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11. March 2008 10:00
by Rene Pallesen
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Potosi - Bolivia

11. March 2008 10:00 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

potosi bolivia


The drive from La Paz was pretty uneventful. The bus was a double decker as promised and our seat was in the front of the bus...but so was the toilet. Fortunately they kept the toilet locked pretty much the whole trip so no-one could use it (except Kim because we figured out how to fiddle the lock to get her access). Kim had bought herself a cheap headtorch so the toilet wa now lit.

The drive turned out to only be 9.5 hours as opposed to the promised 14 hours so that was a nice surprise. We arrived at Potosi at 6am in the morning it being freezing cold and pouring down with rain. We got a taxi to drive us to our preferred hotel and it turned out to be fully booked. Our second preference has only got room for one night and is then fully booked (and so is every other hotel in town)...we have a booking confirmation from a hostel tomorrow as a backup but we are not sure if it has got hot water and heating.

Potosi is a lot different from what I had expected. I had expected that the deeper we entered into Bolivia the more traditional it would get...but to the contrary. Potosi is another polluted city with little infrastructure...although a great number of travellers pass through the city there is no restaurants or cafes or even proper accomodation to cater for them. Someone with flair forwhat travellers desirecould make a killing here as well as in La Paz.
It wouldn´t take much...proper accomodation with heating and hot water, A heated restaurant serving a good selection of western style and local dishes (NOOO...Pizza and pasta does not count) an some evening or afternoon entertainment in the form of Bolivian music and dancing.

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Also Potosi is totally void of any souvernirs (but also beggers etc.)...and again they could make a killing by start selling some of those lovely locally made handicrafts that we could but up near lake Titacaca.

Because of the cold, the rain and the fact that all museeums are closed today because it is Monday makes it pretty depressing to here. We have however booked a tour into the mines tomorrow afternoon which should be exciting and I´d like to see the Mint museum.

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We are also considering what to do next before going to Brazil on the 17th...so far looks like we will go to Sucre (3 hours from here) day after tomorrow and then fly to La Paz from there (maybe even re-shedule flight to go to Rio a day or two earlier). Click here to see more photos from Bolivia

10. March 2008 08:29
by Rene Pallesen
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La Paz - Bolivia

10. March 2008 08:29 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

la paz bolivia


The bus ride to La Paz was interesting. It was a local bus so full of locals heading into La Paz 4 hours away. After about one hours drive through the high plains (4300 meters altitude) we suddenly arrived to a strait. I hadn´t studies the map properly and hadn´t realised that Copacabana was on a peninsular with no Bolivian direct access to mainland Bolivia (you would have to pass back into Peru to drive directly)...so at the strait we got offloaded from the bus and then had to get onto a smaller boat for the passengers while the bus was ferried across on a big wooden pram.

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Also at this strait is the only division of Bolivias Navy (I think they still hope to eventually get access to the ocean through Chile (They lost 350 kilometers of coastline in a war with Chile back in time).
On the other side Kim missed using the toilet so when we stopped at a petrol station a couple of hours later we took the oppertunity...when the bus took off she wasn´t back yet...and she would have been standing there alone if I hadn´t told the bus driver that we were missing a passenger.
Unfortunately it was cloudy so we could only see the bottom bits of the Huyana Potosi and Illimani (6500 meters).

The drive into La Paz is stunning...they outer suburbs is totally disorganised with mud houses and mud roads...but suddenly you drive over the escarpment and see all of La Paz in a big crater below.

Once we got out of the bus we were however less impressed. La Paz is a town like any other...it is full of traffic, pollution and there has been no city planning whatso ever. Once you get over the escarpment wow factor it is really an ugly city full of social problems, beggers, street kids, pollution, crime etc.
Even the backpacker area is totally uninteresting and has been totally spoiled by young kids going for white water rafting, mountain biking without any interest whatsoever in the local culture.

Our plan was to spend a day here and then continue down to Potosi and we decided we would spend the next day before heading south looking around and see if the city would reveal its more beautiful side. In the morning I went to the bus station to organise bus tickets and I hope I´ve got the promised ticket (sleeper bus, with toilet onboard and sitting in the front of the bus away from the toilets...but Bolivia is full of surprises...but that is part of the adventure).
Afterwards wewent for a walk around the city and found a couple of nice spots but not enough to convince us that this is a city worthwhile spending a lot of time in.

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The witches market if full of souvernirs that are no-where near as good quality as what we saw in Copacabana, The museums were all closed on Sundays (except the music instrument museum which was interesting), and we are unable to find any decent local food in La Paz (only pizza, pasta etc.).

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We did however have a good laugh sitting observing people at Plaza Avaroa close to our hotel. People were out walking their dogs and they were all dressed in cute little costumes like small humans...and I thought the Honkies were crazy.

