Bolivia Pt VI: Cost Summary

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We had four days in Bolivia (two in La Paz and another two in/around Salar de Uyuni) and spent a total of around 600 SGD each.

Cost breakdown

Visa
Cost/person: 71.65 SGD

We got the Bolivian visa on arrival at Kasani (55 USD) and had to pay the stamping fee of 15 BOB (<3 SGD) when we exited to Chile.

Accommodation
Average cost/person/day: 31.75 SGD

The only paid accommodation was at LANDSCAPE B&B Home where we stayed for two nights (64 SGD per night).

Air ticket
Cost/person: 173.17 SGD

The Amaszonas flight between La Paz and Uyuni cost us 173.17 SGD each.

Transport
Average cost/person: 10.64 SGD

Our paid transportation was limited to taxis around La Paz and to and from the airports (La Paz and Uyuni).

Food
Average cost/person/day: 4.60 SGD

Our food cost were really low because the meals were included in the Salar de Uyuni tour. We also self-catered when we were staying at LANDSCAPE B&B Home.

Activity
Average cost/person: 270.40 SGD

Our 3d/2n Salar de Uyuni tour (1,200 BOB) was the biggest expenditure in the Bolivian part of the journey (44%). Food, transport and accommodation were included though. Our tips to guides and admission charges also contributed to this category.

Misc
Average cost/person: 3.00 SGD

Shower and use of toilets.

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Peru Pt XIV: Cost Summary

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We had six days in Peru (two each in Ollantaytambo, Cusco and Puno) and spent a total of 700 SGD each.

Cost breakdown

Accommodation
Average cost/person/day: 24.59 SGD

Peru was much cheaper than Japan and US in terms of accommodation. Picaflor Tambo was most expensive at 60 USD per night. Cheapest was the Airbnb room in Cusco at 21 USD per night. All came with breakfast which allowed us to save more on food.

Air ticket
Cost/person: 112.37 SGD

The domestic flight between Lima and Cusco cost us 112 SGD each. We had used Avios to redeem them.

Transport
Average cost/person/day: 12.68 SGD

Transportation wasn’t expensive as well, considering there were two long distance bus rides. The tourist bus between Cusco to Puno on Wonder Peru was the more expensive one at 36 USD while the bus between Puno and La Paz cost only 30 Peruvian Soles (PEN). We also had return trips from Cusco to Ollantaytambo on collectivos for 10 PEN per person each way. There were also some taxi rides in Cusco which was usually around 3 to 5 PEN.

Food
Average cost/person/day: 14.27 SGD

The most expensive meal that we had in Peru was at Marcelo Batata for 84 PEN (around 20 SGD per person). The rest of the meals were less than 10 SGD. We could use the kitchen of our Airbnb host at Cusco and we made a simple meal there.

Activity
Average cost/person/day: 43.10 SGD

Visiting Machu Picchu & Huayna Picchu is expensive. After taking into account the cost of getting to Machu Picchu, the excursion came up to over 240 SGD. The other excursions that we took in Peru was Raqchi (10 PEN) and Uros Island (20 PEN).

Shopping
Average cost/person: 6.07 SGD

We bought too many llama key chains.

Misc
Average cost/person: 3.53 SGD

Toilets, laundry and change for buskers.

Boliva Pt I: Puno to La Paz via Copacabana

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Peruvia-Bolivian border at Copacabana

After yet another sumptuous breakfast at our hotel, we grabbed a taxi (5 PEN) to the bus station for our 7.30am departure to La Paz. The hotel staff had arranged the bus ticket for us at a reasonable price of 30 PEN per person; the later departure at 2.30pm would cost 35 PEN.

Paying the departure tax (1 PEN each)

We were only allowed into the boarding area after showing both our tickets and the departure tax receipts.

Huayruro Tours

However boarding didn’t commence immediately and we had to wait in the cold. It seemed that most of our fellow passengers were tourists like us.

On-board the bus

The bus took over two hours to reach Yunguyo, one of the two Peruvian border towns with Bolivia. At the border, we were asked to disembark with our bags at the Peruvian side and get stamped out of Peru.

Peruvian immigration

There were two buildings; we needed to queue up at one to get our passport scanned first in the right building before we could go to the actual immigration building to get stamped out.

After getting stamped out, we would make our way across the no man’s land to Bolivia.

