Tuesday, April 28, 2009

country 28:Columbia

Entering Columbia was a relief but mind on high alert. The customs and immigrations were easy and straight forward. Don't get jealous on us having the true Columbia coffee. It pays to have it.

We decide not to go far on the first day of a new country. to get ourselves getting used to the culture and the numbers on the money.

S$1.00 = PESO$1500

Peru, Ecuodor and Columbia uses Gallon(US) for gasoline.

90minutes from the border, we are staying at Pasto. Nothing much special here but the expensive place that we had stayed after witnessing a robbery on the street.

i was with Hope Too and Sam just came out of a hostel checking out the price which we found it too expensive. She decided to walk 100 meters along the street to another hostel instead on climbing on and off Hope Too for a short distance. I started the engine and joined the 1 lane traffic.

Traffic light was red and i was behind a slow taxi. 3 teenagers, walking at their fast pace, with their eyes looking everywhere. one whisle to another accross the road and pointed something with his finger. then 2 of them walked behind Sam at a quick pace while Sam was holding her helmet on her hand, heads looking at the number of the shops without noticing who and what is happening around her. i was worried....

i could smell that danger is near her. Sam was their target.

One of them ran behind an old man, stretched his palms into the right front pocket of the old man from behind, got the wallet and ran away. the old man was behind Sam. Lucky Sam, had the old man as the victim instead of her.

we were riding at another latitude 0.

The old man fell down because of shock. the two teenagers had gun with them, shot at the air as a warning for anyone that tries to go after them. At this time the traffic light went green and i could see the two teenagers had ran across a policeman walking on the street. I stopped beside Sam and calm her down because she saw the 2 teenagers running away from the old man, which reminded her of the incident 2-3 nights ago when her mobile phone was snatched in Quito.

I decided to stop going around in this town and stay in the safest, but one of the most expensive lodging. Never a pain for the decision.

The hotel staff covered Hope Too from the rain.

we are at:

N 01deg 1.702'

W077deg 16.666'

Andrea and Saskia singing on the moment we left them.

Monday, April 27, 2009

´that guy took my mobile phone and he ran away!´

It had been some time that the blog was not updated, sorry.

We were traveling with the Swiss team. Going through ups and downs together.

Peru was a nice country BUT we heard so many ‘sufferings’ from our fellow biker, Daniele. News about him was that his camera was down, didn’t took any pictures in Machu Picchu. Robbed by 3 men along the way back from M.P., bike fell down and his laptop had crashed. Laptop was stolen when he sent it for repair. He was stopped by the corrupted policemen and had to pay US$200, for nothing! It was enough of Peru for him, also for us. Latest news was:
Hi, I was trying to find peace in the same moment I decided to switch off everything.Instead I found a personal tragedy and I ended up in the hospital. Someone put in my drink some drug really strong in one of the most famous bar of Cusco, to steal me small change from my pocket. Now I'm trying to rebuilt what happened that night, 'couse I don't really remeber a lot.

We entered Ecuador by a deserted border. We were the only foreigners using that border. The locals just passed the border without stamping on their passport or rather; they did not need a passport to cross. As usual, we visited the immigration without any problem. We were issued with a 30days entry. Next, the custom, also known as ADUANA in Spanish.

I joined in the march. please vote for number 82.

The officer had a strict face. At least he spoke a little English. I handed him my bike registration paper. If you know, the Land & Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore does not issue a proper registration book or a ‘Log Card’ with effect from 2006. It’s all from internet. So, we do not have any proper proof of vehicle ownership other a piece of paper printed out from the internet. To make this piece of paper looked official, I had laminated it. Also, I went to the Singapore embassy to seek for an endorsement on this piece of paper. I wanted a stamp with ‘certified true copy’ on this paper to look more official. What the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok did was to give me a form, write what ever I want with my hand writing, then they clip this form with the piece of paper (so call vehicle registration printed from internet) and made a stamp on the form. In the end it doesn’t have the effect I wanted. Until today I had not use it. The laminated copy that I did looked more official.
Night view of Quito (Old Town).

There were too many nonsense on that vehicle registration paper like what is the COE quota, the blah blah blah that non-Singaporean WILL NOT understand it. These information will make the custom officer more confused. Also the bike value, stated with $8000, it’s in Singapore dollars and sometimes the custom officer assume it is US$8000, which make a lot of difference.