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I am hoping that the south is nice. I have kept Kim from buying too many things so far promising her that there would be plenty of chances...I hope that this is correct as some of the things we saw up north were really nice.

Bolivia is pretty cheap to travel in (same prices as Thailand) and my dad would love it here (as well as in Peru). I could however travel a lot cheaper if I got to choose the mode of transport and the hotels...Kim gets to choose the hotels we stay in which from a local aspect is the upper range hotels (but still cheap by australian standards) and the criteria is hot water, blankets, heating, cleanetc. We have however been lucky with a couple of hostels we have found (one that we will stay in once we return to La Paz and we stayed in one in Copacabana). I think over time I will get her hardened up enough to check out the hostels first and then afterwards increase the comfort levels if we dont find anything of a decent standard...but so far it is ok that she gets a bit of comfort...it is her first backpacking/roughing trip and she is doing really well so far (getting into the spirit of finding cheap restaurants etc.). Click here to see more photos from Bolivia

10. March 2008 08:00
by Rene Pallesen
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Copacabana - Bolivia

10. March 2008 08:00 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

copacabana bolivia


The bus ride from Cusco was interesting...but probably more for Kim than I (she called it horrendous). The company that we had bought our ticket from in Cusco came and picked us up at the hotel at 9.30 pm in a taxi and then drove us to the bus terminal a couple of kilometers out of town. The ticket was a direct ticket to Copacabana in Bolivia in a sleeper bus...but when we got to the station it turned out that the bus was going to drop us off 15 kilometers out of Copacabana...the guy from the company gave us a little cach and told us to use it to bribe the bus driver to drive us all the was to Copacabana.
We then had a talk to the company and they agreed to organise with the bus driver to drive us all the way. The bus was ok and full of other gringos also going to Copacabana or La Paz. Kim was greatfull that the bus had a toilet and less gratefull that it was pitch black in the middle of the night and couldn´t flush...so very stinky. About 30 kilometers from the border we got dropped off by the bus (so much for the promise of a direct bus)and loaded into a minibus with far too little seating. The bus wouldn´t start so we had to get out and push. It then started to rain and there was 2-3cm of snow on the road at certain places (4000 meters altitude) once we reached the Peru border we were again off loaded and had to walk across the border...the border crossing itself was smooth although we had to wai a while for the office to open at 7.30am.

On the bolivia side we then took another bus (which we had to pay for) to Copacabana about 8 kilometers away.
Copacabana is a small town next to Lake Titicaca and Kim had researched hotels...but after looking where some of the other people on the bus would stay she agreed to stay the same place (after we got some towels and a heater).
The rest of the day we spent in Copacabana which is a pleasant but very small place and hos got a cheap backpacker feel to it in a positive way (A lot of backpackers out searching for the meaning of life rather than partying an ruining it for others).
In the evening after dinner we found a little cafe playing live music. For dinner they had these set 3-4 course menus for around $2 USD per person at the various restaurants which is a lot cheaper than a-la-carte.

The next day we took a boat to Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) on the lake and spent a couple of hours walking the 11 km from one end to the other (I am quite proud of Kim on this trip being happy to walk long distances with me) and then in the afternoon we took the boat back to Copacabana. On the Island I bought a jumper made from Alpaca wool for around USD $7 and Kim bought a local scarf.

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Back in Copacabana Kim found some really nice local jewellery so she was busy spending the rest of the evening shopping (I have told her not to buy too much because it is difficult to carry).

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In the morning next day we took the bus to La Paz (about USD $2 per person for a 4 hour drive).
Click here to see more photos from Bolivia

4. March 2008 02:07
by Rene Pallesen
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Cusco - Peru

4. March 2008 02:07 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

cusco peru


Sunday we flew from Santiago to Cusco in Peru via Lima.

Lima is very dry...almost a desert whereas the flight into Cusco was spectacular surrounded by tall green mountains. The hotel came to pick us up from the airport and the hotel is very centrally located in the middle of the city. It is a spectacular place, the people are very different from elsewhere (indians) and you can buy craftmanship everywhere really cheap.

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You can see the remains of the inca buildings everywhere. Cusco is located in 3500 meters altitude so we decided to take it easy on the first day to acclimatise (none of us have got any headaches so far)and then head up an see Macchu Picchu in a couple of days time. So on the first evening we decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner where we got the most important menu items out of the way...alpaca and cuy (Lama and Guinea Pig). The lama was really nice (like a tender beef) but the Guinea Pig was a bit tough (especially the skin) and there wasn't much meat on it (but tasty).

