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!

And we’re HOME!

DECEMBER 2018

We arrived on the 20th of December in Manila from Bangkok and were excited to see my brother, Rolan, cousin, Pogi and some of my daughters’ cousins at the airport to welcome us. It felt great to be back in my home country.

our family

We have spent Christmas with the whole family and met most of our relatives during this festive time.

My sister-in-law,Zem who was supposed to spend Christmas with us, went back to Bangkok after spending a night with us due to her boyfriend’s accident.

JANUARY 2019

Instead of partying with a friend and her family, we opted staying in our town to spend the New Year with our family. My parents were happy that we were all together.

My friend, Fibs came home as well and we went to Puerto Galera without the girls.

The girls started their schooling after New Year. They both didn’t like putting on their uniform. But rule is rule and without exception. I usually woke up before 5h and prepare their pack lunch. They were up at 6h and should be on their way to school by 6h45 with their pack lunch and P20 allowance.(After a few days, my cousin, kuya Kawe told me that I should give them P30 more 😉 Then, they discovered the school canteen and everything in their”no canteen & no school allowance lives” suddenly changed.

They sometimes came home with their untouched rice and half-eaten salad. It seemed that french-fries and bbq in the school canteen tasted better. But the positive thing about all this was Karen dared to buy her food on her own.

Their days would vary from missing friends back home to settling well in their new school, then chagrin once again. But there’s family and relatives who showed them love. Making them feel at home and welcome.

Carlo on on the other hand went to Romblon on his own. He prefers this town to Boracay. He appreciated the former and loves its beaches.

While home in Cavite, I have stopped using the social media even writing. I did backyard veggie garden and take advantage of the time to be with my family.

We also went for a DAY TOUR of TAAL VOLCANO with KIDS.

It was also at this month that Marie and Zach came and stayed with us for a few days.

FEBRUARY 2019

I would organize after school meet-up with some of their cousins and did some fun activities with all of them. The goal was to lessen the Ipad use of everyone.

I visited this garden created by my sis-in-law and other parents. They used a vacant lot near the school and planted veggies using recycled materials. Apparently, this lot will be converted into new rooms in the future.

NO SMOKING

In most municipalities in Cavite, smoking ban is being upheld in public places. And one day, after exiting SM in Trece, Carlo lighted a cigerette and soon enough 3 persons with matching shirts approached him. “NO SMOKING, here, sir. Pls. follow us.” The situation irritated me, there we were ready to take a jeep to go home and suddenly… Anyway, we went with them along with my 2 nieces and our daughters.

Then their team leader came and talked to Carlo. Explained the ban and my husband resolved not to pay the fine but instead did the community service. The team leader,on the other hand, decided to give my husband a lesser time of service finding him more pleasant than the other foreigners caught smoking.

After my Mama’s birthday, we went out of town for the week-end and stayed in Quezon City. I soon realized that we were just in front of the ABS-CBN and some meters away from Bahay ni Kuya.

Karen and I did an AirBnb experience with teacher Roxy. Then we saw one of our Swiss favorite personalities in this shop. Saw a cousin by chance in a restaurant and met, George, the husband of Carlo’s friend, Sophie.

Raised bed by February

MARCH 2019

art by the church

And with my family’s help, I had a garage sale near the church. It was also an occasion to be with some relatives for a day. We set up our tent and a table where kids and kids at heart can paint, draw or just sit. This day was made possible by my family.

After the girls schooling, I took my nephews and nieces for a road trip to Banaue to see the rice terraces. Then a day tour in Batad and later on headed to Baguio.

PASSING BY BAGUIO

Afterwards, we went to travel at some parts of the country. We have met Carlo’s friend and new people along the way. I will soon post about it here.

APRIL 2019

A day before our departure, we celebrated my father’s 69th birthday. Then, it was time to go. I cried buckets, really sad that our vacation was over.


