Lisa Van Muyen

Lisa Van Muyen

Lisa Van Muyen

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it solely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." -Mark Twain

Hey everyone! I have started this journal in order to keep you informed of my adventures in Japan, as well as my travels throughout Asia.

Asia » Vietnam » Northwest » Lao Cai » Sapa August 30th 2008

On Friday night Larry and I boarded a rickety old train and spent the rest of the night (10 hours) being bumped and rocked around our 4-person "deluxe sleeper" on dirty mattresses which may have been nice 15 years ago. It was the beginning of our Sapa experience! We arrived at Lao Cai Station (on the Chinese-Vietnamese border) at 6:10am and boarded our 1-hour shuttle bus to Sapa. The ride was absolutely breathtaking! (LOL...Sometimes we lost our breath because of the beautiful scenery, other times it was because we thought our bus would fly over a high cliff when it zipped around the sharp corners!) Upon arrival at our hotel we were surrounded by women and girls of the H'Mong tribe. In surprisingly good English they asked us our names and where we are from. After ... read more
Ladies of the Hmong Tribe
Hmong Tribe
Lush, green Sapa

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hanoi August 27th 2008

Although Larry and I were only in Hanoi for two days, we managed to squeeze a lot in. Arriving from Hong Kong mid-day, we spent our first afternoon checking out Hoa Lo Prison Museum (nicknamed the 'Hanoi Hilton' by US POWs during the American War); fighting with scam artists (a.k.a. taxi drivers); researching trips to Halong Bay (which we would depart for the next morning) and Sapa; and touring the epicentre of old Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Lake. By early evening we were exhausted, but still managed to catch a performance of traditional Vietnamese water puppets. Having previously read about this traditional art form, I was curious to see what it was all about, and catching a show at the Municipal Water Puppet Theatre was definitely worthwhile. A Vietnamese art form of at least 1000 years old, ... read more
"Lucky Food"
Ngoc Son Temple
Bustling Hanoi

Asia » Macau August 26th 2008

Pictures from our day trip to Macau (coming from Hong Kong)...... read more
Church of St Dominic
Macau Cathedral

Asia » Hong Kong August 23rd 2008

For the next leg of our journey Larry and I headed to Hong Kong for a world-class skyline, delicious food (which was unfortunately sometimes accompanied with nauseating odors), and a quick reminder of the modern world as we recuperated from China and prepared for Vietnam. Getting to Hong Kong was an adventure in itself. We had originally planned to fly from Xi'an on Friday, August 22nd, but due to a massive typhoon ended up at the airport with tickets and luggage in hand and no way of getting there. Trying to make the most of our situation we fought with insurance companies, stuck close to anyone else in line who spoke English, and finally managed to find a hotel room at the anything-but-classy ARIPORT HOTEL. (Yes, according to their brochures and business cards, it was the ... read more
Beautiful Hong Kong
Cable Car to Lantau Island
Vegetarian Lunch in a Temple

Asia » China » Shaanxi » Xi'an August 21st 2008

In the early spring of 1974, local farmers - Peiyan Yang, Zhifa Yang, and Quanyi Yang - of XiYang village were drilling a series of wells in search of water. To their surprise, they discovered some pottery fragments and ancient bronze weapons.... no one ever expected that this accidental discovery would turn over a miraculous and brilliant leaf in history nor that it would unfold such a unique and majestic spectacle before the world! After years of drilling, excavation and textural research, the site of the terracotta army proved to be one of the biggest attendant burial pits of Chinese feudal emperor Qin Shi Huang. By 1976, three pits had been discovered. They were numbered Pits 1, 2, and 3 (in order of discovery), and covered a total area of over 20,000 square meters. Nearly 8,000 ... read more
Welcome to the Terracotta Warriors
Terracotta Warriors
Pit 1

Asia » China » Beijing August 17th 2008

Arriving in Bejing on a Sunday afternoon, we dropped off our stuff at our friend Nicole's apartment and spent the rest of the afternoon registering with her building management and the local police. Nothing like visiting a communist country! Kicking off Beijing in style, we later feasted on a traditional Beijing meal of Peking Duck, dumplings, caramelized lotus root, bok choy, and various other sauteed vegetables. Monday morning was an adventure! We had signed up to take a tour to the Great Wall through a local hostel, but when we tried to find the hostel for our 7am departure..... we realized that neither one of us remembered where it was. We panicked, we ran, we unsuccessfully asked for directions (from people who didn't speak a word of English), .... and then at 7:15am we somehow managed ... read more
Gate into the Ming Tombs
Structure used for burning Religious Artifacts at the Ming Tombs
Chinese Details

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto » Gion August 16th 2008

Okay, I know that I wasn't going to post anymore Osaka or Kyoto blogs, but this is one that I couldn't omit.... Four wonderful, adventurous, and exciting years have passed while I have lived in Japan, and although I was constantly trying different things and visiting new places, there was one thing that took me forever to do.... become a maiko!!!!! After studying and observing Japanese culture for so long I have always wondered what I would look like dressed as a maiko-san (geisha-in-training), and so on August 16th (my second last day in Japan), I finally decided to visit a studio in Gion. I arrived at 9am and spent the next hour or so choosing my kimono, getting my make-up done, and having a wig pinned to my head. The white powdery make-up was thick, ... read more
Entrance to the Studio in Gion
Introducing:  Maiko-san Lisa
Spot the Foreigner...

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