Lima 2020 Day 6 – Cusco walkabout, flight to Lima and Lima tour and flight to Rio de Janeiro

It’s more or less a day of transit for day 6, with 2 flights that will eventually have me in Rio De Janeiro at the end of it. However, I still woke up fairly early. Went to have my breakfast on the second floor of the hotel and there was a small buffet table but with a big balcony that showcased the beautiful view of the Plaza de Armas of Cusco historical town.

Breakfast round 1
Round 2
Breakfast area
View from the balcony

Once I was done, with the short amount of time that I had left in Cusco before my flight to Lima, I took a little walk around the historical old town in the chilly morning.

Felt a little regret for not being able to visit the cathedral at the Plaza de Armas as the interior would have been quite nice. For the moment, I could only see from the outside since the cathedrals were neither open or if opened, had a service going on and tourists were not allowed.

One of the church around the plaza
Cusco Cathedral which was having a service

I made my way to San Blas and saw the cobbled street and the buildings that were built on Inca rocks, which I thought was interesting, an integration of modernity with historical foundations. It wasn’t many things going on at that time in the quiet street as it was still pretty early.

Modern building on top of the ancient Inca foundations.
Street of Cusco
Cathedral at San Blas
View of San Blas from the top
Panoramic view of San Blas

After the short walk to San Blas (with some Pokemon Go time to catch Pokemon exclusive to South America), I returned to the square and spent  some time sitting at the plaza and enjoyed being in the moment. Googled for things to buy and then there was a recommendation to visit the market, so I walked that couple of minutes to San Pedro market. It was a market under one roof, separated into two sections of wet and the other dry. The market didn’t seemed too crowded at this time though I saw a man carry an entire pig on his shoulders bringing it to a store.

The fountain in the middle of the plaza.
Unesco sign of the historic town
Another panaromic view of the Plaza de Armas
Sights while walking to the market – Plazoleta Espinar
Basilica Menor de la Merced
A snake design in the park
Mundo Antiguo Spanish School
An historical arch on the street
St. Peter’s Church just opposite the market
San Pedro Market
Wet market, a pig was being carried in by one of the stall owner

Was still roaming around till I came to a store and found it selling quinoa and chia seeds, exotic food where over in Singapore was termed as healthy alternatives whereas the locals here eat daily. Asked mommy (over whatapp) if she wanted it and bought a pack. I also bought local dried sweet corn (remembering that delicious appetiser which I ate when having lunch in Ceviche Seafood Kitchen restaurant at the Plaza de Armas and loved it so much) to bring home. The quinoa was 2pesos and the sweet corn was 7pesos per kg.

The stall where I bought my foodstuff
Quinoa in a pack

As I walked back, I randomly walked into a pharmacy to check if there were masks available for purchase (since it was sold out back home during the Covid19 pandemic but hadn’t really arrive at the shores of Peru) and this one had stocks, unlike those around Plaza de Armas! I checked with the staff if there was a limit and he said no so I asked for 7boxes, as that’s what my family members back home wanted. These were going at 40pesos per box of 50 which was pretty decent but since there were 7, it became rather bulky for me to lug them home. Fortunately I brought along a foldable bag.

Bought a sweater of baby alpaca wool

Quickly I returned to the hotel and did some repacking. Checked out only at around 9am since it was just 15mins ride to the airport and I figured I had enough time for my 1050 flight to Lima.

Took a taxi just outside the hotel as advised by the hotel staff that it would be perfectly fine to do so. The driver asked for 20pesos which was twice the amount the hotel staff advised me and so I asked for a reduced price and agreed to 15pesos as I didn’t want to waste too much time or look for trouble.

Sure enough, I was there in about 15mins and went to check in my luggage. Proceeded to the gate as it was a small airport and made my way to the lounges located one floor below, avoiding the crowd on the floor above. I was happy to find a rather empty cafe called Altomayo cafe at that floor below and it came with rather comfy seats! After settling in, I ordered an Americano for 8.5pesos and relaxed there till it was time for boarding.