Except that the no man’s land was full of people that day.

Bolivia lies beyond the arch

It appeared that there was some ceremony and student bands from both sides were performing between the two countries.

Peru

No idea what the ceremony was about

We didn’t linger on and found our way to the Bolivian immigration. Crossing the border also meant that we set our clock one hour forward, making us exactly 12 hours behind Singapore.

Following the sign

Initially there was only one official on duty which meant that a long queue had formed up.

Long queue

Singaporeans need to pay 55 USD for the Bolivian visa-on-arrival and there was a separate counter that we had to go to. On hindsight, we should have gotten our visa before joining the queue for immigration.

Still queuing

There was a moneychanger to the right of the immigration building and I exchanged my remaining Peruvian soles for Bolivian Bolivianos (99.4 BOB for 41.2 PEN).

The total process of crossing the border took us over an hour and we were glad to go back to the bus.

Another 8km to Copacabana

Just before entering Copacabana, someone came up to collect an ‘entrance fee’ of 1 BOB. We were dropped outside a travel agency Diana Tour and were informed that the bus to La Paz would depart around an hour later.

The bus to La Paz

Instead of exploring the town, we were happy enough to grab some lunch at a cafe instead. A burger and a bottle of Coca Cola set us back around 40 BOB (around 8 SGD).

Cafe in Copacabana

At 1.30pm Bolivian time we were back on our way to La Paz. The Bolivian bus wasn’t as nice as the Peruvian one but still was decent enough. It was quite a scenic drive along Lake Titicaca.

Copacabana

Andes in the background

Around 40 minutes later, the bus came to a halt again. There wasn’t a bridge between the two sides of the Strait of Tiquina and vehicles would need to take a raft across. Us the passengers had to disembark and took a separate ferry across for 2 BOB.

Vehicles ahead of us

Our bus loaded up

Going across

Our ferry

Although we departed later, the passengers would arrive at the other side earlier. We took the opportunity to visit the bathroom (1 BOB) and we spotted an interesting vehicle after that.

All the way from Colorado

We had a short chat with the girl who was in the vehicle; the owners were Americans who were on their way to Brazil for the World Cup. They had set off in February and being football (soccer) coaches, they gave clinics to children along the way. Pretty interesting way to go to the World Cup.

The scenery after Tiquina was similar to Peruvian altiplano.

With Andes in the background

Entrance to a military camp

It was a smooth journey until we reached El Alto where our bus got snarled into a really bad traffic jam. I suspected that many people were returning from the weekend trip on a Sunday.

Street art in El Alto

It took us more than an hour to get through the traffic and what I saw in El Alto along the way didn’t impress me. It was dusty and generally lacked charm.

El Alto

El Alto

Strangely the traffic jams disappeared after we went up the expressway to La Paz.

Going down to La Paz

Evo welcoming us

Our bus would drop us at Hotel Sagarnaga, located where most of the guesthouses and hotels are.

Hotel Sagarnaga

However, our accommodation was some way away but luckily a kind staff from Hotel Sagarnaga helped us get a taxi there for 15 BOB.

Central La Paz – quite different from El Alto

Central La Paz

Map of our journey:-

Peru Pt XIII: Puno

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Plaza de Armas, Puno

After our Uros Island tour, the bus dropped us back at Plaza de Armas. Somehow we couldn’t find the way back to our hotel and we wandered around the square for quite a while.

Old friends

Thankfully we came across an iPeru, the tourist information office off Plaza de Armas. A helpful staff who spoke pretty good English gave us a city map and pointed us the way back. When prompted, she also gave us some recommendations on where to have seafood lunch.

We decided on Cervicheria Mareas, located halfway between Plaza de Armas and our accommodation.

Cervicheria Mareas

While the exterior didn’t look impressive, the inside was actually pretty nice.

Inside Cervicheria Mareas

It was a locals-only place and and all the tables were filled. They must be doing something right.

Somehow we managed to decipher the Spanish-only menu and ordered our food.

Half a dozen mussels

Cerviche

Fish and chips Peruvian style

The mussels were really fresh and we loved the onions and garlic which came with it. The cerviche and the fish were very nice too. We only paid 38 PEN (~14 USD) for the awesome meal and we left the place full and satisfied.

Awesome recommendation from the iPeru staff!