Well, the custom officer in this border is new. It was his first time dealing with foreign vehicles. He had a few question for me:

1) which country was this bike manufactured from?
2) What was the document number for this Vehicle Registration Card?
3) What was the laden and unladen weight of the bike.
Road to Cuenca. It was raining lightly the whole day. soft mud was common. Andreas had a fall when he rode into a terrain of sand mixed with water. it looked as if it was a solid road.

I had to make up story because it is not stated in the card.
1) I assumed it was from Japan.
2) There is no document number for the card. I told him the document number is my IC number, which is also my Passport number, which is also my driving licence number. I explained to him that Singapore had only 4 million populations and the government uses the same number for everything.
3) Luckily Andreas had the same bike as I had and his document did indicate about the weight. it also took us some time to show him the similarity of our bike model.

It took about 15 minutes to convince him, with the help of Andreas.

Ecuador is up to date on IT but this officer does not know how to use. when he chose ‘Honda’, the next thing he could click on for the section of ‘year of manufacture’ was limited, ranged from 1935 to 1978. Every click he fingered on the page on the screen had to wait for 10 second to refresh because it was connected to their government net. He made phone call to someone and managed to know that he could key in all the information manually instead of the scroll list. It took him about 40 minutes to solve this.

Next was the printer. He had never used it before. We had to be patience to allow him to have his own time to learn how to use the printer.

When the printing was done, I noticed there were EXTRA ALPHABETS ON MY NAME, which was a typing error. It took me 10 minutes to show him the difference when he said, ‘NO PROBLEM, NO PROBLEM’.
Sam just washed my riding pants!

Finally, I was able to sign on the import permit that he had made. I was able to keep a copy of it. When it came to Andreas’ turn, it was slightly faster. Andreas also had to explain every detail to him. When it came to the final step, he couldn’t connect to the printer. He made a call to somewhere and we had to wait 5 minutes for the help to arrive. 5 minutes in Latin America could be 50 minutes but we were lucky that it only took 30 minutes before help arrived. A younger officer came and taught him where to click to activate the printer.

When Andreas finally had his import permit document, the officer noticed some typing error on my document. I had to hand him back my copy and HE RETYPED EVERYTHING AGAIN!!!!!

After 2 hours and 40minutes with him, our blood pressure returned to normal.

The name Ecuador came from the word ‘Equator’. This equator country is having the national voting. We could see flags and stickers of nominees everywhere. Street protest had became street rally where hundreds of people were flying the flag of the nominees and shouting which number to vote. Trucks were installed with super powered 1000000000000zillion wattage loudspeaker and amplifier to ‘educate’ the simple people which number to vote. There were many advertisement on the TV to promote the nominees. usually they will let the people know about their plan (example: if you vote me, I will built a nice garden in the city / I have the intention to built more school / taxi drivers will get gasoline rebates). there were also free open air music concerts to entertain the public at the same time the nominees would have a chance to promote themselves. It’s very interesting on how these politicians win the heart of the simple people here by promising them something that they would physically need, instead of rebuilding the system of the government.
They were preparing for the night. We didn`t join in.

We loved the Ecuadorian food. Being grown up in Asia, we had rice as our basic food. The rice dishes here were never enough for us with the braised meat. Sometimes there were exotic food like roasted guinea pigs. we only tried once in Peru and it will be our last time in our life.

BUT, the roasted pigs were the heart stealing dish.
Have you had your lunch?

What’s more in Ecuador? There were so much to visit but we had to go. There isn’t much ferry now going to Panama from Columbia. I checked with the company that is dealing with the shipment, they had 6 sailing boats and at the time that we need to board, there are only ships going to Columbia from Panama. We had to be in Panama by 17 May 2009 else we had to go through the pain of applying a Panama Visa again.

Quito by the night.

Being with the Swiss team got us (especially me) so lazy. Andreas always lead the way which I liked to, just to follow someone to some place. Be it the place that we planned to go, the main thing is being together. Saskia always woke up early and prepared us good and healthy breakfast. I was spoilt by them (me, for being lazy. so you know who is working and who is not….hee….) but really appricate their attendance in our life, sharing so many things together. We could enter the record of ‘the luckiest bike travelers in the world’ because of them.

The day before we left the swiss team, we went to the middle of the world at latitude 0. Did you know that we weigh about 1kg lesser on the equator line? Also when we are in the southern hemisphere, wind, water and … I don´t know what else, will turn clockwise. When we are across the equator to the northern hemisphere, it will turn anti-clockwise. They did an experiment of water flowing into a pail, on 2 meters from the equator line, both sides (northern and southern hemisphere) and on the equator line. We could really see the turning of the water on these 3 locations.

