Friday, October 31, 2014

Umbrella Revolution

It has been a month since the so-called Umbrella revolution began on the streets of Hong Kong.
The movement, which calls for full democracy in the this special Chinese region has called the attention of the international media because of the number of protesters that have decided to go to the streets to demand what they said, had been promised by the mainland.

I had the chance to walk the affected streets these days and I must say it is good to experience the atmosphere that can be felt on those streets.
In all the time that I have been living in Hong Kong, this has been the first time that I could see the city being affected by a protest (Protests happen every year, specially on the Tienanmen Square massacre anniversary).

It is hard to say for anyone to say  what will come up from these protests, Although Beijing has been been firm in its position that it won't change its mind and that Hong Kong will get its democracy the Chinese way.

 Causeway Bay

Causeway Bay

Monday, October 6, 2014

Weekend get away in Taipei

It has been my third time in the island of Taiwan. I must say even though Taipei is a big city, you can still find a more relaxing atmosphere if you compare the city with Hong Kong.

Even though I came here for medical reasons, I could have the chance to enjoy the city and even take the train to the south and climb the mountain of Maokong to enjoy its stunning views from the tops.

 Taipei City Centre
 View of Taipei from MaoKong
Taipei 101

Take the train towards Taipei Zoo which is the last station and where you are supposed to get off.
after that, take the cable car (called Gondola) and go up the mountain.
It is famous for its teas which you can even taste in ice-creams.

If you are in the city and wanna do something more touristy, then definitely go to Taipei 101, the once tallest building in the world worth for its amazing views.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Look to the Past in Guanajuato

I was wondering if what they said about Guanajuato was true. When we arrived at the bus station we couldn't actually see more than a few residential developments and a few shopping areas.
Then I thought we had to be far from the actual city of Guanajuato.

Vilou and I found a place through Airbnb and we were waiting for a friend of the owner to pick us up. After waiting for half an hour, Ramiro finally came to the station, and all set we left the bus station for the city.

I can't really remember how long we did from the station as we were chitchatting and the time went by quickly.
And then I could see that what people said about Guanajuato was true. The vehicle approaches a few mountains, but still no signs of the city, one has to see the tunnel as you approach it to feel that you are finally arriving.

once you enter the tunnel you start feeling like your are going to a far different place and that is confirmed when the tunnel is finished and you finally enter the city.
From one instant to another you change from the countryside to this magical town behind the mountains.
Right after you exit the tunnel, you are in this beautiful colonial town with its narrow cobbled streets, old but colorful buildings and little alleys that go up high hills.

Declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, Guanajuato can be with no doubt considered the crown of all colonial towns in Mexico. Thousands of tourists visit the city, and many choose it as their new home (temporarily or permanently). It is internationally known for its Cervantino Festival which brings artists from many countries every year to perform in the city.

After that great welcoming feeling we had, we went to explore and enjoy the city. We stayed there just for a couple of nights, I think staying longer is totally worth it, but again, our itinerary is tight.

Probably the most important highlight of this place is walking around and discover the town by yourself.
Of course, there are some important landmarks that one has to consider when visiting Guanajuato:

-El Pipila: The name is given to a statue on top of a hill. The statue is  man holding a hammer and a writing under saying: There are other buildings to burn. referring to Alhondiga de Granaditas.

-Alhondiga de Granaditas: Historical building which played an important role during the Mexican War of independence.

Mummies Museum: A collection of mummified bodies that were once buried. the region's soil is rich in many minerals and therefore it avoids a total rotting of the bodies.

Also, try the callejoenadas! It consists of a group of people being led by another group of young boys wearing medieval clothes. they take you around the little alleys singing and telling you stories.
To be honest, I think it is definitely worth it for those who understand Spanish, if you don't you can still try if you just wanna relax and walk wth your friends while listening to music.

Also, go and have a look at the Callejon del Beso (Kiss Alley). Legend has it that there were these to balconies so lose to each other that a boy and a girl could kiss stadong on each other's balconies. Of course their families were opposed because she was rich and he was poor, the father of the girl killed his daughter and all that drama and I don't know what happened to the boy haha! A little bit Shakespeare-esque for me.

