A Travellerspoint blog

Mexico City

We had a fantastic five days in Mexico staying with my friend Male. It was amazing to be reunited again after seven years (we lived and worked together during my year abroad in France) and meet her beautiful little family. We were treated to delicious home cooked food, margaritas and personal tours of the local sights…

8/3/16
After our 30 hour journey we had a little lie in and were then treated to a brunch of fresh tamales. These are delicious stuffed corn husks filled with a corn dough and other fillings, including chicken, tomatoes, chilli and cheese. Male then gave us a tour of the rest of their house, which is currently under construction, with fantastic views across the valley to Mexico City.

In the afternoon Male drove us to Tlayacapan, a village further down the valley. We walked around their beautiful old church and lots of handicraft shops including glass, clay, stone, metal and paper work.

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In the town square Male treated us to some delicious fruit sorbets including mamey, a sweet orange fruit with the look and texture of an avocado.

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On our way back to the house we stopped at the next door village which is famous for its abundance of mole shops (a traditional sauce normally served with meat made from lots of ingredients, including nuts, chocolate). We visited a handful of shops and sampled both the raw paste and powder versions and brought some home. Halfway up the hill we stopped off for an incredible fresh blue tortilla.

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For dinner we were treated to potzole cooked by Male’s mum - a delicious fresh chicken and veg broth with puffed, boiled corn. We also had tostadas - small crispy tortillas with avocado, cheese and sour cream.

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9/3/16
On the Wednesday we woke to a massive thunder storm, with thunder, lightening and hail, that lasted all night and all day. It cut the power and Naybi, Male’s daughter, was sent home from school.

We enjoyed mollentos for lunch - toasted bread with refried beans, cheese and salsa (a bit like cheese on toast!) - which was amazingly comforting with the weather.

In the afternoon we packed up the house and all drove down to Male’s parent’s house in the city when the rain finally eased off. We then hung out with the children watching YouTube cartoon videos (which were no good for practising our Spanish as they were all in English). Male made us some delicious margaritas to have with our dinner that evening.

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10/3/16
On Thursday we had a day out in Mexico City with Male and her partner Horacio.
Our first stop was the spectacular national theatre, with its domed roof and statues.Male explained that this, and many of the other buildings were actually starting to sink as the city itself was built on a lake filled in with soft materials.

We then saw some other impressive buildings, with designs influenced by different European architecture, some grand churches and a fantastic mosaic house.

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The city's main central square was gigantic and surrounded by imposing red lava bricked buildings - the national colour. We took a look around the main cathedral and also saw the remains of the native pyramid that was destroyed to build it on.

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Horacio then left us to go to work at one of the city's universities and Male took us to the royal palace to see murals by Diego Rivera, depicting Mexican history. Amazing colourful images beginning with the natives, following through to colonialism and the struggles in the 20th century.

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We headed to a traditional café for some sweet treats, including a kind of crisp bread/cracked with a spicy fruity syrup. We had a wander around the central artisan market and showed great restraint by only picking up a handful of souvenirs.

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11/3/16
After breakfast on the Friday we drove out of the city to Male’s aunt’s house, with amazing views of the volcanoes on the way. We met the extended family and dog then Male, Horacio, Anita and I left for the pyramids of Teotihuacan.

Covering a huge area we first explored the main citadel, which was still being excavated. We the walked down the 2km 'Avenue of the Dead’, exploring the amazingly well preserved temples along the way. Every 50 years or so a new pyramid would be built on top of the old one, meaning that all the decorative paintings and sculptures were amazingly well preserved, they almost didn't look real.

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Towards the end of the avenue we reached the Pyramid of the Sun, incredibly spectacular but very very steep. We managed to climb all the way to the top which was a massive achievement given how windy it was! The views from the top really were spectacular. We then headed down to admire the Pyramid of the Moon and the palace ruins.

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We went back to Male's aunt's house for a delicious family dinner including spicy rice, broccoli fritters, salsa, tortillas and pig skin (a bit of a challenge!). As well as some amazing savoury and sweet homemade tamales.

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12/03/16
On Saturday we had a lovely day out at Xochimilco, kind of like a Mexican Cambridge, with punting on the river. We brought a picnic, hired a boat and an oarsman and sailed around the canals. It was a proper fiesta atmosphere with lots of party boats and mariachi bands. Lunch included cactus and tortillas with cheese.

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In the afternoon we drove to Coyancan - a cosmopolitan part of the city with a grand square and lots of bars with people enjoying their Saturday evening. There was an impressive church and convent, where a wedding was taking place and after a short walk around we indulged in some amazing ice cream.