Click here to see more photos

Click here to see more photos

Tuesday we bought a train ticket to Macchu Pichu (USD 96...so quite expensive and then on top comes bus up to the site $12 and the entrance to the site itself $40...so a good $150 USD per person) which is a 4 hour ride each way. Despite the expensive trip there it would be a shame to come all this way and not go there...and believe me...it is worth it. Just the train trip there is pretty spectacular between deep gorges and roaring rivers. The first hourin the train is spent climbing the hillside in Cusco...the train rides along for one kilometer and then stops, changes direction and then goes another kilometer before doing the same again...in total it takes the train 7-8 direction changes to make it to the top of the hill.
And the Macchu Pichusite itself is really spectacular in itself. We spent close to 6 hours exploring the area and had we known earlier that they closed access to one of the peaks at 1pm then we could easily have spend more time exploring.


Click here to see more photos

Click here to see more photos

Wednesday we checked out of the hotel in Cusco and booked ourselves a night bus to Copacabana in Bolivia. The remainder of the day we spent visiting other Inka sites around the area by local bus. Some of the sites especially the one closest to Cusco called Saqsaywaman is pretty spectachlar.

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We had a really scary incident where we got attached by two really vicious dogs. The first dog went for me an I kicked ouut after it and just missed it, but it was just enough to surprise the dog and make it back off. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the second dog attack Kim and I saw her try and kick it as well whereafter it also back off (probably because the fist dog got scared). After that they kept their distance...a close encounter but walked away unhurt but with our hearts pounding. Click here to see more photos from Peru

2. March 2008 10:14
by Rene Pallesen
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Santiago de Chile

2. March 2008 10:14 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

santiago de chile

The last couple of days Kim and I have been in Santiago de Chile. Kim arrived a day late due to mechanical problems with the aircraft from Sydney and I arrived 6 hours late with Chris (my colleague) at 3am in the morning. Chris and I got ripped off by the taxi due to us not having studied the local conversion rates...but after that we had no other problems.

The first day we spent sleeping and familiarizing ourselves with the area around Providencia and Bellavista. There are some gorgeous little bars and restaurants in these areas. Santiago is a very modern city. It is very clean and you don´t see the same problems as for instance in Buenos Aires with street kids. I can see why my cousin Ulla decided to live in this city for a while.
The Metro in Santiago is really good...there are trains every few minutes and they cost about $1 USD regardless of where you get off...a lot cheaper than catching taxis and a lot faster too.

Next day we went sightseeing around Santiago city centre. The highlight was Cerro Santa Lucia which is an old castle converted into a lovely park area used very much by couples out for a romantic afternoon.
As for food...it seems that most locals eat hotdogs and pizza for lunch so we had a hard time finding something reasonably healthy.

We spent a lot of the late afternoon and evening sorting out luggage storage. We are staying in a serviced apartment with no storage facilities so we had to go to the bus terminal on the other side of the city to store it. When we got back we received an email from the lady renting us the apartment saying that she´d store it for us. I feel a lot more happy about her storing it than in the terminal especially as my work laptop is in the bag.

Next morning it was again time to go to the Airport...this time to fly to Peru.

23. February 2008 08:13
by Rene Pallesen
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Buenos Aires - Argentina

23. February 2008 08:13 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

buenos aires argentina


This week I am in Buenos Aires in Argentina for our annual International Partner Conference and sales Kickoff meeting.

I arrived Thursday night after a long flight with my colleagues and early Friday morning we started our meetings with new product introductions as well as briefing on what is going to take place the next week or so...and as the week progresses I will keep you up to date here.

Friday night we went to a restaurant called the winery and had finger food and tasted a range of different wines. Afterwards in the late evening I decided to go for a walk through the streets of Buenos Aires. It seems to be a very cultural city with some of the normal problems for a large city. There are a lot of people in the streets in the evening especially around the pedestrian areas.

Awards night

It is interesting that all the tourist maps here display the Islas Malvinas (Falkland Islands) as belonging to Argentina. I think the Argentinians really should move on and start accepting that the islands belong to the UK and that they cannot claim them just because they captured them for a few months back in 1982 or because they are closer to Argentina than to the UK.

Buenos Aires is not a place to go for a beach holiday. The water is brown and muddy...I though it was because of the recent rain, but looking at other photos it seems that is is always muddy.



On the first evening we had an opening party at the local Yacht club. Two girls were singing and providing some pleasant entertainment and the morning opening ceremony also provided entertainment.



On the official opening night we went to a restaurant displaying some extremely good tango dancing. It is some of the fastest and most impressive dancing that I've ever seen live.









And of cause I needed to have a try as well.



On the closing night we went to a local restaurant and one of the sponsors provided the entertainment in the form of some dancing girls.

Click here to see more photos from Argentina

11. February 2008 12:49
by Rene Pallesen
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Mexico - Mexico City

11. February 2008 12:49 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

mexico mexico city


This week I am in Mexico City assisting some of our partners.

