Cancun 2020 Day 2 – Chichen Itza sunrise tour, Ik Kil Cenote, Marlin beach and flight to Lima

Day 2 started early, like 4am to be precise. Got out of bed and prepared myself before heading downstairs to meet up, supposedly at 430am. I didn’t see anyone around and couldn’t remember where the meeting place was until the receptionist brought me to the place for tea and asked me to wait for the staff who had only just arrived and were busy preparing breakfast.

Restaurant for the meet up

It was a simple meal consisting of a pastry and coffee but it was enough for me. I was the earliest and while I sat there busy with my phone jotting down my memory of yesterday, people were started to come down from their rooms to this meet up location. Soon the guide was organizing and separating the people into groups and then we were on our way into the Chichen Itza grounds, through the special entrance connected to the resort a short walk away.

My pastry in a cup of coffee
Tickets into the Chichen Itza site

There was a senior couple where the wife was wheelchair bound and the husband was trying his best to push her around. There was a certain section of the road where it got really difficult to push as the rocks on the ground were too big and obstructing the wheelchair. This was made worse by the fact that there weren’t any lights and it was difficult to see. They were on the verge of giving up but we tried to help them as best as we could, like providing light and helping them move the wheelchair. With personal this experience, I preach to everyone who wants to travel to do so while they are still fit if not it would be a struggle for both the person and their travel partner.

Entrance at the resort
Follow the sign

The fun thing about this guide was he was able to present the facts in an amusing way and I learnt a lot from this tour. One thing was that whatever was portrayed in the movies were in fact misconstrued due to misinterpretation of the wall carvings! Mayans were portrayed to offer human sacrifices and chop off heads at the top of the temples but that was not really true according to the guide. There was also demonstrations of the acoustics capability (like echo that mimics the sound of the kukulkan bird when clapping in front of El Castillo) and astronomical powers of the Mayan people as many of the buildings there had been designed to meet the various sun events. The facts were further reinforced with photos shown on an IPad. Lastly, being an avid photographer himself, he provided the lights to make the photography in the dark looked fantastic! I thoroughly enjoyed the sunrise tour.

Before the break of dawn
Where we stood for photos
A cenote underneath the pyramid?
A little bit more light
Rack of skulls carvings to scare invaders
Silhouette of a dragon mouth
Explanations of carvings on walls at ball court
Panoramic view of sunrise
With more light
Lighted up

The tour took place in the main site where the temples and the ball court were. There were other ruins around but it was more for ourselves to roam around to see. There was the observatory that my room had a view of, which became out of bounds for all visitors due to recent graffiti act carried out on the walls. However I managed to sneak pass the guard as it was still early and catch a glimpse of what’s there. However, I forgotten what was the meet up time and stupidly walked out of that section to check with the guide. Then when I tried to walk back to that section, I was prevented from going through.

Panoramic view of the area where the observatory was
Other smaller pyramid and ruin
El Castillo – walking back observatory
Pathways around the area
A hut
Inside the hut
Another temple ruins
Cenote at Chichen Itza

Made a phone call back to Singapore to connect with my son who was supposedly about to sleep. Managed to show him the Mayan pyramid as I bade him good night.

Bade few of the tour mates good bye and paid the guide 120pesos of tips as I thought he was great and even got his contacts just so that I can share these with people who were interested.

The good thing about starting early was that there was still a good amount of time available in the morning and the guide suggested that I visit Ik Kil cenote as I wanted initially and to get there early (like once-it-opens-at-9am-early) to avoid the crowds. Therefore I went to the cafe back at the resort to get a pastry and an Americano for 57 pesos, before returning to the room to get ready. Brought along the towel just in case and drove less than 10mins to Ik Kil cenote.

Retail shops at the resort
Bought myself a sourvenir
Tu Uk Cafe at the resort
Pastries for breakfast, please!
My breakfast

The cenote had a gate and going through it, I realised the place had turned into a compound of sorts, with carparks and big changing rooms with showers and lockers for rent. There were safety vests available for rental too. Carpark was free and a road marshal was guiding the first few cars into the spaces. I went ahead to pay the 80pesos for entrance fee and then proceeded to the lockers to rent one at 30pesos, where I was given a wrist band with a locker key. Kept all my valuables into the locker and just brought along my phone. I couldn’t find towels rental but didn’t care much anyway so just proceeded to a required shower first before climbing the spiral stairways down to the waters.

Entrance to Ik Kil Cenote
Ik Kil tickets counter
Ik Kil sign
Huge compound!
Directions to the cenote
Locker rental
Got my keys and band
Seating area near the lockers
Shower before entering cenote

Once I entered the cave, I could already feel the chills of the cold air, much like what you would expect from the cave. Plus the shower before was quite cold too, this made me already feel cold even before going into the water. Upon reaching the bottom, there were already quite a number of people there, and people were already jumping off from a flight on stairs into the waters. I watched a bit before taking my move – climbed down the stairs into the cold water. An initial cold struck me but quickly my body adapted to it and it felt nice swimming in the fresh spring water of the cenote. The water wasn’t clear though and thus I couldn’t see too far into the water except my own legs. In fact I couldn’t see much as I have left my glasses and my phone in between my slippers on land.

View from the top
At the cenote, people jumping off from the left!
Flight of stairs to get to the cenote

I got out after moving along in the water for a while and just did a bit of people watching. The problem with solo traveling was that you would need help sometimes to take photos of you doing stuff. I contemplated first if I should do the leap into the water and second if someone could video that for me on my phone. Eventually, after waiting like forever, I left my glasses and phone again and proceeded to the jump off from the location where everyone was jumping from. There was a lifeguard there in control of the human access and after a quick intro and some tips on posture from him, I stepped off the edge and was plunging down into the water. In that split second of G force followed immediately with waters gushing into the nose, I felt the familiar cold hitting my body again. I quickly recovered, swimming up to the surface. However there was no video evidence to prove this deed and memory would only be best remembered by myself only.

Last photo before leaving

I stayed to people watch a bit more before snapping some last photos and heading out to change out into dry shorts. Drove back to the resort and went straight into the bathtub to bath. There was still some time compared to my initial itinerary and thus I made the best out of the tub with the view.

By 1130, I have checked out and was on my return journey back to Cancun. First was a gas top up at the town of Piste with 400pesos that filled my quarter full tank. The pump assistant was well versed in what the tourists always wanted to check due to the massive amount of scams warnings online. He showed me the amount entered and showed the resetting of the previous volume before proceeding with top up. I paid with a 500 peso note and getting the change was easy.

Driving back was same as the previous days of driving into Chichen Itza. The tolls were same as with 80pesos upon entering the highway and nearer to Cancun, 328pesos. I saw there were 2 times where the police were stationed along the road to probably catch speeding vehicles and on this stretch to Cancun, there were more road works that turned the 2 lanes to 1, compared to the road in the opposite direction. But this wasn’t a big deal anyhow as I blasted my music over the speakers throughout the 2hr15mins journey to the Cancun downtown.

The GPS brought me to the restaurant Chila Y Quil where TripAdvisor reviewers had recommended them for serving awesome Chilaquiles, where one IG traveler (@wetravelmexico) had recommended that I should try these local dishes. So there I was parking the car at the available carpark just outside the restaurant and entered the local restaurant that had really warm and friendly waitresses.

After sitting down, the waitress helped me with the menu, explaining the dish and how I wanted it. Went for the biggest size and her recommendation of pork slices without spice and Jamaica drink. When the food came, it was a point of no return as I dug in and finished everything. It was really good! I paid 120pesos including tips. On my way out, while I took some photos of the place, I was asked to take photos together with the waitresses which I gladly did, a selfie with them. Shared the photo with them by sending the photo thru their restaurant Facebook page. Was good fun!

On the outside of the restaurant!
Inside the restaurant
Chilaquiles – yummy!
The warm ladies of Chila Y Quil
Restaurant location

I was still having the idea of visiting the beach and was in a better attire than previously. So I punched in Playa Marlin. After entering the hotel zone, I was again worried that I couldn’t find a car park and so I just parked at the multi storey carpark at the Plaza La Isla mall. Then I walked the remaining distance to the beach, the nearer I got there the more I regretted as I realised there were better parking options.

Giantic Mexico Flag
Plaza La Isla

I entered the small road and as I looked at the map on the phone, I was suddenly hit in the head. The sharp pain ripped through my skull and as I touched my forehead, there was blood. I quickly took out some wet tissues to clean up and applied compression to stop the bleeding. With the throbbing pain, I stood up slowly to see what attacked me and found that I had walked straight into a thick branch that was same level as my height! I was ultra pissed but moved on anyway; thankfully was just a small superficial cut. The beach entrance was not too far away and upon entering, I was again greeted with the beautiful view of the crashing turquoise waters! This time I got close to the waters to enjoy the view and the sand in my toes and the cold but impactful waves upon my legs. I was already thinking of a revisit to this beautiful beach.