It was a great 3 month vacation. Seeing everyone in my hometown. Talking to my family and relatives, laughing and crying with them. It felt good to just sit down and catch up.
We didn’t take any souvenirs with us this time given that we still have 2 months before going back to Geneva but those times spent with everyone was enough as our souvenirs.

We are really lucky to have all of you in our lives, dear family and relatives. Thank you for your generosity & time spent with us.

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

Our family’s New Zealand adventure

After months in South America and taking buses, we were eager to finally take a plane. We were so excited for a change of scenery and discover a little part of New Zealand.

Our flight was at 23h55.

Prior to our departure, I read the information here and emailed info@mpi.govt.nz to be sure about the things we could take with us. I, then declared few things so as to avoid any issue in the custom,even the bamboo fan of Karen. 🙂

Auckland

Arriving at the hostel, we found out that Carlo made an error in our reservation dates. We missed one night. After admiring the grandeur of our first hostel in New Zealand, we went out and explore a bit our surrounding, searched for a grocery store and went back to the hostel.

While Carlo was napping, I took the girls to the zoo.

It was not only the girls who have enjoyed the zoo but me as well.

Juicy Snooze

There’s a well equipped kitchen in the hostel. The family room is actually immense and for the first time after two months, we have a lot of space.  We were hoping to stay for one more night but apparently all rooms were occupied. It was then that we decided to leave the following day for Tauranga.

During the late afternoon, we took a walk and ended up in a night market. There were stalls of Asian food which made us so giddy. We lined up for dimsum and siopao. Then, I let Carlo and the girls looked for a  table while I get some bbq and bubble tea. No, there was no beer for sale.

We stayed for a while and listened to the live music. Surrounded by my fellow Asians. It felt like home.

The following morning, while checking out, the staff advised us to first book our bus tickets instead of heading straight to the terminal without reservation. He then called the ticket office, reserved our seats and afterwards, we walked to the terminal.

We stopped from time to time. Checking some shops and going ga-ga over sushi display. Erin and I went to buy some sushi, while Carlo and Karen went to a dollar store. Erin joined them while I waited outside.

Along the way, we found a bookshop called Jason Bookshop. The girls found one book each and we continued on our way to the terminal. Stopping once for some smoothies and reminiscing the abundance of fruit juice stalls in South America.

Our bus  for Tauranga was at 12h25. Our driver, Nigel is a funny fellow and his announcement during our trip would elicit some laughter from the passengers.

After almost 4 hours, we finally arrived and being Saturday, almost everything was closed by 15h. We took a taxi, after passing by an Asian shop, to our accommodation.

I have booked our accommodation thru Airbnb. At first, we thought that we could do everything easily by foot or public transport. Then after grocery shopping and walking to and fro New World, with two bags (one for each adult) and two small ones for the girls we both agreed that renting a car was not a bad idea.

We spent one afternoon, walking in the Moturiki Recreation Reserve.

We also drove to Rotorua and along the way stopped at Kuirau Park. We tried the thermal foot bath in the park then the girls played for a while.

At Rotorua’s visitor centre, we asked info about the Kerosene creek and bought some cute post cards.

It was raining cats and dogs as my husband drove away from the center while I held the map and guided him, positive that this time my map expertise would not fail us.

After having our lunch here, we continued on our way. And it was a loong one. As luck would have it, I missed the sign for the creek.

Desperate for that warm water of the creek, we followed a sign of a  mud pool ,thinking it was like a thermal bath, so we went, ready to take a dip. And we learned that it was not.  Then we drove on. After driving for almost an eternity, we turned back and finally found it. There were some cars parked near the creek. The latter was not that crowded but I thought that rain would not hinder some people to visit the river.

 

While the three were already enjoying the warm water and I was changing into my swimsuit, it rained again. I put everything in my  backpack and covered it with my umbrella. Didn’t even  bother changing into my swimsuit top, I joined the rest of the tribe in my bra. We had a lovely time, laughing as we bathed in the warm water of the Kerosene creek  and all the while letting the pouring rain add its magic around us .

