Travel Photos from around the world

Mexico-Playa-Tequila-Aguascalientes-1

Tourism Town and Beaches of Playa Del Carmen, San Marcos Festival, and The Town of Tequila!

After exploring Merida, Chichen Itza, Izamal, and 2 cenotes, it was time to reach the end of the Mexican Peninsula.

The last 2 locations I wanted to visit were Playa Del Carmen, which I heard some interesting things about, and Cancun, which is famous for party-tourism.

After being unimpressed with Cancun and missing my exit flight, my adventures would take me to origins of one of the worlds most favourite excuses to get drunk: tequila in the town of Tequila, Mexico.

And finally, a quick stop over into one of Mexico’s most popular festivals, that attracts over 7 million Mexicans and cowboys and cowgirls every year; the San Marcos Festival.

All in all, it was a great conclusion to the traveling done in Mexico.

I visited 40 Mexican cities/towns in total over the course of 4 months.

Mexico is amazing, and I am DEFINITELY coming back!

Merida, Izamal, Yucatan, Chichen Itza, Cenotes

The White City of Merida, The Yellow City of Izamal, Ancient Pyramids of Chichen Itza, and Crystal-Blue Underground Lakes

While the Yucatan has an abundance of Mayan ruins, and enough cenotes to visit for an entire life time, at this point, I wanted to start concluding my adventures in Mexico, and getting back to work.

During this brief escapade, you will witness the ‘White City’ and its palatial buildings that once houses super racist Europeans, large crystal-blue fresh water caverns that were carved out by nature over millions of years, the world famous Chichen Itza pyramids and its dozens of surrounding temples and imperial palaces, and finally two colonial towns; one that is almost completely coloured in yellow, and another that witnessed two revolts by its Mayan inhabitants.

Beautiful Nature, Pure Indigenous Peoples, and Old Spanish Towns in Chiapas Mexico

Most Mexicans say the state is ‘So beautiful, you NEED to visit’ or sometimes as a question ‘Have you been to Chiapas?’… so visiting here was a must!

This adventure consisted of several, absolutely amazing, must-see locations deep into Mexico, with names such as ‘Tuxtla Gutiérrez, San Cristobal, Chamula, Zinacantán, Chiapa De Corzo, and the most breath-taking: El Sumidero’ Canyon.

You will see real Mayan people, American Crocodiles, Giant Natural vistas, massive farms high in the mountains, along with a very old Spanish Colonial city, and outdoor indigenous market places.

The Magical Colonial Mexican Cities of Morelia, Pátzcuaro, and the Island Town of Janitzio

The 1600’s saw the construction of most of the religious, residential, and palatial structures along with the aquaduct in Valladolid.

By 1809, the city was home to about 20,000 residents, including ‘Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon’, whom was heavily involved in ideas of national indepence, a democracy, and abolishing slavery as seen in France and the USA.

By 1810, Morelos came with an army to Morelia to try to remove ‘royalist’ forces (those aligned with keeping Mexico as a Spanish colony), but failed.

By 1821, Morelia was free from royalists with the victory of the Mexican Independence, and by 1828, it was renamed to ‘Morelia’ in honor of Jose Maria Morelos.

The Ancient Mountain Civilization of Monte Albán To The Colourful City of Oaxaca

Shortly after the fall of Tenochtitlan in 1521 (Pre-Mexico City), the emperor of the Aztecs, ‘Moctezuma II’ told Cortez the Spanish Conquistador that there was gold in Oaxaca.

Several Spanish captains were sent to the Oaxaca valleys, but instead of resistance, the local tribes and civilizations decided to ally with the Spanish – including the Zapotecs, Mixtecs, Mazatecas and Cuicatecas.

The Spanish conquest completely decimated the indigenous populations through disease, and brutal forced labour. Oaxaca had about 1.5 million people in 1520, which fell to about 150,000 by 1620.

The upper classes of the indigenous empires accepted the Spanish rule, including their religions, in exchange for maintaining their hierarchical positions and status.

But ultimately, the Spanish conquerors simply lumped all indigenous into one category (Indian), with no status at all.

While the rest of Mexico was assimilated much more forcefully,  Spanish rule was minimal in Oaxaca due to its largely dispersed cities, thus the peoples of Oaxaca maintained much of their ancient culture and traditions.

Gigantic Pyramids of Teotihuacan, French Invasion of Puebla, Journey to the Toluca Volcano

All 3 of these spots; Puebla, Nevada De Toluca, and Teotihuacan, were visited on separate occasions.

The reason I grouped them, was because they are located within an 2-3 hours outside of Mexico City, by car, in completely different directions.

