Buddha’s Birthday

Last May 21st was Buddha’s Birthday. Being Buddhism the majority religion in Korea, this day, as in many other countries in Asia, is celebrated in a very special way. During all the week before this day, several parades take place around the most touristic areas of Seoul. We decided to take a walk around Gwanghwamun and Insadong during the first day of the celebrations.

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The parade in Insadong reminded me of the Cavalcade of Magi in Spain.

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Pungmul performance during the parade.

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As in Chinese culture, the dragon is a very important figure in Korean culture, and it is very present in all Korean celebrations.

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Chariots were made of a kind of paper with light inside, which made them very colorful at night.

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View of another chariot.

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Lanterns are everywhere in the city during the Budda’s Birthday previous days. All Buddhist temples, as well as the busiest areas of the biggest Korean cities are adorned with lanterns like these during these days.

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More lanterns 🙂

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View of the Jogyesa Temple, with all the lanterns for Budda’s Birthday.

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Also for this occasion, the Cheonggye Stream (a.k.a. Cheonggyecheon) had this great look with all the lanterns.

Trip to Malaysia

Lately I am traveling a lot… which means I don’t have much time to update my blog, study Korean, or keeping in touch with friends.

Anyways, this trip’s goal was basically diving in Sipadan, which we couldn’t because we didn’t know that there is a one-month waiting list to dive there. But at least we got to dive in other closer islands and we finally got our PADI Open Water Diver License.

We decided to stay at Semporna, a town on the east coast of Sabah, in Borneo. From there, you can take a boat to many small nearby islands which are pretty good for diving. There is not much to see in this town, though. Most tourists here come solely to dive.

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With Alex, ready for some snorkeling.

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That’s me, diving.

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And that’s me with my friends, diving.

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This is what I call paradise 😀

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Sunset in Semporna.

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Floating houses. Many people in Semporna live on the sea… literally.

Once we got sick of diving, we flu back to Kuala Lumpur, and spend a couple of days there. The city isn’t one of my favorites, but I liked the mix of cultures and religions that you can see on the streets (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.). We decided to pay for a guided tour, which probably was a good idea because it was raining most of the day and it felt quite nice to move around by car instead of walking.

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Main gate of the Royal Palace, Kuala Lumpur.

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Partying with Marcos in Kuala Lumpur.

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In front of the Petronas Twin Towers. One of the least original pictures to be taken in KL. By the way, according to Wikipedia, the second tower was built by the Korean company Samsung Engineering and Construction.

We spent the last day of the trip in Malacca, a very nice colonial town two hours and a half drive south from Kuala Lumpur. This city was colonized by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British. Therefore, Malacca seems anything but an Asian city.

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There are these tuk-tuks decorated with flowers everywhere around Malacca taking tourists around.

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Christ Church, at the Dutch Square in Malacca.

On the way back to the airport, we stopped at Putrajaya, a kind of artificial city where the government is moving most of its official buildings. There is a big mosque and selling of alcohol is forbidden in the whole city.

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In front of the Prime Minister’s office, in Putrajaya.

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View of the Putra Mosque at night.

Trip to Thailand

Sawatdee!!

Here are some pictures of our trip to Thailand. All of the ICEX interns in Seoul have spent six days relaxing in paradise-like beaches, from the pool to the beach and from the beach to the pool, drinking shakes for less than a dollar, and besides, Alex and I, got our diving license (the PADI Scuba Diver) 😀

Overall, the trip was great, although it was so hot and humid all the time. I imagined Thailand much more “Asian”. Sometimes I thought I was in South or Central America instead of in Asia.. I guess it must be because of the tropical weather;)

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The six ICEX interns, on the Thai Airways airplane.

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Taking the boat to Ton Sai Bay.

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Alex and Ciro on the kayak.

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InPhra Nang Bay, a beach near Ton Say Bay, where we went by kayak (here is a map).

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After Ton Sai Bay, we decided to move to a resort in Phi Phi Islands. Here’s a view of our island, Ko Phi Phi Don (picture by Jairo).

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This is a good summary of our trip.

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In front of Ko Phi Phi Lee, the island where the movie “The Beach” was filmed.

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With Carlos at the same beach. The sign is kind of scary, isn’t it?

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On the boat going to do diving.

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With Alex and two Koreans we met diving.

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We were lucky that it only rained one day. Anyway, the temperature was still like Malaga in august.

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Fire show on the beach.

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Back in Bangkok, the same heat but no beach. Here we are at the Grand Palace.

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Buddhist figure at the Grand Palace.

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We had Mirinda in Spain long time ago, but they stopped selling it. In Thailand they still have it 😛

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On a Tuk-Tuk, a kind of motorcycle with three wheels quite common in Southeast Asia.

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Jairo playing Takraw with some locals.

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Sunset at the Khao San Road market.

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Back in Seoul, with a three-hour sleep and ready to work. On the bus, Alex and Jairo looked kind of tired:P

And if you want to see more pictures, all of them are here.