Semi-Charmed Life

2Jun/110

Peru: Hello Machu Picchu!

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3rd day of the hike.

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It was always interesting to see the different changes in the environment. Some places you'll notice that the leaves are very small and other areas you'll notice gigantic leaves. This particular picture is a view of the bamboo forests that we passed through intermittently.

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Another site we reached on our third day.

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It's all pretty much a blur now but I think this was on our 3rd day as well. I believe this was the Incan site that we checked out after we ate lunch. We arrived at our final camp site around 11am and after we ate our lunch and rested up, we convened again to head to this Incan site that was located 5-10 minutes away from our camp site.

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Lots of interesting things along the trails.

Machu Picchu Victory Pose

This is our 4th day, when we finally arrived in Machu Picchu. That's our cheesy victory pose. I didn't take any photos on the way to our hike here because on our final night, we had to wake up at 3:30am. We packed all our things well before dawn and starting making way to Machu Picchu a little before 5. It was roughly another 2 hours before we were able to see Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu Arrival

That's my defeated look. I think I was just weary at this point from the trip. The 4th day's hike was very easy, but waking up so early, not showering for all that time and the major lack of any bowel movements really took a lot out of me. When I am in hostile territory my body just shuts down and refuses to allow itself to shit in places like those public squatting outhouses they have near the campsites.

Machu Picchu Lesson

Here we've already entered the Machu Picchu site and are getting our usual lesson from Alex. This was one of the few lessons where I just completely zoned out and did not listen at all. I was too tired to care at this point. I wanted to just zone out and snap some pictures. Danny (in orange) fell asleep during the whole thing.

Machu Picchu Stone Group Shot

We're getting another lesson in another area of Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu Thames

The Thames family.

Incan King

And that was pretty much of the whole hike in a nutshell.

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1Jun/113

Peru: Journey to Machu Picchu

I have to make this entry a quick one because it is 1 in the morning right now. I played really shitty today in my vball league game, but grabbing some drinks afterward with the team made everything okay. Except for the whole getting home at 1am part. Not particularly bright when you have to wake up at 6am but it is what it is.

Continuing from where I left off from on my last entry:

Incan Trail Hike Beginning Group Shot

This was the first day of our hike. I made the terrible mistake of bringing my DSLR with a whole bunch of lenses, which ended up making my backpack weigh about 24lbs. I know it may not sound like much, but this made my first day absolutely miserable. It felt like a ton of bricks on my back. This was probably one of the first pictures we took as a group. From left to right, it's me, Ridge, Danny, John and Kellie Thames. John and Kellie are father and daughter hailing from Texas. It was a great hike with them. Two of the most physically active individuals I have ever met. Kellie has ran in 4(I think) marathons, and John has competed in over 20!

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This was taken on day 2 of our hike. The terrain was by far the most challenging of our 4 day hike. Luckily for me, I had already gotten rid of my DSLR and left it with the porters to carry, so although this was an extremely tough hike, I felt like it was easier than my first day. I believe the altitude was about 3800 meters. It's amazing how winded you get with each step you take at that altitude. It was very challenging but I loved every second of it. On the far right btw, is Alex, our guide. He was extremely informative and an overall awesome guide!

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I think this was the same location as above.

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After reaching the peak on the second day, we began our long stretch of downhill. Going downhill was a lot more fun than going uphill, although it was a lot more dangerous.

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This was taken at the campsite we stayed at during our second night on the hike. Our first night, the skies were completely clear so that all the stars shone bright and beautifully. Our second night only had cloudy skies, but it was still a breathtaking view regardless.

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This is a view of the same campsite as above but taken at dawn during our third day.

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These are some of our porters and the chef on the left. His assistant chef is on the right. I thought the company we did it with, Llama Path, was extremely professional. Everything ran smoothly and the porters seemed enthusiastic. Our guide told us that Llama Path is a fairly new company, but they have recently developed an outstanding reputation for the treatment they give their porters. Not all companies treat their porters with the level of respect they deserve, but apparently many in the profession have jumped ship or want to jump to Llama Path because of this. The founder of the company was a former tour guide, which might explain why it's such a great company to work for.