After lunch, we went back to our hotel to rest and we didn’t emerge until it wasn’t as hot. We went out to exchange some more money (50 USD for 137.5 PEN) and just walked around town after that.

Puno – Capital of Peruvian Foklore

Pedestrianised street of Jr. Lima

Sky blue and white

Oolala

We came across a small sports hall and some girls were having a competitive match. We ended up spending some time catching the action.

Volleyball match

Mural of Uros Island

There was a football competition down the road but sadly the action was over when we arrived.

Football competition down the road

The market outside was already winding down when we were walking through it. There wasn’t much to see and soon we were our way back.

Market – taken earlier while on the way to jetty

Puno or Buenos Aires?

To be honest, Puno isn’t a very interesting place. It’s just a base to visit the islands on Lake Titicaca and one full day there was more than enough for us. Next stop: Bolivia!

Peru Pt XII: Uros Island

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Isla Flotante Los Uros

We signed up for a half-day Uros Island tour (20 PEN each) with our hotel and the tour operator came to pick us up from the hotel at 9am. We had to walk to Plaza de Armas to board the bus and it would pick up a few more tour participants before driving the short distance to the jetty.

Plaza de Armas

Ticket price to Uros

Ticket counter

We didn’t need to do anything except to follow our guide.

At the jetty

Lake Titicaca

It was a 30 minute ride to the island and our guide gave us an overview of the history and taught us some Aymara greeting en-route.

Guide spoke in both Spanish and English

Enjoying the ride

Reeds – essential for the islanders’ survival

First of the 42 islands that we saw

There was a checkpoint at the entrance to the islands where there was a small admission fee (included in the tour) to be paid.

Checkpoint

Our guide told us that there was a schedule for the different islands to receive tourists so that benefits would be spread among the islanders evenly.

The islanders preparing to welcome us

The islanders greeted us warmly as we disembarked from our ferry. We strolled around for a while by ourselves and took a few pictures.

Islanders’ houses – connected to the world through TV

Cute girl

Boat made from reed – these boats are used only by tourists now

Then our guide started his explanation about the islands and the islanders’ lives.

Setting the stage

Listening to the explanation

Preparing the reeds for the next layer of the island

Along with reeds, fish is the staple of the locals

Our guide told us that our foreign stomachs wouldn’t be able to take the reeds offered by the islanders. If we were offered any, we shouldn’t consume them and should just hand over to him.

Handicrafts made of reeds

After the explanation, we had some time to browse through the items put up for sale by the islanders. Ying was suckered in because of the cute girls.

Introducing Patrick

Pretty eyes

Acting cute

Smile

Ying playing with the girls

Playing by herself

After getting a cushion cover, Ying and I took turn going up the big bird.

Bird made of reeds

Ying

Bird eye’s view

The next island

After spending around an hour on the island, we moved on to the “capital” of the Uros. Some from our tour group took up the offer of getting there by the reed boat.

Bidding farewell

There was a shop selling food and drinks at the main island of Utama and we could get a stamp of Lake Titicaca inside our passports for 1 PEN.

Utama

Flags left behind by visitors on the main island – China wouldn’t be too happy

Fishes were reared inside the ponds

Peruvian coast guards paying a visit

We didn’t linger long at Utama and we were back on the mainland by around 12pm.

The boat that brought us to Uros Island

The sight of algae around the jetty was pretty scary

The tour ended with the bus dropping us at Plaza de Armas. I thought that the length of the tour just nice and our guide was pretty informative. For 20 PEN (9.25 SGD), the tour was pretty value for money. However I doubt that the longer trip to Taquile or Amantani would be as appealing to us.

Peru Pt XI: Hostel Titiuta Puno

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View from Hostel Titiuta

We spent two nights in Puno and our research led us to Hostel Titiuta. We booked a double room at 35 USD per night with Booking.com although I suspected that one could get a better price if he or she booked directly with the hotel.

As mentioned in the previous post, someone from the hotel picked us up at the bus station. After we made the booking online, a staff from the hotel contacted us about the complimentary pick-up service. I informed them on our arrival details the day before and they replied promptly to acknowledge.

Less than 20 minutes after arriving at Puno bus station, we reached the hotel. The friendly lady at the counter spoke very good English and gave us the rundown of the tours that the hotel could book for us. She also quoted us a very reasonable price for the bus to La Paz, our next destination.