Teddy bear was so happy because she felt the gravity, lesser on the other parts of the world. She had 1kg lesser....but she only weighs 400gms. Dont tell her that.

The 3 hours bus ride (2ways) was worth the money. About US$1.80 total. We walked along the Saturday street of Quito till it was about evening then we went into an internet café.

The café was pretty small. 4 Desktops on the left, 3 telephone booth on the right and straight, we could see the counter of the owner. There isn´t any door but 2 flights of stairs to the road. I was seated nearest to the road, followed by Sam, Saskia then Andreas. Sam´s computer was not working so she sat beside me and surf the internet together. We wanted to check the exchange rate of Columbia and I was common that Sam took out her mobile phone to key in the information. (save paper). Suddenly I heard a cry, a cry like a ghost. It was from Sam. I asked her what happened and she said that guy that just ran out took her mobile phone. He snatch it from Sam´s left hand. I stood up, ran with all my might chasing him. I was shouting loudly, using Hokkien (a Chinese dialect), all the bad words I could use. I was in anger, wanting him to stop. My shouting and the sound from my running steps waken the neighbourhood. the folks just came out of the shop and look. It was dark and i couldn´t see properly about the identity of that robber/snatcher, just knowing that he was small built. (as most of the Ecuodorians).

After the incident. it is so easy to enter, snatch and run off! Sam looked lost.

In such cases, the only local help is they will advice us to report to the police.
Shall I report to the police? what will the police do? sent out a team of policemen to search for thumbprint at the site of crime? surround the whole town and detain all suspecious person? just for a mobile phone? what was more important is my SIM card. if i lost it, i can report to the network provider and stop the service BUT how can i get a new card? also the valuable information in the phone.

i ran as fast as i could, shouted aggressively, wanted his whole family to die because he snatched our belonging and ran away..........................................

i will tell you what happened to that guy on the next posting.... meanwhile,

Thank you and pray for us:

1) not to ride in the night in Columbia.
2) will not get kidnapped in Columbia by the FARC.
3) catch the boat in time to Panama.
4) meet more nice people like the Swiss team.

God bless!

Monday, April 20, 2009

2hr 40min at the border


Thursday, April 16, 2009

‘Three men surrounded me with knife. I had to hand over my money to them.’

Our Swiss entertainment.

Hope Too being pushed to the back of the corridor.

It was a hard way to reach Machu Picchu (M.P.) with our own transport, especially when we reached M.P. with heavy cloud and rain. It was certainly rewarding to wait for the cloud to clear after a steep morning climb.
Wet and lazy morning in M.P.

M.P. was another archaeological site which we visited when nobody knew what it was built for. Honestly, it was nice to view but there wasn’t a reason for me to visit. It was a place where wasn’t discovered, conquered and destroyed by the Spanish in the 1400AD because it was far deep in the mountain. M.P. was only founded in 1900AD.

I had a bigger head.

So, we did another visit of ‘unknown’. Is this what traveling or tourism means? Going to a place and take picture, post up in facebook to impress our friends? Our when we talked about our trip in Peru to some other people, we had to make sure we have the answer to M.P. when they ask about it. Or we will face conversation like:

‘what? you went to Peru and you had not visited M.P????’

‘when you go Peru, you MUST go M.P.’

‘you can save the money on everything but not on M.P.’

After the clouds have cleared.

We didn’t regret going to M.P. neither we didn’t suffered. The journey to M.P. was more ‘mind stamping’ in my brain. Also the moment of the clouds had cleared and we saw M.P., all the aching and sweat disappeared.

Nobody actually knew what it was built for. its only 600 years ago.

We met Daniele (Italian) when we were back to Cusco. The five of us were again together. We had some beer and chatted till late night. Daniele was preparing to go M.P. the next morning while we need to head to the north mountain.

There are 2 ways to go to the north.

