Juchitán de Zaragoza, Oaxaca, México

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Juchitán and the half-destroyed municipal palace that stood for 200 years before the 2017 earthquake hit. A big market can still be found near the site, but only during the day. The evening market described by Wikitravel is gone. You don’t even get much light or food around.

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More than a year later, the former government building has still been reconstructing. The clock actually shows the time wherever the wind blows.

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The city is a major city on the part of México that has the closest distance between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and it’s famous for both its matriarchy and Zapotec muxes culture.

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Not all buildings have been destroyed however. Much of the city has been quickly rebuilt, and my AirBnB place was in amazing conditions.

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The muxes are crossdressers/transgenders/third-gender people who used to “initiate” young boys sexually so girls could keep their virginity. The church they frequent has been destroyed in the earthquake.

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The landmark of the town has been the colonial municipal headquarters. It’s still around 2/3 standing although looking quite bad on the inside too. It’s at the moment closed.

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Certain museums have also not been reopened.

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This was a building behind the municipal palace. Clearly demolished.

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The city’s cathedral was likewise completely collapsed, with a make-shift church now built in its spot.

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We are one: stay strong Mexico.

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The city doesn’t have much to see, but it’s a good place to spend a day walking around in. There’s not much across the river but I did go for a seafood restaurant recommended to me.

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Everywhere in the city they were still rebuilding.

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They had cleared the rubble.

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Only $10 for a ride anywhere.

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This school looked brand new.

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Bolaven Plateau, Laos

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A major waterfall in the Bolaven Plateau.

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A path leading closer to a waterfall – one would be soaking wet before even making the turn. Waterfalls are some of the biggest attractions in this area.

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The Bolavan is an elevated area that is relatively close to Pakse, and can be done easily on a day trip. Some people also prefer going around on their own on a motorbike. It’s not without danger, however, as the region is one of the most bombed during the Secret War/Vietnam War for being close to the Ho Chi Minh Trail – the United States of America, as an attempt to both stop North Vietnam from taking hold of all of Vietnam, and to stop the communists from taking over then the Kingdom of Laos, made Laos the most bombed country of all-time (surpassing the record previously held by the then-British colony of Malta).

The legacy of this is up to 80 million bombies in the cluster bombs potentially unexploded (á la the landmines in Cambodia). Whilst the main roads and attractions are safe, it may be dangerous to go deeper into the forest on your own.

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A structure in an “ethnic park”. In these indigenous villages, both Lao and traditional laws are enforced – if you, for example, conduct sex trade here, not only would you be required to pay a fine to the government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, but you must also give the villagers a cow.

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A hotel resort that is also famous for its coffee fields. You may notice there’s no-one there – this is because the wet season is the low season for Lao tourism, and for good reasons. Here, for example, one can only gain access to the fields during dry season.

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Most sites here are natural sites.

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But it’s likewise common to go see the primitive villages. Pictured here is a boy from the “Captain Cook” village. Many children there in fact walk around naked.

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The twin waterfall. It was already said the day prior that it would be foggy all over in the morning, but I guess they wouldn’t change the itinerary because the whole day is full of waterfalls and so considering the route, one of them had to be like this.

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Our car mysteriously had a flat tire.

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The waterfalls usually come with a small restaurant and some small souvenir shops and boutiques. There are also coffee shops along the way.

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How the villages get water.

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Villagers selling their produce at a market at the entrance of the village.

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A villager making a basket. He has four children and no furniture at home. Presumably, this is already a better-off village as it’s frequented by tourists (and tourists have to pay an entrance fee).

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When they advertise the tour, they claim that this village had people making their own coffins with an altar. We saw none of that.

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The area is much cooler than the rest of Laos due to its elevation.

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We were very lucky to have a Lao with us on the trip, as our driver didn’t speak any English.

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Coffee beans at the hotel resort.

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The pigs in the village were really adorable.

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A tea-making machine at a café.

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A model village’s villagers making expensive stuff.

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The pigs were generally scared of people if people walked close to them. But they were OK with it if there’s some kind of barrier in between.

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While the waterfalls aren’t particularly big, they are still quite picturesque. In this one the signs were quite confusing and I was the only one who discovered there was a small waterfall deeper into the area.

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Sale/Salay, Myanmar

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Sale, also known as Salay, is a small town near Bagan doable as a private half-day trip.

