The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá

Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá is a catholic church built within the tunnels of salt mine 200 meters underground. This is one of the most popular tourist destination in Colombia. 

My dear friend Nelson and I decided to visit this place one weekend. We took a bus to Zipa from portal norte trasmilenio station. The bus terminal is inside the transmilenio station so that made it convenient for us. The fare was COP 4,500 ($ 1.50) per person one way which was ridiculously cheap! According to my map it’s about 30km from portal norte and it took us about an hour to reach the town of Zipaquirá. 

We had to walk about 5 minutes from where the bus dropped us off then we saw a shuttle which takes tourists to the salt mine which is at about 5 minutes ride. It costs COP 29,000 including the entrance ticket and you can hop on and off  of this shuttle all day. It will also save you time getting in line at the ticket booth so I’d say it’s worth.

  
  
It was packed due to the long weekend. The good thing was there were only couple other people in line for English speaking tour guide. 

  

The tour started at 12nn. We had an amazing tour guide. The tour all over was astounding. It was breathtaking inside and out. The history was extremely compelling. 

   
    
   
There are stores inside mostly for souvenirs. There is a coffee shop as well and  a theater. I got myself a miner helmet keychain for COP 8,000. 

  
It was such an amazing experience. This place is definitely worth a visit.

Mount Monserrate by foot…

According to Wikipedia, Monserrate rises to 3,152 metres (10,341 ft) above the sea level.

My friend Aletta agreed to join me to hike Mount Monserrate last Friday. We started walking from Las Aguas transmilenio station at exactly 9:50AM. 

  

Well what can I say? Bogotá is already lying 2,640 meters (8,660 ft) above sea level.  Going further up was a real challenge specially that I’ve only been here 6 weeks. 

  

Look at our faces here. We’re like…”what the heck are we thinking?” 😂

Aletta is one of the funniest people I know. She surely made our hike fun. Eventually, laughing while hiking was making us more tired so we had to prevent ourselves from laughing. 

We of course made a few stops. Banana, anyone? 😉 

  

Look at us…still happy despite the fact that we were exhausted. 

 
I think we were halfway when this picture was taken. This is my favorite picture of us. 

  
Look behind us! We’ve come a long way. We thought we were close here and boy we were so wrong. But hey, we still look happy. 😊

  
At this point, we thought we were about to reach the top but then again, we were wrong. We don’t look tired at all, do we? We were still happy while Aletta sings “The World’s Greatest” which was perfect for this journey.

  
Until we finally saw something white! Must be  part of the church! We were getting close!!!

  

Apparently here,  we were almost on top. Almost, but not quite.

  

   
We finally reached the top at 11:20AM. It took us 1 1/2 hours which was not bad at all. We did good.

   
 

We headed to Casa Santa Clara for lunch! Bandeja Paisa seemed to be perfect after that hike. An order costs COP 25,000 which I think was worth it considering we were on top of Mount Monserrate. 

  
We took the train on the way back down for COP 8,500 per ticket. Cable car would have neen nice but the waiting time was 40 minutes compare to the 5 minutes wait for the train. The train looks scary from afar but it wasn’t once you’re inside. 

  
When we took the transmilenio to head back north, it was almost empty. We decided to sit on the chairs dedicated for disable, elderly and pregnant women. We considered ourselves disabled after that hike. 😂  

 

 We  headed to the Nike Factory Store to get our reward and then we called it a day. 

  
It was such an achievement. I can’t believe we did it! We survived! We’re proud! 

Mount Monserrate is now ticked off our list. 😊


 

TransMilenio in Bogota, Colombia

I took this photo yesterday, Friday at exactly 5:50PM. That was during the rush hour! Look at that lane on the side dedicated for TransMilenio buses for faster travel and ensure that buses are not delayed by mixed traffic congestion. 

  

I’ve been in Bogota, Colombia for exactly a month now. For the last two weeks, I’ve been taking TransMilenio. I can’t help to compare this cool transport system that Bogota has to poor transport system that Metro Manila has in the Philippines where I am from. 

According to Wikipedia, TransMilenio has 12 lines serving 144 stations in the city of Bogota. One TransMilenio bus can accommodate 160 – 270 passengers. It says as of October 2014, there were 1500 buses circulating on the trunk line system. 

