In my recent expedition to get to know every state of Malaysia, I finally paid a visit to Sabah. I don’t even want to imagine what the rest of Sabah will look like, because I fell in love immediately. I think I owe this side of my country a longer visit and exploration. Perhaps even a quest to hike up Mount Kinabalu, as the view from a distance was already a killer, what more when we reach the peak?
I walked through my favourite pier on Punta Del Este to reminisce the last time I was there a year ago. A couple of chubby seals were standing proud and chilling about the decks. I wonder if one of them was the same seal that I had encountered last year..
What is it about their posture and expressions that makes them so adorable? (despite their fishy odour). Such chilled creatures, love it.
Imagine residing on one of the best spots in Uruguay to witness a sunset. I can’t count the amount of times that I’ve discovered heavenly locations that I yearn to build a house on.
I found another place to add into my list. Every evening, people would drive up to this particular spot, and wait for the sun to sink into the horizon. At the corner of the magnificent scenery lays a massive ,white (like the ones in Greece) structure that resembles the works of Gaudi (in Spain) -abstract and modern, it is like a page torn out off your fantasy dreams. The creative art piece is home to a very iconic man in the world of arts, where he had specially designed and built the house with the help of his friends for 30 years. Today, it is one of the best tourist spots in Uruguay.
This Uruguyan artist, a man named Carlos Páez Vilaró, owns a house on the edge of a sea cliff on Punta Ballena. He traveled extensively across the globe, working with the minorities (spreading influence of Afro-Uruguayan culture) and spreading his creative work in different forms, mainly through mural paintings. Based on the documentary I watched when i visited the house, it seems that he had marked his presence in every continent. Heck, even Picasso befriended this man and drew several paintings as a gift to him.
I’ve been wanting to enter this house since the first time I laid my eyes on it, and true enough, upon entry, you realize that every part of the house owns a beautiful view of the sea, with specific windows and doorways that allow rays of light to shine inside. What a masterpiece.
It’s no wonder, one of the things Carlos said in the documentary is that he finds inspiration through the various breath-taking panoramic sunsets, from his very own workshop at home.
Truthfully,after being informed about all the life achievements he has made, I wondered, what have I done, and have i accomplished enough?
I remember the drive back into Uruguay from Argentina, after a night in Gualeguaychú. It was sunrise, and we were lining up behind a bunch of cars, trying to enter Paysandu. The sun started to peek through the dim clouds, and suddenly an outburst of colours struck the sky.
As tired as I was, the changing sky kept me awake, shining its beauty onto Rio Uruguay (Uruguay River), where it reflected yet another set of colours.
Day 9, 3 March 2011, Punta Del Este – Maldonado
Typically,the hype about Carnaval always involves ‘Brasil’ and ‘Rio De Janeiro’.
(photos taken in 2010)
Last year, I got to experience carnaval in Gualeguaychú, Entre Rios, Argentina. It was like a much smaller version of what it could have been in Brazil, but the parade’s energy was definitely still pumping, and ofcourse, the songs were sang in Spanish. I was still amazed nevertheless.
This year, I witness and felt Uruguay’s version of Carnaval celebrations in Maldonado, Uruguay. Once again, it was a whole different vibe and experience, because this time round, instead of a march, the performance was set on a massive stage.
It was peculiar yet interesting because the show was a unique collaboration of theater/dance/choir/choral speaking. The lyrics they sang contained political and social messages, crafted and choreographed by each group for months! The locals around me were so amused and cheered joyfully for some of the things that were said. I guess may of them could relate to those messages – criticizing the government/policies, highlighting social problems, etc. All I could wish for that night was to understand every single word sang out.
Now, that’s 2 Carnaval experience off my list, next up–Brazil! (hopefully,in time, somewhere near future).
Day 10, 4 March 2011, Punta Del Este
I experienced one of the BIGGEST surprise of my life today. After watching the sunset in a restaurant by the sea, munching on cheese toast and sipping on hot coffee, headed back to the apartment and was chilling out,listening to music.
