Thursday, June 30, 2016

[COPACABANA] Isla del Sol

Crossing the border is simple, really. The Peru Hop bus will drop you off at the Peruvian border where you can go to the toilet and change your remaining Nuevo Sols before heading towards the Peruvian immigration center to get your exit stamp. The Bolivia Hop guide from the other side then leads you on a five-minute walk uphill for your Bolivian entry stamp. This part might cause delays if there are Americans in your group, as they require visas to get in. After that, you transfer to your new bus, a smaller one.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

[PUNO] Budget and Itinerary

TUESDAY: 28 June 2016
Breakfast (Bolivia Hop) - 8.00
Uros Floating Islands Tour (Bolivia Hop) - 30.00

Estimate of PEN1 = PhP15.00
TOTAL PhP570.00

[PUNO] Lake Titicaca

I decided to try Bolivia Hop for the trip from Cusco to La Paz. With our train from Machu Picchu arriving in Poroy at 9 PM and the bus leaving at 10 PM, there was enough leeway. They did tell me to be at the office by 9:15 PM, though. The taxi arrived at 9:30 PM. But it was all chill. We left at exactly 10 PM despite not boarding until five minutes prior. We arrived in Puno at around 5 AM. I knew because the bus stopped long before they woke us up for breakfast at 5:30 AM.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

[CUZCO] Budget and Itinerary

MONDAY: 27 June 2016
LC Peru (Lima - Cuzco) - 77.98
Perurail (Poroy - Machu Picchu) - 95.00
Airbnb (1 Night) - 17.00
Perurail (Machu Picchu - Poroy) - 99.00
LC Peru (Cuzco - Lima) - 71.55

Bus (Airport - Avenida del Sol) - 0.70
Bakery (Pastries) - 2.00
Store (Supplies) - 5.40
Sepia (Lomo Saltado + Lemonade w/Mint) - 34.00
Store (Print) - 1.60

[URUBAMBA] The Ruins of Machu Picchu

Climbing Huayna Picchu is not mandatory. You can tell by the number of passes available per day (2000 for Machu Picchu; 400 for Huayna Picchu) that the ruins themselves are more in demand for tourists. That’s just understandable given the challenges you have to face in climbing the mountain as well as time restrictions. The thing about Machu Picchu, though, is that it’s always full of people, especially if you come during the peak summer months.

[URUBAMBA] Climbing Huayna Picchu

I don’t really know what came over me to even think about hiking. Once I was on top of Huayna Picchu and saw the zigzag road the bus took to get us up there, I wondered if I would have survived such a hike. From Aguas Calientes going up, you are likely to take an hour and a half to get to the entrance of Machu Picchu. You will be traversing the same mountain the bus does through the zigzag road, but there are trails made especially for hikers so that you won’t have to zigzag and just head straight up.

Monday, June 27, 2016

[URUBAMBA] The How Much of Machu Picchu

Everyone talks about how they want to go to Machu Picchu and how it is on their bucket list, but seldom do they discuss how they intend to go there. And so the wish remains just a wish. You actually need a plan of action, and that plan is not as simple as landing in Lima. Come to think of it, even getting to Peru is a challenge in itself if you are coming from Asia. You’ll be spending about USD 2000 on airfare alone which makes it a rather prohibitive journey, a once in a lifetime kind of thing.

[CUSCO] You Must See Cuzco at Night

Or the Plaza de Armas, at least. My phone’s camera ran out of batteries but I don’t think it matters because it didn’t really give the scene justice. And then I suddenly asked myself, why the heck am I so preoccupied with photos when I am right here right now and I can just remember this view in my head? I’m not selfish, you know. I want you to see it too. But I guess this time around you’re going to have to come here and see it for yourself. It’s one of the most beautiful nightscapes you’ll ever see.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Game of Thrones (HBO): Season 6/Episode 10

6.10 The Winds of Winter
Loras stands trial and confesses, dedicating his life to the faith. As Margaery scans the venue, she notices Cersei’s absence and insists that they leave. Lancel is lured underground and finds two dying candles on a puddle. As the flame touches the green liquid, a fire ignites, kindling barrels of wildfire, which in turn pulverizes the Sept and incinerates everyone in it. Watching from his room, Tommen removes his crown and jumps out of the window. Arya murders Walder Frey’s sons, serving them to him in his pie, before she slits his throat. Olenna Tyrell, Ellaria Sand, and Varys rendezvous in Dorne to plot their Lannister revenge. Daenerys sails with Tyrion to Westeros, leaving Daario in Meereen to lead. Benjen leaves Meera and Bran at the wall, where he gets a vision of Lyanna giving birth to Rhaegar Targaryen’s son, a child Ned Stark introduces to the world as his bastard. Melisandre admits her crime, and Jon Snow banishes her from Winterfell. The northern houses rally behind Jon Snow, while Cersei is crowned Queen down south.

