Category Archives: Travel destination

National Museum of Korea in Seoul

The National Museum of Korea is a wonderful tourist destination in Seoul. I recommend it very highly.

Buddha statue with fancy headdress

The modern museum (built in 2005) is very spacious and filled with wonderful works of art. It provides a sense of the long history of Korea. It is very well laid out and includes enough information on the works to give you a sense of the context.

6th-7th century funery painted clay pots

Painted clay pots, Astana, Turfan 6th-7th century. These vessels decorated with pearl rounded patterns were made to be buried with the dead in tombs. The design originated in Sasanian, Persia and spread across Asia.

The museum displays relics and artifacts in six permanent exhibition galleries: Prehistory and Ancient History, Medieval and Early Modern History, Calligraphy and Painting, Asian Art, Sculpture and Crafts as well as one gallery highlighting donations.

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Neak Poan Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Neak Pean (or Neak Poan) (in Khmer: ប្រាសាទនាគព័ន្ធ) was built by Jayavarman VII in the 12th century as a Buddhist temple.

Walkway to Neak Poan temple (over the reservoir)

The site is within a large reservoir (which measured 3500 meters by 900 meters). The walkway takes you to the man made island that contains the Neak Pean temple.

photo of water temple (large pool of water with stairs into the water and a central stone structure)

The temple is within the Angkor archaeological park area. I rode my bike between the many large and small temples while living in Siem Reap, Cambodia for a couple months. You can easily see 10 of these small temples and few large ones by bike in one day.

You do get some exercise (which for me was a plus) and it isn’t very hard as the entire area is very flat. Of course the area is also usually hot. You can rent bikes in town for a few US$ a day. You can also rent a tuk tuk or electric bikes.

Related: Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, CambodiaTa Prohm Temple (Banyan trees)Borobudur, an amazing Budhist temple built in the 9th century in IndonesiaWat Lok Moli, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám, 文廟) Hanoi, Vietnam

Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám, 文廟) was established in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1070. The temple is located in old town Hanoi along with many other items of interest within easy walking distance (see Curious Cat Hanoi Tourist map). The temple grounds are enjoyable and provide a respite from chaotic Hanoi, and the history is interesting.

Temple of Literature courtyard

In 1076, Vietnam’s first university, the “Quốc Tử Giám” or Imperial Academy, was established within the temple to educate Vietnam’s bureaucrats, nobles, royalty and other members of the elite. The university remained open from 1076 to 1779. In 1802, the Nguyễn dynasty’s monarchs founded the Huế capital where they established a new imperial academy.

bee on orange flower with yellow flower in background

Bee on flower in the temple grounds.

The temple layout is similar to that of the temple at Qufu, Shandong, Confucius’ birthplace. It covers an area of over 54000 square meters.

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Chomphet Hike, Luang Prabang, Laos

The Chomphet Hike is nice hike across the river from Luang Prabang, Laos. I used this wonderful map for the hike. My hike probably was about 8 km and I went in a circle around the whole hike on the map. The hike would be very difficult (next to impossible) to follow in several places if you didn’t have the map.

Vat Nong Sakeo, on pond (covered in plants - so it is green)

Vat Nong Sakeo on a pond.

Ladder over the fence

Much of the hike is through rice fields. I like this ladder over the fence (to keep out goats and other animals I imagine. This part of the trail was a bit difficult for me to follow on the map, I wasn’t at all sure I took the right path but I got where I need to eventually.

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Mosaic Art at Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos

I really like the mosaic artwork on the walls of buildings at Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang, Laos.

close up view of mosaic wall of Wat Xieng Thong temple building

Luang Prabang is full of interesting temples and is a great place to walk around. The old city has been designated a World Heritage Site by the UN and I highly enjoyed staying in Luang Prabang.

buddha statues in front of a mosaic wall inside Wat Xieng Thong temple building

Buddha statues in front of a mosaic wall inside a Wat Xieng Thong temple building.

