5. Izta-Popo National Park, Mexico

On the atv. he was inspiring – he was an avid hiker who had ascended Popo before. Years on, his knees were weak by now, and so he rode his atv just to be here, to breathe in the fresh mountain air. it reminded me to cherish my time with my working knees.

 

Emilio talked to almost everyone – the guards, the random people, the travellers..

this church was pretty amazing for me. i probably wouldnt have made my way here, if not for him.

i can still recall the feeling of being in this place – the tranquility, the peace. we took off our shoes and embraced the silence here; you could almost hear the drop of the pin. it was quiet, dark, and absolutely peaceful. i can understand how and why people were drawn to this place, as some form of a sanctuary. this remains an interesting experience for me.

Popocatepetl 



“Look, El Popo is breathing,” Emilio said, somewhat amused at my wide-eyed fascination. “That is good, because it means he’s releasing some steam.” #popocatepetl #stratovolcano

.

Met so many kind souls today, who saved us some miles of walking with their trucks / ATV. Met Jorge, who’s hiked to the summit of Popocatépetl (5, 426m) several times in his youthful days. At 60 now, he drives the hours here on weekends just to take in the fresh mountain air.

I watched the longing in his eyes as he gazed at Izta-Popo and I thought: I’m going to cherish my time en mi vida, and my knees.

beautiful skies of the morning


my first time being this close to a ‘breathing’ volcano. 

 

one of my favourite experiences in my life!


hitchhiked with this lovely family who spoke but Spanish, which was great for practice.


the Paso de Cortes I kept reading about


 

 

 

occasionally blocked by the clouds, but absolutely lovely

 

a photo after I came out from the sanctuary of silence

 

4. Puebla, Mexico

Puebla, I somehow spent a longer time here than I initially wanted to. Puebla turned out to be a surprise of sorts in my trip, I actually can’t remember where I stayed… but I remember I had to walk some way from my hostel to the corner where I met Emilio 2 mornings.
Puebla is like a student city of sorts, it’s quite happening with many museums that were open. I was lucky because I happened to arrive on Museum Night! This meant the museums were free after the evening hours that Friday.

Wow, I spent a good 5 minutes trying to recall where I stayed in Puebla. Was it with a host? Unlikely, because I would definitely remember my hosts and their homes. I did a brief Google search and remembered that I stayed in Hostel Rhodas, highly rated. It was an interesting hostel that, like Chalchuapa’s hostel by alexis, did not have a sign that said it was a hostel, even though it was the right address. I assume it’s similar reasons relating to gangs extorting fees.

It was pretty quiet, probably off-peak when I went, so i had the whole room to myself the first night. i hogged all the plugs, sat outside and watched a movie while having tacos for dinner. i had some orange milkshake too. I can still remember these so fondly. Yummm those tacos… sigh. It was cooling in the night, and the shower was super hot and lovely.

 

overcast skies

It was at this library, that I had met Emilio and the 2 students. It was so coincidental, it was as though I was meant to meet him. I say this because I was halfway through the trip and I was almost waiting, for that opportunity to teach, to reach a classroom. and somehow we crossed paths, in some fated moment, at a random timing, and I found my way to the mountains, and the classroom. What I had wished for – pretty amazing.

Churrossssssss love this

 

In the central square, where there’s wifi.

Puebla sign, which was too crowded for me to take a photo with

i was so surprised to find mini-toons here!

forky for one USD :p so creative!

so cuteeeeeee. Mexicans looked like they loved these things in mini-toons. the shopkeeper thought i was Japanese.

 

a church

Cholula.  Pleased that Emilio showed me the way here.

 

Walked up some kind of hill to this view. at some point, there was a huge blast that sounded like a gunshot, and i was frightened out of my wits. then i realised, as Emilio chuckled, that it was some sort of religious ceremony and it was a firecracker lit by the people performing the religious ritual.

beautiful flowers

 

nopales! i was very fascinated with the existing cacti here, and the fact that these could be collected and eaten

 

they had to be dethorned carefully, and then sliced before cooking

selling the sliced ones

 

mmm… they look like… long beans?

 

aww, this was the fair of the chillis! it was so fascinating for me, the fact that they had a celebration, a fiesta to celebrate the new season of this type of chilli, which is known for making this dish in the picture. people were dancing to the music, there were performances with latin music, and free chili sauce!! salsa with tortilla, free, to celebrate the fiesta! i loved the atmosphere and the culture, they were always looking for opportunities to celebrate.

mmmm yummm that fried tortilla – there’s a name for it but i cant recall the name

 

Mexicano hat

 

love such murals, with Popo there!

