Visiting the White Temple in Chiang Rai

BBM TRAVELS | Chiang Rai, Thailand | White TempleIn doing a little research before traveling to Chiang Mai, it is inevitable that you’ll come across photos of the most ornate white temple called, Wat Rong Khun, located in the neighboring town of Chiang Rai. In all of the photos, a long white bridge crosses over a little pond leading to a beautifully built temple that looks as if it was dropped straight down from Heaven just to sit in a perfect blue sky backdrop. Those pictures were enough to convince my friend and I to book a tour, wake up early, and take the three hour drive further up north to see this site for ourselves.

BBM TRAVELS | Chiang Rai, Thailand | Pha Soet Hot SpringsBefore we even arrived in Chiang Rai, the day was off to an interesting start. About half way through our drive, we pulled into a local rest stop that we were told was famous for its hot springs, interesting. When we got out of the tour van we were immediately greeted by an older Thai women trying to sell us little baskets of quail eggs. When we politely said no, she offered us a small basket which contained just two larger eggs, potentially from a chicken. Again, no, but  thank you very much. It turns out that one of the draws to this rest stop is that you can purchase these eggs and actually cook them in the hot spring to have a hard boiled egg as a snack. Again, interesting.

We took in some of the flavor of this local rest stop and then were quickly back on our way to see  the White Temple. Now, I’d assumed that like most of the temples I had visited in my two years living in Asia, this one must have been built long ago and would have been restored over the years. I was wrong, it was actually built within the past two decades, starting in 1997 and  is still considered to be a work in progress. It was also built by an artist, which may partly explain why it is entirely different from any other temple I’ve visited.

BBM TRAVELS | Chiang Rai, Thailand | White TempleSo when you pass through the entrance into the temple you’re greeted by the beautiful white mirrored building, but as you make your way towards the bridge to go into the temple you see that rather than water, the bridge actually stands over a sea of white hands reaching up from under the ground. Our tour guide told us that this represents Hell, Wikipedia told me that the hands represent, ‘unrestrained desire”. Either way, crossing over the bridge is supposed to be your way towards finding true happiness.

When we entered the temple, it was beautiful. The walls were decorated with warm images of  flowers, temples, and a large smiling Buddha, however in turning around we were in for a shock. On the back wall of the temple is a huge mural of a demonic spirit which is anything other than peaceful and definitely unexpected in a Buddhist temple. Upon taking a closer look the mural grew more and more surprising. Unfortunately photos of the interior of the temple were not allowed, but a quick google search will show some of the images

Inside the larger painting of the demon were smaller paintings illustrating explosions, natural disasters, dependence on technology, clocks, guns, and Kung Fu Panda. It was a mix of devastation and every superhero one could think of. I asked the tour guide what this was all symbolism for. He said it represented how human beings are in a pattern of destroying everything we have, but in real life, we don’t have superheroes to come and save the world for us. Then on the opposite side of the temple you see a very peaceful Buddha, which is to symbolize that his teachings are the way into a more beautiful world.

I’ll be honest, it was a heavier temple tour than I’d been ready for. That said, it was such an incredible experience and fell into the category of eye opening moments as to how the U.S. really affects the rest of the world, seeing as many of the events represented in the painting were of U.S. history, including an image of a former sitting president. So much of our influence is painted on the walls of that temple.

BBM TRAVELS | Chiang Rai, Thailand | White TempleAs we walked out of the place of worship we found a large gold building that too looked like a temple. Our tour guide told us that it was in fact the bathroom. Another use of symbolism. The artist wanted to use the restrooms to symbolize people, making the statement that sometimes the most beautiful person can have the personality of a toilet.

It was quite a day in Chiang Rai, and probably made the top five for unexpected experiences while traveling.
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Spending the Day with Elephants in Chiang Mai

BBM TRAVELS | Chiang Mai, Thailand | Elephant Nature ParkWhen our days in Laos had come to an end, my friend and I were on our way to Chiang Mai. I’d previously visited Thailand during winter vacation nearly two years prior, and I was excited to be traveling to the northern part of the country this time.

