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!!!


Daniele said...

My dear friends my luck doesn't seems to give me a hand again.

People I rented my apartment in Italy decided to throw away the contract we signed.

Now I'm confused. Think I probably need to go back to Italy for a while to do all the burocracy things for this shit.

Keep going my friend. Keep going! I'll meet you somewhere again, oneday, I'm sure.


singaporedream said...

aypàpa.... find a lawyer to sue him! get more $ from that if you have a good contract.

i thought that we will be going to mexico together?!

anyway, i support u in wat ever u go/do!

all the way danni!