Lake Titicaca, Bolivia/Perú

30425226_10157465985793998_4022500794149371904_n

The shore/pier of Copacabana, the main entry to Lake Titicaca from Bolivia.

30821422_10157467605278998_8338429029497438208_n

The welcoming Inca ruins on the Sun Island.

31229599_10157465974308998_9174014586221756416_n

Around the port city itself, the biggest attraction is climbing up a summit.

36641799_10157465969998998_4209471969063600128_o

On the Sun Island, one can spend around 2 days there, but if you go for a day tour, you’d only really have time to go up to observe the lake.

36734398_10157465992958998_4221127372138610688_o

The boats go to the Sun Island twice a day, and they take 1.5 hours each way. Nevertheless, it’s not really that far, the boats just go incredibly slowly.

36737942_10157467602363998_129006176028327936_o

The only site you can get to (apart from the welcoming ruins) if you have only an hour on the Sun Island.

36741676_10157467602963998_3052419569206427648_o36745624_10157465990103998_5054555313387077632_o

But way before getting to the port, you already see the lake and actually have to cross a narrow channel. Everyone’s supposed to get off the bus to get a boat (with an extra charge), but I fell asleep and no-one woke me up.

36755327_10157467603248998_9111104439300653056_o36758182_10157467598918998_7547417876026621952_o

When the boats go back from the Sun Island to the port city, they stop by this palace for 15 minutes.

36758190_10157467600578998_6070834190113308672_o36766914_10157467599058998_5875199980263702528_o36774213_10157467609583998_1054919890034491392_o36775544_10157465988923998_4171476253116727296_o

The main church in the port city.

36782654_10157467599683998_4920726533330436096_o36782654_10157467606508998_2092820757410217984_o

The water was amazingly clear.

36783100_10157467600013998_8718808023474110464_o

I foolishly thought it was something that should be done on a day trip, when really it could have been 3-4 days. The Sun Island could be 2 days, then you go to the Moon Island for another day.

36786348_10157467608608998_8589421549566558208_o36788623_10157465971983998_836085886054563840_o

And near the port city, there are several other sites as well, so that itself can be a day.

36792770_10157465987563998_6812772924160737280_o36802658_10157467607718998_2896907324633382912_o36820585_10157467608148998_5009285911410638848_o36830193_10157467607263998_5951839956514111488_o

The boats’ charges do not include the entrance to the Sun Island.

36831788_10157467600848998_8050702796606930944_o36849443_10157467601523998_5094972347211841536_o36854862_10157467599408998_8226244844503171072_o36872617_10157467600748998_5546134996386840576_o

La Paz, Bolivia

31349777_10157464122618998_2978325293086801920_n

La Paz is the de facto capital of Bolivia, or the administrative capital, as the executive and legislature are in this city.

36667466_10157464116378998_8348544356084350976_o

It’s one of the New7Wonders cities, presumably for its colonial touches. Personally, I didn’t find its buildings anything special.

36721175_10157464118423998_658837799838941184_o

The presidential guards. They do change and march from time to time.

36726554_10157464112258998_4595205649092050944_o

The cathedral, next to it is the remains of Santa Cruz.

36731849_10157464096233998_75102515397394432_o

The famed Bolivian traffic zebras walking to work. They started chanted after a child said “hola” to them.

36732360_10157464119038998_7280373259286085632_o36770667_10157464117863998_4832338932467236864_o

Despite the seemingly bad reputation of Bolivia, La Paz felt very safe to me. Outside the city centre, it’s actually very quiet even. In downtown, many stands and shops would just leave everything there and just leave for lunch, seemingly not worried about theft.

36792555_10157464123808998_6981231827956531200_o36814430_10157464110768998_3525441364240105472_o

The very busy St Francisco Square. It’s where you can find most of the tour operators.

36817636_10157464115468998_8727420008428208128_o36832995_10157464117053998_3867004196142186496_o

It’s very hilly and while it’s not that big, it’s not easy to walk everywhere because of the altitude.

30425538_10157464488673998_5820075642682605568_n31339914_10157464487108998_6180111472522166272_n

As you can see, La Paz is basically like a bowl. It’s like Bath in England.

