Third time in South America and it def didn't disappoint!

I've been wanting to go to Colombia, in like, forevers. But the timing never seem to be right. Until me and Vince got back from our 5 month stint in Asia and had time to really consider Colombia.

Should we go to Colombia in July? How's the weather? Isn't it winter there?? How badly do you want to go to Colombia?? Oh, it's a major Bucket List item - so pretty badly, eh? Looks like the plane tickets are cheaper to get there than Cuba ... should we just do it?

Such questions went through our heads. Ultimately, we went for it and wholeheartedly committed by buying plane tickets on the spot. A couple days later I got an offer for a sponsored 3-day influencer trip to Palm Springs. I LOVE PALM SPRINGS! I can't believe my luck! I also can't believe the ill-timing of it all! The Palm Springs trip coincided with the Colombia trip. Unable to cancel or postpone our Colombia tickets, I had to unwillingly turn down the offer. BUT the bummed out feeling only lasted 2 seconds, because - I'm finally going to Colombia!


Unfortunately, we could only stay in Colombia for a week. Some unexpected major life expenses popped up. Bah. Adulting. Thus, our list of must visit Colombian places got narrowed down to 2 cities. =/ But I know I'll be back to this wonderful country! Would love to visit Medillin, Santa Marta, Minca, Guatape ... and, of course, Cano Cristales!


// BOGOTA //
To be honest, we didn't expect Bogota to be such a joy to walk around! Not many travelers rave about Bogota and there didn't seem to be much to do in the city upon research. Who knew that one could spent hours exploring La Candelaria and Monserrate? The charming rustic street scenes of Candelaria are full of colorful buildings and intricate grafitti. The city views from Montserrate are gorgeous, with an equally gorgeous plot of land to wander about. Yes, Bogota, you were a pleasant surprise!
>> STAY : AirBnB, ~$20/night
>> RECOMMEND : La Candelaria, Monserrate, Walking Tour, Grafitti Walking Tour, Food Tour, Museo Botero, Museo del Oro
>> FOOD : Bandeja Paisa (originally from Medellin, but next best place to have it is Bogota), Ajiaco, Picada, Arepas, Sancocho, Chocolate Completo, Almojabana, Chucula, Obleas, Arequipe, Juan Valdez coffee

This colorful Caribbean coastal town is every bit the hype that every traveler claims it to be. Sure, it's crowded and touristy, but for good reason. The walled Old Town houses a network of tiny streets and alleys all lined with vividly colored colonial buildings; imbuing romantic vibes and inspiring one to explore every nook and cranny. And that's exactly what we did most of the time! With paleta in hand, we walked all over Old Town and San Diego, straight into Getsamani where it's famed for its street art. Everywhere we look - instant photo moment. Definitely a photographer's playground here!
>> STAY : AirBnB, ~$80/night
>> RECOMMEND : Walk all over Old Town aka Walled City, Watch the sunset at The Wall, San Diego, Getsemani for street art, La Popa for city views, Bocagrande
>> FOOD : Ceviche, Posta Negra Cartagenera, Colombian Pizza, Any Colombian soup, Arepas, Empanadas, Fresh Seafood, Mote de Queso, Mojarra (Pargo Frito), Patacones, Bollos, Pan de Bono, Paletas, Limonada de Coco, Fruits


WHEN: July 2017
TEMP: 65F in Bogota, 90F in Cartagena
CITIES: Bogota, Cartagena
TRANSPORTATION: Taxi to/from Airport, other than that, we virtually walked everywhere.


PERU 2010

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Another quicky travel post as I am currently in Seattle. (HERRO from the chilly Northwest!) It has been extremely tricky to squeeze in blogging this past week - entertaining guests, finishing up edits for the last photoshoot, last-minute packing ... then suddenly I find myself in Seattle! Like whoa, what just happened?? Could've sworn September just started and that I had all this time before the trip to catch up on the freelancing! Zang, Time, you def don't play nice! Makes me wonder how some of you die-hard bloggers do it. Keeping this blogging thing consistent. I still don't know how I did it back in college! Cranking out 4-5 posts a week. Now it's barely one.