So far, the longest time I waited for a TransMilenio was 7 minutes and that was right after I missed my bus! My travel time has been consistent. Of course, the bus can get very crowded during rush hour. 

There is this map at every station which will help you to find out which bus you should take. 

 

Or if you have a smatphone like I do, you can download their userfriendly app and check your route ahead of time. 
   

The fare is between COP 1500 – COP 1800 (US $0.50 – $0.65), depending on the time of the day you take it. This is the TransMilenio card I have which I believe is for frequent travelers. 

 

And this is what the TransMilenio bus looks like which I grabbed from google images. 

 

TransMilenio is such a cool way to travel around the capital city of Colombia, Bogota if you want to avoid the traffic. This transport system may not be ideal for everybody but it sure is nice to have.

How I wish that my own country has this awesome transport system in Metro Manila. 😓

  

1st weekend in Colombia

Julian is a Colombian guy I met in Kuala Lumpur when I was backpacking in Malaysia. I contacted him prior to coming here. He is nice enough to set up a weekend with his family to go out of town. We took a road trip to Villa De Leyva with his mom, brother, sister in law and his niece.

  

  

We had lunch on our way but I don’t remember the name of the resraurant. I think it is somewhere in Sopo. It was a huge and very good lunch!   
 
We then stopped in Boyaca to check out the place where Colombia achieved independence from Spain. 

   

   
We arrived in Villa De Leyva late in the afternoon so they decided to sleep in a hostel. It was unplanned and nobody had something for overnight stay! 

   
    
 
We went to the church for few minutes. 

  

Then we had dinner at Martina Franca and finally took our rest. 

It was a very long day but I definitely had fun. 

On our way home the next day, we stopped by at this Rock House. I didn’t enter though because I did not want to pay the entrance fee. 😕

  
And lastly, the pozos azules. 

   
 
Thanks to the Navia Family who gave me a great first weekeend in Colombia. ❤️❤️❤️

My Dream Travel to South America

After I backpacked in Asia for a total of 10 months, I wanted to travel South America next. I was volunteering to teach English in Thailand when I finished my online TEFL course. I immediately searched for job postings and I found one located in Peru. On April 17th, I hit the submit button to apply for a job as an Instructor in a language center. I got an email from the company on April 22nd inviting me for a Skype interview on April 29th. I was so happy and so excited. After the interview, I did not feel good about my performance. It was my first official interview for a teaching job and I thought I messed up. I went back to the Philippines on May 5th and as soon as I arrived home, I got an email from the company inviting me for a second interview that night. After the interview, I was told that I will get an online training schedule next week but I did not hear from them again until May 19th. I had the online training from May 25th to May 29th. While on training, I was discouraged because I found everything to be difficult. To my surprised, I passed the training. Next step? Fly to Colombia! OMG!

On June 9th, the HR sent a copy of my flight ticket from Singapore to Colombia for June 23rd. I was like, is this really going to happen?

I flew to Singapore on June 22nd. I stayed a night because I will have a long flight to Colombia. Here comes the 23rd, my flight was not until 10:45PM. I was going on a tourist visa even though I will be working. I was in Changi Airport by 5PM because I wanted to have time in case I get some problem with the immigration. I have a copy of my job contract and all other documents sent by the company for getting my visa. With the helpful and friendly British Airways staff, I got my boarding pass with no problem at all.


I was still not confident about the whole thing though because I was still unsure about the immigration in Colombia. I was not worried though because I know everything will go according to God’s plan. So for me, whatever happens, I know it’s for good.

After more than 30 hours of flight time, I landed in Bogotá, Colombia on June 24th. I got through  the immigration with no problem.


I got my bag and a taxi sent by my company was waiting outside holding my name.

It was only 8 degrees celcius when I landed which I found very nice. I am in South America! This is really for me. ☺️

Around 6PM, I arrived in the hotel which my company provided. Perfect, just perfect after the long flight.

South America is one of my dream continents to visit. By the end of March 2015, I told myself that South America is my next destination. I got to set my foot in South America on June 24, 2015. I did not expect it to happen that quick. I’m now about 11,000 miles away from home and in one of my dream destination. 😉

Dreams do come true if you pursue them. ☺️