The Spectacular Teotihuacan

One of the beautiful highlights of my recent trip to Mexico was my visit at the magnificent ruins of Teotihuacan.  It is about an hour bus ride from the modern-day Mexico City.  And because there are massive information available online on how to get to these ruins by commute, I decided to do the adventure by following the instructions indicated on various blogs and web write-ups.  I could have simply joined a tour group but as usual, I challenged myself. 

courageously doing a commute at the bus station armed with a lot of things

I learned from my first few days that majority of Mexicans do not really speak English.  Thus, before I left for this ancient city, I armed myself with adequate internet data, the proficient Google Maps and reminded myself the simple steps to communicate, i.e. (i) speak English slowly; (ii) drop the articles as they only cause confusion; (iii) repeat the main concept two or three time; (iv) gesticulate; and, (v) smile a lot.

Teotihuacan was really overwhelming!  And based on various write-ups, no one knows who built this humongous ancient city.  It was so old that it was already in ruins before the ancient Aztecs were able to discover this old puzzling metropolis.  In 1987 this ancient city was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.  And since it is so close to the modern-day Mexico City, Teotihuacan has been the most visited archeological site in Mexico. 

on my way to the pyramids via calle de los muertos
pyramid of the sun
strike a pose! it’s one of the largest pyramids!
unbelievable! I had to pinch myself!
cleverly called… the avenue of the dead
mysterious!
i need to have a selfie! on top of the pyramid of the moon!
photo taken from the pyramid of the moon
i love this shot!

What for me is so cool about Teotihuacan is how spots in this ancient city were named and labelled.  Mexicans’ naming of the interesting places of Teotihuacan gave it more appeal and character.  Whoever tagged or named the places inside Teotihuacan are so smart and imaginative.

And since the term “Teotihuacan” meant as “the birth place of the gods” or “the place where men turns into gods”, it is but fitting that this ancient city has the Pyramid of the Sun (the third largest pyramid in the world) and the more gracious-looking Pyramid of the Moon.  There was even a location that is sensationally called the “Temple of the Feathered Serpent”! 

feeling happy & feeling blessed! pyramid of the moon at the background…
will definitely not forget this adventure

The coolest actually was how the main road leading to the pyramids was called.  The central 2.4-kilometer main road is called Calle de los Muertos or “the Avenue of the Dead”.  So when I was walking on this runway, it felt dramatic! I felt like I was being transformed by some creative spirit from being a human being to some sort of a god!  It was really amazing! 

Teotihuacan, built hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, will remain a mystery.  Little is known about its first inhabitants and why this magnificent place was later abandoned.  Whatever is the mystery behind the ruins of Teotihuacan, it remain to be something so pleasing and imaginative.  Its mystery definitely adds up to its awesome charm. 

Ispektakular! Ang galing!

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Wowed by Biblioteca Vasconcelos

If you don’t know me yet, and though I don’t look like one, let me tell you that I absolutely love books and reading.  That is why when I travel, there is always a book that I would bring along with me.

So when I heard that there is a unique mega library in Mexico City and even though it is not included in Tripadvisor’s the top 15 destinations to visit in Mexico City, I know that this would be a place that I have to check out.

It’s Biblioteca Vasconcelos!  I didn’t know really what to expect.  But when I walked in, I literally let go of a massive gasp.  It was so loud,  a bunch of quiet people inside the building knew that there is an elated first timer who has just entered.   

This place is unlike any other places that I have been to.  The architecture is incredibly unique and it is not just like any other library but unlike any other place I have ever seen!  And the more entire I went, the more incredible it becomes.

After the first initial wow impression, the next thing I noticed is just the sheer scale and size of the building.  The uniqueness is that you would see people around: beside you, beneath you and above you.  Some of the floors are actually thick translucent glass.

Biblioteca Vasconcelos opened in 2007 and has over half a million books.  It got its name after Jose Vasconcelos who is a Mexican philosopher, a former presidential candidate and was also the president of the national library of Mexico.   

I noticed that the walls are transparent and that the floors seem mismatched.  It also have very intricate staircases and balconies, it reminds me of the movie Inception in a scene where things were folding on to each other.  I really felt like I was in a sci-fi novel.  It gave me the feeling of being set in the future which not many equally awesome buildings could do.

Biblioteca Vasconcelos is called a mega library because it is actually 5 libraries merged into one.  And each one library is dedicated and pay homage to Mexico’s great thinkers.

One thing that really takes center stage inside this library is the massive white whale skeleton done by an artist named Gabriel Orozco.  The whale’s skeleton, fitted onto a metal armature and inscribed with granite rings and circles, hangs suspended in midair.  It seem visible from almost all sections and every point within the library.

The library is so massive, there are tons of areas where people can sit and work.  Entrance of course is for free and there is free wifi.  And what is best is that Tripadvisor seem to have yet discover this place as one cool tourist destination. 

If you are a book lover like me or an architecture fanatic or just want to see a really unique place within Mexico City, then Biblioteca Vasconcelos is definitely worth a visit.  

Waw as is WAW!

