Articles Tagged with round-the-world with toddler

[D137] Colourful Andes @ Cuzco

[D137, May 3, Cuzco]

It’s a well established fact that I love markets. All kinds. Souvenir. Flee market. Food market. Fish market. Junk market. Furniture market. Design market. Flower market. If there is a market to go, I set everything else aside and go. If there is a category of people that can use a label market junkie, I was born to be one of these people.

So it was a no brainer when our lovely Airbnb hosts Bill/Nicole in Cuzco/Peru asked us if we’d like to go with them to a Saturday only local food/veggie market. They said it was not a market for tourists – ‘real’ people living there go there and the farmer and producers sell the most fresh products there.

It’s huge market. To my eyes, it’s full of colours, apart from all the edibles!

ALL potatoes around the world originated from the Andes.
cookies made from maize flour. Maize is one of the main productions here.
It’s a fruit from the jungle. Looks like a huge green bean. I have no idea what it’s called.


Cuzco is a Quechua/Inca region. Traditionally Quechua people use natural colours to dye their (fabulous) fabric – such as the ones in these small pots. The natural-colored fabric has a more subtle hue yet still be vibrant. They look so much more pleasant and natural next to the industrialized modern colours.


They have many flowers and herbs used in cooking and making (fresh) herbal tea.


and yes they make cheese too.



Quechua women’s backpacks are a big square tissue as a base. They use it to carry all sorts of things, including children as big as Nina!

The guy claimed the liquid coming out the large bamboo-looking plant would help ease the stomach-ache. I couldn’t help but tasting one – it tasted absolutely just like water. It didn’t give me any stomachache at least!
of course, the blood-coloured liquid from this magic tree skin acts like antiseptic and will heel the wound fast.


I also went to another local market with Nicole which is a hugely crowded flea market. But I didn’t take any photo, as I was warned, many times, that it was not a place to pull out a fancy smart phone as it will certainly disappear in the crowd! I did go back on my own one more time, bought an amazing antique carpet in an amazing price (well it’s a market meant for locals not the fat-pocketed tourists :)), and managed a fairly long conversation with the seller under the torrential rain. It was a good day.


P.S: to follow our RTW experience: Trilingual Family blog, or join Trilingual Family facebook group

[D139 – Dx] Unplanned Colombia



Colombia came as a surprise. Even for ourselves. We didn’t have Colombia in our initial plan, because, well, all that I knew about Colombia was drug trafficking. Seriously, how ignorant I was!

We kept hearing about nice things about Colombia in the first part of our trip. And after a tiny bit of reading, I learnt that Colombia is one of the most developed countries in South America, with 10 straight years of economic growth. And drugs still exist but mostly only in the deep jungle where a tourist will have to be very determined to find its trace.

And it has a Caribbean coast, and we heard scuba diving was good there.

So we changed our plan (in which case, a pre-determined Round-the-World plane ticket is a real pain in the ass, and expensive to change), and found ourselves in Colombia for more than two weeks now, and with two more weeks to go.


We started with the capital city of  Bogota – a real charm mixed the old and the new. It has the normal drill of a South American city of colonial charms, but it has also a modern part full of high rise buildings, top notch restaurants and bars. (Mind you, Colombia is not the cheapest country in South America.) We have in particular the luck to be invited to stay in the centrally-located apartment of Hu/Fernando – a Chinese/Colombian/Venezuela family that we met and  made friends with in Bolivia. Life is a miracle on the road you see! Its gold museum is mind blowing, and glittering with imaginati0n, tradition, and charms.

While Bogota is located in the Andes mountain (reading, hot under sun shine, but chilly in the evening), Caribbean was what we were particularly after.


Cartagena is totally different from all that we’ve experienced so far in this trip in South America in the last 4ish months. It is hot (typical tropical, steaming with humidity), day and night. It has a clear African influence in its ethnicity and colour pattern. There is no more Andeans to be seen (so no Aymara nor Quechua). It reminds me more of Dominican Republican, than, let’s say Bogota.

Yet, Cartagena is claimed to have the oldest and the best preserved colonial walled city in the  country. it was the entry point for Spaniards to conquer the continent. Today it’s beamed with high end boutique hotels, restaurants, bars, boutique design shops. A mix of Colombian holiday makers and international backpackers flocked to its charming walled city and proximity of beaches, and contributed to the skyrocking price. It’s a place with set menu lunch for 20 USD (less than 5 in a local restaurants in many other parts of the country/continent)


While it’s a pleasure to the eyes to walk about the old walled city, we prefer the much smaller and simpler (rustic perhaps is a more rightful word) of Taganga – a fishing village-turned hippie beach/scuba diving village of 4 hours bus ride away from Cartagena, still on Caribbean coast). We love the more laid-back vibe of the village, much preferred the small/white-sand beach with much much less hassle of vendors trying to sell you everything as in Cartagena beaches. I bought two freshly caught fish for about 10USD last night on sunset (and I was told I was being ripped off already).