Check in counters at Cusco airport
A huge Incan sun plaque in the airport
At the departure gate
Inside the comfortable cafe
An Americano to drink
A gem hidden from the crowd

When it was almost time, I made my way back up and heard that they had called a few names and one of which was mine. Went over and was given a new ticket with mine that I was holding torn up. Got an upgrade to business class, and I couldn’t be any more thrilled to have it for free! Priority boarding and larger seats, nice! Comparing to a standard flight business class though, this may pale in comparison but it’s free for the 1.5hrs flight so I wasn’t complaining, so thank you Avianca!

The view leaving Cusco
Many mountains and valleys
A drink only for a short flight
Arriving into Lima
It’s still looking rather foggy

Touched down in Lima airport and exited the airport to find someone with my name on a board. I was surprised as I had requested for a 2pm meetup  as I planned on getting some lunch upon landing at the airport. I needed to withdraw cash from the ATM as well but after a few exchanges in a part- Spanish-part-English conversation this person who was the driver and calling the guide, named Enrique, over the phone to confirm, we boarded the car and was on our way to central Lima.

The outside of the airport
View of Lima street from the car

The journey there, to say the least, was horrendously gridlocked with traffic going everywhere! The skilled driver however got me there in one piece. We chatted with whatever English he knew and I was thankful that he was rather friendly and conversant and I learnt more about him and his family throughout the journey. He even played Singapore’s music on Spotify and had Bluetooth that over to the stereos – cool move.

Rocking Singapore songs on Spotify in Lima
Arriving into Plaza San Martin

We arrived at Lima’s Plaza San Martin and that’s where we met Enrique. I got off and there was where my day tour of Lima started. He was a guide who could speak English, and was pretty fun to go along with as he mixed the facts with some sarcasm which was quite funny. Introducing the buildings around the lovely square (which included a building that was recently burnt down) and after a photo, we walked along a pedestrian only shopping street, called Jirón de la Unión,  in a bid to find an ATM (athough just next to the square were some forex counters that had the best rates around from USD to Pesos, kinda like our Raffles place forex in Singapore, but I didn’t bring USD as all my cash were in the YouTrip card).

Historical hotel facing the square
Panoramic view of the plaza
What’s left of the building caught in fire

Along the way I learnt about the buildings with the balconies on the 2nd floor of the buildings that also landed the heritage status for this location of Lima. I treated him to a Starbucks frap since he mentioned that Peru’s coffee was being used in the Starbucks there while we were walking along and I wanted to see if there’s any difference. There was a promo and it ended up around 18+pesos for both fraps, which was quite comparable to what I pay for in Singapore.

Norkys were the KFC equivalent Peruvian style
Beautiful balcony
Saw this Church of La Merced
Modern retail in historical building
Pedestrian walking street with retail shops throughout
Starbucks inside on the of the buildings
Casa Courret had really beautiful balconies

Then we continued along and found a bank in which there was a short queue for atm and I queued for it. Unfortunately this was the globalatm machine that had the highest fees for using the atm but since I only needed to withdraw just one more time from here, I just proceeded.

Continued on and the street brought us to the Plaza de Armas. Here was again a square surrounded by many buildings, one of which belonged to the Mayor of Lima and another the presidents’ residence (Palacio de Gobierno). Then as we walked to the side of the residence, he pointed out that the room facing the oldest bar of Lima across the street was where the president lived, jokingly.

Fountain at the Plaza de Armas of Lima
Vultures siting at the top of the fountain
City Hall of Lima
Archbishop’s Palace of Lima
Guards behind the fence…
of the presidential palace
Panoramic view of the Plaza de Armas of Lima
Walking path at the side of the palace
High doors meant for entrants riding horses

Nonetheless, we walked into Bar Cordano and looked at the old photos on the wall, showcasing many previous politicians eating at this bar. The popular foodstuff here was the bread with pork slices so I ordered that for lunch, again I also treated the guide, for a total of 30pesos for 2. The pork sandwich was quite nice I thought.

Bar Cordano entrance
Inside the bar
The bread counter
The bread for lunch, yummy

After this, we boarded the car and went on our way to San Francisco church (Monasterio de San Francisco) (not San Francisco of USA) to visit the catacombs and the church. St. Francisco was a much revered person and this church and the gallery was for him. There was no photos allowed while visiting the catacombs and I was warned by the stuff when I took one at the entrance. However, with the guide, I was able to bypass the queue and went in ahead. It was an interesting tour of this building, with Enrique explaining the construction of how it would withstand earthquakes, the paintings on the wall, especially with the Peruvian last supper and it’s differences. After that, we proceeded on to the level below to the catacombs and there we saw the construction of the catacombs and how it was a mass grave for so many people as there weren’t any cemeteries before. Walking below the church I was transferred back in time to how things were in Lima back in the past.

