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50 Shades of Blue: Trekking Perito Moreno Glacier

By Owen / April 29, 2017

We walked slowly in a single file, lifting each foot with more effort than usual. Our feet were weighed down by the crampons. Each step felt deliberate, robotic even.

The vast expanse of blue went beyond the horizon, seemingly never-ending. It’s unlike anything I’ve encountered before. All sorts of blue surrounded us; sky blue, deep blue, dirty blue. There must’ve been more than 50 shades of blue. Icy peaks, cracks, small ponds and columns of glacial ice make up a wild and captivating environment.

Is this what Antarctica looks like?


Chorrillo del Salto: El Chalten’s Neglected Waterfall

By Owen / April 27, 2017

Peaceful. Serene. Trancelike.

Just the rush of water falling 20m, splashing onto the rocks. I had the whole waterfall to myself.

Have I mentioned that I LOVE waterfalls? I adore the combination of white, blue and green coming together seamlessly to paint a picture of nature at its purest.

After a disappointing climb towards Laguna de los Tres aka Fitz Roy, that is what I needed.


Hiking Fitz Roy and Getting Knocked Down by Forces of Nature

By Owen / April 26, 2017

Snow, stones, and leaves pelted my face. Visibility was hindered. I lowered my head and pushed on.

The hardened mud path became soft and wet, then gave way to snow. I got down on all fours, slowly crawling up the slippery slope.

The winds howled. Powerfully. One by one, we get knocked down by the invisible force of nature. I looked around me: there were fewer than 10 of us remaining near the top. Every single one sat down on the snow path, holding on to dear lives.

“It’s impossible! The wind is too strong and the path is too slippery!” said one hiker, as she moved down, inch by inch, on her bum, too afraid to stand up.

An Asian guy sent his partner down to safety and tried again. He strode effortlessly up the snow path and went farther than everyone else. He too, slid down the mountain a few minutes later in disappointment.

“It’s too dangerous! The wind is too strong!”

I asked him how far were we from the top. “Around 100m.”

Damn it! We’re so close!

The winds howled again.


Torres del Paine: Failing to Hike Nature’s Wonders

By Owen / April 19, 2017

It was the longest four hours of my life.

Long, excruciating, ardous four hours. I sat on a boulder in despair, seriously contemplating, “Should I return to Singapore?”

I knew my trek was over at that instance. The pain was overwhelming. Tears filled the brim of my eyes. Each step I took, I screamed involuntarily – to no one. The only sounds that accompanied me were the thunderous cracking of the avalanches, as if the mountains were roaring with laughter at my weakness.

What goes up, must come down. I had to make it back to camp, maybe the park ranger could help.

Step by step, I struggled to put each foot before the other. I was so slow I might as well crawl. The terrain didn’t help. Rocks, boulders and gravels of different sizes jut out from the downhill path, creating an unevenness that strained my knee furthermore.

The pain got to my head, my vision narrowed to the path right ahead, such that I went off the well-trodden path several times. The combination of agonizing pain and being lost made me lose faith.

Mother Nature, please help me.


Horseback Riding with Gauchos in Puerto Natales

By Owen / April 12, 2017

I couldn’t remember the last time I rode a horse. I was a kid, but I had no idea when and where or how it felt like. It was as if I hadn’t ridden a horse in my life.

All around Puerto Natales, the town to get prepared for Torres del Paine, companies provide tours for the National Park or the Perito Moreno Glacier at El Calafate. The other less popular option is cabalgata – horseback riding.

And with five days to spend in Puerto Natales, while waiting for my friend to arrive, I knew I had to do something. This town is small and devoid of activities. And so, I decided to go horseback riding up a hill.


Snorkelling with Sea Lions: Highlight of Puerto Madryn

By Owen / April 1, 2017

My throat was burning – with saltiness. My vision was blur. Water entered my nose. I panicked and swallowed mouthfuls of dirty sea water.

Please make it end! Just take my money and let me go!

For the first 10 minutes in the sea, it felt as if I was drowning. But I knew I wasn’t gonna drown. I was in good hands.


Peninsula Valdes: Puerto Madryn’s Unsatisfying Day Trip

By Owen / March 31, 2017

They were moating. Their black and white furs flying everywhere. Some were sleeping in their holes. Others were limping about. Noisy little fellas. What was that sound they make? Do penguins quack?

We stood there admiring the small penguin colony, separated by only a small fence – just short enough to prevent the penguins from leaving, but almost non-existent for us humans. It was the closest we could get to the penguins at Punta Cantor, our first stop at the UNESCO protected Peninsula Valdes tour.


Fairytale Gramado: Is This Brazil?

By Owen / March 21, 2017

It was noon when I arrived. The sun was shining radiantly, but it wasn’t hot. On the contrary, it felt cool on this bright summer day.

As I walked along the streets decorated with colourful flowers on both sides and flanked by buildings that look as if they came out of a fairytale – think white bricks, brown wooden logs, triangular roofs – I couldn’t help but think to myself: “Is this Brazil?”


Photogenic Paraty: Of Cobblestone Streets and Waterfalls

By Owen / March 7, 2017

“Relax your neck. Keep your arms together. 1, 2, 3, go!”

The next 10 seconds were a blur. My world turned upside down. I was spinning on my back.

“Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. I’m gonna die!”

The combined force of Alex (my tour guide) and the young, jacked local sent me water-sliding down the huge rock-waterfall, Cachoeira do Tobaga.

Yes, a waterfall. And yes, sliding down.

Splash! The next thing I knew, I was completely submerged.

After 10 days of chaos, madness and frenetic pace of Carnaval in Rio, I seek peace and quiet at the coastal town of Paraty (pronounced pa-ra-chee), south of Rio de Janeiro. Ironically, the exhilaration from sliding down Cachoeira do Tobaga was the highlight of my trip.


Morro Dois Irmaos: The Best View of Rio de Janeiro?

By Owen / March 4, 2017

I took off my shirt, draped it over my shoulder, and continued up the mountain – local style. It wasn’t a difficult climb, but the weather was humid, and I was drenched in sweat.

40 minutes later, the forest thinned, the sun reappeared and I was rewarded for my climb.

The landscape of Rio de Janeiro in all its glory.

You’ve seen it on the postcards:

The perpetual blue sea against the white sandy beaches, the heart-shaped pond at the base of the Sugarloaf Mountain, the tiny little houses sandwiched among the tall skyscrapers, and the statue of Christ the Redeemer alone atop a hill.

Chances are: you’ve seen this breath-taking landscape with a bird’s eye perspective, up on the Dois Irmaos (Two Brothers) mountain.

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