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Owen

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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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Samaipata: El Fuerte Ruins and Las Cuevas Waterfalls

By Owen / July 24, 2017

“The echo in the valley is our mountain wifi,” said Cecilio, the guide we hired.

We took turns to shout, and the verdant mountains shouted back at us. Echoes always make me smile.

Or maybe, it was the clear blue skies and stunning mountain views that accompanied us as we walked the easy mountain trail to the ruins of El Fuerte, located just 9km from the tranquil town of Samaipata.

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Humbled in Potosi, Bolivia: Cerro Rico Mine Tour

By Owen / July 12, 2017

What would you do if you knew you’d die at 45?

Would you continue working hard in your job which pays peanuts?

What if your job is the reason you’d die at 45?

What if… there are no other options?

This is the fate of the 12 000 miners of Cerro Rico (Rich Hill) in Potosi, Bolivia. And I had the chance to visit these miners on a tour to the mines.

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From San Pedro to Uyuni: Salt Flats and Colourful Lakes

By Owen / July 11, 2017

The background sound muffled. My head became heavier. I squeezed my nose and blew.

POP.

The pressure escaped through my ears and the sound became clear again.

In that 45min drive from the Chilean border in San Pedro de Atacama to the Bolivian border at Hito Cajon (4480m), we gradually gained 2000m in elevation.

Welcome to the Bolivian Altiplano.

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Pukara de Quitor: The Driest Bike Ride in San Pedro de Atacama

By Owen / July 7, 2017

The desert sun was beating down on me. The strong winds were hitting my face. I pedalled hard on the overused bicycle.

By the time I arrived at my destination, I felt a little light-headed.

I was riding a bicycle on the driest place on earth, at an altitude of 2408m above sea level.

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A Different Valley of the Moon in San Pedro de Atacama

By Owen / July 6, 2017

We stood on the edge of the cliff, eyes firmly locked on the horizon.

The bright orange sun slowly descended, as it blanketed the sky with an orange hue, followed by a gradient of deep blue, pink and purple. Finally, the valley turned dark and the moon shone bright.

It was the most magical sunset I’ve ever seen. I haven’t seen an aurora borealis, but this felt as unreal to me.

The only thing that broke the spell?

The dozens of tour groups standing beside me. And there are HUNDREDS of tour operators in San Pedro de Atacama, all providing the popular Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon) tour which ends with the sunset at the Piedra del Coyote viewpoint.

Almost every tour operator follows the same route, but mine is different.

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Bolivia Visa on Arrival: Get it For Free Without the Hassle

By Owen / July 4, 2017

Ah Bolivia.

Y u so troublesome?

Singaporeans, and other Group 2 countries that require a visa on arrival, need to pay a hefty USD $92 to USD $160 if applying for a visa at the land border and go through a lot of hassle if they do not have the required documents.

I’ve read horror stories about people running back and forth between the border and printing shops for their documents, holding up the entire bus, and almost getting left behind at the border.

Thankfully, there is a way to avoid all that and even get your visa for free.

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Purmamarca and The Hill of the Seven Colours

By Owen / June 30, 2017

Once upon a time, in the far away mountainous region of Northern Argentina, a group of nomads decided to form a small town at the bottom of the hills.

These surrounding hills looked just like any other unimpressive mountains – dull, with no colours. “Boooring!” said the creative and imaginative children of the town. This is unacceptable to them and they complained to the adults. What is life without colours?

Their pleas to the adults fell on deaf ears. To the adults who had lost passion in life and hated their 9-5 day jobs, it was normal and something to ‘get used to’.

“Go do your homework!” the adults snapped, as they continued binge watching their boring TV and munching on Andean Potato Chips.

What happens when you ignore kids and tell them to do their homework? They rebel, of course! These kids formulated a plan to decorate the hills.

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