36684064_10157464476348998_5492204088483381248_o36688194_10157464475418998_7704957358048280576_o36706507_10157464479683998_5195819317488254976_o

Like Santiago de Chile, one can see the snowy mountain from the Andes from the capital.

36706509_10157464476598998_4882854370707767296_o36714131_10157464476763998_4828834191909060608_o36728459_10157464478288998_5736125717993750528_o36743680_10157464489393998_8203193286874103808_o

The teleferico is a good way to go around the city, as you can have an extraordinary view of the metropolis, and they are not expensive. But if you miss your stop, you will be asked to purchase another ticket.

36752723_10157464477613998_8455717289201762304_o36764771_10157464489243998_7170367868251406336_o36878497_10157474842623998_5936618781395648512_o

Near La Paz/El Alto from the plane. You can hike some of these mountains.

36954692_10157476503703998_2159744018693488640_o

The controversial Coca Museum. They seemed to be equating cocaine to alcohol, and the persecution of dealers to the middle ages persecution of homosexuals, but it’s very informative – it even tells you how cocaine is made from the coca leaves (sounds very easy). It’s very close to St Francisco.

36969652_10157476504103998_8846247919418867712_o

San Pedro, a major prison there. There was a short queue of visitors.

Iguazu Fall, Argentina/Brazil/Paraguay

31746304_10157457616488998_4322164703955517440_n

Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, the biggest border town of the three.

36420392_10157452140568998_7769168175685435392_o

Puerto Iguazu in Argentina, the smallest one of the three.

36484310_10157452140288998_32606163350585344_o

A border crossing between Brazil and Argentina on the Iguazu River.

36490768_10157452143053998_1672230754895003648_o

The Iguazu River between Brazil and Paraguay.

36517364_10157457618018998_5945465524967178240_o

Border crossing between Paraguay and Brazil.

36533495_10157452143243998_667128186231848960_o

At the point of the “triborder”, each of the three countries has enacted one of these. This the Argentine one.

36534375_10157452142468998_6808367095168892928_o

The three flags from the Argentine side. There’s no direct border crossing between Argentina and Paraguay, perhaps partly due to the fact that this used to be Paraguayan territory.

36538057_10157454901908998_1636196305699078144_o

The Iguazu Falls are one of the largest falls in the world, and they are separated into hundreds of waterfalls.

The falls are located on the border between Brazil and Argentina – Brazil has most of the river, but the Argentines have the majority of the falls. Paraguay is not too far away from the falls.

36543845_10157454901353998_5496856667641348096_o

The river immediately after the major falls is more like a rapid. And this is literally an international border.

36544854_10157454904313998_7314011803925610496_o

The main falls from afar. The island in the middle is called San Martin yet somehow I couldn’t find the way to get there.

36546376_10157452140918998_8186240973647380480_o

I chose to stay in Argentina. It’s a small and quiet town that is more expensive than the other two, but safe and peaceful. Pictured here had something to do with the Virgin of London or something.

36546393_10157454904598998_5295112411546648576_o

On both sides, one has to go into the national park. The Argentinian park is much, much bigger and you can spend the entire day there.

36549030_10157454905568998_2760777468603269120_o

There are even two trains for you to get to places!

36559531_10157457623473998_6117941537444724736_o

To get to Paraguay, one needs to take a bus from the Brazilian park to the bus terminal, then change to another bus to the border. There, one can walk the friendship bridge to get to Paraguay. It’s all quite relaxed. It’s also possible to get a bus straight from the Argentine bus terminal to the border.

36563449_10157454904703998_133822883066544128_o

In both parks, there are many bridges over and near the waterfalls.

36566507_10157454902588998_1020562148826284032_o

A popular activity is to pay extra for two-hour boat tour on the river. You’d take a truck from the entrance to the riverbank, then the boat would take you close to the falls.

36569384_10157452143433998_7181919595110858752_o36571961_10157454901493998_6924039570996592640_o

And eventually go under two different falls! Everyone would get completely wet as under the falls, the water isn’t just falling down, but it’s basically like a washing machine with water going towards every direction.

You’d get a bag to store all your stuff but you should really either wear only a swimming suit, or wear nothing but your rain poncho, as it’s impossible for you to keep your clothes underneath dry!

Whilst it’s 1200 Argentine pesos (and will certainly go up further when this is finally posted), I certainly recommend everyone to go for it. I’d say going under the big waterfall three times was the definite highlight of my trip there.

