As soon as I landed in Lima, I was aware I had a slight problem. I had taken 7 years of French. Quick tip for anyone visiting; they don’t speak French in Peru. I’d been completely spoiled in Asia. English was spoken and written just about everywhere. In the big cities and small villages alike, it was fairly easy to communicate and the locals were willing to work with you. Looking back, I wish I had done a little language prep for this trip. That’s my mistake and I’ll own it. But what better way to learn a new language than to be thrown into the fire, right? Or at least I hope that’s true…
Anyways, I stayed in the Miraflores District of Lima, which is an upscale area right on the coastal cliffs. The location was beautiful, and the prices unfortunately reflected that. As per tradition, I overpaid for the first few days. My lack of Spanish was a factor but I always overpay when I arrive in a new country. It’s a tradition, like my own personal right of passage and one of my many flaws. I think I spent 70$ the first few days I landed in Bangkok which is borderline impossible. But I learn quick and I’m sure it’ll be no different in South America.
Lima was a big and vibrant city. There was Latin music playing from the restaurants on every corner and people seemed to be enjoying the warm summer weather. I spent my two days wandering through the streets and strolling through Parque del Amor. The park sits high upon the coastal cliffs overlooking the Pacific. Situated in the middle of the park is the Iconic statue, El Beso (the Kiss), depicting two lovers entangled in a passionate kiss. Even though I was exploring the park without a romantic partner per usual, it was a nice place to spend a few hours.
A few miles down sits La Marina Lighthouse. The 72ft tower is the most visited lighthouse in peru and casts its beam 18 nautical miles out into the Pacific. The walk along the cliffs was an awesome way to watch the locals and just hang out. You can stay entertained by viewing the surfers 100 feet below trying their luck against the cold ocean swells. In the evening I enjoyed my first Pisco Sour and watched the sun go down. The national drink of Peru is a combination of Peruvian pisco, lemon or lime juice, syrup, ice, bitters, and an egg white. Perhaps its an acquired taste, but I’m not sure if they’re for me. I switched to cervezas quickly.
Lima has a lot to offer. Unfortunately I was on tighter schedule and was in and out of the city in about 48 hours. I’d love to explore more! Many people use the capital as a jumping point to the bigger attractions of Peru and I unfortunately made the same mistake. Lesson learned.
I want to give a warm welcome to Ericwho has just joined the Traveller’s Playground team. Over the next few weeks his experiences and images will start appearing from his trip through Asia… his next destination, South America! He also writes at Taggart In Asia Here is his transition post… let the travel’s begin!
We’ve gone WAY beyond
It’s been awesome that you’ve followed my travels, and I will continue to awe you with stories of passion, danger, and grand adventure. Most of you probably know that I left Asia and headed back home for the cold and snow. It didn’t last very long. Spending the holiday season with friends and family was a much needed and served as a lovely respite from Thai cuisine. Yet I felt as though I wasn’t quite done out in the world.
I decided that instead of returning to the cubical farm to graze upon spreadsheets and cold calls, I would continue this trip for a little bit longer. So I booked myself a one way ticket to Lima, Peru and intend to spend the next few months exploring a new continent!
So yes, we’ve gone beyond Bangkok. We’ve gone beyond Asia. This will be a new chapter in my backpacking life and hopefully it will bring the noise. I’ll be covering diverse terrain, going from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and then turning south to Patagonia. I’m in exceptionally medium shape, so hopefully I can handle it.
Bali is in right now. It’s hip. It’s cool. You can’t scroll through a travel feed on Instagram without seeing ten shots of Bali. I can understand the hype. It’s a tropical paradise in a foreign land with a unique culture and absolutely stunning beaches. But I have a hot take; I didn’t love it there. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time, but I didn’t love it. I spent about ten days total on the Island, and I’ll sum up the good and the bad for you.
Ubud- This hub in the center of the island is actually awesome. Tucked away in a lush jungle, Ubud has a lot to offer. From a bustling modern downtown to a community of wild monkeys, there’s something for everyone in Ubud. One highlight is the Sacred Monkey Forest. This ecological reserve is home to more than 600 long tail macaques. It’s not a huge space so the animals are extremely interactive with the guests. They will jump on you and they will absolutely try to steal your things. I found one little guy elbow deep in my pocket at one point trying to rob me blind. It’s not uncommon for Abu and his pals to run off with someones sun glasses or water bottle.
Mt Batur- Another awesome part of Bali (and Ubud especially) is it’s plethora of outdoor adventures. One of the highlights of my time on the island was the sunrise trek up the volcano, Mr Batur. After a 2am breakfast I caught a jeep ride to the base of the mountain. From here I was led by my 17 year old local guide up the steep mountain path. I arrived at the summit after about 2 hours of trekking, the last 30min of which is spent trudging up a steep grade of volcanic sands. The reward at the top was worth the early wake up. After enjoying a beautiful sunrise the group trekked back down, avoiding some thieving monkeys along the way. We stopped off at the famous Tegalalang rice fields on the way back to the hostel. The green terraced hillsides really are strikingly beautiful. The trip ended at a local coffee plantation where we were given some much needed samples. The most famous coffee is the Luwak java. The beans are digested by these little animals and then are plucked from the stool. It sounds and looks gross, but the coffee is an island specialty and extremely expensive. Overall Bali is filled with beauty. From hidden waterfalls, to secret beaches, to the green rice terraces, you’re sure to find something to please the eye.
It’s not really an issue of Bali being ‘bad’. It just happens to be very westernized. Bali is an extremely popular vacation destination for Australians, Europeans, and Americans alike who are looking for a unique experience. There’s been rapid growth, which is good for the people of Bali and its economy. I just wonder if that growth has been great for the identity of the island. The areas of Kuta and Seminyak feature plenty of pubs, clubs, and outlet malls. There are beach clubs and resorts that rival those in the Caribbean. The western tourists are certainly catered to, and it wasn’t something I loved. That doesn’t mean Bali didn’t have plenty to offer. Its the only predominantly Hindu island in the Muslim dominant Indonesia. The locals are extremely spiritual and this energy can be felt almost everywhere. Before hiking Batur the guides will fall to their knees to light incense and pray to their gods. They’re also extremely friendly and welcoming. I guess what I didn’t like about Bali was that it felt too close to home. It was as though people are bringing Western culture to the island more and more rather than experiencing the beauty of what is already is there. It’s a personal preference for me. I had a nice time, but the next 2 islands I visited in Indonesia had a larger impact on me…