After getting all the information we required (including the all-too-important wifi passwords), we were shown the rooms. We ended up choosing the big double room on level 3 and we had the whole level to ourselves on the first night.

Bed

Flowers made from towels

Bathroom

Lots of room to spread our stuff and we had TV with football

We skipped dinner and didn’t emerge from the room until the next morning.

Day view

There was a small lounge beside our room where guests could use the computer.

Rather cosy

Hot water for tea (coca or otherwise) and coffee

Breakfast was included in the rate and was served on the ground floor. The mannequins never failed to creep me out.

Dining area

The breakfast was buffet-style and was really awesome with cold cuts, fresh fruits, breads and yogurts. The staff even prepared eggs for us.

What a spread

While basic, Hostel Titiuta is a decent choice for a few nights in Puno. The staff were friendly and they were helpful with the tour and transportation bookings. We ended up booking with them the half-day tour to Uros Island as well as our onward transportation to La Paz because they were cheaper than the prices that I saw online.

Peru Pt X: Cusco to Puno on Wonder Peru

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Wonder Peru

There are several modes of traveling between Cusco and Puno: plane, train or bus.

Flying isn’t cheap; the one-hour direct flight on LAN from Cusco to Juliaca, 45km from Puno, cost 150 USD.

And this is not even the most expensive way; PeruRail charged a cool 268 USD for the 10-hour train ride between the two cities. Rumours has it that the carriages are lined with gold but I can’t verify first hand.

And then there are buses. Of which there are two kinds: direct and tourist. The direct buses takes around 6.5 hours and cost around 20 USD. One of the operators is Cruz del Sur, a premium bus service operator in Peru. However many of these buses operate overnight and arrive at Puno at an unearthly hour of 4.30-5am.

The tourist buses, on the other hand, depart Cusco at a more earthly hour of 8am and arrive in Puno at around 6pm. There were three operators: Inka Express, Turismo Mer and Wonder Peru. Inka Express was the most expensive at 55 USD and Turismo Mer gave us the quote of 50 USD per person. We wanted to go with Turismo Mer initially but there was only one seat left on our travel date.

Running out of options, we decided to visit the travel agencies along Avenida del Sol to check out our options.

Katty’s Travel

Turned out that the travel agency is an agent for Wonder Peru and the price was only 36 USD. It didn’t take us long to make the decision to purchase the tickets.

The bus would depart at 8am and we were instructed to reach Wonder Peru’s office at 7.30am. We took a cab from our accommodation for 3 soles and reached there with plenty of time to spare.

Wonder Peru’s office

Due to the freezing temperature outside, all the passengers cramped inside the small office before departure. The operator set up a table with snacks and hot drinks for the passengers, which I thought was a nice touch.

The bus was quite a nice one; our seats were just after the rear door.

On-board the bus

It took us some time to get out of Cusco’s bad morning traffic and the buildings gave way to Peruvian countryside.

Peruvian countryside

The town of Andahuaylillas is around 45 minutes’ drive away from Cusco and was our first stop of the day.

Entering Andahuaylillas

Another dusty Peruvian town

Its claim to fame was the town church which was nicknamed “Sistine Chapel of America”. There was an entrance fee and neither of us were interested in a tour inside the church.

Andahuaylillas church

Wonder Peru’s competitors arriving at around the same time

Once we got on the bus, the stewardess went around distributing banklets and drinks. She would do the drinks run after each stop.

Presidential Service

Hot mint tea

The next stop was Raqchi, an Incan archaeological site an hour away from Andahuaylillas. We paid the admission free of 10 PEN each and our guide Raul gave us a tour of the compound.

Needed to pass through the vendors before reaching the entrance of the site

Raqchi

Follow the arrow

What remains of Raqchi

Columns of Temple

Nature has taken over

Used to be granaries (I think)

While our guide Raul was pretty competent with his explanation, the absence of cloud cover made the excursion uncomfortably hot and forgettable. I couldn’t recall most of the details beside that it was an important religious place for the Incans.

Church under construction

Lunch was next on our agenda and we had ours in the rather dusty town of Sicuani, around 20 minutes. drive from Raqchi.

