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

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Granny Smith Bandit v. The Chochos and anor. [2009] DYB

9 to 13 September 2009


Travel - Adventure - Friends - Comrarderie - Fun - Awesomeness!


I trekked the Amazon, salsa-ed at 3,399 meters above sea level in Cusco, completed the Lares Trek, hiked up Machu Picchu and Waynapicchu, dived (in my underwear!) into Lake Titicaca, cycled down the world's most dangerous road (to 'fess - halfway only la) in the Bolivian Andes, gone through a hell of a bumpy ride, complete with dust mite bites, across the salt plains and desert at Salar de Uyuni (exposed a boob or two along the way!), stole a woollen blanket from the Salt Hotel, froze my feet off in a supposedly heated bus on my way to La Paz, tumbled down Colca Canyon and huffed and puffed my way back up, whizzed across the Nazca Lines, risked marine bird droppings at the Islas Ballestas, ate a worm alive, chewed on cuy (guinea pig) and drank a couple of Pisco Sours and Colca Sours before I found my way to Huaraz to meet the Chos.

See what I would do to meet my favourite Singaporeans in South America!

Case Summary:

M and I crashed at the hostel after an 8-hour bus ride running through the night from Lima. We were woken up by familiar sounds of "Hola!" and "Wake up!" and greeted by D's camera on video mode. I certainly didn't look appropriate (and definitely not M ha-ha (see video below)) for the camera, but what the heck! I was finally meeting D & Y in South America! I had no idea how much I missed the sight and sounds of Singaporeans until I met D & Y. I love Singapore! I love Singaporeans more! I love my buddies, D & Y even more! Ah-bu-den! Weeks of interacting only with Ang Mohs, Guai Los and Lao Wais restricted me to

(1) speaking only well-articulated English;
(2) polite conversation about whether a certain game is known as football or soccer; and
(3) boring soliloquy (not mine) about "me, myself and I".

Oh, how I missed rattling on and on in Singlish and having people responding with the same.

Bless M for choosing to watch the EPL game that afternoon on his own so that I could catch up with D & Y. It was surreal that the 3 of us could be seated together in a little creperie in Huaraz chatting about our travels in South America. I have D & Y to thank for travelling South America: Back on 20 July, my boss kindly granted my birthday wish for a long break from work for my big 3-0 (yes, I was getting all philosophical about the meaning of life as my expiry date drew near). I had spent recent years of my life being busy from one deal to another, and it was pretty scary stuff having so much free time at hand. Thank heavens the stars must have aligned when D extended an invite for me to join them on their trip of a lifetime while I ponder about my existence.

The rest is history.

Fine! I will watch the game on my own! *manly pout*

Santa Cruz Trek 0.5
As planned, we started on the Santa Cruz Trek the next day. We equipped ourselves with walking sticks, thermals, lots of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, chocolate and most importantly, stupendous socks! One would have thought we were more than adequately prepared to complete the trek.

Unfortunately, Y suffered from altitude sickness on Day 1 of the the trek. Poor D had to carry all of Y's stuff all the way to the campsite even though he was suffering from altitude migraine as well. I offered the help of M, my personal "alpaca" but D bravely trudged on. (Two years of NS creates Singapore heroes like D!) So Day 1 was certainly no winter wonderland. It also didn't help that one of the trekkers with us most annoying - whenever Y or I spoke to the guide, she would repeat in her words what we said to the guide. It then occurred to us that she was trying to translate our English into her English.

In the morning of Day 2 of the trek, D & Y decided to turn back and return to Huaraz. They said it was not worth suffering any further to make it to the pass. I knew it was more like D didn't want to see Y fall more ill, and Y didn't want to see D prolong his pain as he would have to carry all of their stuff, his and hers, up the pass. (Awwww!)

