Tag Archives: round-the-world with toddler

So Where Did You Go?

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RTW map latestFinally I was able to create a map version of where we disappeared into during that 9 months or so.

Comparing to our rough initial plan (to use the world ‘rough’ would be an overstatement), this map had a lot more dots on it. Although the basic itinerary (which continents for example) remained the same roughly, the exact countries – and places in each country – had changed and evolved so much throughout the trip.

A few notable changes: we added Patagonia in Argentina/ Bolivia (loved it)/Colombia (thank goodness)/Nicaragua; we didn’t go to Chile/Brazil, and we shortened the time in Costa Rica significantly. At times these changes seemed daunting, and other times they were obvious decision. Initially we thought we would stay in each place for a few weeks, and very quickly we realized it was not realistic nor necessary. I will come to some of these changes with more detail in relevant posts.

It’s once again a powerful proof to that good old saying: change is the only constant.

The tool that I used to created this map was an online tool called ‘travellerspoint’. Although it wasted me a few precious late night hours when I tried to create the map for the first time (it just didn’t want to save. Totally No stress!), I did find some interesting merits. For example, it told me that:

  • We travelled 77,279 kilometres
  • Days travelling: 282 days
  • The total distance travelled is roughly equivalent to circling the earth 1.9 times! (so we’ve got a lot of carbon footprint to be accountable for …).
  • Distance travelled by mode of transport:
    • Boat: 593km
    • Train: 1,117km
    • Bus: 3,064km
    • Car: 4,520km
    • Airplane: 67,731km
  • we have visited in total 17 countries (although 2 should be deducted as they were just transits)
  • It even allowed me to export my trip to an excel format, which was quite handy.

Now I will stop sounding like their sales rep, and return at once to the most burning question.

So where exactly did we go??

Here is a map for visual person like myself.

countries travelled

Here is a list for the more brave-hearted (of the places we either spent at least one night or as major transit stops):

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Tokyo, Japan
Paris, Ile-de-France, France
La Capelle-les-Boulogne, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France
Lyon, Rhone-Alpes, France
Annecy, Rhone-Alpes, France
Hauteluce, Rhone-Alpes, France
Grenoble, Rhone-Alpes, France
Antibes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France
London, United Kingdom
Paris, Ile-de-France, France
Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain
Buenos Aires, Argentina (here, bookstore)
Montevideo, Montevideo Department, Uruguay
La Barra, Maldonado, Uruguay
Cabo Polonio, Rocha, Uruguay
La Tuna, Canelones, Uruguay
Buenos Aires, Argentina
El Calafate, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina
El Chalten, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina
Salta, Salta Province, Argentina
Tilcara, Jujuy Province, Argentina
Tupiza, Potosi Department, Bolivia
Uyuni, Potosi Department, Bolivia
Nuestra Señora de La Paz, La Paz Department, Bolivia
Copacabana, Copacabana, La Paz Department, Bolivia
Puno, Puno, Peru
Cusco, Peru
Ollantaytambo, Cusco, Peru
Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes, Cusco, Peru
Cusco, Peru
Lima, Peru
Bogota, Colombia
Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia
Taganga, Magdalena, Colombia
Barichara, Santander department, Colombia
Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia
Bogota, Colombia
Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
Lima, Peru
Miami, Florida, United States
Oviedo, Florida, United States
Miami, Florida, United States
San Jose, Costa Rica
La Fortuna, San Jose, Costa Rica
San Carlos, Rio San Juan, Nicaragua
Granada, Nicaragua
Apoyo Lagoon, Nicaragua
Granada, Nicaragua
Ometepe, Rivas, Nicaragua
San Juan del Sur, Rivas, Nicaragua
San Jose, Costa Rica
Miami, Florida, United States
New York, United States
Newport, Rhode Island, United States
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
New York, United States
Vienna, Virginia, United States
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Fort Collins, Colorado, United States
San Diego, California, United States
Pismo Beach, California, United States
Palo Alto, California, United States
San Francisco, California, United States
Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Village, California, United States
Mammoth, California, United States
Lone Pine, California, United States
Los Angeles, California, United States
Pape’ete, Windward Islands, French Polynesia
Moorea, French Polynesia
Atoll Rangiroa, French Polynesia
Auckland, New Zealand
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

[D156 – 160] Barichara – A Dream in Colombia

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[this is a backlog post written on D235]

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The last time I felt I could live in a new place was when I visited Sydney back in 2008. Within 6 months we packed our stuff and were ready to leave Shanghai.

