Saturday Night Market & Makha Bucha Day

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Memorial for King Bhumibol

I was temple hopping in Chiang Mai the last time I wrote about my epic Thailand adventure, but the best thing about my stay in Chiang Mai was it was Makha Bucha Day.

Makha Bucha Day is the second most important buddhist holiday in Thailand.  It is the day on which Buddhist honour Buddha and his teachings.  One of the ways that Buddhists celebrate is to attend a candle light procession around their temple.

Makha Bucha Day fell on a Saturday, which is the day on which Chiang Mai has its weekly night markets.  One of the largest takes place right outside my hostel on Wualai Road.  Which also happened to be the route you took to get to a good number of the Temples and I found myself on a journey through the Night market, with stops at temples, where I would stop to participate in the Makha Bucha celebration. Quite an experience!

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Usaquen Sunday Market, Bogotá

UBmarket-11My last day in Bogotá was a Sunday and as my flight didn’t leave until midnight, I had a full day to do whatever I wanted.  I choose to go to the Usaquen Sunday Market, a weekly fair and flea market, in the Usaquen neighbourhood.  A part of Bogotá I hadn’t yet been to and I wanted to buy some gifts.

The market is full of your standard tourist vendors which sell things that you can buy anywhere.  Usaquen Sunday Market also  featured many local artisans. I was tempted to buy some of the canned salsa and spices but, wasn’t sure if I could take them back so sadly did not.  Instead I bought some jewelry. I didn’t bother to haggle as the prices were very reasonable and I want to support these artists who spend their time creating things they love.

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Villa De Leiva, Colombia

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Plaza Mayor

Villa De Leiva is about 2 hours north-east of Bogotá.  It’s a lovely colonial town that gave me a peek into a different side of Colombia.

The town is known for its Plaza Mayor, which at 14,000 square meters is the largest square in Colombia and believed to be the largest entirely cobbled square in South America.

It is actually quite easy to get from Bogotá to Villa De Leiva using public transportation and its cheap! We left our Hostels at 6 am and where in Villa De Leiva by 11 am.  The journey took is 5 hours and cost 27,000 COP’s each which is $12!!!

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Museums of Bogotá

IMG_1339.jpgI was pleasantly surprised by the museums in Bogotá.   To ensure all Bogotáns have the opportunity for cultural enrichment, all of the musuems offer one admission free day.  Something I support! Free access to a museum or art gallery can really be an uplifting moment in your life.  When I was unemployed I would regularly go to the AGO on Wednesday night and it made a huge difference. It took my mind off my worries and took me to a place of wonder.

I did not go to all of the museums in Bogotá.  So this is not a comprehensive list all of the must-see museums and I’m sure I missed on some that others would say require a visit.   I visited about 6 museums in totally.  The most on my first day in Bogotá, which was a Monday and I had plenty of time after the Graffiti Tour!  But, this is the list of the I’d recommend.

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The Sunset of Monserrate

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View from the cable car

Monserrate is a MUST do when you are in Bogotá.  The views, the views, the views!  Did I mention the views?

We asked our Anti-Cliche tour guide Orland what time we should go to get the best views.  He recommended at night.  So we decided to go in the late afternoon, have a late lunch there and watch the sunset.  Which turned out to be the perfect amount of time to experience all of the views of Bogotá that Monserrate had to offer.

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Tours of Bogotá

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Bogotá Graffiti Tour Selfie

I use to think that organized, tour guided tours were boring, with mono-voiced tour guides taking you through every statue of a famous general in a city and filled with American seniors.  The pumpkin-spice late’s of travel.

There are tours like this but, there are also fun, not boring ones and when your travelling solo, a walking tour can be the best way to do a super touristy thing on your own and meet people.  Bogotá had a number of great free or affordable tours – everything from food tours to craft beer tours.   I did three tours in Bogotá – the Bogotá Graffiti Tour, Hero’s Anti-Cliché Walking Tour and the Bogotá Craft Beer Tour.

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Candelaria, Bogotá

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Calle del Embudo

Candelaria is the old, historic part of Bogotá and houses the majority of the things any traveler to Bogotá would want to see.  Plaza Bolívar, the Gold Museum, Monserrate, Botero Museum, Calle del Embudo, the less well-known La Candelaria Park and Journalist Park, which is the location of the TransMilenio station Jimenez.

There are a couple of ways you can see Candelaria.  You can just go there by yourself or you can join one of the many free walking tours.  I recommend taking a walk tour to orient yourself and get some tips from the tour guide! Unfortunately, Candelaria and in particular the famous Calle del Embudo, is known to be an area where tourists are at risk of being pick pocketed.  Not because the neighborhood itself is unsafe, although there is a lot of visible poverty, but as it is central and attracts tourists, it also attracts pick pockets.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY: PROFILE

An unlikely pair these partners in profile.

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A Week in Bogotá

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At Monserrate

I was sitting in a meeting in April when I decided I needed a travel break. I needed to see something new, be in a new place and spend some time alone.  With that decision made I did a quick check on Google Flights to see where I could go in May for cheap.  There were a few options but, once I saw flights to Bogotá where cheap …. I decided that would be my destination.  I had never been to Colombia and the chance to see a less-traveled place appealed to me.

I wanted to rest so decided against a week-long travel whirlwind in Colombia and made the decision to just spend a week in Colombia.  It is not a decision I regret as a week is just enough time to not get bored with the city while seeing a lot of it, especially as I threw in a day trip out of Bogotá to get a small feel for Colombia outside the city.

I found people’s reaction to my trip was interesting.  Either people assumed I was going to Cartagena, or for a week-long coke binge (I was not), or they were just plain confused as why I would go to Bogotá of all places!  Before I share the amazing things I experienced and saw during my week-long trip, I’m going to answer some questions about Bogotá that I got.

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