36575331_10157454905398998_4641988563183861760_o

The main attraction – the Devil’s throat – accessible only from Argentina. This picture doesn’t do it justice. You have to be there to see it in person.

The bridges’ space is limited and some areas are reserved for official photographs, so it’s better to go early and take the two trains up there directly before visiting anything else.

36578767_10157454902228998_1754605307054522368_o36580403_10157454904508998_8617237583136555008_o36582842_10157457621333998_7305332735877316608_o

The sign between Brazil and Paraguay.

36583099_10157454904158998_2391485790967300096_o36585003_10157452141213998_2680142326659022848_o

Seeing all three nations.

36585486_10157454904423998_1749325331958857728_o

As you can see, the falls generate a lot of water vapour.

36589663_10157454902398998_6678121035096653824_o36589869_10157454903608998_3877670043047165952_o36594232_10157457614818998_1112306653178363904_o

The border check between all three countries are very relaxed, and one can quite easily smuggle oneself into any of the three. They have freedom of movement for their citizens to begin with.

36601452_10157454904808998_8523127174574637056_o36606370_10157454904933998_5039573054414389248_o

They bite! The warnings were everywhere.

36609162_10157454903968998_6508675706161987584_o36611035_10157452140098998_7825351158280486912_o

One of the few historical buildings in the Argentine city.

36611095_10157457624363998_9054687814779666432_o

The bridge between Brazil and Paraguay.

36611123_10157457617458998_7218461619246858240_o

Paraguay wasn’t terribly interesting, but it’s not expensive to get there. Most people go there to shop, so there isn’t much for the average tourist to see.

36611287_10157454901733998_6239816057716998144_o

From the Brazilian side, the falls are mostly observed from afar.

36612701_10157454903408998_4535389927323467776_o

The Brazilian park costs basically the same but it’s considerably smaller – with all the transportation and walking time taken into account, you would not need more than 2-3 hours to see everything. That being said, you should still go.

36619560_10157454905483998_4016548257239924736_o

The Argentine side, as pictured above, also has tonnes of bridges over the river itself.

36620557_10157454903258998_6210940202312007680_o

The riverbank.

36623037_10157454905278998_7615618872900583424_o

Once again, the Devil’s Throat. It’s not particularly tall, but the volume was impressive.

36635929_10157452142978998_5172961900970901504_o36636852_10157454903023998_195099954572689408_o36640191_10157452139568998_2369011597201899520_o

Argentines playing football despite crashing out of the World Cup.

36688150_10157464306203998_7408465900065521664_o36688588_10157464308318998_5921409846933979136_o36704859_10157464309813998_5773879481252970496_o

There are several hotels in the national parks themselves – this is the one in Brazil.

36707492_10157464307073998_6655798823043989504_o

The most impressive sight from the Brazilian side.

36726851_10157464309243998_449267361711652864_o

That’s the close as you can get from the Brazilian side to the main falls.

36726873_10157464306553998_5401431728503914496_o

Correction: You can get as close as this, but the water vapour will be way too much for you to really see anything.

36726903_10157464306738998_8434309853643538432_o36766913_10157464305693998_8524041229514571776_o

At the end of the Brazilian park (which is more like a short hiking trail – you take a bus to the starting point) is this bridge. This is the highlight of the park as you get to get close to a waterfall (you’d get wet), and if you look enough from there, you maybe able to see the Devil’s Throat.

36786821_10157464308683998_6083627931320451072_o

My recommendation is that one should go to the Brazilian side first – it’s actually closer to get to even when you are staying in Argentina. It would sort of stimulate your appetite for it, then the next day you go to the Argentine park to see the “real thing”.

Guachimontones, México

30222117_10157205770803998_8829124687968600064_o

Guachimontones is the name of an archaeological site in Jalisco, Mexico, most famous for its circular stepped pyramids. The word “pyramid” was originally used only to refer to the Egyptian pyramids located in today’s Egypt as well as Sudan, but unique in the world, these pyramids are circular.

30226636_10157205766988998_4742143579869151232_o

It’s located next to a big beautiful lake and a town called Teuchitlan, which in itself is designated a “puebla magico”.