1) By the Pan-Americana highway by the coast. Paved and fast. We heard many stories about policemen stopping bikers, asked for documents for ‘random’ checks, then find faults on the bikers and wanted to impose fine (which goes into the policeman pocket). One of our friends had his driving licence with the policeman in exchange with US$200.
One of the usual way of us trying to let these policemen not to have a chance to find fault on us was to act as tourist that doesnt understand spanish. then take a tourist picture with the police in it. letting the policeman know that he is in the picture. else take a video of the conversation. he CANNOT put his palm on my camera lens. all these will act as evidence of bribery, if a policeman wants some $$$ into his own pocket. we also heard of policemen putting on uniform without their name tags or false name tags. Many of the times it works. They tried to speak spanish to us, we let them see the asian face, then they try to speak broken english, then we spoke Mandarine with them. they are somehow pissed off with us and let us go. Unless the situation that every road user stops and the policeman checks or there is a proper station by the road, i will gladly hand him my document. Another good way is when the policeman ask you to stop by the side, dont do it. stop at the center of the road with the engine running, blocking the road. he will feel a little bit of pressure and make the checking process faster. If things dont work out and the policeman wants some bribery, ask your woman to cry loudly on the road.

2) By the mountain roads to escape these special policemen.

The Swiss team, Sam and I decided not to get in contact with these special policemen.

The road less traveled:

When it was dry weather, the sand and dust on the road showered us.
When it was nice weather, the road gets rocky and Hope Too’s panniers were shaking.
When the road was laid with good dirt, it began to rain.
are we on the correct path?

When the rain stopped, the cold wind blows on a high altitude.
When we ride on the better soil, the sun starts to set.
When we were left with 10km from a town with hostel, I slide and toppled on the mud in the dark.

The cheapest lodging that we ever stayed. 5soles or S$2.50 per person. else we would be camping in our wet tent and soaked sleeping bags. Swiss team performed the express baggage service from our room.

a simple place to sleep. at least the bikes are safe.

When we found a nice place to pitch the tent for the night, it began to rain in middle of the night.
When we wake up in the morning to leave the campsite, our tent was flooded and our gears were wet and soaked.
When the road is good, there lay pot-holes filled with water.

Guess which pot-hole did Hope Too fell into?

The condition of the mountain road lasted for 3 days, 8 hours of riding and 150km everyday before we reached wide, paved and tarmac road. The four of us decided not to continue and use the coastal road. We did not have enough time to use the mountain road.

It was easter day. In Peru, easter celebration lasted up to a week. that was the sunday that we drove through Lima, the capital of Peru that lived 8million population. Maybe it was easter, the wicked policemen went to the church to confess their sin and left with the nice policemen.

The 3 days on the mountain road were very unfriendly. Luckily the villages we met were welcoming. Everyone waved at us as we passed by. These folks lived simple life and survived on agriculture. Many times we had to share the road with slow moving cows and sheep. The cows were usually indecisive on which way to escape us. If I had more time I would certainly use the tough, narrow, curvy mountain roads to the north, because the people here are so beautiful.

Cusco by the night and day.

We recived an email from Daniele:

Hi Goh, 450 km in 3 days??? wow, not really fast like you thought? Where are you now? Ar you still all together? I'm back in Cusco yesterday. my 3 days o Machu Pichu was really not so good, but I'm fine :-P Arrived to Santa Teresa at 4:15 pm 'couse the road was closed, and I had to turn around a mountain, so I lost time. So I couldn't take that train and I had to walk to Machu Pichu from Santa Teresa under the F##king rain for almost 6 hours, o go and come back. Machu Pichu was totally cloudy I couldn't see a lot. I also did'n like it so much.Before to get in, my camera felt downfrom my hands and it was broken (I repaired here in Cusco, 80 soles). I couldn't take any PHOTO from machu pichu. AYYYYY PAPA'While I was walking down from Machu Pichu to Aguas Calientes 3 guys rob me money. I had only 50 soles maybe, quite nothing. So f##k them!On the way back to Cusco, the road was closed again, so I needed to go somewhere I don't know and I felt down with the bike. The accident was quite strong, but I'm ok and the bike as well. The left box felt down the road and I lost the thing that was already half broken, remember? I didn't find it anymore. So now the box isn't fixed to the frame.

I just put the strap to fix the box, and hope is enough. Well I'm really ok anyway, I change oil engine and filter today and back brake pads. Want to leave tomorrow, monday, to Nazca. So I wanna run away from Peru' quite fast, drive through Ecuador and be in Colombia in 2 weeks. Don't know exactly how long to spend in Colombia , but not more than 2/3 weeks, waiting for the boat and cross central america to Mexico. I want to be there end of May or at latest second week of June. Don't need help my friend, just drink another beer togeher would be more than enough. Let me know your plan for next days.