I flew in Saturday evening and had Sunday to do a bit of sightseeing before meeting up with our partners in the evening. I took a tour to the big pyramids outside Mexico City (Pyramid of the Sun is the third largest pyramid in the world...apparently the largest is also here in Mexico). It was fantastic seeing the Pyramids and it is one of the few things that I've always wanted to see in Mexico...so now: been here done that.



The whole complex is huge it is 3-4 kilometers long so it takes a fair amount of work to walk from one end to the other...especially with all the stairs and sections.

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Pyramid of the Sun

We also saw the most holy cathedral in Mexico...a place where they keep a piece of cloth with an image of Virgin Mary that was left after someone carried flowers in the cloth. It is a beautiful piece of cloth...but I don't buy the flower story.

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Monday to Friday was work days and the first couple of days were spent training with our partners and customers. Here in Mexico they don't start work until around 10am...but also don't finish until after 6-7pm and then followed by dinners etc. with the partners mean that some days go on until around midnight.

I find that Mexican food here is very different from the Mexican food that we get in Australia and elsewhere (but I already knew that). The food is still very unhealthy and full of meat and cheese...but much more tasty and much more variation. Our partners were very impressed on the first evening with them that I was able to eat whole chillies in the tacos...but when I explained to them that I was used to Asian food and to chop up fresh chillies into my day-to-day food then they understood.


In the big intersections in the city there are children dressed as clowns doing tricks to earn a few pesos. The other day I say three kids standing on each others shoulders which was very impressive...I also saw an older woman dressed as a clown walking around with a bucket with a dark cloth in it and throwing it at the cars...very freaky and I think she needs to change her tricks if she want to make any money. One of the more disturbing was a mother with a three year old kid who lay down on the street in the middle of the traffic while the kid was making somersaults on top.


On the last evening we went to Plaza Garibaldi. This is the place that all the great Mariachi bands came/come from. The whole square is filled with bands that you can hire to play music for you. When you drive to the square the Mariachis line the streets and run alongside the car trying to convince you that you should hire them to play some music for you.

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We went into a restaurant where they besides the Mariachi also had other entertainment such as cockfighting and lasso dancing. Afterwards we went this cantina where a lot of bands were playing simultaneously at various table. All very Mexican and a great tradition. I wonder if the Mariachis will still exist in 20 years from now...but seeing the reaching of the mexicans they probably will. The food was excellent and I tried another couple of great traditions such as beer with lemon and chili in it as well as the mandatory Tequilas (El Tequila Loco).

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The hospitality of our partners here has been excellent. They have taken me out every night and made sure that I tried everything Mexican.

Here's some videos:


Cockfightting
Indian Dancers
Lasso Dancing
Plaza Garibaldi
Mariachi


Click here to see more photos from Mexico

1. February 2008 12:04
by Rene Pallesen
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Travelling

1. February 2008 12:04 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

travelling


I haven't blogged much this year yet. Mainly because not a lot has happened this month (January traditionally is a quiet month) but also because it has been very hot and wet which is not a good combination for outdoor activities.

The next two months however are going to be really busy as I will be traveling in Latin and South America.

I am looking forward to the trips as it will take me to most of South America such as Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil.

As I travel I'll start posting pictures and entries in this blog.

4. January 2008 12:50
by Rene Pallesen
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New Years Day

4. January 2008 12:50 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

new years day


I was glad that I didn't have too much to drink on New Years Eve, because the day after turned out to be a busy one.

In the morning we had breakfast with Kims family at the cemetery where her mum is buried.

Right after this we went to the golf course at the coast and played 18 holes. It was a pretty hot day, but there was a nice breeze along the coast and the course is in such a spectacular location.

Click here for more photos Click here to download video of Playing Golf #1
Click here to download video of the Golf Course #2


Most of the beaches in Queensland and New South Wales were closed due to dangerous surf conditions. There is a hurricane off the coast of Queensland creating some huge waves along all of Australia's east coast.

In the evening we had dinner with Kims family having steam boat and those rice paper things that you roll up (not sure what it is called)...and it was yummi.

They have this fermented fish that has been fermented over 3-4 years and it is really nice as a dipping sauce with a few chillies mixed in. Click here to see more photos from New Years Day

4. January 2008 12:31
by Rene Pallesen
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2007 has ended

4. January 2008 12:31 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

2007 has ended


The year 2007 has now ended and it is time to start some new adventures in the new year.

2007 was full of traveling and other adventures and I expect 2008 to be much of the same.

Take some time to look at what is happening in 2008 as well as what happened in 2007.

Click on this link to see the events of 2007

Also please bookmark this page and also have a look at the RSS feed features of this page.
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