Yucatan Highlights of Mexico Day 1

This morning I rose before the sun and met up with my Contiki Tour group. After meeting our tour manager and tour mates we headed out to see Mexico City!

We hopped aboard our coach and began with a historical tour of the National Palace and historic city center. Then we journeyed through the Coyoacan barrio. Coyoacan is a relaxed, colorful and historic neighborhood. It’s lined with old mansions, fountains and beautiful squares. There we also saw Frida Kahlo’s famous blue studio.

We ventured briefly through the markets and sampled authentic Churros. I had a nuttella filled and pear filled churros. They were warm, gooey and crunchy. Muy Delisiouso!

Next stop was a river boat tour of Mexico’s famous floating markets. We rode through the markets on a vibrant and colorful pontoon boat. We saw merchandisers selling ponchos, flowers, food and beer. It was interesting to watch people bid and barter over products. We were there on a national holiday, so the market was pretty empty. I would love to go back to the market on a busy day to see it in full action!

Afterwards we boarded the coach again and rode about one hour towards our final destination, Teotihuacan. Before reaching the pyramids we feasted at an included buffet and were entertained by a crazy and very bouncy dance show. After the show we were invited to a tequila tasting. We were offered multiple shots of various types of pure Mexican tequilas. It’s always a good idea to get tipsy before climbing ancient ruins. Right?

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She’d win a twerking competition

Finally we made it to the famous Sun and Moon Temples of Teotihuacan. We were free to roam the grounds and hike up the humongous pyramids. Teotihuacan is one of the last remaining ancient pyramids that you can still climb up. I highly recommend you make the hike. The view from the top is absolutely breath taking and completely worth the effort.

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Starting my trip to Mexico by visiting Teotihuacan really set the tone for my Mexican adventure. Mexico is full of so much history, culture and color. 

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On the ride back to Mexico city the coach was absolutely silent. Everyone was exhausted from climbing up the pyramids. Once we got back to the hotel I met my new roommate Gina, got dressed up and ready to see Mexico city at night!

We attended another fully including dinner. Every thing was delicious. We had tacos, stuffed chilis, rice, grilled chicken and agave water. Later the group dispersed. My friends Chelsea, Sarah and I decided to wander around for a bit longer. We stumbled upon a bar that specialized in Alcoholic Ice Cream! It was set up like a typical ice cream parlor, but all of the flavors are infused with liqueurs! I had Mint Chocolate Chip and it was spectacular. We all even felt a little buzzed afterwards. I think a ice cream bar would do fantastic in the states. I know I’d be there number one customer!

My first day in Mexico was jammed packed. We saw beautiful architecture, artisan sculptures, sampled tostadas and tequila and were mesmerized by extreme vistas.

Mexico is so much more then I imagined.

Contiki perk: The only thing I paid for all day were the Churro’s and bottled water. All of the meals (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) and entry to Pyramids, floating markets and tequila tasting were included in the total cost of my trip with Contiki!

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Charming Hoi An

This morning we flew to Hoi An. Hoi An is a charming down that is rich in history and culture. It blends French and Chinese influences in its art, architecture and food. We rented bikes and were led on a great tour through the town where we saw UNESCO World Heritage sites, adorable shops and a beautiful Japanese covered bridge that is 400 years old!

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Adam and I pretending to be VIPs in the Airport and me in my new romper!

Then we went to Yaly Coture to have clothes made! I brought several pictures and designs that I wanted to have custom-made. I got two rompers and a stunning fringed purse made from genuine leather. Throughout the adventure of having measurements taken and picking fabrics I hung out with this great guy named Adam. We had a lot of laughs and enjoyed the experience immensely. It’s impressive what they can make in just 24 ours!

After finalizing our designs we rode bikes to our cooking class at Morning Glory Cooking School. Our teacher was friendly, entertaining and a great teacher. We learned how to roll spring rolls, make Vietnamese pancakes, screwers and afterwards devoured all of our yummy creations.

Later we had to navigate winding roads and pouring rain to figure out how to get back to the hotel! It was quite an adventure. But eventually we made it home safe and sound!