Then later, when I was uploading my blog today, I recived news from Daniele…

Hi, now it's to much! Someone stole my computer right in the shop where I brought my hard disk to repair, that costed to much as well. A Macbook that value 1250 euros, with all my life and everything about my trip inside. In a week they robbed me with a knife, my camera and my hard disk was broken, I had an accident with the bike. All this situation is a hard blow for my tight budget!There is a limit even to my patience. Fuck Peru'!! Of course, nothing is important to travel the world, even a stupid computer. Problems are something else, but....I need to run a way from this fucking country, right now.Shit!

Left to right: Saskia, Samantha, Daniele, Andreas and Goh.

he wasn’t so lucky.

Usual lunch we had.

Again, we had to reach Cartagena (Columbia), catch a sail boat, sail to Panama before 17 May 2009 before Sam’s visa expired. We do not want to do deal with the inflexible Panama embassy again.

I'm sure you can't see my sweat.

Machu Picchu travel saving tips!

The cheapest way to reach Machu Picchu was a hard way but we gained a huge saving and numerous adventure along the way. The road was certainly challenging. From about 3200 meters altitude in Cusco (0750hrs), we ascended to 4300 meters (at km123) thro a windy road with not more than 100 hairpins turn. After km165, the paved road ends and it changed into tropical climate where we could spot banana trees and tropical tierra (soil/earth). For the Swiss team it wasn’t easy for them to be in this level (1200 meters) as it was early afternoon. Luckily we grew up in South East Asia and the heat was like home.

All these roads on the pic is actually one road.

At km232, 1550hrs, we reached Santa Teresa.

We had to rush to buy train tickets, parked the bikes in a SECURE place, load the necessities and took a taxi (30minutes) to the train station before 1630hrs.

The bike definately need a good was after M.P.

Getting to Agua Calientes (nearest town to Machu Picchu) was a relieved. Sunset here is about 1800hrs. We bought the entrance ticket to M.P. and had a early night rest.

It was not uncommon to suffer from rain, fog, wind and cold on the mountain of Peru.

0430hrs, we had a morning call from Mother Nature. It was raining. This was defiantly not the best season to visit M.P. Our initial plan was to walk up to M.P. (90 minutes) and catch the sunrise. We got in time for the sunrise with the tourist bus (US$8 per person, single way) but we were smoked by the heavy cloud and drained wet by the rain in the morning. After some blind walking up and down the area, we managed to reach the photographic site. The wait for the clear sky was worthy.

One of the water crossings to M.P. on bike.

Day 1
745hrs Start from Cusco
km165 road turns into unpaved from Cusco
km200, turn to Santa teresa,
km 224, reached Santa Teresa, Hostel Yukumama. 1530hrs
Buy train ticket to Agua Caliente at 1630hrs, us$8.00
Bike parked at Hostel Yukumama
Take taxi to Train station (hidro electric) 5soles per person. 25minutes
Reached Agua Caliente at 6pm, buy Machu Picchu Entrance ticket 124soles.
Check in Hostel, early dinner and sleep at 830pm

Day 2
Wake up 4am and it rained!
check out hostel but leave luggage at hostel.
buy bus ticket to Machu Picchu us$7 per person one way
visit machu picchu in the rain. 7am.
take bus back to Hostel at noon. US$7 per person
collect luggage at hostel
Catch train to Santa teresa, leave at 1230hrs. buy ticket on train.
reached santa teresa (hidro electric) and take taxi to Yucumama hostel, check in.
early dinner and sleep early

Day 3
wake up 730am, ride back to Cusco. 224km, 7-8hrs.
nearest gas station with octane 90 is at Urubamba, 200km away
reach Cusco at 4pm

Price of Transport from Cusco to Agua Calientes

Train: US$73 x 2 person x 2 ways = US$292 (934soles, S$438)

Our travel:
Petrol 70soles,
taxi 2 ways from Santa Teresa to Train Station 20soles,
Train from Santa Teresa to Agua Calientes 2 ways US$16 (51.2soles)
Total US$44 (141.2soles, S$66).

both price exclude entrance ticket to machu picchu US$40, bus ticket from Agua Calientes to Machu Picchu us$8 x 2ways, 2 nights of lodging along the way and food. Using train or our travel, both ways we had to include the above.

Remembered the movie 'motorcycle diaries' ?