Our main excursion for Chiang Mai would be visiting an elephant sanctuary. After making a horrible and uninformed decision to ride an elephant during my last trip to Thailand, I was happy to try to even out my elephant karma a little bit.

BBM TRAVELS | Chiang Mai, Thailand | Elephant Nature ParkWaking up early, we were excited for what the day would hold. Our tour guide from Elephant Nature Park  picked us up from our hotel, and on the drive up to the sanctuary we got to watch a video about the history of the park and its owner.

Once we arrived at the park we quickly got settled and went out into the field to meet some of the elephants. They all had names, but what was interesting was that all of the tour guides and caretakers had their own nicknames for the elephants. We were led through the sanctuary meeting elephants and herds along the way. While many of the elephants are rescued as singles, we were told that when they arrive at the sanctuary they sort of adopt one another and make their own families. Too sweet for words.

After we’d met most of the elephants it was time for their lunch and ours. We were treated to an incredible Thai buffet and had time to explore part of the sanctuary on our own while the elephants finished eating. When everyone was ready we continued our tour by watching the elephants take a mud bath and meeting the rest of the animals that we hadn’t seen yet. Soon it was time to head to the river and bathe them, which was essentially just tossing buckets of water on them as they stood still, preoccupied eating bananas.

As we were walking back to the pavilion to start packing up for the day, one of the baby elephants decided she wanted to follow us and see what the humans were up to. She managed to sneak her way into the pavilion putting on quite a show for us onlookers. Eventually her caretakers were able to coax her out with a little bribery of fresh fruit.

This was definitely not part of the scheduled tour, however the fact that she felt so comfortable to roam around and the patience with which the sanctuary workers treated her, made me feel like we had made a good decision in supporting an organization that truly cared for the animals that they were responsible for.

It was such a spectacular day getting to be up close and personal with the majestic creatures. I would highly recommend this sanctuary for anyone looking for an amazing experience while in Chiang Mai.

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A Hot Air Balloon Ride over Vang Vieng

BBM TRAVELS | Vang Vieng, Laos During our few days spent in Laos, my friend and I planned to head down to a tiny town south of Luang Prabang called Vang Vieng. This town is known to many travelers as a spot to partake in adventurous activities like exploring caves or rafting down rivers. We were there specifically for the hot air balloon rides.

We booked our morning ride the night before and then woke up bright and early the next day to be picked up via tuk tuk. We drove for a while as more people joined us, eventually arriving at a parking lot which we anticipated would be our lift-off point. We saw two hot air balloons descending towards us before passing right overhead. We were off again.

BBM TRAVELS | Vang Vieng, Laos At this point I realized that rather than the hot air balloons meeting us, we were trying to meet it. The tuk tuk driver had his walkie-talkie communicating with a man, whom I could only assume was piloting the balloon. We drove to two fields in anticipation of the balloons’ arrival, but once again it drifted right over us.

The balloon was getting lower and lower, and the men on their walkie-talkies were sounding a little more anxious. Finally it had touched down. Our driver drove quickly to the meet-up spot, told us to get out, and ran to the balloon. It had landed in, what I’ll generously call a small alley, between two house. It was just the width of the wicker basket, and the multi-colored balloon was brushing against some trees and the roofs of the houses it was nestled next to. The first group of passengers hopped out of the basket just as quickly as they could manage, and we hopped right in. This was already an adventure, and we hadn’t even left the ground yet.

BBM TRAVELS | Vang Vieng, Laos With the first  few startling bursts of flames and heat filling the balloon, we were off, slowly lifting higher into the sky. I looked down to see an audience of a couple dozen neighbors who had gathered to see us off, clarifying that this was probably not how these balloons are typically landed.

We spent the next twenty minutes soaring through the sky, drifting between the mountains, overlooking homes and rivers, and floating in the clouds. The views were spectacular and the atmosphere was peaceful, so long as the flame throwing contraption wasn’t in use.