Finally, just enjoy your yourself, walk around, try the food, sit in the main plaza and see the people walk by in the Cervantes capital of the Americas. Definitely want to come back!
View from El Pipila

Mexican Bride on the Run

Museo de las Momias

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Beautiful Guadalajara

Leaving The Mayan Riviera wasn't easy, but our next stop  is definitely a must since is considered the heart of Mexican culture like Mariachi, tequila and charreadas.

Guadalajara is located in the western state of Jalisco and is the 2nd most populous city in Mexico after Mexico City.
What I like about this city is that is big and has all you need but it still remains that province sense that you can't feel in Mexico City anymore.

This time we could stay with my relatives in a beautiful neighborhood called Providencia.
I love this neighborhood, It is full of nice bars, cafes and restaurants.
Torta ahogada. A typical dish.

Chilaquiles, Typical Mexican desayuno.

First thing we did was trying different dishes that are typical of the region and Mexico as a whole.
When in Guadalajara, don't miss the chance to try the famous "tortas ahogadas", a sunken sandwich in spicy tomato sauce. Or if you want to have some authentic Mexican breakfast, you should definitely try "chilaquiles", pan fried corn chips with cheese and bean paste. totally finger licking!!

And what to do while in Guadalajara apart from eating?? The city is big and has lots to offer, but sadly most tourist come here and stay 1 or 2 days as an extra stop from the usual trips to the colonial towns of Mexico.
Sadly as well for us, we didn't have much time, so here is what we did in Guadalajara that is totally worth mentioning:

El Centro
El centro is how Mexicans call downtown in all Mexican cities. Guadalajara's centro is definitely its prime landmark.
Here you can find a majestic cathedral, a pedestrian park full of nice shops and restaurants and different monuments

Starting your walk from the front of the cathedral on the right you will have the roundabout monument to the intellectual elite of Jalisco.
Rotonda de los Ilustres.

Continuing behind the cathedral, you will find the City Theater and other monuments.
Also, when strolling around downtown, don't miss the chance to visit San Juan de Dios Market. It is an interesting place for tourists who want to experience some very Mexican market sense.
Here you can find almost everything you could imagine such as electronics, clothes, jewelry, hand made crafts, fruits, etc....
I took my friend there and got a big poncho for herself, she was looking for hammocks too, but she wasn't convinced by any of them.

Guadalajara City Theater

2-Andares Shopping Mall
If time allows, I would also recommend to go to Andares. It is an outdoors shopping mall located in a new development area called "Puerta de Hierro" (Spanish for Iron Gate).
You can find a wide range of restaurants and shops and can spend the evening walking around doing some window shopping.
 Andares Shopping Mall

Andares Shopping Mall

Lastly, when you are in Mexico, you should look for "Michoacana". It is an ice cream shop,  but they also sell typical Mexican soft drinks like lemonade with chia seed.
Chia seed is a very healthy seed native of Mexico and when combined with lemonade it makes a very refreshing choice during those hot months of Mexican summer.
It is called Michoacana because the style of making the ice cream comes from the western state called Michoacan. You can find these shops all over Mexico.
Just go and ask for limonada con chia!!

 Happy with limonada con Chia.

Guadalajara's City Centre

Friday, August 29, 2014


It means "small inlet" in the Mayan language , but one thing for sure is that Xcaret will be an unforgettable experience.
I'm talking about a theme park located in the place with the same name, some km. away from Cancun

This park has become one of the lost popular day trips for travelers, and let me tell you that whatever you hear about it (the good things) are true.
If you're planning to visit the MR, please make sure you include Xcaret in your itinerary. I can assure you won't regret.

To get there, I think it is best to book with one of the thousands of tour agents you can find in Cancun or Playa del Carmen.
The basic entry fee is about US$80. That is the cheapest but we decided to go for the Xcaret Plus fare which is the one I recommend.
This fare includes transportation, buffet lunch and the equipment to dive in any of the three underground rivers which is not included in the basic price.