Where did I stay? Van Loi Hotel

Vietnam Home Stay and Ed Sheeran

Where did i stay? Homestay Bay Thoi

Just returned to Ho Chi Minh city from two great days in the Mekong Delta. We cruised on a small boat until reaching Vinh Long where we board a tiny canoe streered by an elderly but strong Vietnamese woman. She guided us through narrow streams and lush jungle to our quaint homstay called Bay Thoi. Only a few minuets after checking in one of the girls fainted and sprained her ankle. There was a lot of drama about it. Becky and I knew we couldn’t help and we didn’t want to be a part of the crowd so we grabbed bikes and headed out to explore.

To guide us the our tour manager posted a map of the town. As we were riding away she flagged us down and let us know her map was upside down. Lucky she caught us or we would have been lost for sure. It was the perfect weather for a bike ride through the charming countryside. As we rode past houses kids would run out and wave. I really felt like we were part of their community. Most of the bike path was on dirt so the bikes were very hard to manuver and then there was a fork in the road that was neglected from our map. So it was quite an adventure!

For dinner our hosts prepared a great feast and entertained us with local music and musical theater! We also sampled rat and snake! The rat was barbeque so it wasn’t to bad. In fact if I hadn’t been told it was rat I probably would’ve ate more. The snake was disgusting. It was mixed into a curry but you could clearly tell it was snake.  The skin was still on it! Snake is also very boney. So it was hard to eat. It tried it once, but never again!

Afterwards we hung out in hammocks and then everyone gathered around the “Jungle Juice” to drink and play kings. I think the enviroment relaxed people because everyone in the group got pretty drunk. But it wasn’t party/dancing drunk. They got sad and somber drunk. So we had deep conversations and ended the night singing “Give Me Love” by Ed Sheeran.

Riding Elephants

Riding elephants through the jungle of Laos was one of the most out of this world experience of my life so far. We woke up early and beat the heat and drove out to this amazing elephant reservation. According to the tour operator the elephants are all free range, happy and well looked after. They all looked very healthy and appeared loved by their handlers. You could really feel the strong bonds between the elephants and their handlers. Our elephants name was Ping-Pong. At 45 she was the second oldest in our herd. She was strong, brave and very stubborn. Our guide was fantastic. He spoke very good english and taught us a lot about Ping Pong and the other elephants. I would recommend elephant riding in Laos to anyone!

Where did I go?

Elephant Village 

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Halloween in Luang Prabang, Laos

Hopped back on board the boat this morning and continued sailing down the Mekong river. We stopped at Pak Ou caves. The caves are built into the side of a mountain, just above the water where the Nam Ou and Mekong Rivers join. There are thousands of Buddhas in the cave!10672411_10152735706400813_8092534399608441127_n

Then we reached Luang Prabang, a city rich in culture and left unchanged by time.

We checked into our hotel and had a little bit of free time before our bike tour. So Becky, Sam and I found a great little cafe and had watermelon juice and the best fried spring rolls ever!

Where did I stay?

VisounNam Sok Hotel

1471107_10152735601940813_7340185049767382171_nThen we took a seriously fun bike tour around the UNESCO World Heritage town. We rode down cobblestone lanes, past French style homes and shops and up a hill to Wat Xiang Thong. At the temple we saw monks praying and ringing traditional bells. We continued our tour and stopped at a roadside bar where we did shots of Snake Whiskey!

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After the bike tour our guide recommended we hike up the mountain to a temple and watch the sunset. Our guide said it “was only a couple of steps to the top”. No, it was 356 steps. To get to the top I pretended that I was on The Amazing Race. It was a struggle but in the end the view was worth it.

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Then it was time to celebrate Halloween!

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Everyone dressed up for the party. I was pretty impressed with the costumes since most people used what they brought in their suitcases. There were zombies, tiki girls, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, a couple of kittens, a rock star, Jesus and much more. I dressed as a flapper! We had a family style BBQ meal at a very fancy restaurant in town. The seats and tables were made of concrete…pretty swanky but very uncomfortable. We also started playing “The Game of Life.” A hilarious drinking game that we will play for the rest of the trip, non-stop.

Rules of The Game of Life:

  • Drink with the opposite hand
  • Don’t say Drink
  • Don’t Point
  • Don’t Say Mine

Consequences: 

  • Drink
  • Push-ups or squats