A Travellerspoint blog

Where we are


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The road towards the bottom of South America has taken us from Pichilemu, through San Fernando, Talca, and Temuco. On the latter half of this leg, we ran into Julio. He is a Chilean, born in Santiago but who currently resides in Melbourne, Australia. His life in between has been quite eventful and taking us through it took up a good chunk of the long bus ride. In short, Julio´s business card lists the following credentials: Honorary Member of His Majesty the King´s Cabinet with Rank of Minister, and, Official Biographer of His Majesty the King of Cambodia. Not too shabby. He has already published 3 books and had to collect most of the accounts from France because of the king´s exile. He has also lived in Vietnam and Beijing. Right now, he´s in Australia working with an NGO he started to help curb illegal sex trade in Cambodia as well as other Southeastern Asian countries. Because our Spanish isn´t too great, it´s been a challenge so far to get a grasp on the culture and history here. For that alone, Julio was incredibly well-spoken and informative. When asked how a Chilean became so prominently involved with Cambodian politics, he replied, ¨I was just interested in Southeast Asia when I was younger.¨ The lesson - get interested in something and leave the rest alone.

We´re currently in Villarica in the southern half of Chile, just off the main highway that stretches north-south through this dynamic country. It´s a bit of a tourist town because it´s one of the main gateways to the surrounding outdoor playground that exists around here. Actually, it really reminds me of Banff.

Despite the location, we´ve done a good job of avoiding the tourist sites and activities so far this trip. Not that we have anything really against it, but I think the 3 of us have done that travelling route before and are looking for something different this time around. We´ll definitely hit some of the big attractions (e.g. Torres del Paine, Salar de Uyuni, Macchu Picchu) but I´m pretty content with the laissez-faire style we´re enjoying now.

The best discovery so far has been cabanas that families rent out. They´re essentially just a detached section of the house that is fully complete with bedrooms, bathrooms, and a kitchen. Some advertise outside their homes for vacancies and some are just told of through restaurant managers and informed locals. We´ve found them both ways and they are cheaper than hostels plus you get the opportunity to interact with the families. I´m hoping this will be consistent throughout the voyage.

Because we aren´t staying in hostels, we´re pretty much isolated from other travellers. In fact, we haven´t even seen too many in the towns and the ones that we have bumped into were usually older European couples. It makes me wonder whether I have trips like this left in my tank for my later years.

Posted by bchu 20:28 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Vote for Carlos


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That´s Carlos on the left. He´s got skills...English skills, Spanish teaching skills, Futbol skills, Dancing skills. The chicas like Carlos because of his skills. So do we.

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Carlos is one of the 25-30 kids of the aforementioned ¨Black Sheep¨ posse that we hung out with in Pichilemu...a group that I feel compelled to write something about. After the beach party, they invited us the next day to play futbol in the afternoon and then to a house party at night. So we rocked up to their place at 11:30pm expecting the place to be full of drunk kids and puke all over the ground. Instead, we were treated to a massive BBQ feast that they were just finishing preparing. Who dines like this at midnight?! I would have been less surprised if they were huddled in the corner shooting up on heroin.

The events that unfolded that night are pretty much trivial. We dined, chatted, Andrew gave a nice toast to show our appreciation, and then we danced the whole night. Well, they danced...I don´t think in comparison what we were doing classifies as dancing. And although I usually despise dancing, I can freely admit that it was an incredible night.

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These kids are actually classmates who just finished high school and were taking a few days vacation to celebrate. They live 4 hours northeast in Rancagua and practically everyone one of them invited us to stay with them when we loop back to the area in early January. I think this whole encounter sticks out to me because I have a generally bad impression of high school kids back in Canada. I love this age bracket but I cringe at the plethora of punkass kids I´m accustomed to at home. And although there´s a good chance they´re just as abundant here in Chile, this group at least reset my stereotypes and refreshed my senses for a while. It´s nearly a week later and I still feel humbled by them. They weren´t goodie two-shoes by any stretch of the imagination. There was just something about their character that was inspiring. Something about their graciousness. Something about their energy. Something about them virtually including us into their private vacation and selflessly putting us to the forefront. Something I wouldn´t expect from 17-18 year olds back home.

One of them wants to be lawyer. One a nurse. Most have no idea where they´re going next year, not even sure if it will be university or something else. Carlos wants to study history and politics. We´re already starting his campaign for presidency. Vote for Carlos.

Posted by bchu 19:33 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Black Sheep

the first week

semi-overcast 22 °C
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Andrew´s burnt. Pete´s run out of clean underwear. I´ve stopped shaving already. The fridge in the cabin we´re renting contains 2 cans of beer and 1 leftover sausage. And last night we were the guests of honour at a beach party hosted by a large group of 17-18 year old local kids who call their posse "Black Sheep". Yea, it feels pretty good to be on the road again.

