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

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


So I couldn't think of a better title for this post. But who cares? Welcome to BRAZIL!!!! Need I say more?!

We were initially incredibly worried about going to Brazil, especially the capital Rio de Janeiro. The city had received mixed reviews from fellow travellers with regards to safety.

Well, so far so good *cross fingers* In fact, every chance for contact with Brazil has only seemed to improve our impression of the country.

Firstly, the visa application process was a breeze compared to what we went through to get our Bolivian visa at the embassy in Quito. We had read that the Brazilian consulate in Buenos Aires would take 1 week to process our application, whereas in Puerto Iguazu, it would take a mere 30min. The consulate in Puerto Iguazu was just a 5-minute walk from our hostel! It was a little hard to spot - it looked like any ordinary single-storey house along the road. If not for the crumpled yellow-green-blue Brazilian flag swaying limply in the garden, we would have missed the consulate for sure.

Armed with a clear folder stuffed with the usual documents necessary for a visa application (passport photos, yellow fever vaccination certification, bank account print-outs, letters from the office certifying that we are employed), we were a tad worried that we didn't have printed proof of intended travel in and out of Brazil. The hostel owner reassured us that all we needed were our passports and photographs.

And..... that was all that we needed! We filled in an application form, handed over our passports and photos (but not before correcting the officer's mistake of sticking my photo onto Dan's form), paid 84 peso each (about USD42) and went off to the supermarket to buy lunch. We returned 2 hours later to receive our lovely red booklets with Brazilian visas neatly pasted and stamped "valid for 30 days". Easy peasy!

Crossing from Argentina to Brazil is just as easy. We could hop onto any bus stating "Brasil" from across our hostel for 5 pesos (USD1.20), which brought us directly to the immigration outposts at the border. We got our Argentinian exit stamp and Brazilian entrance stamp really fast, boarded another bus (for no extra charge) and headed off towards Foz de Iguassu - the gateway to the Brazilian falls. It was the easiest, fastest and cheapest border crossing we had ever done!

Some tourists visit the Brazilian falls on a day trip from Argentina. Even then, almost everyone entering Brazil - even for a day - requires a visa. Citizens of the USA enjoy the special privilege of being charged an additional visa fee (on top of the processing fee that everyone pays), in reciprocation of a similar charge that the US imposes on Brazilians wanting to visit Uncle Sam. The Brazilian embassy seems to find great joy in reminding their northern neighbours - be it on their website or in person at the counter - why US citizens pay more than US$100 to enter Brazil. Tit for tat.

So everyone knows that they must have a visa to enter Brazil and that some time and effort is required on the applicant's part to obtain one before setting foot out of Argentina. We were incredibly disgusted with an Australian tourist who didn't bother with the formalities and hopped onto a Brazil-bound bus straight to the border. At first, he feigned ignorance when the border officials informed him that a visa was required. Then he pleaded that he would only be in Brazil for a day. When that didn't work, he insisted that his Australian friends had managed to enter the country without a visa - and had told him that he could do the same. The sneaky Aussie rat somehow got let through - I certainly hope that it was with a visa, and that they made him pay more to obtain it on-the-spot. The Brazilian authorities were really kind not to have sent him packing back to Argentina and wait out the weekend to obtain a visa through the proper channels - which was what I was hoping for. I was pretty disappointed to see him waiting to board the bus to Foz de Iguacu with us.

Ben-vindo a Brasil! Our 7th and final destination in South America

The town of Foz de Iguacu was the second thing about Brazil that impressed us. Coming from the Puerto Iguazu, a small red-dust village that is Argentina's gateway to the famous falls, we had expected Foz to be same. But the unpaved streets and hut-like buildings of its Argentinean neighbour were nowhere to be seen and instead, they were replaced with wide tarred roads and high-rise apartment blocks. Unlike the unimpressive small wooden arch that marked the entrance to the Argentinean falls, a stylish curvaceous visitors' centre welcomed us at Brazil's park entrance.

Since then, Brazil has turned out to be incredibly developed and modern, matching Singapore in many aspects and in some cases, outdoing our own city even. But more on that in our later posts.

First, we present the wonders of the Iguassu Falls from the Brazilian side!

Looking across the river to Argentina - the first full, obstructed view the falls

A must-have picture to record the moment

Dan trying to show how big the falls are - and failing miserably

Savouring the awe-inspiring moment at one end of the broadwalk

My eyes don't usually disappear when I smile - so I must have been really happy!

Looks soft and cloudy - but actually soaks you to the skin

A wondrously-long broadwalk that snakes across the river and brings you face-to-face with the majestic falls

Wrong waterfall - wearing my Maid of the Mist poncho from Niagara Falls!

Getting close to the edge

Even Elmo and his twin were there. Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?

No raincoat! Wet!

View from the top of the observation tower

Wet but happy

I love the dark patches of green sitting in the river and lining the cliff walls alongside the falls

Stuff that dreams are made of

Both the parks bordering the falls are truly deserving of their national park status, as well as their UNESCO World Heritage Site titles. The thoughtful and sensitive design of the walkways snaking over the water and through the rainforest serve to introduce and guide visitors through the natural environment. The parks bridge the vast physical distance between civilisation and nature at it's purest. You don't spend days (literally 24 hours or more) traveling to Iguassu just to see the falls. You come to embark upon a misty-cal journey where you walk alongside nature to hear its roar, feel its pulse, touch its spray, and literally soak in the ambiance and immerse yourself in nature. Standing in the middle of the river, surrounded by 360-degrees of white pulsating walls of water, can make one feel really young and insignificant in the face of these ancient faucets.

Our photos simply cannot do justice to the wonder and majesty of the Iguassu Falls. The folks at home have asked that us to describe the falls for them - which is impossible.

We hope that the video that Dan has put together can do the talking for us. Enjoy.


h3Artily said...

hahah yilin jie looks so "small girl" at the end of the vid.

thanks for the vid. i can just imagine myself miles away from home. heh.

Prabaharan said...

Breath taking!

Dannie said...

h3artily: I think the wonder of being at a place like this will bring out the child in anyone.

Praba: The falls were indeed breathtakingly spectacular. And even though we tried our best, I still don't think our photos and videos does the place justice. Nature is a beauty not to be despoiled, but enjoyed!

popcorng said...

Fantastic falls =) and great photos and video!

Tracy Su said...

What's all this about Aussies heh? I don't know very many, but the ones I do know seem perfectly pleasant. I really hate people who try to foil the system because they think they're so clever, it spoils everything for decent people.

More to the point: the waterfall shots are really cool and Dannie's getting very nifty at putting the videos together. Could I have some tips please? I'd like to do some sock doll promo early next year =)

Dannie said...

popcorng: Thanks! The wife is really getting very good at taking pics of waterfalls, and everyone who says "nice pics" makes her puff up a little bit more! :)

Tracy: We also dunno leh. Maybe Aussies are really nice, but just horrible travelers?

As for video tips... hmm... are you going into puppeteering? Because my advice is regarding footage - you need to have footage that is at least 30 secs long, even if nothing much is happening. This way, you can make sure you'll have enough footage to last the song! :)

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