Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Villagers For A Day

Even with Singapore being such a small country, I've never walked from one town to another before. In-line skating yes (via East Coast Park), and cycling too, but actually walking like a pilgrim for hours and hours? Nope. The furthest I've walked was within the MacRitchie Nature Reserve in search for the treetop walk. I tried walking from our home in Bishan along the Park Connector Network to Kallang, but somehow found myself along the Pan-Island Expressway, decided against consuming lungfuls of vehicle exhaust and turned back. And I haven't yet attempted crossing the Southern Ridges from Telok Blangah Park all the way to Kent Ridge Park. (My, that's alot of things to try when I get home!)

With all that time to spare in Otavalo and all the good food that we had been wolfing down, we decided to take up Lonely Planet's suggestion to walk to a nearby artisan village called Peguche and the waterfall park, named after the village (Las Cascades de Peguche). Adeline, our new friend from France, also confirmed that Peguche was a mere 30-minute walk from Otavalo (but then, she and Nicolas aced us to the summit of Fuya Fuya, remember?)

The fresh, crisp mountain air in Otavalo is best savoured outside of town. After choking on 2 weeks worth of vehicle exhaust in Bogota and dust from the roads on every long distance bus journey, we really appreciated the oxygen treat that this Andean region had to offer (except for when the occasional vehicle put-putted by, kicking up a cloud of dust.)

We were pretty much the only people on the path, definitely the only tourists walking that route that day. A few local women, with babies and vegetables wrapped up in the same piece of cloth and secured tightly onto their backs, hurried past us. The babies' legs dangling from one end of the makeshift cloth haversack and the tops of leafy green stalks sprouting from the other. Stray dogs scampered past (gotta watch out for their fresh doses puppy poop on the pavement) and bored cows mooed mournfully at us.

The Ecuadorians seem to be ardent fans of DragonballZ or Naruto. The DVD stores carried many Naruto cartoon series (pirated of course) and the mural that adorned the wall of this humble provision store was pretty impressive.

Las Cascades de Peguche is housed in a neat little park, fronted by artisan (nooo... no more shopping for us although I was sorely tempted to get one of those little woolen caps) and food stalls bearing steaming pots of sweet white corn. A cobblestone paths guides visitors past the camping area and delivers them right before the waterfall.

Finally - the pony he had always wanted

Las Cascades de Peguche

I tried scaling the rocks to get nearer to the falls. But they were totally covered in algae (or was it scum?!) and slippery to touch. After much slipping and sliding and repositioning my hands and feet in various rocky crevices, I finally managed to haul myself up - palms, pants (which had just been laundered!), jacket and camera bag (sorry Roy!) stained in a murky palette of greens and browns. Ugh.

Trying to get a firm footing on the slippery rocks

Ah-ha! Slightly unglam, but I managed to hike my foot up onto a high ledge.

Still, it was pretty shiok cooling off under fine spray under the gushing falls.

Woooooosssshhhh!

The picture of victory. Messy mist-matted hair and all.

Satisfied with making a total mess of our clothes (okay, just my outfit - Dan somehow managed to remain scum-free), we left the waterfall park and trekked on to Peguche, planning to have lunch at the little village. It was really quiet for some reason, there didn't seem to be anyone around. We could hear the clacking of looms behind the brick walls but there was no activity whatsoever on the streets, except for food trucks delivering local produce to the stores. Before realising it, we had strolled right past the village centre and found ourselves along the Panamerican Highway outside the village!

Trying to find some life in Peguche. Where's everybody?!

The rumbling in our tummies prompted us to check our watches and we realised that we had been walking for 4 hours straight. We ditched all hopes of finding anything to eat in Peguche and lumbered back to Otavalo. We felt like real villagers for a day, walking from town to town on foot! Tummies empty and bladders bursting, we stumbled into a Shandong-run chifa for much-needed nourishment in the form of chalaufan with chicken wings (Dan's choice, of course) and deep-fried wanton skins (yes, only the skins. Strange!)

And then it was back to our hostel for what was meant to be a short late afternoon nap. We woke up at 8.30pm when Adeline knocked on our door to make arrangements to visit the animal market together the next morning (stay tuned for Dan's entry on that!) It's a good thing she did, otherwise we may have slept till midnight and woke up all bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and very hungry!

Ah well, time to wake up and head back to the chifa for dinner!

5 comments:

Tracy Su said...

Hey, I often throw wanton skins into noodle soup if I'm too lazy to make wantons. But yeah, a chifa that's too lazy to make wantons is a bit strange...was it nice, or did the meal just get too jelak after all that deepfriedness?

Stephanie said...

awesome!!

Yi Lin said...

Trace - that's the first I've heard of wanton skins sans fillings for soup! Funny girl. Fried skins alone are quite yuck after the first few bites. Even with the chilli-ketchup sauce they provide to go with the skins.

Stephanie - yeah, it was a great walk. Sure beats walking around air-conditioned shopping malls (except for the road dust.)

sulin_dix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracy Su said...

What to do, desperate Singaporean craving a familiar morsel. It's pretty tasty actually, especially with tom yum noodles and is useful if you think the noodle portion is too small, like mee hoon kueh. I throw in a load of other stuff too, it's not just a bowl of starch!

But I wouldn't like fried skins on their own...

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