Entrance of Playa Marlin
Beautiful beach
Perfect weather and not too rough waves
Panoramic view of Playa Marlin
Another panoramic view away from the view

Didn’t spend too long there since I had a flight to catch and so went to the shower facilities there to wash away sand on the legs before I trekked back to the carpark. Along the way, I stopped at the Fashion Harbour which carried the high end brands, to take a photo of the lagoon and then used the restroom at the mall to clean up and throw away my bloodied tissue. A quick walk around showed that the mall was pretty massive with lots of retail choices and there was even an aquarium there.

High end brands at Fashion Harbour
Many branded retail stores
Not many people around though
Fashion Harbour
Panoramic view of the lagoon from the Fashion Harbour

Paid my carpark fees of 20pesos and I was on my way back to Easy Way car rental. I remembered there was a gas station near the rental company and drove there to top up with 250pesos to get it back to the original level when I took over the car and drove that few meters back. Upon arrival, the return was done very efficiently and even though I was half an hour overdue, they didn’t charge me more. Got on the shuttle back to the airport and we bade farewell to each other.

Cancun airport

Check in at Aeromexico where I was given both my tickets all the way to Lima (transit at Mexico City). I proceeded straight to the gates, passing through the Xray inspection quickly. Spent some time window shopping and spent my remaining 207pesos on a pen, both to serve as a pen for me to fill up any immigration forms and then later as a gift to be given to K when I returned back to Singapore. The pen had a really cute Mexican doll with funny eyes dressed in Mexican costume on its end.

Check in counters
Colorful massive duty free shops
Retail shops
At the gate

I was still feeling full from the lunch, probably due to the expanding tacos so I went to the gate to sit after strolling along the entire length of shops and waited there for the call to board.

The staff informed about the full flight and asked passengers to check in excess luggage for if not, they had to prepare to pay if caught. To be safe I checked with the staff if it’s ok to bring my backpack which was positively acknowledged.

The boarding took a while with so many people boarding. The plane became airborne only at 8pm. I was feeling really fatigue, probably due to the jet lag hitting me and so slept for the front portion of the flight. Woke up in the middle just as they were serving peanuts and drinks and then I spent the remaining time, jotting the events that happened.

On board Aeromexico

Soon thousands of twinkling lights of Mexico City came into sight as the plane made the final approach. The plane landed and I disembarked and proceeded onwards to the transit. Once there, I tried to look for my flight on the board but couldn’t find it anywhere. Went to ask the information counter and was informed that it would be at gate 60 (they also explained that the board may not be updated), which was quite a distance away.

Mexico City view from the plane
Transit through Mexico City
Mexico City airport
My destination was not on the board!

Since I managed to get an upgrade to business through a bid, I tried to access the Salones Premier lounge. However the receptionist told me that my ticket did not allow me any access for free but if I would like, it would cost me 22USD. I wasn’t keen on spending any money since there wasn’t a real motivation for food (plus I’m still kinda bloated).

Salones Premier Lounge

I went to the loo and while sitting inside the cubicle which had a box of used toilet paper next to the toilet bowl. I can’t help but think if this was going to be hygienic for users of the toilet, especially when these get filled. Also didn’t realized that there were still many countries that seemingly looked developed but still having sanitary pipe chokage issues due to toilet paper…

Returned to the gate 60 to plug into one of the free phone chargers so as to ensure my phone got enough juice to last till I get to Cusco the next day night.

Charging stations a blessing!

Soon it was time to board and while the staff was saying something over the speakers, I didn’t understand what he said. So I just stood there and wait for the time to board. And because I had scored the upgrade, I was one of the first to board. (Story continues in Day 3)

Different queue lanes for different section boarding

Cancun 2020 Day 1 – Arrival into Cancun, Hotel Zone visit and Chichen Itza light show

Day 1 started with getting to Changi airport after my son fell asleep at homr as I left for my solo trip. The airport counters didn’t have a lot of people and I checked in my backpack and spent the rest of the time on one of the airport computer station to continue updating my blog for the last trip. With undivided attention, I managed to complete the Vietnam trip blog before taking the sky train to the gate.

Lunar New Year decorations.
Free touch type computer stations at the airport

There weren’t many people at the gate too and I cleared that pretty quickly. The flight SQ22 direct to New York had only business class and premier economy seats and while I walked through the aisle of business class, I noticed that there weren’t many passengers there. But the premium economy section was full!

Settled into my window seat beside another man and then it was an almost 18hrs flight to Newark International airport.

Premium economy seats

The flight itself was pretty smooth, other than a short period of turbulence. The premium economy seats were more comfortable than the economy (maybe after miles redemption with a 51% discount made it all the sweeter!), though it was not my first time taking, I thought I enjoyed the flight a little more than last. I did however felt very uncomfortable with my shoes and had to loosen the laces to ease the throbbing pain that felt like a gout flare up on my foot (later realised that the feet can expand when on a flight).

Spent quite a bulk of time watching movies, such as Charlie’s Angels, Terminator, Maleficent, Godzilla and Hobbs and Shaw ( and I liked Terminator, Maleficent and H&S) and the other parts mostly sleeping. There were food served 3 times with the first meal being my book the cook chicken supper which I thought was nice, followed by a pizza and pudding treat and lastly another book the cook pancake and omelette for breakfast which was tasty too.

Chicken supper meal
Pizza in a box
What it looks like inside

I liked the slightly more luxurious toilet comparing to the normal economy ones, where there were toothbrushes available in the toilet, which I took the opportunity to brush my teeth after waking up.

Sunset over the horizon

Landed into the airport at 510am and thankfully there was no line though it was initially quite confusing if I was at the right line. I managed to go to the automated machine and I cleared that really quickly and then it was off to the luggage belt. By 530 I already found myself outside and contemplating what I wanted to do. Been thinking of paying the Statue of Liberty a visit before the next flight but was quite turned off by the price of the transportation to Liberty State Park (USD18 on Uber) one way which I thought was too expensive. Plus it was just freezing outside and I am not dressed to deal with that cold.

Night view going into Newark
Inside Newark airport
Newark airport on the outside
Sunrise at the airport
New York Downtown in the horizon

Instead I spent some time calling home and talking to mommy and K, just to update them on my whereabouts. I also took my painkillers and gout prescription to help ease the pain on my foot, trying to prevent an escalation of pain on the first day of my trip.

At about 7am, I went to the departures board and found that the check in for my Viva Aerobus flight is open. However it didn’t mention which counter and in Terminal B, there were actually 3 levels of check in available for a variety of flights. I went through all 3 floors and couldn’t find it. So I checked with the ground floor and one staff told me to check level 2. Asked another staff on level two and she told me to proceed to level 3. At level 3 I asked the Singapore Airlines counter and they pointed me to go further. I still couldn’t find and check with another staff and she told me it’s just those counters next door. And the board didn’t indicate the Viva Aerobus logo. *roll eyes*

Check in counters
Check in counters for Viva Aerobus

I checked in pretty quickly and I decided to bring along my backpack on board the plane myself, for the thought of a quick exit once I landed. Then I went through immigrations which cleared pretty quickly too. At the gate, there was not much to see as I went around one of the shops. Then I settled in a restaurant, called The Unusual Times, for some breakfast because I didn’t think I would get any food onboard this flight.

At the departure gate
The Unusual Times restaurant

Ordered the sandwich and a regular coffee which was served pretty quickly but I thought the food tasted great! All these for 20USD including tips.


Soon they were calling for boarding and as I had paid a little more just to sit at the front few rows with our own dedicated overhead compartment space, I got to board earlier. Settled in quickly after the initial wait and glad there was an empty seat in between myself and another passenger seated at nex to the aisle.

View from plane of downtown NYC

We took off on time and as the winter skies provided a clear view of the land below, I just stared out and enjoyed the ride as there were no other form of entertainment available. There were free snacks being served, and I chose the dried cranberries (the other one mango) which had a little spiciness with it. A free drink came with it and I took the coke light amongst the other soft drinks (mineral water not available as it was meant for mixing).

View leaving NY
Dried fruit snack and forms to fill
Dried fruit in the package

The views got better as we got closer to Cancun, the waters and clouds made like a canvas paint on the ground. The shoreline of Cancun was beautiful as well.