[LIMA] Budget and Itinerary

FRIDAY: 24 June 2016
Interjet (Mexico City - Lima) - 153.84
Airbnb (3 Nights) - 45.00

[LIMA] Shopping by the Pacific

It was Sunday morning. No rain was falling but my sore throat was back with a vengeance, even though it wasn’t as strong as before. I knew I should have taken more than two paracetamols in the last 24 hours. The agenda for the day was simple: Go malling at Larcomar. If you Google shopping malls in Lima, two names always come up in the results, this one included. The other one has the word “Jockey” in it and looks really fancy but I only had time for one. I chose Larcomar because it’s right there at the coast.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

[LIMA] Saturdays in Lima

The plane ride felt like knocking on hell’s door. My one-week old sore throat finally decided to let me expel the mucus starting this morning, which wasn’t enough preparation for the flight. The almost six hours I spent on that plane felt like eternity and the cherry on top was a crippling migraine of Oberyn Martell proportions as we were about to land. With the very sorry state I was in, I knew I’ll have another run in with the airport’s thermal scanner. Surprise, surprise, Lima’s airport doesn’t seem to have one.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Finding Dory

After Finding Nemo, the trio goes back to the big blue ocean to move on with their lives, with nothing new aside from Dory’s (Ellen Degeneres) constant battle with her short term memory loss. Things change when she suddenly gets flashbacks of her family, making her wonder where they have been all this time and whether they are still looking for her. With bits and pieces of vital information coming back to her one by one, she starts to put the pieces of the puzzle together and asks Marlin (Albert Brooks) to help her find her mom and dad. He is hesitant to take on another big adventure after what just happened to them, but Nemo (Hayden Rolence) convinces him otherwise, telling him that Dory has not just been instrumental in their reunion, but is also considered as a part of their family. And so begins yet another fish out of the water adventure guaranteed to make you laugh, and maybe cry a little bit.

Finding Nemo

Traumatized by his wife’s death, Marlin (Albert Brooks) has always been overprotective of his son Nemo (Alexander Gould). His being too strict eventually reaches a boiling point, pushing the young clownfish to defy him and prove that he can take care of himself. But his attempt at more independence leads to tragedy as he is caught by humans and ends up in a fish tank in a dental clinic in Sydney. Not ready to lose another family member, Marlin searches high and low for his son, but to no avail. Then comes Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a Blue Tang with short term memory loss, claiming that she knows how to find the kid. The two then embark on a great journey crossing timelines and oceans with the help of every sea creature you can possibly think of, everything for the sake of family.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

[MEXICO CITY] Budget and Itinerary

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (Spanish Course) - 8,900.00
Apartment Rent (x6 Weeks) - 16,000.00
Food Allowance (x6 Weeks) - 12,500.00
IUSACELL (Sim Card + 1.2GB) - 300.00

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Game of Thrones (HBO): Season 6/Episode 9

6.9 Battle of the Bastards
The masters of Slaver’s Bay continue their naval barrage of Meereen. Daenerys takes care of the armada with her three dragons, while Daario leads the Dothraki horde in ending the Sons of the Harpy rebellion down below. The Greyjoys arrive with 100 hundred ships and a proposal. Snow and Bolton dissuade each other from going to war, but neither one backs down. Sansa argues that Rickon, being the true heir to Winterfell, is as good as dead in Ramsay’s hands. Ser Davos discovers the spot where Shireen was burned to death. Rickon is freed before the battle and asked to run to his brother. Jon rushes on horseback to save him, but comes too late as Ramsay shoots an arrow through the youngest Stark’s heart. Their forces are cornered helpless until Sansa arrives with Petyr, and the Knights of the Vale as reinforcements. Wun Wun the giant dies in the siege of Winterfell. Surrounded, Ramsay is beaten to a pulp by Jon Snow. Kept as a prisoner, he doesn’t live long, as Sansa exacts her revenge feeding him to his hounds.