Some random stuff:

We were standing on a bus a couple of days ago and a clown got on. For those who don´t know, I am terrified of clowns. Anyways, the clown and this other lady started performing some skit and afterwards were asking around for tips. I couldn´t even look at the clown and he kept tapping me on my shoulder, freaking the hell out of me (Pete and Andrew meanwhile were pissing themselves laughing). I ended up just getting off the bus. Damn clowns.

In Valparaiso (and I´m guessing in many parts down here), there are gangs of wild dogs. It´s pretty crazy watching them at night. They all congregate and move around in a pack, barking voraciously and practically summoning more dogs from out of the shadows to join them. I haven´t been attacked yet but I have stepped in doggy doo...twice. Damn dogs.

We stayed with a family in Valparaiso. Their 6 year old daughter Sofia is incredibly extraverted and social. Anyways, we were just lounging in their yard taking photos and she became fascinated with my camera. I let her play with it and 20 minutes and 150 photos later, she had quite the collection to show. It´s really neat seeing photographs from a child´s perspective. Their height and inability to hold a camera straight makes for some really fascinating shots. As soon as I get a chance, I´m gonna post some of her photos. I reckon they are more interesting than mine so far.

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Currently in Pichilemu, Chile.

Posted by bchu 09:51 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

Page Notes


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I had no intentions of doing a travelogue. I purposely tried not to. But due to peer pressure, I finally conceded.

There's some common sense justification too. It's more efficient than sending out mass emails, 96% to people who don't care. It'll be easier to answer the proverbial "What did you do / Where did you go / How was it" questions when I get home. Plus someone said I'll appreciate looking back at it later on. And it'll keep my mom sane.

So I'll try and update this every week or two. That sounds fair. Daily updates = way too bored. Monthly updates = essay entries. No entries = a very good sign OR prep the rescue teams and ransom money.

Leave me some comments or emails if you have time. I want to know what you locos are up to as well...who's getting married, when Wooly gets deported again, etc.. Word of caution to Mink and Poon...my parents, ex-bosses, and young kids are reading this too.

Posted by bchu 04:22 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

See you soon

Remember, remember, the fifth of November


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Leaving in half a day. It's about freaking time. Didn't intend to wait this long to leave but plans change quickly, as I'm sure they will along my travels. That's why I've only got a plane ticket with an open return date and one night's accomodation booked. Other than that, just a loose plan and general direction in my head that I'm secretly hoping won't come to reality. Spontaneity's the key this time round.

Ok, for those who didn't really know that I was leaving, here's the abbreviated overview. What spawned from a multi-week hiking trip has turned into a few months travel and ideally volunteer/work across South America. I'll be flying to Santiago on Sunday and then going overland through Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia with some close Aussie friends. After that, I venture solo and everything's up in the air.

Commonly Asked Questions as of late:

Why are you taking off traveling again?
- It's just its turn in the study/work/travel cycle. Felt that drive to hit the road and thought why not. I'm not running from anything or trying to find myself. Those journeys have long past. Everything's great here in Mississauga/Toronto. That really came into perspective during the last month when I was spending 80% of my days just thinking about this and that. So I would pretty much attribute this trip to a craving for adventure and an opportunity to see old friends again. That sounds reasonable, right? So to all those who still scoff at what I choose to do and think this is a waste of time, screw you! I still have 50 years to work and piece my life back together.

Why South America?
- My goal I set a few years ago was to travel every continent before I turn 30. So it was pretty much down to South America, Africa, or Antartica. And somewhere between being inspired by the Motorcycle Diaries to wanting to snowboard in the Andes to trekking Patagonia, I chose South America (choosing actually consisting of a gut reaction that didn't involve any decision weighing whatsoever). I still really want to visit Africa but more so to work on a health project, hopefully during my graduate studies. And loaf around on a remote South Pacific Island when I turn 30.

When are you coming back?
- I'll definitely be home by middle May for all the wedding and bachelor parties, most likely sooner.

How are you affording this?
- Dude, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg, particularly where I'm going. I just set aside some savings and worked from there. Living at home and being a social recluse helped too. Trust me, time was a way larger obstacle than money. Besides, the cocaine is much cheaper when you buy local.

What goals do you have for this trip?
- To not necessarily have goals, if that makes sense. To suppress expectations. To deliver letters for Jane to Colombia and Ecuador. To find one new LA respondent for Ana. To come home in a few months and be able to say "damn, if just for that one time when _____, the entire trip was worth it."

Are you bringing home a Latin American wife and illegitimate children?
- Never say never. Stay tuned...
(just kidding mom :))

How's your Spanish?
- Mamacita, me acompanas a casa? Quiero hacerte el amor.

What are you most excited for?
- Camping out in the Andes, doing things I wouldn't dare at home

And dreading?
- Following the rainy season around, killer mosquitoes, the cities, boredom

What will you miss most?
- Besides obviously friends and family (for the most part), in no particular order...snowboarding, Raptors games, white Xmas, my shower, ability to properly communicate, Chinese food, a culture that shuns speedos and short shorts...this list will grow quickly as time moves on.

What will you miss least?
- You.

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Posted by bchu 04:07 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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