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Warming up in Bangkok

sunny 38 °C
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After Cambodia, I made my way directly to the Thai capital, Bangkok. In view of the recent political events in Thailand, I am telling myself that I was lucky to visit this country a month ago and not presently. Though I am being told that except for the curfew (10pm - 5am), almost nothing has an impact for the tourists in Thailand at the moment.

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When I was in Peru in Arequipa, 8 months ago, I had met with a Thai guy briefly who was thinking at the time to maybe open a café, restaurant or hostel somewhere in the world. We had kept in touch and I was pleased to learn that he had finally decided on opening an hostel in Bangkok. And the timing was more than perfect as he had only opened the day before I arrived and therefore I got the privilege of being his first guest! And I am not saying that because the owners are now my friend but the hostel and welcome were fantastic so I highly recommend the Three of a Kind hostel if you are looking for a place to stay in Bangkok, you won't be disappointed!

My main goal in visiting Thailand this time was to explore the South islands and do some scuba diving but I took the opportunity of staying in Bangkok to visit a little bit the main Buddhist temples and royal places, but also to relax as the previous weeks in Cambodia had been quite hectic. Beside the thermometer was reaching almost the 40 degrees so that makes you even more lazy...

My friend Angkrit, the owner of Three of a Kind, and myself exploring the flower marker in Bangkok

My friend Angkrit, the owner of Three of a Kind, and myself exploring the flower marker in Bangkok


Lots of traffic in Bangkok and drivers start here very early!

Lots of traffic in Bangkok and drivers start here very early!


The ex-mansion of the Thai kings

The ex-mansion of the Thai kings


The royal hall used for welcoming foreign officials and other ceremonies. Unfortunately it was not permitted to take pictures inside...

The royal hall used for welcoming foreign officials and other ceremonies. Unfortunately it was not permitted to take pictures inside...


Wat Arun

Wat Arun


China town

China town


The Emerald Buddha, from the Grand Palace. One of the symbols dear to Thailand

The Emerald Buddha, from the Grand Palace. One of the symbols dear to Thailand


Grand Palace

Grand Palace


The huge reclining Buddha in Wat Pho

The huge reclining Buddha in Wat Pho


Another prayer room in Wat Pho

Another prayer room in Wat Pho

Posted by manolo84 09:24 Archived in Thailand Tagged temples hostels towns palaces english Comments (0)

Mérida and the Yucatán


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I feel more and more than it is now getting harder to find time to post articles and pictures in this blog as I am either busy or really tired in the evenings (or sometimes a bit lazy) but here are a few lines which describe my stay in Merida, located in the Yucatán state, still in Mexico.

As I have mentioned in my previous post, the first hours in Merida didn't go that great as my stuff had just been stolen and to be honest it took me a few days to really get over it. So the first days actually were quite chilled out, spending most of my time in the hostel talking with people or wandering through the streets of Merida, trying to look for a replacement camera and laptop.

Mérida, like much of the state, has heavy Mayan, French, British and to a lesser extent Dutch influences. Mérida has the highest percentage of indigenous persons of any large city in Mexico with approximately 60% of all inhabitants being of the Maya ethnicity, according to wikipedia. The city itself is vibrating with life and there are several markets and buildings which are worth a look. I think I still prefer Oaxaca and San Cristobal though, but you can easily spend a few days in this city without being bored.

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Somehow a baby-bat which got itself surprised by the rain or must have fell down from its nest.

The hostel I was staying at, called Nomadas, was a really nice and charming hostel and I have to give praise to the staff and the owner who were really nice and helpful during the week I spent there. I definitely recommend this place if you are planning a trip in Mérida, to enjoy the swimming pool and the hammocks, the free yoga, salsa and cooking classes and all in a very relaxed atmostphere.

Not far from Mérida are several Maya ruins and one of them which I visited is called Uxmal. Probably not the most impressive but the restauration work is quite impressive and a lot of building have now been restaured in their original states.

