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Culture, Travel Inspiration  •  ,

The reason to go to Hong Kong: 10 thousand Buddhas monastery

January 13, 2017

So you just arrived in Hong Kong and are thinking about going to the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau island… STOP NOW. Seriously, don’t waste your time on that expensive tourist trap and go to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery instead. If I had to pick one place to see in Hong Kong it would be the 10k Buddhas. I felt like on a bizarre movie set the whole time, plus it’s relatively unknown among the tourists. Isn’t that great?

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Culture, Travel Inspiration  • 

Dogon country, Mali

April 16, 2015

The Dogon people living in Mali’s Dogon country are an ethnical group with distinct traditions, including mask dancing, wooden sculptures and architecture. As they refused to convert to Islam a thousand years ago, they had to build settlements in defensible positions, along the walls of the Bandiagara cliff. Their religion which involves animals, spirits and androgynous creatures, is separated into several sects who worship different gods or totems.

Dogon society has experienced many changes during the last century, as Dogon’s country became one of the main tourist attraction of Mali. The main sights include mud huts and shrines, cave paintings and funeral masquerades.

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Photo: El-Len

 

Culture, Travel Inspiration  •  ,

Livraria Lello – a bookshop that inspired J.K. Rowling

November 12, 2014

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Livraria Lello in Porto (Portugal) is considered by some as the most beautiful bookshop in the world. The neogothic shop with swirling stairs, stained glass ceiling and intricate wood carvings are a must-see in Porto. It’s also rumoured this bookshop inspired J.K. Rowling in creation of the grand staircase at Hogwarts, as the author lived in Porto and worked as an English teacher.

Lello is a regular bookshop, with a variety of books, albums, travel guides and maps. Because of the growing popularity the library’s been expanding its offer to books in English, as well as various souvenirs from Portugal.

As Lello’s became one of Porto’s must-sees, you have to pay 3 euro to enter, though they change the rate quite often and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was 5 euros now. You have to buy your ticket in a booth opposite the entrance. Lello’s been also changing its photo policy, each time I’ve visited they had different rules (no photos, photos ok, you have to pay for the photos…), so please pay attention to that and respect their current regulations :)

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All photos in this post are my own, please link to this website if you wish to share them. And here’s Livraria Lello on a map:

Culture  • 

Celebrating Halloween around the world – Mexico’s Dia de Los Muertos

October 28, 2014

Remembering the dead in Mexico is more cheerful than in Europe. Friends and families gather to pray for the deceased and visit the cemeteries, but also hold parades and festivals. A distinctive Mexican tradition is building ofrendas – altars with food, flowers, sugar skulls and gifts for the spirits of the dead. Ofrendas often even include a small water basin and a mirror so the spirit can refresh itself when it arrives at the altar.

Mexican traditions can be traces to pre-Columbian past, when a festival dedicated to the goddess called Lady of the Dead was held. Today La Catrina – an elegantly dressed woman with a face of a skull corresponds to the Aztec goddess and is one of the main symbols of Mexican celebrations. People often paint their faces with skulls and decorate their hair with flowers when they go to the Day of the Dead parades.

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Offrenda in San Miguel, Mexico
Photo: David

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A parade in Mexico. Photo: Sangroncito

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Photo: Juls_22

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A Dia de los Muertos parade in Los Angeles.
Photo: Rob Sheridan

Culture  • 

Celebrating Halloween around the world – Europe

October 27, 2014
Halloween time in France. Photo: Claude Lina

Halloween time in France. Photo: Claude Lina

Halloween, the first day of so-called Allhallowtide, is traditionally the time to remember the dead relatives and saints. In United States, it has become one of the most commercial holidays and the customs gradually spread around the world. The old traditions are still alive today though. Here’s how Halloween is celebrated in Europe!

Today’s Halloween traditions are thought to have started in Celtic countries and influenced by the Samhain festival, when Celts celebrated the end of the summer by lighting up the bonfires, offering food to gods and holding games. In modern Scotland and Ireland, people started to disguise themselves and go from house to house singing songs in exchange for food. Then in 18th century, to imitate milignant spirits, they played pranks to each other – a tradition which later spread to England and then to United States.

Nowadays in Great Britain and Ireland, Halloween celebrations are similar to US ones, but are a bit darker and still connected to scaring off the spirits. Older people go to the cemeteries to light the candles and remember their dead ones and in Ireland some even refrain from eating meat on that day.

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Bonfire in Dublin, Ireland. Photo: Aileen O’Carroll

Though Halloween parties in Europe are becoming more and more popular, in some countries the traditions are still alive and cherished. For most of the people, it’s a time to remember their dead relatives, visit their graves and light up candles or bring flowers for them. The cemeteries are lit up with thousands of candles and it’s a quiet and serious day for the Christians.

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Cemetery in Poland.
Photo: onyks

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Halloween in Skogskyrkogården cemetery, Sweden. Photo: Michael Caven

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In Tab, Hungary. Photo: Romeodesign