San Francisco Monastery
Entrance to the gallery and Catacombs
The Last Supper Peruvian style
One photo of the catacombs
This one was like a well with the bones

Last visit was to the church above and it was on this day that many people came to offer flowers to St. Francisco. We went into the church and I was amazed at how the interior was so different from other churches with the moorish design of red and white. We exited after a while and along the street while we waited for the car to pick us up, some of the ladies sitting there by the food cart were laughing away when they saw me, saying that I might be a Covid19 carrier, explained by the guide. I supposed it was expected to a certain level that maybe all Chinese were from China and therefore I carry the Covid19. Anyhow it wasn’t a big thing for me.

Many offering flowers to the Saint
Moorish designs on the walls
Leaving the monastery
Took a picture of the supreme court while on the way to Miraflores

The car then brought us to the next area in Miraflores, called the Huaca Pucllana (double “l”s are pronounced as “J”s) where this was built by the tribe pre-Incas and this was where I learnt that Peru was not only ruled only by Incas! The temple was built like steps and the construction was so stable that it could withstand earthquakes. As this was a fenced up area requiring tickets to enter, we just stood outside which I could already see and took a photo before leaving without entering the site.

Entrance to the Huaca Pucllana
View of Huaca Pucllana from a distance
The view of Huaca Pucllana from the side of the fence.
My ride in Lima

Then it was to the Love Park (The Parque del Amor) of Miraflores (one pf the safest city within Lima) where there was the statue of the The Kiss (El Beso). The park reminded me of the Gaudi park in Barcelona with the tiled designs and wavy shape forms. The place had a good sea view and definitely boost an incredible sunset over the ocean view. We weren’t staying till sunset and left, the car dropped me off at the Lima White House hostel, whereby the owner was also the person who arranged this private tour for me. I paid the guide 155pesos (the remaining amount on top of the initial 33USD I paid over PayPal to book the tour) and entered the hostel.

Panoramic view of the love park
The love park
Locks representing locks
The famous sculpture of the kiss
Mosaics at the park looking like the Park Guell
Mosaics along the walls
Panoramic view of the sea.

I enquired if it’s possible for me to take a bath there as it was going to be a long time before I could do so due to an overnight flight to Rio de Janeiro for the night. They didn’t have any spare rooms but was ok to let me take a shower at the common shower for 10pesos in which I gladly paid for it. Quickly took my bath before heading out for dinner.

In the Miraflores area, it was deemed one of the safest area around since it was where all the people of the highest class lived. Sure enough it didn’t feel unsafe as I made my way to one do the Chifa restaurant, one that sold Peruvian Chinese fusion food. The Peruvian Chinese was one of the earliest immigrants to come to Peru and as the driver advised that the food was good, I had to try it for myself.

The street of Miraflores

Using google maps, I easily found one and as I entered the restaurant called Hong Kong, I was greeted by a senior staff there who saluted me, and I saluted back to reciprocate. It was a funny moment though. Later I realized he did the same to anyone who walked past as a way to get their attention. I ordered fried rice with chicken and was given a free bowl of noodles soup with Wantan. The noodles were ok but the fried rice was kinda salty. The dinner costed 38pesos in which I just paid 40.

Inside the Chifa restaurant
Fried Rice
Free noodle soup
Hong Kong Chifa restaurant

I took some time to walk towards the shore as there was a shopping mall there, called Larcomar, just to find out how it would looked like. As I approached, I saw a huge building of Marriott hotel but couldn’t find the mall. As I approached to the sea, I realized the mall was the building built downwards from the street level into the cliff and from the outside it looked pretty modern. I was more attracted by view of the sun almost setting and took some photos as I walked along the coast heading back to the hostel.

Twin JW Marriott hotel near the mall
Lovely view of at sunset
Larcomar mall that was built into the cliff
Panoramic view from the street level

Back at the hostel, I booked my Uber to the airport and it was estimated to be an hour ride from Miraflores. Since the payment was done by card, I need not worry about 42pesos there because I was also low on my cash. The driver took awhile to arrive and when it did, the hostel lady staff helped me to communicate to the driver on where I was headed to before bidding farewell as I got on my way.

