Arrival in Busan, South Korea
APEC Center, Busan
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple in Busan
Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan
Old Samurai Street in Shimabara
Mt. Fugen - last eruption 1990-95 Bridges and earth dam for water and lahars
Burried houses by lahars in Mizunashi Honjin
Shanghai's Old City
Oriental Pearl TV Tower and Pudong skyline
Shanghai Museum and People's Park
Southeast Asia Cruise
Walking the streets of Busan
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple in Busan
Temple in Shanghai's Old City
We knew we wanted to go to China but the constraints of our one-year old would keep us from many of the sights we wanted to visit around the country side. We decided to settle by sightseeing Beijing for 3 days and then board a cruise ship with a big tour schedule that included Shanghai and Hong Kong. The 16 day cruise would also stop in Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. After the cruise we would continue our travels touring in Singapore and Malaysia.
After several days seeing the sights in Beijing, we were dropped off at the port a few hours from the city. We boarded with no difficulty and sailed off into the East China Sea. Our first stop was Busan, Korea where we took a short tour and then we saw the city on our own for the rest of the day.
The tour included a stop at Dongbaek Island with a tour of the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Community) center. The island is beautifully landscapes with paved walkways among camellia and pine trees. Add some sculptures, a pagoda and water all around and you have a really nice place to visit. The second tour stop was Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. Most temples in Korea are built on mountains; Haedong Yonggungsa is built by the sea. To get to the temple, there are 108 stairs and stone lanterns lining the rocky landscape. The temple was first built in 1376 during the Goryeo Dynasty. This was a great place for taking photos; a good thing since exploring the place only took 20 minutes.
Back in town after the tour, we walked the streets of Busan. As with any new region, this was a fun experience to see what people buy, sell and trade. We also went down to the docks to check out the Jagalchi Fish Market. Anytime you mix fish and the business of fish transactions, you�ll have a show. There was some crazy looking fish and tanks full of eels, squid, shellfish, mollusks, even dried octopus and seaweed. After this, it was back to the boat for a short rest before our next port location Nagasaki, Japan. We also took an "excursion tour" here as well to visit the Shimabara Peninsula.
After a nice scenic drive to Shimabara, we first toured Old Samurai Street in a residential neighborhood. This street is lined with stone walls and a water canal running down the center. There were several samurai houses restored and opened as exhibits giving a glimpse into the past. This was interesting but not too exciting. Next was a visit to the Shimabara Castle and a museum inside. The history of Shimabara as a castle town begins in 1618 with the beginning of construction of the Castle. It took seven years to complete. From the top of the Pagoda was an exceptional view of Mt. Fugen, the nearby volcano that threatens the city. Finally we saw Mizunashi Honjin Fukae, a small village nearby buried during the 1991 eruption of Mt. Fugen. It's now a memorial site where the devastation of the lahars on the village is preserved.
Back in Nagasaki, we took off on our own to walk around for a few hours before the boat departed. The city is built on a bunch of hills, very similar to San Francisco and often compared to it. Since I always like to climb up, we went to the highest hill we could find, taking lots of great pictures along the way. School was getting out so our son was getting lots of attention�.slowing our progress. Tired from a long day, it was back to the boat.
Our next destination was Shanghai, China.
Nagasaki Tour - Shimabara Peninsula
Busan Tour - Dongbaek Island and the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
Shanghai Tour-New and Old City plus the Shanghai Museum
The Shanghai museum was full of ancient Chinese art, a collection of 120,000 precious works. Our tour gave us lots of time but of course, we never give museums too much time. After a quick gander at everything, we worked our way outside to the Peoples Square, a much more interesting place. I'll read about all the works of art we saw from home. Today I wanted to experience Shanghai culture. Peoples Square is the big gathering place in the city. It was once a horseracing course before the new Communist government shut it down in 1949 when they banned gambling. Now it is open space as well as the site of major government buildings and recreational facilities. We got back to the bus in time, off to the next location, the old city. In route, we saw famous Shanghai sites like The Bund, a particular scenic section of the city with walkways along the river, and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the world's third tallest TV and radio tower.
In Shanghai Old City, we saw where old buildings were preserved or reconstructed; a truly amazing site. In the distance over the rooftops you could see the modern skyscrapers giving a dramatic perspective of change. But, the place was super packed, I mean it was extremely difficult to keep my family together. It's a big place with lots of things to see and explore, we took lots of photos. Our next port was Hong Kong.
Hong Kong, China
Can you see Hong Kong in 8 hours? Most travelers would want more time but I was happy with what we saw and did during our brief visit. First up was Victoria Peak, the top tourist attraction in Hong Kong. To get up, we took the historic funicular tram. The first rail tram for passengers was used in 1888 so it was quite the route. At the summit, you get a 360-degree view over Hong Kong while standing on Sky Terrace, a building that is its own attraction. I came prepared knowing this wasn�t the actual 1,810 foot summit of Victoria Peak so we headed off on the Mt. Austin Road and a 500 foot climb to the true summit. The highest point is full of telecommunications towers but I touched the fence a few feet shy of the top. Nearby was Victoria Peak Garden, the old summer residence of the Governor of Hong Kong. This is a nice place with open spaces, gardens and hiking trails; a rare treat so close to the city. The views from the park area and trails would be amazing if the smog wasn't so bad. We made our way back down to the city, wanting to take a look at the Mid-level Escalators. Because Hong Kong is made up of steep, hilly terrain, an extensive system of escalators was developed. These are the longest outdoor covered escalators in the world, going downhill in the morning for the commute and uphill in the evenings. The Mid-levels Escalator consists of 20 escalators and 3 moving pavements. It is 2,625 feet long, and climbs 443 vertical feet, a travel time of 20 minutes if you don't walk any of it. After fun with those, we checked out the open air bazaar on Ladies Street, one of the busiest places you can find. There are all kinds of goods hanging and packed into every nook and corner, a real bargain hunter's paradise. The rest of the day was spent walking the streets and downtown sites. That evening, our ship left Victoria Harbor in the night, a stunning sight.
IFC Tower and the city at night
The Victoria Peak Tower with the true summit in the distance
The city from Victoria Peak Tower
Walking Hong Kong streets