Salento: Mirador Alto De La Cruz

Yesterday I did a physically intensive hike so today I am taking it easy my last full day in Salento Colombia. I finally took advantage of the nice breakfast at my hotel. I’ve also walked down to the bus station to ensure I have a bus ticket for tomorrow. Tomorrow evening I travel to Cartagena by plane. Salento has no airport so I need to ensure I have a bus ticket to the nearby town with an airport – Pereira.

Salento bus station

I don’t have much planned today but I know I want to take the stairs up to the Mirador Alto De La Cruz, a place to get a nice view of town. I walk toward the stairs.

There are a series of colorful steps that take you up to the top.

view of the town
view outside the town

I descend down the stairs and decide to stop at a nearby bar to have a daytime cocktail (the same bar that the dog had taken up seats for previously).

Kafe del Alma

After my drink I walk around and appreciate town. Stopping to shop or lounge at another bar. I again appreciate how nice it is to be able to travel to smaller towns. The bus rides are long but they are so worth it.

My bus ride out of town isn’t until later the next day. I leave my bags at the hotel lobby and order a pizza at a nearby restaurant, because pizza.

Piccola Italia

I arrive at the bus station in time for my ride to Pereira. Once I arrive at the bus station in Pereira I still need to catch a taxi from there to the airport. It isn’t clear where the appropriate place is to catch a taxi. Taxi drivers tell me it is illegal to pick up passengers in areas not designated as a taxi pickup area. I wander around the bus station and eventually I am able to flag a cab down that will pick take me to the nearby airport. The cab driver misunderstands me and doesn’t drop me off in the correct place at the airport. I find myself walking pretty far to find the correct terminal – which sounds odd since it is a pretty small airport. I believe I am dropped off at the international terminal when I am flying domestically. Pereira airport is currently under construction. From the outside appearance it seems like the new airport will be pretty nice when it is complete but for now it is a small and confusing airport.

Waiting area and food court before going through security

At the airport I wait in the main waiting area for a while not knowing what to expect after security. I eventually cross security and there is a narrow walkway between the gates. I notice a small bar along the walkway so I decide to squeeze in and order a beer while I wait for my flight to board. The bar overlooks planes that are boarding. I must mention that the gate area is totally open air to the outside. This means that basically someone can just hop over the ledge and head out to a plane. Security is so much more relaxed here compared to what I am used to in the USA.

Nothing but a low concrete barrier between me and that plane
time to board

The flight to Cartagena is decent – no complaints here. Once in Cartagena there is an expensive cab ride to my hotel from the airport. It is late so I figure a cab ride is the safest approach to get to the tourist areas. Luckily Cartagena is a night city and there is a hotel clerk available at check in. I’m tired so I’ll have to experience the city tomorrow.

Hotel 3 Banderas is the hotel I booked for the couple days I am traveling alone. The options in Cartagena seem to much pricier than I’ve experienced in other towns and not as nice. My hotel is satisfactory but I don’t like not having a real window in my room and it does get damp in my room with the air conditioning running (at one point I had a puddle of water on the floor). The hotel reminds me of my stay in Saigon.

Hotel on a beautiful street (one with flags outside)

Arriving in Bali

I just left Cambodia and I have a cold. It was inevitable and I am surprised I didn’t get sick earlier. While in Cambodia I noticed tons of tourists hacking and sneezing around me. Statistically speaking I would have to have a super human immune response to avoid getting sick (plus it didn’t help to have the extra alcohol I had to celebrate my birthday).

I leave too early to get hotel breakfast but luckily I make it through security in time to get breakfast in the Priority Lounge (unlike my flight from Ho Chi Minh where I barely made it to my flight in time – giving you the stink eye Cambodia Angkor Air.) The breakfast is decent enough but I almost slice my finger with a plastic fork. Who does that?

My flight is uneventful except I have to eject someone from my seat (it happens way too often believe it or not).

For some reason I get two meals. Not sure exactly why but it might have something to do with how I pre-selected my foods as part of a package but it is way too early to eat this type of food and I am already full from the lounge. I nibble at one and end up throwing an entire meal anyway (I did offer it to my seat mates but no one wanted it)

I have a four hour or so layover in Kuala Lumpur. Because I have to go through security screening again they make me toss my unopened water bottle I bought when leaving Cambodia. I am water-less and my throat is sore and dry. I drink as much water as I can from the priority lounge here, which is super small and very limited in food choices. I “lost” my reusable water bottle when I arrived in South East Asia because I didn’t see the point. I can’t drink tap water so the bottle is just extra baggage to carry around and I need the packing space. Well now I regret that decision because there is nowhere to purchase bottled water due to flight regulations. The airport only has a water filter. I have nothing to fill up.

When I finally get on my fight I get one meal only and one small water. The meal is too spicy for my taste plus I can only get more water with an additional fee. I ration my supplies.

I finally arrive in Bali, Indonesia where I am to stay two nights by the airport while waiting for my silent retreat.

It is a long travel day and a number of things don’t seem to go my way when I arrive:

First I cannot find an ATM that works. It isn’t just me, tons of people are having issues at the ATMs, thus making the lines long. I know I put in a security alert for Indonesia so I am frustrated. I really want to take out some spending cash but I head to the hotel with the hopes there is something there.

Secondly I can find no signs for the hotel. The hotel is supposed to be in walking distance from the airport and it is dark and I can’t find any directional signs. I am sweaty, I can’t breathe and I am tired. I get constantly asked by taxis if they can take me somewhere. I know the hotel is close by just don’t know how to get there. Finally make it to the hotel after an out-of-the-way walk (apparently there is construction blocking the normal path).

Finally I find an Atm closer to the hotel that does work but my card is flagged for fraud (the first time in 4 months). I clear it all up, check in my room and pass out.

I wake in the morning with extremely dry mouth and sore throat. I hope I kick this soon. I have no yoga pants and for some reason could not find them anywhere I looked in Cambodia. I had planned to search for some today but my health is keeping me hotel bound. I will have to yoga and mediate in my regular travel clothes. I’ll look even more out of place than usual, no surprises there.

No phone, no talking, no internet for next few days so wish me luck.