Volcan de Lodo El Totumo:
Highlight of the trip! No surprise that I liked this particular adventure since I’m a spa girl. But this mud bath experience is totally different from what you can get in a regular Spa Salon. This volcano is the subject of considerable legend. The locals believed it once spewed fire, lava and ash but this was considered to be the work of the devil by a priest. He sprinkled it frequently with holy water and it slowly extinguished, drowning the devil in mud. I’m sure most of the tourists, including me, go there for a nutrient-rich natural bath rather than visiting devil.
The bus that took us there was very clean. The passengers were from around the world, Finland, Ireland, Australia, Costa Rica, and etc. While we were driving out to the mud volcano, driver was playing great Colombian hits. The view of the road was awesome. I couldn’t wait to jump to the volcano.
I was one of the first excited ones climb the volcano to the mud, and not to mention, the first one who got out of it. I loved it so much but after a few minutes, I felt uncomfortable and had an urge to leave. Well basically I got cluster phobia. The mud was so thick I could barely move my hands. If the local didn’t help me, it would be tough to move inside. And after a while the entire passengers got in, and it became jam-packed.
After wallowing in the mud, locals washed us one by one at the nearby lake. It was a little bit weird, since they asked us to strip while they were washing us. The natural bath worked and I had a very soft glowing skin after that. Finally we had lunch in a neat place with a beautiful view of Caribbean Sea.

Cartagena
Cartagena wasn’t the city that I imagined. Actually I can say that was my least favorite city in Colombia (among the ones I visited). Don’t take me wrong, some parts were unbelievable, but in overall it was not “a fairytale city of romance” that I expected to be. On the other hand, if you like photography, this can be a right place for you.

I liked the extreme change of weather from Bogota to Cartagena as soon as we took off from the plane. It felt very humid and very green. According to locals, usually the weather over there is hot or hotter. But while we were there, there were Tropical showers most of the time. Sitting on the cab and heading to our hotel. I found the city a little bit dirty with skinny hungry dogs walking around everywhere, and not very accessible beaches but I loved the sweet sticky heat in a city.We stayed in Caribe Hotel, which was next to the beach and close to the other well known hotels. The good thing about the hotel was breakfast buffet in the morning and also its hugs pool. Although the hotel was comfortable, I would prefer to go to hustle to meet and hang out with more tourists around our ages.

Historic center! Fine colonial buildings! That was basically the reason we came to Cartagena. We went to Historical center the day after our arrival. Apparently it was Sunday so there wasn’t that much visitors around and most of the stores were closed. Before I get to Cartagena I heard that the city air is addictive, and you never want to leave the city after that, but for me, it wasn’t like that. I couldn’t wait to go to the next destination.

BOGOTA

Posted: October 25, 2009 in Catch me on the the road
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BOGOTA
First night, we stayed at Hotel La Fontana Estelar. The hotel was nice, but the neighborhood wasn’t. We arranged a shuttle to pick us up from the airport, and later on we found out it was a bad idea since they charged us almost three times more than a regular taxi, but at that time we didn’t care since we were concerned only about the safety. As soon as we checked in we followed one of our friend’s recommendations and straight went to Andres Carne de Res. It was a party restaurant located in Chia in the far north of the city. The taxi rate is around 30.000 COP to get there. And obliviously we paid twice for going there, and 4 times more coming back. I don’t recommend going to South America or Central America for vacation, if you don’t know any Spanish. The place was very cheerful, with fancy drinks and loud music. It was a must see place in Bogota. The south amrican ambiance will hit you as soon as you walked in. The place put mostly Salsa music, some pop Colombian hits and also lots of 80’s dance music. Some songs reminded me of Cat Club’s Thursday nights in San Francisco. One thing about Bogota that bothered me was the pollution. It was extremely polluted specially around our hotel. In our second day, we check out Museo Del Oro and around it, and headed to Cartagena in afternoon. Bogota didn’t impress me at all at the first time, but I changed my mind on the way back when we stayed in Hotel La Boheme. At the last night of our trip we chose La Boheme to stay which was located in the Zona Rosa. It was in the high end neighborhood with neat restaurants, coffee shops, and fancy boutiques. We felt very safe over there, so walked around the neighborhood until around midnight. This neighborhood was more European like and doesn’t give you the feel of South America. Except Latin musics that were playing loud everywhere. We didn’t have that much time to stay in Bogota, but I could guess I would like it if I stayed there more.

Yoga Bear

Posted: June 6, 2009 in Cause
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Through a good friend of mine I got familiar with yoga bear. Yoga bear is a non-profit organization which provides free yoga classes for cancer survivors. From my close observation of cancer patients (my families and friends), I believe nothing is more helpful than assist the survivors shift beyond a restricted mindset of always being sick. This can have a long term negative effect. So any activity that helps the survivors to change their negative outlook can be very beneficial. Yoga, for sure, is one of those activities. Not only it will aid to relax, it will help survivors to know their body better. So they can send the message to their body in order to heal. I support this organization for what they are doing for the love of life and people.

This blog post is part of Zemanta’s “Blogging For a Cause” campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.

Colombia

Posted: May 3, 2009 in Catch me on the the road

colombiaAfter almost two years gap, I decided to start blogging again by writing about my trip to Colombia. Since my last blog, I traveled to lots of wonderful inspiring places and I missed the chance to write it down and share the experiences with prospective explorers and my friends. So hopefully this time I can catch the detail of the trip. My first tip is to NOT talk about your trip to Colombia with your family (specially your mom), since their mind immediately go back to the days of Pablo Escobar or Guerilla forces. I’m going with my sister and the plan is to go to Bogota first and stay there for one day. The next destination will be three days at Cartagena and from there; we will join my Colombian friend at Santa Marta. Usually when I travel somewhere for the first time, I have pre-trip illusion about the cities that I’m about to visit. From imaging Utopia to dim city, almost all of my pre thoughts ended up incorrect. There were places that my pre-imagination went as far as an escape to paradise and I ended up dealing with bunch of sneaky locals and coming back with huge mosquito bites all over my body, in contrast there were cities that I just went because a friend asked for my company, and my eyes rolled around when I was saying yes, and they ended up the best trips of my life. I haven’t studied much about Colombia, since I wanted to be more impulsive. But what I heard so far is that Bogotá doesn’t sweep you off your feet at first glance. But take some time to wander its historical areas, dine in its cafés, and you’ll find it offers much more. At the other hand, Cartagena, “A fairytale city of romance”, is an addictive place that can be hard to escape. Based on these talks my pre-trip imagination of Colombia is… I confess that going to Bogota scare me a little bit. So I have a feeling that Bogotá will be dark, rainy, crowded and not very clean (not to mention my concern about the security). About Cartagena.. at this moment, my expectations are very high. In my cloudy mind Cartagena is equal to beautiful colors, salsa beats and stunning buildings. I’m specially looking forward to Volcano-dipping at Volcan de lodo El Totumo, Parque Nacional Tayronaa and its shaded park’s beaches, and Taganga’s beach and its open-air restaurants. I’m going right now to catch the plane and continue writing from COLOMBIA!