The balloon started to come down, and we were headed towards an open field. This seemed to be a much more appropriate landing spot compared to where we had boarded the balloon. We touched down and then started to jump a bit before ending up in some shrubs and small trees. Not ideal. Apparently these things were harder to land than I’d imagined.

BBM TRAVELS | Vang Vieng, Laos Our pilot was on his walkie-talkie and within a few minutes ten men were running in our direction. The pilot tossed over two ropes that were attached to the balloon and the guys proceeded to drag the balloon out of the greenery. There was a moment of conversing and then we were flying again. This wouldn’t be our landing spot after all.

We flew just high enough to pass over the trees and scattering of houses, the men holding on to the ropes, hopping a fence, and dragging us to the spot where we would officially land. We waved good morning to a man staring out his kitchen window as we smoothly glided into his side yard. A mother and young son came out to see what was happening, them seeming just as surprised as the group that that gathered as we took off.

Once we officially landed, everyone climbed out of the basket, and in just a matter of minutes the balloon was deflated and packed up into a petite pick-up truck. We were off, headed back to our hotel, and ready for a much needed mid-morning nap.

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A Few Days in Luang Prabang

After about a week in Cambodia exploring Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, my friend Kayla and I boarded a plane bound for Laos. Our first stop in this new country would be Luang Prabang. In all sincerity I really didn’t put any extra effort into making to-do lists for each city we were visiting. Booking flights and accommodations while working full-time and packing up my life in South Korea was proving to be challenging enough. However, a friend had recently visited Luang Prabang and her Instagram feed from the trip had filled Kayla and I with enough wanderlust envy that we knew we had to add it to the travel itinerary.

BBM TRAVELS | Luang Prabang, Laos | Kuang Si WaterfallsWe woke up bright and early on our first day in the cozy town of Luang Prabang ready for a day of chasing waterfalls. The Kuang Si Falls to be exact. We met a tuk tuk driver outside of our hotel who took us on a scenic drive through the countryside and up to the entrance to the falls. We quickly bought our tickets and started trekking.

In my time traveling, I’ve been lucky enough to see a whole host of sites that I’d call magical, but these falls deserved a category all their own.

Oddly enough, as you make your way down the path and through the trees you come across a bear rescue center. We took a few minutes to watch the handful of black bears playing in the trees, and then we continued on our trek.

Not too long after passing the bears we started to hear the trickling of the water. The sounds got stronger until we turned around one bend, and there they were. The bottom pools of the falls filled with the most incredible turquoise water I’d ever seen.  It took every ounce of will power I had not to jump in right there without exploring any further.

After taking dozens of picture of the first look, we kept moving. The next few tiers of the waterfall were as magical as the first. I kept anticipating the top, every set of falls we saw I thought were the beginning. I was very wrong each time. We kept walking along the trail following a roar of water that was getting closer and closer, waking past a few more pools of crystal clear blue water. And then we found it. The start of the falls that filled the previous mile of pools we’d been admiring. Now, I’ve seen a lot of waterfalls in a lot of countries, but the Kuang Si Waterfalls were unmatched in their beauty.

BBM TRAVELS | Luang Prabang, Laos | Kuang Si WaterfallsAs I mentioned, I hadn’t done a ton of research about the falls and was simply following a few Instagram posts. That said, I couldn’t have been more surprised by what was standing in front of me. A three-tier waterfall that stood two-hundred feet tall and led into the most beautiful pools of perfectly bluish-green water cascading down the white limestone, all surrounded by lush greenery which allowed just a hint of sunlight to glisten in. We were in paradise.

This time I was sure we’d made it to the end of the trail, but Kayla saw a sign pointing up the mountain that the path continued. She asked if I wanted to keep going, and quite frankly, I really didn’t. But, I wasn’t going to send her up the mountain alone, so I agreed to go with. And holy smokes, am I glad I did.

