Exploring the beautiful Philippines with kids

Our neighbor has moved and took all the fighting cocks somewhere else, so there were no more crowing roosters nearby as I woke up at 3h30 and started preparing coffee while making sure we have our passports and tickets. At 4h,it was Carlo’s turn and then the girls . Half and hour later, everyone was ready to go.

At 5h in the morning as the village began to rouse we were at the bus station in Bayan, had a quick stop at 7-11 then off we went. We arrived at PITX around 7h30, then we took a taxi to the airport. After checking in our luggage, we went out and had some snack at the kiosk in front of the airport. We had a lot of time, our plane would leave at 12h55. Yes, we were so early. I told my husband that it would be better to leave early than be stuck in the traffic and it could be bad in Imus. We arrived in Cebu by 14h30 and queued for the white taxi.

OUR ITINERARY:

CaviteMactan(Cebu) -Tagbilaran, Calape, Jagna (Bohol) – Camiguin – Panglao (Bohol) – Siquijor – Oslob (Cebu)Cavite
black line-ferry except the plane from Manila to Cebu, blue line-by car or public transport

BEWARE OF SCAM

Week 1 We arrived in Mactan International Airport at 14h20 and took a taxi to go to our hotel. After various attempts of contacting the number which was given to Carlo we went straight to supposedly hotel which turned out not existing. He talked to a guard and found out that some people had the same fate that day. We resolved to go to a café and used their wifi. It was a bit late when we were able to book another accommodation which was far from the center and looked bizarre. To make the story short, this one was not ready yet and we decided to leave and took a taxi to look for another one. We ended up in Amethyst which we thought we all deserve after an afternoon of adventure.

The following day, we checked out from the hotel at 12h and went to the pier. Our boat was at 13h. More info here:

In Tagbilaran port, drivers approached us, asking about our destination. After some drinks and pansit, we called the one who gave us his calling card and headed to Calape. Once in our hotel, he insisted on being paid more than our agreed fare. Saying our destination was after the market, etc, but we didn’t pay more. The price was what the staff of our inn has told us.

We stayed for just a night in the Inn , a picturesque place in Calape town and the following day, headed to Jagna by taxi (₱3000). But along the way, our driver took us to the Sanctuary.

For my husband and I, this was our second visit to the Sactuary, having traveled in Bohol in 2005. Afterwards we had lunch in Loboc and tasted some carabao meat. In Jagna, we stayed in Partner’s Inn where we received some welcome cookies and hot chocolates. The inn can be found along the highway and our room has our basic needs. Plus the staff were kind and accommodating. Carlo bought our tickets for 13h ferry early in the morning and we did our check out at midday. The trip to Camiguin would be 4 hours.

Once in Mambajao, we were met by Alex. He is the brother of Ivan, whom Carlo met in Romblon.

Week 2 We stayed in Nautilus Cottages owned by Alex & Jenny,a swiss/Filipina couple.

THINGS TO DO IN CAMIGUIN with KIDS

HOT SPRING – Our host, Alex drove us to the spring. The weather was just right and though the water was not that warm compared to the other springs we have visited, it was good to be surrounded by greens. We chatted with a Pinoy/german and his french girlfriend who live in Spain. It was drizzling when we were about to leave so we stopped by the food stall and we had some grilled banana and bbq before walking back to our cottage.

BEACH – We walked along the rocky beach lined with coconut trees and met a few stray dogs along the way. Nonetheless, found a nice spot and later it rained. We took another route and walked by the rice field.

SUNKEN CEMETERY & SNORKELING – A must in Camiguin.

A tricycle brought us to Barrio Bonbon in Catarman and we registered to snorkel around the sunken cemetery. Guide: ₱150, Fee: ₱300 Materials: ₱50.

MANTIGUE ISLAND– From Hubangon, a boat (₱600 for 6 persons) took us to the island for a 4 hr stay. Cottages in the island cost ₱150 or you can just find a shady spot or sunbathe though it would get really hot. Bring a hat and sun screen though husband had his shirt on while snorkeling without any sun protection.

