanese people. Built along the Katsura River, there are hot springs, restaurants, small shops, museums, Shuzenji temple, and little walking paths for all your exploring needs.

Shuzenji is doable as a day trip from Tokyo, but if you are coming from Nagoya or Kyoto/Osaka, you will want to spend at least one night in a nearby town, like Mishima, Atami, or Numazu.

How do I get there?

To get to Shuzenji you need to take Tokaido Shinkansen or the Tokaido Main Line to Mishima Station. From Mishima station, you need to change to the Izu-Hakone Line, which will take you to Shuzenji Station in 30 minutes. From there, you should take a bus into the hot spring area of the town.

When my husband and I went, we decided to walk from the station into town instead of take the bus. This probably wasn’t the best decision because it is about a 30-40 minute walk. We did, however, get this lovely view of the Kano River.

IMG_6433.jpg Continue reading “Mini guide to Shuzenji hot spring”