Sicuani

Restaurant

Lunch was buffet-style with the food on the left of the picture

The spread was surprising quite good and I went for two rounds of food. While we needed to pay for the cold drinks, hot drinks were free-of-charge.

First round

There were also musicians who entertained us during the lunch. Towards the end of the performance, one of them would go around hawking their CDs and not surprisingly there weren’t any buyers. The tourists (us included) were more generous with the tips though and their method reminded me of door-in-the-face technique.

After lunch, we traveled on to Abra La Raya, the highest point of the bus journey. It was also where the border between Cusco region and Puno region is.

Abra La Raya

Despite the strong winds, there were still many locals who set up their stalls there.

Souvenirs for sale

Llama for photo op

The view was really impressive.

View point for Chimboya

Snowcapped

Patrick had no problem with the altitude

PeruRail spotted

Wow

After the short stay on the pass, we moved on to our next stop: Pukara.

Pukara

Raul led us through the pre-Incan archaeological site. Like in Raqchi, the details escaped me once again.

Looking back at the town of Pukara

Following Raul

Explaining the significance

Crime scene

Ying preferred to take selfies instead

After our tour of the archaeological site, we were driven to town where the museum was located. Raul would bring those interested in viewing the museum while the rest of us found ways to occupy ourselves.

Pukara church

Shops

Pukara

We seeked refuge in the souvenir shop where we got some ice-cream.

Inside the souvenir shop

Figurines for sale

Pukara was our final stop and from there we would travel all the way to Puno. We passed through Juliaca en-route and Raul shared some interesting information about the city.

Juliaca, home of too many unfinished buildings

Apparently the buildings were purposely unfinished because the tax rates on unfinished properties were much lower than finished ones. Despite the incomplete exteriors, many of the buildings were nicely furnished inside.

Dusty

Juliaca’s economy is fuelled by the trans-border trade with Bolivia and there are many factories in the city, producing knockoffs of famous brands. Furthermore, Lake Titicaca isn’t actively policed by the customs on both sides and many smuggling apparently take place on the waters.

Autorickshaw, the main form of transport in Juliaca

Golden statue

Church in Juliaca

After getting out of Juliaca, we were still around 45 minutes out of Puno. With the sun setting, the landscape was pretty enchanting.

Looking out

First glimpse of the lake

Puno in a distance

We finally arrived at Puno bus station around 10 hours after departing Cusco. It had been a long day with the stops so we were glad to find that someone from Hotel Titiutapuno was already waiting for us at the bus station.

I thought that Wonder Peru provided a decent service at a reasonable price. While I wouldn’t go out of my way to stop at the sights, I wouldn’t mind stopping by them for a while en-route. I suspect that there isn’t a lot of difference between the operators so I would recommend Wonder Peru for those interested in taking the tourist bus between Cusco and Puno.

Route of our journey:-

Peru Pt IX: Chilling in Cusco

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Qorikancha, Cusco

We only had 1.5 days in Cusco and we spent the first afternoon doing admin stuff: finding our accommodation, getting our laundry done and figuring out our onward transport to Puno.

After settling down at our accommodation, we headed out with our dirty clothes. The place which our host Ruth told us to go to didn’t exist but luckily with Cusco being a tourist town, it wasn’t that difficult to locate a place to drop our dirty clothes.

Souvenir shop along Avenida del Sol – agreed to wash our laundry for 5 soles per kg

After the ordeal, we decided to reward ourselves with helado.

Amorino

First of the many ice-creams we had in South America (4.50 PEN)

After the ice-cream treat, we went around asking for information about our onward transportation to Puno. We couldn’t come to a decision and by the time we were done it was time for dinner.

Mural along Avenida del Sol

Dinner was at a Peruvian place located several blocks away from our accommodation. We ordered a set for two and the amount of food that arrived was enough to feed a family.

Polleria Rios Los Angeles

Super salty chicken

Peruvian Chinese dish – Arroz chaufa

The meal also came with fries, sausages and soup. We could barely finish half of the food served.

On our way back, Ying and I stopped by one of the many souvenir shops in Cusco.

Junk Souvenirs for sale

Junk Souvenirs for sale

The llama keychains caught Ying’s eyes and we managed to get 10 of them and a bird flute for 15 PEN. By the time we left Cusco, we would have many more llamas.