FALLS – We went to Katibawasan falls and had kiping for the first time. It’s a snack made of cassava with latik ( syrup made from muscovado and coco milk ). The water was a bit cold but refreshing. It’s best to come early and enjoy the quiet surrounding.

FOOD TRIP – Had dinner in Luna Café and tried their pizza.

Week 3

someone learned his lesson 😉

Checked out from the cottage and took a ferry to Tagbilaran, then another one for a 45 min boat ride to Panglao and stayed in Panglao Island Inn for the night. We took the girls for a swim and had dinner in a greek restaurant which was really good.

The following morning, we took a ferry boat to Siquijor.

We stayed for 4 nights in Casitas Siquijor . We were later joined by Sophie, my husband’s friend in Geneva and her girls. Their family now lives overseas.

S I Q U I J O R W I T H K I D S

There are beaches and some places we have visited.

SAN JUAN BEACH a beautiful white beach where we swam and had our mango smoothies.

LUGNASON FALLS there was a bit of dry spell and the falls was not full nevertheless the kids jumped and swam.

As we were heading up to leave the falls, a man told us to go left where we’d find another area with more water. 😉

OLD ENCHANTED BALETE TREE never knew about this particular tree, to be honest though growing up, I heard that Siquijor is an island of sorcery which made me not want to go and there I was with my family and friends sitting by the balete tree while letting the fish took over our feet.

CAMBUGAHAY FALLS some steep steps will lead to a beautiful body of water.The kids and my husband did quite a few rope swing jumps. But be wary of your personal belongings.

captured by Sophie

SALAGDOONG BEACH this was our last stop in our day tour. The restaurant could get busy at lunch time. The slide was under repair so the kids and Carlo just jumped off the cliff. We, moms were patiently waiting for our bunch to jump. We shrieked with joy and triumph every time one of the girls made it beside us.

OFF TO SEE THE WHALE SHARK

Along with Sophie and her girls we ferried to Oslob and arrived late at night. We took a tricycle to our hotel and the following day we left early to see the whale shark. But we were not the only one to see them. Our group was registered by the hotel staff who organized our tour.

by Sophie

Before leaving Oslob, we had lunch at Le Bistrot with Sophie and her girls. We said our goodbyes then hailed our bus which would take us to Cebu after 5 hrs or so ride.

The next day, our flight was more than 5 hours late and so we arrived late in Manila. Others have flight that night in Europe and were hoping to catch their plane on time. In PITX there was no more bus for Cavite.

We then tried to find a hotel nearby for the night which would not cost too much. Tired, we slept as soon as we arrived in the hotel.

In the morning, after the free breakfast, we took a taxi to the PITX, hoping that our Alfonso buses would still pass by the terminal. Unfortunately, we had to take 2 buses and arrived early afternoon in Alfonso.

It was a indeed a great trip and made special because of meeting special friends from abroad. Hope to see you again,les filles!

TAAL VOLCANO Day Tour with kids

Taal Volcano which is in Talisay, Batangas is visible from Tagaytay that is few minutes away from my town. We always take this route going to Mendez or up north. Unless we want to avoid the traffic and take the Indang road. But I have never been there so it was a good opportunity to take the girls and their little cousins for a little day tour.

IMPORTANT THINGS I HAVE LEARNED

1.Only six people are allowed in the boat. We ended up taking two boats.

2.Negotiate the price. Though every operator have fixed their price we were able to lower down the cost of our 2 boats.

Once in the Tourist Reception Center, students who have their IDs do not need to pay the fee. Only one of my nieces has her number memorized.

3.Bring a towel and some extra clothes. There might be some strong waves and though they provide a tarp to keep you dry it would not be the case all time. I was worried for the children but immediately lighten up because getting wet became part of the adventure and we had fun. Just leave your stuff in the car.

Once you get back to your car after the tour and you’re soaking wet, you’ll be thankful to have some dry clothes going back home. Specially, when you and your family decided to eat in Jollibee.

4. Good walking shoes. It would get dusty and slippery at times, so to avoid slipping and falling down you need one.

5. Hike. There were horses for rent but it was more interesting to walk and enjoy the view. The girls ran,sang and chided each other all the way to the top. There might be few occasions of frustrations of not being able to ride a horse. But seeing its state with the guide and the client riding together (most of the time), I was glad we just hiked, besides during some stops we were able to chat with some tourists.