View from the plane, somewhere above America
Islands somewhere in the water
Like water colours
Cancun shore line and lagoon
Another view of Cancun

We landed 1hr ahead of schedule and disembarked without much problem. Went to loo before walking to fill up the immigration and custom declaration forms and seeing the snaking queue. There were 3 sections of immigration counters and I chose the last one by counting the number of active counters there were, but it didn’t really matter as the other sections seemed to move just as quickly.

Then as I moved to the custom for exit, I found a chaotic mess of people queuing to get through it. I was shocked but still joined the back of some of the people anyhow. After moving forward then I realized that there were actually quite a number of lines to the xray scan for the bags. That didn’t take forever luckily and I exited the arrival after passing through.

Crowded at customs

First thing I did was to head to the atm but found that these only dispersed USD. I thought why would I want USD in Mexico? So I didn’t draw as I already had USD with me.

Cancun airport arrival
ATM machines at Cancun that disperse USD

Followed the picture instructions given by the rental car company, I went to the meeting point right at the gate but didn’t not find my name on a any signboard. A lot of helpful people were offering taxi and cars and buses but I told them I already got myself a car and waiting for the driver. Some even go as far to offer to call them on my behalf. I didn’t know what were their ultimate intention but I declined anyway.

The meeting place outside of the airport

I called the company and they said they will arrive in 5mins. While waiting, I went into the building in an attempt to search for another ATM. Found one damaged and another one pointed out by another friendly Mexican but I didn’t draw as the ATM didn’t have the Maestro/plus/ usual suspects stickers with the fear that the machine will makan my YouTrip card and that would be disastrous since I have all my money in that card.

Easy Way van came along with a staff holding a board with my name and I hopped onboard. He introduced himself and I immediately recognized him as the same person in the email. He seemed sincere and was unlike the many horror stories I read online about staff of rental companies trying to rip off tourists. He even dropped me off at one of the gas station to use the ATM there, which also didn’t have any stickers on the ATM but I tried and it worked.

The standard procedures happened in the office of Easy Way and I paid for the same amount for what I had requested online reservation, which including the full insurance coverage I had asked for, at a price of USD79 per day. Charged it to my credit card using local currency and then got my car checked before I got onto the road.

Easy Way car rental
The black car was the shuttle from airport to the company

My first stop was to go get my Hard Rock Cafe tee that I would usually do when traveling. So I drove to the hotel zone (long strip of land lined with hotels and retails and beaches catered for tourists) and visited the Hard Rock hotel. The carpark attendant, on understanding the reason of my visit, decided to give me a voucher to redeem a free gift. It was incredible. The hotel itself also looked pretty nicely designed.

Driving to the hotel zone
Hard Rock Hotel
Walking inside the hotel
At the entrance of the hotel

After the quick visit for my purchase, I drove further northwards in the hope to find a carpark to park my car so that I could get down to take some photos of both the sandy beach and the Nichupté lagoon. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any while driving along and only managed to get one pretty far from both the lagoon and beaches. After parking, I walked to the Nichupté lagoon first.

One of the ferris wheel at the hotel zone.

The shortest route led me to an area behind a building and I saw a sign on the fence warning of crocodiles. And not too far from the sign, there was a croc sunbathing in the sun! Took some photos and proceeded to walk to the beach. I found that both the lagoon and the beach as surprising hard to get to as there wasn’t a place to walk to it; seemed like for most these parts of these places were owned by the hotels (at least for the beach).

Warning sign
Is that a croc?
Zoomed in on the sunbathing croc
Panoramic view of the lagoon

I managed to find a Mandala beach entrance that offered a direct route to Playa Forum and I walked through it in my worst dressed beach wear – in my jeans and sneakers. Because of this, I wasn’t able to walk anything past  the edge of beach sand for fear that the soft sand will infiltrate my shoes. From the distance I saw the white stretch of soft sand that went into as far as my sight could reach but what stood out was the turquoise blue waters with waves crashing onto the beachfront! It looked amazing! I took whatever photos that I could master to capture the view but fell seriously short in getting a good image.

The route to the Playa Forum
Playa Forum panoramic view

As soon as I was arrived at Playa Forum, I had to make my way back to the car and be on my way as I had to get to Chichen Itza for the light show at 7pm and it was a terribly long drive of 2.5hrs to reach there. Walking through the streets that had many buildings, some had retails and others empty, I felt that this place really deserved more time than I have given it. Took a picture of the signboard of the famous Coco Bongo club and pretty soon I was in the car ready to drive.

Cancun sign
Coco Bongo club notorious
Retail shops around

Then it was driving all the way, surprised that the GPS made me return to the same hotel stretch saying it was faster and then onwards to route 180 before the 110km/hr 180D. The entire route had many straight roads and were super easy to drive without many cars. The road was well maintained as well. There were two tolls one was somewhere in the middle which was 378 pesos and the one nearer was 80pesos. There was also a police stop which I went past without an issue, as the police asked if I knew Spanish which I replied no.

The first toll
The toll closest Chichen Itza
Going through the small town of Peste

I arrived into Mayaland resort carpark after getting into the wrong route twice, once to the main road to Chichen Itza and once to a Mayaland signboard but the guard told me to go around following the GPS. When I reached the resort, the sun was already about to set.

Mayaland resort

I went to check in at the surprisingly busy reception and was given a room on the 2nd floor. Also paid for the sunrise tour of 1500pesos that will start at 440am the next day. I was in a rush to get to the light show not realizing that Chichen Itza was one hour behind Cancun; I had a little bit more time than I thought.

Went back to the room first to rest a bit and unpack before going to the restaurant which was when I felt very neglected. Nobody attended to me while I waited at the entrance and time was ticking away. I didn’t know if I could make it for the light show if I get dinner. I felt maybe it was because I am Asian and didn’t know Spanish and may not know English and that was why I was being ignored? After approaching one of the staff, I found out that the restaurant closed at 930 but was assured I would be able to return in time for dinner.

Bedroom with 2 beds
Open type wardrobe
Standing shower and toilet
Bathtub with a view!
Panoramic view from the balcony

I went to the reception who told me that I need to drive all the way back to the entrance to enter for the light show (as I initially thought I could enter through the resort private entrance) and so I drove quickly into a pretty crowded carpark and saw a huge crowd already waiting to go in.

The observatory in twilight, taken from Mayaland
Chitchen Itza entrance at night
Crowd waiting for enter

The show began with a lighted up version of the buildings in the site and the people can walk around a prescribed route around to take photos. It was my first time there I couldn’t resist all the selfies I had with the El Castillo. There was no guide in the night tour so it was just photos all the way.

El Castillo and the temple
Ball court
Ball court and El Castillo
Another view
Tzompantii with El Castillo
Venus platform
Walking along with the crowd
Temple of the warriors
Temple close up

Upon completion of the route, I took my seat of A16 in front row and was surprised that my seat view was pretty aligned to the main temple. It was so much different while booking the tickets online as the position shown was more to the right of the temple but in reality it was slightly to the left of the temple center (reference when facing the temple).

View from A16

We waited until everyone was seated, and was slightly worried of the slight drizzle that it would actually rain. Nothing happened literally, not even the light show, as one of the staff came to inform that the show had to be cancelled due to technical difficulties. I was shocked but it seemed normal to everyone as as the people all just stood up and left. Many found themselves at the counter, queuing for rebooking or refund. For me, I just left because it was ridiculous for me to wait in queue while I can go online (the same website to purchase the night show tickets) to refund my tickets.

Seating arrangements

I refunded my carpark costs of 80pesos as well by returning the carpark stub at the exit and drove back to the hotel. Went straight to the restaurant to eat and ordered Mayan cuisine. There were complementary tortilla chips with sauces of various spiciness and I shocked when I tasted one of them which was super spicy. Quickly down some beer to put out the fire in the mouth. My main dish arrived consisting of 4 tacos that had ingredients of  lechon and cochinita, 2 pieces each and it tasted really nice. I also loved the sides that were paste made from beans and some greenish ones which I didn’t know what they were made of. The dinner costed 290pesos with tips.

Carpark ticket
Stalls outside Chichen Itza still opened
Tortilla with 3 sauces of different spiciness
Main dish of 4 tacos
Mexican beer

Returned to the hotel totally drained with my longest 23rd Feb ever (30hrs starting from the 23rd Feb in Singapore). Filled up the massive tub and enjoyed my dip in which I fell asleep a few times. The TV sucked of any shows as it wasn’t receiving any signals and I didn’t get Wifi. But it’s fine, I started to jot down stuff before resigning for the night.