Impressions of Mexico City

I planned of going to Mexico City more than 6 months ago.  I purchased my airfare and booked my hotels about the same time.  Problems arose along the way especially regarding the online travel agent I got who cancelled and refunded my 6-month old plane ticket 10 days prior to the actual flight and have yet to inform me the reasons for such cancellation.  Two days after such cancellation, I still decided to still push through with the adventure by courageously buying a Turkish Airline ticket bound for Mexico City.

Prior to me leaving for Mexico City, lots of friends and colleagues are questioning me why I chose to do a solo travel in such a dingy and dangerous place.  They relayed that they have read and heard a lot about Mexico City being precarious, unsafe and pick-pocket infested.  But since it is one country that welcomes me without having to apply for a tourist visa (since I am a US and Japan multiple entry visa holder), I did not listen to friends and relatives and still push through with my journey.   

Now, I am here in remarkable Mexico City, spending almost two weeks already – not that I am asking – yet I have yet to feel and experience the worry and uneasiness that my friends and colleagues has informed me.  I must admit that I was a bit worried at first, but all these anxiety and fear were totally erased once I walked the busy streets of the city.  This was fully reinforced when I survived a train ride during a rush hour!  Besides, I grew up in a similarly perilous and dodgy City of Pasay in Manila, thus, I can actually use my innate and fully developed skill in dealing with the crooks, the felonious and the delinquents.

Similar to Metro Manila, Mexico City is vast and humongous!  But I personally prefer the weather of this city as compared to the Manila weather.  Mexico got 4 seasons, Manila got 2.  You can never let me wear a jacket outdoors in Manila, because it is either hot or very hot!

I hate to compare but the architecture in Mexico is a bit better as compared to the structures found in Manila.  Metro train system in Mexico City is of course more intricate and more reliable as compared to the rundown, often-busted and politically-exploited metro train in Manila.  And though Philippines and Mexico similarly experienced more than 300 years of Spanish rule, Mexico seem to have maintained its Spanish roots because they seem to possess more European looking buildings.     

The similarity between Manila and Mexico City I guess would be regarding cleanliness and the people.  There are lots of people everywhere and both cities needs to improve a lot concerning cleanliness! Another similarity would be the traffic.  Though Mexico has intricate and more developed metro train, its traffic is as bad as that of Manila.  Both cities are traffic-infested!

Mexico City love art!  One noticeable person printed on their money (500 Mexican peso denomination) is an art goddess, Frida Khalo.  Also, I was actually surprised to find out that this city got the most number of museums.  And even on the street, people tend to express themselves through art.  Humongous mural arts, lots of colorful graffiti and numerous art performances can be seen on the streets of the city.      But I guess the one thing that Manila is better as compared to Mexico would be the smile.  Though Mexicans tend to be more passionate and expressive – there’s lots of sensual kissing inside the train, amatory hugging on the streets and even lgbt members freely holding hands while walking – we in Manila smile more, we seem kindlier and seem gentler as compared to the fierce and audacious people of Mexico City.

If you would ask me if I will go back and revisit Mexico City.  I would definitely will!

Di naman nakaka-shokot… Biba Meksiko!

A Visit at Mexico’s Biggest Museum

If you are a tourist in Mexico City, a visit to a museum seem inevitable.  Reason behind this is because this city has the most number of museums in the world.

For an initial Mexico City museum salvo, let me then feature not just any type of a museum.  Let me introduce to you the Museo Nacional de Antropologia or the National Museum of Antropology.  Reason why it is so special is because it is the most visited and the biggest museum in Mexico.  It’s a staggering 8 hectares all in all!

After walking through the humongous and vast entrance area of the museum, the first this that any visitor of this museum would notice would be this…

its called “el paraguas” the umbrella

The museum since it’s so big is divided into 22 different section halls.  I started with section 1 of course, the Introduction to Anthropology and planned to finish all sections in one visit.  But after an hour and a half of marveling at various features (I reached half of section 4), I started to feel some sensory overload.  I started to feel so overwhelmed that I can’t seem to take in so much anthropological stimulus and information anymore.

Since I have seen so much, I started to slow down.  And instead of trying to see everything, I tried to just really focus on few specific things.  I then decided to head straight to the section where there are most number of people.  That is at the Mexica section or the hall number 6.

I was not surprised anymore that this seem to be the section where there are lots of people.  It is because this is the hall that houses the most emblematic exhibit of the museum, the Piedra Del Sol or the Sun Stone.  This is so special, that I think I will write separately on how I felt seeing this Aztec sculpture. 

piedra del sol (the stone sun)

 

Other exhibits that caught my attention were… 

the super massive… aztec goddess coatlicue (the mother of the gods who gave birth to the moon, stars and the god of the sun and war) taray!
brasero chicomecoatl (the goddess of corn)
stone of motecuhzoma

I highly recommend this place to those who are interested on human societies that thrived, lived and existed in Mexico or simply being a tourist in Mexico City.  The National Museum of Anthropology is located within the Chapultepec Park in Mexico City.  And lucky me, it was free entrance for everyone on the day I visited!  With the grandiosity of this museum, I was all but willing to pay the seventy Mexican pesos entrance fee!

the usual and common design on mexico souvenir shirts

 

Grabe! Oberwelming!