Suddenly, a familiar face popped in, out of no where(my heart stopped in that second), and it was Kerstin, followed by Leo, Petra and Felipe, my friends from Brasil. Beli was communicating with them for the past week, and they drove from Florianopolis to Punta Del Este, which took about 15-18 hours drive, to surprise me!
I felt like the happiest, most luckiest human on the face of earth. How unexpected, and how fortunate am I to receive such goodness in life?? It was from that moment, that all the craziness began..
We headed out that night to share good conversations with cold beers in our hands.
I feel the love. I definitely, feel the love.
Day 11-12, 5-6 March 2011, Punta Del Este – La Pedrera
It’s Carnaval week y con mi amigos, we decided to head to the best place to party, La Pedrera- a beautiful coastal town about 120km away. During this time of the year, this small quiet town gets jam packed with both local and foreign visitors, and rent houses to party for a few days.
As we got into town, the crowd was piling in and everyone was ready to have a good time. We found a nice little sanctuary (which we went back to over and over, for the bathroom ), called ‘Casa Dulce’, and became immediate friends with the owners, a family from Salto, (who probably had secret recipes because whatever that’s baked from there is absolutely TASTY).
We heard from a local about some random party that was to be held tonight, about 5km away from town. It turned out to be in the middle of no where amidst alot of nature, where huge sound systems and a massive stage, with advanced visualizations was set up (reminded me of a simplified version of Godskitchen Boombox, I was impressed.)
The party was quiet in the beginning, till we snuck into the private section, where the creators of the party hung out with their families, food and drinks served for free. And so, we began to indulge in champagne all night. (The security guard gave me funny looks every time I tried to cross through but he was probably intimidated because I didn’t speak Spanish, and so, he had to let me through.)
Later on, we found out that the party was set up by some millionaire Argentinian, and they were celebrating a lady’s birthday, her name was ‘Paz’ (means, Peace ) I saw that her two children were running about (which was weird,to have kids loitering in the middle of a rave0like party?) and people were dressed in costumes, it looked like a sci-fi futuristic theme, with pink/blue/white wig and shiny, plastic outfits and glow inn the dark lipsticks. i felt like i was in a wanna-be Alien Land.
The music pounded till the sun rose, we danced like there was no tomorrow and by morning, we were informed that there was an after-party going on. And so, these 2 local acquaintance chicas (with super funky shaven heads do), led us (in their vans) to the destination. (it was so funny because one of them was waving to us, “follow us…follows us”, with the back door of the moving van, wide open!). So we convoyed there, feeling wild,mad,laughing our hearts out and bustling with energy.
We got close to a beach where a house with blasting music resided, and people were dancing away at 9am. We stayed on with the party until we felt like leaving, and then drove 2 hours back to Punta Del Este.
We passed out the entire day after,and woke up only to have dinner and continued sleeping till the next day. BURN OUT! (in a great way)
Day 13, 7 March 2011, Punta Del Este – La Pedrera
When we got to La Pedrera, the streets were blocked off this time for the carnaval madness that was to happen that night, people were dressed up with creatively designed costumes (I spotted a Flintstones couple walking about, haha). People were gearing up for turmoil, stocking up the ice cold beers and colouring themselves silly. Along the way,wherever we walked to, people were attacking us with water balloons and hoses!I got attacked 4 times, twice by the same brats, little kids with menace expressions. So we had to keep our eyes wide open and run for cover all the time! it was mad.
We hung out at the beach where the music played, along with a setting sun, surfers and beautiful people. With the amazing ambiance, we popped open a bottle of champagne (which we stole from the party the night before haha) and just chilled out. By night, we left the bustling town and headed 2 hours back to Punta Del Este, and enjoyed the great vibes of being together. Bliss.
Day 14, 8 March 2011, Punta Del Este – Back to La Pedrera, again.
As I said, we couldn’t get enough of the Carnaval vibe of that place, like an addiction! And so we drove back again today. Sure,we should have booked a house earlier, but I guess things werent’ planned out and we were going with the flow.