BBM TRAVELS | Luang Prabang, Laos | Kuang Si WaterfallsWe hiked another twenty minutes up the trail of the steep mountain where the falls originated and followed the path across one log bridge and then another log bridge when we came across some other tourists. Somehow we managed to discover a little lagoon at the top of the falls tucked away from the groups of people we’d seen below.

Being hot from the hike, I jumped right into frigid water, enchanted by the setting we had found ourselves in. A hidden little swimming spot picturesquely canopied by tropical greenery. It was nature’s own infinity pool, and it was truly perfection.
. . .

BBM TRAVELS | Luang Prabang, LaosThe town of Luang Prabang is utterly sweet and runs the length of a few square blocks. It’s a quiet town, but  it is filled with restaurants and cafes, temples, and small shops. It also hosts one of the best night markets I’ve been to thus far.

While we only had a few short days in Luang Prabang, it quickly became one of my very favorite spots, and it’s the one I’ve been recommending the most to fellow travelers. Very simply, it’s a marvelous little town in Laos.

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#bbmtravelslaos

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Exploring Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

BBM TRAVELS | Siem Reap, CambodiaAfter spending a few days in Phnom Penh the friend I was traveling with and I were off to Siem Reap for the rest of the week. From the moment we arrived in Siem Reap it felt like being in an entirely different country. Sure people were still offering up tuk tuk rides and magnets every step of the way, but the overall vibe was just so much more chill.

We had a day in the city to explore all of the lovely little side streets and markets which was when we landed in the sweetest little cafe run by two sisters from Australia. The playlist was a mix of 90’s hits and oldies and the menu served up the most delicious smoothies and treats. Everything I was looking for after a month of traveling.

BBM TRAVELS | Siem Reap, Cambodia | Angkor WatThe following day was an early morning and a sunrise tour of Angkor Wat. This was one of the best days of traveling I’d had. Our tour guide picked us up promptly at 4:30 am, took us to buy tickets, and led us to the perfect spot for watching the sun rise over the incredible temple. When the sun was up he led us to begin exploring.

We spent hours navigating more than a handful of temples surrounding Angkor Wat and soaking in the culture and the history. Among the ones that we saw my favorite was the Bayon Temple. As we entered this one it looked like a plethora of doorways leading from one to the next. When we continued climbing though we realized that it also held over 260 faces of Buddha at the top. It was extraordinary. We also explored Ta Prohm which became very famous as one of the places Laura Croft: Tomb Raider was shot.

BBM TRAVELS | Siem Reap, CambodiaOn my last day in Siem Reap I got to meet up with a friend for lunch who lived in the city. We went to the cutest restaurant which doubled as a yoga studio. On the way back to the hotel I passed by a weaving shop. There were a few women sitting out side weaving baskets, hand bags, trays, bowls, and more. Just past their weaving area was a shop which I couldn’t resist stepping into. I left with a woven serving tray that I’m in love with.

It was a wonderful few days in Siem Reap.

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#bbmtravelscambodida

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Korean Apple Festival

BBM TRAVELS | Yesan, South Korea | Apple FestivalAround this time last year some friends and I took a Saturday to visit the country side of Korea and attend an apple festival. This would be the third apple festival we’d visited in two years, searching for a taste of home, and we finally found it in this one.

As our bus dropped us off at the orchard we walked through countless rows of beautifully ripe red apples. In a scene that it rare in Korea, we were immediately surrounded by westerners, all of whom were decked out in their best fall plaids. It was as if we stepped out of Korea and into small-town Americana.

BBM TRAVELS | Yesan, South Korea | Apple FestivalOur first stop after arriving at the festival was to join in a pie baking class. The ingredients were set out and we were ready to get to baking. There was an instructor who was trying to lead the class, however it seemed that they seemed to neglect the fact that most of the people in the room had made many an apple pie in seasons past. We rolled the dough, filled our pies, cut shapes into the tops, and pinched the sides like pros. When we were finished we put our names on the dish so they could be distinguished when they were ready to be picked up.

