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Owen

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Pastoruri Glacier: A Song of Ice and Snow

By Owen / September 27, 2017

Snow pelted against my poncho.

Thunder rumbled in the skies.

A curtain of white blanketed the landscape.

I cursed at the weather, lowered my head and continued walking towards my destination: the Pastoruri Glacier.

“The weather up there at 5000m is like my ex-wife,” said Roger, my guide. “Crazy and unpredictable.”

It’s true. It was hot and sunny just an hour ago but at the glacier, my hands were freezing.

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Laguna 69: Day Hike to The Lake Without a Name

By Owen / September 26, 2017

There is something about waterbodies:

The reflection, the tranquillity, the way they are naturally placed among surrounding mountains and valleys that make them so alluring.

Throw in some animals grazing on the grass and the whole scene is postcard perfect.

Waterfalls, lakes, rivers… They always make me stop and stare.

The Laguna 69 in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range of Peru is one of them.

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Choquequirao Trek: The Real Lost City of the Inca

By Owen / September 13, 2017

“I’m not going to Machu Picchu. I refuse to be around thousands of other tourists,” said Antonio, my tent mate during the Choquequirao trek.

Rumour has it that there is a set of ruins near Cusco that is almost as magnificent as Machu Picchu, but far less crowded.

Popular guidebooks noted that there are fewer than 30 visitors to Choquequirao per day, compared to the over 3000 at Machu Picchu.

Why?

The only way to get there is to do a two days’ trek across and down a valley, and up the other side, and two days to get out. There is no road access to the site.

There are plans to build a cable-car connecting the hard-to-reach ruins to the masses in a few years’ time. Then, Choquequirao would receive thousands of visitors each day.

Plus, the Choquequirao trek is touted as one of the hardest trek in the Cusco region. Call it a challenge, call it pride, call it whatever you want. Knowing all these, I had to do it.

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Salkantay Trek: Gringo Killers and Inca Flats

By Owen / September 3, 2017

Machu Picchu has always been my dream destination to visit:

There’s something about the accurately-fitted ruins with much historical significance, the engineering genius in accordance to the sun and moon and it being hidden in the clouds that makes it so mystical.

I once had a photoshopped picture of myself holding my selfie stick in front of the famed postcard photo of Machu Picchu. That’s how much I wanted to visit it.

One would’ve thought I’d rush to visit the New Wonder of the World the moment I arrived in Cusco, but it was only almost 3 weeks later that I took the plunge and went on a 5-day Salkantay pilgrimage to Machu Picchu.

I wanted the experience to be as perfect as possible and I guess subconsciously, I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype and image that I built up in my mind.

I shouldn’t have worried at all.

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Vinicunca: The Colourful Rainbow Mountain of Peru

By Owen / August 26, 2017

I stopped and gasped hard for air.

My heart was beating faster than after a 100m sprint.

I felt like vomiting.

“The only way to feel better is to keep walking,” and so, I did.

I kept going, with my eyes on the prize: Vinicunca – the Rainbow Mountain.

It stood in front of us in all its glory, but it’s a good 2 hours away.

So near, yet so far.

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Sacred Valley Cusco: 3 Circuits for the Perfect Day Trip

By Owen / August 24, 2017

“Are we in the Sacred Valley yet?”

An American lady in my tour group asked, even though we were already in the third and final town of our tour.

What she – and many tourists – misunderstood was that the Sacred Valley is just a valley. In truth, the Sacred valley is a range of valleys and towns and rivers.

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Hiking Colca Canyon: One of the World’s Deepest

By Owen / August 8, 2017

Day 2: It was 4:40 a.m.

We started our hike in the canyon darkness. The full moon barely lit the way.

A dotted line of white lights shone from the trekkers’ heads.

My headlamp was weak; the white spot looked like 480p quality compared to everyone’s 1080p bright light.

But it was enough for avoiding the heaps of mules’ shit on the ground.

Just 3 more hours and 1100m in elevation to complete the gruelling Colca Canyon trek.

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El Alto: Wrestling with Cholitas in Bolivia’s Biggest Market

By Owen / August 3, 2017

“If you do decide to go to the El Alto market, take care of your belongings!”

The lady at the tour desk told me.

I’ve read and heard stories about it: El Alto is not the safest place in Bolivia, and tourists are uncommon.

But even then, El Alto has its own merits and I gotta see it for myself.

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Tiwanaku Ruins: The Enigmatic Civilisation of Bolivia

By Owen / August 2, 2017

Everyone who travels in South America knows the Inca, undoubtedly one of the mightiest empire in its time; so much so that periods have been defined as pre-Inca or post-Inca.

Many also know about the Mayans and the Aztecs.

But hardly anyone has heard of the Tiwanaku. Admittedly, neither did I, before I came to Bolivia.

Yet, the Tiwanaku was the longest-running civilisation in South America, from AD 300 – AD 1000; and one of the most important pre-Columbian cultures in the Andean region.

The Tiwanaku site was also the spiritual and political centre of the Tiwanaku civilization. The history lover in me just had to visit the site.

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Cycling Death Road: The World’s Most Dangerous Bike Ride?

By Owen / August 1, 2017

The curve suddenly appeared in front of me.

I turned the handlebar and squeezed the brakes hard.

It was too late.

My bike skidded.

The downhill momentum had me crashing into the cliff side.

The World’s Most Dangerous Road claimed its latest victim.

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