The park is quite big and for some people even 1 day is not enough.
It has shows all day long, many shops to buy stuff and you can also see animals roaming around the park all freely and take pictures of them.

So, long story short, go straight to the underground rivers and amaze yourself with the deep blue color, look for the jaguars, don't miss the butterfly sanctuary and at 5 pm, head to the main auditorium and enjoy the Night Show "Mexico Espectacular" to enjoy dance performances from different regions of Mexico and learn a bit of how Mexico was born as a country (I personally loved the Pre-Hispanic ball game).

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Chichen Itza. A World Wonder.

When you visit the Mayan Riviera, visiting Chichen Itza is a must. Probably anyone coming here already has this place included in the itinerary.
Chichen Itza, which in the Mayan language means "At the mouth of the Itza well" is definitely one of the most famous sites in Mexico. Thousands of people visit this place every year, and more since it was selected as one of the new seven wonders of the world.

It is located about 200 km. away from Cancun, in the state of Yucatan. You can get there with a tour or by yourself.
We chose to go by ourselves since have never liked joining tours, we like to organize our time on our own.
It is really easy to get there if you are travelling from Cancun. Just take a bus from the ADO Bus Station in downtown for MX$240 (US$18) one way. There is only one departure per day as I remember and it is in the morning (around 8). The bus that goes back to Cancun departs at around 4 pm.

Once you get there, the archaeological site is yours to discover. There are lots of ruins to walk around and you can get some info by reading some signs by them (you can also hire a local guide outside that can explain all to you).

The park is quite big and it will probably take all morning and afternoon to see it. However, I would say the 2 main highlights of this place are the Pyramid of Kukulkan (the feathered serpent god) and the cenotes (sinkhole).

Sadly, visitors cannot climb the main pyramid anymore. It used to be possible a few years back, but because of deterioration the authorities decided that the buildings were better put out of direct access.
I heard it was a bit of a challenge to do it, but for me the biggest challenge nowadays is to avoid  the massive amount of people trying to sell you stuff.
Don't get me wrong, they are all trying to make a living, but probably by the time you are getting ready to leave, you are kinda tired of walking under the sun and being bugged by lots of vendors adds a bit to the exhaustion. 

Overall, a very interesting place!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Mayan Riviera!!

Cancun, is with no doubt, one of the most important touristic destinations in Mexico. When it comes to beach resorts, I believe Cancun can compete up there with the best.

So many people around the world have told me things like: it is too American!! Not the real Mexico!!, Too expensive!.
Well, well, It is true that Cancun can have that look of an all-included theme park,but let's remember that Cancun is just the gateway to what is known as the Mayan Riviera.
You want night clubs, American style restaurants ad shops, huge hotel complexes? Then Cancun has it for you!.
Once you get away the Hotel Zone, there are tons of things to see and discover.

This was my third time in the Mayan Riviera, and this time I was travelling with my bestie, Vilou.
It was her first time in Mexico. She is from Paris, so definitely it was going to be a new experience for her.
I decided to stay away from the Hotel Zone and rented a room in Playa Blanca (around 5km from downtown) on Airbnb (totally recommend that website!).
Apart from having dinner at La Isla Mall (A beautiful outdoors shopping mall), we didn't do much in the HZ.
We are not much into clubbing, so we decided to have a good rest as we were visiting Tulum and Playa del Carmen the next day. Plus those nightclubs in Cancun are really expensive. Although I heard the price is totally worth it for those who love clubbing.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Visiting the homeland!

This is the second time I come to visit my country during this year, last time being during Easter holidays.
This time I made a trip with my vest friend Vilou. She's from France but we met like 8 years ago when I was living in Japan.

Although we didn't meet for a long time. We recently have been traveling together more often.
Last year I went to Paris and earlier this year we went to Cambodia together.

The trip included he Mayan Riviera, Guadalajara, Guanajuato and Mexico DF.
Missing my friend so much already! But it's good to spend some time with la familia, too.
6 more days till I'm back in Hong Kong.