Adventures of an American Seoul-Sister

Adventures and Observations of an American Seoul-Sister

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lama Temple

Monday, on my Beijing trip, I went to the Lama Temple.  It was officially Lunar New Year, so there were many people at the temple to light incense and pray, bowing to the four directions and, I guess, wishing for a lucky year.  It was quite lovely, actually, because it made the air so fragrant.  The temple was once a palace, so it's quite lavish.  The various buildings contained several Buddha-y things, along with Buddha himself in many forms, not the least of which was one seriously impressive Buddha carved from the truck of a single white sandlewood tree and measuring in at 36 meters tall. The top of my head barely reached the same height as the top of this Buddha's sandle strap. Sorry, folks, taking pics of Buddha while people pray is asking for trouble, so just imagine the tallest coolest Buddha ever, okay?  Please, enjoy this karma-friendly pics of the temple.

The front gate

Tree-lined path towards the temple

People lighting incense in huge coal burners and praying to the four directions.
Joining in the local New Year's tradition

Yes, all the smoke in these pictures is incense.  It smelled really nice at the Lama Temple.

My Beijing travel buddy, Monica!

 Now, off to the Temple of Heaven!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sitting on the City Walls

Arrived in Beijing Saturday afternoon.  I was able to take a subway all the way from the airport to within a couple of blocks from the hostel for only a couple of bucks.  Following the directions, I arrive in a neighborhood hutong (alley).  Traditionally, Beijing is a series of small, walled alleyways connected to each other in seemingly random order.  Doors in the walls connect the alleys to ancient courtyard homes.  So, I arrive in my hostel's alleyway, thinking "What the fuck!  I thought this was supposed to be a nice place." 

I weave my way around several turns until I finally spot a small sign marking a red door.  I knock and wait.  I ring and wait.  I panic with my little wheelie-suitcase in a strange, narrow Chinese alley and wait.  After a few minutes, a man opens the door, to my great relief, to a gorgeous hostel that was a privilege to call my home for a week. 

Sitting on the City Walls Hostel is an upkept traditional courtyard house decorated to offer a relaxing, very Chinese oasis for guests.  They have a decent menu, beer, wine, tea, internet...pretty much anything a traveler could want.  The host, Rick, is very informative and eager to share information about the city and how to get around in it.  Included in my stay where tickets to a Peiking Opera and discount tickets to other shows.  They also arranged my transportation to the Great Wall.  The best part is that they are centrally located to all the places a person could ever want to tour in Beijing and only a block from the Forbidden City. 

If you want to learn more about this hostel, visit their website:

Friday, February 3, 2012

Girl's Generation on Letterman

Hey, look at this!  Girl's Generation (SNSD) on David Letterman.  Even though it's hard tell these groups apart, this is one of the most famous K-pop groups in SoKo.  I wonder if they know how lucky they are to be on set with three legends (especially Bill Murray,  LOVE HIM).  In any case, the girls are looking really hot so I'm sure Regis, Dave, and Bill are feeling pretty lucky themselves. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Raise the Red Lantern

This is the kick-off post to begin my Beijing Vacation series. (The title is inspired by a wonderful Chinese movie of the same name. Check it out!) Being a dragon myself, this week-long adventure over Chinese New Year felt particularly special.  I thought of it as a week-long birthday and treated myself accordingly.  The highlights were many.   I've never filled so many photo disks in one week (on my awesome new camera that I gave myself for my "dragon-birthday")! Maybe I got a little carried away with the red lanterns, but they were so quintessential to the whole Chinese experience that I couldn't help my whip my camera out every time I saw them (intervals of about 47 seconds).  Enjoy the pics and the posts to follow about the beautiful, and quite possibly my new favorite, city of Beijing, China.