Erin and I slipped as we changed. We laughed it off and wet back to the car with our muddy clothes.

Then as we were heading back to the house, a twin rainbow appeared. What an spectacle to end our day of adventure.

31.10.2018 Tauranga. It’s our last day here and the sunniest morning of all 4 days of our stay. We would have liked to have a weather like this one during our excursions. Anyway, the chickens are having a blast. Check out time is 10h as usual. The plan is for Carlo to drop us near the bus stop and he’d return the car in the garage.

sWe went to the library of Tauranga while waiting for Carlo. It is next to the tourist office. We were so excited for different reasons. The girls for the free wifi connection and myself being surrounded with books and magazines. The two shortly read their books and afterwards Erin being the smartpants hid the Ipad with a magazine while her Ate continued with her book.

When husband arrived, we headed to the seaside and had some drinks and nacho in La Mexica.

Our bus to Auckland was at 12h40. It arrived in Manukau City around 15h49. From there, we took another bus, direction airport. We have booked a hotel near the airport for our last night in Auckland.

We waited at gate 11 , where the shuttle service of our hotel picked us up.

During our 10 min stop in Thames, Erin went down with Carlo and it was then that the accident occurred. She later told me that she was holding it until she gets to the toilet. I saw her vomiting and thought of getting down while Karen napped but decided against it. I told myself that Carlo could handle everything. 

01.11.2018 5h27 Hotel. Our plane for Tokyo is at 9h50 today. I reached out to my Facebook group for Japan tips and realized that I should have plan better. Anyway, let’s hope for a fun Japan sojourn.


Mauruuru koe ki Aotearoa!


Travelling to Uruguay and Buenos Aires

Concordia-Gualeguaychu-Fray Bentos-Colonia del Sacramento-Buenos Aires

It was sunny when we left Puerto Iguazú. We had hoped for the same weather during ourtrip to the Iguazú Falls the day before.

From P. Iguazú we took an overnight bus for Concordia and fortunately, I had taken our blankets out from our luggage because it was freezing at night. I have asked the staff if he could change the temperature but maybe he had forgotten my request.

Arriving early morning, I could not recall where our tickets were. The stickers for our luggage were attached to them. It took me ages to find them (side pocket of my backpack) and of course, caused delay which was not appreciated by the driver.

Once in Concordia, we took a bus for Gualeguaychu.

Our trip was only 4 hours, yet we were served coffee twice.

We thought of staying there for the night but changed our plan and instead decided to go to Uruguay the same day. Our destination: Fray Bentos.

We have passed the border without any fuss andt while the staff was putting a stamp on our passport,  I was so excited having crossed another country mainly by bus.

The travel time to Fray Bentos from Gualeguaychu was 1h15mins according to our tickets. And yes we arrived on time.  Inside the bus terminal of Fray Bentos, Uruguay, there’s a tourist  office. After getting some information, we decided to stay for the night.



We stayed in Hotel Colonial. My husband likes this kind of hotel with high ceiling, wide windows and spacious courtyard. This remind us of the one in Arequipa and in Vigan.

Before searching for a resto, we walked in the plaza as the sun went down. The girls excitedly running everywhere. I guessed they were so glad to finally being off the bus, the parents as well.

In the morning, Carlo bought some bread and pastries from a bakery nearby. The girls had their breakfast by the balcony while we drank our instant coffee by the door. Then, it was time to check out and to discover another place.

We took a bus for Colonia del Sacramento. We stayed for 2 nights in a hostel called Hostal de los Poetas. This is run by Ariel and his wife,Carla. Only 3 months in operation when we arrived. Breakfast is included and there’s a kitchen as well which we appreciate.

The girls were lent some coloring books and pencils. I, on the other hand,was able to exchange one book.


We also visited the Barrio Histórico.

