On the first day of his 60-day journey to four South American countries, Le Anh Tuan had a problem.
Le Anh Tuan calls his trip to South America including Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador a “dream come true” because he can see firsthand the beauty of the places he once dreamed of.
Challenging from the first day of departure
After an unsuccessful appointment with friends, Le Anh Tuan decided to go alone in June 2019.
According to the schedule, from Binh Duong, Tuan went to Tan Son Nhat airport, Ho Chi Minh City by bus, then went to Korea and then continued to fly to Peru, transiting in Mexico. However, when arriving in Korea, the airline requires a Mexican visa to board the plane. He is subjective because there is information that transiting Mexico does not need a visa. Lack of preparation for a long trip abroad is a mistake that he “carries in mind”.
The airline then took time to confirm, and when it was confirmed from Mexico that the transit did not require a visa, Tuan was transferred to a flight by the airline 2 days later because the original flight had already taken off.
The two days of waiting at the Korean airport also passed quickly. He flew to Peru, the first country of the South American journey. Due to a delay in his schedule, he was forced to skip visiting the capital, Lima, and immediately took a flight to Cusco, the sacred city of the Incas. He took advantage of rest to avoid altitude shock and fatigue due to time difference. Peru is exactly half a world away from Vietnam.
In the days that followed, Tuan toured ruins from the Spanish colonial era, the Inca sanctuary of Machu Picchu, which once controlled western South America, centered in the Andes. The Holy Land of Machupicchu is the ancient legacy of the Inca empire, which ruled a large swath of western South America 100 years ago, before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Ruins of a human settlement The Inca was discovered in 1911 by the American explorer, Hiram Bingham.
Leaving Cusco and Machu Picchu, Tuan arrived in the city of Arequipa, and eagerly trekking into the Colca valley, home to majestic mountains and the world’s largest eagle. The Colca Valley is located north of the city of Arequipa, in the southern part of the Republic of Peru. Above the valley, erosion from the River Colca has created the deepest canyon in the world with a depth of 4,000 m stretching for 70 km. Here, one can admire the breathtaking natural scenery adorned with strong winds, swaying birds, and the unbelievable remains of the terraced fields and systems. irrigation of the pre-Incas and the ancient Incas.
Lake Titicaca is located at an altitude of 3,812 m in the Andes, an area of more than 8,300 km2 flowing through Peru and Bolivia. In the middle of the vast lake, the indigenous Uros (or Uru) people have created small islands of reeds, where people live peacefully in harmony with nature. Currently, there are about 60 villages of the Uros people living throughout the bed of Lake Titicaca. The Uros people live in harmony with nature, are self-sufficient, with main food sources from Lake Titicaca such as: fish, shrimp, birds, young reed buds, potatoes and quinoa. Uros women often wear long skirts of bright colors such as: blue, pink, red, yellow, long hair in plaid braids, and wide-brimmed hats to protect themselves from the sun.
Farewell to the Uros community, Tuan took a 9-hour bus ride to the Bolivian city of La Paz on a 265 km journey. The official capital of Bolivia is the city of Sucre, but La Paz is the place where all the headquarters, diplomatic headquarters and the economic and cultural center of the country are gathered.
The city is located in a large valley, the bottom of the valley includes the entire central area at an altitude of 3,600 m, along the valley are narrow narrow streets, houses layered precariously. For that reason, most people here use the cable car to travel, costing 3Bs/way (about 10,000 VND).
The most attractive for visitors is the stone-paved old town, where there are markets selling furniture with local colors. In particular, the spiritual life of the ancient Aboriginal people is also evident in the witch market, also known by the locals as Mercado de Hechiceria or Mercado de las Brujas.
It is not only a place that attracts tourists but also has a large number of locals. At the market, one can easily find one-of-a-kind items such as llamas fetuses, dried frogs used for ancient rituals, bizarrely shaped figurines or herbs. medicines, drugs that affect the spirits residing in Aymara (the spiritual world according to the concept of the old Bolivians).
After many days of eating South American food to “haunting”, hearing that somewhere in La Paz there is a Vietnamese noodle shop, Tuan went to find it. Through the cobblestone streets, under the cold of a South American winter, just to find a little taste of Vietnam. At Vinapho, the owner uses dry pho ingredients, not soft pho. It’s a bit difficult to eat, but the broth is okay, with pickled garlic, the side dish that I like very much, Tuan enjoys the dish comfortably.
“Sitting in a space imbued with Vietnamese culture, from the arrangement of tables and chairs to Vietnamese pictures, smelling the smell of Vietnamese pho… all warms the heart of a foreign tourist like me. become delicious”, Anh Tuan said.
After about 9 hours on a night bus on a 540 km journey, Tuan went to Uyuni to visit the world’s largest salt field. In prehistoric times, the lake covered the entire southwest of Bolivia. Over time, the water gradually dried up, today only two small lakes are left, Poopo and Uru Uru. Local people take advantage of the salt here to make bricks to build houses. In some caves there are still coral fossils, traces of a sea that existed in the past. In the salt fields, he had the opportunity to take playful pictures with dinosaur models, visit the cactus island with giant trees nearly 2m high, and watch flamingos in the sunset.
After 3 days in the salt fields, Tuan left Bolivia for the Atacama desert, in the Republic of Chile. Compared to the sea, this desert is 3,200 m high and 181,300 km wide. This is one of the most extreme climates in the world, dubbed “Earth’s Mars”, this area is located between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes, 960 km south of the Tropic of Cancer. This place consists of volcanic rock hills and stretches of sand dunes, rainfall is scarce.