BBM TRAVELS | Yesan, South Korea | Apple FestivalWhile the pies baked in the ovens we got to go apple picking. It was so fun getting to wander the rows of apples in search of the best ones to take home. Once we’d filled our baskets, we went back to pick up our pies and listen to music. The lead singer of the band that was playing happened to be from Chicago as well. It was the first time I’d met a fellow Chicagoan since the Cubs had won the World Series, and it was wonderful to finally be around someone who understood and shared the same excitement and pride for our home team.

BBM TRAVELS | Yesan, South Korea | Apple FestivalThe apple orchard we were visiting also happened to be a winery and offered tours showing us how the apples were processed and stored before giving us a tasting of the sweet wine. We all bought a bottle and went back outside to where the band was, listening to music, drinking wine, and eating apple pie until it was time to go back home to Incheon. It was the perfect fall day.

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#bbmkorea

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Visiting Phonom Penh

After two weeks of traveling Beijing and Japan I landed in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. I’d heard some not so great reviews of the city before arriving, but I have to admit that I really enjoyed my time here more than I thought I would.

I imagine the largest draw that brings people to Phnom Penh is the eye-opening look into the country’s history. While I had a couple of extra days in the city to relax by the pool at my hostel, the reason I was really there was to tour the Killing Fields, per the recommendation of some friends who had recently visited Cambodia.

Phnom Penh is an interesting city that leads you to feel many different ways within the span of a few minutes. The streets are filled with French colonial architecture and offer a glimpse into the life that must have filled the city decades ago, but then you turn the corner and are confronted with poverty and deteriorating infrastructure , turn the corner again and there are beautiful new buildings being built showing the city’s recent economic growth. Meanwhile, there are cars and scooters zipping down streets, and every step you take someone is offering a tuk tuk ride or a souvenir of some sort. It is a lot to take in at once.

While the city can feel a bit overwhelming at times the people of Cambodia were some of the kindest I’ve met offering smiles and greeting of, “hello” or “good evening”. Lots of restaurants filled the street as well as shops with handmade goods to buy. There is a sense of hopefulness throughout the city that is truly awe-inspiring.

{LEARNING ABOUT CAMBODIA}

In visiting Phnom Penh I knew at some point I’d have a heavier day of learning more about the country’s history. I spent the night before my tours watching the movie Angelina Jolie produced a few years back, Frist They Killed My Father, trying to prepare for the stories I’d hear about the following day. Actually, I spent the previous two nights watching that movie. It got to be too much the first night and I ended up having to take a break in the middle.

BBM TRAVELS | Phnom Penh, Cambodia | Tuol Sleng Genocide MuseumI woke up the next morning anxious about how the rest of the day would leave me feeling. We first stopped at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Amongst reading the stories of survivors of the Khmer Rogue regime, and seeing what the living conditions were like for the prisoners, I have to say that upon stepping back what I personally found the most upsetting was the idea that before the building was a prison it was a school. And a beautiful school at that.

The idea that one day children would have been learning and thinking about their successful futures to come and the next thing they knew they were in labor camps or training as child soldiers. It’s chilling. And then turning that school into a torturous prison, punishing their most intelligent and dynamic citizens. It’s a really hard reality to swallow.

BBM TRAVELS | Phnom Penh, Cambodia | The Killing FieldsAfter the S21 Museum we took a drive through the countryside on our way to the Killing Fields. I braced myself again as I was handed my audio tour and prepared to enter the grounds. I pushed play on my headset not knowing how much I truly wanted to hear the stories it was about to tell me.

Without going in to too many depressing details, it was a day that opened my eyes and my heart and gave me such a greater perspective of the country I was visiting. It also made me feel such an immense amount of respect for the people of Cambodia. You would be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t still affected by that time in history, yet they are joyful, hopeful, and hardworking. To see how robust the city has grown to become in such a short amount of time is incredible.

On a lighter note the next day was spent visiting the Royal Palace. It was beautiful!  One of the most beautiful palaces I’ve visited, along with the Grand Palace in Bangkok. It was wonderful getting to explore some of the grounds and peek inside some of the grand buildings. And it was nice to end the trip on a happy note.