It was a lovely, sunny day.

contemplating the view

6. Bring your own water/drinks. Because the cost of everything usually tripled and when you have 5 children with you, wow, that would hurt the budget.

Though some slid and ended on their bottom, we came down safe and sound. It was a fun a day which culminated of course in Jolibee, where else?

Cambodia

03.12.2018 From Bangkok, we took the bus for Cambodia and our tickets were purchased the night before. We have decided to do the visa procedure ourselves instead of paying an additional fee. We were told to wait by 8h in front of the travel agency and someone would take us to the bus but it was almost 9h before someone showed up.

It should be easy in the border, so I thought. Using my Philippine passport, I was not to pay anything. But the officer asked for my date of entry which was of course posted in my CH passport. To make the long story short, I went back to pay for my visa using the CH passport. I apologized to the other passengers for waiting and they were all understanding.

We made few stops before reaching our destination and in one of those stops we were told to buy first before using the toilet. No, we didn’t need the sim card, yes, some water please. 😉

SIEM REAP

We arrived in Siem Reap early evening. At the station, tuk tuk drivers were waiting for the passengers to be taken to the center. We have negotiated for two tuk tuks to take us to our guesthouse. We stayed in Thngay Soben Guesthouse , a family run guesthouse, where the owner organized our rides and most of our tours.

WHERE TO GO

Art Box:

Good for children. Not for husbands. 🙂 We haven’t been to any 3d paintings and murals so it was a good occasion to visit this museum. We came early and luckily we were able to avoid the other tourists who came in buses. The tour took us less than an hour and at the end of the visit one can get free ice cream once a Trip advisor comment was done.

Sunset in Angkot Wat: After purchasing our pass for the next day tour, we went to Angkor Wat as people were exiting the temple.

Meet Up:

We have met some people in Siem Reap thru this Facebook group, some with children who were also traveling for a year and we were able to do things together on the duration of our stay in town.

Temple tour: With our hired tuk tuk, we left our guesthouse around 8h and started the tour from the last temple, we were hoping to avoid the influx of visitors. But that could not happen here. On to our 2nd temple, we have crossed path with fellow Asians who arrived in buses. However, it didn’t really matter. We entered the temple in awe and wonder while music floated on the air. For me, visiting the temples was about one’s communion with the sacred place, the nature and one’s inner peace.

We skipped some of the temples, thinking that we have seen those we wanted to visit.

Dine for a cause
On our second night, we had dinner with two french families at a french restaurant called Chili Pepper where students of Krousar Thmey performed.

Floating village tour We were picked up from our guesthouse then the driver continued picking up some more guests. Arriving in our destination, we were then driven to another area coz the first one did not have enough water. It was exciting at first, sailing by the houses painted with vibrant colors but as we reached the dry land, we were greeted by hawkers. And I wonder why do they sell pens and notebooks. Then as we moved along with our guide, showing us a small class underneath the houses, I understood then. But it felt uneasy walking in the area. I felt like an intruder. There was no interaction with the locals or any leader of the community.

We didn’t join the others in the mangrove visit. Instead, we stayed in the boat while waiting for the rest of the group to arrive and then watched the sunset.

BATTAMBANG

From Siem Reap, we have shared a ride with les Macax in their camper van. We stayed in Por Chey for 3 nights .

Phare Ponleu Selpak – The one not to miss here. There are performances every night and we were able to watch the “Village Market”.

We arrived early and had some drinks. There were some students who could create a caricature for anyone who were interested. My girls, of course had a tour of their souvenir shop.

Battambang bat cave A 45 min spectacle. The street was lined with tables and chair ready for the spectators. A girl pointed us an empty table when we arrived. She later told us that she was glad to be able to practice her english. We had some drinks while watching the bats went out of the cave and flew together.

Night market

We had a quick stop here after watching the circus and tasted some balut with the local sauce.

FOOD TRIP

Aside from eating at the Battambang Town restaurant with the whole family, I went to Jaan Bai with my daughters,
one afternoon while husband was resting. It was really good though a bit expensive.