30265115_10157205769608998_5933011932284977152_o

Whilst the big pyramid at the centre is the main attraction, there are several other smaller ones surrounding it.

30411728_10157205768143998_6718730354607259648_o

These pyramids are considerable old – built at around 300BCE, and only rediscovered relatively recently. It’s both a part of the UNESCO heritage site of the Tequila region as well as on the endangered monuments list.

30222134_10157205764963998_3007644200138178560_o

Surrounding the area are a mountain range, including the Volcano of Tequila (not pictured here).

30261023_10157205769013998_3002627321854164992_o

There’s possibly another pyramid under this.

Gaya/Bodh Gaya, India

19143765_10157193387068998_4264734377319930858_o

Gaya is a town near the Himalayas and India’s northern border towards the east in the mainland. It’s a sacred place for the Hindus.

29665088_10157193383883998_2851899187994330639_o

Bodhgaya is a nearby town where Lord Buddha achieved His enlightenment. It’s the most sacred place in Buddhism.

29744559_10157193386843998_5724270857360215873_o

Gaya is a busy town with some Hindu temples, although it’s nothing spectacular. The mountain pictured here was where Lord Buddha preached the fire sermon.

29744938_10157193383348998_1708885273032240012_o

Bodhgaya would be the real tourist attraction here, even when you’re not a buddhist.

29745045_10157193382953998_1460646557704447536_o

Other than the temple where the enlightenment tree is located, the statue of Lord Buddha pictured here is the main attraction.

29749274_10157193387303998_8279785057282893342_o

In Gaya, this is the most important temple.

29749281_10157193384938998_9005265683894090951_o

29871767_10157193384693998_8680987510788382286_o

The town contains many temples built by Buddhist countries, with this being from I believe Bhutan.

29873082_10157193384073998_6964497500180123443_o

 

29983423_10157193386533998_8213040272000237002_o

The main part of the Hindu temple in Gaya. Not idea what this is.

30051688_10157193383538998_669629552571715368_o (1)

A part of the Chinese temple.

30051872_10157193384148998_2532019278666734982_o

Varanasi, India

21457767_10157186550618998_5426292331080981041_o

Varanasi is the holiest city in Hinduism and it sits on the sacred river The Ganga. 

29354960_10157186550408998_5473191452628010479_o

Hindus believe that it’s the best place to die, and many do bring the bodies to be burnt at one of these many ghats into the river.

29355000_10157187120478998_4747525552663526530_o

The riverbank was largely peaceful, unlike the unclean and noisy streets behind them (Indians can’t seem to stop honking no matter what). The ghats all have their own unique designs.

29355117_10157186552513998_3007100345333381671_o

Interestingly, despite the ghats looking so massive, there actually isn’t much inside (no space or anything), presumably because people burn the bodies on the bank for them to sink into the river.

29355164_10157186551053998_1067156763237326871_o

It’s wonderful walking along the river doing nothing, listening to Alanis Morissette’s “Thank U”.

29355235_10157187121618998_1860930657212266981_o29662365_10157186550863998_7476567497581092462_o

The water of the river is considered holy, despite the fact that it is in reality extremely polluted. Here you can see people drying their cloths.

29662440_10157186550038998_2304313779550460634_o

Wi-Fi is prevalent in India, and everything is quite cheap.

29662691_10157189548253998_3898166766804498429_o

In the suburb of Varanasi, is Sarnath, one of the holiest towns in Buddhism, as the place where Lord Buddha first preached, upon His enlightenment.

29662987_10157189545023998_8116178407150437642_o

It’s a town packed with temples funded by foreign Buddhist countries.

29663024_10157189543478998_5072514823396435852_o29664722_10157189551218998_6784298291347907931_o29664914_10157189544128998_5592395776488142339_o

The Chinese Temple.

29665109_10157186552153998_7216403489600550623_o29665189_10157187119738998_1080746116491042421_o

A mosque.

29665309_10157190142588998_6270654210396384753_o

One of the main activities is to go on a boat into the river,  whether it’s to go upstream/downstream, or just to the other side (which has nothing but horses).

29665310_10157190142363998_3517379715210824103_o29665429_10157186551253998_6997805469525732657_o

Hindus doing their laundry.

