The Tulum Ruins

On my fourth day in Cancún, I got a day tour package to Tulum Ruins via viator.com. Tulum Ruins is another Mayan city that is situated in Yucatán Peninsula facing the Caribbean sea. It used to be a major port for Cobá and is sitting on top of the tall cliffs along the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo. Tulum was one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Maya along with the city of Chichén Itzá. Tulum was considered a walled city to protect itself from attacks from other Maya tribes. It is one of the best-preserved coastal Maya sites and now, it is  a popular site for tourists.

My day tour package was booked thru viator.com giving early access to the site with a private archaeologist guide. The tour bus picked me up in my hotel at 0515H and drove to the meeting point for other tourists. We left Cancún for Tulum at around 06:00AM and arrived in the site around 9 in the morning. It was scorching hot in Tulum, it might be because it was in the coast of the peninsula. Travelers are really encouraged to put sun protection such as sunblocks, use umbrellas or hat, and always drink plenty of water. My bottled water only lasted about a couple of hours. We were huddled near the main entrance to get our tickets to get in the site. Too bad, there were plenty of guests in Tulum when we arrived. They were also early risers tourists. Anyway, our private archaeologist started to split the group into two, the Spanish speaking and English speaking groups. Once we got settled, the tour began.tul13

Upon entering the main gate, a tourist has to walk about a mile to get to the stoned wall. There were a lot of mangroves around the area and some other trees which were a good thing for shade. Few minutes, we got to the stone wall and checked the site map.tul08When we got inside the muralla (wall), we were welcomed by this cute critter also listening to the archaeologist while he was explaining about the history of the Maya city of Tulum. It is a coati and everyone in the group was just amazed and took pictures of this adorable Tulum ruin resident.

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Cute coati

The tour guide then directed us to follow him and told the rich history of the walled Maya city of Tulum. The structures were ancient but you can still the details and intricacies of how the Maya tribe built the city. The era of the Maya tribe doesn’t have cement, metals or any of the tools to build these houses and temples but they found a way. They used the resources they have in their surroundings and were able to make a beautiful and unique city.

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El Palacio

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Templo del los Frescos

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A commoner’s house

We were just following the guide while he was telling the story of the walled city of Tulum. Then we got to the most visited location of the ruins, El Castillo.

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El Castillo and la turista

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El Castillo

El Castillo is the structure facing the wide blue Caribbean sea. It was used as a lighthouse in the Maya era as it used to reflect light on the two windows of the building. The same reason why there were no trees and plants near it. Trees were scarce at that area to make sure that the building was not covered so Mayans who were at the sea can see it and will lead them back ashore.

Then we were ushered to the most beautiful vista of the Tulum ruins. It was the Templo del Dios Viento. That area was jam-packed with tourists trying to get a decent photo. Who wouldn’t want to get a picture of this amazing sight.

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Templo del Dios Viento

Templo del Dios Viento or in English, the Temple of the God of Winds appears like guarding the blue sea and blue skies. This is the most photographed site of Tulum ruins. It was really tanning hot. In just few minutes, I got toasted already but in this location, there are trees where you can find a shade and sit on rocks while having this view and enjoying the cool breeze from the sea. I stayed in this area for almost half an hour since the tour ended here.

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Closer view of Templo del Dios Viento

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Sitting on the rock under the shade of the trees around while looking at this view of Templo del Dios Viento

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But I was not alone. Here is this critter wanting to join me and relax.

Few minutes after I was hiding from the glaring sun, I stood up and went to acceso a la playa or the area that has access to the beach. Unfortunately, that day was not a good time to swim and even go down near the beach. Tourists who brought towels with them were a little frustrated but the whole Tulum city was worth the visit.

Acceso a la Playa

It was almost call time to go back to the tour bus since we only have two hours to enjoy the whole Maya city of Tulum. I got out of the walled city 30 mins early since I still have to get some food for it was already lunch time. Then I got to the muralla to get out of the Mayan ruins of Tulum.

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Muralla to Exit

The whole experience I have in Tulum ruins was enriching. It was full of information, rich of history and some intriguing facts about the past that still left questions unanswered and evidences unproven. The excavation and researches of Tulum ruins were already halted since it only made some buildings getting cracks and crumbles. In my opinion, it is a good thing since doing these researches are only causing destruction to these priceless structures of the walled city.

As of the mean time, let us enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the ancient culture of the Maya tribe mixed with the beauty of nature in Tulum ruins.

Chichén Itzá, One of the New 7 Wonders of the World

If a traveler happens to be in Cancún, it is a mortal sin not to visit the what it used to be the New 7 Wonders of the World of 2000-2007, the Chichén Itzá in Yucatan and since it is located in Yucatan state, make sure to do a side trip to Tulum. The Mayan Cities of Chichén Itzá and Tulum are the most famous tourist destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula. These attractions are just 2 hours away from Cancún.

I was already in Cancún for my spring break so, I made sure to include the Mayan ruins in my travel itinerary. I stayed in Cancún for about 5 days and I scheduled my day trips to Chichén Itzá on day 3 and Tulum ruins the next day through the help of Viator.com. Well, here it goes.