[LA HABANA] Budget and Itinerary

FRIDAY: 17 June 2016
Tourist Card (Cuban Embassy) - 25.00
Interjet (Mexico City - Havana - Mexico City) - 424.27
Interjet (Rebooking Fees) - 104.99
Airbnb (2 Nights) - 35.00

Airport Taxi (Airport - Old Havana) - 25.00
Restaurante Los Tres Chinitos (Arroz Frito Tres Chinitos + Water x2) - 6.05

[HAVANA] Too Hot in Cuba

My Airbnb host said that his friend, a surgeon, earns CUC 50 (~PHP 2,350), and I wondered how do you survive with that amount of money for four weeks. But then again, locals transact in CUP, which makes their expenses considerably cheaper. And then I told him that the Cuban government must be cracking down on Airbnb. If he was earning CUC 15 a day (x30 days), that means he must be getting an equivalent of USD 450 (~PHP 21,150) a month if his place is fully booked. But he said that Airbnb is legit in Havana.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

[MATANZAS] Budget and Itinerary

SATURDAY: 18 June 2016
Viazul (Havana - Varadero - Havana) - 20.00

Toilet (Viazul Office) - 0.25
Restaurante La Casa de Miel (Scrambled Egg w/Bacon + Sandwich + Milk x2) - 6.25
Beach (Reclining Chair) - 2.00
Beach (Mineral Water 1.5L) - 2.00
Restaurante La Casa de Miel (Beef Steak + Cola) - 5.30

[VARADERO] Varadero Verdadero

The taxi driver in Havana won’t shut up about Varadero. CANCÚN? NAH, Varadero is the best beach in the world. Wow, such pride. I’m from the Philippines, Grandpa. I’m pretty hard to convince when it comes to awesome beaches. But he was right to some extent. I mean, I am not raving about Varadero, but I did enjoy my stay there anyway. To me it seemed more like Boracay but without the crowd and the party people. It was chill like that. The sand is white and the water is clear. Picture perfect, it was indeed.

Friday, June 17, 2016

[HAVANA] Too Hot for Cuba

After the visa issue that left me a hundred dollars poorer, I finally managed to get on a plane and add that pink immigration stamp to the collection on my passport. Or so I thought. I was stopped by the nurses at the immigration counter because their thermal scanners thought I was so hot. I wasn’t flattered because I felt literally hot, and with a bad case of sore throat. Maybe I indeed took home the Zika as a souvenir from Guatemala a week ago. Really, Cuba? After that visa stunt, now you think I’m too hot for you?

[VISA] Cuba (Tourist Card)

What happened is that a week or so before my flight, the Cuban government changed their regulations regarding the tourist card. The norm before is that you only needed to get one at the airline counter right before your flight. The rule change came in the form of a list of countries that are no longer eligible for that, and that list includes the Philippines. Basically, you are still getting the same tourist card, but with the seal of the Cuban embassy at the back. In my case, it was the Cuban embassy in Mexico City.

Monday, June 13, 2016

[GUATEMALA CITY] Budget and Itinerary

FRIDAY: 10 June 2016
Interjet (Mexico City - Guatemala City - Mexico City) - 251.60
Airbnb (3 Nights) - 55.00

Cafe (Hotdog Sandwich + Water) - 28.00
Taxi (Airport - Zone 1) - 90.00

Sunday, June 12, 2016

[SACATEPÉQUEZ] Budget and Itinerary

SUNDAY: 12 June 2016
Litegua (Guatemala City - Antigua) - 45.00
Restroom (San Francisco El Grande) - 3.00
Colectivo (Antigua - Guatemala City) - 10.00

Estimate of GTQ1 = PhP6.00
TOTAL PhP348.00

[ANTIGUA] Almost Two Hours of Antigua

Antigua used to be the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala back in the day, until a volcano threw a tantrum and leveled the city. Volcanoes are jerks, they do that sometimes. And so the Guatemaltecos moved on with their lives by transferring the capital to Guatemala City. But despite being downgraded just like that, Antigua remains to be the star of the show. As every tourist in the country will tell you, Guatemala IS Antigua. And Tikal. So there they go in droves, and you can’t really blame them for it.