Bamboo train We we’re driven to the station by Rith who was a nice fellow and explained us a bit about the bamboo train.

That afternoon we experienced riding the norry. It was an hour to and fro ride where one cruise along a green scenery. When another norry came in our direction, we stopped and our driver would lift the whole thing at the side of the track with the help of the other norry driver. And of course at the end of the trip, there were souvenir shops. My husband purchased a krama. I guess, no knitting this winter for me.

PHNOM PENH

Independence Monument

We hired a taxi for our trip to Phnom Penh. The staff of our guest house has given me a post-it where he wrote the english and khmer translation of toilet, stop and restaurant. The driver, incidentally, has already filled his trunk with some merchandise to be taken to the city. Luckily, we were able to fit our luggage inside.


Booking.com fiasco– arriving in our guesthouse, we found out that though we received Booking.com‘s confirmation, it was not the case for the owner. So we didn’t have any room. They found us a room for the night and then we came back to stay one more night with them.

What to do:

Musée du Genocide de Tuol Sleng A visit not to miss.

We were both moved by this. I would sometimes go out and just cry. How about the girls? I would ask if they would like to go on or tell them the the images would be shocking and there were some rooms where we didn’t let them visit. When we finished the visit, both of them had a fervent hope that this would not occur anymore.

Food trip in images

Miss Universe 2018

To celebrate Ms. Catriona‘s winning, we went out to eat at this restaurant with wall covered with clients’ drawings. My daughter, Karen, did the one above.

We were at VS Sweet Home,
(our guesthouse, a bit far from the center but our host went his way to make our stay comfortable) when the telecast for Miss Universe was going on.

then it was time to go…

So long, Cambodia!

From Phnom Penh, we took a plane for Bangkok where we’d stay for a night then fly to Manila with my sister-in-law, Zem. Really excited to finally see our relatives.

On nems, motorbike and birthday in Hanoi

The drive from the hotel to Haneda airport is less than 20 minutes and before 6h30 we were queuing for check-in. At exactly 6h30 the staff of ANA  had their little ceremony before opening the counter and then the check-in started. The staff in general were really nice and helpful.

We arrived in Hanoi on the 8th of November after 6 hours or so flight from Tokyo. Exiting the airport, I  saw right away the man holding the sign with my husband’s name on it. Our hotel has sent someone to pick us up from the airport.

The hotel is located at the old quarter, where every nook and corner has shops and restaurant. The alley to our hotel is lined with vendors where everything looks so delicious.

It was rare that I take pictures of what we eat and when I wanted to, my phone would be no where in sight. Hence, no picture of the first lunch of Karen which was evidently, a plate of nems.


A Vietnamese story

We became Vietnam dish lovers because of my friend, Jenna. A Vietnamese -American who is married to Tony, an Italian-Swiss. Both are in Geneva and we are their absent quasi neighbor for some weeks now. They moved into our neighborhood. Yey! Anyway, she introduced us to Pho and nems.

Her mom, who visited them, some years ago, taught me how to prepare summer rolls and its peanut sauce. And up to this day, I am so grateful to her for sharing that knowledge.

This is Us

After Japan, my husband and I decided to take it really easy. And as Karen’s birthday approach, we let her decide what to do. So, no boats or anymore bus for the time being. Just nems, mangoes and dim sum.Great!

I have never seen so many motorbikes in my life. The street here is filled with them and parked in front of of restos and shops. Crossing the street with my girls, was not an easy task.

We arrived the week when there was a festival called #INSPIREme Festival 2018. Everyday, there was a program and live music.

After two nights in this hotel, we booked another one in the french quarter.

We were able to watch the the water puppet show and bought our tickets the day before to avoid long queuing. Yet, there was a tourist group before us and the line was in state of complete disorder and confusion. Hats off to the cashier.

Our eldest daughter, Karen turned 11 (11.11.18) while here in Hanoi. We went to a restaurant for her bday dinner and later have the cake at the apartment.

She didn’t want to blow the cake in the resto and preferred to have it quiet with only her family .

As we prepared her cake, she got a WhatsApp call from her friends. I was really glad and thankful to Alessia, the mother of her friend, Diana,who initiated the call. Karen was able to talk to her other two friends as well. That made her day.