I had the same feeling when we chanced upon Barichara, a fairy-tale like town perched high in the mountains above valley surrounded by rivers in the middle high land of Colombia. I dare to say that I am ready to move there to live for some time. That is if and when Nicolas is ready to deal with the mosquitos there!

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It’s a Spanish colonial town built a few hundreds of years ago. And time has stood still there as the clique goes.

It is the most serene place I have come across in this trip. The white washed walls, red tiled roofs, elegantly colored doors and clean streets blend almost perfectly well with the blue sky and occasional clouds.

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There aren’t many tourists, as it’s relatively difficult to get to – it’s 5-7 hours of bus ride from Bogota, or 3 hours bus ride from the nearest airport. But it’s worth every bit of bus ride, which is the top notch comfort by any South America standard.

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We stayed in a small hotel called Hostel Tinto, which for me is a boutique hotel with just a handful rooms tastefully decorated, with a beautifully maintained garden and large common area, and TWO kitchens. All of these for a price of a decent hostel. Couldn’t be happier.

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We planned to stay just 2 nights initially, but we ended up lingering around 5 nights. And this is one of the places that I had hard time leaving. And ever since, I dream about going back.

One day, perhaps.

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[D64] National Library of Argentina – Another Architectural Masterpiece

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[D64, Feb 19, Buenos Aires/Argentina]

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National library. Oh what a unique building. It reminded me of the slaughter house in Shanghai. Love the chairs, lounges etc – a series of classic design of mid century.

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Weirdly they destroyed an old building – used to be presidential residence so quite significant – to make the way for this industrial looking structure built in the 50′s. Hea

Visited a few floors but couldn’t go inside the library to read some books.

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Had lunch in cafe, again the purpose designed chairs just for the cafe probably.

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Then fine art museum, just on the opposite side of the big avenue. On the lawn, two young dancers rehearsing their dance, with horse head. So powerful even Nina became a fan, watched for quite a while.

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P.S: to follow our RTW experience: Trilingual Family blog, or join Trilingual Family facebook group

 

[D77] Casa Pueblo – The Gaudi House in Uruguay

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[D77, March 4, La Barra/Uruguay]

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Casa Pueblo is a castle/house/workshop/studio (now a public house and a hotel part) by the Uruguay’s national artist Carlos Páez Vilaró.

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At 91, he just passed away a few days ago, and his funeral was almost one of a national hero, which created heated debate in the media. The house was a complex of imaginary and fairy-like rooms, forms, and curving lines. Huge, but we only got to visit a small section, the rest was hotel and private housing. It reminds me of Gaudi and some of Picasso’s painting. An interesting man with footprint in four corners of the world, in painting, film, ceramics, and, interestingly, revolutionary. There was a very well done documentary (autobiography style) to watch in the in-house theatre (another room of genius).

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Nina bit her lower lip while playing on a bench. Another small accident that fortunately didn’t last long.

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Jose, our Airbnb host in La Barra, dropped us off near the house in the morning around the cliff (great view with ferocious wind). To get out, we had to take a taxi or to get a lift as there was no public transportation back to the city center. We took the only taxi that was dropping off a client, and got another couple to share the fare back to Punta. It started to rain once taxi set off.

 

P.S: to follow our RTW experience: Trilingual Family blog, or join Trilingual Family facebook group

[D110] Salar de Uyuni – A Surreal Existence

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[D110, April 6, Uyuni/Bolivia]

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Salar de Uyuni!! While choosing the photos for this post, I realized it’s an almost impossible task, as there are so many photos that even I like myself 🙂 All these photos you see here are straight out from my mobile phone (I love my Nokia 920) with no retouching at all. We have many in our Nikon but I leave the task of selecting those photos to later ..

