Articles Tagged with RTW

[D64] National Library of Argentina – Another Architectural Masterpiece

[D64, Feb 19, Buenos Aires/Argentina]

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National library. Oh what a unique building. It reminded me of the slaughter house in Shanghai. Love the chairs, lounges etc – a series of classic design of mid century.

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Weirdly they destroyed an old building – used to be presidential residence so quite significant – to make the way for this industrial looking structure built in the 50′s. Hea

Visited a few floors but couldn’t go inside the library to read some books.

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Had lunch in cafe, again the purpose designed chairs just for the cafe probably.

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Then fine art museum, just on the opposite side of the big avenue. On the lawn, two young dancers rehearsing their dance, with horse head. So powerful even Nina became a fan, watched for quite a while.

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


[D77] Casa Pueblo – The Gaudi House in Uruguay

[D77, March 4, La Barra/Uruguay]

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Casa Pueblo is a castle/house/workshop/studio (now a public house and a hotel part) by the Uruguay’s national artist Carlos Páez Vilaró.

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At 91, he just passed away a few days ago, and his funeral was almost one of a national hero, which created heated debate in the media. The house was a complex of imaginary and fairy-like rooms, forms, and curving lines. Huge, but we only got to visit a small section, the rest was hotel and private housing. It reminds me of Gaudi and some of Picasso’s painting. An interesting man with footprint in four corners of the world, in painting, film, ceramics, and, interestingly, revolutionary. There was a very well done documentary (autobiography style) to watch in the in-house theatre (another room of genius).

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Nina bit her lower lip while playing on a bench. Another small accident that fortunately didn’t last long.

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Jose, our Airbnb host in La Barra, dropped us off near the house in the morning around the cliff (great view with ferocious wind). To get out, we had to take a taxi or to get a lift as there was no public transportation back to the city center. We took the only taxi that was dropping off a client, and got another couple to share the fare back to Punta. It started to rain once taxi set off.


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

[D110] Salar de Uyuni – A Surreal Existence

[D110, April 6, Uyuni/Bolivia]








Salar de Uyuni!! While choosing the photos for this post, I realized it’s an almost impossible task, as there are so many photos that even I like myself 🙂 All these photos you see here are straight out from my mobile phone (I love my Nokia 920) with no retouching at all. We have many in our Nikon but I leave the task of selecting those photos to later ..

We took a day tour with other 4 tourists (one Korean guy, 3 Japanese girls) with an agency whose main customers were Japanese with a bit of Chinese/Asian. The only reason I chose this agency amid other numerous agencies was that they offer additionally the sunset on the wet part of the salt lake(while others all came back well before sunset). In retrospect it was such a wise decision as the wet part was easily the highlight of the day.
At 6:30am I woke up to find an amazing sun rising cloud from our window. After all there was positive climbing extra 3 floors.
At a leisurely 10:30am start, we left the dusty town of Uyuni,,with all other jeeps tours … Funny that they unified the departure time. Before the actual Salar, there were 2 other stops: train cemetery (fun to climb on trains, met two guys biking their way down from Alaska to BsAs, quite an adventure!), Colchani (so called salt factory, where the only thing open were a so called museum which was actually nothing more than a shop with a few sculptures made from salt, and many shops selling souvenirs).
Then off we went, into the immense Salar de Uyuni!

Such a surreal experience! It’s a more than 12,000 km2 of solid salt, sitting at 3,600+ m above sea level, with depth ranging from a few meters to more than 100metres. Our jeep – an old land cruiser – cruised through, salt after salt after salt, nothing else, for almost an hour.

Then a hill showed up in the horizon almost out of nowhere, with giant cactus all over it. Incahiasi Island was its name. There on its foot we had out lunch (salad, fried chicken, coke, banana). Then we set out to climb. It’s worth every bit of breathless steps. Nina was not well ( we later realized she perhaps had diarrhea after 3 dirty nappies) so we couldn’t all climb up to the top together. Nicolas and I took turns to the summit – oh what an eerie feeling – 360 degrees around, all that you could see was just white salt, with very very faraway on the horizon a few gentle hills. Then on the island, the only island In the entire salt lake, there were so many giant cactus that I wonder where and how they showed up and survived. I wish I could stay longer on the top to take in the view and really feeling the strange feeling.

Then we set off again to the seemingly endless salt lake. After some time our driver France(!!) stopped in the middle of nowhere n a perfectly unspoiled patch of salt, he said it’s time for some fun photo. And he meant it! He’s apparently mastered this. He took out some props (a few toy dinosaurs, a water bottle, a long sock etc). The three Japanese ladies were the models, letting France orchestra poses/actions/moves for some incredible photos using perspectives. We joined a bit but most of time took photos on our own.
The geometric pattern of the salt lake was naturally amazing. Nina had fun walking along the pattern, and also broke the small patches of salt off. I was sleeping on my tummy sometimes for fun or photo, oh the untreated salt mas very coarse for sure.

Then the sun started to go down, we jumped on the jeep towards our last destination to watch sunset, with a very brief 10min stop in the salt hotel (a hotel made entirely out of salt. I wish we could have stopped a little long so that I could visit a bit inside, but well sun wouldn’t wait). We also changed into the boots that were provided as part of the tour, they even had size for Nina.

The jeep slowed down when there started to be a shallow layer of water on the salt. This was the water not yet evaporated after the raining season (supposedly ended just in March). France really knew what he was doing. He looked around, trying to find a suitable patch to stop where there would be good reflection of sunset in the water. It was not a perfect sunset because there was just enough clouds at the horizon covering the setting set. But what an extraordinary view to see every colour and form reflected on the water, and the sky and the earth seemed to merge seamlessly. And we were all just tiny part of this grandeur unity.

With the boots, we could walk around, but every one seemed to slow down, mesmerized by what we saw. Cameras worked hard – every single angle and moment looked too nice to miss.

An hour or so passed by quickly. Sun set magestically. Moon was already high in the sky. Time to head back to Uyuni. Nina unfortunately was very grumpy, crying constantly, not able to sleep although she was visibly tired. At moments like this i asked myself if it’s too much for Nina and we as parents were too selfish.

Nina went straight to bed after we came back. Nina co claimed he wasn’t hungry for dinner. I decided to go out food hunting myself. Crossed the street to the local restaurant as recommended by the lovely travel agency lady. They were all offering similar things – with parrillada grilling outside the resto and basic seats insides. I randomly walked into one and ordered what seemed to be the most popular – cotillas (griiled ribs) with rice and salad. I was astonished that the big meal costed only 8bol (1USD = 6.9bol)! No wonder she called the type of resto we normally went to and paid at least 50 for a similar plate the tourist resto.


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