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The other thing which I discovered in Yucatán are the hundreds of cenotes, scattered all along the coast and in the state. For those who like me, don't know what a cenote is, it is, I quote:

" a deep natural pit, or sinkhole, characteristic of Mexico, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula and some nearby Caribbean islands, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings. The term derives from a word used by the low-land Yucatec Maya, "Ts'onot" to refer to any location with accessible groundwater. "
source: wikipedia

Some are really small and look like more to a water well than anything, but some are really spacious with a water so transparent you can hardly distinguish the limit between the water and the walls. It was quite dark when we visited them so I don't have very good pictures but I have added some more from the internet just to give you a rough idea. In most of the cenotes you can actually do snorkelling and for some you can even dive through the endless underwater tunnels.

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Posted by manolo84 14:03 Archived in Mexico Tagged ruins hostels mayas cenotes Comments (2)

Oaxaca and Hostal Casa Angel

What a week!


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Next stage in the trip was Oaxaca de Juarez, a nice city located in the south of mexico, in the state of Oaxaca. Once again, this was a 4.5 hours trip journey by bus from Puebla. Arriving in the hostel Casa Angel, I could already seen some familiar faces seen previously in Puebla. I think pretty much all backpackers follow a "recommended" route and by booking hostels via the famous websites such as www.hostelworld.com, people end up in the same ones most of the time.

So far Casa Angel is the nicest hostel I have stayed in, not only because of the hostel itself which is great, but also for the atmosphere. Everyone spends time in the common area and it's not rare to share dinners all together, which is quite nice.

One could easily stay a few weeks in Oaxaca without being bored as there are so many things to see and explore. Besides for those who like the Mexican food, Oaxaca is a little paradise with all the different markets and restaurants, offering traditional dishes.

Here are a few things that I have experienced:

Hierve el Agua

Don't pay attention to my face, I had the sun right in front of me so it looks like I just woke up... :)

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Mezcal

The Mezcal is one of the most famous and most appreciated alcohol in Mexico. You actually drink it a bit like we would drink Tequila in France, in shots with a bit of salt and lime. With a few people we wanted to know more and went to see how Mexican used to make Mezcal, in a traditional Mezcaleria. With the heat and the different bottles we tried, I think pretty much everyone ended up quite drunk that afternoon!

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The little grasshopers you are supposed to eat after a shot of Mezcal... Hum, you'd be better to close your eyes and not to look too close...
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Another one? Of course!

The Tule tree

Supposedly the largest tree in Latin America, quite impressive. That tree is in the village of Tule, about 10 minutes drive from Oaxaca.

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Monte Albán

This was one of the best site I have visited so far. Monte Alban was a city built by the Zapotecs a few thousands of years ago. Work is still in progress to excavate and restore some of the monuments but you can almost go everywhere on this site. The pyramids are not as impressive as the ones of Teotihuacan (see previous post) because they are not tall but the overall feeling is more majestic if I can say. All the different temples are closer from each other and the whole site is covered with grass, surrounded by trees and on the top of a small mountain. It is actually easy to take a moment and try to imagine the city like it was two thousands of years ago, with all the activity and its 26000 inhabitants. As usual, pictures talk more than words so here are a few pictures I have taken that day, and more are in the gallery section.

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Ixtlán

Here we are, my first hike of this round the world trip! Well we actually spent more time in the transports than hiking but it was quite nice nevertheless, to spend about 2 hours climbing up and down the mountain overlooking the village of Ixtlán in the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca.
There were a couple of 2-3 days hikes available in the area as well but all were requiring a local guide and were a bit pricey. Besides I think there will be more opportunities to hike as I am going down to the Chiapas (southern state of Mexico) or in Guatemala later on.

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Finally, I would like to do a big hug to all the Casa Angel team: Clinton, Paula, Kenneth, Marc, Hini, Ellen, Elo, Ray, Zach with whom we have shared some very nice moments during these 5-6 days. Take care guys and maybe see you soon!

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Posted by manolo84 12:50 Archived in Mexico Tagged trees cities ruins hostels alcohol Comments (3)

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