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On the way back we stopped by Horacio’s sister's house for drinks and then headed home for quesadillas and margaritas.

13/3/16
Male spoilt us with yummy freshly made guacamole for our last breakfast. We then said our goodbyes and drove to the airport.

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We had a momentary panic when we arrived and our flight wasn't on the screen but apparently that's quite normal, so we checked in as expected. We boarded our flight to Guatemala City around 1pm and had incredible views of the snow capped volcanoes and Mexico City as we took off.

Posted by Floglet 18:31 Comments (0)

Back to Bangkok

36 °C

03/03/2016 - Our flight back to Bangkok from Krabi was nice and uneventful. We arrived at the smaller of Bangkok's airports and got a taxi to our new hotel. We got stuck in Bangkok rush hour traffic and all had a little nap in the taxi. The hotel was a bit swisher than the hostels we had become accostomed to and as we were on the 18th floor it had pretty impressive views of the city. After we had checked in and got freshened up we decided to look for somewhere for lunch. However that proved to be more difficult than we had anticipated. After looking around for a while we ended up in a cafe across the road for a late lunch. It was surprisingly good food despite us just happening upon it. After our late lunch/ early dinner we all went back, had a chance to relax and then to got ready for some cocktails. This was the first time in a few months that Fleur and I had got dressed up. We wore some make up, did our hair and even managed to wear a vaguely non backpaker esque outfit. Once ready we headed to the Banyan Tree hotel to visit their sky bar which had been recommended to us by a few friends back home and it did not disappoint! The nighttime views across the city were amazing and although their cocktails weren't backpacker friendly priced they were really good. We stayed for a few hours, possibly taking too many pictures of the view but it was stunning. Just outside the hotel we picked up some mango sticky rice to share, the addiction was in full flow at this point. We had our post drinks dessert and then headed to bed.

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04/03/2016 - Fleur, Mum and I left the hotel at 9am for a little day trip, it was an hour later than we'd planned but we were up way past midnight the day before!? Hannah spent the day relaxing in the hotel. As we were eager to get a move on we picked up some breakfast bits to share from Starbucks which was just below our hotel. We then tried to get a taxi to the bus station. It was a bit of a struggle but we eventually found a taxi driver willing to take us on the meter. Most wanted to charge us at least four times what we ended up paying. We then took the two and a half hour bus ride to Kanchanaburi. Whilst Fleur and I tried to nap a little, Mum impressively stayed awake for the whole journey and knitted. Once we arrived in Kanchanaburi we took a taxi to bridge over the River Kwai, which was made famous in the film from the 1950s of the same name, starring Sir Alec Guinness. It was a really hot and muggy day. We walked the length of the bridge to a Chinese temple at the other end. We also saw a train pass over the bridge. We stopped for a quick lunch and a chance to get out of the sun before heading to the Thai Burma Railway Museum. We spent a couple of hours in the museum learning about the atrocious conditions in which Allied Prisoners of War (PoW) and Asian labourers were forced to build the ill fated railway. Many thousands died in the construction, mainly due to the conditions they were subjected to. The Japanese kept good records of the PoW and therefore their death toll was relatively accurate. However of the Asian labourers, many of whom were forced or tricked into working on the railway there were no such records and estimates of the death toll are much higher than of the PoW. After the intersting but harrowing visit to the museum we went across the road to the Allied War Cemetery. It was a surreal experience seeing the rows and rows of plaques. Each with the name, age and battalion of the soldier killed. Some had messages from their families engraved on them too. The youngest soldier's plaque was that of a 20 year old, the same age as Amar which really hit me. Atfer our emotional day we took the long journey back to Bangkok. We ended up getting back just after 9 and went straight to dinner in the restaurant below our hotel. Dinner was followed by a mango sticky rice of course. Mum ended her day with a late night foot massage...only in Bangkok!

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04/03/2016 - We checked out of the hotel early in the morning, leaving our bags there to collect later on. We then went to the Grand Palace, a complex of buildings that are the official residence of the King. On the way we were almost scammed by the most unassuming old man who tried to convince us that the Grand Palace was closed and that we should get in the taxi he had just flagged and go to the floating markets instead. Luckily we weren't convinced and decided to check ourselvelves and of course the Grand Palace was open. Despite our attempts to beat the crowds it was really busy and hot as well. The Grand Palace and it's grounds were beautiful to see but with the crowds and the heat it was a little bit of a struggle at times. Halfway through we had to stop for ice cream and a coconut...we hadn't eaten breakfast, foolishly thinking we would afterwards and were feeling a little faint by this point. Once we had finished going around the Grand Palace we headed to Wat Pho, a nearby temple complex to see the reclining Buddha. The complex was much bigger than I had expected and very impressive. Wat Pho contained some stunningly beautiful buildings. However with the heat and lack of substantial food we were all starting to really struggle by this point so we got a taxi to a cafe that Hannah had found for lunch. We all managed a main and shared two desserts between us. Slightly revived after lunch we went to pick up our bags and got a taxi to the new hotel, walking through a market and picking up a couple of bargains on the way.
We got stuck in traffic again on the way to the new hotel. We quickly checked in and then headed straight back out to the night market. Mum was after a couple of last minute souvenirs. After having scoured the market we went to a South Indian restaurant for dinner and had dosas. Once we were back in the hotel Mum freshened up and got ready to leave. Fleur and I went with her to the airport. We had an emotional goodbye and then she left for England.