While visiting Phnom Penh wasn’t particularly easy, it has become one of the places I’m most grateful to have visited. Before my trip I admittedly didn’t know very much about Cambodia, but after learning about their history, it will be impossible to forget. If you ever have a chance to travel to this country, I’d highly recommend a visit to its capital. If Cambodia isn’t in your future, I’d still recommend taking some time to learn more about the country and it’s people.

Following Phnom Penh I was off to Siem Reap, which offered an entirely different view of the country. Stay tuned.

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A Day in Macau

As part of our summer vacation travels, a friend and I decided to visit Hong Kong. After spending a few days on the lovely island of Cheung Chau we were back in the hustle and bustle of the city. Since we’d been to Hong Kong previously and seen most of the city, we thought it would be fun to take a day trip to a place neither of us had been yet, Macau.

Initially when I thought of Macau I pictured Las Vegas; lots of casinos and business men placing their bets. However, thanks to Instagram, I realized that there is a pocket of Macau that has remained in touch with its Portuguese history. I saw pages flooded with photos of beautiful pink and yellow buildings, and I knew I needed to make the journey over to see this little region of China.

Getting from Hong Kong to Macau was surprisingly easy. Our hotel was in walking distance from the ferry which we were able to hop right on after showing our passports. An hour or so later we were standing in the immigration line in Macau. Once we were through the line we took a casino shuttle bus that brought us within a walkable distance to the Portuguese area of the city.

We were dropped off in the basement level parking garage of the casino and had to walk through in order to get back to the street. Walking through this casino was a surreal experience. Western pop music was blaring, just barely drowning out the sounds of the machines, the lights were dimmed, huge chandeliers hung from the high ceilings, and, as I quickly learned, pictures were not allowed.

BBM TRAVELS | Macau | Ruins of St. Paul's

When we finally made it out of the casino we eventually found our way to the brightly painted buildings we were searching for. Immediately it felt like we were in Europe, yet looking up we still found ourselves reading Chinese signs. We walked along the main streets admiring St. Dominic’s Church all the while searching for the Ruins of St. Paul’s which weren’t too hard to find. We explored the ruins for a while and then wandered down some side streets taking in all of the beautiful architecture.

After we’d felt we had seen all we wanted to see in that part of Macau we hopped on a bus and crossed the bridge to the other side of the city where many of the big international casinos are. We found our way to the Parisian to see the Eiffel Tower and the Venetian to see Venice. Neither of which disappointed. We were immediately transported into a life of luxury.

BBM TRAVELS | Macau | The ParisianAfter a late lunch I decided to try my hand at the slot machines. And I won! The equivalent of six dollars, triple my initial investment, which I quickly spent on the way out of the casino buying some frozen yogurt.

With that little treat, our day in Macau came to an end. We were back on a bus and quickly on a ferry bound for Hong Kong. It was a lovely day spent in a new place that turned out to be quite charming.

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A Few Days Spent in Hiroshima + Miyajima

As my time in Japan was coming to an end I had two last stops to make in Hiroshima and Miyajima. I left Osaka in the morning and was excited to be in Hiroshima by early afternoon, but not before taking a few hours to spend on the island of Miyajima.

BBM TRAVELS | Miyajima, Japan Miyajima is a tiny little island most well known for The Great Torii, an orange shrine that stands alone in the water, though it should be just as well known for its wandering deer population. As I disembarked the ferry that took us to the island I was greeted by a sweet little deer that was curious about the people it was seeing, as well as what snacks they may have to offer. Soon enough one deer became three, and they were not afraid to nibble on whatever someone had in hand. As I wandered there seemed to be countless deer throughout the island who were happy to be amongst the tourists and not at all bothered by the selfies everyone was excited to take.

BBM TRAVELS | Miyajima, Japan | The Great ToriiAfter taking in the deer and the natural scenery of the island, it didn’t take long to come across the beautiful Itsukushima Shrine that the island is known for. There it sat beautifully in the water as if it was floating.