When D & Y excused themselves from the breakfast table to pack, the thought of spending my last few precious days in South America with the snotty racist and her friends was cringe-worthy enough to send me running to my tent to split our stuff between M and me. And so I decided to follow my countrymen back to Huaraz. Although I felt a little terrible for ditching M, I took comfort in the fact that my friends could do with some Ching-action on the potentially boring trek home. I was a little disappointed that I had to give up the trek halfway, because I am usually too proud to give up on anything I embark on. But I am glad I chose to turn round with D & Y as the way back turned out to be quite a little adventure!


The way home

Follow me! Ching leads the way (up the wrong mountain though)

Are we there yet....

.... nooo

It was rainy, gloomy and very cold, the trail was full of mud and poop (animal only I hope), and Y was definitely still struggling with her altitude sickness. With a little team work - I paced the group, D carried Y's stuff and helped her along, and Y doing her best to keep going, we managed to find our way back to our first stop at Vaqueria in 4 hours. To put things in perspective, we took more than 4 hours on the same trail the day before. Us 3 little Singaporeans certainly knew our way around the mountains of Cordillera Blanca!

At Vacqueria, we joined a Dutch couple and their trekking guides who had been waiting for 3 hours, to catch a taxi to our second stop at Yungay. It continued to rain heavily, we were cold and exhausted from the earlier trek, and there was no taxi in sight.

I was wondering if we could actually make it back to Huaraz before nightfall, when lo and behold, a chicken truck pulled up in front of us! The truck was already ferrying a local family and their farm produce. After some negotiation, the driver agreed to take all of us back to Yungay for a small fee. I probably wouldn't have taken a ride in a truck like this in Singapore, but hey, we were in South America and couldn't wait to get to a hot shower and warm bed! Ailing Y took the only front passenger seat, and the rest of us hopped on the back of the truck to join the locals.

The truck's lack of suspension made it a helluva roller coaster ride down the mountains! There were no proper seats at the back of the truck, so I moved from one sack of farm produce to another each time I fell off a sack. First I sat on the melons, then the corn bags, before the local ladies kindly invited me to cosy up with them under a huge woolen blanket. Poor D had to contend with the chicken coops, consequence of which made for another good story. Meanwhile, I chatted animatedly with the local ladies, even though I didn't understand a single word they spoke. Best conversation ever! Lots of laughter and charades :)

The girls then fell in love with my gold coloured casio watch thinking it was made of real gold; they each asked me for the time every 5 to 10 minutes just so that they could take a peek. It was really heartwarming that they were so generous about sharing their blanket, time, space and culture (one of the old ladies gave me some basic geography lessons in Spanish - she pointed out to a lagoon and coo-ed "la-goo-naa!").

Outside, the drizzle turned into a heavy downpour which then became snow. We were a scene right out of Travel & Living.


I am thankful to have spent such an amazing time with D & Y. It was very heartening to witness husband and wife care for and support each other the way D & Y did. They made me realize what a life partnership is about - D leads and decides when Y is ill, and Y cares for D's well-being when he does the heavy-lifting, they take turns with daily tasks and absolutely enjoy each other's company. Each is incomplete without the other. I recall telling M that D & Y are not typical Singaporeans, they do stuff, they create a life and they are wonderful people to be around. I have utmost admiration for them in making this trip happen and am inspired to do something this big for myself too. I wish them only the best for the rest of the journey!

Love, Ching XXX

Never shalt they be apart


WeLoveRoy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WeLoveRoy said...

mmm I was expecting some funny blog entry by C but I guess some loses their sense of fun once past the big 30!

As for the part about singaporean army trained guys.. I truly second that portion.. now that we have completed our 2.5 years in the army, we can say that it has indeed made us better persons.. more considerate to others and also better endurance...

What happened to the big birthday bash that we were supposed to have!!

Yi Lin said...

Exposing a boob (twice!) not funny meh? Guess u must hear the story in person, told with full-blown demonstrations by Ching herself on how it happened!

Yeah, WeLoveRoy, you're sounding more philosophical n nostalgic yourself too. Let's have belated big birthday bashes for all next year - post-30yr-old brains not allowed. We will embrace some N-for-Engineer humour from the past then.

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