A storm was creeping in and sadly, when we got there,it started to pour. On the way in, TONS of cars were flowing out, heading the opposite direction, signaling the end of Carnaval, but we were hopeful and continued making our way there. Upon arrival, things were way more quiet than the previous days. All of a sudden, it became a ghostly town, the streets were filled with trash and a bad aroma polluted the air–the after effect of a wild night
We didn’t let the solemn environment stop us from having a nice time, so we had our 2 bottles of Fernet(an awesome herbal alcoholic drink) and several Coke bottles, resided in an empty house and took refuge there.
Day 1, 23 Feb 2011, Buenos Aires
*a random,funny thing happened during my torturous flight to BsAs, there were obviously some Malaysians headed to the same destination as I was, and never in my life would I imagine who they would be! they turn out to be this family who owns this famous (or my personal favourite really!!) chicken ‘kuey teow soup’ shop in Seapark, PJ. As I was picking my luggages, I couldn’t help but stare and ponder, “why do they look so familiar?”. I guess all those plates of chicken and bowls of noodles I paid for made it worthwhile for them after all
What are the odds,seriously.
It was night time when I touched down. The streets were in dark shades and the alleys stood quiet. Every now and then i heard footsteps, of poor, homeless ones scrapping through stacks of garbage, hoping to find a meal. Boy, was the city dirty, but there was a spooky vibe that whispered, “Welcome to Argentina”.
Day 2, 24 Feb 2011, Buenos Aires
Walked around the centro (central) today, and immediately fell in love with the old libraries scattered across the city. They are tucked inside little shop houses, but upon entry, you get this mouldy, dusty and old stench; the smell of old books there was just something very mysterious and inviting about those faded and tattered Spanish books.
The streets were surprisingly vibrant and lively, as people rushed through their own agendas, while i skimmed pass like a stranger, yet ever so familiar with the Argentinian vibes. The plan was to sign up to a Spanish course, to master a new tool that will be the gateway into a brand new culture, because language was the only thing that was stopping me from properly blending in like a local.
By night, headed downtown to the cool and hip side of town, to check out a musical performance called ‘Musica Para Tocar Frente A La Caja Boba’. It was in an artsy bar “Noavestruz Bar’, which reminded me of No Black Tie in KL, only a more creative, bigger and laid back version. I was immediately acquainted with the eclectic community.
The band surprised me with their performance by combining both audio and visual into a wholesome live show. Its like adapting the idea where every melody/song, comes with a video clip imagination in our heads, and this was exactly it. Their musical performance was carefully aligned with some random,old school videos, reacting and complementing one another.
After the show, everyone stood outside, sharing conversations and a bottle of rose wine. Suddenly, a homeless man came up to me and hands over a piece of paper. It turned out to be something very interesting and significantly meaningful to my present time (a friend had to translate the meaning to me). and with that spare change he earned from that poem he recited, he gets to feed his family tonight..
The weather that night was chilly and cool, perfect to stroll the streets and make our way back to the hotel.
Day 3, 25 Feb 2011, Buenos Aires
Checked into the beautiful Costa Petit Hotel, recommended by a local. The decor was so quaint and classical, which was absolutely pampering. The problem with accommodations like these in BsAs is that it ain’t cheap, about 100USD for a simple room like this. No complains though, i think it was worth it. The beauty of this hotel is in its privacy, where there’s only 5 rooms available for rent.
For dinner, you get accustomed to the late night eating habits here. People not only eat but also head out LATE (restaurants only start to get busy around 10-11pm). And you the start to see the streets get busy after midnight. I haven’t been to Europe but i would imagine that the ambient of eating out is almost similar- bustling with excitement. Its such a typical scene to see groups of people or couples just having a meal with the best Argentinian wines, chatting and laughing away. Maybe it’s the language that gives a chatty vibe, but it seems that in Argentina, people twist and speak Spanish in a swift manner, along with their expressive actions. it’s a beautiful sight indeed.
