Tag Archives: travel with toddler

Why I Love Travelling, And Why Kids Should Travel Too.

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WP_20140626_039 (2)There are many reasons why I love travelling. One of the most important ones is that travelling allows me to feel connected with the world, in a very personal way.

I realized this last night after I became instantly intrigued by a video post on National Geographic called ‘The Human Cost Of Sugar Harvesting’ that I probably would have just ignored a year ago. Why? Because the report is about what happens in Nicaragua, and I was there for a few weeks last year! I vividly remember the sugar cane farms – among banana farms, papaya trees, mango trees, pineapple farms – in that beautiful country, amid one volcanic mountain after another volcanic mountain.

WP_20140620_101 (2)WP_20140626_044Without having been actually in Nicaragua, I would have never been able to appreciate this video/topic in a way that now feels so familiar. Of course I will never be able to know keenly the day-to-day reality, a very sad and seemingly unescapable one, that surrounds these people. But at least I know where it’s happening. Where on earth Nicaragua is. To what kind of people it’s happening. What kind of social, geographic, political environment that these people live in. The language they speak. The dress they put on. The food they eat. The weather in which they carry out their daily lives. How much they pay for their daily grocery. Whether or not there is a cinema or a supermarket nearby. All these trivial knowledge were gained through travelling, seeing, living in the country.

Thanks to the travelling, I could feel so connected to a part of the world that’s so far away from me. I feel engaged. I become more eager to learn more about the place. I appreciate what they are going through. I feel for them. And I think it is an important issue as well as intimate, because it’s impacting the people that I feel I know a bit of.

I can learn as much as I want from a map or a geography lesson, but I will never really learn until I travel. I’m lucky I have a husband who understands and supports. I wish we would pass this contagious passion to my daughter too, so she becomes a real world citizen who feels connected thus cares.

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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

SUBE card and BsAs

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ISUBE was clearing all the cluster in my wallet tonight, and found this credit-card-size card written ‘SUBE’. It took me a little while to remember what it was. It was the public transportation card in the city of Buenos Aires (or BsAs as affectionately called by the locals) that I bought when we spent 3 weeks there back in February. it’s the equivalent of OPAL card in Sydney (the new invention while we were away!).

Memories flooded back when I saw the card.

The card was a life saver, once we managed to finally get one. Theoretically all major metro stations and big grocery shops in BsAs would sell it. It took us almost a week to finally find one. Theoretically a free card, we paid an equivalent of 3 dollars for it. Why? In a country where rules were not written, and you were not far away from being illiterate as far as spoken language was concerned, we learnt to accept that some questions would remain unanswered forever.

Well, we paid 6 dollars as we bought two, and only a few days before we left the city we found out that multiple people could use the same card even for the same trip. In metro station you simply swipe twice when you got it. On the bus, you had to tell the driver where you were going when you got on, and the driver would key in the correspondent amount.

Well, why were we so eager to getting hold of the card anyway? Because it was an excise of driving us insane not having one. The bus/metro fare were very cheap in BsAs, but how the fare was calculated was still a mystery to me. The worst part was that the fare almost always involved some weird number, such as 3.83 pesos, 4.22 pesos. And you had to have the exact amount of changes with you because the drivers were not supposed to give back any change. So we would collect all the changes we received from each grocery shop (only big supermarket wouldn’t be angry with you if you didn’t have the exact change, so go figure how painful it was to collect some small changes), and preciously put them into our pockets and wallets and backpacks, as if they were the treasure of our lives.

What’s worse, the value of different coins and bills in Argentina were notoriously difficult to decipher (due to very similar colors to my taste), so sometimes when we were trying to compose the right amount of bus fare, a long queue would form behind us. On a hot summer day, I felt quite guilty of making others wait in the sun, although inside the bus often it wasn’t really any better as most buses were not air conditioned.

So we were very happy when we got the card. We hoorayed and jumped as if we won the lottery.

So what happened to the second card we paid for unnecessarily? Well we gave it to a couple we met in Cuzco/Peru who were going to BsAs afterwards. During our trip, we had been on the receiving end of random kindness for so many times, and we tried to do what we could to be on the giving end, even if it’s just as little as a SUBE card. It could just save them a week worth of frustration trying to get one. If I had this SUBE card with us at that particular moment, I would have given it to them too. I had no idea how it ended up staying in my wallet till now – it’s perhaps the only non-essential thing from the trip staying in my wallet. But I’m glad it did, because memories flooded back thanks to it.

I could almost tag this post ‘nostalgic’ – it was just 8 months ago when we just began our real adventure after the good old France. And it felt like ages ago.

But it’s not.

It’s more like a reminder that memories are often composed of all these little things. A card. A chance encounter. The feeling you felt at one random split moment. Some otherwise unconnected place/people/things that somehow became connected.

It’s a reminder that the 461 pages of diary I managed to jot down on my phone – some days there was just a few words while other days there were a few pages – was perhaps one of the best things I’ve done during our trip. It was also one of the hardest things to continue doing.

It’s also a reminder that I will continue to honour my own promise to put the relevant parts of that 461 pages onto this site. So that memories could be retrieved and relived, even after the SUBE card would be long gone.

[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