Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hello Peru! - Cusco

I could say, Iám indeed lucky during my stay in Colombia, for I get to know new friends and travel with them during long weekends.Last year, November 1-3, we went to Cusco, a city in southeast of Peru, known as the capital of the Inca Empire.

At the airport in Cusco:

After unloading our luggages at a 3-4 star budget hotel in downtown Cusco: Hotel San Agustin, off we went for a guided tour, on to our disappointment, was in Spanish language!
First itinerary was spent on the city tour of Cuzco. We went to some spots believed created by the Incas as their sun temples, but during Spanish regimes, those were destroyed and rebuilt as Church instead.Its like travelling back in time...

Cathedral Mayor at day:

Inside a believed sun temple (Temple of Coricancha) but was rebuilt as a Dominican Priory and Church of Santo Domingo:

At night had us a chance to walk at the Plaza de Armas, main plaza to look for a nice authentic Peruvian restaurant for dinner.One delicacy we didn't missed is the Cuy, a guinea pig, served roasted with herbs and spices. It does tastes like chicken, but since I had this thought of eating a rat gave a verdict of no more having them next time! :-)

Cathedral Mayor at night:

Cuy Asado for dinner, poor rat!

At the Plaza Armas at night:
The day after was our schedule for the Macchu Picchu tour, a Unesco World Heritage Site, located in the northern part of Cuzco.Known as the 'Lost City of the Incas', its situated on the mountain ridge. We took 2.5 hour train ride to the place.Its a bad timing during our visit, rains keep us from exploring more of the place because of its steep and slippery stone climb. But did make us amazed on how people of early ages managed to create a wonder like these. And at last, english speaking guests are segregated with Spanish speakers and we're provided with English speaking tourguides.Despite the rain, tourists keep coming in until midday that we haven't got to chance to claim our paid lunch due to a very long line to the restaurant or we'll lose our train!

Traditional Peruvian dolls, I got one for me! :-)

Peruvian women doing making clothes out of Lllama wool:
Train off to Macchu Picchu:
A sample house in Macchu Picchu:
Overlooking Macchu Picchu...

How to get there:
From Lima, we took LAN airline bound to Cusco. Train was the only mode of transport from central Cusco going to Macchu Picchu, a reservation should be made at least a day before the visit.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Hello Colombia! - Zipaquira

Outside Bogota business district, we went to this town called Zipaquira, northern part of Cundinamarca.Its known for Cathedral de Sal ('Salt Cathedral'), an underground church built of salt mine tunnel, salts are formed 250Million years ago.

We came to Zipaquira last Holy Week (April 2008) and just in time for the procession of the saints. Note the clothes of the followers carrying the religious figures.

Inside the cathedral are 14 stations of the Cross. It was believed the cathedral was before a santuary, and the salt mines were long been explored by the Muiscas culture even the Spanish came to the Americas.(Wikipedia)

Outside the Salt Mine:

Lunchtime came and we had it on La Chacita restaurant along the way going to Chia, just to see Neusa, a known water resource for Bogota.
On our way back home, we dropped by Parque Jaime Duque:

Its a theme park with a mini zoo inside. It is also a popular venue of large concerts.

Pose with a figure in the park symbolizing God:

How to get there:
From Bogota central district to
Cathedral de Sal: take Transmilenio buses going to Portal Norte to last station, then buses bound north.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hello Philippines - Pahiyas Festival of Quezon

May 15 marks the Pahiyas Festival of Quezon, a province in the souther part of island Luzon. Its a festival in honour of the farmer's patron San Isidro Labrador, for abundant harvest. Colorful houses are adorned with farm produce as to welcome the patron saint during procession, thus decorating the houses eventually became a norm during festival that also turns into a friendly competition as to outdo each other.

Its no joke setting up homes like these and really do requires long planning and preparations, as tourists keep coming in every year to see them. Hence Pahiyas is the the grandest of all festival in the Philippines!

Better to visit the place as early as 8am, since more people continue to flock in until midday and you'll have quite a little difficult time to roam around.We arrived 9am due to traffic along Tayabas since they also have their own Pahiyas, and we arrive late for the procession of patron saint Isidro Labrador.
Grand parade of the giants (mascots made by pape mache'),

...and Santacruzan with highlights of their gowns made on local materials.

We ate pansit habhab for lunch: rice and egg noodles cooked with vinegar, served on banana leaves.Before leaving Lucban, we packed our bags with pasalubong: longganisang Lucban and broas (their own special cookies).
How to get to Lucban, Quezon:
Thru public transportation:
by Bus, we took JAC Liner bound to Lucena at the Buendia station as buses leave every 20 minutes. On diversion road before turning right to Lucena, there's a jeepney terminal all bound to Lucban, and no taxi! :-)