Remarkable Taipei

Taiwan also known as the Republic of China did an awesome job when it decided to allow visa-free entry to Philippine citizens also known as Filipinos.  They must be reaping the benefits out from this imperative decision.

Because of the influx of Filipino tourists, vendors started learning Filipino words that would entice and charm Filipino shopaholics!  Taiwainese sellers can be heard saying “masarap” (Filipino word for delicious), “mura” (Filipino word for inexpensive) and “maganda” (Filipino word for attractive)

And because of the visa-free decision, I just had my third visit in a short span of 2 years to the super urbanized capital city Taipei.  My visit was not about business or work but because of tourism.  Thus, their visa-free entry decision for Filipinos has definitely boosted their tourism. 

happy gang at the airport! 
i love this shot! 
first timers jb, mj and willie 
getting not so confused at confucius temple 
taipei mrt is eons away in terms of efficiency and comfort as compared to the manila mrt

For me Taipei is an inexpensive alternative for Filipinos who want to travel abroad.  Instead of going for a short vacation to Hongkong, Osaka or Singapore, Filipinos can actually do a fun-filled weekend adventure in Taipei.  And that is what I just did with MJ, Willie and JB!

I was not surprised at how surprised MJ, Willie and JB was regarding how progressive, modern, civilized, ultra-clean, courteous and efficient Taipei was.  They told me that they were expecting Taipei to be just like to old, shabby and stinky Chinatown of Manila.  There were actually moments when these three colleagues ponder on what happened to their beloved Metro Manila that was definitely left behind in all aspects concerning tourism and urban living.

It was my third time, yet Taipei has consistently impressed me.  This only shows that my first two visits were not merely flukes of remarkable circumstances.  Taipei can therefore be concluded as one exciting and impressive city! 

serene…

MMM – masarap, mura, maganda! 

Sister Isabel’s African Adventure with God

When my elder sister (Gaying) and Nengkoy recently had some pieces of their jewelries commissioned for cleaning and polishing, they were given some giveaways by the jewelry shop.  Nengkoy kept the photo of Our Lady of Guadalupe while my sister handed over the giveaway book to her son, my nephew Luis.  I however snatched the book from Luis telling him to let me be the one to read it first and will just hand it to him after I’m done.  Luis joked that I might develop itchiness and skin rashes while reading it because the book was written by a Catholic nun. 

The book laid on my dining table for some considerable weeks already.  Still, quiet and unmoved.  Two reasons why it took me some time to start reading it.  First, it was written by a Catholic nun and I was not ready to be preached about some Catholic dogma.  Second, it was written by a Catholic nun, therefore it’s going to be so boring.

But as soon as I decided to scan and read the initial pages of Life On A Mission by Sr. Isabel Villacarlos, I no longer stopped and dropped it until I finished the very end part. 

When asked how she survived all the challenges of her mission,

Sr. Isabel answered, “one must have a major in Faith,

a master’s in Hope and a doctorate in Love.”

Life on a Mission chronicles the adventures, quests and journeys of a Catholic nun in north western portions of Africa.  Sister Isabel can be considered one extra ordinary nun.  She learned to ride a camel, dealt with poisonous snakes, drove a truck,  fell onto a bridge while driving a car, assisted in delivering babies and battled a storm are some of the highlighted adventures of Sr. Isabel in the book.

I guess being a travel addict myself made me stick to reading this book.  But the beauty about the experience of Sr. Isabel in Africa was that she was able to reveal and uncover the presence, manifestations and attendance of God in her adventures, which for me is such a cool thing!

Life On A Mission may not be a bestseller, but it is one remarkable book that definitely deserves more!

Wala akong masabi sa adbentyurs ni sister!

Nengkoy’s First Bangkok Adventure

“I will because Nengkoy still”. This would be my response if I am to be asked if I would still travel abroad and around the country even if I reached eighty.
Nengkoy who will be turning 81 years old this week has actually just gone to Bangkok, Thailand. I and my dear sisters accompanied her.

nengkoy with my dear sisters

It was Nengkoy’s first time in Bangkok while it was my fifth. Bangkok still never ceases to amaze me. The people and their culture is so beautiful. Nengkoy was at awe when she saw for herself the weird reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, the elegance and style of Wat Phra Keaw and the majesty of the Grand Palace.
And I was super glad that Nengkoy was able to stand the super heat and humidity of Bangkok climate. Since Bangkok has yet to install lifts or escalators in every stairs facilities leading up and down the metro train, I was also super glad that Nengkoy at her age could still go up some high flight of stairs.


Travelling with an old lady have some unique challenges. The medicines to bring, the amount and type of food to order in a restaurant, the challenging long walks and difficult climbing, the spots and places to visit and go to, the modes of transportation to take, etc. But all these challenges were handled with ease. Thank goodness Nengkoy does not possess the grumpy, irritable and ill-tempered persona that I often possess during my travels. Hahaha!
Anyway, Nengkoy’s Bangkok adventure was simply happy, easy and noteworthy. I am the proudest that Nengkoy got to see and experience the beauty of Bangkok!


Koriya naman daw ang susunod! Kaloka!