All posts filed under: South America

Day 237: Last day in Cusco, Peru

Last day of this epic, lifechanging adventure. Here’s what I’m grateful for: Meeting Liz and Andy on the bus and getting to know them a bit better over breakfast back at the Prisma. / Prisma hotel for letting me purchase 2.5 hours’ worth of roomage, enough for an hour of dedicated yoga practice and the rest of the time to shower (man you really start to look forward to your showers here!) and do some last minute reshuffling and packing. / During our last group meal together, Victor asked everyone what they loved most about traveling. Here are some of the better responses, paraphrased: “I love traveling because it opens my eyes to this world that exists outside of my own. And because it teaches me through experience, the things that no book or teacher could ever give you first hand.” / “I love traveling because of the freedom. The freedom to go where you want, do as you please, whenever you fancy. Everything is a choice and a decision you make based on your …

lake titicaca, puno, peru

Day 236: Lake Titicaca, Puno, Peru.

Glad I made the most of my trip and made the right decision in coming to Lake Titicaca. A rather different side to this country’s very rich culture, I’ve traded in ancient, abandoned cloud-high ruins for floating islands made of bundled up reeds (miraculous themselves!), very much alive and populated with the water-drawn people of Uros. Lake Titicaca is the world’s “highest, commercially navigable lake” – whatever that’s supposed to mean. I prefer to just know it as the largest lake in South America… So expansive you might as well be staring out into the sea. I mean, this thing makes Hong Kong harbour look like an overcrowded fish bowl. It took us 3 hours just to get to the island of Amantani (at least I think that’s where we went!), albeit we probably had the slowest motor boat in the world (imagine sitting on one of the Lama or Mui Woh ferries in Hong Kong for 3 hours each way… That’s how painful it was!). Anyway, the best part of the tour was the …

sleeper bus peru

Day 235: Day 8, Inca Discovery Tour, Peru.

Well, not much discovering of Incas now that Machu Picchu is done and conquered. Nonetheless, today I’m grateful for my 70-minute full body massage that was the perfect blend of Swedish, shiatsu, hot stone and aromatherapy massage – and all for 40 Soles! Yea, that’s £10 pounds for an hour and 10 mins of blissful, rejuvenating massage. / Today was the last day with all the “pumas” together. Grateful for Greens. Man that was a good meal! Definitely worth the 4.5 stars awarded by TripAdvisor! / Thanks Vic and Ariel for letting me crash and repack my stuff in your room. / Thanks Arif (Carol!) for offering to do the same! / Thanks Prisma for letting me store my huge rucksack while I’m gone. / Tonight, I took a risk and followed my gut. 2 days before my flight, I’m catching an 8-hr night bus to Puno to visit the floating islands of Lake Titicaca. Tomorrow night, I’ll head back the same way, with ample time to catch my flight. Sometimes, you just gotta go where the …

Day 234: Day 7, Machu Picchu.

Day 4 / 4 of the Inca Trail. Today, I planted my hard-worked feet and thirsty, eager eyes on Machu Picchu for the first time. Considering there are plans to one day install a cable car system so that tourists can only ‘visit’ this World Wonder remotely, suspended from above, I am very much grateful I got to fulfil a lifelong desire and really experience this bit of history up close and personal. / Grateful for the flat lawns for me to do a bit of long-awaited yoga and headstands. I said I would do some appropriate sun salutations when I got up top, and so I did! / Grateful for the crack in the wall for me to hide Liz’s postcard. Hopefully it stays intact and inconspicuous until May! / Grateful for our short visit to Machu Picchu village, aka Aguas Calientes or “hot water”. / Grateful for our luxury carriage on PeruRail back to Ollantaytambo. / Grateful for this great little restaurant called Aguaymanta in Cusco where we had generous portions of dinner …

winawayna peru

Day 233: Day 6, Inca Discovery Tour, Peru

Day 3 of the Inca Trail – 16km traversed. Just man and his boots. Probably the most beautiful and inspiring ‘wanders’ I’ve done to date. / Grateful for our visit to the Winaywayna (translation: Forever Young) ruins. If this is breathtaking already, I can only imagine what Machu Picchu will be like! / Grateful for the constant reminder today of the real world that exists beyond the 30 x 58 x 22″ dimensions of our desks, that knows no walls, and silently, patiently breathes outside the concrete jungles of our hometowns. But I suppose better action than inaction, as we are all tied to our own duties and karma, and have our various lives to sustain and lead. Though may we always remain focused on That and remember, especially in the toughest of times, that freedom is easily regained by simply letting go… (The Gita, Ch. 3) / Thank you again to the porters and chefs for preparing everything today, most especially the 3-course buffet, inside our marquis, 3,700m (12, 139 ft) up in the sky… …

