November 2015 Travel Report: The End of the World and Back to Asia
If October was the month of night buses then November was the month of hiking. We took on the famous W Trek near Puerto Natales, Chile and also did some day hikes near El Chalten, Argentina. Patagonia is such a stunning part of the world and we were lucky enough to see some of its highlights. From there it was over to Buenos Aires, the rough round the edges port town of Valparaiso (near Santiago, Chile) and then an insane flight (actually 4 flights) to Hong Kong.
Further reading: October 2015 Travel Report: Night Buses and Surreal Scenery
Mountains and Glaciers
The W Trek was tough, mainly because my shoes were in a pretty rough state and I wasn’t used to carrying a big pack for more than half an hour at a time. We did it though, and the sights we saw along the way quickly made me forget about the hard times. We camped for 3 nights, which was fun, and being away from the distractions of the internet, and the outside world in general, is something everyone should do a bit more of. I’ll be writing a post on the W Trek soon, stay tuned for that.
From Puerto Natales we took a bus to El Calafate, on the Argentina side of Patagonia. From there we took a day trip to Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the few glaciers left in the world that is still growing. It’s massive and we were so close that we could almost touch it. If you only see one glacier in the near future, make it this one. We then did a few day hikes near El Chalten, with the dramatic Mount Fitzroy the main star. It was windy, cold and tiring, but hiking in Patagonia is pretty special – make room for it if you’re ever planning a trip to South America.
Further reading: A Day Trip to the Amazing Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia
A Weekend in Buenos Aires
I just wrote a post about this, so I won’t talk too much about it here. Buenos Aires is a really nice city and is quite different to the other big cities we visited in South America (it has more in common with some places we went to in Europe). We managed to see quite a lot of Buenos Aires over the weekend – the highlights being the European style architecture, Recoleta Cemetery (it’s like a small town full of dead people) and the river-side walkway at Puerto Madero.
Further reading: A Weekend in Buenos Aires: Extreme Sightseeing
We spent our last full day in Latin America at this colourful seaside city, just a couple of hours by bus from Santiago, Chile. It’s pretty rough and possibly dangerous (a woman we met was shocked that I was carrying my camera – I quickly put it in my bag after that) but it’s an interesting little city set on a number of hills behind a busy port. It reminded me a lot of Lisbon – full of street art, steep roads and bright houses.
Santiago to Hong Kong (via Atlanta, Minneapolis and Narita / Tokyo)
The things people do for cheap flights! We paid $700 each for this flight but ended up travelling for over 40 hours. Luckily we were on a decent airline (Delta) and had plenty of food, alcohol and entertainment along the way. We watched a few movies, including What We Do in the Shadows, a New Zealand movie about Vampires living in a flat in Wellington, which is where I went to University. It’s a really funny movie, watch it if you get the chance. We arrived in Hong Kong and spent a few days recovering, it was a long flight, and a tough last month or two on the road.
Hong Kong: The city and the scenery
We spent 11 nights in Hong Kong and had the chance to see its many faces. We all know of the vast skyline of Hong Kong – that massive clump of tall buildings that pulsate at night. It’s a pretty mind-blowing sight, but there is so much more to Hong Kong that a lot of people don’t get the chance to see. We did a few hikes on the outer islands and the New Territories – we saw some really nice beaches, rural life that has probably changed very little over the years and ate some great food. We also took the cable-car up to the big Buddha, went on a helicopter ride (my first) and rode the tram up to Victoria Peak.
A day in Macau
If you’re ever in Hong Kong, make sure you spend a day exploring nearby Macau. The Portuguese left lots of old buildings behind and it’s now one of the best cities in Asia for colonial architecture. We spent the day sitting in quiet plazas, walking between churches, theatres and old houses, and eating Portuguese egg tarts. Macau is perhaps more famous for its grand casinos – we didn’t visit many as we’d already been to Las Vegas, and we easily found enough historical attractions to fill our day.
The Plan for December
I’m writing this from Singapore, where I’m spending a few days before flying to Da Nang, Vietnam. I’ll be staying in nearby Hoi An for at least a couple of months, where I’ll be recovering from a long trip and working on some projects that I didn’t have time for on the road (while Gia will go back to work, either in Singapore or Hong Kong). I’ll also be exploring that area of Vietnam, a place I breezed through on my first big trip 4 years ago.