3. Teotihuacan, Mexico

i remember this- chilli flakes with watermelon / guava / other fruits. that was interesting to me. we use sour plu, powder, yes, but chilli flakes hmm…

 

fascinated with wild cacti!

 

such an interesting and charismatic guide, really expressive, funny, and confident in his sharing.

 

ah, me with the money belt tucked inside, as seen by the belly. also, half-awake because i barely slept on the overnight bus ride. gosh, i miss this, the waking-up-to-a-new-city-after-an-overnight-bus-ride feeling. it’s almost a year, wow.

when’s the next time, when a vaccine arrives?

 

teotihuacan

sun moon temple (?)

 

i remember sitting on the steps, and watching these ruins, thinking about how.. it’s always amazing, coming to this part of the world and seeing the heritage and legacy these ancestors have left behind, revealing the hints of their ingenuity. without much technology during that time, they had to find ways to navigate, store water, do their measurement in ways.

the most salient point for me is how, in machu picchu, they were able to think about creating terraces/steps and to consider the altitude’s role in deciding the types of crops to grow. how they formed a temple in their ways during their time. these things, they don’t quite occur or sink in to me when i was 13 and forced to learn these ancient histories, but now that i’m older, it is pretty fascinating how mankind has evolved from these times.

pretty amazing stuff

 

mexicano hat

 

 

cactus!

more!

me trying to seize opportunities to have pictures with cacti, and looking horrid with that shoes paired with a skirt. well, not much point trying to look fashionable when you have many overnight bus rides and are travelling alone. that’s one of the reasons why i enjoy travelling alone :p

this reminds me of bromo.

up the stairs

stopped mid-point to catch my breath

 

met another mexican-american here – his parents had migrated to Texas for better employment opportunities, and he was here to revisit his roots

 

good weather day

this was an absolute lifesaver in the heat, it was so delicious eating these cold, juicy watermelon under the scorching sun, i felt tremendously thankful

they did warn us of the heat and told us to bring loads of water before we started the excursion

Teotihuacan!!

love this

helped some travel influencer take a dozen of pictures, and she was kind enough to direct me on multiple poses and helped me take mine

 

yay!

used my film camera to snap a shot of this too

this. sigh

miss. the freedom in just watching over these views, alone in a foreign land, observing

 

miss you muchisimo mexico!!!

 

wow my hair was really pretty long then

 

2. House of Frida Kahlo, Mexico City

 

The queue to this museum was incredibly long, and under the scorching heat too. i stood in the heat near a corner, gazing enviously at a family holding their iced drinks and sucking on the ice, while resisting the calls of someone selling his drinks nearby.
 
a man calls out, selling his chapulines. he offers me some. i shake my head, grinning, but couldn’t help but peer closer before taking my phone to take another close-up shot of these interesting culinary snack.
Frida Kahlo museum – learning about her disability from young, her sweet relationship, and how Riveria cheated (ugh, reminded me of Neruda. I may be being stereotypical, but Latin men, really). I’m thankful for (my) asian man LOL.
 
her pallette of colours. makesme wonder what’s mine?

 

these tormenting thoughts

self portrit

a diorama she did


beautiful portrait


someone filled with much anguish and pain for a large part of her life


her sculpture

i loved this and wished my art friends could be here to see this. her workdesk, with her materials. i lingered over this section for some time, studying some of her materials.

quote. as passionate as Spanish can convey.

her room

i was where she stood before

1951. 69 years on since this photo. time passes in the blink of an eye. at her age, she probably never thought about death. youth is so fleeting. life is fleeting.


 

 

the clothes she wore to keep her legs hidden (polio limp)

 

 

love this museum. it reminds me of Pablo Neruda’s house in Valparaiso. i really enjoyed the visit and watching the video at the end gave me a stronger glimpse into her life. i watched the movie of Frida Kahlo on the plane (only avail in Mexico/Canada’s Netflix and not in SG, i realised!!) and it was pretty interesting.


omg miss these tacoooooos though also not really, i was almost, almost getting sick of tacos

 

but these. i looooooved these!!!!! guacamole

 

these look so good right now

 

pretty good too but i’ve never been much of a soggy-food person so i was kinda sad about the soggy nachos inside
 
miss Mexico!!!!!

 

1.5. Cerro de la Bufa, Guanajuato, Mexico

cactus. el cerro de la bufa.

summiting with angel.

was he half japanese? or was it that he learnt japanese? i think his granddad’s japanese. he was now teaching japanese in guanajuato. we sat here for awhile, chilling. im glad we crossed paths, it made my hike better. i was a little wary – male, and hiking – but my gut feeling worked well. we sat and talked about life for abit. thank you angel, for your time 🙂

further up, taking the views in.