camping tent

Day 232: Day 5, Inca Discovery Tour, Peru

Inca Trail Day 2 – Today was the most challenging of this trek, with the goal of climbing and pulling ourselves up the steep, 70-degree slope to Dead Woman’s Pass, 13, 769 ft above sea level (that’s higher than what most people sky dive from between 10,000 and 12,500 ft). / Today, I am grateful for reaching this summit, which is the highest point I have ever personally, independently and physically dragged my self up in my life so far. / I am chuffed for being the 4th one to reach this point, and the 2nd female in the group to do so. / Grateful for not having altitude sickness and for whatever god-given speed it was that suddenly hit me and allowed me to fly down that mountain and reach our 2nd base camp way before everyone else. Boy, what a thrill that was!! / Thank you, Dad, for all the hikes we’ve done together. I couldn’t have had better preparation and training for this 🙂 Wish you’d have been here! This one’s for you …

Day 231: Day 4, Inca Discovery Tour, Peru

Inca Trail Day 1 – Grateful to have started our 4-day trek to Macchu Picchu. / Grateful for every step of the 7km we walked today and every natural wonder our eyes feasted on along the way, from quinoa fields to snow-capped mountains, hummingbirds and undulating, rolling waves of overgrown and dense jungle. / Thank you to all the porters who carried the bulk of our stuff up and down these steps. / And to the chef for making the effort to buy me fake soy meat for dinner. / Thank you to G Adventures for putting together this amazing tour – I was so not expecting this… This is the most pampered I have been on any camping trip. Definitely worth every penny. And then some!

Day 230: Day 3, Inca Discovery Tour, Peru

Here are some of the things I’m grateful for today: Our guided tour through the Sacred Valley of the Incas / Visiting the weaving ladies of Saqsaywaman (yes, it sounds like sexy woman with an accent!). / Seeing llamas and alpacas roaming freely before me, and learning how to distinguish the two. / Visiting the market stalls and finding my perfect yoga blanket made of thick and comfortable alpaca wool. (Apparently wool, being a natural fibre, is better for asanas and meditation as it neutralises the ground or earth currents which would otherwise detract from and distract one’s practice… That, and it keeps you warm and therefor comfortable for longer!) / Finding my perfect hippie pants (trousers?! – I don’t know how to speak anymore. Too much traveling and cross culture communication!) / Realising another reason why I love this country… I’m in quinoa heaven! This stuff is everywhere – there are fields and FIELDS of this stuff! Growing tall and wild and all clustered in different colours! – and today’s vegetable quinoa soup at …

Day 229: Day 2, Inca Discovery Tour, Peru

Grateful for flight no. 10 of 14 from Lima to Cusco. Sooo far so good 😉 / Grateful I’ve finally just been reimbursed for the extra flight I booked back to Lima by accident… Erm… So it turns out I don’t just miss flights, I tend to double book them as well 😐 / Cusco, te quiero! Currently 11, 200 ft above sea level and grateful not to have altitude sickness. 2, 580 ft more to go 🙂 Am actually quite chuffed because I just found out that although Macchu Picchu itself is only 7, 970 ft above sea level, the highest point on our trek is when we reach Dead Woman’s Pass at 13, 780 ft. Which means… I will have surpassed the last biggest mountain climb I did when I was 14 up Mt Kinabalu in Borneo (13, 435 ft). SWEET! / Here are other things I’m grateful for today: Travelex Cash Passports (another thing all global nomads should have in their pockets!); our new tour guide, Max; G Adventures for organising this whole trip; getting …

Day 228: Day 1, Inca Discovery Tour, Peru

Grateful for La Castellana and having a roll of butter and jam for breakfast. / Grateful that this place has free WiFi. That meant I could check up on Kat (who is the most wonderful person in the world for arranging and keeping me posted on all of these house viewings without me!!), and the folks back home in HK. / Grateful for Victor, Ariel and Arif (aka ‘Carol’ :p )  and spending the day wandering around Lima. / Grateful for the really pleasant dinner we had with everyone else tonight, and for trying Chicha Morada (this really interesting drink made from fermented and sweetened purple corn – sort of tastes like flat root beer and port at the same time!) and Cancha Salada (giant – and I meant GIANT – corn kernels deep fried and salted so they pop and explode in your mouth. Yes, I’m pretty sure this was the predecessor to modern-day popcorn) for the first time. YUM!