Happy Makha Bucha Day

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Wat Phan Tao, Chiang Mai Thailand

Read my post about celebrating Makha Bucha Day in Chiang Mai.

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Day Trippin’ in the Rocky Mountains

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Looking sharp at a wedding

I can’t believe it’s already the middle of September! It feels like only yesterday we were getting ready to head to Calgary for a family wedding.

It was a whirlwind of a week!  I did not expect family weddings to be so ….. busy.  I naively thought I was just a guest … yet it makes total sense as I’m family and who else is going to help with all of the last-minute wedding details expect family?

But, this post isn’t about the wedding which was beautiful, full of special moments and memories. Lots of people cried, which should tell you a lot about this wedding.  This is about our Calgary Rocky mountain road-trip! A fairly standard, tourist trip for Calgary and yet not because, have you seen the mountains???

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Last Day in Chiang Mai

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Kao Soi Soup

You know I really did like Chiang Mai and I know that if I was staying in a different hostel I would have enjoyed my time more.  But, at the time I just wanted to go to Pai, where I hoped things would be better.

And even though I was starting to feel ill on my last day I still went out, as I really didn’t want to be at the hostel with my ever-present and obnoxious hostel mates.  They were quite terrible actually, they made fun of the new German guests who seemed like perfectly decent guys.  I couldn’t wait to get away!

After visiting all of the temples I just walked along the wall and  through the center, exploring parts of Chiang Mai I hadn’t seen yet.  I also ate the famous Kao Soi soup, the Curry Noodle soup that Chiang Mai is known for.  It was amazing, spicy, full of flavour and the crunchy noodles added a delicious texture!

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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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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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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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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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