On my 3rd day, I took advantage of the early access to Chichén Itzá with a private archaeologist guide to beat the crowds, to gain essential information of the Mayan city, and to have a personalised touch of the exclusive tour. The tour bus came a little late to pick me up in the hotel at 0530H. It should have been 5:10AM but it was a great coincidence since I was inebriated the night before the tour. I came back in my room at 2AM and fell to bed without changing clothes. I woke up at 05:25AM, without even washing my face or changing my clothes from yesterday, I hurriedly went down to the lobby to find out that the tour bus hasn’t came yet. That was a relief but I still missed an important equipment for that trip, I forgot to bring my camera yet I have my mobile phone. Anyway, few minutes, they came and I got to the tour bus. The bus drove all the way to downtown Cancún since we still have to pick up some other travelers to Chichén Itzá. It was already around 6AM when we left Cancún and most of the time I was asleep. When I’m awake, I’m battling hangover of trying not to puke in the bus. I was successful though. At 0845H, we got to the Yucatan state few miles from Mayan city of Chichén Itzá.

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A red building in Yucatan State

About 10 minutes, we have arrived to our destination and was welcomed with this sign.yuc02This sign was very important for it was our meeting point after we were done touring the Mayan ruin. We also waited here for our tickets to get inside. Good thing that they have a tourist center so, guests can purchase food, souvenirs, sunblocks, sun protectors like umbrella, hats and of course, an access to toilets. After being relieved from human nature calls, I got these.

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Museo Nacional de Historia ticket

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Chichén Itzá General Entrance Ticket

The guide then split the guests to two groups, the English speakers and the Spanish speakers. After getting the groups, then off we go. As we entered the city ruin, we were astonished on how beautiful the sight was.

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Kukulcán Pyramid or El Castillo

Chichén Itzá was a major focal point in the Northern Maya history and was one of the largest Maya cities. It has been one of the mythical great cities and has been a factor to contribute to the variety of architectural styles at the site. Chichén Itzá is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico; an estimated 1.4 million tourists visit the ruins every year.

Chichén Itzá has a long story and it is very intriguing. According to Marco, our archaeologist guide, Chichén Itzá’s Kukulcán pyramid is not a temple but some sort of a stage. If a person is standing at the ground facing the staircase and makes a handclap, it will make or resonate a bird chirping sound. Every staircase has a different bird sounds.

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Back Part view of Kukulcán pyramid

More intriguing is that, it used to be open to the public years back wherein guests can climb up Kukulcán pyramid and at that time, they tried the same thing making clapping sound at the ground and other guests were in the halfway to the top in the staircase and can’t even hear a sound. But what is more fascinating is that if you are on top of the block of the pyramid, you can talk and everyone in the ground can hear you. The late Luciano Pavarotti had a concert in Chichén Itzá back in 1997 and everyone can hear him. It was then thought that Chichén Itzá’s Kukulcán pyramid is indeed a stage for the emperor to tell his followers his rules and their duties. The snake head on the foot of the pyramid is the head of Kukulcán. The Mayans worshipped the snake which gives blessings to the land and fertilises everything down in earth. Marco tells a really long story about the Mayan history and it is really amazing but I can tell only few of it and it’s for you people to hear it.

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The Emperor’s seat in the ball court or Juego de Pelota

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Pok-ta-pok court or Juego de pelota

The Mayans were really wise and we can’t even figure it out how they were able to build such advance ways and techniques without the help of technology in that era. In this ball court, the emperor sat on that big square while the guests which was written on the blocks of the wall as foreigners, e.g Spanish, Romans sat on the other end of the court. The guide called one of the tourists to stand in front of the emperor’s seat while we were on the other end. Marco whispered the name of the tourist and Jordan was able to hear him which was a mile away. We were shocked. The guide was really knowledgeable about what he is doing and he told that the emperor can hear all the words the foreigners were talking when they were invited to watch the pok-ta-pok game. The pok-ta-pok game consists of 2 teams. Each team has 6 players and a captain. The winning team captain was then offered to the gods as a gift for being the best to the bests.

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Juego de Pelota and Tzompantli

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Entrance of Juego de Pelota

In the entrance of Juego de Pelota, it clearly depicted on the wall that the Mayans interacted with outsiders such as Romans and Spaniards.

Here are the other photos I’ve taken during my Chichén Itzá trip.

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Marco explaining Plataforma de Venus

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Templo de los Guerreros or Temple of the Warriors

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Columnata Oeste or Columns in the Temple of a Thousand Warriors

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Cenote Sagrado or Sacred Cenote

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Cenote Sagrado

It was a very long, informative, fascinating and intriguing day in Chichén Itzá. But the experience was beautifully amazing. To summarise the whole trip, a day wasn’t enough. The story behind the Maya civilisation is really interesting that I just want to time travel and witness it with my two eyes but that ain’t possible. So, if you want to travel to Chichén Itzá, make sure to hire a knowledgeable archaeologist and tour guide. I recommend Marco from viator.com.

