Categories
South Korea

Donggung Palace – Seoul, South Korea

The famous Donggung Palace in Korea’s ancient capital – Gyeongju. This was part of the ancient Solla palace complex that was created over 2000 years ago. It is beautiful and only a few kilometers away from city center. If you visit Korea, this is worth checking out.

Categories
Japan

Asahiyama Zoo, Hokkaido – Japan

Asahikawa has the coldest recorded temperature in all of Japan so visiting during the winter is freezing.

Zoos aren’t normally my cup of tea but the Asahiyama Zoo is special. With all the snow and daily penguin walk (as well as the newly renovated flamingo exhibit!) it is worth the trip. Check out the walk-through below.

Hours:

April 27 – October 15, 2019 9:30 a.m. – 5:15p.m.
October 16 – November 3, 2019 9:30 a.m. – 4:30p.m.
November 11, 2019 – April 7, 2020 10:30 a.m. – 3:30p.m.

Categories
Mexico

El Grito – The Mexican Independence Day

Mexican Independence Day – after the speech of the authority (known as El Grito) at the main square, the Mexicans celebrate during the whole month with parade, songs, dance and fireworks. On September 16th 1810, a Roman Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang the bell of his church and gave the call to arms that triggered the Mexican War of Independence against Spain.

I was in a small town of Palenque in Mexico. It was fun, the guy wear a metal structure with a bull and walk around after turning o the firecrackers.

Categories
Taiwan

The Holy Pig Festival in Sanxia, Taiwan

On January, 30th. 2020, I went to a a very curious tradition in Taiwan.

The Holy Pig (Shen Zu – 神豬) Festival in Sanxia (a traditional district in New Taipei City in northern Taiwan) according to its annual Lunar New Year. Local pig farmers compete to display the largest pig, the winner takes home a trophy every year and they are sacrificed to the local god. The annual festival marks the birthday of the Chinese deity Zushi and was held in a square outside the Zushi Temple. Each year one Clan Family is responsible to host the ceremony, this year (2020) was the Lin. There are a total of 7 clans that host this ceremony, so after 6 years the Lin Clan will host again, after Huang, Chen, Liu and other threes.

Many Holy Pigs up weights near 900 kg whereas a normal pig would weigh only 120 kg. After the sacrifice in the night before their skin is stretched to a metal frame, looking even bigger than the abnormal big animal. A whole pineapple is not forgotten to put into their mouths and a parade starts the next early morning. Some food like a whole chicken and a still alive fish is also part of the feast.

There is a displayed list of each Lin family’s clan with their respective donation made to the temple each year. In the past the feast was for free for all the invitees and the public, but now the pork is sold for more than USD 55/kg.

More infos::

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shen_Dzu https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3087182

Categories
Taiwan

Beehive Fireworks Festival in Yanshui, Tainan, Taiwan

Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival 2020 – Feb. 7th and 8th

See the site below for more detailed information, what to wear, transportation, time of event.

https://www.twtainan.net/yanshuifireworks/en

Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival is listed as one of the world’s three major folk festivals, and is also one of the most significant religious activities in Taiwan. The fireworks originated near the end of the 19th century during the Qing Dynasty. Back then there was a plague, and due to the lack of knowledge concerning medicine and treatment, the death toll increased every day. The terrified locals prayed to Guan Yu, or the Holy Ruler Deity Guan, and asked him for help. The deity replied that on the night of Lantern Festival Day, the deity will parade through the streets of Yanshui, and followers must set off firecrackers/fireworks as they trailed behind the deity’s holy sedan chair. The procession lasted until dawn, and the plague was no more. So the later generations carried on this custom and would welcome the Holy Ruler Deity Guan to make his rounds every year on the night of Lantern Festival Day.

Every Lantern Festival night, the holy sedan chair slowly parades through the streets of Yanshui (Tainan Province), surrounded by followers and visitors. When the sedan chair passes the doorways of stores and residences, racks of fireworks will be lit, sending firecrackers flying everywhere! People believe that after running through the flying fireworks, you can get rid of bad luck and have a prosperous and wonderful new year.

I didn’t wear special clothes or helmet, I did follow the parade in 2018 and hide behind a pole to see and make videos and photos. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to go, I took one or two bus from Tainan City to go to the local of the event. But it really worth it.

Categories
Taiwan Travel

Sky Lantern Festival in Pingxi (Taiwan)

February 1st and 8th, 2020.

https://www.google.com/maps/@25.0393393,121.7612448,11.33z

The Taiwan Sky Lantern Festival in Pingxi district (平溪) is listed as a top 20 world festival. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Taiwan. Releasing lanterns in Taiwan during the world-famous Taiwan Sky Lantern Festival in (Shifen Village) Pingxi DIstrict is magical to watch. The paper lanterns float to the sky in the mountains of Taiwan during the Lantern Festival and Moon Festival in the fall. Last year a giant pig lantern was release, it was the year of the pig (see the video bellow). You can release the sky lanterns (some countries called it balloon) at any time and any date OR during the mass ascensions of the lanterns event at the evening that make this festival unique. I heard there are similar events in China and also in Thailand.

I have been twice in the past 3 years living in Taiwan. It was packed of people from everywhere! The first time I went by train and regretted and the second time I knew about a easier way to go and that is by bus!

This year there will be 2 mass events on Feb. 1st and 8th. starting at 6 p.m. To attend the mass event you need to book in advance, I think you can do it at the site.

How to go from Taipei? The easier way to go is taking the bus from Taipei to Shifen (don’t drop off in Pingxi Village). The road to Shifen is closed to traffic for the Lantern Festival to make getting to and from Pingxi more efficient. Tour operators offer options for a shuttle bus from Taipei, Keelung or Jiufen. Take the subway (MRT) to Taipei Zoo MRT station. A shuttle bus service typically starts at 9 a.m. from the Taipei Zoo MRT station for $50 NT or $15 NT from Ruifang train station to Shifen. The return trip is free. It takes around 1 hour or less and you can go and back seated, there are many buses specially for this event.