Thursday, December 4, 2008

Next Travel Post Coming Soon

Hi Readers,

I have been away and not been able to blog for a while. I am getting organized and will start posting on my travel again.

Thank you for your patience.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sacred Cenote in Chichen Itza

After a refeshing swim at the clear water at Cenote Ikil, let's visit another cenote which is located in Chichen Itza in Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.

Cenotes or sinkholes are formed when the limestone karst caved downward and the ceiling collapsed by the moving underground water below. The ceremonial or sacred well in Chichen Itza was used in times of drought to sacrifice human beings to appease the Mayan Chac or god of fertility, agriculture, thunder, and rain. Below are three pictures of the Cenote of Sacrifice filled with green water. They are taken from different angles.

In 1904, Edward H Thompson, an American archeologist dredged the Cenote of Sacrifice and discovered these precious gold and jade objects and human bones, wooden objects, textiles, copal incense, ceramics, shells and other artifacts can probably be found at the museum in Harvard University today.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cenote Ikil near Chichen Itza, Mexico

The Yucatan Peninsular in Mexico is largely made up of limestone landscape with no rivers. The land is not fertile and the Mayan farmers burn and slash the trees to grow their crops. When the limestone collapsed, a sinkhole or cenote is formed. There are numerous sinkholes and the one I visited is called Ikil which means "Sacred Blue Cenote" which is located approximately 10 minutes drive from Chichen Itza. If you want to know more about the formation of cenotes, etc., click here.

Here is the picture of the sinkhole from the top surface looking down. It is almost round. According to our tour guide the surface to the water level is around 90 feet deep. The window or opening facing me as I strecthed my neck out to take this picture, is a lookout compartment from around mid level.

I am now half way down. The following picture is taken from that window looking down into the sinkhole.

Here I am proceeding down the steps to the bottom level. The stairway was beautifully lit up.

Here I am right at the bottom of the steps. Oh it's so crowded with people and birds flying all over. This is the view from the bottom to the top surface.

There were many people taller than me crowding to look or getting ready to swim in the "well." I could get only a small portion of it.

Look at all these people getting ready to swim. I am not a great swimmer so I pass on the swimming. Guess how deep the water is?

My husband took a picture of swimmers enjoying themselves in the refreshing cool water, a contrast with the hot weather outside.

Well, according to our tour guide, the water is more than 120 feet deep. I would not recommend anyone to swim if you are not a good swimmer.

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Night Shows at Hotel, Cancun

After each day's activities, it would be great to relax and enjoy some great music. As for the best night entertainment spots in Cancun, Terence recommended Coco bongo so did the hotel agents. However, our vacation coincided with the spring break. The college students flocked popular night entertainment spots. Here you go, just showing you the picture. Click here if you want more information and listen to the music at Coco Bongo.

Every night, the hotel resort we stayed had a show time from 9:00pm through 10:00pm. During the pre-show and post-show time, we could request for our favorite songs. The audience could dance as they wish. We took this picture because we felt that one of the local artists looks like Obama. Do you think he resembles Obama too?

Not all the night show pictures turned out. White seems to stand out more clearly and I am sharing a few of them here.
This is supposed to be the music flashbacks of the 1980s reflecting Cher.

These are the 1990s music flashbacks.... Michael Jackson! His actions, and hair style resembles Jackson except he is shorter and darker.

Below are some Cabaret photos. Enjoy.

I would recommend you take a video camera with you so that you can take better pictures and those in motion. I'm not rich enough to own one.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Horseback Riding in Mexico

We are now at Loma Bonita horseback riding ranch waiting for our guide to take us to the horses. There is a souvenir shop at the ranch but I did not go in.

The following 2 pictures are our guide and some horses at the ranch.

We were given instruction on how to control the horses. We were then divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced horse riders. The warning is never go near a horse' hind legs for it may kick and hurt you. Always get up a horse on its left side.

Each horse has a name. This is a picture of a couple of horses on its way through the mangrove path to the ocean. We are now on a 2-hour horse back ride.

Now we are all at the beach. Notice that the horses like to walk in a single line, one following the other. We were warned that some horses like the beach and in the event that our horse gets down to the sand, we have to get off from its back. One horse did that and a couple of others started digging into the sand.

The horses that do not like to go into the ocean were tied to the poles/fence.