 

 

 

 

i was fascinated with the wild cactuses

 

the fruit

more

 

secret views only a local would know

yay!

viewpoint 3

 

 

ate my fruit here

 

 

 

so beautiful, look at those shades

i was absolutely famished. i gobbled this down, gulped down the juice too. that’s the soup/appetizer.

 

first time trying the mole. yum!

 

1. Guanajuato, Mexico

although i brought my dslr with me, i hardly took it out and instead found myself using my new note 9. 
 
i was rather worried about getting a new phone, but i took the risk and kept my backpack in front of me at all times. pleased to say nothing bad happened!
 
This was THE trip, the last trip that symbolized my freedom – freedom to NOT think about work when on holiday, freedom to learn and grow without other worries at the back of my head. i boarded the plane feeling a huge sense of relief, if i were to be honest.
 
6-7 months into my job, i have to say i have largely settled in, into my glorious routine of looking forward to coming home, and doing the things i want to do. i started the first few days, and months, by attempting to run in csc gym in the morning, and slowly found myself sleeping later and waking up later these days :p tabata on tues and thurs, and yoga 3x a week. lit tuition on sats, just one tutee for now. focused on UX module on Udemy for awhile, and did my ux prototype for Maynooth Furnitures. Tried to do the coding module but couldn’t, despite having downloaded the software, follow the pretty advanced steps. 

I took the late overnight bus from CDMX to Guanajuato, reaching there in the early morning. It was a quiet 7am, few cars on the street, peaceful. I was excited to seize the day, though a tad sleepy.


 

 

I remember that morning sun. I was sitting around, waiting to meet the CS-er at ~9am. I dropped him a message pretty last minute and was pleased he was still keen to meet.


no straws, please! i loved seeing these many posters around – in fact i was surprised. i dont quite see this so extensively in sg, do i? hmm.. one of the stores had a no-plastic bag policy too.


a church

 

check out this bakery’s sign. it says – in this shop we try to care for the environment. we already dont give plastic bags. please bring your own bags!

 

i love latin america.


the highlight of Guanajuato for me, and maybe for my trip, was the mummy museum. different places really have the most different things – this museum was unlike any i’ve ever seen.

 

 

 

 
I was actually rather… disturbed? by the exhibits. a part of me wanted to closely examine the details – it’s not something i can do any other day, but another part of me felt uncomfortable and maybe even frightened, even standing with the row of mummies with me alone and everyone else in the other exhibits. 
i was thinking about how i’d absolutely freak out as a kid – but i noted that the other kids are like taking pictures and listening curiously. 
I wonder if it’s because this idea of death is talked more about in their culture with dia de la muertos whereas for me it’s still like a somewhat taboo or uncomfortable thing. i didnt feel comfortable taking many pictures. there was this one of the smallest mummy in the world – this wrapped foetus. Some of the mummies can be seen wearing parts of the clothing in which they were buried.
 
 
This made me sad, and contemplative of our fleeting life once again.
 
There was an additional exhibit at the other side, where they played some eerie hollow music that created a gloomy and frightening atmosphere. it was dark, save for the lights from the exhibits too. there was no one else there and i really couldnt bring myself to enter that dark space with eerie music, alone with these mummified things, so i waited and thankfully a few families came shortly after. i trailed behind them. 
 
their voices helped, along with the children’s chirpy remarks and questions. i was feeling scared looking at some of these – teeth remains, fingers, and these kids were gazing up-close at some of the exhibits. it was scary to me, really. overall, it was an interesting experience, but one that made me feel kind of uncomfortable overall. because i am a scaredy cat at heart 😀

 

paintings on the streets

 

night scene of guanajuato. thankful to Luis who drove me around and brought me to this gorgeous view of the night skyline.

 

 

that narrowest alleyway where couples kiss across that railing!
some old mine.
i had to speak in Spanish the whole time with Luis, and it proved rather challenging for me, especially as the night passed, but it was great practice. that’s what i like about latin america – it’s true practice space, where i have no choice but to speak spanish, listen to spanish, with less options of the easy way out. 
 
i remember feeling exhausted at the end of the night, he dropped me at the bus station and i caught my bus back to CDMX. thankful to have decided to meet him overall – someone passionate about his city (all my initial reservations). i had a great night 🙂

 

0. CDMX – Mexico City, Mexico

I landed in Mexico City after a long 11-hour flight from Vancouver. Why is it that my flight from Guangzhou, China to Vancouver, Canada is half the time needed as compared to my Vancouver-CDMX flight? The world map is not accurate in its scale, I suppose.