Swimming pool at night
Hall way with stairs to the 2nd level
Night view, a little eerie
Pool table
Another part of the hotel

Escape Plan to Mexico, Peru and Brazil February 2020

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Mexico, Peru and Brazil:

Total duration 10D9N
Singapore is 13hrs ahead of Cancun, Mexico and Lima and Cusco, Peru and 11hrs ahead of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Flight time is 17hrs 50mins on Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Newark, New York. 
Flight time from Newark, New York to Cancun is 3hrs 35mins on Viva Aerobus.
Flight time from Cancun to Mexico City is 2hrs 45mins on Aeromexico.
Flight time from Mexico City to Lima is 5hrs 50mins on Aeromexico.
Flight time from Lima to Cusco is 1hrs 21mins on Latam Airlines.
Flight time from Cusco to Lima is 1hrs 30mins on Avianca Airlines.
Flight time from Lima to Rio De Janeiro is 5hrs 10 mins on Avianca Airlines.
Flight time from Rio De Janeiro to Rome is 10hrs on Alitalia Airlines.
Flight time from Rome to Singapore is 11hrs 50mins on Singapore Airlines.

Early morning flight from Singapore to Newark on 23rd Feb at 1250am and arrival in Newark in the morning at 530am on the 23rd Feb.
Same morning flight from Newark to Cancun on the 23rd Feb at 925am and arrival in Cancun at 2pm in the afternoon.
Flight from Cancun to Mexico City on the evening of 24th Feb at 740pm and arrival in Mexico City at 925pm with a transit of 2hrs 30mins and overnight flight to Lima on the 24th Feb night and arrival into Lima at 645am on 25th Feb morning.
Same morning flight at 910am from Lima to Cusco on the 25th Feb and arrival in Cusco on the at 1033am on 25th Feb.
Flight from Cusco to Lima on the morning of 28th Feb at 1055am and arrival in Lima at 1225pm on the 28th Feb.
Same day overnight flight from Lima to Rio de Janeiro in the night of 28th Feb at 930pm and arrive in Rio de Janeiro in the early morning of 29th Feb at 440am.
Flight from Rio de Janeiro to Rome in the afternoon of 1st Mar at 4pm and arrive in Rome in the morning of 2nd Mar at 7am.
Same day flight from Rome to Singapore in the morning of 2nd Mar at 1050am and arrive in Singapore in the early morning of 3rd Mar at 540am.

Cancun Day 1 - Arrival into Cancun, Hotel Zone visit and Chichen Itza light show
Cancun Day 2 Chichen Itza sunrise tour, Ik Kil Cenote, Marlin beach and flight to Lima
Cusco Day 3 Flight to Cusco, Sacsayhuaman, Cusco City and train to Aguas Calientes
Machu Picchu Day 4 - Machu Picchu morning tour, Sun Gate and Inca bridge
Machu Picchu Day 5 - Huayna Picchu, Machu Picchu museum, Aguas Calientes and train to Cusco
Lima Day 6 Cusco walkabout, flight to Lima and Lima tour and flight to Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro Day 7 - Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro day tour to Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain and Carnaval Champions Parade.
Rio de Janeiro Day 8-9-10 Flight to Rome and flight back to Singapore, Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was planned as a solo trip for a couple of reasons. First, my other half does not have enough leave and so I had to go on my own. Second, everyone has an impression that its not safe to travel to Mexico and South America, so I had to go alone first. Lastly, the itinerary is not very enjoyable due to a lot of time spent on traveling so I had to do it alone. I planned it this way because having flown so far away from Singapore to this part of the world, I would want to clear see all the 3 wonders situated around this region so as to get the best out of my time (unfortunately not money)!

Budget nature: Budget Buster

Costs of living was pretty affordable in these places except for the touristy areas. However, due to how I have planned my itinerary. My choices of accommodations include those that were just next to the sites (like Chichen Itza and Machu Picchu) and flights that were inflexible due to the tight schedule and some of these are expensive. International flights flying from countries to countries were expensive too.

Complexity: Difficult

A lot of time was required to plan this to get the best movement. Flight planning was very challenging as not all routes were available country to country (such as from Cancun to Rio de Janeiro) and as I had chose to redeem miles for 2 of my flights, waitlist created some adjustments to my flights. I even screwed up one overnight flight which I bought wrongly resulted in money going down the drain.

I was also timing my itinerary to be within the schedule of 10 days, to fly off on the midnight of Sunday and to return on the early morning to minimize any impact to family time. Also I was also timing to attend the Champions’ Parade of the Rio de Janeiro Carnaval. In trying to visit the 3 wonders, cater for the long journey to and from Machu Picchu and getting to watch the Carnaval, this is one of the most difficult itinerary I have planned to date!

Los Angeles 2018 Day 15 – Citadel Premium Outlets and Home Sweet Home

This was the last day in the US and as usual we slept in late. I felt like going for a run as the weather was rather inviting and I haven’t been running for a while. The alarm clock woke me up and I walked to the window with the full view of the bay in front of me. It was tempting, seeing joggers going on the path alongside the beautiful bay but laziness got the better of me and I was back in bed.

View from our room

840 and I woke in horror to find yet again that we had to have breakfast in bed, courtesy of me collecting them from the breakfast area. I brushed my teeth quickly and went down to the breakfast area to get food. Approached the staff to asked for disposable plates but was given a tray instead and she affirmed that I could bring back the plates and the housekeeping staff would take care of it.

I went to get whatever the small tray could allow me to and brought back the usual stuff. Went back a second round to get more juice and coffee and went back to the room to eat first while mommy joined later. To wake K up, I turned on the TV and soon mommy was carrying him over to the living room.

Breakfast from the buffet table

We quickly packed while K ate his breakfast and before long, we were ready to leave. Called the valet to have my car ready by 1020am and after K was dressed, we brought everything down. Checked out was quick and we loaded up the luggage and was on our way to Fashion Valley to visit an Apple store.

Apple Store

Fashion Valley

12mins drive and we parked at a sheltered car park free of charge. Walked to Apple store and had the intention to get the iPad Pro. I was then introduced by the staff on its capabilities and was already convinced that I could use it for stuff other than social media, when we got all the accessories and iPad ready to be bought, the costs gave me a surprise. I had forgotten to add in the tax and after all the costs added up, it wasn’t that much different in price compared to what was available in Singapore. I apologized and we left.

Not all was lost as from the corner of my eye I caught a store having discounts and checked with mommy if she was interested to get jeans from 7 for all mankind. We walked in and with a 40% storewide discount, she got herself a pair of jeans. Not a wasted trip.

We hurried back to the car as we had overstayed the visit and proceeded to drive to Citadel premium outlets, skipping the Carlsbad premium outlet that we initially thought we would visit. Went through a toll road unknowingly and referring to the signboards, I could pay the one time toll online.

Citadel was a huge area designed like its name suggested. Parking was free too and we made a dash to the loo after the getting off. Had our lunch by getting some sandwiches from Pronto Cafe. We sat just outside to eat and while mommy finished her sandwich quickly and went ahead for her last minute shopping, I waited for K to finished his.

Arriving at Citadel

Citadel outlets

Quite crowded


…for lunch

Disturbing warnings found in Oakley

Brought k to go around and found that Citadel didn’t have as good a deal for some of the stores as in San Francisco, eventually I ended up only getting a pair of chinos from AX. K had a slight tummy ache and we used the family room that had a tiny toilet bowl for K, fitted nicely to his bum and his height.

Huge Xmas tree at Citadel

Family toilet with a cute kids size toilet bowl

We then got ourselves an ice cream from a store with the same name as the sandwich for about $3ish but was given almost 3 scoops which I thought was a good deal. We met mommy along the way who was buzzing around the shops and eventually we ended up in Disney as the last destination before popping back into the car at 430pm and driving towards Courtyard by Marriott for our Hotel by day booking, 45mins away.

It was not far by distance but the LA traffic was the main contributor to the extended time. Tried to take the carpool lane that helped in some cases getting away from jam but not others. Reached the hotel by 520pm. There was again valet parking only, $18. The valet was however kind enough not to charge after I explained that I wasn’t staying long, with the agreement to just leave the car close to the entrance.

Went to checked in and was given a room on the first level. It was good as K had already fallen asleep and mommy was carrying him. The room was within easy reach and soon K was on the bed snoozing while we repacked the bags, ensuring that we do not hit the 23kg per luggage weight limit. Had to throw away some of my old clothes including my jeans and shoes to make way for the new stuff.

Room in Marriott


Old making way for the new

Mommy bathed and I tried to find out where to return the car. Tried calling Enterprise and the automated system wasn’t leading me to the right people and when someone actually picked up, I didn’t think she answered my question and informed that I could drop my car at the airport itself.