On our way to the airport, amidst the passing vehicles this wall captured my interest.

This long wall could take your mind away from the traffic for a few minutes and that’s a good thing.

Our flight for Bangkok was at 10h35. We were glad for the chance to visit Hanoi and would have wanted to stay longer, to be able to explore more. See you again, Hanoi!

No *soucis! Only sushi, please!

Tokyo

Japan has always fascinated us. Admiring its culture, food and scenery from afar. That’s why we were thrilled to visit Tokyo and eat tons of sushi (as Erin planned).

While in New Zealand, I have reached out to a Facebook group concerning Japan and realized that it was too late to follow most of the tips given. I was worried.

No, this Nanay was not Japan ready.


We arrived in Tokyo on the first day of November and stayed for three days in Tokyo 2020 hostel.  Our room has a bunk bed for our daughters and a tatami for the adults. There are common bathrooms in every floor and a kitchen downstairs.Laundry service is also available. My husband and I hanged our clothes at the rooftop, all the while enjoying the view. 

During our stay, I would take our two luggage outside our room in the morning as we get ready for our day trip. We were not spoiled with room space here in Tokyo. However, our host,Tom and Kimiko, were very helpful and accommodating. Moreover,we have met  fellow Pinoys in the hostel, making me feel closer to my home country everyday.

We did not purchase JR pass or bought the IC card. No pocket wifi neither. What we did was purchase our tickets every time we’d use the public transportation. With regards to directions, I googled our itinerary  and screened shot everything and use our hostel’s wifi connection. I had some difficulty with Maps.me, so I gave it up entirely.

Of course, we would get lost or even perhaps looked helpless at times,but what fascinated me was- there would always be someone who would offer an unsolicited help EVERY TIME. If and when we were lost, this was a privileged time for me to unlearn my being introvert.


 
While searching for this tower, we chanced upon this bookstore. Do not forget to bring your passport to avail of the VAT.

Sushi course

I was keen for the girls to experience Japan. Knowing our youngest loves sushi, I booked us an Airbnb experience on our 2nd day. I have proposed several activities to Ate K. but she declined. There was no Mangga drawing course.

That night, my heart was bursting with joy as my daughter, Erin and I walked back to the hostel. She was cheerful and appreciative of our experience. For her, Nanay is the best.

Then we got lost. Yet there were  kind hearted souls to help us and language barrier was not a hindrance for them.


In our 2nd day, we took the girls to Legoland and bought a combined tickets for that and Madame Tussauds. At the end of the tour, we all agreed that the Discovery Center was not for their age bracket anymore.

However, we all enjoyed Madame Tussauds. No doubt about that even if Hugh Grant was not there. Anyway, I  found  Victoria B. but some tired dads were sitting next to her while their kids were strutting on the floor, so I just admired her composed figure from afar and promised to see her soon.

After sitting with President Obama and rocking with Madonna, we went back to Shibuya, eager to find this sushi train TripAdvisor has recommended. We found it but not without difficulty, blame it to my map expertise. Anyway, arriving on the 8th floor, the queue was so long. We waited for Carlo to finish his cigarette (yes, smoking room on that floor!) and decided that we would not wait anymore. We went to another resto nearby, disappointed.

After crossing Shibuya for the 2nd time, we went to get our books from the Kinokuniya bookstore. Then took the train at the Shinjuku station.

Nagoya

After 3 days, we took the Shikansen for Nagoya. I have booked our accommodation thru Airbnb.

We also planned to meet my college friend,Myra. We became friends during our freshman year along with 5 other girls.

She came bearing gifts of matcha tea, noris, a casserole pan and other Japanese goodies. Well, the pan..we bought some rice and I asked her if she could lend us one from her home.

It was an emotional reunion. The night was not enough for both of us,there were so many stories to be shared and reminisced. So the following night we had drinks and I spent the night with her and her family. She also joined us in our mini exploration of the city.

During our last night in Nagoya, she treated us for our long awaited sushi train dinner.

The next day, our tribe had a quick afternoon visit to the Atsuta Jingu shrine.