We took a day tour with other 4 tourists (one Korean guy, 3 Japanese girls) with an agency whose main customers were Japanese with a bit of Chinese/Asian. The only reason I chose this agency amid other numerous agencies was that they offer additionally the sunset on the wet part of the salt lake(while others all came back well before sunset). In retrospect it was such a wise decision as the wet part was easily the highlight of the day.
At 6:30am I woke up to find an amazing sun rising cloud from our window. After all there was positive climbing extra 3 floors.
At a leisurely 10:30am start, we left the dusty town of Uyuni,,with all other jeeps tours … Funny that they unified the departure time. Before the actual Salar, there were 2 other stops: train cemetery (fun to climb on trains, met two guys biking their way down from Alaska to BsAs, quite an adventure!), Colchani (so called salt factory, where the only thing open were a so called museum which was actually nothing more than a shop with a few sculptures made from salt, and many shops selling souvenirs).
Then off we went, into the immense Salar de Uyuni!

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Such a surreal experience! It’s a more than 12,000 km2 of solid salt, sitting at 3,600+ m above sea level, with depth ranging from a few meters to more than 100metres. Our jeep – an old land cruiser – cruised through, salt after salt after salt, nothing else, for almost an hour.

Then a hill showed up in the horizon almost out of nowhere, with giant cactus all over it. Incahiasi Island was its name. There on its foot we had out lunch (salad, fried chicken, coke, banana). Then we set out to climb. It’s worth every bit of breathless steps. Nina was not well ( we later realized she perhaps had diarrhea after 3 dirty nappies) so we couldn’t all climb up to the top together. Nicolas and I took turns to the summit – oh what an eerie feeling – 360 degrees around, all that you could see was just white salt, with very very faraway on the horizon a few gentle hills. Then on the island, the only island In the entire salt lake, there were so many giant cactus that I wonder where and how they showed up and survived. I wish I could stay longer on the top to take in the view and really feeling the strange feeling.

Then we set off again to the seemingly endless salt lake. After some time our driver France(!!) stopped in the middle of nowhere n a perfectly unspoiled patch of salt, he said it’s time for some fun photo. And he meant it! He’s apparently mastered this. He took out some props (a few toy dinosaurs, a water bottle, a long sock etc). The three Japanese ladies were the models, letting France orchestra poses/actions/moves for some incredible photos using perspectives. We joined a bit but most of time took photos on our own.
The geometric pattern of the salt lake was naturally amazing. Nina had fun walking along the pattern, and also broke the small patches of salt off. I was sleeping on my tummy sometimes for fun or photo, oh the untreated salt mas very coarse for sure.

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Then the sun started to go down, we jumped on the jeep towards our last destination to watch sunset, with a very brief 10min stop in the salt hotel (a hotel made entirely out of salt. I wish we could have stopped a little long so that I could visit a bit inside, but well sun wouldn’t wait). We also changed into the boots that were provided as part of the tour, they even had size for Nina.

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The jeep slowed down when there started to be a shallow layer of water on the salt. This was the water not yet evaporated after the raining season (supposedly ended just in March). France really knew what he was doing. He looked around, trying to find a suitable patch to stop where there would be good reflection of sunset in the water. It was not a perfect sunset because there was just enough clouds at the horizon covering the setting set. But what an extraordinary view to see every colour and form reflected on the water, and the sky and the earth seemed to merge seamlessly. And we were all just tiny part of this grandeur unity.

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With the boots, we could walk around, but every one seemed to slow down, mesmerized by what we saw. Cameras worked hard – every single angle and moment looked too nice to miss.

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An hour or so passed by quickly. Sun set magestically. Moon was already high in the sky. Time to head back to Uyuni. Nina unfortunately was very grumpy, crying constantly, not able to sleep although she was visibly tired. At moments like this i asked myself if it’s too much for Nina and we as parents were too selfish.

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Nina went straight to bed after we came back. Nina co claimed he wasn’t hungry for dinner. I decided to go out food hunting myself. Crossed the street to the local restaurant as recommended by the lovely travel agency lady. They were all offering similar things – with parrillada grilling outside the resto and basic seats insides. I randomly walked into one and ordered what seemed to be the most popular – cotillas (griiled ribs) with rice and salad. I was astonished that the big meal costed only 8bol (1USD = 6.9bol)! No wonder she called the type of resto we normally went to and paid at least 50 for a similar plate the tourist resto.

 

P.S: to follow our RTW experience: Trilingual Family blog, or join Trilingual Family facebook group