One of the favourate pass time from the people of the Andes was to set up road block to protest against anything. Espeically about their pay or when they are not satisfied about some decision made by the upper level. Road blockage usually made of huge items which were not be able to be easily removed by human hands. this time we encountered hugh rocks and many broken glasses. the black spot was a pit of fire set on the night before. Luckily Hope Too were able to moved thro the big rocks but not the broken glasses. och!!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

We finally reached Machu Picchu!

write no more... rushing to Panama by 17 May2009.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Charity in singapore...

Charity is good? this is another shocking news in Singapore.


SINGAPORE :The trial involving the former high—profile Ren Ci Hospital CEO and his personal assistant, has begun.

Goh Kah Heng, better known as Shi Ming Yi, faces 10 charges such as forgery and misleading the Commissioner of Charities.
His former assistant, Raymond Yeung Chi Hang, who resides in Hong Kong, faces two related charges.
The prosecution opened the case by saying it would be proceeding on four of the 10 charges, as a calm Ming Yi sat in the dock together with Yeung.
He is accused of giving Yeung S$50,000 to renovate Yeung’s friend’s flat in Hong Kong.
Prosecutor Jaswant Singh said the pair allegedly conspired to conceal the unauthorised payment, by categorising it as a loan to Mandala Buddhist Cultural Centre in May 2004.
Mandala is an artefacts shop that Ming Yi apparently had a share in.
Mr Singh added that the pair had also lied to the Commissioner of Charities by saying the loan was for Mandala to buy material from a China firm.
Two of the 16 prosecution witnesses also testified in court, with much of the cross—examination centering around audit procedures.
The trial continues on Friday. CNA /

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Do we really need discount?

We would like to thank Mr Sim Tien Leng, Derek Yap (Camphora Pte Ltd) and John Tan (My BMT mate) for sponsoring us to the most expensive touristic sight that we would be visiting in 2-3days time: Machu Picchu. Thank you! Your contribution really lighten our burden and worry.
So careless of me, when we left Villa Kunterbunt, I left my camelbak there. Kind Martina and Miriam went to the town to sent it to me via bus transport. It arrived 5 days after we reached Iquique. Thank you!

50km east of Iquique, there is a UNESCO world heritage. It’s along our route to Peru. it is a deserted chemical factory from 1872. nothing special, just abit ghostly. I came here for a treasure hunt. there are some treasure hunt games online where we could find ‘treasures’ using GPS co-ordinate.
This is what i found.

Hope Too´s new load with a spare tire.

Chile is so different. I remembered once when Sam and I were packing our bike in the public, one guy came to us and spoke Spanish. he handed a brochure about some touristic information. I was annoyed because usually in Argentina, when we are busy, someone will try to talk to us, ask about our identity, or try to sell us some tourist package. So I tried to give this guy a cold feeling that I’m not interested in what he was doing. In the end, he just left the brochure on Hope Too and walked away. He was just a passerby that wanted to give us touristic information to help us. I was wronged about him. I shouldn’t treat them like as how I treat the people from the neighboring countries.

A chinese school in Peru?

The second time was with the Swiss team. Sam and Andreas went into an internet café while Saskia and I watched the bikes on the street. I was sitting on the floor and 2 young kids, about aged 9-10, came to talked to me. I just replied them yes, yes to what ever they said. Saskia turned to them, patiently talked to them in her fluent Spanish. She explained to them where we came from and what were we doing, as like she was doing her profession as a teacher, which she was. One of the kid asked if we have money in Singapore and how it looked like. Well, this question just wake my mind up, 2 little kids want to see my wallet and trying to have some notes from Singapore. I said I do not have any Singapore dollars with me, as a defensive way to a stranger. They waved goodbye.

Half hour later, 2 of them came back and bought each of us a lollipop to make us happy. At that moment, I felt heart broken. I should have not treated them so cold. They were so nice. I was bad.
This is Chile.

This picture was taken by Saskia´s camera. I felt bad about myself and ashame to talk to them. can u see me not in the photo?

I woke up early on the morning where we have to cross the Chile-Peru border in Arica. Here in Arica it laid the world oldest mummy, even older than the one in Egypt but we did not pay a visit. Every border in this country works differently. We had to join the long queue and get our passport stamped out. The immigration officer told me in Spanish that I have to go to level 2 and purchase a piece of paper to fill up for them. Level 2 was a canteen which I bought the paper from the drink operator for 500cpl. Filling the 5 carbon copies of paper took me a short time. All in Spanish but I was now ‘trained’ about the usual question that they will ask on the paper. If unknown questions, just filled with many words and numbers to make it looked official.

