Two weeks of relaxing, enjoying Penang’s awesome food and sights, and getting ready to come to Korea!
We’ve been slowly leaving India… Not too fast, because the shock would be too big!
The first step after packing up our backpacks and saying many goodbyes to our new friends at Gram Vikas, was to spend a few days in Puri. We then took another train up to Kolkata, from where we later flew to Bangkok. We are now in Penang, Malaysia.
Here are a few pictures of those enjoyable weeks we spent traveling and relaxing in India and Thailand.
We have just spent several months on the campus of an NGO called Gram Vikas, in rural Odisha, India. It was a meaningful experience on many levels! We are now relaxing in Thailand, flying soon to Penang, and preparing our next step, which involves South Korea… Here are a few pictures of India.
Cet automne, Dan et moi partons travailler pour une ONG (organisation non gouvernementale) en Inde, dans l’état d’Orissa. Nous aurons donc un blogue commun, qui permettra à la famille et aux amis de suivre nos aventures:
Il y a aussi une version anglaise!
We spent three peaceful months at Hotel Virginia in Puerto Escondido and really enjoyed our time there! The hotel is clean, friendly, inexpensive, and very well located. I want to write about it because it’s hard to find unless you speak Spanish. We met Canadians who spend a couple of months there every winter and love it, but most of the other customers are Mexican tourists coming to enjoy a weekend at the beach. I wish more international travellers would know about this great little hotel with a family vibe and good prices!
Edit: Things change all the time, so I can’t vouch for the hotel at this point in time as it’s been nearly two years since our wonderful stay at the Virginia. But I hope the place is still as good as I remember it! (December 2012)
ROOMS, KITCHEN, WIFI:
The rooms are colorful, clean, and comfortable. Most have two double beds. All have a fan, TV, and their own bathroom with hot water. Some budget travelers prefer the mattresses and hammocks on the rooftop terrace, which includes private lockers. The second floor balcony features a pleasant breeze, and a nice view all the way to the ocean. For drivers, there’s parking space behind the hotel. The common area downstairs features a shared kitchen, including a gas range and a fridge, which may be used by guests. The free wifi was another big plus for us!
At around $20 for two people (a bit more during Semana Santa), the rooms are a bargain, especially this close to the beaches! (Yes, plural!)
The Virginia is a 5-minute walk away from Playa Principal/Marinero on one side, and 10 minutes from Playa Manzanillo/Puerto Angelito on the other. Playa Zicatela, the world-famous surfer beach, is 10 minutes away. The hotel is also just 2 minutes away from the Adoquin, the main tourist street which runs parallel to the beach and is full of shops and restaurants. Super Che, a big supermarket, is less than 10 minutes away, as are several convenience stores. And the “Faro” micro bus (5 pesos) stops right in front of the hotel and takes you directly to the market in 10 minutes.
Show Location of Virginia Hotel on a larger map
Playa Zicatela is the beach with the third largest surfing waves in the world. The other beaches have gentler waves, especially the smaller bays. Some beaches are full of Mexican families on the weekends, while others mostly attract Western travelers of all ages. Bodyboarding is popular; fishing boats are ubiquitous. On the beach, make sure you try the coconut ice cream ($1) from the man with the blue cart (his name is Enrique, please say “Hi!” for me!). Oh, and when you hear the train whistle of the baked plantain cart, have a plate ($1) for me – they’re served with cream and sweet condensed milk. You can also order a fresh coconut ($2): drink the amazing amount of coconut water it contains, then ask to have it split, and eat the flesh – plain, or prepared with salt, lime juice, and hot sauce. You can also order a bottle of Corona, Sol, or Victoria for just $2. Beach vendors sell ice cream, popsicles, roasted seeds, peanuts, fruit, oysters, shrimp cocktails, hammocks, bags, jewelery, clothing, wooden spatulas, coconut oil, surf lessons, fishing tours, dolphin-spotting tours, guitar serenades, etc.
ABOUT PUERTO ESCONDIDO:
It’s a relatively quiet beach resort. The development of nearby Huatulco meant that Puerto Escondido did not get the money for luxury resorts, and thus remained smaller and less expensive. No five-star hotels here, mostly just small hotels like the Virginia. Puerto Escondido combines the friendliness of a genuine Mexican town with the convenience of a beach resort: beautiful beaches, surfing, snorkeling, tons of restaurants, fresh food, inexpensive beer, bars with live music, and salsa classes. The tourist area is located near the beach and centers around the Adoquin, which is closed to traffic in the evening, while the “real” town of Puerto Escondido can be found up the hill and features all the conveniences of a real town such as banks, barber shops, a wonderful market, two large supermarkets (Super Che and Bodega Aurerra), several excellent restaurants, etc.
I particularly enjoyed the fresh fish we bought directly from the fishermen on the beach, Oaxaca cheese (“quesillo”), mangoes, the giant “tlayudas” near the Super Che, the chicken (“pollo asado”) from the lady down the street, the “tacos de suadero” from the man with the hat (ask Juana at the hotel), and the abundance of colorful and delicious produce at the market. There’s also a new little cafe at the market, serving excellent croissants, espresso, cakes, and panini.
In the winter months, it’s warm and sunny, with highs of 30 degrees and cooler nights (20-25 degrees). It gets warmer in April, up to 35 degrees.
Taxis are inexpensive (fixed rates, $2-3 around town) and there are colectivos and micros. It’s easy to find buses or minivans to other destinations. There’s also an airport.
I know, people are worried about the security situation in Mexico. I’ve seen no sign of problems here, other than on the news. Drug-related violence is rare, mostly restricted to the northern states along the US border, and does not target tourists. Mexicans, foreign expatriates, as well as tourists who return year after year will all tell you: the violence doesn’t really affect daily life in Mexico. It is safe to travel here!
Camino Al Faro No. 104
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico
Tel. +52 (954) 582 01 76
Note: The staff only speak limited English, so your efforts at Spanish will be appreciated. It’s a great way to practice!
WALKING TO THE HOTEL FROM THE ADO/OCC BUS STATION (10 minutes):