29744986_10157186549573998_1422171483957163450_o

I’m not entirely what these stations are for, but I’m guess it does have something to do with the preparations for the funerals.

29745019_10157189542248998_3285223886478466758_o

An archaeological site in Sarnath. Don’t remember what this was.

29745173_10157186553163998_6521651447662948590_o29749303_10157187122398998_2855807403695918067_o

The famed burning ghat. Very smoky.

29749581_10157186551358998_6803365186839773351_o29749582_10157190143513998_383191290381252177_o29749646_10157186553343998_2206279806997077234_o29871815_10157186551738998_6873030446622379882_o

People “swimming” or rather soaking themselves in the sacred river.

29872051_10157190144258998_7981661044705569440_o

The famous sunset of Varanasi.

29872531_10157190143143998_6968092513962866045_o29983027_10157190145058998_6274746866438483619_o

The ghats were built only on one side of the river.

29983472_10157190145463998_296963347449814056_o

Not too far from the city, is a magnificent fort called Chunar Fort. I paid an auto rickshaw driver 1000 rupees to take me there, wait a while, and back. It’s not a big place but still decent and is a good place to visit for a morning.

Jaipur, India

29064023_10157177011033998_4048605717487913638_o

On the way from Agra to Jaipur, I stopped by this place with a temple.

29352013_10157177019628998_6878899196046750314_o

29352235_10157177017503998_8768081471686428450_o

As well as a step well.

29351592_10157180607123998_9085090029330301816_o

Jaipur was the capital of a powerful who maintained quasi-independence even during the British colonial era as the King made friends with them.

29351732_10157180615003998_6150108272971150196_o

It’s known as the “pink city”, as when His Royal Highness Albert, the Prince Consort visited, they painted the entire city pink, after the wind palace here. Nowadays, the city isn’t that pink any more, and the King actually repainted the wind palace mostly yellow.

29351977_10157180606388998_3510064740859528135_o29352028_10157180628458998_7382081178972692598_o

The Amber Fort is outside the city proper of Jaipur, and was the royal residence.

29352464_10157180624013998_3039054582411839807_o

The floating palace. Now a governmental building.

29354511_10157180626913998_7516511411041330355_o

The royal palace was heavily fortified with many random alleys. This is the centre of it, the dining place as well as the bathing areas for the queens.

29354556_10157180636853998_4660830434963602194_o

The Scottish delicacy chicken tikka masala.

29354631_10157177021628998_125212913818416460_o29355202_10157180630833998_4186133409470414275_o

29662327_10157177012283998_8983951361672717418_o29662525_10157180610018998_2828633608645346238_o29662529_10157177014423998_4358791540638714392_o29662592_10157180608923998_1567822853516825313_o29662728_10157180611833998_371904672633048785_o

The observatory.

29662877_10157180622743998_6849322154148642827_o

Even though the King was Hindu, the palace was built mostly in an Islamic style.

29663006_10157180622098998_3455340298956982976_o29663053_10157177011638998_2483088726342557422_o29663085_10157180607683998_1598002642980271085_o29664868_10157180631953998_6106757551023962728_o29665091_10157180629728998_2140302600468913942_o29665585_10157180618028998_1198180169917088432_o29665590_10157180611308998_8223707850536464000_o

The wind palace, its main attraction.

29744280_10157180626273998_1926437559578242241_o29744827_10157180635088998_3500921113053168213_o29745000_10157180633523998_3517413824164144364_o29745042_10157180613678998_5760688228282356605_o29749829_10157180612508998_4160941887278476763_o29749915_10157180634188998_7937773746343000628_o29750034_10157180623668998_3664990287583599811_o29872098_10157180635858998_6689970482365328298_o

On this trip, practically the only magnificent structures not built by Muslims.

Agra, India

28954168_10157172608468998_3501103099509440376_o

Agra, an ancient capital of Muslim Indian Empire, as well as modern-day India’s biggest tourist draw.

29060388_10157172634383998_9185062459274211313_o

The Taj from the palace.

29060463_10157172610728998_7320102941576593270_o

Entrance to Taj Mahal.

29063856_10157172638213998_2242706151869646818_o

The Taj isn’t just one building but a big complex of structures.

29064101_10157176966383998_3196740409264597797_o

Leaving Agra, I also visited this gem.

