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South America Adventure

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Monday, 28 July 2008

Location: Santiago, Chile

We are coming home!...

Yes, the 5 week advanture is coming to an end. We are in Santiago at the moment, waiting to fly home tonight. Will be arriving on Wed afternoon.

Oh well, we really don´t feel like coming back to be honest. these 5 weeks have gone so quickly and there is still SO much to see here.

In a nutshell, we LOVED our trip and will come back to South America soon.

A summary of some of our first time experiences during this trip:

* Got stuck at Auckland for two days
* Got fined $NZ200 for ¨smuggle¨an apple into Auckland
* Have your wet towel drying in 5 mins at -5deg (Atacama desert)
* Having dinner at the highest 5 star hotel in the world (in La Paz)
* Eating Cuy
* Walk 115kms in 5 days at 4000m altitude
* Get up at 3AM twice in one week
* Taking a 4x4 bus
I think there are more, but can´t remember at the moment. Anyways, there are loads.

Oh well, will try to catch up with you all when we get back in the next couple of weeks. (after we sort out the photos, Jan took around 2000 photos...yes... shouldn´t of got him that camera...)

Flying safe to us (lucky we are not flying with Qantas for the long houl, only Syd to Mel tomorrow).

See you all soon. Thanks for reading our journey for the last 5 weeks.

Ciao.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Location: Lima, Peru

Have you heard of anyone, who put on weight after walking for 5 days? Oh well, Jan and I have managed to do that.

After over 230 KMs, over 100 mozzie bites and two giant blisters between us, we WALKED to Machu Picchu.

The 5 days walk was hard when we had to keep walking up for hours either with every little Oxygen or in the Jungle when it´s very warm. On the first day, we walked up to 4600m, the view was just amazing there and just imaging camping amogst snow capped mountains, you can see what I mean when you see the photos.

To be honest, I don´t know where to start to write about the 5 day walk. The whole jounery was just breath taking (physically sometimes too). We walked pass snow capped mountains, down to jungle and rainforest, then to the secret Machu Picchu. I just don´t know how words can describe all these.

I also did crazy things, such as getting up at 3AM to walk up to Machu Picchu, thinking we will be the first people there. Oh well, WRONG. At this one of the busiest tourist attraction in the World, 3 AM is too late. We were still the first 50 people to enter Machu Picchu on that day though. Good enough I say.

Legs are still a bit sore, lucky we are in Lima now and it´s at sea level with NO more Inca steps. (Incas REALLY loved building steps).

Talking about Inca, this whole trip taught me A LOT about the Inca history. Did you know Inca era was less than 200 years before the Spanish took over? The amazing thing is people here are still very pro Inca and a bit anti-Spanish. Werid polictical situtation here...

Anyways, we are in Lima now, back in civilisation. The guest house we are staying at is so cool. I would be so happy if I could have a house like this. (old Colonial building).

Sushi for lunch and seafood for dinner since we are back at SEA level. Ummm... Oxygen...

Oh forgot to tell you how we put on weight after walking for 5 days. Not hard when you get given 3 course lunch and dinner everyday. The food on the tour was just GREAT. Jan and I almost offered the chef a 527 visa to come home with us.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Location: Cusco, Peru

We are in Cusco, one of the most touristy place you can find in the world. The population here is only 400,000, however, during peak season (like NOW), it gets to 1 million people. The city is big enough not to step onto other tourists´toes all the time and there is heaps to do.

At the moment, it´s the virgin Mary festival (there are so many of them, don´t know exactly which one it is). It´s the festival which people have the Virgin Mary on a stand and parade it around the main square with kids dancing behind it. Pretty cool to see.

Today is for us to chill, go and buy the stuff we need for the 5 day trek. Tomorrow at 4AM, yes, 4AM, we will be off to the Inca mountains to start our 5 day walk to Machu Pichu. (So won´t be in contact for 5 days, till mid next week).

Had our first Cuy last night, Cuy is Guinea pigs, yes, we had one. (see photo) It tasted funky. The meat is more like a bird, but the skin is like pig skin. Maybe that´s why it´s called a guinea pig...

Anyways, loaded some more photos from La Paz, Lake Titicaca and Cuy for your viewing pleasure.

Walk walk walk, we will get there...

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Location: Puno, Peru

We are in our third country of the trip now - Peru!

walked acrossed the Bolivian - Peru boarder this morning, only to be sent back to Bolivia...The guy at the Bolivian immigration didn´t change the date on his exist stamp, so we were officially in no man land for 24 hours... Oh well, small enough mistake and we did get into Peru in the end.

Our last leg of trip in Bolivia was great. Spent two days at a town called Copacabana, (yes, like the cocktail). It´s on Lake Titicaca, the highest lake in the world (about 3700m high). It was just so great to chill there.