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It’s an important religious centre and there are several temples and pogodas to see.

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Everything is close together, so the whole sightseeing part of it was not very lengthy.

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It’s interesting when you go to the small Myanma towns and start seeing random colonial buildings popping up. This became a monks’ residence.

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Another attraction is this wooden structure, a former monastery turned museum.

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The artefacts weren’t terribly interesting, but the wood carvings on the buildings were decent. This was supposed to depict people having an orgy.

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It seems only a private car tour was possible, and the town was around 1 hour and 15 minutes away.

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Pakkoku, Myanmar

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The longest bridge in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

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Pakkoku is another small town doable as a day trip from Bagan. It’s around an hour away.

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The biggest attraction is the “caved” temple that is actually pretty close to Bagan.

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Another notable attraction is the “university” for monks.

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And of course there is the temple on the riverbank.

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The monastery has very nice buildings.

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The inside of a temple.

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It looks like a hotel, but it’s actually a building in the monastery.

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In the city centre, there’s also a memorial park commemorating the fated 8888 Uprising. The Myanma rose against their dictatorship, but the movement was eventually violently suppressed. It did give rise to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, leading to her Nobel win as well as current state councillorship.

Isla Mujeres / Mexico Whale Shark, QR, México

Without further adieu, here I present a whale shark!

When you jump in, the boat is still moving and the sea currents are strong, so it’s quite chaotic. The only way to really take photos is to start filming before you enter the water and just take screenshots from it.

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To see whale sharks, one would normally go to Isla Mujeres, an island around 18 minutes away from Cancún. It actually started as a city before Cancún did, as a sanctuary for a Maya goddess, its temple pictured here.

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It’s also possible to see the whale sharks from the boat. While this isn’t a particularly good photo, when the sun shines on the clear Caribbean water, you can make out the entire shark easily. And they come very close to the boat.

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The Mexican Caribbean.

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The island also holds several lakes.

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The east side of the island faces the open sea and is not suitable for swimming due to the strong currents.

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The island is also home to the underwater museum, though if you wish to see more, you will have to join a tour that goes there specifically, not any snorkelling tour that includes it.

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A seahorse in the aquarium.

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The main building in Hacienda Mundaca.

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The sculpture park leading to the small Maya ruin. There’s an entrance fee but included if you are at the Garrafon Park. This is the easternmost point of Mexico.

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Whale sharks viewing has been chosen as the world’s third-best tourism experience and during the tour, you are given 3-4 chances to get into the water and see multiple sharks. They don’t necessarily avoid you so even though you are not allowed to touch them, they might touch you.

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The tour also includes snorkelling at the reefs. A bit uneventful and it’s the same area you would go with a snorkelling tour from Cancún.

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The Caribbean waters are rivalled only by Thailand and Malaysia in the world.

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The goddess’s watch tower.

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Would have seen the whole shark clearly had there been direct sunlight shining.

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The cathedral at night. St Mary the Virgin has a crown.

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Vulnerable turtles that cannot be exposed to sunlight. They reside in the turtles’ sanctuary, a small but interesting place.

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Turtle eggs protected.

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The Garrafon Park.

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Galapagos teas.

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Sunset at the North Beach, said to be the best beach in the Caribbean.

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The garden in the Hacienda. It’s built by a pirate to proclaim his love for a wopeople (who did not return the favour in the end).

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A church with a great view behind the altar.

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Mundaca is now quite poorly maintained but you can still make out the surviving structures. Despite its dire state, it does charge for entry.

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Tiwanaku, Bolivia

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A female statue from the archaeological site of Tiwanaku.

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Tiwanaku was an ancient city located around two hours from the de facto Bolivian capital La Paz. It’s the most important site in Bolivia as it’s the one that’s the most complete, with also lots of archaeological finds (in its three museums).

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The culture was the one that was almost directly before the Incas, and was said to be the most influential of them all. I took a day tour from La Paz – it left at around 9am, and we got back at 4pm. The ticket price is much more expensive for foreigners (at 100 Bolivianos).

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Whilst this pales compared to many ancient sites in Latin American nations such as Perú and México, it’s much more like an actual site than everywhere else in plurinational state.

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The “pyramid” apparently was just pure earth with nothing under.

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The most famous statue there. It’s a priest.

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There’s also a site detached from the main one, but the ticket price includes all of them plus the museums.