After Nagoya, we went back to Tokyo. We have booked at the Relief Premium hotel for the night.

In Keikyū Kamata Station, we discovered Ota City Tourist Center while trying to figure out how to go to our hotel.


The friendly staff, pointed us to the right direction and offered some activities.  A few minutes after settling in our hotel,we went back to the tourist office and the four of us immersed ourselves in folding, cutting and sticking beautiful Japanese papers.

I could stay all afternoon in that center, creating anything.  But after making our origami, Japanese fans and playing the chopstick game (Karen and I won), we went to explore the neighborhood and Daiso. Then walked back to our hotel,pleased with our day &  mesmerized by the night lights.

Love and drama

Everything enthralled us, from the vending machines to 7-11, from our hostel’s  luggage lift to the bathroom. We are in awe!

However,the day would sometimes not go as planned. There would be kids’ drama and helplessness for us, parents. We’d extend our vocal chords then  practiced patience all over again. Yes, we are constantly learning  with our children.

Giving them more love.   Remembering  that a few days back we were told that we were the best parents in this whole wide world . 😉  No voice records for that but they said it anyway  and that’s enough for us. 💖

The following day at 6h in the  morning, we were on our way to the airport. Next destination: Hanoi, Vietnam.

*worries

In the land of parilla and chimichurri

Jujuy to Salta

Everyone was getting off the bus, while someone was shouting Jujuy! So, we went down as well. The drivers knew we were going to Salta but did not take us to the new bus terminal.  I asked a man for direction but he said that the terminal was 1 km  and he indicated a bus which would take us to the Nuevo terminal. And yes, we were glad to take the bus.

We took the Salta bound bus at 15h30 and arrived after 2.5 hours. We had sandwiches while we waited for the departure.

I was amazed by the Nuevo terminal and its buses. A far cry from the buses, we used to take when I was a small girl.

13.10.2018 We have booked two nights in a hostel called Gaucho Backpacker Inn. There’s a kitchen and shared CR and bathrooms.

It was a bit difficult find a money exchange being Saturday. Most ATMs charge fee which would make one cringe in disbelief. We also forget that from 12h30 up to 16h or even 17h the shops are closed.

We found a restaurant called La Fogata. We were famished and so ate almost all the bread served to us before the main course. This was a big mistake. 😉 given the  hefty portion of the parillada for 2 that we shared. Good service, by the way. The lady even served a small portion of fries for the girls.

14.10.2018  7 am We had a long night. Our neighbor partied from 23h last night and the music is still on. It felt like I partied the night away minus the apéro.

Before midday, we returned to the center and  visited the museum near the plaza 9 de Julio. We were not able to visit the one in Arequipa so this time I have insisted on going.  It was an interesting one but left me feeling uneasy and disturbed.

Our bus for Corrientes was at 17h. During one of the check points around 22h, IDs were checked and some passengers were asked to open their suitcases.Ours being one of them. Unfortunately, two passengers were carrying an important amount of money and interrogation process lasted  until half past midnight.

15-16. 10.2018  Corrientes  We booked in a hostel for one night and  arrived at around 10h in the morning, the day where there was a féria and almost everything was closed. Still craving  for some parillada, we found a resto which serves a buffet lunch but not as good as the one we had in Salta.

In the evening, we joined the rest of the residents in the Camba Cuá park for the féria.

In the morning of our departure, we walked along Parana River in Punta San Sebastián. We ended up in a small restaurant where we waited almost an hour to be served. Why we stayed? One has to pay the order first. So along with 6 or so people ahead of us, we waited for ages and could not do anything other than wait.Verdict? Not worth the wait.

Our bus for Iguazu was scheduled at 21h30. Anna Lia, the staff of the hostel let us stayed in the girls’ room until 16h as we vacated our own room at around 10h. Having known that we’re leaving late, she agreed that we leave our bags till 20h30.So with a few hours to spare before our night bus, the fambam went malling.

