Navigating Hue’s Ancient Past

Our first few weeks of cycling were just about as off-the-beaten-path as they come (have a look back at those road conditions if you don’t believe us!). As much as we loved—and are still loving—getting an intimate look at everyday Vietnamese life, by the time we arrived in the popular tourist city of Hue, we were ready to trade our spandex for something with, you know, a button.     Hue was an ideal place to play tourist for the day. Located in central Vietnam, Hue was the capital of Vietnam through the 19th and early 20th century under the Ngyuen Empire. The city itself is lovely, boasting a quaint position on the banks of the Perfume River. It’s packed with fellow tourists, but for good reason. The food is sensational (more to come on that in a future post), the old streets are mesmerizing, and the lush, vibrant surroundings are renewing. However, most people find their way to Hue for a chance to encounter its ancient past.     Steeping in historical remains, it’s easy to fill multiple days wandering through Hue’s attractions, though the high admission fees make it a little less desirable to do so. The first stop for many (ourselves included) is The Citadel, the palace complex of the Nguyen Empire, modeled after China’s Forbidden City. Wisps of the palace’s mystical and decadent past remain, despite the fact that a large portion of the complex was destroyed during the Tet Offensive. Rather than glimmering temples and blossoming lotus ponds, expect to find overgrown grass fields and stone ruins. Today the government is undertaking a mammoth...
Sunday Snapshot | Bathing Buddha | Hong Kong

Sunday Snapshot | Bathing Buddha | Hong Kong

A while back we celebrated Buddha’s birthday by going to see one of the largest Buddhas in the world.  While we did a lot of talking about that big Buddha, we never had the chance to picture the smaller one.   The washing of Buddha is a ceremony that signifies the cleansing of both outer and inner dirt. After kneeling upon the cushion, one should fill the ladle with water and pour it over the Buddha’s head three times, repeating sequentially: “May I eliminate all evil thought, May I cultivate good deeds, May I help save all living things” (as sourced from here).   Want to see your picture featured on our Sunday Snapshot segment? We’re now accepting guest submissions! Just send us an email at acruisingcouple@gmail.com with your photo and a brief description. We’d love to have...
Sunday Snapshot  | 20 Years Hence | Kampot, Cambodia

Sunday Snapshot | 20 Years Hence | Kampot, Cambodia

  The image is of a 13 year-old monk in training we met in a small wat outside of Kampot, Cambodia. He had just finished showing Steph the proper way to pray to Buddha and was very curious about the both of us. His English was quite good, as he was studying it at the monastery. After showing us a little more of the temple he went on his way with his friends. [color-box color=”gray”] Steph and Tony are the talented bloggers behind 20 Years Hence. Join them as they throw caution to the wind and travel the world. Their website is dedicated to chronicling the practicalities of a very impractical adventure. Check them out at their blog or get connected via twitter  or facebook.[/color-box] Want to see your picture featured on our Photo Friday segment? We’re now accepting guest submissions! Just send us an email at acruisingcouple@gmail.com with your photo and a brief description. We’d love to have...
A Walk Through Macau’s Historic Center

A Walk Through Macau’s Historic Center

For many people, the name Macau is synonymous with one thing only: gambling. Referred to as the Las Vegas of the East, Macau has actually overtaken its American counterpart in terms of revenue and size. Prosperous Chinese mainlanders cross the border via bus; the wealthy from Hong Kong utilize the speedy ferries (and even helicopters!) to arrive at its shores. And with the biggest and best names like the Venetian, Wynn, and MGM, it’s no wonder why dollar signs dominate visitor’s minds. Of course, there’s actually much more to Macau than high-end casinos and high-rolling gamers. Macau is also a former Portuguese colony, its original development to provide a trading port between China and Europe. It doesn’t take long to feel the Mediterranean influences that still permeate the peninsula’s streets as a result; in fact, it’s quite fascinating to experience the blending of Portuguese and Chinese cultures, jointly integrated into Macau’s street signs, food, and architecture. Perhaps the most obvious place to observe the confluence of East and West is via a stroll through Macau’s Historic Center.     A World Heritage Site, it is at times seething with tourists; however, visitors stroll through the celebrated streets for good reason. A walk through the area will reveal pastel-colored houses, cobblestone walkways, Chinese temples and Moorish barracks—just a few indicators of Macau’s rich cultural past.       As much as we love roulette, spending the day meandering through Macau’s Historic Center was a highlight of our time in the area. Well, that and the inexpensive Portuguese wine! Beginning at the A-Ma Temple and concluding at the Ruins of St....
Lantau Island’s Big Buddha: Is It Worth It?

Lantau Island’s Big Buddha: Is It Worth It?

Lantau Island’s Big Buddha—Is it worth it?   Tian Tan Buddha, or simply the Big Buddha, is one of the world’s largest Buddhas as well as a popular tourist attraction in Hong Kong. Serenely nestled on the hills of Lantau Island, it also takes a bit of a time commitment and varying amounts of dough (not to mention hundreds of stairs) to access the Buddha’s smiling face. We did make the trek out to visit the Buddha, and even got to wish him the happiest of birthdays while we were there. But many fellow travelers we met in Hong Kong expressed their disinterest in the statue, primarily because of the time involved to see the tourist attraction.   So was it worth it? You’ll have to wait (we know you would never just skim down) to the end of the post to find out. But first, let’s talk practicalities.   Getting to the Big Buddha To access the Big Buddha, you’ll first need to arrive at the Tung Chung MTR station. (We’ll mention this in another post, but do so via your Octopus Card. It’s a huge time and money saver, and it works on the bus too.) Once there, you can do one of two things:  1. Take bus No. 23 to Ngong Ping (via MTR exit B) If you mime Big Buddha actions, all the locals                 will direct you to the bus you need. Creativity points awarded. Be prepared for small roads, deep bends, and fast drivers.           Estimated time: 30-40 minutes one-way          ...