I fell asleep during the one hour journey there and woke up 20mins from arrival. The initial destination was placed just outside the airport but I asked to be dropped off at the departure which he did so without complaints.

Really busy even at night

Lima airport had quite a large duty free store but I didn’t get anything from there thinking there would be more of such closer to the gate. Unfortunately it was not so and I entered a Britt store that was closer to the gate and bought some Peruvian chocolates there which my wife requested. The staff showed that the chocolates were really produced from Peru with that Peru logo and that assured me that it must be ok (cos why would I buy chocolates made somewhere else?).

Large departure duty free shopping
Britt shop to get my goodies

After that, I boarded the Avianca flight (no more upgrades this time around) and tried to get some sleep.

Cusco 2020 Day 3 Flight to Cusco, Sacsayhuaman, Cusco City and train to Aguas Calientes

I was seated next to another man on business class for the Aeromexico flight to Lima. Immediately plugged in my handphone to continue charging (which is one of the perks in Biz). I scanned through the movies available but thought I would need to sleep and conserve the energy for the day and that was what I did for at least 5hrs of the flight.

I was awoken in the middle when they were serving food and there was actually dinner (thought I won’t be getting any food)! I thought it was a perfectly timed meal since my lunch that I felt bloated since afternoon had gone and I was ready to dine. I took chicken out of the 2 options and I was impressed by the quality of food, it tasted really good.

Spacious seat in Business class

After that, it was back to sleep. The seats were like the Singapore Airlines premium economy ones with an angle tilt rather than fully horizontal. I found it difficult to fall into deep sleep with that configuration but the feet support was way higher than what I had in premium economy which helped a little.

As I woke up, I checked the windows outside and found sun was about to rise on the horizon. As we approached Lima, I found the entire sky covered in a thick blanket of clouds, so big and wide that I have never seen anything like this before. Out in the distance, small peaks can be seen piercing through the clouds and that looked really incredible to realized how big and tall the mountain ranges were! I took multiple photos till we landed.

Once of the nicest things to see is sunrise over the clouds
Those peaks piercing through the clouds
Some islands underneath with mountains in the background


Peru’s coast
View landing into Lima

With the privilege to disembark ahead of the pack, I sped off to get through immigrations, which was pretty quick and effortless as there weren’t many people at that time. Then a quick visit to the loo before going past customs which didn’t collect my form anyway.

First I went to withdraw cash from the ATM and the first one (globalatm) only allowed withdrawal up to 400 soles and charges 19soles per transaction. I did it once and went outside the airport to try other ATMs. Then I realized different banks had different withdrawal amounts and I did another 2 withdrawals from 2 different banks to get the amount I needed. Needless to say, the globalatm one was the worst. The others offer up to 700soles per withdrawal.

Lima’s modern airport was very busy

I found that I had more than 4 hrs to my next flight to Cusco and went to the LATAM check in to ask if there were any earlier flights. This was where I felt very impressed with the staff, the lady on hearing my request got me to the counter to check for me. The staff behind the counter however didn’t really understand what I wanted and printed the ticket with the original timing. So I went back to that lady who brought me to the counter to explain that nothing was done. She didn’t give up and got me to another counter, this time explaining to the staff what I wanted. The staff then managed to get one flight 2hrs earlier! Good on you Latam!

View on the outside of the airport
Crowded check in counters

I went to the gates earlier and since it was domestic flight, I didn’t have to go through immigrations. Made a call home to talk to my son using airport wifi and then it was another waiting game before embarkation. While waiting, I quickly googled for a half day booking of taxi (called Taxidatum) so that I can do a tour of Cusco with this new found amount of time. And it was all arranged through WhatsApp when the personnel responded! I was impressed by the flexibility of such arrangements (and with myself for such adhoc tour)!

Crowded at the domestic departure

The plane that was supposed to take off at 910am was delayed for 30mins due to heavy traffic in the Lima airport. I took the time to jot down the ongoings and respond to the Facebook and IG messages and checking emails, effectively keeping myself busy.