After a small struggle to get the K into bath as he was woken up dazed, we rushed to get out of the room by 645pm. Spoke to the valet and was informed that the return for the car was indeed NOT at the airport but at Bellanca Ave, as per on its website and google maps. I quickly drove to location which was just 12mins away, after tipping him. The signs along the way indeed helped show the way, reaffirming the directions and following the “Others” and then “Enterprise” directions, we arrived on the return location.

The area was big but there was a staff there to direct me on where to drop the car and he proceeded with the checking. I got all my luggage off and he then proceeded with printing me the final receipt. Checked that the refueling charge was at a not-too-ridiculous price of $4/gallon, and that indeed there was no higher-than-usual drop off fees (as I was worried when at San Francisco), we headed for the shuttle bus together with the staff as he helped to bring the luggage for us to the bus stop steps away.

Enterprise at Bellanca Ave

Bus stop for shuttle to LAX

The bus was here within minutes and after lugging everything onboard, we sat on the bus on our way to LAX. It was then I realized that the flight was actually at 2225 instead of 2045, giving us another hour more of free time!

We arrived at LAX 10mins later and I asked the driver where we could get off for Terminal B. The reply was rather disappointing as she informed that she wasn’t told about Terminal B and would be easier for us to just alight and walked there. Without much of a choice we did that.

Rented a trolley for $5 (reaffirming that it was damn bloody expensive in LA) and slowly made our way to the international airport.

Not free

Walking towards International Terminal

Checked in at the SIA counters and all the luggage made the cut without issues. We proceeded to go through security which was on the 2nd floor and while there was a crowd, it wasn’t too long before we were at the main departure area.

DFS shopping for some Ghirardelli chocolates which was disappointingly higher priced than those we saw at Ralph’s but bought enough to get it at $6 per pack.

Walked to the central dining place to get some food. I ate Panda Express which was Teriyaki chicken with mixed veg and fried rice and a bottle of drink at a $15 and mommy got something similar. Shared the food with K and moved to the gates early. We didn’t get through the immigration counters and were worried that these were at the gates but upon reaching the gate we didn’t see any.

Shopping inside LAX

Panda Express


Fortune cookie


Walking towards the gates

I went to check with one of the staff and understood that this was no longer required! Something new. Tried to pay for my toll and found that online payment were only for new ones and not one that I already passed, so I had no choice but to wait for Enterprise to charge me (which they did, invoice of $11.71 came in an email 1 month later).

We spent the last hour waiting for boarding while mommy bought some nuts from the stores nearby. Then the call for business and PPS started. We didn’t hear the call for us to board but asked anyways and was surprised that we could already.

Getting into the seats, K started his game while I just chilled. The plane took off after a while and food came 2 hrs later. The rest of the flight was no drama, spent half of the time  in front of the screen and the other half sleeping. Since we would be arriving in the morning, we timed the sleep to be later so as to stay awake when we arrived in Singapore.



This was our long duration year end holidays and the decision for the location was driven by cheap launch prices for premium economy. The savings from the tickets were offset by the high costs of travel in California. The trip itself had a lot of driving that something took too much energy that left my physically drained at the end of the day. Coupled with constant carrying of K, I thought it wasn’t as enjoyable as I hoped to be.

That said, there were still a lot of experiences that was new that I was happy to share with K. Other than seeing the wonderful Grand Canyon and Golden Gate Bridge, taking a helicopter and glamping under the stars, seeing Mars from a telescope, these were memories good enough for growing K.

The costly travel was contributed by transportation and food. For me, the most surprising part was that fuel wasn’t main bulk of costs of transportation, it was actually the parking.

San Diego 2018 Day 14 – San Diego Sea World and Gasclamp Quarters

Woke up with less than 30mins left for breakfast. I quickly went out of the room to the breakfast area. There was a small buffet table and a automatic waffle making machine. Took some disposable plates and filled them up with whatever I could and brought them back to the room. Had breakfast while mommy cooked and soon K joined us upon waking up and ate breakfast too.


List of information on a strip

Though not Disney hotel, Mickey’s in the hall

Leaving Homewood Suites

Check out timing was at an easy 12pm, but we were on our way out by 11 and made our way to our accommodation in San Diego, Homewood suites San Diego. It was a 2 hr drive, on the highway for a good part and a nicer coastal view nearer to San Diego. Pumped gas at Shell for $50 which didn’t fill to full as San Diego gas was quite expensive.

Driving to San Diego on the carpool lane

We arrived to find out a $42 valet for parking without other options and I dropped off the luggage with the bellboy and checked in first. While the bell brought the luggage to the room, we drove to SeaWorld.

Parking at SeaWorld costed $22, general parking and mommy bought the tickets at the self help kiosks, for a total of $270. The park was opened until 5pm and so we had to make the best we could. First we stopped at a cafe for lunch and bought 2 x chicken sandwiches for almost 20ish and it didn’t taste good as the cheese was pungent. K had his lunch cooked by Mom and after which, we went for the Orca show.

Seaworld entrance


Inside the park

Our wraps


One of the rides

The show was pretty good with 3 whales out and about, splashing a lot of water as the trainer belted out information. 30mins and then, we found ourselves at the jellyfish ride and the octopus rides. K made the 42” height limit and was able to board them with me. Jellyfish made me a little dizzy but the octopus one was basically a mechanical swing.

Orca whale show

Like free Willy


Up on land to say hi

Otter feeding – totally relaxed on its back

Jellyfish ride

Octopus Swing

After the few rides and much persuasion to visit other exhibits instead of taking the rides, we made a short visit to see the crabs then we were on our way to the Arctic exhibit. The Arctic exhibit had Baluga whales and we saw other people in their up close and personal experience with one Baluga. While K was busy fiddling with his camera, he dropped it to the ground and it stopped functioning. I tried to check it but couldn’t revived it. We then moved on to the other exhibits while K was being pissed off with what happened to his camera. Further on, we saw seals and walruses and then underwater a group of 3 playful Baluga, beautiful creatures gracefully swimming around.

Moray eels exhibits

Giant crab

Map of the entire Seaworld

What a scary ride…

Artic expedition displays


Sleeping seal

Walrus on its back

Swimming baluga

We walked to the penguins exhibit that had a slow travellator within that brought us slowly through, seeing the feeding of the penguins and the other section had puffins and other birds.

Xmas at in Seaworld

Penguin Encounter

Emperor penguins standing proud

After this, we walked to the shark encounters and saw from starting from the top, through to underwater. There were many sharks there, some of them were large! Reminded me of our Singapore’s now extinct underwater world.


Walking through the waters

More sharks overhead

An another one

Then as hastily as we came, we hastily proceeded to the sealion show which had already started. It was a pretty entertaining one, with jokes and lots of funny actions, very different form of presentation from the awesome Orca shows.

Dancing with sealion

Otter waving goodbye

After the show, we went over to the sealion point just behind and bought from the shop there some feed for the sea lions. It was fun feeding but made even more fun because it was closing time and they gave out more fishes to some of the people there to feed. We fed those barking sea lions and it was really funny to see them being so exciting and calling out to us for the food.

Feeding sealions through holes

Calling for food

The park closed officially at 5pm and we walked to the souvenirs shop to see if there were anything to get. Eventually, we only pressed two souvenir coins and didn’t get anything else and we were out of the park. Drove back to the hotel and dropped off our leftover barang barang before driving to Gaslamp quarters and parked at Horton Plaza.

Closing time

Horse shoe crabs near the entrance

Souvenir shops

Street of Gaslamp quarters

One of the old style buildings there

We took a walk around the supposedly happening area, looking for a place to have dinner and ended up at a Mexican restaurant Los Panchos. Upon entering, there were just feels of Mexico (never been there but I felt so) with Mexican music and deco.

Los Panchos

Interior of the restaurant

Mexican feels

Started Tortillas and quite spicy salsa that K couldn’t resist eating those corn chips. Then with Pineapple Mojito that at first tasted sour but then it became better and also I, a little dizzy. The main dishes of Enchiladas and Fajitas of mix up meats and seafood were awesome! Came with the wraps for us to made tacos out of. As usual, these were rather huge dishes and we couldn’t finish them.

Tortilla chips





To walk off the alcohol and then the food, we went to Ralph’s for shopping and purchased some 70ish worth of items including Starbucks instant coffee and foodstuff before heading back.

Lamp post in Gaslamp Quarter

Brightly lit street

Horton Plaza carpark

Ralphs’ supermarket

Big supermarket

Many fresh produce

Paid for the carpark at the exit manned by a cashier at a whopping cost of $28 for 3.5hrs of parking. Back at the apartment it was a rather easy affair of bathtub fun and TV before going to bed.

