Cuenca

Travelling from Peru to Ecuador was a bit of a culture shock, but the differences were made all the more acute because the first place we spent any time was in Cuenca. Fancy restaurants, cafes and (mostly retired, American) expats were everywhere! Still, it was a nice place to spend a few days strolling old streets, eating in cafes, visiting odd museums and cloud-watching.

 

Real thieves eat caviar.

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Better late than never

Shelley, over at Travel-Stained, recently posted about the Black’s Epic Adventures Photo Contest and nominated some other bloggers to join her in entering. I may be too late for the competition, but I still think it’s fun to share the photos I would have entered.

Also, I decided not to use any of my South America photos.

Here goes…

WILD: Mongolia

Mongolia is absolutely the wildest place I’ve ever been. We would drive for days through landscapes devoid of any human features except occasionally a ger or a herd of domesticated camels. Even the towns (and there weren’t many of them) had a strange Wild West quality to them, with make-shift compounds of gers alongside concrete blocks of buildings.

PANORAMIC: the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

I’d wanted to visit the Giant’s Causeway since I first learned of it’s existance as a chid. It was a blustery, cold January when we visited a friend we’d met in Seoul, back in his hometown of Strabane. Despite living most of his life in Northern Ireland, he’d never visited the Causeway! Everyone told him he had to take us to see it while we were there, and so we set off on a road trip along the coast. The whole landscape was littered with variations of the unusual rock formations and it was much bigger than I had anticipated. Of course, we had to take a shot of them ‘stealing’ a stone.

EPIC: trekking up Rinjani volcano, Indonesia

I’ve got a bit of a problem with this category. You see, I really don’t like the word ‘epic’. It just sounds so American! 😛 And yeah, I’m well aware that this word is now used world-wide, but I just can’t get behind it. I’d rather just use the word ‘wow’.

So, WOW for me was the first time I went trekking and camping on a three day trip up a volcano crater, down into the centre, and up and out again on the other side. The views were amazing, the physical feat like nothing I’d done before, and the fun of travelling with one of my best friends topped it off as a truly epic experience.

FAST: water at Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

Whilst the river in Taroko Gorge is known for being a beautiful crystal-clear, blue-green hue, after a typhoon it turns a cement-like grey as sediment is washed down from surrounding land. Less than 24 hours after Typhoon Fanapi in September 2011, the waters were still churning. Back when I had visited in July, it was calm enough for swimming (although the fish were still too fast for this guy to catch them).

Thanks Shelley for inviting me to join in the fun!

How to cure a cough in Peru

Everyone gets sick while travelling. It’s inevitable. You go to a doctor, you take medicine, you get better. If you’re lucky, it’s just a minor inconvenience. What’s really annoying is when you get sick, but it really isn’t all that serious so you can’t do anything about it. Like a persistent dry cough. And yet to everyone else it looks as if you’re dying and they avoid you as if you’ve actually got the plague.

After the beautiful trek in Huaraz, I was looking forward to another multi-day trek in Chachapoyas that would take me to the ancient site of Kuelap. But it was not to be. I picked up a bad cold in Huaraz that, despite the sea air, only got worse in Huanchaco. After a night of air-conditioning on an overnight bus to Chachapoyas, I was done for. The lining of my lungs and throat was so irritated from cold, dry air that I could not go for more than 7 seconds without coughing! It was so bad that I worried I might break a rib or tear a muscle.

Any kind of physical activity was out of the question – it just set off more coughing spasms – and being in public was impossible (a little old lady even stopped me in the street to ask what was wrong). Although I was pretty upset, I knew I had to rest and concentrate on soothing the awful cough. Luckily for me, we were able to get a private room with cable TV in Chachapoyas Backpackers. I spent the next two days watching reality-tv cookery shows and sci-fi movies, with my scarf wrapped around me like a facemask. The lovely owners at Chachapoyas Backpackers recommended drinking tea made from matico, a large green leaf. Combined with the humidity of the cloud forest climate, the matico tea worked wonders. From previous experience, I’d say it was one of the most effective home remedies I’ve tried. I wasn’t cured, but I was able to go out and about again. I never got to do my hike, but I did get to enjoy Chachapoyas.

Have you ever tried a traditional remedy while traveling? What did you think of it?