Day 4, 26 Feb 2011, BsAs – Paysandu, Uruguay
Decided to behave like a proper tourist today by visiting the birth place of Tango, La Boca. I’ve never been to Amsterdam,but these colourful buildings seem to make me think of Holland.
Walked through the old,stony grounds,and brushed pass tons of tango dancers and tourists, alas’!English speakers! (At least in Buenos Aires, I still get to see Asian faces, but as i head further South, it gets lesser.not that it matters.) The flea markets and live folk music covered the entire area, which added the liveliness of the ambiance, so absolutely rich with creativity, history and culture. And so, I went on a photography frenzy.
Departed the city and headed towards Colon(another town), about 4 hours drive which eventually led to the border, and within minutes, I was trying to cross at the immigration. AS USUAL, these small town immigration worker eye’s always lights up the moment they open my passport. First of all, they probably wonder, where the heck is Malaysia and what the hell is this Chinese girl doing,entering our town? Obviously they don’t get many foreigners in Paysandu, its a quaint and tiny town,where you’ll see the true Uruguayan way of living.
Day 5, 27 Feb 2011, Paysandu – Montevideo – Punta Del Este
The day started with a beautiful Sunday sun shining to my face, and there was no better way to enjoy it then to head out to Rio Uruguay (Uruguay’s iconic river,which intersects Argentina and Uruguay) on a sail boat. Soaked up the sun and just floated about the river, with pure tranquility and peace.
There’s just something very mesmerizing and therapeutic about being on a boat, smacked in the middle of no where. This is one of the highlights of this little town, its proximity to the river and to another country! And i’ll never forget how I first came up with the desire to own a boat, it all started here, on his river. Till today, I repeatedly tell myself, ‘someday, i want to own a boat’.
The best thing about Uruguay during summertime is that you can take all the time in the world to cook up a perfect tan. Be it river, sea, park or even roadside, all you really need is a good fold-able chair.
By evening, tok a 4 hour (about 390km) drive through scenic farms and tiny towns, to head to capital city, Montevideo. Along the way you see trucks loaded with cows and sheep, and I could have sworn one of the cows huddled in some truck was staring deep into my eyes, as we trailed from behind. It’s a funny sight up until you think, “oh shit, they are now on their way to be slaughtered and served on our plates”.
From the capital city, took another 150km(1 and half hour) drive to Punta Del Este (a coastal town). Upon arrival, there was carnaval going on the streets……. what a sight.
Day 6, 28 Feb 2011, Punta Del Este
I wake up to the best view that anyone could ask for, an entire stretch of beach, starting from Playa Brava. I finally had my first Punta Del Este sunset (yes,it deserves a name of its own) after a year. The evenings here are special,especially around 8pm when everyone finds a comfy spot, to witness the sun sink into the horizon. It’s ALWAYS a special sunset. This is Uruguay’s gift, I reckon.
Day 7, 1 March 2011, Punta Del Este
Finally submitted my resume to the first potential organisation today. Started my research on Spanish classes and was disappointed with the kind of pricing they had! I made a video, and is unedited. but i don’t care. i’ll upload them soon.
Day 8, 2 March 2011, Punta Del Este
Spent an entire day doing research online for prospects,direction, goals, what-have yous. If only I had the same networking power as i do in KL… Soldier up, Rachel!
..Now that everything’s up to date, I’m left with Day 9 and 10(today). I shall head to the beach and with this song in mind,
Here’s what happened. I quit my job, again. and left home, again.
This is my third time travelling to South America, due to my undying passion and love for this continent. However, I came to learn that nothing beats ‘home’, and to me, that is where the heart feels safe and sound. As much as I miss it, I’ve already flew myself so far away from it, so the plan is to be STRONG, and to never give up on being in present moments.
I will be spitting out my thoughts through daily entries, flashbacks, features and horrible unedited videos. This shall be a product of my ‘to-do-list’, to start a blog for my current ventures. I’ll start off with this tune, by Evenings, it’s chilled-waved beats speaks the exact feelings I have today.
Babe by Evenings .Click.