Teotihuacan is a simple 45 minute to one hour drive outside of Mexico City.

Puebla is about 2 hours outside of Mexico City if you take the toll highway. But I went through the volcanoes, out of curiosity, thus it took more than 3-4 hours.

Nevada De Toluca, which is another massive Volcano outside the city of Toluca, took about 3 hours

Is this What You Expected of Mexico City?

The Aztecs or Mexica (‘Meh-shee-kak’) originally founded the city of ‘Tenochtitlan’ in about 1325, and by 1430, it became the center of the Aztec Empire. At its peak, about 200,000 people inhabiting the ancient city of Tenochtitlan.

Once the Spanish Conquest of the city was over, Hernan Cortez ordered that the entire city of Tenochtitlan be destroyed, and a new city be built on top.

All of the materials from the previous temples and ceremonial centers were used to build new buildings, including the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Eventually, Tenochtitlan was renamed to Ciudad De Mexico (Meh-hee-Coh) (Mexico City) because it was easier to pronounce for the arriving Spanish.

From 1521 to 1821, Mexico City was the social, economic, and religious capital of Mexico, while the elites and Spanish crown continued sucking every bit of wealth and resource, and viciously exploiting the people.

Guanajuato Is The Coolest and My Most Favorite City In Mexico

This could be the ‘fresh car smell’ effect that ultimately wears off, but Guanajuato simply has this charm that really makes it a cool city to venture around, and potentially stay in, for atleast 3-4 weeks.

What I really enjoyed about the city was driving into for the first time, and being enveloped in the complex tunnel system that runs beneath the streets, and through the mountain sides that surround the city.

Once you walk through the city, everything felt very well centralized and compact into the center, with streets winding about like snakes, up and down the hills, through narrow streets, stairs, and alleyways that can only fit a bike or a person or two.

Guanajuato felt like what a city in Italy feels like, surrounded by mountains on all sides, and contradictory to where you would put a city, it somehow exists, and prospers.

Epic Mexico Road Trip: Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, San Miguel De Allende & Leon

After venturing in mexico’s second largest city: Guadalajara, I returned back to my accommodations in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico to continue working.

After a few more weeks of working, and enjoying the beach & resort lifestyle, it was time to continue venturing into the unknown of Mexico.

So I took only my backpack, and bought a $60 USD flight into the parts where most foreigners don’t go.

Guadalajara, Mexico’s Second Biggest City (150+ Photos)

Originally, settled in 1532, the site of Guadalajara was relocated 5 times due to several major issues such as a lack of water, a dry and inhospitable land, hostile indigenous tribes who kept attacking for years, and a leader who just didn’t like the location.

Finally, by 1542, after almost a decade of unsuccessful attempts, Guadalajara was officially settled in its new and current location at the ‘Teatro (Theatre) Degollado’.

Yet, by 1543, a contingency of indigenous tribes waged war against the city, due to the savage treatment of the indigenous people as slaves under the spaniard ‘Nuño de Guzmán’. The war ended only after ‘Nuño de Guzmán’ agreed to release the indigenous slaves.

The Taj Mahal Was OK, But The Agra Fort in Agra, India Is Amazing!

While the Taj Mahal is one of the most iconic locations in the world to take a selfie in, I have to admit that the Agra Fort was a much more enjoyable and breathtaking artifact of history.

It’s kind of how the ‘Mona Lisa’ painting is a tiny over-rated painting (metaphorical Taj Mahal) in the Louvre Museum in France, yet when you look behind yourself in the same room, you see a REALLY stunning painting of an epic scale (metaphorical Agra Fort).

Oh, and the squirrels in the Agra Fort will literally climb you up and down looking for food.

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver, Canada

This is a major tourist destination in North Vancouver, that has a 140 meter long (460 feet) suspension bridge that is 76 meters (230 feet) above the Capilano river.

The bridge was originally built in 1899 using hemp and wood, but was upgraded to a wire cable in 1903.

By 1935, various local tribes were invited to place their totems in the park for an added theme.

In 2004, the second major section, the ‘Tree Tops Adventure’, was added, consisting of footbridges attached to the gigantic ‘fir’ trees.

This is a nice place to visit, and walk around for 2-3 hours, and just enjoy the mixture of nature and man-made suspension bridges and pathways.

Beaches of Mexico – Nuevo Vallarta, Sayulita, Litibu, Boca De Tomatlan

The entire area of Vallarta (and a bit further beyond), features some really incredible, picturesque beaches, great for adventure, building sand castles, and just retiring as many pensioners and ex-pats have done.

