Friday, 30 January 2015

Nazca, Entertaining Touts at the Bus Station …… and The Nazca Lines

Nazca. I was here despite many temptation by fellow traveller to lure me to Cusco for New Year eve. The town was rustic, small, forgotten and only travellers that where here was on a quick run to catch a glimpse of the Nazca Lines. The only attraction of value n Nazca of course was the Nazca lines.

Got off the bus early in the morning at 6am after an overnight bus ride from Arequipa and the only way out of the bus station was through all the hungry touts waiting outside the gates.
Do you want to see the Nazca Lines ??
Fly to see the Nazca Lines ??? Cheap
Bus to Nazca Lines for only 3 Sols …. 
Cheap Hostel ??
Backpacker Hostels ?? Just one Block from the main square
Free Wifi ….
Hot Showers ….
The temptation of giving in to the touts even the thought if speaking to one of them would attract a hoard more. I ignored them and walked through but could not lose two of them which followed me where I walked. I guess even a sneak peak at their hand held broacher’s sparked their enthusiasm of hope.
I have good Backpacker Hostel, Cheap, one of the lady said …. and she proceeded to show me her card all nicely printed up like a high class international standard hostel. 10 Sols …. She said …. That was dirt cheap about 5 SGD and I my attention was caught.
My guard was still up thou since the more you travel the more prone you are to tricks and you be vary of them. Still I was curious since there was once upon a time you stumble upon a diamond in small backwater towns. Let’s have a look first I said.
Walking along the main street suddenly she turned into the next street all the while the lady talking non-stop about how good the hostel was and cheap and just trying to distract me from where I was going.
Backpacker Hostel ??? I asked and taking the name card away from her for detail scrutiny.
We reach the hostel and I could not even see a signboard which match the name card I was holding. Best I could make out of it, it was her own house no signboard whatsoever. Now if it was a huge mansion with many traveller in it I might have considered but this was a run-down shack with me the only dumb traveller to fell for her bait.
Into the house I still stepped giving it some chance and up the stairs with no railing into the second floor which was still under construction and she opened the door to my room. It looked like her son’s room from my point of view with the bed still unmade, doors with no locks, and some shirts lying around.
Mmmmm …. I’ll need to think about it I said …. Walking back downstairs all the while thinking if I did stay there I would probably be rob that very night while asleep. I slowly without trying to look like I was bolting out the door running away as fast as I could, politely thank her for showing me the place and put my best poker face that I was seriously considering it but will need to walk around a bit more
First step out the door and she yelled …. 8 Sols …. I saw the look of disappointment in her as she watch me like a fish that took the bait, nibble at it and got away.
Phew I was glad I have built up a nerve of boldness to turndown awkward situations of guilt. So back to the normal routine and I found a proper good safe hostel in Nazca.
The Nazca Lines …
Not much really to talk about it for everything can be explain in Google. It was still astonishing what the hell these people was thinking doodling in the middle of the dessert.
I decided to avoid the torture of air sickness and save some money so took the 3 Sols bus out into the middle of the desert to go up an observation tower. Mirador was the name and paid 2 sols to go up and have a look. I thought the lines would be bigger than that but then again it was still quite a sight. Only manage to see two of the lines out of so many so I guess for 2 sols it’s not bad.
Nazca Line ... The Tree

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Shit Happens ….. The WORST Bus Ride in Peru - Cruz Del Sur

So people told me that the best bus ride you can get in Peru is with this company called Cruz Del Sur, and the internet don’t lie right, I mean with such good reviews and comments it’s got to be true !!!