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05/03/2016 - We woke up early and went to Chatuchak weekend market, the largest market in Thailand with over 8000 stalls. We picked up some fresh spring rolls and mango for breakfast and then tried to systematically tackle it. We walked around most of the market, which considering it's size and the stifling Bangkok heat was a pretty big achievement. We did well with our shopping and managed to get some lovely unique pieces of jewellery at good prices. Hannah did well with some cute pieces of clothing too. Sadly we had a disappointing lunch but we did get coconut water and smoothies later in the afternoon which made up for it a bit. The heat in the afternoon got quite intense and by the time we left at 4 we were well and truly exhausted.
Later that evening we had a bit of a night out. We had cocktails and food in a fabulously camp gay bar before doing a small bar crawl in the go go bar area. We ended our night back in the first bar watching some amazing Thai singers impress with their karaoke skills.

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06/03/2016 - The next morning we had a bit of a slow start. We had breakfast in the restaurant in the hotel before going over to Lumphini Park, stopping off at some market stalls on route. The park was lovely and relatively calm in amongst the craziness of Bangkok. We walked around the large pond and spotted a giant lizard, which kept up entertained for far too long. It actually took until it was out of the water for us to figure out what it was. We carried on strolling through the park until we found a spot to sit in the shade and watch the world world go by. We saw lots of runners and joggers by whom we were all impressed as the day was still so hot and humid. We also saw a load of ridiculously cute Thai babies out with their families. There was also some young guys practising their acrobatic/gymnastic skills by flipping themselves off large rocks and a beautiful sounding choir singing by the bandstand.
After the park, we went to a small shopping centre and Hannah picked up some bits to take home. We then tried to find a pizza truck (for our traditional last night in a country pizza), that was meant to do really good pizza, for dinner but when we did eventually find it it was closed. We walked back through the market and picked up some starters and then picked up dessert from 711. For dinner we ordered pizza from a local restaurant and ate it while we packed and watched Crazy Stupid Love.

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07/03/2016 - We had a 4.15 wake up, which was a bit of a struggle. We got ready, finished packing our last few bits and said goodbye to a sleepy Hannah before making our way to the airport for what was to be the longest journey of our trip so far. We started off with a relatively short trip to Hong Kong, followed by a 14 hour journey from Hong Kong to Dallas, Texas. We both struggled to sleep on the flight...I made it through four films, a personal record for me. Our last flight from Dallas to Mexico City despite being an other short one saw us both drift off. When we finally made it to Mexico we were greeted by the longest queue for immigration we had ever been stuck in. Male, Fleurs friend from France had kindly sent her husband and her brother to pick us up from the airport. On the drive to her house I fell asleep in the back of the car not surprising as by the time we arrived we had been travelling for 30 hours.

Posted by AnitaBhogal 18:30 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Chiang Mai and Krabi

24/2/16
After finally arriving in Chiang Mai, a little later than planned, we hopped into one of Chiang Mai’s red fire truck style taxis to our hostel. We had some typical Thai dishes for dinner - mine arrived in a pineapple! And then crashed out in our family room.

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25/2/16
Our first stop on Thursday was breakfast at Angel’s Secrets cafe, where we enjoyed some amazing oatmeal and pancakes, setting us up for the day. We then spent the morning exploring some of the city’s many temples, including Wat Chedi Luang which had an unusual old brick stupa.

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After a refreshing mango shake stop we visited a few more shops and temples, including one of the city’s largest - Wat Phra Singh - which had some very realistic monk statues.

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After a fair bit of walking we decided to indulge ourselves and headed to a spa for some treatments, where all the female staff were ex-offenders who have been retrained to provide them with a route back into employment. I opted for a post-trekking treatment (despite the lack of trekking done) which included a foot massage, a Thai back massage and a manicure. Everyone else enjoyed coconut scrubs and massages.