This picture got nothing to do with my story.

Immigration done. I have to go to the custom office for Hope Too.

I handed the temporary import permit to the officer, she said that I must have 2 copies of it. I told her that this was what I got when I enter Chile.

‘Oh no! don’t tell me that I have to go back to the entry point, 3000km away to sort it out.’

Luckily the other custom officer were very helpful. They try to understand the situation that I am not having a Chile vehicle and it is not common to happen here. I was invited out of the queue to sit in the office while they kept busy on my papers.

If it were other corrupted countries, it would be a disaster for me.

I just dislike this, when custom officer don’t work things out.

When will we reach Arequepa?

Example: crossing from Argentina to Chile.
I had all the paperwork done for exiting Argentina and Chile border was only 10 meters away. The Chile officer said I have to get a stamp from the Argentina side in order to get into Chile. I walked back but the Argentina officer refused to stamp on my paper and said it was not necessary. I walked back to the Chile officer and told him that the Argentina officer said it was not necessary. The Chile officer said it was necessary! I was stucked in-between. one said yes, the other one said no. guess what I did, I dragged the Chile officer to get out of his seat, walked 10 meters with me to the Argentina officer and make them settle. It happened that the Argentina officer was correct and the Chile officer made some special arrangement for me to get into the country.

Road from Iquequi to Arica. the view when riding, down on our right. It is actually a small village.

Well, this happened only 10 meters away. Remember last year August, entering Bolivia? the Argentina officer said I did not have a proper stamp and wanted me to go back to the Capital, 2000-3000km away to sort it out.

I have to learn to play tricks.

Some times also I had to play luck.

The Peru border wasn’t simple. I was the only one going here and there, getting stamp from him and her. The rest of the people are queueing up orderly. very simple. I was lucky that the Peru officers were very helpful. They had even walked out of their desk to direct me where to go next. I really appreciated.

The Church in Arequipa.

Plaza de armas in Arequipa.

We rode about 10-11 hours to the next town in Peru. Luckily it was all asphalted road but with Hope Too capability, he could only bring me 80km/hr, especially with a new spare tire on the rear and it was mountainous, 2000-3000 meters above sea level.
Sunset was early, about 1745hrs in Peru. The city was a mess. we were spoiled by the Chilean road signage everywhere. Streets were small and 90% of the vehicle in the main city were taxis. we were exhausted when we reach the city, still, we have to navigate in this single lane street, all single way and a city of no signage of street name. We had to make guessing game and trying our luck to find a cheap place to stay and with a safe parking.

Ariquipa was the 2nd largest city in Peru. It was a rest stop for us. We witnessed the Plaza de Armas, which is the best out of many Plaza de Armas we visited in south America. (Plaza de Armas is like a center square of a town). There were some festival or road marches going on. I found it meaningful. They were not protesting but educating the public on abortion. (i mean not supporting abortion.)

When ever we reach a new country or city, we would like to visit the local market. Surprisingly the market here is very similar to Bolivar, and Singapore! I grew up in a market in Singapore. Coming to the market here feels like home. Visiting a market of a country will make you feel the real people of the country.

People here are honest. Market politics are the same. They have the same business along the same row of shop but they do not argue with each other. Shop keepers here are cheerful and high souls.

It is not uncommon to find them gossiping with one and other. Hygiene is generally clean for the local standard. The local will visit the food stalls here. When buying something off the rack, it is usually not necessary to bargain as the price here is very reasonable. They will not mark up the price just because they are dealing with tourist or foreigner. I know that because I grew up in a market. We did not find any foreigners in this big market, maybe they are not used to the smell and do not trust the hygiene.

We continued the journey to Puno, about 300km away which took us 6 hours, excluding 50minutes trying to navigate out of the city of Ariquipa to the right track.

Driving in Peru is very flexible. It is driving in the opposite direction as Singapore. Vehicles here can park on the left or the right of the lane. Usually on the right, sometimes left. When making a turn on a junction, we are allowed to turn left when we are on the right lane or to turn right when we are on the left lane. As the American style of building, the structures are being built in blocks, like paddy field. So when u get a direction to some place, it is easy by saying: straight 3 blocks, left 5 blocks.

The young Peruvians along the march in Plaza de Armas.

Traffic along these blocks are narrow. When it is built like a paddy field, there are many many cross junctions without traffic lights. So, who ever reach the junction first have the right of way.