There is an island on the lake, which is called the Sun Island. According to the Incas, the Sun was born there. Not sure about that, however, it´s a beautiful beautiful island. Jan and I hiked around 3 hours to get from the North to the South, was a nice walk, other than the killer hills...(don´t like going up hills when you are over 3500m high).

We are on the Peru side of the lake today, visited the floating islands. People build island from reed and live there...Crazy... we went to one of them and it´s bouncy when you step on the island...werid sinking feeling...

Anyways, gonna be an early night tonight. Got a whole day bus ride to Cuzco to prepare for our 5 day trek, which will start in 2 days time, so excited!

Loved Bolivia...

Friday, 11 July 2008

Location: La Paz, Bolivia

I just lost everything I typed!!!!! Not happy!!!!

anyways, here is what I typed I think: (I will have to keep it short now)

Don´t attempt to take local Bolivian night bus across the country. You will be rewarded with dust and freeze your nuts off. Oh well, we did. We actually ran for it like the amazing race too.

we were waiting for the recommended tourist night bus ticket office to open, with another 11 people, then to find out all the tickets were sold out and the next bus is two days later.

Imaging 15 foreigners running with their bags across a small Bolivian town... we were there! I ran with one of the Swedish girls we are traveling with (Kajsa and Maria are cool chicks, part of the team Lola). We managed to out ran everyone and got the last 4 tickets on the local bus, so pround!

Anyways, we are in La Paz now, another big city. The cool bit is that all the houses are built on the mountains. Rich people live at the bottom and poor people live on the top. It´s really cool to see at night.

We are staying at a hostal which was the residence of the first Bolivian president. Pretty cool. Hence we are two minutes walk from the current goverenement house. It´s funny to see all the guards and SWAT team people with big machine guns around it everyday. There is also TV reporters there all the time. My goal was to jump into one of the interviews and wave, however, considering it mostlikely won´t get broadcast in Oz and I will probably will get shot on the spot... I think I will give it a miss.

By the way, food is crap here. Almost got sick from mystery meat from yesterday lunch, so went for the good old Chinese last night. Crap too...(however, better than the joint in Altona). I think I will stick with vegs for a couple of days.

Oh Oh, the amry band just started playing outside again, it´s the president I guess. Will go to check it out Now.

Will try to save this again, hope it works!

Friday, 11 July 2008

Location: La Paz, Bolivia

I just lost everything I typed!!!!! Not happy!!!!

anyways, here is what I typed I think: (I will have to keep it short now)

Don´t attempt to take local Bolivian night bus across the country. You will be rewarded with dust and freeze your nuts off. Oh well, we did. We actually ran for it like the amazing race too.

we were waiting for the recommended tourist night bus ticket office to open, with another 11 people, then to find out all the tickets were sold out and the next bus is two days later.

Imaging 15 foreigners running with their bags across a small Bolivian town... we were there! I ran with one of the Swedish girls we are traveling with (Kajsa and Maria are cool chicks, part of the team Lola). We managed to out ran everyone and got the last 4 tickets on the local bus, so pround!

Anyways, we are in La Paz now, another big city. The cool bit is that all the houses are built on the mountains. Rich people live at the bottom and poor people live on the top. It´s really cool to see at night.

We are staying at a hostal which was the residence of the first Bolivian president. Pretty cool. Hence we are two minutes walk from the current goverenement house. It´s funny to see all the guards and SWAT team people with big machine guns around it everyday. There is also TV reporters there all the time. My goal was to jump into one of the interviews and wave, however, considering it mostlikely won´t get broadcast in Oz and I will probably will get shot on the spot... I think I will give it a miss.

By the way, food is crap here. Almost got sick from mystery meat from yesterday lunch, so went for the good old Chinese last night. Crap too...(however, better than the joint in Altona). I think I will stick with vegs for a couple of days.

Oh Oh, the amry band just started playing outside again, it´s the president I guess. Will go to check it out Now.

Will try to save this again, hope it works!

Friday, 11 July 2008

Location: La Paz, Bolivia

Don´t attempt to take local Bolivian night buses across the country! Oh well, we did! It started like the amazing race. Here is the story:

* FACT: tourists are recommended to take the tourist bus from Uyuni to La Paz, which only runs twice a week and there is only one bus per time. Local buses are not recommended, since they are not very well maintained and very doggy. (we know why now).

Anyways, we finished our tour on Tues afternoon and the tourist bus leaves Uyuni that night. We thought we were smart and got the tour driver to drop us off at the ticket office, only to see a group of people waiting at the door already. Anyways, we were in the middle, with 7 people in front of us and 4 beind us. The toursit bus office never opened. We got our bus driver to call, then to find out all the seats are sold out already. Since we really want to get to La Paz that night, (same as all the other 11 people), we all started running towards to local bus ticket office. Just imagine about 15 forgiens with their bags running acorss a small Bolivian town.