Feeling suitably relaxed we then walked to Talat Pratu food market for our dinner. We all had really good, and amazing value, stir fries and some mango sticky rice for dessert (which started an addiction!). We then headed around to the souvenir night market for some evening shopping.

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26/2/16
For Friday morning we’d booked an excursion to the handicraft village - the setting wasn't quite as idyllic as the name might suggest as it was more a collection of out of town workshops with shops attached. We had a lovely driver though and started off with a visit to the silk warehouse. We saw live silkworms (and were a bit worried no one was keeping an eye on the ones making a bid for escape), weaving, spinning and the thinning and dying processes.

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We then visited a silver shop and a jade and jewellery shop with more demonstrations, followed by a lacquer workshop and a cotton shop where we saw women weaving - one doing a plain stretch of fabric which would grow 4-5m a day and another, much more detailed pattern, which would only grow 4-5 inches a day.

On the way to our final stop our driver took us to a lovely old temple, with beautiful designs and a friendly old monk who gave us each a Buddha image to carry with us and keep us safe. We then went to the papermaking outlet where they produced fans and parasols.

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Afterwards we headed back to Chiang Mai for lunch and then went on to explore Chinatown and its markets.

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Our evening was spent on an amazing cooking course where we cooked the night away. We tried our hand at spring rolls, papaya salad, pumpkin soup, a curry paste and the curry itself (I went for Massaman), Akha soup, Akha salad and Akha dipping sauce (Akha is a tribe from Northern Thailand, where our teacher was from), a soup (I went for Tom Yum with prawns), a stir fry and mango sticky rice! We learnt lots about seasoning and what to add to draw out the flavours and once we’d finished off (most) of what we had made we were given a brilliant recipe book, spice mix and paste to take home.

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27/2/16
After our busy evening the night before, we treated ourselves to a leisurely brunch at the Chiang Mai Breakfast World in a German-style beer garden.

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After we’d filled up we caught a taxi up to Wat Phra Doi Suthep - the most famous temple in the city. We knew it was on a hill but it was much much higher up than we thought, which made for a bit of a queasy taxi ride as we were all sat sideways and the driver was driving like he had somewhere else to be.

The site itself is home to a beautiful golden stupa with a temple surrounding it. Due to its height you also get amazing views over to Chiang Mai and the surrounding countryside.

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We had a very quick descent and turnaround once we were back in the town to head off to the airport and catch our flight to Krabi (via Bangkok).

28/2/16
For our first day in Krabi we caught a long tail boat to Railay, a beautiful resort further down the peninsula. Once we arrived we headed to the west beach, which had beautiful limestone cliffs and clear blue water. We spent the day relaxing and swimming and enjoyed pizza and fruit shakes for lunch.

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On way back to the boat we took a different route through the shops and were lucky to see a group of monkeys, some with their tiny babies. We walked along the east side to take in the beautiful views then boarded our boat back. It was a much choppier ride than on the way over and we ended up looking like we’d just stepped out of the shower.

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We headed to the night market for dinner, enjoying more stirfries and a dessert of steamed coconut milk cakes and mango sticky rice (of course!).

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29/2/16
On our second day we headed to Noparathara beach, which was super beautiful and quiet. We had some amazing fruit platters for breakfast and were going to attempt to wade across to an island nearby but realised (after watching others attempt it) the water got a lot deeper than we originally thought!

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We had a huge and delicious lunch at one of the beach-side restaurants, including giant coconuts, spring rolls, shrimp cakes, battered fish and chicken. I think we surprised the owner when we managed to finish it all.

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In the afternoon we ventured into the sea for a swim, but after a long wade out we gave up as the water was still only up to our waists. We came back in and then watched a very beautiful sun set.

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We rode in a slightly precarious ‘sidecar’ tuk tuk back to Krabi and headed to a different night market for dinner with some great live music to accompany us while we ate.

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1/3/16
For our final full day in Krabi we headed over to Ao Nang, the slightly busier resort. We had a delicious big breakfast and then caught a long tail boat over to Koh Poda, a beautiful small island nearby.

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We found a quiet spot to enjoy the sunshine and swim. After a very relaxed afternoon we packed up just before the tide reached and headed back to Ao Nang, where we grabbed a bit more beach time before the sun went down.

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We stayed in Ao Nang for dinner and satisfied our craving for pizza, Thai style (one had bolognese and another spicy basil with chicken).

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2/3/16
On the last morning we wandered into Krabi Town for breakfast at a cafe whose owners cooked food inspired by their international guests, including some good homemade bread. We then left for the airport to catch our flight back to Bangkok.

Posted by Floglet 18:14 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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