Sometimes we forget that the internet is just like another person a mash of opinions wrap together which makes it almost right but not always as humans will be humans. So this is my lousy experience with the best bus company in Peru, Cruz Del Sur
The ride was from Arequipa to Nazca on an overnight journey and it cost me a nice 82 Sols for a semi-cama seat (Half-Bed). I arrived early at the bus station always paranoid not to miss a bus or train or plane due to bad traffic and went to the counter asking where to wait for the bus to depart. They had a VIP lounge for their bus customers, inviting me to check in my backpack ushered me into their nice lounge after scanning my body with a hand held metal detector.
I was glad my Swiss-army knife was safely packed deep inside the backpack.
Into the lounge, free wifi, drinks and nice sofa to pass the one hour waiting time that I had. Staff wore pristine uniforms and behave like a first class airplane stewardess, most of them spoke Basic English and treated everyone like royalty. Best service indeed. Time to board the bus and blankets, pillows were given with lovely seats and not long after the bus departed dinner was served. It was in a way much better than some budget airline and comparable to an economy class flight.
Journey was smooth and we reached Nazca in one piece.
Getting my backpack from the undercarriage I notice it was a little bashed up. Not thinking too much about I proceeded to find a hostel in Nazca. Once checked in I opened up my backpack noticing that it was a little bit more out of order than I thought. Most of my worthless stuff was there but it did not feel right so I took out everything.
My bag was rampage through and through and Cruz Del Sur stole the only two item of value in the backpack
1.       Swiss Army Knife
2.       A broken Made in Malaysia Hand phone

So while the experience is great I now hate that fucking company. First class service is useless if the people at the rear end is still a bastard. Worst is that because Cruz Del Sur gives their baggage handlers metal detectors, they will definitely find any electronics, knife or precious metal that you hide in your backpack. No matter how deep you stash it.
I guess I was fortunate that the only thing lost was the swiss army knife and a broken phone but I was so looking forward to exchanging the broken phone for a new one due to warranty.
Lucky thing they can’t scan the emergency money I expertly stash in there as well.  

Friday, 23 January 2015

One of the Deepest Canyon in the World – Colca Canyon Peru

Colca Canyon. I survived. It’s always the case that I don’t know what I am signing up for so when we hit the road at 3 am in the morning driving to the canyon I was soundly asleep in the van and enjoying the view in the morning rolling up and down the side of the mountain overlooking the Canyon. Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyon in the world but lack the fame of Grand Canyon. Guess they forgot to put the word Grand in front.

Breakfast stop and I had the first taste of Coca Tea …. Pretty delicious like any other tea but other than that nothing much. The first stop was the Condor Viewing area which was great since we spotted Condor … I thought they would be bigger but well they are big enough. Next stop Hiking time.
So Day One we started high up and slowly went down from 3700 to 2500m about 4 hours walk downhill with great view disappearing as we decent. After about 2 ½ hours my right knee started to act up and was becoming painful. Slow down the pace but still reach there in time for lunch. First day and we camp there with no more hiking. Illiot and Atin went for a side tour hike towards QaQatapay which is an Inca ruin that barely any tourist goes. I sat out that one and just relax at the hostel or lodge nursing my beer and my leg
Day Two was not too bad …. A little uphill and mostly flat walking and then downhill to Sangalle. Just a morning hike to the next stop for lunch and camp for the night. We had so much time the 2nd day to just chill back relax, swim, sleep at the hammock, play some soccer, some cards with other groups from other guide and even light a campfire at night. The bottle of rum we bought along the way was a good friendship maker I guess.
Day Three …. The day I almost gave up. Woke up at 430 am in the morning for a gruesome 4 hours hike uphill non-stop. It was a 1000m uphill elevation climb with a time limit where we need to get there by 8am else no breakfast. I invoked the smokers pace for that climb, super slow and was constantly out of breath. Walking so slowly I lost count how many people passed me including a few donkeys with bloody riders on top.

Vamos Chico (Lets Go) ….. Shouted the guide from far above looking at me with a grin on his face. Thou I could not see the grin I knew it was there. Cursing, swearing I slowly make my way up and finally reach …. Just before 8am. Everyone was so damn fast going up in 3 hours while I took 4.
“Oii Edwin …. Esta Bien ???”  shouted Elliot from above …. ( Are you OK ?? )
“No Fucking Esta Bien” I shouted back …..
Huffing and puffing that last 100meters I was nearly there …. Bite whatever thought I had of pain and just move on …. A step at a time ….
Next time … I am getting a donkey …. Fuck … Still I survived.
After breakfast was a drive to the hot springs, a hot spring never felt so good after that hike. Then it was a slow drive back to Arequipa with a lunch stop and a viewpoint stop at 5100m elevation.