Anyways, we won!!! I ran with one of the Swedish girls we are traveling with (Kajsa and Maria are cool chicks, part of team Lola) and we got the last 4 tickets on the local bus! Can´t tell you how pround I was!

Oh well, our reward was a doggy 4 wheel driving bus, with no heating (it gets to -10 at night here). we got the last row at the back and the windows have gaps on them. So we were covered in dust and freezing out nuts off for the whole night. I also got to a stage that I just wanted to see some sealed roads...oh well, you are not going to find them in 95% of Bolivia...

La Paz is just like another big city. The cool bit is that it has houses built up all around the mountain. rich people live at the bottom and poor people live on the hills. It´s really cool to see at night.

We are staying at a hostal which was the residence of the first Bolivian president, it´s pretty cool. Hence, we are only 2 minutes walk to the currently goverenment house. It´s funny to see all the guards and SWAT team with big machine guns outside everyday. They also have TV stations reporting outside it everyday, my goal is to jump in one of the interviews to wave, it probably won´t get broadcast in Oz and I will probably get shot on the spot...I might reconsider...

Anyways, some more shopping for us and musem visiting for us tomorrow and sleep in, YEAH.

By the way, food is not so tasty here, almost got sick from the mystery meat from lunch yesterday. So went for the good old Chinese last night, still was not so tasty. (better than the Altona Chinese joint though). Might just stick with vegs for the next couple of days.

Ummmm... almost dinner time... potatos...

Tuesday, 08 July 2008

Location: Uyuni, Bolivia

Bolivia, Yeah! we are in Boliva, in fact for 3 days now.

We did a tour to cross the Antoplano. It was a 3 day 4 wheel driving trip crossing desert, mountain range, lagoonas and salt lakes. We went from 2500m to 4800m in 6 hours. Slept at 4200m on the first night. Jan and I didn´t feel as much altittude sickness all the others. However, we were high on the coca stuff.

The place we stayed at for the first night was FREEZING... (-15 deg). I went to the Baño Natural and for the first time in my life, I felt my whole head freeze. It´s a bit like the brain freeze you get when you have a COLD milkshake, but 100 times worse. Freaking cold...

Anyways, we saw so much differnt things/landscapes, I don´t think I can describe them all here. You will to see the photos for yourself.

Also we had a great bunch of people traveling with us on the tour. We were Team Lola, the coolest tour group around! (to see how cool we were, see photos)

Replying to Charlie´s complain, I am not going to type too much anymore.

Next stop, La Paz, chat then!

Everyone take care and love you all!

Friday, 04 July 2008

Location: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Hot Hot Hot, Hot potatos! We are in the desert, the Atacama desert to be precise.

It´s about 20-25 degs here during the day and down to -5 degs at night. Hence, that´s why Jan is in his shorts at the moment, Europeans...

Anyways, it took us a whole 24 hours to get here. We left Pucon, which is Southern Chile, took an overnight bus, local bus, flight, more local bus, then a 6 hours bus to asscent to 3500m, then down. Finally, we got to San Pedro last night, 2500m above sea level. So glad, Jan and I are not feeling the altitude sickness (yet...). Other people we have met all have complained about the sickness. Either way, we bought the Coca leaves, and we are ready for it. Appearently the leaves will get you high as well, so I guess we might be very happy for the next couple of days.

San Pedro is a very touristy, but yet cute town. Very small and DUSTY... There is absoutly NOTHING growing here. From the bus and plane to here, all we could see was dirt, hence baren mountains, very tall mountains. Pretty different to any landscape we have seen.

We are going to watch the stars and moon tonight with a French astronomist tonight. I am SO exictied!!! they actually have a lot of satellite stations here, since it´s high, open, cloudless, no rain and very predictive wind. Wouldn´t mind seeing them if I know how to get there.

Going to the Moon valley tomorrow, apprently, it´s like the moon...we will see.

On Sunday (Chilen time) we are going on a 3 day tour across the desert into Bolivia. Will not be able to send any emails till we get to La Paz. So stay put, will be more exiciting stories and photos in a week time.

By the way, Charlie, sent you an email to your gmail account regarding the Volvo, did you get that?

Dad, Happy Birthday for yesterday. Did call you on your mobile and home phone, but couldn´t get a hold of you. Left you a voicemail, hope you got that. Anyways, Happy Birthday.

Ciao for now, will be back online in a week time.

Tuesday, 01 July 2008

Location: PARQUE NACIONAL HUERQUEHUE, Chile

Went to PARQUE NACIONAL HUERQUEHUE today. It was a great 6 hour hike. Quiet easy actually, other than bits of steep assecent and walking in snow.