Fire on the table to warm hands



Living room

View from the room

Anaheim 2018 Day 13 – Disney California Adventure Park

Awoke at 9 on the day of theme park visit. Figured that we spent so much (much more than on the tickets) on the room, might as well make the most use of it. With a young kid, optimizing theme park visit wasn’t top priority, thus even when given an option for an earlier visit of 1hr before official opening as a guest of the hotel ( which was ridiculously early at 7am) we couldn’t be bothered. Wasn’t easy to get K out of bed and we tried to optimized the packing for the check out. I moved some of the smaller non essential items to the car first and have mommy and K go over to the club for breakfast on the second floor. There was a simple buffet spread and a couple of choices for food and a big TV that was showing Brave. We left at about 10am after breakfast, as I went back to the room to bring the luggage to the bell.

Morning view from the room

Beach Comber club

Inside the club room


Walking to Disneyland was at least a 10min walk, through some car parks and through Downtown Disney District (a street with some shops including Starbucks and Sephora). There was a tram that could take visitors direct to the park but it was for Disneyland instead of California adventure park.

Downtown Disney District

We bought tickets via Klook that was slightly cheaper than those offered online and chose one park visit instead of hopper. There weren’t much time anyway and we thought that Disneyland would be mostly the same as those closer to our part of the world (eg. Hong Kong). Our print outs were exchanged for tickets that were tagged to photos taken at the entrance. Then we entered the park.

Californian Adventure Park entrance


Wanted a stroller as I wouldn’t be able to carry K thru out and was told that it would be outside the park next to the entrance of Disneyland. Didn’t expect re-entry to happen so soon and went out alone to queue for the stroller, rental at $15 the whole day. They had other accessibility options for rent too, like personal mobility vehicles.

Stroller rental



Returned to find mommy and K at the shop. Walked to the Disney Jr dance party for our first show. The floor was almost full and we had to sit to the sides. Then the show began and some kids were already out at the front dancing with the performers. This interesting show brought together physical dances from the dancers, interaction with digital presentations on screen and physical presentations using bubbles and fake leaves, and characters coming from screen to on stage, something like a 4D show. Amusing to both kids and adults.

Tram inside the park

Inside Disney Junior Dance party

And Mickey arrived in his roadster costume!

After the 30mins fun, we went to the Hyperion theatre to watch a rather professionally done Frozen musical. Again we were the last bunch of those people there and ended up at the top balcony, offering a birds eye view of the stage. It was pretty good with the visual effect and the singing, only thing was the characters were not the same dimensions as that in the animation.

Walking towards Hyperion theatre

Elsa with the song

Olaf and the others

Afternoon was spent having a quick lunch getting chicken box from Poultry Palace for 10ish, and walking around the Incredibles section to find the characters which we couldn’t see. Queued 50mins for midway mania which was pretty fun, where we were in seats that moved from screen to screen with guns to fire at the screens. Then we proceeded to Cars area to queue for an outdoor ride at Maters’ farm and snapped a photo with a talking Lightning. Sat down for some popcorn and ice cream before moving on.

Groot at the Guardians section

Poultry Palace

Inside the box

Midway Mania

Mr Potato Head

Moving seats

Cars Land Winter version

Mater ride

Outdoor ride that swings around

Lightning parked for a photo shoot

K talking to Lightning with moving eyes!

Cars land

Place to buy snacks


Ice-cream cone

Casa Della tires

Xmasy at Radiator Springs

Long queue for this ride which we didn’t queue for

K then fell asleep in his stroller, rejecting my offer to take the Ferris wheel or the other rides. We then walked to the Elena of Avalon show, a street song and dance show.

Elena of Avalon street song and dance

K woke up a little annoyed due to the lack of sleep but quickly recovered when he saw a Buzz lightyear bubble maker that mommy bought him. Instantly became his favorite toy, creating bubbles along the way as we strolled through the rest of the park going through Grizzly peak, an American theme area.


Huge bear statue at Grizzly peak

Old American town theme

We returned to the Hollywood area to line up for a photo session with Spider-Man and K acquainted with some kids in the queue and played till we met Spidey.

Disneyland at night, with the Xmas tree in background

Neon lights at Hollywood studios

Spider-Man was really into character, as the friendly neighborhood superhero and it was amusing when he talked about the bubbles coming from the Buzz in K’s hands. We took our photos professionally and with my iPhone and then proceeded to walk towards the exit.

Friendly neighbourhood superhero

Santa spotted

Near the entrance, we saw lines queuing to take a photo with Mickey and Minnie. Walked a bit more to look for Goofy but couldn’t see him and eventually lined up for Minnie (K’s preference). The short line was about a 10mins wait but Minnie had to leave by 630pm and so we did a selfie instead (K was naughty and hit Minnie’s nose).

We got out of the park way before closing time and returned the stroller but re-entered the park to walk through Californian hotel via Grizzly peak as the distance felt a little shorter than the route we took to entrance in the afternoon through the Downtown Disney District. The hotel looked more grand than the one we stayed as we strolled through its lobby.

Jazz performance on the street of Buena Vista

Retrieved the luggage from the bell after snapping a photo of the giant Xmas tree they replaced Goofy in the same position and we were on our way to dinner at Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles, where we had chicken, waffles, corn bread and soup.

Lounge at the Disney hotel

Goofy’s replaced with the tree


Apple juice in a cute bottle


After dinner, we drove to our accommodation for the night, Homewood Suite Anaheim by Hilton. The suite was big and had the comforts of a hotel and a nice kitchen came with it. It was the best of worlds for families who wanted to prepare meals. The only small issue was that there wasn’t detergent nor an electric flask/kettle. Got my hot water from hot water flask at the dining area in which the reception on duty helped to replace and the cool water from the water cooler.

Living room



Sink outside toilet

Toilet and bath

Night was a combination of bath time, washing up of utensils and then it off to bed after some time watching Disney Jr channel, the cartoon theme of the day.

Anaheim 2018 Day 12 – Detour to Camarillo Premium Outlets and Disneyland Pier Hotel

It was the 2nd traveling day when we would stayed in a Disneyland hotel, to enjoy the resort. As usual, mommy woke up first to get the meals prepared while I was up later to pack the luggage. Bought some stuff from supermarket the day before to make some breakfast of muffin and eggs. However, the bread smelled a little bad and K had issues with that.

Later on, after having warmed up and fully awoke, he wanted to go to the playground. Earlier on, the ground was wetted by automatic sprayers and when he went down the slides, his bum landed on the muddy ground and stained his pants. But the son of the Airbnb owners, H, came joined him at the swing and the playground and he was a lot more muddier! K and H interacted, with H showing K where to play and how to get down the spiral slide and K was mostly showing off his toy. They also went up to the watch tower for a little while, as I loaded up all the luggage.

30 Past 11am and finally we were hitting the roads, bidding farewell after this short but amusing playtime between the 2. Didn’t visit the beach at Pismo Beach.

We decided on an adhoc visit to another outlet since we didn’t have enough for the first one and the drive to Camarillo was about 2hrs. Took the highway instead of the coastal road unlike the previous day to get there quicker but was able to past beside the coastal town of Santa Barbara and caught a view of the coast. At around 130pm, we went to In-and-Out burger which was just a few mins drive from the outlet to have our lunch.

Passing by Santa Barbara

Parked at the open air free carpark and went in. While K ate his lunch, I ordered a Cheeseburger with fries. There weren’t other burgers except beef and so mommy only ate the fries. The burger tasted good, with the beef patty being crispy and the fries were nice too, the taste of potato accentuated! It was pretty affordable with the meal only costing about $7ish since we only bought one meal.

In-N-Out burger

Cheese burger meal

After lunch, we drove to Camarillo and parked at the free car park just in front of Tory Burch. There weren’t many people around which was great! We spent some time there and ended with some more purchases before moving on the Polo Ralph and Old Navy. K enjoyed the shopping at Old Navy as there was a hop scotch on the ground for him to skip about. Although we planned as a short visit, we ended up leaving the place at 430pm.

At Camarillo Outlets

Skipping inside Old Navy store

The drive to Disneyland Paradise Pier Hotel was a 2hr drive marred by heavy traffic, even though the distance was a just under 80miles. No matter which route I tried, there was just red lined jams. As we left, we passed through Ventura and in the distance found dark smoke coming out from mountains in the near distance. The winds were blowing away in favor of the LA city and thankfully clear skies prevail.