The horses which would take us for a swim had the saddles removed from them. Notice the bare backs of these horses.

I am guiding my horse into the water. It wasn't easy to ride on a bare horse back. And it isn't too difficult either if you concentrate and be on your guard.

Here we go for a swim. I clamped my legs and feet tight to the horse body and held tight to its mane. I was ready to be in a position to clamp my body against the horse if the waves get too rough. A guy on the first batch fell off from his horse and he had to swim while his horse happily abandoned him. The rancher had to go after it. I didn't want it to happen to me.

Oh, oh, the waves worked against us and my horse didn't like it too much. It nearly threw me off. But I repositioned myself securely after having glided off a little from its bare back.

After the swim, we rode our horses back to the ranch. It was very hot. Lunch was ready by the time we reached the ranch. A mother and daughter whom we met at lunch shared that they have been to Hawaii for horseback riding as well but they think that Mexico has better value for money because there are more activities offered at a cheaper price and most hotel resorts are inclusive of food. They shared that their family paid US$90 for a meal in Hawaii. They also shared something that puzzled me that they saw some dogs in Mexico that were tied on the roofs in the hot sun because there was no place to keep the dogs.

After lunch, our tour bus took us back to our hotel about an hour's drive away. It was a great horse riding adventure and I think the swimming part was the most thrilling.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Romantic Dinner in Cancun

My husband had a happy secret on our Cancun, Mexico trip for my birthday. He said we would be doing something very different that evening. I waited till that day came and he told me that we had to enter the building below.

Are we going for the underwater world? I looked at the souvenirs as he took care of the paperwork. Then he came with a band to put on my wrist. He led me to face the lagoon. I asked whether we were going on any of the private yachts. He wanted me to make a wild guess. I had no idea. I asked whether we would be having a dinner on a yacht, boat or cruise ship. He said sort of.

Then came the announcement that we would be boarding M.V. Columbus, on a Lobster Dinner Cruise and couples were to walk romantically to board the ship. My husband offered to carry me to the ship but I refused. He told the guys that I piggyback on him around the house at home and was shy to let him carry me in public. Finally we are boarding.

Each lady was given a flower onboard. As we got onto the cruise vessel, we were served cocktail with some alcohol. My husband whispered in my ear that Nyquil taste better as both of us do not like alcohol. The servers were puzzled why we took only a few sips each while all the others had refills.

After a few sips, my face turned pink and my eyes did not feel good. I goofed and placed the flower on my hair while my husband took this picture. The ship is made of solid teak. I love the wood.

A couple from Wales, UK took a picture of my husband and I. I cropped to show just myself as this is my personal blog.

We cruised on the lagoon and met Cancun Queen. The tourist onboard Cancun Queen waved to us and we, them.

We exchanged conversation with other tourists and watched the sunset. The clouds hid the sun and we could not get any nice pictures.

Daniel played the sax and entertained us with romantic music. He did a very good job.

Hmm, I smell lobsters. Yes, I then saw lobsters being grilled onboard and took these pictures. I love lobsters.

Goody, it's dinner time!. The boat anchored and stopped moving. All of us adjourned to the lower deck where we were seated romatically by candle lights and were served with wine and lobsters. My husband and I had water instead of wine. Are we ripped off the price we paid?

After dinner we continued with the cruise. A few couples were picked to share their love story. A couple was married for 42 years and he shared their success in marriage is to treat his wife like a friend. Another couple said they were not married but was engaged while dining about half an hour before the interview. They had to dance and a special number was played for them.

I still don't know how much the dinner cruise cost. My husband said if I knew the cost, I would probably think it is too expensive and might not enjoy the dinner and cruise. I guess that was the most expensive dinner I have ever had in my entire life. However, I can easily check the price on the internet.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

South Island New Zealand Part 2

Even pictures that you take from your car while driving on South Island in New Zealand can be so breathtaking. The sky is very clear, the mountains and lakes are naturally magnificient. Here is one of the shots to share.

After Christchurch we drove to Aoraki Mt. Cook which is the highest mountain in New Zealand. On our way there, we were caught in a traffic jam caused by hundreds of sheep. I have posted this picture before. I will upload a different picture when I win the battle with my scanner. For those who have not seen it, here you are.
Click here for the story. We were amazed how well a dog can be trained and entrusted to take care of the flock. New Zealand has the most sheep to population ratio. For the statistics, click here.