After two nights, we left Uruguay and took a ferry for Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires

Off shore, I was somewhat disoriented. Was it the heat, the traffic or the vastness which lay in front of us? Thinking that taking a taxi instead of a bus would be better, we waited for  one to stop in front of us. Then, when nothing was happening we crossed the street where a couple of them were taking passengers. We waited for another taxi to come which could accommodate us and our 4 luggage. 

Our hotel is right in the middle of the city. The staff were nice, but we were glad it was only for one night.

Second day in Buenos Aires

On the second day and the day of our departure, we were to meet Celine and her family. We decided to walk going to the resto, but we missed a turn and felt like we were moving far from the street where we should be taking, when we decided to take a taxi. We were getting late for our appointment.

That day, the street was full of life, people and ….traffic. There was a street demonstration going on. So we get off the taxi and walked again, until we reached our restaurant. Fortunately, we were not the only one who were late.

And as we walked around the city, the hotel staff let us leave our luggage till it was time for us to go to the airport.

As we cruised along the busy street of Buenos Aires, our taxi driver and Carlo chatted away. Football, politics and a bit of family. The girls were starting to dozed off. I was half listening to the men in front of me,  concentrating my gaze outside, as it changed from busy street to a long line of greens and trees.  We were almost at the airport.

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…

In the land of parilla and chimichuri

11.10.2018 From Tupiza bus terminal, we took a Villazon bound bus at 9h30 and by 11h15 we arrived in our destination. We exited the terminal and took a taxi to go to “frontera”. Before passing the border, we changed the rest of Bolivianos and some Argentinian pesos.

We lined up and showed our passport with the rest of our form filled the first time we arrived in Bolivia. Baggage were scanned and then we were in Argentinian soil. It felt unreal that we finally arrived. With only some difficulty in understanding the way some Argentinian talk, it felt we were still in Bolivia.

Few meters away, we took a taxi which would take us to the Terminal de Ómnibus de La Quiaca. Our destination: HUMAHUACA

Humahuaca, Argentina

I thought we’d easily find a supermercardo  in Villazon border or the terminal in La Quiaca, unfortunately, we didn’t and the bus for Humahuaca in La Quiaca (12h30)was about to leave in 10 minutes when our taxi reached the terminal. We had 2 checkpoints in a span of 45 minutes.

We were famished when we arrived in Humahuaca at 16h.  And despite the sandwich milanese & hamburgersa in the terminal,  we longed for a better dish. Nanay’s lesson: dried fruit/fruit bar in the backpack–all the time!!

As we got off the bus, a man asked for our luggage sticker and then handed our bags. I didn’t understand,at first, that we need to hand him some money for the effort.

Our cabana is not in the center. It’s a room with one double bed and a bunkbed, an area to make some coffee and bathroom. There are still some construction going on but despite that, the sunset and the horses complete the beautiful paysage.

Our neighbor was a kind Argentinian couple in their 60s traveling to the south. In the evening as were  leaving to have dinner, they were preparing their parilla. We hoped to find some but ended up having some llama for entrée. 😦 It was good, actually but our  girls were not happy and Erin was so devastated having tasted what she called her 2nd favorite animal.

12.10.2018 Carlo and I woke up early. The sun was slowly coming up and we let the girls sleep longer. We chatted while having some coffee, mountain and horses in front of us. It made me so happy to have moments like this with him where I could cry with gratefulness in my heart. ❤

Anyway, I cut my drama short and started to pack. Our host was a nice fellow and though crisis has recently affected their country, he said, tourists, especially french ones are coming steadily in Humahuaca.

We checked out and went to the terminal. Taking advantage of some time left, we walked around the center and looked for a café.


Heading to the terminal we found out that the bus bound for Salta was full, so we decided to take the one going to Jujuy around midday. Cutting our trip in two.

missed our  ride..  😦

Next is our stay in Salta.

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!