Bellowing thick smokes from the forest fires

Made a mistake of taking the smaller route which ended up taking more time, with the multiple stop-go due to traffic, and made worse with a train running through. Managed to get back onto the freeway and ended up Anaheim Plaza for a quick stop by at Ulta Beauty for mommy to shop for some cosmetics and K to use the toilet. Then a short drive to Noodle House at Euclid Plaza around 630pm, mins drive from the hotel and place where we ate dinner. Ordered Fried rice and signature noodles for total of 30dollars.

Alta Beauty at Anaheim Plaza

Inside huge Ulta Beauty

Noodle house restaurant

Fried Rice

Signature Noodles

The drive to Disneyland hotel was a little confusing and ended up in the theme park carpark. Check with the staff and he advised the directions and luckily the car park charges would begin after 15mins. After routing back to the sheltered carpark ($20 for one night), we checked in and was given a really high floor with a view of the park. I forgotten that I have taken the package with the concierge that had food all day, and by that time it was already closed for an hour already by the time we arrived at 9pm. Quickly brought all the luggage up to the room and after a while of rest and playing with the big beach ball soft toy, we went to the pool deck at level 3 to catch the fireworks.

Goofy Statue

For Kids to sit around and catch cartoons

Big room


With bathtub

For us

For K


Coffee machine in room

Lamp in the room

Room view

There was already a small crowd seated out in the open air deck facing in the direction of Disneyland. A couple of minutes and music started to play, all in anticipation of the fireworks show. And all hopes of a night sky spectacular were dashed when the staff informed everyone that the fireworks were cancelled due to the windy conditions.

Fireworks level

Pool deck for fireworks viewing

The elevator was packed with people and the automated load distribution of the elevator wasn’t helping. We ended up taking the stairs down to the ground floor where picked up something from the car before taking the lift back to the room.

The night ended with the usual bath time and a dose of Disney cartoons before going to bed.

Pismo Beach 2018 Day 11 – Coastal drive to Prismo Beach

Leaving San Francisco after 3 nights and it was going to be a long route back to LA. I drove to Enterprise for a replacement vehicle that I made. The reason for this change even though I am asking for the same type of vehicle was that at point of online registration, the cost of rental sky rocketed to SGD2k whereas when I separated these rentals into 2, the total costs were halved. The place was opened early but by the time I arrived it was already already past 9am. There was light traffic and effortlessly, I turned into a small parking compound and parked the vehicle there.


It was a busy day already for the staff and when I had a chance, I explained the situation and asked if it was easier to just extend the rental. She agreed and assured too that the rates would be the same and there were no additional charges that would be incurred. Waited in line for her to deal with the outstanding customers and even the phone calls before I left with an agreement extension with the promise of an email to confirm our discussion.

Driving back, I parked parallel on a street adjacent to Mission street and put in the coins for a 15mins parking. Then walking along it, I quickly stumbled into a small cafe Cumaica cafe to grab a quick breakfast in the form of a wrap. It was rather busy in the morning with lots of customers getting takeaways and the place was rather full, a signal for good food. Returned to the car with some time to spare and drove back to the apartment.

15mins starts now

Where I got my breakfast


The day was planned as a purely transition trip via the coastal roads back towards LA. We had an intermediate stop half way through at Pismo Beach, one of the bigger sea side town to break the journey into two. After our breakfast, packing and enough TV, we got on way. The host was kind enough to settle my fine so I dropped the fine as instructed in his mail. Then we hit the roads, getting onto highway 101 going out of San Francisco before splitting towards Monterey via the coastal highway.

That’s why an SUV

It was a 2hrs drive to our lunch stop at Sand City, an ad hoc choice when we decided to try American fast food that wasn’t Macs and Google turned out Five Guys as one of the top choices for burgers. As we were getting off the 101, Five Guys was conveniently available at Sand City, and I just turned into the massive car park available there and parked close to the restaurant.

We sat in and while K was fed his lunch, I ordered a bacon burger and a cheeseburger with fries and a vanilla milkshake. When the burgers were ready, I found that the orders were wrong and asked for the correct burger. The staff immediately went to make another burger and allowed me to keep the wrong burger. It was a good gesture but we had too many burgers now! The burgers were pretty tasty and I loved the fries as they were quite solid to chew on. There were also peanuts free for all to take but we didn’t take any.

Five Guys

Inside Five Guys

Burgers, fries and shake

The other bacon burger

Another Target at Sand City

After lunch, we continued our road trip via the coastal highway 1 and it was a long drive. I thought the Google map was wrong when we saw that it was a 5hrs drive to Pismo Beach, whereas taking the highway 101 was only 4hrs in total. The coastal road had lesser lanes and would be expected to be slower.

Anyhow, we wouldn’t want to just drive by without taking at least one trip along the coast so we continued on. It was indeed a nice drive, for quite a few sections along the coast, there were worthy viewpoints to stop and admire.

My family was initially awake and enjoying the view but as the drive dragged on, they also drifted to sleep while I continued on my own. Drove into the sunset and stopped at Piedras Blancas Light Station to take a shot of orangey skies before continuing.

View on the Coastal drive

Stopped for this view

K also snapping away

Road works allows for photo opportunities

Lovely views

At Piedras Blancas Light Station

Sunset over the coast

A little further down the road, there was a car park with a group of people looking out at sea. Being the typical busybody, I drove in, stopped and got out the car to take a look to see what they were looking. I was surprised to find elephant seals lying everywhere on the beach, making some noises as they were there. Took a video and snapped some photos before returning to the car to show mommy who was awake, what the commotion was about.

Coast with elephant seals

The entire highway had a few more car parks along the way for people to stop and admire the view but at that time, it was too dark to see anything and we just drove on and on until we finally arrived at Pismo Beach. Took a stop at the town and put in the address of the Airbnb. Then it was a few more minutes of driving as we went into the residential part of Pismo beach.

Looking at the instructions, we arrived at what looked like a detached house and helped ourselves to the gate. Upon parking into the car park, I went ahead to unlock the apartment door behind and brought the family in first. Then slowly move the luggage into the apartment. We chose this Airbnb because there was an interesting watch tower that was built from a real lifeguard watch tower and it was converted into a small child bedroom. K was very interested to climb up the watch tower and climb into the bed there.

Bedroom with kitchen and living room


Watchtower converted

Cosy bed

After exploring, we finally coerced him to go for dinner. We were thinking Japanese cuisine as it was the simplest food that suits all mouths including that belonging to our fussy K. Ended up in a small little Japanese restaurant called Yamato which served delicious Japanese sushi and Udon to fill our tummies. After the dinner, our usual activity of shopping in a supermarket took place at the mega size supermarket Vons, just across the road.

Yamato Japanese restaurant



More sushi

Vons supermarket

Mega store

Look at the size of that thing!

After shopping, we went back to the apartment and spent some time in front of the TV, bathed and went to bed.

San Francisco 2018 Day 10 – San Francisco Premium Outlets

Shopping day and so we slept in a little later. Mommy woke up to prepare the meals and when we got ready to leave it was almost 1145. When I retrieved the car to bring it closer to the apartment, I found a paper envelope on the windscreen and realized that I was fined for parking there, $110. Messaged the host about it before driving to San Francisco Premium outlets.

Parking fine

So non-existent buildings previous parking space cannot be parked.

It was a 45 mins drive via the Bay bridge and there wasn’t a toll required. The road was under the bridge when going towards Livermore, in smooth flowing traffic.

We arrived at a large parking space but with a lot more cars waiting to park their cars. K fell asleep and so I let mommy alight first so that she could start shopping. The outlets supposed to close at 9pm on normal days but because of Veterans Day, they close 2 hrs earlier. I found a carpark quickly though and that also coincided with the time K woke up.

Went to look for mommy at Tory Burch and as she queued in line to get into the shop, K and I proceeded to Under Armour, both of us kept in touch through free WiFi at the outlets. The items were indeed cheap as I got a pair of shorts, tee and running shoes for about USD100. The downside was sizes were not readily available and had to spend time finding.

San Francisco Premium Outlets

Inside the premium outlets


There was a trolley in the shape of a sports car that we rented to avoid carrying K and it was USD10 the whole day including a USD2 deposit that would be return upon the return of the trolley. After this, we went to the food court to get lunch, bought a bacon wrap for about 10ish but waited really long for it even though it was without queue. Had Haagen dazs ice cream for 4ish dollars one scope and then we were out again after using the rest room.