More on the conundrum of Time - can you believe this Peru trip was 3 years ago? Def one of a handful of special trips that are very near and dear to my heart. And I tell you why. One, I'm revisiting one of my favorite countries in the world that has left an indelible mark with me back in 2008. Two, I brought my love with me this second time around to share in those humbling experiences I've gained during the first visit. Something I've been dying to do with V, because, well, I've only been raving and reminiscing about Peru like all the time. As expected, for the most part, Peru trip version 2010 ended up being one huge walk down memory lane, retracing my steps all over Cusco and pointing out the mountains where I had volunteered and unearthing the hidden lounges where me and my fellow residencia mates once kicked it. Yup. Got hit pretty hard with the nostalgia stick there. *shaking fists at Time*

Though new memories were also made which I will undoubtedly treasure for years to come. Like climbing to the top of Machu Picchu during the wee hours of the morn and getting my passport all stamped up with the Machu Picchu logo. Score. The next thing I did? Called my sister out of sheer curiosity. That's right! I made a phone call. Will the call go through that high above sea level??? Holy cow it did! But after a few rings it went straight to her voicemail. Boo. So I left a nice little message and went on my merry way with Vince, exploring the ancient grounds and hiking along unbeaten paths and chasing down llamas. We even squeezed in a hidden snack session with the food we've squirreled away from the hostel. Something we're not suppose to do, but hey, who can't resist snacking among the clouds, looking down at the expansive wonderments of Machu Picchu? This is a once (twice?) in a lifetime opportunity after all!

Clearly I have no idea what 'quick' means. I'm on a freakin' trip for cryin' out loud. Writing about another trip! That ain't right. Time to wrap it up. I got places to go, people to see, food to eat in this fine city of Seattle!

besos ... jin.


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This was one of those spur-of-the-moment day trips where we walked into a Buquebus travel agency in Buenos Aires (I know! Walking. What internet? So old school!), booked a catamaran ferry, hung out at the port, hopped on a ferry, and an hour later found ourselves in Colonia, Uruguay.


Why Colonia and not Montevideo, you ask? Out of convenience, really. Montevideo is definitely not a day trip from BA. And what the heck is in Uruguay, you also ask? Well, let me tell ya.

Colonia is everything you'd dream of from a quaint Spanish port city constantly plundered by pirates back in the day, filled with romantic cobbled streets and aging colonial buildings. You know, the kind of picturesque place where lovers rendezvous and curious travelers stroll mindlessly, while Zorro kicks ass and takes names. With a rented golf cart on hand, me, V and Jack spent most of our time zipping around this small city, taking in the insanely serene backdrop and relishing the laid-back aura. And man, did our little golf cart take us places! We circled a defunct bull ring and drove miles and miles down a road with incredible ocean views, stopping once in awhile to relax at a beach and tour a pirate museum and explore old forts with it's rusty canons and drawbridges. One of the highlights of the trip was picnicking on top of giant rocks nestled between the fine line of land and water, the Atlantic Ocean lapping at the edges, fishies swimming in the crevices, the sea breeze in your face, the vast expanse of blue sky above. Yeah, Colonia isn't a bad place at all! I see why all these pirates made a big fuss. It's nice here in a slow life kinda way, when you're not too busy trying to dig up treasures.

Would we come back to Uruguay? Most def! Kinda curious what else this country has to offer now that we got a lil taste of the land. Til next time, Uruguay!

besos ... jin.


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Already tired from all the week-long Christmas adventures in Rio de Janeiro, Jack, V and I really just wanted to go straight to our apartment and get some sweet, sweet rest upon arrival in Buenos Aires. Easier said than done, right? That always seems to be the case half the time I travel. But nobody told us we had to work for it! Everything between arrival and getting to the apartment was done the hard way. There was the mishap trying to get pesos at the airport to pay the taxi driver (most of it counterfeit, which is entirely another story), and the interesting drive with the taxi driver, yet another story, and what was suppose to be a 'pit stop' at a bank to pick up more (counterfeit) money - yup, that's another story in itself. Not to mention getting stranded outside our apartment for what felt like an eternity, waiting for the middle man to cross town and deliver the keys, also another story. So by the time we actually made it inside our apartment, many hours later, we were mentally beat. Then in waltzes Andrew and Natalie, all fresh-faced and peppy, clearly no misadventures to report. O.o

Buen día, as the Argentinians would say. Yeah, right.