29064159_10157172578578998_3435133083007511391_o

Entering the Taj, the door frame acts as a photo frame.

29064277_10157176971648998_5496119570019770015_o

The palace complex I passed by on the way to Jaipur.

29064345_10157172614348998_5932287331751085581_o29064392_10157172578808998_5845472380627358330_o

Even though India as a whole seemed very dirty, chaotic, and underdeveloped, the Taj Mahal was truly magnificent, and when you’re far enough, you don’t even see the people in your photo.

29064416_10157172609113998_6738294640077893931_o

Opposite to the Taj.

29064472_10157176978698998_1671732589481443466_o

Ruins leading to the palace.

29351695_10157176968243998_3470222345209848956_o29352429_10157172640663998_5889540864801349362_o

Agra Fort is another attraction in this city.

29354287_10157172587308998_8645223566020017583_o

The Taj is accompanied by two of this, one a hall, one a mosque, but look the same from the outside.

29354378_10157176960018998_4427416642261510486_o29354449_10157172636273998_3026747135880098165_o29354718_10157172632743998_5411688364822614966_o

Agra Fort was the palace for the Emperor and he built it so he could always look at the Taj, where his beloved wife was buried.

29355026_10157172585698998_2524244499705393456_o29662571_10157172604433998_9065382242780102791_o29662577_10157176962653998_2844270966465806718_o

I didn’t go into this stopping point, but there are several open areas as well.

29662638_10157172626673998_2058059570105152373_o

Entrance to the Agra Fort.

29662945_10157172637058998_3380458311754320877_o

Where the Emperor spent the rest of his days when his son overthrew him.

29663288_10157176974223998_3328961174086014944_o29664779_10157172586343998_3894291603134652038_o29665136_10157172606363998_7584938621180189495_o

The pool gives a reflection of the Taj and that’s why this platform is a very popular photo spot.

29744246_10157172628103998_2194772305694570416_o29749519_10157176976933998_447191839397407434_o29872092_10157176963723998_1681665649101577409_o

Into the paid area of Fatehpur Sikri.

New Delhi, India

19142970_10157169107758998_4906148737805442390_o

The largest mosque in New Delhi. A ticket is needed for photographs inside the complex.

29060320_10157169113718998_1593998492974064975_o

The tomb of a Muslim emperor.

29060728_10157169110993998_8764626148948871660_o

The main attraction in Delhi.

29060909_10157169116238998_3095076095904205236_o

New Delhi, or just Delhi, is the capital of India, and has been since the last British colonial days. Before that, the Islamic Empire also once set it as its capital.

29063867_10157169122198998_2504224295059945686_o

In Hinduism, cows are holy animals, and they walk around everywhere in India. But the holy ones are the female ones, not the buffalos.

29064034_10157169105308998_6111040574370739268_o

Red Fort.

29064160_10157169120003998_8636365636229343504_o

Unlike in Hinduism, where people cremate corpses, Muslims bury their bodies and thus monuments such as these were built.

29064356_10157169109913998_6007529586193238928_o

The India Gate, built by the British for the Indian lives lost in WWI.

29064477_10157169114898998_8089156211258901406_o

Evidence that the complex used to be a Hindu temple.

29351484_10157169101933998_5622362579987686872_o

A step well. A very deep well that has the area next to it dug in order for the dropping water to be obtained easily.

29352418_10157169106313998_6747564096217714109_o

The metropolis is the second biggest in the heavily populated country. Perhaps because I have lived most of my lives in heavily populated cities, it didn’t seem to be particularly populated to me.

But it’s quite dirty and messy, and the air was absolutely awful. I developed a pretty bad cough from the very first day, and don’t forget I already live in Mexico City, one of the cities that’s known for their poor air quality.

29662742_10157169107108998_3519362579564299003_o

Indian spices from the big spice market. I bought some tea leaves and powder for fish tikka.

29662869_10157169118653998_7682649078048082416_o29663180_10157169112353998_5953424314141390914_o

The base on an unfinished tower.

29664679_10157169119358998_8776502458826000468_o

Most of the impressive structures built in India today seemed to have been built by Muslims.

29744351_10157169108193998_5182842031557564453_o29744486_10157169117498998_815712932826352552_o29744747_10157169108743998_8567238482318546914_o

Very dirty water.