I’ll leave you with a picture of me in Chichén Itzá.IMG_6032

Sun, Sand and Sea

For this year, my first amazing journey out of the country was further south of the United States. I told to myself that I deserve to have a vacation where it will be warm, with lots of sun and near the beach. It will be in a different country and the people speak Spanish. So, I have decided to go to a place as I have imagined and I got the sun, sand and sea. Yes, I went to Mexico and let me tell you what happened.

To tell you honestly, Mexico is one of the countries that I would love to visit and it was 9th on my list.Mexico

Mexico or officially called as United Mexican States or Estados Unidos Mexicanos in Spanish is a country in between the United States and Central America. It is the sixth largest in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent country in the world. Mexico is comprised of 31 states.

United Mexican States map cr. mexconnect Tony Burton

My final destination in Mexico was Cancún. I arrived at 15:30H via Delta Airlines from Minneapolis thru Aeropuerto Internacional de Cancún  and was welcomed by the hotel staff just outside the airport arrival area. The staff drove all the way from the airport to the hotel.

A quick information: Cancún is a city in southeastern Mexico on the northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It is an important tourist destination in the country and the seat of the municipality of Benito Juarez. The city lies on the easternmost point of the country with the perfect view of the Caribbean Sea.

Cancún , Mexico location
cr: world atlas

The drive from the airport to the hotel district was about 25-30 mins. I was staying in Ocean Spa Hotel which is located in zone hotelera. The first day was exhausting from the trip but I was so glad to have made this choice since I temporarily dodged the winter weather back home. Upon getting out of the van, I was assisted to the front desk for check-in procedures and within few minutes, I got my room card.

Without delay, I went out to the beach. The weather was perfect. Warm and not so humid, soothing sea breeze, cloudy blue skies, white powdery sands, smiling people, and not-so-bright sun welcomed me in the paradise called, Cancún.

The Beach

The Yachts and Fishing Boats

The Pool

I just stayed under the shade of the coconut tree while sitting on a beach recliner until sunset and dinner time. It was so relaxing that I didn’t mind the time, indeed a so deserve vacation for me. I called it a day after I ate my dinner because the next day, it will be a little busy.

I woke up early and headed directly to the beach while waiting for the sun to rise. I was in the same spot and few minutes later, I witnessed this view.

Cancún sunrise

My first sunrise in Cancún resembled that it was going to be a long day. I had my meal that day and after that, I went to other resort to take a peek on the beach since the beach is facing the Caribbean sea as compared to the beach view I have in the hotel I’m staying.

I got a free ride from the hotel to the resort since they were owned by the same company. It was a 20-30 minutes ride and other guests and I arrived in Sunset Royal Beach Resort and we were offered to grab some food. The beach resort is a huge with lots of floor, probably more than 10-story building. It was wide, spacious, and vibrant. I went to the 8th floor and was ushered to a one-bed studio room. I was amazed coz they said it was a studio room but the floor area covered more than what I pictured as studio room in Chicago. Everything was amazing. Take a look at this one-bed studio room.

One-bedroom

With jacuzzi

Living area

Dining area

Studio room

The View outside

It sure looks like a painting but nope, that is a sliding door to access the balcony and have this view outside all to yourself. Not only that, the beach view is to die for. I was in awe and I told myself that if I were to stay here for the rest of my life, I would be one happy person.

Cancún, Mexico

Behold Cancún! That surely fits my dream vacation and the reason why I chose Mexico is to experience the sun, sand and sea. This view is the perfect presentation of that. My day was complete after having seen this amazing sight and what better to enjoy it is to have fun with it. I went down to the beach and spent the whole day relaxing under those cabanas while having a cold refreshments in my hand.After getting soaked in the beach, I was offered to go to downtown Cancún to check it out. When I got there, Cancún is indeed a travel haven. There were a lot of tourists with different colors, languages, and nationalities but have the same reason why they were here and that was to have fun! The whole street was occupied by cars, buses, and people in and out of the bars, clubs, stores, and restaurants. It felt like a carnival was going on. The ground was thumping from the beat of the music in different bars and night clubs such as the Palazzo, Cocobongo, Fat Tuesday and many more. But one thing was certain that night, everyone seemed to be entertained and were enjoying.

Hard Rock Cafe Cancún

The Mall

Fat Tuesday nightclub

My first 2 days in Cancún was a blast. Exploring the streets of the city at night and meeting the goal I set for the trip of having sun, sand and sea. It was indeed a memorable Cancún vacation. But this wasn’t the end. The following days were more of history and ruins which Mexico is famous of. Stay tuned for my next blogpost but for now, let’s cheers!

A couple from Seattle I met during my vacation.

IATA Code: CUN – Aeropuerto Internacional de Cancún

International Air Transport Association (IATALocation Identifier uses a 3-letter code to identify locations of airports throughout the world.Flag_of_Mexico.svg

Cancún is one of the top tourist destinations in the world and for it to be accessed by tourists, it has to have a great hub. Cancún International Airport or IATA Code: CUN serves the purpose of that. It is considered an international airport with flights from/ to other parts of Mexico and the world.

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