Trolley rental

Ordered my wrap from here

Chicken wrap and fries

Food court

Again we divided and conquer and K followed me to Lacoste, Superdry, True Religion and Hugo Boss. Some of the shops are just messy, some are small and having that big trolley in them was challenging. Thankfully Pogo kept K busy while I tried on the clothes, occasionally he would call out to me at the top of his voice to ask about the game. Spent some time at Skechers to get new shoes for K (those with lights) and realized after paying that those didn’t come with discounts, the deal was to buy the 2nd pair at 50%. Being the kiasu Singaporean that I am, I returned to find another pair and spent quite a while there due to lack of sizes.

Rushed to Samsonite to get a set of luggage for USD199 that came with large 28” and a cabin luggage, just for the new stuff that we bought. I ended my shopping route at Disney 15mins before closing and bought 2 tees for K and a toy Lightning McQueen. Met mommy at North Face and then we returned to the car, victorious in our purchases.

Returned the trolley

Just across the road junction was Fallon Gateway shopping center with eating options and we went to Ramen 101 for our dinner, for about USD25 we got ourselves some tasty ramen. After dinner, we drove over to Target for another round of shopping. The huge store was opened till 11pm and I lost K and mommy midway, having walked around 3times but was unable to find them. Mommy had to message me the section there were in before we met up again.

Ramen 101

Our bowls of Ramen

Fallon Gateway

Huge Target

Where I got lost

Driving back was also a 45mins drive and since it was pretty late, traffic was smooth and I had to pay toll of $5, unsure why more expensive compared to the first time I crossed it.

Bay bridge drive

K fell asleep and remained all the way. We packed the new stuff into the luggage and prepared for bed too, ending a fruitful but short shopping day.

Shopping results

San Francisco 2018 Day 9 – Alcatraz cruise, Academy of Science and Powell Street

Woke up at 730 to make milk for K and catch up on my travelogues. Wasn’t able to jot down anything for last few days as I was both physically and mentally tired from the trip. Wondered if age played a part in this. 830 and I woke mommy up and dressed K in his sleep. Got out of the apartment by 9am for our 10am crossing to Alcatraz with sleeping K in my arms.

It was a 20mins drive and we parked at the Impark at the waterfront plaza. It was a flat rate of $20 whole day parking for weekend which was even cheaper than what we paid the night before.

Parking near Pier 33

Arrived at 920ish at Pier 33 and carried K who continued to sleep until we walked into the Alcatraz landing cafe where he woke up. Mommy ordered a donut and croissant and a coffee and we quickly ate before moving to queue up, the boarding happened soon after with lots of people getting onto the cruise ship.

Pier 33

Alcatraz Landing Cafe

Inside the cafe

Breakfast before boarding

It was a quick 15min ride on the stable boat and we disembarked soon without much drama and also much view of San Francisco and Alcatraz as the skies continued to be shrouded in haziness. A ranger was going on about the rules and the different routes as part of an welcome introduction to Alcatraz island, which was also then we found out that the haze was caused by a wildfire and that the PMI was in the unhealthy region!

Our cruise ship

Inside the cruise

Ranger giving information

Our first stop was the theatre that showed a discovery channel show featuring Alcatraz, which talked about the prison, and others information like the Indian political takeover. Afterwards, we walked upslope (3 slopes), with K on my shoulders of course, and into the prison where at the entrance, we were given an audio guide for the whole tour. The area wasn’t really big and the walking area was only limited to the ground floor but the sequencing of the tour allow people to walk everywhere at different point in time. There was a schedule of cell gate closing presentation (yes, just so you could experience with sight and sound the opening and closing of the prison cell cold metal gates) at 1130am which we tried to see but couldn’t get much since it was really crowded. I couldn’t get much from the audio either with incessant K disturbances including a midway toilet visit (which required us to exit the prison, had to asked the staff at the entrance of the prison for directions) but adequate to hear some of the interesting stories that happened in the prison, such as the escapes.

Water drum en route to prison

Prison entrance

Place where person belongings were exchanged for prison wear

Place for shower

One typical cell

Times Square

3 levels of cell

Baseball field for inmates

The notorious

Library space for inmates

Cell D for misbehaving lot

Visiting windows

Run down buildings

External of the prison

Looked like a watchtower

Dining hall



Tunnel back to the cruise


Exhibit of Indian occupation of the island

We made the 1230pm (timing up to own preferences) ferry crossing (and again had to ask the staff how to escape) and 15mins later, we were back at the Pier. Walked towards Pier 39 passing some event exhibits that were set up for Diwali and visited the barking sea lions out at the pier. Then walked to the Hana Zen for lunch, where we sat near the windows had a smoky view of Alcatraz.

Cannon display at Pier 33

Barking sealions in the distance

Ordered a Oyakudon and chicken teriyaki meals for $43 which took a while to come but it tasted ok. After lunch we returned to the carpark to take the car to our next destination, the California Academy of Science.

Hana Zen

Inside the restaurant


Teriyaki Chicken

View from the table

View from Pier 39

Pier 39 in the day

It was a 30mins drive there and we arrived at about 3plus. K had fallen asleep and after parking parallel (for free during that period) on Nancy Pelosi Dr, I went down to check out the place first. We were actually behind the building and after looking at the entrance fees I quickly returned to the car.

A victorian designed house while driving thru SF

California Academy of Sciences

A nice park just across the building

Woke K up so that we could still spend some time at the museum and went back to get the tickets. Got 2 adults tix for $39 each and K entered for free since he was not 4 yet. There was dinosaur bones at the entrance but the planetarium was closed for the day. We proceeded to line up for the rainforest which had very interesting animals such as a live giant toad and giant millipede and many close encounters with big butterflies. After 3 small levels of this environment, we went to the basement aquarium and were again wowed by giant size fresh water fishes. There were lots of exhibits that made this felt more like a zoo + aquarium than a museum. Spent quite a bit of time there including touching a starfish and then going up to take a photo of a white crocodile.


Dino skeleton

Huge toad

Giant Millipede

Monarch butterfly

Blue butterly

Ant house

Some fish


At the aquarium

More jellies

White crocodile

It was nearing closing time of 5pm and we briskly walked through the exhibits of the wild of Africa and snatched a quick view of the “Giants of the land” exhibit before the staff told us to head towards the exit, after a visit to the restroom.

Wild of Africa display

Huge hanging skeleton

Remembering I had a toll to pay, I drove to a place called Geary Convenience Store within a few minutes drive away to pay there, according to the list of places to pay. Parking wasn’t easy to find and after driving around a corner, I managed to find one slot to park. While my family stayed in the car to wait for me, I walked to the store only to find it closed. Was about to leave when a lady asked what did I want and I said to pay the tolls. Luckily, she was the owner of the store and had only just left but for some reason came back. She then opened the doors and helped me with the toll paying machine. Paid and left the store, a burden lifted from my brain from not forgetting to pay the toll.

Geary Convenience Store to pay toll

Using this machine


The sun had set while we drove to Impark opposite Bloomingdales on Mission street. Spent some time shopping at the mall, while mommy visited Sephora and Tory Burch, I was out waiting with K while he played with my hand phone or just people watching in this massive building. Afterwards, we got onto Powell street and visited the Walgreens (mommy shopping) and took a few photos of the San Francisco cable car (the traditional one). At one point I had to bring K to Hotel Nikko to use the restroom as there weren’t any nearby. As we walked back towards Nordstrom after shopping, we saw the famous turning around of the cable car manually happening in front of us. 2 of the staffs had to rotate the cable car on a movable road so that the cable car directions could switch to face the opposite direction.

Fifth and Mission parking

Multi storey mall

Inside Tory Burch

San Francisco street at night

Traditional cable cars

Cable car turnaround location


We ate at the food court (similar concept as Singapore) at the basement and ordered Korean vegetable rice (like Chinese vegetable rice concept, soup based food was closed) and mommy ordered pasta (costing about 10ish per person). After our meals it was already 930pm and everything else was closed. We couldn’t even exit the building from other exits other than through the main one.

Inside the food court

Upon returning to the car, we realized that there was a break in on the car just parked next to us, the license plate of the plate indicated that the car was from Maine! (out of state) So  stories of cars break ins were real and heeding the advice of not putting anything in the car should be followed, even in parking places like these. The fees were $12 for parking.

We drove to the Safeway near our apartment at Mission Street and while K and I stayed in the car to care for the barang barang that mommy bought, mommy went to get the groceries necessary to prepare for K meals the next day. By the time we returned it was almost 1030pm. Brought everything back into the apartment first as I went to look for another parking due to the overcrowded space just outside the apartment. Thankfully there was one space that was used to be a parking space for building that was no longer in existence. Put up 2 TV shows for K on Amazon fire stick and after that, bathed him before we all ended the long day, in bed.

Safeway supermarket