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The city used to be next to Lake Titicaca before this part of the lake dried up. The Spaniards discovered it when they built a road near here for the transport of silver.

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Llama is a common food around here. In fact, llamas used to be worshipped before the Tiwanaku people.

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The most famous structure, the Sun Gate. It has the ancient calendar with the governor in the middle.

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Hong Kong, Hong Kong

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Hong Kong is a metropolis that is the third-most important international financial centre (read: money laundering) in the world, one of the richest and most developed places on Earth, and has nicknames such as the “Pearl of the East/Orient” and “Asia’s world city”.

It used to be a British colony and is now a Chinese one.

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Hong Kong is most famous for its concrete jungle, which is much more impressive than the one in New York City – around 1000 more skyscrapers than NYC has, and more than all of Europe combined. Needless to say, Hong Kong has the highest number of skyscrapers in the world.

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The Victoria Harbour, named after Her Majesty The Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, the Empress of India, and the sovereign of Hong Kong when it was founded by the British as a port city, has the world’s best harbour view, especially at night. It’s not simply the shear number of tall buildings, but also the geography of it. There’s even a laser show every single night there.

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In the central business district as well as Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon Peninsula we can see plenty of colonial structures.

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The old supreme court building with Lady Justice up there. The pillars used to be full of bullet holes from one side, a legacy from the Second World War.

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The iconic Tsim Sha Tsui clock tower.

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An old prison.

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Star Ferry, the cheapest way to go across the harbour. Back in the 60s, there were riots triggered by increases in tickets.

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In fact, Hong Kong is so much more than just the New Territories, Kowloon, and Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong has a total of more than 200 islands and, counting its waters, is bigger than the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg!

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The first and best university in Hong Kong, the University of Hong Kong. At one point, it was ranked No 1 not only in Asia, but all of Asia-Pacific, and Top 20 world-wide.

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Alumni included the Father of Modern China Dr Sun Yat-sen, the first person to discover the SARS virus Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, the father of Cantonpop music/the “God of Song” Sam Hui, the current chief executive Dr Carrie Lam, Hall of Famer lyricist James Wong, Macanese tycoon the “Godfather” Dr Stanley Ho, Cambridge Analytica researcher Dr Aleksandr Kogan, as well as numerous other celebrities, politicians, and academics.

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The Main Building of HKU was occupied by the Japanese during WWII.

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Nevertheless, Hong Kong is not just a concrete jungle – far from it. 50-75% of Hong Kong is green, with many being its country parks with hiking trails.

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There are also endemic and foreign animals in Hong Kong. Pictured here is a sacred cow.

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Though of course as a shoppers’ paradise, its malls are also one of a kind.

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The Po Lin Monastery. While I didn’t have the time to go into the natural side of things, some of Hong Kong’s special features are the UNESCO Geopark, the then-world’s largest artificial lake, the many islands with indigenous cultures, and of course the Lion Rock, the national symbol of Hong Kong.

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Not the best representation but these are some of the neon lights in Causeway Bay. The tram running on Hong Kong Island is also the last of its kind in the world. And do you know the Peak Tram is the only one on Earth that could give you the illusion of the world getting tiled? Not to mention the light rail that really materialized the idea of “failed in London? Try Hong Kong”…

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Hong Kong is also home to hundreds of places of worships. Above is a Taoist/Daoist temple.

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The Big Buddha.

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When the world got together to set the standards on stop signs, Britain decided to have these “give way” signs instead of stop signs.

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Even though there are real villages in Hong Kong, this is a fake one. It’s mostly for tourists.

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Once again, I didn’t get the chance to go to any of them for real, but as a coastal city, Hong Kong has more than a couple of decent beaches. (The weather wasn’t good here.)

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Its nightlife is of course also one of the best in the world…

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Beijing, China

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The Great Wall of China, one of the New7Wonders and CANNOT be seen from space.

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Beijing is very close to certain sections of the wall – around an hour and a half – and it’s easy and cheap to organize a private car tour.

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Where the Tiananmen Massacre took place.

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I have been to Beijing before, but I don’t have the pictures with it, so I figured I would just pop over to the Great Wall and snap a few shots. There are of course many other historical buildings, including the Forbidden City, within Beijing city.

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Since this section is close to the capital, there are many tourists. And they are from all over the world.

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I was very lucky as in the beginning, it was extremely foggy, but it got cleared up after around 15 minutes.

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