I decided to take some time and wander through the parks and side streets of the island. Between the lush greenery, endearing wildlife, and beautiful wooden architecture, I  couldn’t help feeling like I was in Snow White’s back yard.

 

A few hours later it was time to make my way back to Hiroshima.

BBM TRAVELS | Hiroshima, Japan | Peace Memorial ParkHiroshima became one of my favorite cities that I visited in my time in Japan. It’s quaint but still convenient, and as always the people were absolutely lovely. I started my first full day in the city visiting Peace Memorial Park, an experience that was 100 times more moving than I ever could have anticipated. Perhaps it was because of the growing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, but every monument and every plaque seemed to hold so much relevant significance. Throughout the park there was an overwhelming feeling of peace and hopefulness that was really inspiring.

One of the moments that brought a tear to my eye was when I went over to the Children’s Peace Monument which was built to memorialize all of the children who passed away as a result of the bombing. As I crossed the street I noticed a few bus loads of children quickly filing in for a field trip. They all came in quietly taking a seat around the monument and removing their hats before their teacher led them in a moment of silence and started speaking about the monument.

BBM TRAVELS | Hiroshima, Japan | Peace Memorial ParkThere seemed to be field trips all over the park that day. Some classes had clip boards and were taking notes, some were split into smaller groups listening to a tour guide who would show them pictures and documents, but each group stood at every monument and took that moment of silence. I couldn’t help but be curious as to what Japanese students learn about that day in school. What were their teachers telling them? I have to imagine that their history lesson differs from the U.S. version in some ways.

BBM TRAVELS | Hiroshima, Japan | Hiroshima Castle
After spending many more hours in the park than I had anticipated, taking in all of the history I decided it was time to get lunch. I found a tiny restaurant and treated myself to the most delicious pork cutlet and rice. Then I was off to find the Hiroshima Castle. It was gorgeous, sitting in the middle of a park surrounded by a lovely moat. I’ll never get sick of those Japanese castles.

Post Hiroshima I was off to Hong Kong for the weekend before continuing my travels on to Cambodia. It was a fantastic two weeks in Japan that I feel so lucky to have had.

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#bbmtravelsjapan

A Relaxing Getaway on Cheung Chau Island

Teaching English in South Korea meant that my fellow teachers and I had a wonderful week off in the summer to go and travel. My friend Kayla and I decided we would use our five days off to make a trip to Hong Kong, one of my favorite destinations. We had been there previously for a long weekend, but we were excited by the idea of getting spend more time there to explore.

BBM TRAVELS | Cheung Chau Island, Hong KongRather than going straight to the city we spent a few days on a neighboring island; Cheung Chau. It’s always hard knowing what to expect when going to a new place, but from our research we were really excited to be visiting this island that was said to be quiet and didn’t allow motorized transportation. A perfect relaxing getaway. After the quick flight from Korea to Hong Kong we took a train into the city and a ferry onto the island where we met our Airbnb host who led us to our accommodations.

The apartment was so sweet. It sat right on the water and had a lovely balcony to enjoy the view which just so happened to be facing directly East and allowed the most beautiful sunrises to shine through the windows.

On our first full day in Cheung Chau Kayla and I decided we were going to find a hidden coral beach. It took nearly an hour of hiking to the opposite side of the island, but when we finally found this beach it was beyond worth it. We walked on to Tung Wan Tsai and realized we were the only ones there. It was like having our own private beach. A few locals and a few tourists came throughout the day, but for the most part, it was all ours. We spent the day there reading and soaking in the sun before our hunger got the best of us and we needed to go back for dinner.

BBM TRAVELS | Cheung Chau Island, Hong KongAside from the gorgeous beach, one of my favorite aspects of Cheung Chau was simply wandering the streets. So many of the buildings were painted in bright colors and it seemed there was street art around every corner. We spent one morning just walking from one side of the island to the other taking in its casual beauty.

While I was thrilled to be heading back to the city, there was a twinge of sadness in leaving this sweet island that had given us a few days of serenity.

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#bbmtravelshongkong