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Archive for asia

Blooms in Malaysia

By Linda Tancs

As if Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands weren’t scenic enough with its tea plantations, forests and waterfalls, it now boasts a Flora Park. Boasting a sea of blooms bounded by winding trails, the park features a series of private picnic areas available in timed sessions. November is considered the best month to visit the region. The travel time from Kuala Lumpur is roughly four hours.

Off the Grid in Thailand

By Linda Tancs

As tropical beaches go, there aren’t too many places in Thailand that one would consider to be off-the-grid, especially if it’s the fourth-largest island. Yet that’s the case for Ko Kut (Koh Kood), a beach lover’s haven where relaxation is the prime attraction and palms outnumber people unless you travel in-season (November to February), when a lively open-air music venue breaks the silence. You can get there via Trat Airport by ferry.

The Lion Rock

By Linda Tancs

One of Sri Lanka’s most popular attractions is Sigiriya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Otherwise known as Lion Rock, the site in the Central Province boasts the ruins of an ancient stronghold from the 5th century atop a rock standing over 600 feet above the surrounding plain. It was built by King Kashyapa as a fortress against attacks from his brother, the rightful heir to their father’s throne. On a plateau halfway up the rock Kashyapa built a gateway in the form of a huge lion with a staircase emerging from the lion’s mouth, giving rise to the moniker “Lion Rock.” A series of stairs leads to the summit, a portion of which contains the remnants of the lion’s paws and the first stairs.

To the Heights in Korea

By Linda Tancs

Near Chungju-si (where a martial arts festival takes place each year), Woraksan National Park in South Korea is a hiker’s paradise. The highest peak (at 3,600 feet) is Yeongbong, a steep ascent aided by stairs with railings bolted to boulders. Ma-aebong Peak is just below at 3,150 feet. It’s called a false summit because it’s commonly mistaken as the ultimate peak, but there’s nothing fake about its glorious vistas. While you’re in the park, keep an eye out for the nodding lily, an indigenous species with leaves like pine tree leaves.

Japan’s Ramen Museum

By Linda Tancs

Ramen is arguably the national dish of Japan, with styles varying according to the region in which it is served. There’s even a museum dedicated to the stretchy noodle. Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum in Yokohama is designed like a food court, offering up different styles of ramen and featuring original recipes from its inception. You’ll learn about ramen history and have the opportunity to participate in a noodle-making workshop.

Pretty in Pink in Vietnam

By Linda Tancs

You’ve heard of hotspots, but how about a hot pink spot? Literally and figuratively, Tân Định church in Vietnam fits the bill. One of the oldest churches in Ho Chi Minh City, it’s known for its vibrant pink façade (inside and out) and Gothic pillars. It first opened to the public in 1876 and remains one of the city’s top attractions as well as a local favorite. You’ll find it on Hai Ba Trung Street.

Japan’s Bathing Beauties

By Linda Tancs

Buried in snow almost one third of the year, Japan’s Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano is home to Japanese macaques, popularly known as snow monkeys. The northernmost living nonhuman primate, they descend from the forest to bathe in naturally occurring hot springs, a pleasant respite from a cold day. Part of Jōshin’etsu-kōgen National Park, the monkey park is reportedly the only place in the world where monkeys bathe in hot springs. The park is not a zoo; the monkeys are wild and come and go as they please, enticed by feedings by professional staff. Keep a respectful distance when taking photos, or else you may go home with one less piece of equipment.

A Spiritual Quest in Japan

By Linda Tancs

Kumano Kodo is one of only two UNESCO-registered pilgrimage sites in the world (the other being Camino de Santiago). It’s a 1,000-year-old trek in Japan, plied by aristocrats and monks alike. The route is actually a network of trails stretched across the mountainous Kii Peninsula. One of the most popular trails is Nakahechi, extensively used by the imperial family on pilgrimage from Kyoto beginning in the 10th century. Your own route will depend on your ultimate destination, which might include Kumano Sanzan, a term used to collectively describe the three most sacred shrines in the area, one of the biggest draws of the pilgrimage. The main transport hubs to the region are Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya.

Japan’s Atlantis

By Linda Tancs

You may recall the legend of Atlantis, the lost civilization created by Plato, submerged by a cataclysmic earthquake. Scholars occasionally muse whether the place really existed, especially whenever a spectacular underwater rock formation is discovered. Japan has its own version of Atlantis, Yonaguni Submarine Ruins, a submerged rock formation off the coast of Yonaguni. The southernmost of the Ryukyu Islands, it’s located about 62 miles east of Taiwan. The primary structure is an ancient underwater pyramid measuring a staggering 500 feet in length, 130 feet in width and 90 feet in height. Is it the remnant of an ancient Pacific civilization or a natural wonder? You can take an underwater sightseeing boat tour or dive there and decide for yourself.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

An Unusual Shrine in Hong Kong

By Linda Tancs

Legend has it that the cascade (known as “heung gong”) at Hong Kong’s Waterfall Bay Park on Hong Kong Island gave Hong Kong its name, but the park’s real claim to fame is its one-of-a-kind shrine in the nature of thousands of abandoned religious statues. You’ll find it by descending the stairs by a pathway at the park’s entrance. That leads to an orphanage of sorts for colorful deities adorning a hillside. Many faiths are represented there, the grounds tended to by a faithful local. In many cultures, it’s considered bad luck to throw away a religious figurine, so locals and visitors alike donate them to the site and sometimes pause for prayer. While you’re there, don’t forget to enjoy the scenic waterfall as well as the views from the park’s cliffs.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

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