For someone who doesn’t like the AC, remember to bring a sweater 😉 It could get too chilly inside the mall. And bring a book or something to read while the others dance battle.

video-1540974177

Corrientes to Puerto Iguazu

  • Bus company : Rio Uruguay
  • ticket price : 1055.-/ per person (no discount for the girls)

17-19.2018 We arrived in Iguazu at 6h40  and headed to a bakery shop near the terminal. We planned to stay for 3 days then head to Uruguay. Afterwards,  back to Buenos Aires where we would take the plane for New Zealand.

We planned  to see the falls on the 2nd day of our stay here. Unfortunately, it was raining but we went ahead anyway.

The next day was sunny and was a good day to return to finish the tour in Iguazú falls but our shoes were all wet. And no one has the strength to go back after our rainy trip.

My quest for chimichurri

What I found was not the chimichurri I’ve hope for, a bit disappointed so will just stick to my version.

Next is our trip to Uruguay…

Bolivia with kids: Three day Uyuni tour

Potosi to Uyuni

06.10.2018 The girls seemed oblivious of the paysage. I could not blame them. Mountains and valleys do not affect them that much. Though the presence of llamas does. There were ooohs!! and ahhs! everytime both of them see the llamas grazing. This  ride was short compared to the previous ones yet displays the vastness and beauty of Bolivian nature.

We took a taxi from our hotel to the Potosi Ex Terminal  for an  Uyuni bound bus. As usual, we did not reserve our tickets. The girls paid full and there’s also a terminal fee collected by a woman who stood infront of the bus scheduled to leave. With some fruits, chifles and sodas, we were ready to go.

  • bus : Turismo 11 de Julio
  • uso de terminal : Bs. 1.- (the girls did not pay)
  • ticket to Uyuni : Bs. 25.-/person (no reduction for the girls)


Some might find this less important yet when you’re tired, all you wanted to do is find your seat number (unless the driver said that it’s asiento libres) These numbers could sometimes be found where the lights and a.c. are.

We reserved a room in Uyuni for one night. Our accommodation, kidded Carlo, is  a preparation for Japan’s capsule room. The girls were in one room with a bunk bed and ours is just 5 steps away. We are for windows and well-lit rooms but in case it’s the opposite, I’m still grateful that we have a room for the night.

Erin’s 9th birthday celebration

We celebrated our youngest birthday in Uyuni and went to a resto called Cactus,where we had a free cocktail c/o a flyer found in an agency.

There was no cake or brownies available in the mercado so she chose banana with chocolate as postre. And with some candles and sprinkles bought earlier  her “cake” was then complete. It’s true, happiness can be found in pink and blue cake sprinkles just look at her face. 😉

For our excursion, we went to an agency not far for from our hostel.  We have chosen the 3-day excursion and was able to have a bit of discount.

ready to go

Cost of the 3 day tour for a family of 4: Bs. 3000.-

Tour includes: transport,food and accommodation

Not included: Isla entrance fee(30.-) Nat’l park entrance fee (150) Aguas termales (6), shower/C.R. en route

First day

The departure was at 10h30. We replenished our “snack bag” after depositing our baggage we’d leave behind during our 3 day tour. The german couple who would be in our group turned out to be a french couple in their early 20’s.

We spent the night in Los Lipez. One has to pay Bs 10.- for the shower which is usually locked. Someone would hand the key and would say “10 minutos”! Hmm, was hoping to stand in the shower for a day…Zut, alors!

Second day

We left the hostal before 8h and headed to another attraction. Our stops varied from 5-30 minutes and the drive were quite long.

“Imagine how many slimes we can make w/ those borax. ” Ate said,seeing the borax on the lake.

a group of vicuña

At night,we stayed in another hostal, which was more basic compared to the the one in Los Lipez. It was so cold that 3 blankets were not enough. Though we had an option to  rent a sleeping bag, we skipped it thinking that with our alpaca socks, bonnet and sweater it would be okay. And we were wrong!

Third day

We were to wake up at 4h in the morning and should leave between 4h30-4h40. We decided not to wake the girls up at 4am and instead let them sleep until it was time to go.

