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Shizuoka

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.

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Korea

Taebaek snow festival, part 2

After spending an hour walking around the Taebaek festival snow sculptures and watching kids sledge across the frozen pond and slide down ice, my friend and I headed over to the coal museum to warm up. We learned a bit about mining and how coal is used, but I don’t seem to have any pictures my computer.

Next we decided to go over to the little food area. On the way, we passed a chain link fence with orange paper hearts attached to it. They all had handwritten wish/hope/dream on them. Love, money, job, school, etc. There a lot of these in Korea, even outside the smallest temples.

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We passed underneath the yellow and pink lanterns outside the temple, and I noticed that the Buddha statue had a large flat box on its head. I’m not sure what this is supposed to be, but somebody told me it was a pizza box.

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Korea

Mt. Taebaek snow sculptures

Although I have lived in Japan for the last five years, I have not yet made it to Hokkaido. Thus, I haven’t been to the Hokkaido snow sculpture festival that is held in February each year. However, I did get a chance to do something similar in South Korea when I was  there.

For about one week in January, Mt. Taebaek in Gangwon-do, Korea holds an annual snow festival. There are snow sculptures, snow sliding, hiking, food, and ceremonies. I did this trip with the tour group Adventure Korea. It was a two-day trip costing around 79,000 won, or roughly $80 Canadian Dollars. This covered transportation to and from Seoul, accommodations, some meals, various entrance fees, and English speaking guides.

At the time, I was living about an hour outside of Seoul, so I had to wake up early on Saturday morning to be able to make it to the 7:00 AM bus pick-up area in Seoul. I went with my friend from Bucheon who was an English teacher at a different school. After getting on the bus, we made one more stop in Seoul to pick up the rest of the adventurers and were on our way. Continue reading “Mt. Taebaek snow sculptures”

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Chile

The stunning architecture of Cerro Santa Lucía

Cerro Santa Lucía in Santiago can be reached by arriving at the Santa Lucía subway station on Line 1. This is a free activity, and it only takes an hour or two to explore the hill and park area. You can do it on the same day as Cerro San Cristōbal, like I did.

The most striking feature of Cerro Santa Lucía is the white and yellow building that has been remodelled in a neoclassical style. It has many intricately carved pillars and statues. There are several snaking staircases that criss-cross, allowing you to choose your own path through the building and to the top of the hill.

Climbing the stairs toward the top of the hill, you will see that the red brick forts and buildings are built into the rock surroundings. Some of the stone steps are narrow and steep, and you have to duck underneath the rocky overhangs. So hold onto the railing in these places and be careful on rainy days, as the steps will be slippery.

From the top of the hill you will be able to see the Andes Mountains in the distance and the roof tops of the city. When I was there, it was smoggy with pollution, although apparently it is usually smoggy – the pollution seems to get trapped by the mountains and hangs over the city. Exploring Cerro Santa Lucía doesn’t take as long as Cerro San Cristóbal, since there are more attractions and a longer hike over there. Continue reading “The stunning architecture of Cerro Santa Lucía”