No frills domestic flight

The plane took off when the airport finally cleared and the journey was pretty smooth. The stewardess were pushing carts and I ordered a chicken sandwich with cappuccino since I didn’t think I would have time for breakfast when I disembarked. The chicken sandwich used a ciabatta bread which was toasted before servicing. At first glance, I thought it was going to taste hard but all that perception changed in a split second when the teeth sank into the crunchy outside but soft inside of the bread. I thought it was delicious and well worth the 21 soles I paid in total.

Simple breakfast of bread and coffee
Surprising yummy!

The short flight landed into Cusco smoothly. I hurried off the plane and the first thing I saw was the Inca Rail office which I approached to get my tickets. After the staff handed over the tickets to me and explained on the meet up timing, I went out of the hall and someone with my name was already waiting for me outside.

Inca Rail office just after exiting the luggage pick up

I followed him and loaded up onto the taxi and we were off to Sacsayhuaman site. He let me get off at the ticketing counter and I paid 70soles for the partial circuit that allowed me a 1 day entrance to all the 4 sites stated on the ticket. There was a bigger one but I didn’t have enough time in Cusco to do that.

First view of Cusco just outside the airport
Cusco airport
Cusco city
Busy streets
Partial circuit ticket

Then a guide was offering his service and I just agreed with him for 50soles for 1 hour. He brought me around the big site of Sacsayhuaman and shared the various locations usages and how the rocks were being harvested etc. It was again interesting to hear the stories of these tribes and find them different from what were portrayed.

Inca city ruins of Sacshayhuaman
Amazing perfect square cut out of the rock
Gap to walk through
is actually a pathway


Large areas of greenery upon exit from the gap
Pathway through the rocks and to the city
Alpaca grazing in the distance
Wind eroded slope within the site
Panoramic view with the stone walls in the background
Stone walls made of giant rocks that fit together
Tiered pathways
Compounds in different shapes for different purposes
The view of the other side is the panoramic view of the Cusco old town
Another panoramic view of Cusco town
A doorway made of perfectly cut stones

Later, he tagged along with us for the other 3 sites at a costs of 20soles per site. Those sites (Q’enqo, Tambomachay & Puka Pukara) were much smaller and did not require as much explanations as the Sacsayhuaman. I was equally impressed by the beauty of the surroundings and was just taking panoramic views everywhere.

Q’enqo entrance
A passageway between huge rocks
Another perfect cut on the rocks
Place underneath some hugh rocks
Table for mummifying
Operating table


The other view of the same table


Another view of Cusco from Q’enqo
Entrance to Tambomachay
Cobbled pathway to the ruins


Quite a number of water streams along the way
Water streaming out from ancient drainage
Temple dedicated to water
The view on the other side, where paths seemed to lead to the top of the hills
Panoramic views of the area
Rushing river stream at Tambomachay 
Stone entrance of Puka Pukara
Not much of ruins left, but the view of landscape is amazing
Another perspective from the top
Another view, can’t have enough of the landscape

The guide alighted near where he stayed and I paid him the agreed amount of 110soles and with some time left, I requested the driver to allow me to alight at the Plaza de Armas, which he informed was close to restaurants and where Inca Rail office was too. He negotiated the single lane cobbled streets and arrive into the square where I paid him 150soles in total for his services (120) and for tips (30).

View of the old town while leaving Sacsayhuaman.
Skill driving of the driver driving within tight cobbled roads

The plaza itself was pretty too, reminded me of the old towns of many countries (this is the historic center of Cusco anyways). I spent a bit of time admiring and shooting photos and then googled for a good place to have ceviche which a friend said I must try when in Peru and out pop the name  Ceviche Seafood Kitchen restaurant that was coincidentally within the square perimeter of the Plaza de Armas.

Plaza de Armas of Cusco
Beautiful fountain in the Plaza de Armas
Garden at the Plaza de Armas
Going towards my lunch location at one of the historical building around the Plaza

Seated on the 2nd floor, I was served by a Pablo who was a very helpful waiter and explained everything about the food. I ordered 2 dishes and it was quite filling to have them all by myself. The food was very delicious and thus explained their high ranking in TripAdvisor. The food was 75soles excluding tips.