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I honestly did not expect the quality of food that we got during the trip. Breakfast, lunch and dinner was prepared every single day of the trip and each meal was pretty awesome.

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In addition to dinner, we also have a "happy hour" that's sort of like a snack time that's right after we reach our campsite but before we eat dinner. We basically sat around the table where we were served coca tea, milo, coffee, crackers with all sorts of spreads, and popcorn. Peruvian happy hour is awesome.

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Usually after dinner we'd play a game of cards around the dinner table before we headed back to our tents.

Here's a bunch of pictures that were taken at various Incan sites during our hike:

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It's really only just sinking in for me now how epic these views were.

Will update more tomorrow. Time for bed!

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30May/110

Peru: Arrival in Cusco

My recent trip to Peru turned out better than I expected. Leading up to the trip, I was not particularly excited about it. I'm not sure why, but I've generally been like that for the last few trips I went on. I don't really get worked up or excited about a trip until I've actually arrived at the destination. Even then, it's only when I return back home that I can fully reflect on everything and truly appreciate just how great my trip was.

I suppose I'll start off with a recap:

Cusco Hostel

We arrived in Cusco on Saturday and checked in to our hostel. The family that runs the place used to live there, or at least that was what we were told. I have no complaints about where we stayed. I really had no expectations as to what kind of place we'd be staying at. The hostel looked well kept and basic amenities were provided. Clean sheets and blanket, clean bathrooms and internet access. That's all I need.

Cusco Hostel Room

My room.

Cusco Hostel Rooftop

On the roof of our hostel.

Cusco Hostel Rooftop View

The view from the roof of our hostel.

Cusco Hostel Decorations 5

A common room with some sofas and three computers with internet access.

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We did not really do much the first day. We worked around the main plaza to explore the area and to also get our bodies acclimated to the high altitude. I believe Cusco is something like 3000 meters above sea level. We were told to not eat heavily and to not drink any alcohol. We were not very impressed by the food in Cusco, so eating too much was not a problem. One thing you immediately notice about Cusco is that the people are very poor. Tourism IS the economy in Cusco. Everyone there will try to sell you on something and they will try to sell you hard. It's also easy to get ripped off, but eventually we figured out how much we should be paying for everything so bargaining became a lot easier. Another thing we noticed: LOTS of stray dogs. There are stray dogs EVERYWHERE.

Cusco Stray Dogs

One of the many strays in Cusco.

Cusco Main Square

The main plaza.

Cusco Statue

A statue located on the outskirts of the main plaza. You can see it on the top left in the above photo.

Cool Truck

Laundry

Rooftop Drinking

We were told to not drink ANY alcohol. So what do we do? We end up buying some beers and drinking on our rooftop, playing music off an iphone, on the very first night. Luckily, we all thought the beer tasted like crap so we tossed it after a few sips.

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The next day, we went to take our tour of  the Sacred Valley, which served as a pretty good warm up for our hike on the Inca trail the day after. It seemed like everything in Cusco is built on an incline, even our hostel. You only think walking is easy until you're 3000+ meters above sea level. At times our faces, hands and feet would get tingly, and it was a little disheartening to see myself huffing and puffing after climbing a few stairs. We all thought we were in decent shape, but the hike had not even begun and it seemed like we were already pushing our bodies to the limit.

Llama Mama

Lots of llamas!

Llama Snacking

I'm glad he didn't spit in my face.

Incan Cemetery

If you look closely at the picture, there are a lot of holes in the mountain. This is where the Incan people buried their dead.

Incan War

Some Incan site in the Sacred Valley.

Sacred Valley Tour

Another Incan site.

Out the Window

Danny getting thrown out the building.

Street Fighter: Peru Edition

Street Fighter: Peru Edition 2

An epic battle was fought here.


I'll continue this another time.

Time for bed. Good night!

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