Many come to Puno to visit the world famous Lake Titicaca. It is the world’s highest navigable lake (what does that means?) and the biggest lake in south America. It is situated above 3800m above sea level.

After our late breakfast, we walked to the lake. Some locals (do u call them touts?) came to us selling tickets to an island named Oros. Price quoted is 20soles (S$10) per person. Usually I would seldom want to take such tourist trips but the Peruvians are so polite. I handed 40soles to him and he passed me 2 set of tickets:

a) boat trip per person (2 ways) 10soles
b) entry to island 2.5soles

he made 15soles extra from me.

After handing the money to him and he passed me the tickets (folded) when we were seated in the boat, he quickly turned away and left.

He was shy about the actual price written on the ticket where he had charged me more. I wasn’t angry, it was his job and I had agreed on the first price he had quoted me.

I was on the boat with all the Peruvians. I saw boat coming back from the island were all blonde. I read a guide book, it says going to the island is better to go in the morning. Lucky me, we skipped the tourist boat.

The folks from the island buying fruits from the vendor on boat that came to visit them.

Upon reaching the Island, we were welcomed by the folks. Their welcome was genuine. I had never seen such hearty welcome before. Not because we are tourist but it feels like a friend. Anyway out of the 11 passenger in the boat, only 2 of us were foreigners.

secretly taking picture of a Peruvian lady.

Their kitchen. they used the dried straw as fuel. I had a glance at other house behind and saw a gas stove.

we were invited to enter the room of one of the folk´s house. they let us try their costume.

Oros Island is built by Schoenoplectus plant, close to Scirpus species. The island, about 20meters by 30 meters, was one of the many group of island in the lake. There are 6 families in this island. It is floating on the water but anchored down 20 meters deep to avoid floating away, to Bolivia?

the fresh straws could be eaten.

The leader of the island demonstrated how the island was form. There was a guess of the depth of the water. Sam made a correct guess and had a souvenir given.

The folks here are really warm. It’s the one of the very few times when we visited a tourist site and does not feel touristy. I bought a piece of handcrafted cloth from them and I did not want to have a discount thou it cost the price of 2 nights stay for us.

check my youtube: what the island is made of...


Discount? Do we really need a discount?

Ask yourself, when was the last time when u asked a discount from someone and who was the target?

If it was in Phuket, the tourist island of Thailand and you know that bargaining with the souvenir vendor is necessary, it is ok.

If you go to a guest house or hostel, you find that it is overpriced as other, asking for a discount if you are staying longer, it is ok.

If you go to a market to buy fish and find it not very fresh, asking for a better deal, it is ok.

BUT! When it becomes a habit of discounting, it is really ugly. I saw many Singaporeans doing this when they patronize a family run business or a shop without a paying counter, or even street vendor. These businessmen kept their business with very minimal profit and yet had to deal with these people with discounting habit. AND THESE FOLKS WITH DISCOUNTING HABIT do not ask for discount when they go to shopping center to buy branded materials because in these places it will be ugly to ask for a discount in such so call ¨high class¨shopping.

to enter the oros island, the boat need to stop and pay a entrance fee.

For me, when I patronize a local shop or someone selling an item on a street, I do not ask for a discount if I find it reasonably priced. If I feel that the price is not reasonable, I will not ask for a discount and walk away, not wanting to continue the business transaction with this person. It shows this person is not very trustworthy in doing business, so why ask for discount? Just don’t deal with him/her!

We must understand that everything had a cost price and a selling price. Between these 2 prices were the profit of the sales person. Why border if they had much profit when we are satisfied with the selling price?

Sam and i had lunch in the market. description from 12 o´clock: onions, fried pork with fats and fried skin, fried corns, boiled potato. Center: chille and spices. all for 6 Soles.

We are on budget travel but we will not short change (Singapore phase: to Alibaba) other businessman just because we are on budget. They would also need to earn money from us to make a living. Please do not mistaken when we do not ask for discount means we are rich or trying to give money away... what do you think?


We had a Rendezvous with the swiss team. We parted 3 weeks ago at Calama, Chile and they went to Bolivia. We will be going to Machu Picchu from here, together!

This piece of handcraft is about 1.3 meters length, 0.45 meters width. We would like to sell it away. Please leave me a message and will get to you as soon as possible.

The second book that i had read on the trip. I would want to give this book away. Just pay for the postage. I finished it during the 48hrs on bus.