You can fulfill all your hopes and dreams of: sitting on the sand and burning your skin away, fattening up on endless buffets and cocktails at resorts, adventure into some coastal jungles and villages, and to touch horses and seeing a fat kid riding a donkey on his way to work (photo included).

In this post, I will cover 4 beaches:

– Nuevo Vallarta
– Sayulita
– Litibu
– and the ultimate: Boca De Tomatlan

The Ultra Gentrified Colonial City of Puerto Vallarta Photos (120+ Photos)

In 1963, a major American motion picture was being filmed in ‘Puerto Vallarta’, which involved famous actors and actresses of the time – the film is called ‘La Noche De La Iguana’ (The night of the Iguana).

The main actor (Richard Burton) and actress (Elizabeth Taylor), while still married to other people, had a sexual relationship.

This caused wide-spread media fervor in the United States, resulting in an EXPLOSION of curious tourists, and media personnel, who were excited to know about this beautiful, lust-inducing place in the world.

Thus, from 1965 and onward, the government of Jalisco approved massive construction efforts to upgrade the port town into a massive resort city, including an airport, electricity, roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.

By 2000, the population was about 71,000, but by 2010, it had exploded to 255,000. A huge chunk of those being foreigners from Canada and the United states.

About 2.5 million tourists visit Puerto Vallarta (and its surrounding regions) every year, thus making it the 3rd most popular destination in Mexico.

Travelling in the Ancient City of Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Due to constant tribal in-fighting and the advancements of ship technology, the ancient silk road became an impractical and unsafe method of transporting goods.

So, from 1720, Samarkand became a ruinous wasteland dotted by ancient architecture, with no one living there.

By 1865, the Russian empire had captured Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand, and ran a railroad next to the city by 1888, at which point economic and cultural activities resumed.

From 1924-1934, the soviets had recaptured most territories of the old Russian empire, and made Samarkand the capital of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic.

The beauty of Samarkand falls unto its gigantic 14-20th century Madrassahs, mosques and tombs that were built during the empire of Amir Timur and his children.

The Ancient City of Bukhara, Uzbekistan (130+ Photos)

The history of Bukhara goes back about 2500 years, with the initial settlements of the Aryan people.

It was a major city within the Persian empire from 600 BCE, but eventually a Turkic population overthrew the locals.

By the 9th, and 10th century, the Samanid empire (an Iranian Islamic empire) conquered the city and Bukhara became the intellectual capital of the Islamic world.

Khiva, Uzbekistan Reminds Me Of The City in Aladdin, Agrabah (100+ Photos)

Khiva’s true rise to fame was through its intensive slave trade, at peak having over 30,000 Persian and Kurdish slaves, and 3000 Russian slaves kidnapped from the southern areas of Russia.

By the 1850’s the Russian government was well aware of it’s people being kidnapped in cities such as Orenburg. But at the time, the Tsar was busy consolidating his power in St. Petersburg and the rest of Russia.

By the early 1870’s, Russia used the pretext of ‘Russian slaves in Khiva’ to stage a strategic military advance and invasion (Although the real goal was to capture British controlled Afghanistan, and ultimately, India).

Getting A Visa To Uzbekistan, Exploring Tashkent And Uzbekistan History (100+ Photos)

Whichever way you look, Uzbekistan is surrounded by 5 countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan.

Since 1991, one man has basically controlled Uzbekistan, under a mostly dictatorship-style government, while initiating a post-soviet reformation from absolute chaos and anarchy.

As of 2017, a new president is now in office, and is seeking to liberalize the entire country by apologizing for past mistakes, giving large economic incentives for international investments, establishing communication presidents from other countries, and allowing the Islamic religion more room to flourish.

Within the next several years, Uzbekistan will most definitely be a prime tourism and investment destination for many foreigners.

Oh, and Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan 🙂

Kyrgyzstan City & Outback Adventures

The flight from Almaty was less than $100 USD and took only 1 hour.

But upon trying to land the plane in Kyrgyzstan… we didn’t land, so the pilot made a big circle around the airport, and tried to land again… but couldn’t… for a total of 3 failed landing attempts.

After the 3rd failed attempt, tensions in the body were rising… would the plane have enough fuel to land in another airport? Were we going to crash and burn in the Kyrgyz mountains? 

Adventures & History in Almaty, Kazakhstan

After my 3-4 day stop in Astana, Kazakhstan, I decided to take a $95 USD flight down to Almaty, Kazakhstan (the former capital of Kazakhstan).

You can either take a train for about 15 hours, or a 2 hour flight… Obviously the flight was the better option.

Long story short, I ended up staying in Almaty for almost a month, and had an epic adventure into the mountains of Shymbulak.