Better still, for the first time in this trip, we left Nina with a babysitter during day time (8am-2pm) on her own while we went out to do a much-desired boat dive trip (2 dives). It wasn’t an easy thing, for all of us. For one, we had to really feel comfortable with the babysitter to leave Nina with. For two, Nina seems to get used to new things (esp new people) fairly slowly, so would she be ok??

The answer was, yes. When our boat approached the shore, I saw Nina happily playing on the beach with her new ‘ayi’ friend, the babysitter. THey apparently had a lovely morning, playing, watching cartoon, walking to the beach. Everyone was happy (the babysitter as well – we tipped her nicely and happily).

As how it works out in such an extended trip, things change so often and we are constantly modifying our plan. Among many other changes, we initially thought we would stay in each place for a month but we learnt that it’s not possible nor  necessary (for the sake of Nina mostly). We initially planned to go to Chile but not Bolivia nor Colombia, but we did the other way around. The changes is at times frustrating, but mostly rewarding because it’s allowing us to discover the unexpected, follow our instincts, and learn the new and the surprising along the way.


P.S: to follow our RTW experience: Trilingual Family blog, or join Trilingual Family facebook group



[D119] How Has Nina Been Coping

Almost 120 days after we officially started our round-the-world trip, 5 countries stamped in the passport and 21 different beds later, I came to the conclusion that kids are just unpredictable creatures – at least Nina is!

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What I thought would be the most difficult to cope – changing beds so often in new room/country/temperature – Nina had absolutely no issue with except the very first few days in France (largely due to the time zone changes between Australia and France I suspect). She has so far slept on 21 different beds – sometimes with her own bed, sometimes in a cot, sometimes on a mattress on the floor, occasionally sharing a bed with us. Regardless the bedding arrangement, as soon as the light was out in the room and door was closed, she promptly falls onto her bed and is ready for her night. I cannot be thankful enough for this priceless gift that Nina is granting us!

But then, sometimes, in the most unexpected moment, Nina would become the most horrible creature on the entire planet. Some days, nothing but taking off her pyjama, changing her nappy and putting her day clothes on would take more than an hour, with screaming and physical wrestling. At days like this, by the time we were ready for breakfast, I was exhausted, and seriously asked Nicolas why we were doing this to ourselves.

Nina, as all other children I guess, had a natural talent in keeping herself entertained with the most unexpected objects. While we walked on the most mundane street in BsAs, she could spend incredible amount of time joyously walking on and off the steps in front of apartment buildings. Lately she is in love with wooden sticks mostly branches fallen off the tress. She would laugh with excitement when we found one for her, and even more so if we found two at once! Many times we couldn’t keep the sticks with us (well, for a 6-hour bus journey for example), she would constantly ask where her sticks, and we had to promise her once and again that we would get her new sticks when we arrive.

Talking about long distance bus trips … I was very concerned with having to going through this with Nina, as well as the well-being of other passengers. Nina was all over the place on a 2-hour bus journey in Uruguay already, and I thought that was the sky limit. Then Nina surprised us again and again – she was ok with a 3-hour one, then a 4-hour one. The record so far was a 6-hour extremely bumpy bus ride in a Bolivian version of tourist bus (reading: no air condition, no reclinable chairs, etv) – she not only endured it but seemed actually having enjoyed it.

One of the most challenging aspect of travelling with such a young child – as far as I am concerned – is the fact that you are stuck with each other 24*7. She needs other kids to play with. I need ‘me time’ for my own sanity from time to time. But the fact is that we are constantly on the move, and it’s not realistic to get reliable babysitters in a country where you don’t even speak their language properly, so there is just no escape. After a full-on day, there is still research to be done for the next destination, hotel to be booked, bus ticket to be bought, luggage to be packed, diary to be written, emails to be replied. Sometimes, it just feels overwhelming. And why the update of this blog has been slow (I’m trying my best still!).

But then it’s all made up by the fact that we get to discover the world together. And I as a parent get to witness how she’s learning, changing, building up her language, while getting to know the world with her parents. It’s a privilege that I cherish.


P.S: to follow our RTW experience: Trilingual Family blog, or join Trilingual Family facebook group

[D75] Carnival in Uruguay

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I went out to watch carnaval in La Barra – a small town next to overly developed Punta del Este. Oh!! What a surprise! Less than 10 min walk from home, there was a small stage set up on the village green. Carnaval here apparently was different performance groups competed with each other in the form of show, costumes, drumming skills etc, and it lasted the whole month of Feb. Today and tomorrow are public holidays called Carnaval, it’s the end of the carnival season. The group I saw put on such a colorful, vibrant and energetic show with their amazing costume and singing and dancing and drumming. There were perhaps 30 of them, including three kids, one at the age of 6 or 7 I would guess. In the audience there were lots of families, many with young kids, some even younger than Nina. Latino way of childhood!

I was mesmerized by the joy from the show and the atmosphere created by the audience. There was the real wood BBQ made hamburge. Mostly locals were in the audience, so the show was far from the touristy show.   I couldn’t be more appreciative than the opportunity I have to witness and be part of such festivities around the four corners of the globe.

Topping the ice was the many glowing worms on the way walking back home along side the street. I haven’t seen them since my childhood. Together with the stars above the head, they made me a very lucky being.