Atacama, about 1 million people live in coastal cities, fishing villages and oasis cities. They use water from aquifers from the melting snow in the Andes mountains for agriculture. In addition, they mined copper, silver, gold and iron.
When he arrived in the capital, Santiago, he was lucky enough to participate in a colorful street festival called Virgen del Carmen. Crowds of pilgrims pay their respects to the Chilean virgin with lots of street dancing, curly-horned demon masks with blinking eyes, and diamond-shaped robes.
The next very impressive destination is Easter Island, home to rows of Moai statues dating back almost a thousand years and are the work of the first inhabitants of Easter Island, (Rapa Nui called Rapa Nui, also in English. Spanish name Isla de Pascua). They are sculptures made of volcanic rock, with disproportionately large heads. The average height of the Moai is about 4 m, some up to 12 m, and can weigh as much as 13 tons.
Tuan said he was very proud to have landed on one of the most remote inhabited islands on the planet, shaped like a triangle, made up of a series of volcanic eruptions with a subtropical climate. sunny and dry but relatively mild. In addition to the terrain with many rugged hills, the island also owns many underground caves leading to the craters. The largest volcano on the island is called Rano Kao, and the highest point of the terrain is Mount Terevaka, 600 meters above sea level.
It takes 5 hours from Easter Island to the Chilean capital. Tuan had to connect a flight that took 3 hours and 30 minutes to the southern city of Punta Arenas, known as the land at the end of the world because of its geographical location close to the South Pole. Tuan started to visit Torres del Paine National Park with glaciers and a very beautiful Trek. To Torres Del Paine, visitors can admire the surreal beauty of Gray Lake, Paine Falls, Lake Sarmiento… More specifically, this park is the 8th natural wonder of the world, also a biosphere reserve. , recognized by UNESCO in 1978, Torres del Paine possesses diverse vegetation and is home to many rare wildlife species.
“It’s winter in Punta at this time, so the weather is quite cold and gloomy, adding to the loneliness of the solo trip. Luckily, I made friends with a Singaporean boy, so it was less lonely”, Tuan recalled. .
The last country in the journey to discover South America is Ecuador. From Chile to Ecuador, it takes 9 hours including transit time in Colombia. Ecuador is one of those interesting countries where the equator crosses. Ecuador also means “Equator” in the local dialect. To attract international tourists, Ecuador has lifted the “barrier” of visas for tourists from many countries, including Vietnam. A maximum stay of up to 90 days is more than enough for visitors to comfortably learn and explore the beauty of Ecuador.
In front of the Vietnamese boy is an old town with Spanish colonial architecture. Quito is located in a rather special location in the famous Andés mountains, the climate here is cool and fresh. The city is built on four interconnected valleys, surrounded by volcanoes. There are volcanoes that have been dormant, but most of them are still sleeping, can wake up at any time. Among them, Ruco Pichincha and Guagua Pichincha are two mountains right next to the city that are still smoldering. Located at 2,800 m above sea level, Quito is the second highest capital in the world, after La Paz of Bolivia.
The first time you come here, you will feel a little breathless, perhaps because the air is thin at such a height. To avoid high altitude shock or shortness of breath, you are advised to drink plenty of water, avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine to reduce abnormal body symptoms, most commonly dizziness and slight headache.
The Cotopaxi volcano at an altitude of 5,897 m and Lake Quillota 45 km south of the capital Quito are on the boy’s next schedule. Tuan was overwhelmed by the beauty of Lake Quillota like magic, because with just a little different light, the whole lake surface turned into a giant mirror reflecting the blue sky above. The enchanting blue color not only changes with the sunlight shining down from above, but also exudes a mysterious look from a depth of 250 m of the lake water. With a mouth of only 3 km wide, Quillota is considered a volcano. small, yet it alone has produced eight major eruptions during the past 200,000 years.
According to Tuan, visitors often experience the feeling of standing in the middle of the equator, with each foot placed on each hemisphere, or playing the game of standing up a chicken egg on a small nail.
Last leg incident
Everything seemed to be going well when Tuan discovered that his passport had been lost at the Quito bus station, as he was about to take the bus to Cuenca city in the south of Ecuador. At this time, he was quite worried about the return leg to Vietnam and regretted “breaking the guts” of the old seals. However, he tried to stay as calm as possible, reported to the local police, then confirmed the loss of documents, then contacted the Vietnamese embassy in Chile for assistance, because there is no Vietnamese embassy in Ecuador. Male.
Thanks to the enthusiastic support of the embassy, I was granted a new passport. After that, I immediately bought a ticket back to Vietnam. The time I stayed here waiting for my passport was two weeks.
In the meantime. He took advantage of visiting the Amazon jungle, the lung of South America. Taking a break in the Amazon jungle is a good way to regain energy. During the day, take a boat along the river to watch the birds and animals, in the afternoon let the boat float freely, watch freshwater dolphins and wait for the sunset.
Unfortunately, when he arrived in Ecuador, he did not have time to visit the Galapagos Islands, which are famous for many marine species, this is the place where Darwin scientist rested and studied the Theory of Evolution, Tuan said.
Returning to Vietnam after 2 months, Tuan thought the journey to explore the faraway South American land was like a dream. Past experiences are really a precious “heirloom” to Tuan. Memories, experiences and emotions… are things Tuan will tell forever.