The reward for walking that long of course is the beautiful views. We went to about 1300m high and there are 3 lakes there, gives great views.

Anyways, have a look at the photos. We are tired now, so not too much typing today.

Tomorrow is relaxing, before we need to catch the night bus to Santiago, then fly to Antofagasta. (gonna be another LONG day...)

Ciao for now.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Location: Pucon, Chile

What's better to do on a rainy wintery Sunday than spending the whole afternoon at a German beer bewery! yes, I did say German. In Valdivia, there is a full on Germany Bewery. The lake region of Chilie had a large number of Germany migrants after WWII, therefore, this whole area is very much influenced by German clture. Even in the language, such as a lot people say "ya" here instead of "Si". Anyways, the beer was great, Jan and I had about 4L amongst two of us in 3 hours. See photos.

We are in Pucon now, the town underneath the Valcano Vallaricca. Oh well, apprently the valcano is there, we haven't seen it yet...because it's of course raining again here... the clounds are so low, there is no sign of the valcano, I will believe it when I see it! Since the weather is so crap, we can't climb the valcano, so easy stuff for the next two days, just gonna go to the national park for a hike in the snow, then do some horseback riding and hot thermal spa. ummmmmmmm... spa, my favourite.

Staying in a cool hostel at the moment, it looks like an alpine lodge. There is a group of English people here, they are medical students doing a month placement here, pretty cool. Also met someone who got his pilot licence in Chilie. Aprrently it's 1/4 the price compared to back in Melbounre. I am VERY attempetted... If I ever get more than a month off again, I will seriously consider that, although, I will have to sit my aerodynamics exam in Spanish.

Anyways, Jan is minding the fire place of the hostel at the moment, trying to keep everyone warm...

by the way, Milo's cattery emailed us to say that he is the cat of the month at the moment. everyone loves him there, he gets to play at the office everyday and get cuddles all the time. I am affraid he might not wanna come home...


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Recent Messages

From Piet & Sue
Hi Guys,
Just thinking your trek would be finished?Hope it was enjoyable and enlightening, would love to do something like that one day. How was weather? Are your muscles in your legs like steel springs? Be good and look forward to hearing from you soon.
P.S. We need to cook some Cuy we you get home!
Pieter & Sue xx
Response: We have finished our trek and it was just amazing... massage would be very lovely at the moment.
From
mmm deliscious ginuea pig!
Response: yeah...
From amber
not a fan of the guineau pig - looks likea small pig which should have an apple in its mouth.

Have fun and enjoy your trek, hope its good weather for you guys :-)

All is well here.
Response: yeah, Jan said the same thing about the apple.
From Piet & Sue
Hi Guys,good to hear your having a great experience seeing wonderful stuff. How have the legs handled all the exercise, have you lost any weight ? The Cuy looks interesting (maybe we can cook one at home!) Enjoy Machu Pichu I imagine it would be an eerie place.
All the best and take care,
Piet & sue
Response: Jan and I managed to put on weight after walking for 5 days...
From Sue & Piet
Hey our long lost travellers - love all the commentary & photos - looks like you are having a ball (an understatement). Can't wait to see more updates ... Looking forward to you getting back here in Oz where you belong! Sue & Piet x
Response: Hey Sue & Piet, great to hear from you. Got your rug already, not gonna tell you what colors, will be surprise for you.
From Charles Edward Farri
Hello,
How are you doing Michelle and Jan. I am a pompous git from Surrey Hills. I just wanted to share that with you and hope you are both doing swimmingly.

P.s. I am not gay, but definitely curious. ;-) Hello Jan ....
From Anth Sucks
Hey Michi,

You have written way too much - you must have been taking lessons from mikey, but I did like the beer photo. Nope I haven't received any email from you, but I have grounded the car a while ago.

When do the drunken photos get uploaded (I'm sure they exist).
Response: cool, thanks for grounding the car for me. I must have one of your old personal email addresses then.
Loads of photo from our acrossing Antiplano trip, will load a couple of them soon. (Had SO much fun! you will see from the photos)
From
Did you consider eating them? Ohh and have you eaten gineau pig yet?.. mmm deliscious roasted over an open fire....
Response: Not yet, will be soon in Peru to taste the hamsters. They are normally cooked in a stew rather than roasted.

Will be in Bolivia in two days, they might eat Mexicans there... will let you know...
From
Have you adopted any Mexicans yet?
Response: Haven't seen any Mexicans for sale yet. However, almost adopted two dogs. They followed us around the town for almost half of a day... (we eventually ran away from them(
From
Heh Heh.. are you guys doing anything other than eat??? I am hungry.. bring me seafood!
Response: We drink beer and wine too other than eating...
From anth & Amber
Heh heh... best of luck for number 3 attempt! Travelling is always an experience! Good and horribly bad!
Response: It´s all good now. we are in Chile!