We had a late start the following day due to the chat with our host Paul. We didn’t get going until it was almost eleven and like the day before, we walked up Avenida del Sol.

Incan-inspired designs on road dividers

Incan-inspired designs on road dividers

There were many moneychangers on Avenida del Sol and by then we were running a bit low on our Peruvian soles. We got the best rate in Peru in Cusco – 276 PEN for 100 USD so our advice would be stock up on your soles before heading to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.

Some guy being interviewed outside Cusco’s city hall

Colourful mural in the background

We stopped by Plaza de Armas, centre of tourism in Cusco. There were plenty of tourists with the same idea as us.

Plaza de Armas

Fountain in the middle

Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus

Cusco Cathedral

We needed the bathroom and spotted the Starbucks on the plaza.

Starbucks

Coffee sacks

While sipping on our special lucuma drink, we surfed the net to research where we should have lunch. We shortlisted a few choices near the San Blas neighbourhood and made our way there after our finishing our drink.

Llama for photo

Climbing up the steep streets of Cusco

Hotel in San Blas

We ended up dining at the restaurant Marcelo Batata, a decision that we didn’t regret.

Marcelo Batata

Menu in English

We got served by a nice staff who spoke pretty good English. She brought us cassava chips and dips after getting our drinks orders.

Cassava chips, energy booster and Inka Cola

Awesome chips and salsa

Between the two of us we ordered a starter and a main. Avocado and shrimp cocktail was our choice of starter.

Fresh avocado and sweet mango tossed with pomegranate and passion fruit couli topped with grilled shrimp and served with a sweet and spicy tamarind sauce

The starter was absolutely awesome and we literally licked every drop of the sauce off the plate. Worth every soles (21 of them to be exact) paid.

The main was char-boiled alpaca tenderloin (43 soles).

8 ounces of char-broiled alpaca tenderloin in wild mushroom sauce, served with potato casserole, purple corn quinotto, onion strings caramelised with algarrobina

It was the first time that we were trying alpaca and it tasted like a cross between pork and beef.

Juicy alpaca steak

The sides were outstanding as well; Ying really loved the caramelised onions.

Funny sign in the toilet

It was a satisfying meal and the total bill came to a very reasonable 84 PEN (inclusive of a small tip for our excellent server).

We found ourselves back on the streets of Cusco, trying to walk off the calories.

Walking back

Awesome school bus

Shadow

Cobble-stoned

Wall

Trash can reminded me of minion

Fountain

When we were taking a rest near the fountain, the peddlers would approach us with their wares. Ying drove a hard bargain on the llama keychains and we got several more. However, before we finished the transaction, a police officer tried to shoo the peddlers. Quite pro-active of Peruvian authorities to improve the tourist experience in Cusco.

Bust

The cathedrals under glorious sunshine

We collected our washed laundry on our way back and retreated back to our accommodation before sunset.

Something funny:-

Ying really loves llamas

In fact she bought so many llama keychains that she could form something meaningful with them.

Peru

Could you count how many llamas were there?

Peru Pt VIII: Nice Room near the main square in Cusco

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Night view from the apartment

The collectivo from Ollantaytambo dropped us at Plaza San Francisco in Cusco and we were disoriented. After asking for directions from several people, we managed to find our way to our accommodation booked on Airbnb.

The apartment was situated beside Wanchaq swimming pool and the neighbourhood was noticeably more local than the touristy historic centre. Our host Paul had communicated with us before hand that his sister Ruth would be receiving us.

We paid 28.50 SGD per night for our room, the cheapest for the whole trip. The price should have alerted us on its (lack of) quality. Our first impression of the house wasn’t great; in fact the condition of the house kinda shocked us. While one might describe it as homey, it could also be seen as messy. It was also dusty and the renovation didn’t seem to be ‘completed’.

Our room was a twin one on the second floor and there were two other rooms. One of them was occupied by a Swiss couple whom we spoke briefly to every morning.

The other two rooms and toilet (extreme right)

Twin room

Our room was fairly spartan but it was clean enough. The bad thing was that it was outside the wi-fi range and we would need to go down to the living room to stay connected to the world.

Ruth was a friendly woman and tried to make us feel at home. However, her lack of English and our inability to speak Spanish meant that we couldn’t communicate effectively. When my questions became too difficult for her, she would call Paul to ask him to speak to me on the phone. We needed the laundromat and she sent us the wrong way while the nearest one was only around five minutes’ walk away.

