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Old May 30th, 2014, 07:09 PM   #1
hkskyline
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hkskyline's 2013 Year in Review (January - June)

Taipei

Dihua Street is a popular market in the lead-up to Chinese New Year, selling many types of traditional foods.







Meanwhile, the night markets remain vibrant with all sorts of snacking options.






Tainan

Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan, and was the island's political and economic centre until the late 19th century. I scoured around a few of the city's prominent temples to do some heritage tourism.











Pedestrianized streets are popular even during the day.



The fire department was hosting an open house as it was January 19, which represents the emergency phone number. Visitors could ride the ladder above the traffic circle.



The Dutch built Fort Zeelandia in 1624-34, which consisted of a square fortress wrapped by rectangular outer walls. During the Qing Dynasty, Tainan's political centre moved eastwards, and the fort declined, then partially dismantled during the Japanese colonial era.





Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat is not a cheap place to visit, but thanks to a free mileage flight and hotel points, a Chinese New Year trip to this magical place became a bargain. The early wake-up calls, hot, dry days, and tired feet were all worth it.



These folks look on as you enter Angkor Thom.



Sunrises and sunsets are crazily beautiful here.



Smile!



Although there were lots of tourists during this extended holiday period in Greater China, some of the less popular sights in the vast Angkor Wat area remained tranquil.



Elephants played a major role in the ancient Khmer empire.





Beng Mealea was featured in my research as an untouched ruin, unlike its other counterparts. It was dangerous to visit, but at least it was more "real".



With a reliable driver, I commuted between the temples in air-conditioned comfort, then baked under the blue sky.









Sometimes you look up and wonder how could they build all this so many centuries ago?



Nature won.







Detian Waterfalls, Guangxi

Easter is a great time to travel from Hong Kong as a local Chinese festival also falls around the same time, leading to an extra long weekend. Not willing to pay a premium to travel far, I opted to do some eco-tourism and admire this place along the Vietnam border.







There were no border guards enforcing the boundary. The market on the Vietnamese side was fully accessible to us from the Chinese side. A marker shows the official boundary.



Like Guilin, this part of Guangxi is picturesque.










Wuhan

After seeing some exceptional cherry blossoms in Xian last year, I spent the rest of the extra long weekend in Easter to try my luck in this huge city. Thanks to a very cheap mileage redemption, this trip had extra good value for money!





But the cherry blossoms did not wait for me.



Street food looked interesting but a little too dirty for my tastes.





There were some hidden architectural gems, such as this temple.



Local communities are vibrant and lively. People are not afraid of thieves among their flock.



Like Shanghai, Wuhan has its own "Bund", a reflection of its port history.









I saw this type of photo in a brochure and had to get one for myself.



Dubai

I return to this desert oasis for a brief visit as the summer heat sizzled. An annoying haze covered what could have been an awesome photo opportunity.



I remember walking along both banks of the Creek in my last visit.



St. Petersburg

The guide mentioned the unique thing about St. Petersburg is it does not look Russian. By the end of my visit, I fully agreed!









I read about the impressive collection at The Hermitage, and I was not disappointed. I could spend days exploring in there.







Catherine's palace dates from the 18th century. The interiors are lavishly decorated while the gardens are very pleasant.







I could not afford Caspian Sea sturgeon caviar, so had to settle for the salmon alternative instead.



I did very little souvenir shopping, but photographed them instead.



Being so far north, the sun does not set so early as summer approaches. In fact, it never got totally dark even by 11pm.



Peterhof's fountains are very impressive.



Veliky Novgorod, Russia

I arrive in Veliky Novgorod after a long bus ride from St. Petersburg along the main highway to Moscow - if only it was not a narrow country road. This place holds a special status as the oldest city in Russia and a major trading outpost in the Hanseatic League days.



The Cathedral of St. Sophia was built in 1050 whose 11th and 12th century frescoes have survived to today. It is still being used for services today and unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside.





The Monument to the Millennium of the Russian Statehood was unveiled in 1862 and depicts the various figures that shaped Russia's history. Can you find Peter the Great?



Just outside town, Vitoslavlitsy is a museum of wooden architecture that depicts life in old Russian villages.



Moscow

I had high hopes of seeing some unique vehicles and architecture in Moscow. I was not disappointed.









The subway stations are impressive, and bursting with tourists. At some key stations, it was impossible to wait for the crowds to pass for a photography opportunity.





Like many European cities, a new skyscraper district rises away from the historical area.



Stop the bourgeoisie and free the proletariat!



Red Square and the Kremlin ... the centre of power in Russia, with the grand buildings to show it.





The more historic Kremlin had smaller buildings, and the typical array of churches and squares.







I thought the GUM department store was a bit overrated. The arcade mall design is not unique to Moscow, and the glass ceiling meant it was a hot greenhouse inside.



St. Basil seems smaller than in Tetris. Nevertheless, the onion domes are very interesting. I saw a similar-styled church in St. Petersburg but this one will always be the classic standard.



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Old May 30th, 2014, 09:30 PM   #2
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What an awesome collection! I wish I got to travel as much as you evidently do!
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Old May 31st, 2014, 08:36 AM   #3
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Wonderful thread.

I especially like the photos of magnificent St. Petersburg and Angkor Thom. Also - the food markets.
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Old May 31st, 2014, 12:23 PM   #4
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Great, very nice photos indeed
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Old May 31st, 2014, 09:02 PM   #5
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Great, just great! I love them all!
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Old June 2nd, 2014, 05:54 AM   #6
hkskyline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimothyR View Post
Wonderful thread.

I especially like the photos of magnificent St. Petersburg and Angkor Thom. Also - the food markets.
Yes. I am particularly fond of food markets - the messier the better. I try to schedule a local market into every itinerary.

Thanks for everyone's support.
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