FC: TAIWAN, BALI, SOUTH KOREA A Whirlwind of a Tour! December 28, 2007 - January 11, 2008
1: Our first few days in Taiwan were just for relaxing and spending time with Aunt Mee Mee's family in Taichung.
3: Favio and me with all the cousins. Left to right: Jane, Katie, Favio, Jesse, Peter, and Peter's wife - Daphne
4: With Aunt Mee Mee, her husband, and us.
5: Jane's two children: Danie and Lucy Jesse and his son, Simon Peter and Daphne and their daughter, Bell
6: Favio with new-found friends who all consider him the STRONG uncle from the United States.
7: Cousin Peter and his wife Daphne invite us out for curry hotpot and | dim sum at a contemporary restaurant in Taichung.
8: Aunt Mee Mee and mom show that they can still shake and spin at their age.
9: Amy, one of mom's good friends from high school, makes a special trip to visit her in Taichung at Aunt Mee Mee's house.
10: After a 5-hour smooth plane ride from Taiwan, we finally arrived in Bali at the Ngurah Rai Airport, and were greeted with a sweet- smelling orchid leis.
11: We felt the summer heat and humidity of January immediately stepping off the airplane.
12: Our very first stop was to see the TANAH LOT which means "land in the middle of the sea" in Balinese. Located about 20 km from Denpasar, the temple sits on a huge offshore rock which has been shaped continuously over the years by the ocean tide. 15th century priest Nirartha built a shrine on the rock as a holy place to worship the Balinese sea gods.
13: Sitting on the rolling gardens, one can have a great view of the Tanah Lot. We enjoyed fresh coconut milk in the midst of Bali's heat.
14: Our first evening event included a delicious Balinese dinner and a traditional ballet performance.
15: The Balinese dance shows strong Hindu influences and often narrates the fight between good and evil.
16: The first two nights we stayed at the Layang Layang Villa. Every villa houses 3 to 4 suites, a private swimming pool, living area, kitchen, and dining room.
17: The villa was cozily decorated with modern Balinese furnishings and art.
18: The tropical fruits of Bali are numerous at the local grocery store. The red and hairy fruit below is called the Rambutan. Take off the hairy skin and eat the white, refreshing sweet flesh that covers the single seed.
19: The next morning we headed to the beach with a variety of activities to experience, including riding on a banana boat, skydiving, snorkeling, and even getting your hair braided.
20: Shrines and temples are ubiqutiously located in everyone's front entrance and at the corner of each street.
21: We headed for a small island to see some of the exotic animals of Bali.
23: Bravehearted mom and Favio playing and posing with Bali's animals. Cockfighting remains a popular tradition in Indonesia and is often an integral part of religious ceremonies as well as a form of gambling among men.
24: Welcome to Denpasar's traffic! Mopeds are the most affordable means of transportation for the Indonesian family. Traffic flows on the oppposite side of the road when compared to the United States.
25: This is the Bali Bidadari Batik, a huge shop where we saw the process of handmade BATIK. BATIK is the process of dyeing fabric using a wax printing technique. Bees wax and tree resin are the main ingredients of the wax dye. Many believe that this process was brought to Asia by travelelers from the Indian subcontinent.
26: Intricate handiwork on architecture, temples, | and statues are seen as offerings to the gods.
31: As you can see, Bali is home to a dense tropical jungle, rice paddies that trip down the hillsides, long sandy beaches -- a vacation paradise enjoyed by many Europeans and Australians.
34: This is the access point to the river where we rafted. Unfortunately this is the only picture we took as we were advised not to take our camera.
35: Rice paddies make up a large part of the Balinese landscape. These paddies help feed Indonesia's 226 million citizens.
36: Below: A wood carver from Ubud, a town famous for its arts and crafts and scores of galleries and shops. On the right, an old market in Denpasar.
37: About to have our seafood lunch soon with watermelon juice. | Bali produces coffee and exports it to other parts of the world. Our group visits a coffee tasting plant.
38: Massage is so much part of the Balinese culture. Most of us took an advantage of the warm stone massage with essential oils. The black stones used in these massages come from Mt. Agung volcanoe that erupted in 1963. Mom and Katie hold up bottles of different essential oils. Which one do we buy? Below: a message parlor
39: The last two nights in Bali, we stayed at the Patra Bali Resort & Villas which has 228 rooms and situated on 11 acres of land. The resort is located on the shores of the Indian Ocean, 5 minutes from the Bali international airport and 15 minutes from Denpasar.
42: Interior view of our large bungalow. at the Patra Bali, which consisted of.... | a living room, kitchen, dinning area, bedroom, sitting room, 2 bathrms, and large a patio.