We were also given the wrong set of keys and we couldn’t enter the apartment when we returned in the evening. Ruth was out and there was no one in the house.

Locked out

Luckily my phone was within the wi-fi range and we messaged Paul on Airbnb. Ruth returned and let us back into the house before going out again. I had to message Paul again as the toilet paper had ran out and we didn’t know how to switch on the heater for our showers. While none of these things were really huge issues, they didn’t make our stay a pleasant one.

Breakfast was included in the rate and Ruth would wake up early to prepare it for us. Both mornings we had rice with fried bananas. The fried bananas were nice but the rice was prepared too hard to our Asian taste. Ying struggled to finish them every morning.

Paul dropped by on the second day and he was an interesting person to talk to. We learned more about Peru and Cusco through our conversation and his English was pretty good. That was probably the best aspect of the stay.

Randall, a guest who stayed after us, had a similar experience to our time there although we didn’t have an issue with the noise.

The room was very small and the building still a building site. It looked nothing like the advertised double room. The noise before midnight was very loud in the building from many sources, within the unit complex and within the unit and there were many comings and goings on the main stairs outside of the window behind the bed. As well, the light in the stairwell foyer outside the bedroom came on and off regularly.

The rooms are unfinished with a space above the doors of two bedrooms and the bathroom not having glass or other infill in them allowing noise to travel and giving little privacy.

The bathroom is small and when we arrived on Monday had not been cleaned and was not cleaned until Friday. It has no system for stopping water from the shower from wetting the toilet, the basin and the floor, meaning everything gets wet. A simple shower curtain would suffice. There is nowhere to hang a towel while showering so the toilet seat is the only option.

The circular stair from the main lower rooms to the bedrooms is made of steel and is noisy. The light for the stair was not functioning and despite Paul saying he would fix it that didn’t happen while we were there. It felt unsafe to use at night without a torch.

Paul collected us from our previous accommodation and was pleasant. Ruth was an absolute delight and made a significant effort to communicate with us.

The location is fine and convenient for visiting the centre of Cusco.

Not recommended for those with acute hearing, in need of sleep and any hint of claustrophobia.

At the end of our two-night stay, we were glad to move on and Ruth sent us off with a small gift each. On hindsight, we should have paid more for somewhere more pleasant and comfortable.

Peru Pt VII: Aguas Calientes

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Aguas Calientes

The shuttle bus dropped us back at Aguas Calientes, near where we boarded the bus earlier in the morning.

Shuttle bus

Fountain

The first thing that we did was to buy a big bottle of water to hydrate ourselves. We had long exhausted our supply of water on our hike up Huayna Picchu and quenching our thirst was the priority when we reached Aguas Calientes.

After getting hydrated, we took a walk along the train tracks.

Local kids playing along the tracks

Train station for the local trains – foreigners are prohibited from riding them

Police station

Train passing through

We somehow found ourselves at the town’s main square.

Cathedral

Bienvenidos

There was a kindergarten round the corner and the pictures drawn by the students were displayed on the wall outside it.

Pre-school

Drawn by 3 year-olds

By 4 year-olds

By 5 year-olds

It was apparent that the only economic activity in the town was tourism. Almost every business is a hotel, souvenir shop or a restaurant.

Street of AC

Street of AC

There was also a fair bit of touting as well; we were persuaded to have our dinner at one of the restaurants where the staff promised to throw in free pisco sours.

People watching while waiting for our food

Our dinner – trout for me and alpaca steak for Ying (20 PEN each)

The food wasn’t top quality and Ying complained about how tough her steak was. My fish was better though.

With the dinner out of the way, we spent some time walking through the souvenir shops outside the train station. It seemed that the prices there were quite steep and we would find cheaper souvenirs in Cusco.

Train Station

Flood evacuation route

Train: PeruRail Expedition 84
Depart: Machu Picchu Pueblo – 18:45
Arrive: Ollantaytambo – 20:15
Duration: 1h40m
Seat: 52

The train back to Ollantaytambo was similar to the one that we had in the morning. A snack and drink were offered.

Tea and biscuits

After all the passengers had disembarked

After a short auto rickshaw ride, we were back at our accommodation. Both of us were happy to get a good rest after a long day out.