 
My itinerary was pretty simple this time – 2 weeks, it wasn’t much. (2 weeks now in an office job is great though!!) 
Mexico City, Guanajuato, Oaxaca. I initially planned for Meridand Cancun as well, but decided to spend more time in Oaxaca. No regrets! I felt all was great.
 
 
i’m feeling so sleepy – but i really would like to try to jot down my thoughts before more time passes me by. 
 
after my conversation with Emilio today, I felt like i was surprised at how much I knew about El Chapo than before already – when i noticed that what he was sharing with me were things i somehow already knew. 
 
going back to my first night – i stayed over at a fancy hotel in GuangZhou, thanks to the free layover accomodation provided by China Southern airlines. Despite all my previous apprehension, almost all my doubts have disappeared! CSair might just be the way to go for such long flights lol!
 
There I was, all ready to camp overnight at the airport with the most expensive flight tickets I’ve ever bought in my life, and imagine that happiness when I was told that the airport was going to arrange transport and hotel for me. I could pick from a list of hotels too, many looking grand and much unlike the backpackers-style-accom that I am, fortunately or not, still used to. What can I say? Trade-offs in life. If i travelled with such a style of luxury, I would probably be travelling a lot less frequently. 
 
I think that might be me in the near future with the limited opportunities CRIES.
Still, it’s not even about that though. I just enjoy CSing too much.
 
Just the other day, i was just thinking about the hosts that’ve changed my life in ways they probably wouldnt know or realise. Life-loving individuals who inspire be to seize! cherish! hope!
 

 

i was actually very scared being in the hotel alone and i washed my hair hurriedly and quickly crawled to bed with the TV on. honestly i would rather be in a dorm or couchsurfing host than to be in a hotel alone. or in particular this sort of chinese-ish hotel…

el metro

solo para mujeres

in the metro on my first night, where i wanted to eat tacos because! i was so excited! I was so happy to be surrounded by Spanish again. as i walked around the bus station asking for directions, buying my tickets, i thought to myself – i could do this, live here… i think. for a while. like half a year, i could.

 

my landing. into this chaotic city – or so my geographical imagination told me.

 

cdmx. what an edgy name, suitable for the city-reimaging scheme they were looking at. also, love these water coolers at the metro!

Xochimilco. I loved the sound of this word. Darinka brought me here. We took a long bus ride, and when we arrived, the place was rather empty. it was low season, i think. i had no interest in taking the touristy boat anyway, but i thought i’d visit for the colourful scene. it was o-kay – quite like what i saw in the videos/pictures.



sometimes i have these places where i kind of know what it’s like, but still want to go, knowing that after i go, i’d be unsurprised, hence questioning – do i really want to go? then again, i had no strong desire for alternatives, so i suppose having seen this place for myself, i do feel good about it.


 

 

 

frida kahlo – so easy to spot her in so many corners of the city.

 

mmm. that bluecorn tortilla. the warmth of tortilla in the cold, i love.


pinata!!!

 

 

i was so fascinated with the pinatas that i saw around me. i loved it so much, it actually makes me so excited to see them everytime i walked into a market and spotted this section. there’s so many incredible designs out there, and the idea of a delighted child smashing its belly open, waiting for the candies to fall out – it makes me feel like a kid again, wanting to attend a party to smash my own pinata. i guess that’s one thing i could have – but didnt manage to do – in Mexico, attend a party and smash a pinata. awwwww!


cactus fruit on the right. worst fruit ever. oh my gawd cant get used to that cucumber taste.

 

 

cute spongebob pinataaaaaa

 

hello kind lady who agreed to let me take a picture of her

 

more market food

even the candy shop was interesting

this is a… candy. i think it’s a hawthorn candy. i googled – it seems right! it was sour-ish and also a little spicy. this brings back the memory of my surprise when i first found out that Mexicans sometimes eat their fruits with chilli powder/ chilli flakes. i was stunned! 

i love these. taco sweets. so much love. love that cultural reference.

 

much love!

 

 

 

Random horse on the streets – the hats!

 

frida y dietro


in their park – of course a photo



at this park, a group of women were dancing. i stood there for awhile, watching them move in the shade. 


bookstores

so  lovely to think that she once stood at this spot where i was. fleeting time.


dia de los muertos?


frida frida everywhere


more frida

love the art pieces hanging here. 


hats

streetside stalls.


the queue to frida kahlo museum / house. i would advise everyone else to reserve their tickets beforehand. this was probably one of the highlights of the trip for me 😀


chapulines! i actually couldnt bring myself to try one of this size, i really really couldnt. i really wanted to step out of my comfort zone, but i just couldnt do it for this size. i did for the smaller ones though – small enough to taste like… a tiny crisp.