Game of Thrones (HBO): Season 6/Episode 8

6.8 No One
The Hound kills the men who massacred the people in his village. Tyrion’s agreement with the masters of Slaver’s Bay backfires, but Daenerys returns in time to defend Meereen. The faith militants order Cersei to head to the Sept. When she refuses, they try to coerce her, but the Mountain beheads one of them with his bare hands. Tommen orders the banning of Trial by Combat, and announces that the trial of his mother and Loras will proceed as planned. Brienne and Podrick come to see Jaime so she can convince Blackfish to give up the castle and head north to join Sansa’s forces. She fails. Edmure Tully tells his forces to stand down and surrender his uncle. Brienne tries to bring him back to safety up north with them, but he chooses to die fighting for his homeland. Lady Crane comes home to a bleeding Arya backstage and patches her up. The Waif comes and kills the actress. Arya flees, lures her in a candlelit room, gets rid of said candle, and defeats her. She tells Jaqen she’s Arya Stark, not No One, and that she’s going back home.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

[GUATEMALA CITY] Converto Someone Elso

I guess what I don’t really like about Latin America is the expensive airfare. Take Guatemala, for example. For a flight that does not take more than two hours, you end up paying around USD 250 for a roundtrip ticket. You can get a Manila – Hong Kong – Manila ticket for just 1/3 of that amount if you book early. Besides, the flight duration is almost the same. At least there are more low cost airlines plying Latin American routes now even though it is not yet as robust as what we have back in Southeast Asia.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Conjuring 2

After having a premonition of her husband’s death, Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) wants out, but there is just no saying no to anyone being bullied by deranged paranormal entities. This is why when Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor), a single mother of four, asks for their help, Ed (Patrick Wilson) still manages to convince her to fly to the UK and fulfill their duties to those in need of supernatural assistance. It does not take long for them to realize that the demonic presence haunting the Hodgsons by possessing the second oldest child Janet (Madison Wolfe) can very well be the same one causing them trouble back home. The question is, are they well-equipped this time to win this fight, or is it finally game over for this paranormal investigator couple?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Game of Thrones (HBO): Season 6/Episode 7

6.7 The Broken Man
Margaery keeps her act up bewildering her grandmother, but slips a piece of paper in her hand with the emblem of House Tyrell, proof that she is planning something. Jon Snow sways the Wildlings to support their war against the Boltons, but is having tough luck with Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey), the 10-year-old ruler of Bear Island. It’s Ser Davos who gets to persuade her to join their cause. Sansa isn’t convinced that they’ll win a battle with the little support they have. She sends a raven to Petyr Baelish. Jaime is sent to win back the castle the Freys lost to Blackfish. Yara assures Theon that sailing to Meereen and making a pact with Daenerys can get them the Iron Islands back. Arya bribes a sailor to get her back to Westeros. The Waif ambushes her, slashing her belly. Heavily wounded and bleeding profusely, she manages to escape. The Hound is alive and seeking refuge at a small community on the hills. When raiders come and murder everyone in the village, he picks up his axe and decides that peace is not really meant for him.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

¿Qué culpa tiene el niño?

Some hangovers last for nine months. Such is the case when Maru (Karla Souza) finds out a month later that the drunken one night stand she had at her friend’s wedding party has resulted in an unexpected pregnancy. Not remembering who the father is, she enlists the help of her two best friends who are quick to review the photos that they took of the event. They all conclude that the father must be Renato (Ricardo Abarca), a 21-year old bachelor who neither studies nor works and still lives at his mother’s house. When he finds out that he is about to become a father, he is ecstatic. She isn’t. She opts for an abortion but backs out at the last minute, and decides to raise the baby on her own. Forced by her parents to marry in order to save face, she obliges, but makes it clear to him that it is all for show. He, on the other hand, is falling in love with her every day, and uses the baby as a constant excuse in an attempt to make everything real.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sabrás qué hacer conmigo

When Nicolás (Pablo Derqui) first sees Isabel (Ilse Salas) taking a drag by the hospital lounge entrance, he knows at once that he has found a good subject for his photography, although it is quite obvious that there is also some carnal attraction involved. He invites her to his exhibition, and to his surprise, he later finds her there. They flirt once or twice before eventually hooking up, but life is never without complications. She is still reeling over her brother’s death who, despite being gone for almost two decades, still affects the family as if it was just yesterday. He, on the other hand, suffers from a grave illness that could strike anywhere and anytime. Navigating through the complications of their newfound happiness, they try to reconcile their differences as far as their opinion on life and death is concerned.

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