Honestly, at first glance of BA, I actually thought I was in Madrid all over again, so there really was no rush to explore the streets. When we're not on our mini adventures around the city, we did plenty of resting and tons of trekking between our apartment and Jason/Tracy/Anthony/Marlo/Nick's apartment. Oh, and sobering up. There was a lot of that, too, as evident from our New Year's shindig on the streets of Buenos Aires.

Which we did with American flare. ;-) Now I've mentioned before how it's so much more adventurous traveling with fellow wanderlusters. No rules, no limits, no second guesses. Travelers are resourceful people, I've come to learn over my 7 years of constant travel. They've seen odd things, know a traveling trick or two. With that said, everybody on this trip are seasoned travelers themselves. All 10 of us. And we had a great idea for New Year's which involved giant champagne bottles and my bag I've snagged from Vietnam. (It was the biggest bag we had on hand.)

No, we didn't steal anything. And it went beyond just sneaking in alcohol. But when the great idea proved uber successful, we all ran out the bar, laughing and high-fiving each other, continued ringing in 2010 on the streets of BA and pretty much did the victory dance for the next 2 hours. And kept victory dancing our way down the street, right into a club, where we were locked in til 6am. D'oh. Haha! Nooooow getting out - another story! Double d'oh.

Anthony, "This is my first and last time I'll ever celebrate 2010!"

Well said, my friend. I think we did it justice. =)

besos ... jin.


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Christmas in Brazil is looking like a hot summer day in Texas, ain't it? Probably one of the most un-Christmas Christmases I've had ... ever! (And yah, it really was as hot as Texas!) 7 of us Texans headed down south on a mini tour of South America for the holidays and like every first timers in Rio, we did the touristy bit. Although truthfully, there isn't much touristy stuff to do other than live the good life 24/7. It's all about the beach, coconut water, (cheap!) acai juice, stunning panoramic views of the city, more beach. One thing that is def quintessentially Rio - the infectious party vibe. Like, all the freakin' time. You Brazilians really know how to live it up! If it weren't for the prices skyrocketing overnight for new year's, we would have stuck around. Heard it gets uber cray-cray. Second only to Carnival! Ah well. One day. Visa's still good!

With that said - Summer Olympics 2016, anyone?

besos ... jin.

PERU 2008

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Volunteering in Cusco, Peru was a good idea. =) Even though it was 5 years ago, I still remember every little detail: living in a residencia with 20 travelers from all over the world, hiking a mile up a mountain every morning to volunteer, teaching 20 rowdy 5 year olds, trekking a mile in the dusty roads of Cusco at night for Spanish classes, witnessing a bajillion glittery stars paint the heavens at 3 miles above sea level, roughing it out for 3 days in Lake Titicaca, busting out the camping skills, dining on questionable cookery, learning Quechuan the hard way.

I'd do it all over again. A small luggage and an open-mind. It's an extremely simple lifestyle. 

And like any memorable trip, it's the colorful chats with fellow wanderlusters that are the best. Random convos in the residencia gathering area, long talks on 7hr bus rides, tete-a-tetes at the local stomping grounds. These are what separates travelers from tourists, no? They certainly are a different breed. For instance, V's mom gave me a Marc Jacobs tote with a funky design on it. I'm not much into designer bags, but this particular one had an unassuming exterior. It didn't look like a status bag. Plus, it was big enough to throw in travel essentials, so it became my carry-on to South America. The tote certainly caught everyone's attention and when informed that it's a Marc Jacobs - nobody knew what I was talking about. Nobody. You mean to tell me 20 people from all over the world didn't know ... Marc Jacobs? Hah! My kind of people. I love you guys!

Anyways, for more pictorial spread and full 'llama drama' recap, pop on over to my old Xanga account. (Don't lie - you know you had one back in the day!)

besos ... jin.