I woke up early, too early in fact! 🙂 It turned out that I still have the local time in PERU in my cellphone. Imagine Carlo’s face when he found out. So my 4am was actually 3am and Peruvian time. I was ready to go, our bags as well. 🙂 Anyway, Carlo and I went back to sleep. Telling myself that at least I do not need to hurry changing coz I already did,  but we woke up 15 past 4h. We quickly grabbed some coffee, munched a pancake and managed to leave 10 before 5h. As we headed to out, the other groups were also starting to leave for the day’s excursion.

Carlo and his llamas in images

By 9h on the third day, we were on the border of Chile and  left Tim and Laura to board their vehicle which will take them to Atacama. We stopped for lunch and then to the Valle de las Rocas. Before 16h30 we arrived in Uyui.

Reflection

We were given list of our 3 day tour and snack was not included. I was worried that there won’t be any tienda along the way. Yet, in some stops, there were possibilities to buy and get bottles of water or other snack.

our group with Bryan, our guide/driver

We have been really lucky having french couples in our group. First in Cuyabeno, then in Salar tour. The latter didn’t return to Uyuni after our tour but continue to Chile.

The tour has showcased Bolivia’s amazing landscape and we were in awe of it all.  Gracias, Bolivia!

Exploring Ecuador with kids part 1

Quito experience

Panama to Ecuador : From Rio Hato,we took the bus for Albrook terminal. Once in there, we found out that we first needed to buy a bus pass called rapid pass from a machine, charge it  (sufficiently, so as not to get off again while the rest of the family are seated) and then we could board the bus which will take us to our hotel.

For our last night in Panama, we treated ourselves to a hotel near the airport. We were to leave at 5h05 the next day (23.08.18) for Ecuador.

Our shuttle was ready at 2h30. The alarm from my husband’s phone did not wake us up, thankfully, my Mama’s Messenger call did.

Airport surprises: We didn’t realize that both our swiss knives were in our backpacks and Erin’s scissors from her Lola was also in hers . All went into the bin. Carlo’s collection of lighters were also confiscated. It took us a while to get over the grief of losing these objects.  Nevertheless, this is a good lesson on double checking one’s backpack before going to the airport and of course on giving up things we valued most. Guessed, we’ve gotten used to taking the buses.

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one from Bogota airport

 Quito

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parque del arbolito

Arrived here by 10h, took the bus from the airport to Rio Coca, then one to Casa de la Cultura to get to L’auberge Inn. Glad that our laundry could be taken care off. We also explored some attractions as well as parts of the city.

Mitad del Mundo

Mitad

My daughter, Erin, has written something about her experience in here as a part of her french lesson with my husband.

20180824_141347To get here, we took a bus in Mariscal which lasted for almost an hour. It was almost full and we were able to get two seats 20 minutes before we arrive at our destination.

 Centro Historico

It was a Saturday when we visited and the town was bustling with activities, the streets were full of people 😉 but as fate would have it, no adults has cellphone to take pics and our effort to repair our camera the day before didn’t bear any fruit. Yet, the best part of not having to take pictures was that we were able to enjoy exploring the site without interruption. We particularly like the Museo de Ciudad, it was more than what we have expected.

There was also El Panecillo where a monument of La Virgen de El Panecillo majestically stands. We took a taxi from the main road to get there.

I just decided to come back the next day to  take photos and have my “me time” while my husband and the girls continue with their lesson.

Me time

This was not in a spa. Not even a quiet time in a café. I don’t think, the old town is the place for that. With all the music playing and public performances here and there, I just could not  ignore my surrounding. Nevertheless, walking and soaking in the colors and movement of Centro Historico was a kind of meditation.

Took the trolley bus(E3) from Eugenio Espejo stop and continue until Marin Central.  Walked up to the Calle de Sn.Augustin. Sunday morning was less hectic but would get more animated  later in the day.

I managed to visit one museum,  which I find really interesting. The Casa Museo Maria Augusta Urrutia. Taking picture is not allowed and unfortunately the postcards for sale were not that good.

Mariscal District

Walked and taxied around looking for a Nikon service center to no avail. Fortunately, there were lots of places for batidos and jugo.

 

Also discovered a bookstore, prices were unlike in  “Renfile” but we found Harry Potter for Erin and Frankie by Jean Ur for Ate K.

This is part 1 and more to come, because one post for Ecuador is not enough. Thanks for stopping by.