Robin's Adventures

Southeast Asia
Adventures in the Far East

Secret Garden

Surrounding Changdeok Palace is 78 acres of lush gardens. The garden design includes lotus ponds, small waterfalls, over 100 different species of trees, manicured lawns and abundant flowers. Since we visited in the winter, the landscape was a bit more sparse, but the walk through the grounds was still peaceful and invigorating.

Korean War Memorial Museum

The museum has exhibits that commemorate Korea's military history.

Korean National Museum

Archaeology, history, and the art of Korea are depicted through a variety of unique exhibits. One of the artifacts was a ten story tall pagoda that was originally built in 1348.

Namdaemun Market

We enjoyed meandering up and down the narrow streets in the Namdaemun Market. Each of the market stalls had their wares neatly on display. There were lots of unfamiliar food items that looked and smelled very interesting. It was a delightful way to spend the morning.

Flying to Laos

Our flight took us to Luang Prabang in Laos. We stayed at a delightful hotel called the Luang Say Residence.

Wat Sene Souk Haram

Luang Prabang has many Buddhist Temples, or Wats. While each of the temples had similar components, they all had something uniquely beautiful and different to offer. We were awed by the grandeur of the detailed ornamentation, mostly in gold leaf. At the same time, there was a certain sense of calm spirituality that surrounded us as we explored each temple.

Wat Sene Souk Haram, or the \"Temple of the 100,000 Treasures,\" was built with 100,000 stones from the Mekong River in 1718.

Wat Sop

Wat Sop was built in the 1780s by a prince to commemorate the death of his father during battle. Near the main sim or prayer hall, was a beautiful blue mosaic stupa.

A stupa is a monument that either contains funeral remains, commemorates a religious event, or provides a place to make spiritual offerings. The word stupa means mound and in ancient times stupa were simply earthen mounds rather than the decorative structures of today.

Wat Si Boun

Wat Si Boun was built in the 18th century. It has four pillars in the front, two round ones in the center and two square ones on the outside. The beautiful gold leafed images above the door all come from the Buddhist dharma wheel.

There was a monastery on the grounds where many monks study and live.

Wat Khili

Wat Khili, which means Monastery of the Golden Mountain, was built in 1773 in a style based upon the architecture of northern Laos.

There were some beautiful tree of life mosaics near the windows by the front entrance to the main sim. A large French Colonial style building provided housing for monks and nearby there was a large drum that was used to wake the monks at dawn each day.

Sticky Rice, Taxis, and Silly Hats

Sticky rice is a staple food in Laos and it is prepared in a variety of ways. Most commonly, sticky rice is steamed in bamboo baskets that allow the heat to spread evenly. Then the rice is eaten with your hands. You pick up small amounts of the rice, squeeze it into a ball, dip it into one of many popular sauces, and then pop it into your mouth. Sticky rice is also frequently formed into rice cakes. Sometimes the rice cakes are fried to make a more crispy snack.

Taxis in Luang Prabang were all colorful open air contraptions that were powered by a driver on a scooter.

Many of the street vendors had brightly colored tall pointy \"stupa\" hats. We did not see many people wearing them and our guess is that they were probably made for the tourists.