 

a corner of the street


what an interesting exhibit – such an open culture? no more violence against men and women homosexuals.

My wonderful CDMX hosts. Only Darlinka could speak English, and she knew I wanted to practice my Spanish so we spoke mostly in Spanish, and she helped to translate occasionally.

Such a gathering, such a crowd is unthinkable now.

I appreciate the women-only zones. I generally felt more secure surrounded by women.
I grew complacent though, after getting used to taking the metro. I started entering mixed cabins and thought it was fine, so i continued to do that. on my last day, a man caressed my butt! in the mixed cabin. I was furious but he gave me a “what?” shrug like he didn’t do anything, and i didn’t yell or call him out either, being alone in Mexico. I’m not sure if I’d do anything if I’m brought back to that time, to be honest; i do feel pretty powerless (and maybe i’m also perpetuating it).
That incident really sunk in then, on why there’s this women-only cabin, and how important it is. I was pretty affected by that incident and made sure I went on only women-only cabins after.
 
I haven’t been using much of my camera (DSLR), mostly snapping from my phone. I’m not sure why – maybe it’s because it’s latin america (safety), maybe there’s not much fancy stuff that I find that worthy to use my camera. I feel that’s a little different from my past trips though. 
 
The night I landed in CDMX, I took the metro to the central bus terminal (Terminal del Norte). It was easy. I was surrounded by Spanish again and I thought, elated, I could do this for a few months actually. Sadly I am on the path with limited time. I could improve so much here.
 
Even though it’s only been less than a week, I feel like my listening has improved tremendously. I’ve had full-fledged Spanish conversations that squeezed my brains, but left me satisfied. I’ve learnt some words and phrases to remember, like sequestros (ha ha, not the best thing to learn), soy afortunada, y tengo muchas suerte. difference between amigable, amable y simpatica. quiero mejorar mas!
 
One thing I found interesting was the place-rebranding of CDMX. It’s actually implemented only a few years ago, and it faced some backlash with people still referring to the DF (district federal). I do like the idea though, CDMX has a distinctive and edgy feel to it – though non-Spanish speakers may not know ciuded de (city of) – and the kind of edgy artsy mysterious exciting (?) chaotic(?) experiences that lie within the city is conveyed.

 

Taiwan 2019

We didn’t actually visit any big sites or natural parks (very un-like my usual itinerary, i’d say), but i was mentally prepared to go with the flow and focus on the company for this trip instead of my usual explore-or-the-chance-is-wasted-mode. i’ve also been to Taiwan 10 years ago, so i thought it was fine and wasn’t particular about it.
Highlights would be the great food, the company and the airbnbs!!!
here’s my favourite snippets of the trip:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taiwan trip finally materialised!
Finally after 18 years of friendship – adding to our milestones of PSLE, ‘O’s, ‘A’s, NS, undergrad, driving licenses, new jobs, wedding(s) – our first overseas trip together 😘
Of bubble teas, claw machines, darts, 2am daidees, teeth grinding (😨), road tripping, feet soup threats, this holiday was well-spent with important people ❤️❤️❤️
 

That was my last June holidays. 1 week dedicated to them – such a sacrifice they may not know of :p My last long teacher’s break. No regrets though, I was mentally prepared. Had so much fun with such good memories with them. 



although my exotic days are almost over, i recall thinking to myself that these memories that we’ve forged is far more precious, and are days we will keep with us in future. 



friends forever!

Gunung Inerie, Bajawa, Flores Island, Indonesia

one of my favourite hikes for sure- such a gorgeous view. i wonder if i’d be able to allow myself to go on such hikes after i have children. honestly, looking at these make me feel like WOW I love hiking – i want to go climb more mountains and catch these amazing exclusive views. on the other hand i get a nagging feeling that when i have children, im going to struggle a lot with my decision to go – plagued with guilt, questioning my decision to embark on a perceptively more risky venture and potential repercussions. help!!! i know cz will support me in whatever i want to do, so it will definitely be ME and me having to come to terms with whatever decisions i make.
We were up there!
Our little young guide who’s gonna share his experience with us during his school’s show-and tell
11 years old i think
oh my gawd the neverending trail
this was the trek that tore my backside of my leggings because i was so tired i kept sliding down instead of using my legs LOL
someone fell
post-hike shiokness
love

 

 

 

love

 

this picture is metaphorical on many levels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

such an amazing view