Ceviche Seafood Kitchen


Inside the restaurant


Sea vibes
Tapioca chips
Local beer


Corn where their delicious crunchy starters come from.
Main dish of ceviche
Delicious fish on skewers

After lunch, I walked to the nearest pharmacy to get a lip balm as somehow my lips are feeling very dry even in summer and I didn’t bring mine as I didn’t think I would need one. Then further along the same street of Avenida El Sol, I walked into the Inca Rail office which was amongst the one storey buildings lined along the street. Through the entrance, I realised that the inside was actually quite a huge space where passengers could wait for the transportation shuttle to arrive. Other than a resting area with tables and hot drinks, there was also a restroom to use. At this time, I was feeling really sleepy and wasn’t sure if it was due to the lack of sleep, the thin air in this highland city or the Peruvian beer from lunch.

Palacio de Justicia, the Supreme Court looked majestic
Street view walking down Av El Sol
Museo de Sitio Qorikancha, a museum seen while on the way
Inca Rail office at Cusco
Inside Inca Rail where there’s a big area for resting

Once onboard the small bus, I immediately went to sleep for the 2hrs trip there, waking intermittently and shooting some of the beautiful views of valleys and mountains on the way to the Ollaytambo town.

The bus connection to Ollaytambo
Landscape view on the shuttle

Arriving into Ollaytambo

When we arrived into the town, the place looked very much like the historic center of Cusco only much smaller. The vehicle continued on till we arrived at another holding compound for the passengers before. I didn’t stay there initially and ventured out to see the surroundings before going back to sit and wait for the train, which was due to arrive at 727pm.

Inca Rail at Ollaytambo


Nice looking place


Gushing water stream
Area near the railways, shops on the sides
Inside the Inca Rail lounge
Beautiful candle deco
Mate de Coca tea at the lounge. The leaves come from coca plant where cocaine comes from.

There were quite a lot of people who also took the train of on this schedule and I was seated with a group of 3 French ladies. Throughout the ride they were going on with their card games and talking in French, I just fiddled around with my phone and also dozed off since it was difficult to be involved in their games.

Our train to Aguas Calientes
Still a crowd going to Aguas Calientes

The staff brought us snacks to eat and for drinks, there was a choice of hot or cold but I didn’t comprehend what drinks were available except lemongrass which I heard and that’s what I had. Then it was like that till we arrived into Aguas Calientes, the tourist town just outside Machu Picchu.

Snacks of bread and chocolate on the train

I bade farewell to the French ladies and to the table of Mexicans seated on the other side of the aisle, who were kind enough to offer me pomegranate to eat and also a short chat with them.

Heading towards my accommodation of the night, Casa De Luz hotel, I walked through a sheltered area that seemed like a market which had mostly closed stalls at that time. The hotel staff had advised me to get bus tickets first so that I didn’t have to wait for it tomorrow. There was a ticket counter just along the corridor of the hotel and I paid 81.75 soles for the bus tickets in exchange with the vouchers that I reserved online.

Walking through the sheltered market to the hotel
Gushing river at the town from the recent downpour
Bus station near the hotel


Night view of Aguas Calientes with a railroad
Casa de Luz Hotel
Street to the bus tickets counter
Has a signboard


Inside the shop

Then I returned to check in and was given a suggestion of where to have dinner. I left all my barang barang in the room and left to explore the small town of Aguas Calientes.

Room at Case De Luz


View from my room
Can see the river outside

The place still had lots of restaurants opened at that time. In fact, there were many locals and kids roaming around the street, doing their thing and playing soccer. I tried to find a good dinner recommendation online but my mobile data was sporadically available. So after finding one of them which was already closed, I just walked into one local restaurant, El Antojito and ordered.

Interesting wall carving on the walls next to the river
Soccer pitch where football was played by the locals
One of the many bridges across the river

Got myself some alpaca meat, which the local staff recommended, and a bottle of Inca Kola. The food was quite tasty and I only had to paid 30soles for that plus it came with a small salad bar of sorts.

El Antojito restaurant
Inside the restaurant


Alpaca meat


Inca kola, my favorite soft drink
Random dogs come into the restaurant

After dinner, I returned to the hotel and struggled against the cold for the much awaited bath before finally ending the long day in bed.

Some of the view of Aguas Calientes at night
Official name of the town, alternatively known as Aguas Calientes.

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