There are about 28 mountains that make up the Southern Alps of NZ. Activities include going on a 4-wheel drive safari, helicoper scenic flights with snow landing, fishing, hiking, etc. We decided to hike different trails on our own, often ending with different lookouts including glaciers. That evening the temperature dropped drastically and when we started running, my brother dropped our thermometer which we did not bother to find. We felt so good at the fireplace. We saw views like these pictures.

This is one of the pictures I took with Mt. Cook right in the center which is behind me. We climbed over rocks and snow to get this shot. My sister though slow, said she would not give up the hike for the sake of the such scenic views. If this picture doesn't load,
click here.
It is very scenic. It was the most beautiful hike in my life. We made a snowman but it was so ugly and funny looking. When my scanner is fixed, I will upload that picture. For more pictures of Mt. Cook by helicopter, click here. We did not take the scenic flight as we felt we were not rich enough to go on one. A 10 minutes introductory scenic flight over Fox or Franx Josef Glaciers cost $95 and $105 respectively! If you want to include a snow landing on Mt. Cook it cost at least $240. For the scenic flight map and cost details, click here.

After Mt. Cook, we went to Wanaka. The highlight of attraction in Wanaka is the Skyshow Centre, where you will find the largest collection of air worthy WWII Fighters in the Southern Hemisphere (information source). For those who are more adventurous, you may want to try tandem skydiving. See the tourism website with video and pictures here. I did not go for the freefall. Other things that you can do at Wanaka are trout fishing or just enjoy the beautiful lake view. See pictures below.

The highlight and best part of our adventure in Wanaka was learning to ski at the Treble Cone Ski Resort. I have a complete post on Ski Tour and Lesson with nice pictures and details posted here. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I have put them together.

I have decided to write on Lake Tekapo on a separate post as this post gets too long with numerous offsite clicks. I am still battling with my scanner to make it work right.

In less than 2 weeks, I will make my first trip to Mexico. I will take digital photos to share without messing with my scanner.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

South Island New Zealand 1

I am breaking up our travel on South Island into two parts. This is Part 1. Now, we are onboard the Interislander which is the ferry that took us from Wellington to Picton. The distance between the two islands across the Cook Straits is about 92 km or 58 miles and the journey takes 3 hours where you can enjoy scenic views including Marlborough Sounds. There were livestock, cars, trucks, trailers, and sometimes train coach on the ferry. Here’s the virtual journey with maps, description and pictures. For more information of the ferry, pictures and virtual tour onboard click here and navigate.

Below is a map of South Island by courtesy of backpack New Zealand.
For pictures of South Island not taken by me, click here.
If you look at the road map above, we traveled and visited Picton, Blenheim, Kaikoura, Christchurch, Lake Tekapo, Mt. Cook, Pukaia, and Wanaka. We ran out of time and could not make it to Milford Sound and Queenstown.

Blenheim is a small peaceful town and it was beautiful at night. If you like to go for whale watch, go to Kaikoura. This is a picture of me goofing around in Kaikoura. I was sitting on a bench, waiting for an opportunity to spot the whale.

Christchurch looks like a British city with a population of about 350,000 people. It is also known as the Garden City. We stayed at Rolleston House, which had a fenced up parking lot (car park) and within walking distance to the museum, Art Centre, Art Gallery and Botanic Gardens. The flea market accepted payment by credit cards which amused us.

This picture was taken at the fenced up parking lot mentioned above. We had a room to ourselves and a nice parking lot.
This picture was taken at the Botanic Garden. My brother said his sister looks like a doll.

Below is the picture of the flea market near the gallery which accepts payment by credit card.

Oops! I'm not sure whether below is the Art Center and Gallery. If not, it must be part of the museum. The museum is located next to the Botanic Gardens.
Below is a picture of hand-made fountains at a park in Christchurch. They're pretty.
Below is a picture of a floral clock which resembles the ones I have seen in Melbourne and Taiwan. I don't know who copied who. Maybe they didn't copy each other but have liked minds.

Look at the English Language College and Price Water House Centre. They are facing such scenic views. I decided to feed the doves.

For more attractions and activities in Christchurch, click here.

Next, we went to Lake Tekapo. I will continue with the rest of our journey soon. (Correction: After Christchurch, we went to Mt. Cook)