43: A frontal view of our palatial bungalow.
44: Views of the entrance and lobby of the Patra Bali Resort and Villas.
45: On our last night, we had dinner on a yacht with a live performance and karaoke.
46: Our last meal together with our table group before heading back to the airport.
47: Our last group picture together, on the bus, all heading back to the Bali Airport. We will miss our traveling companions. Farewell Bali!
48: South Korea, here we come. . . arriving at Incheon Airport to begin another 5-day marathon tour.
49: Lunch with our new traveling companions. Street scenes in Seoul as our bus made its way through the cold and dreary streets.
50: There should be no surprise that we were dropped off to SHOP as soon as we arrived. The Taiwanese consider South Korea as a shopping haven.
51: Imagine, the first evening's tour was straight to downtown Seoul's LOTTE WORLD, an amusement park like Disneyland, only all indoors. Our traveling group enjoyed the Aeronauts Balloon ride; later Favio and I rode on the Pharaoh's Fury.
52: The Coffee Bean chain right in the heart of Seoul! | Korean fast food, always hot and spicy.
54: One has to take a ferry to get to Naminara Island, home to the tomb of General Nami (1443-1469). It is a recreational spot for travelers and daytrippers and also hosts a variety of cultural and international events. Campfires were conveniently located to give warmth from the freezing cold weather.
56: This background setting is a favorite filming site for South Korean soap operas.
57: Tradition says rub the statue's left ear and you are assured of having a baby boy. Unfortunately, boys are more desired in the strict, Korean patriarchal society.
59: These straw huts are where Kimchi is traditionally made and stored.. Kimchi is a fermented dish, mainly consisting of cabbage and spices, served at every meal as a side dish.
60: After spending a freezing morning at Naminara Island, we were welcomed with this sumptuous lunch.
62: Seoraksan National Park, located in the Gangwon province in eastern South Korea, attracts many tourists throughout the year. It is also the location of an ancient Buddhist monastery.
69: This building may look very old, but the interior of these dormitories is quite modern and comfortable. These Buddhist monks know how to live in style.
70: A few native Korean boys also visiting Seoraksan Park wanted to take pictures with Favio and me, the "foreigners." | Enjoying some downtime with our traveling partners, a truly rare experience when you're on the go every minute of the day and when wake-up call is 6:30 a.m. daily! The company enjoys sipping on some Korean beer and munching on Asian snacks in our suite.
71: The Koreans love snow activities, not surprising since the winter days average O degree Celsius.
73: South Korea has 9 large ski resorts. The one we visited was the Cheonmason Ski Resort.
76: Our group stayed one night in a newly-developed resort area.
77: Linda, our tour guide toasting us to thank us for the tour.
78: Dumpling Soup for breakfast
79: More pictures of Seoul
80: Location of South Korean federal govenment buildings
81: A re-enacted ceremonial performance to welcome foreign dignataries in the old governmental compound in downtown Seoul.
83: DEOKSUGUNG palace was the home of Prince Wolsan until 1615. In front of this building, there are court stones that indicate where each civil and military official should stand during official meetings.
85: Left: Dining on Samgyetang, a soup made with Cornish Game Hens that are stuffed with ginseng and sweet rice. Right: Katie at the Hilton Hotel in Seoul, South Korea
86: Inside Hotel Capital, our last night in South Korea. | :i Our reliable tour bus driver rests and waits for us.
87: Last picture of our touring companions in South Korea. From tropical weather in Bali to freezing temperatures in South Korea and 11 days of constant traveling, touring, sight-seeing, eating, and lack of sleep, we actually looked forward to going home to resume our routine and life.
88: The Taipei 101 -floor landmark skyscraper was the tallest building until 2007, when the Burj in Dubai, UAE was completed. Shaped like a bamboo stalk, this building was constructed to withstand typhoons and earthquakes and also houses the fastest elevator in the world - traveling at 60 km/hr.
89: A glance of Taiwan at night.
90: Last meal in Asia! Tomorrow, we head back to the U.S. to face reality. Bottom right: Tapei Aiport
92: Bali is a tropical island in the Indonesian archipelago. It is one of Indonesia's 33 provinces with the provincial capital at Denpasar. While Indonesia is a Muslim nation, Bali is home to most of the country's Hindu minority. It is also the largest tourist destination in the country and is renowned for its highly developed arts, including dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, and music. It has been ranked as the #1 tourist island destination in the world by Travel & Leisure magazine for five straight years.
93: North Korea South Korea
94: Taipei, Taiwan, the city of Katie's birthplace
95: Can you find Taiwan, Bali, and South Korea?