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Sunday Market, Chiang Mai Thailand

I see the Sunday Market in Chiang Mai, Thailand as a well done attraction created for tourists. The stalls are selling mainly items of interest to tourists and food.

artist drawing a customer

I really like that photo. Here is a similar photo my dad took of an artist drawing my brother (when he was a kid) and we were visiting Rome, Italy. There are a group of about 5 artists drawing portraits in the center of the street.

street crowd

The street was quite packed. Starting just before sunset seems wise (based on my reading) and it worked for me. Others say it gets more crowded later – and it was plenty crowded while I was there. The Sunday market (also called the Walking Street Market) covers from Tha Pae gate to Wat Phra Singh on Ratchadamnoen Road.

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Magical Day at Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park

One of the most enjoyable days of my life began at Glacier National Park (USA) and continued in the Canadian portion of the park (Waterton International Peace Park). The parks share a long border and amazing natural beauty.

View on Iceberg Lake Trail

Iceberg Lake Trail, Glacier National Park

This magical day was my fifth day at Glacier National Park, which had already been wonderful.

John Hunter with vista in background

John Hunter, top of Bear’s Hump trail, Waterton International Peace Park

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Curious Cat Travel Maps

As a tourist I don’t usually do a great deal of research in advance. I do like to find out what are some of the most popular tourist destinations. And to look for those things I like a great deal, such as hiking.

I useful find myself with a list of things I want to do and a place to stay. Sometimes I had an idea of where things we located and what might be good to do on the same day. But often, I did not. I would sometimes get a list of good restaurants but I would almost never actually get to them.

I do like walking around in a new city and getting a feel for things. Using a good old fashion map worked for this. But I would often waste a fair amount of time when I got lost. GPS mapping seemed like a perfect solution for my travel needs.

While I have been using the internet a long time, I have never had a smart phone. But I got an iPad mini and decided to test out my idea of using GPS and mapping as I walked around. Looking at the options, I decided I would rather create my own map so I could have the details I cared about.

I tried in out (I bought an iPad mainly for this mapping function but also to use as a book reader) in China (Hong Kong, Guilin, Yangshuo, Yunnan and Shanghai) and it went very well. Here is my map for Shanghai:


See full screen

I am now making Curious Cat Tourist Maps available online. I used Open Maps (and umap) which I am very pleased with (Here is a link to the Curious Cat Hong Kong Tourist map as another example). I can include those items that interest me (tourist destination, lodging, eating and transit) and include background info (like what subway stop for a particular designation etc.).

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Niamey Grand Market

I think this photo is from the Niamey Grand Market in Niger, Africa.

People at the Niamey Grand Market

We lived in Nigeria (my Dad was a Chemical Engineering professor) and took a trip during winter vacation through Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin. I am nearly certain the photo is in Niger and very likely Niamey but it is possible it is elsewhere.

My mom and brother are in the photo, which is likely taken by my father (or maybe by me). In this part of the trip we were quite far off the beaten path. The only foreigners we noticed were a National Geographic film crew at the market.

My brother and I enjoyed the trip at times but also got tired of things and the attention we would get. We would often be surrounded and pointed and even poked at sometimes. Nothing that really was a big deal but as kids it sometimes got to be annoying.

We even would stop the car in the middle of the Sahel to eat lunch and were surrounded within 20 minutes when there didn’t seem to be hardly anyone around. I imagine this just happened occasionally but was memorable after we wanted to escape being the the center of attention and couldn’t even get away in seemingly nearly deserted areas.

Of course, now I treasure what an experience it was even more than I did at the time. At another time at this market (I think, or at another market) my Mom was negotiating from some mats made of straw and leather. It was difficult as we didn’t speak any common language but beyond that they didn’t use “arabic numerals” (or that was maybe a negotiating tactic – most places did use arabic numerals this was the only time we ran into that problem).

Eventually it worked out when my Mom just put out the cash directly. This isn’t a great for various reasons (not the least of which people will grab it and hold on – making it hard for you to walk away). So this was a last resort but she did it this time.

Later on that same trip we were out of money and Mom and Dad wanted some statues (outside Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso) and we bartered for blue jeans and other things that I can’t remember. We had the art from that trip around our house the rest of my childhood (and it is still there).

Related: Cheetahs in KenyaGiza Pyramids in EgyptDad and me on a beach in Malaysia