A Quick Blast Through Mexico

Mexico was never really a big part of the travel plan, the reason for coming here was Cancun was the easiest and cheapest place for myself and my girlfriend to meet coming from Canada and Europe. We didn’t intend on doing anything here really.

This changed when I found the Cancun Underwater Museum which looked incredible to someone like me who’s addicted to scuba diving!

It wasn’t possible to dive the museum on day 1 so that fell to going to the beach. And wow what a beach, crystal clear blue sea and white powdery sand.

Sadly, the many hotels that are on the beach try to deny access to non guests and there are limited public access points.Luckily for us, once you are on the beach it can be easy to use some facilities at hotels. Thank you very much Ritz-Carlton, you make a tasty margarita and have a luxurious pool! As silly as it sounds, I’d actually be tempted to book one of their hotels one day now as I know how good they can be while the Melia that denied access I might avoid. Funny how little things like that can influence your opinion!

As for the museum, it felt a bit like a wreck dive with many different cement sculptures. The idea of the museum is that is will eventually become the home to a new coral reef on top of the artwork and help reduce to the pressure on Cancun’s other coral reefs, a very nice idea I think.

Immediately after a short descent to 10 meters we came to an inspired replica of the terracotta warriors. Some of which you can put your regulator up to and purge bubbles through the sculpture so it looks like they are exhaling underwater! The sculptures are already developing plant life on them which perhaps takes away a bit of the drama but is good for the longer term plan.

Later in the first dive we came to a sculpture of a VW Beetle (a car formerly made and still loved in Mexico) as well as a cube of bricks. Both were already becoming home to small fish.

My favourite part of the experience came in the second dive. I didn’t realise the museum was spread over such a large area so when we came to a sculpture of a man at a bar, writing something with a tankard near his hand and a dog asleep by his feet I was really taken aback. It’s nice that for someone who grew up in Lancashire and Yorkshire there is a little part of home sat at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea!

Photo from Brits at their Best

On the way to the border with Belize where this trip was really planned to begin we stopped off at the town of Tulum – known for its Mayan ruins by the sea. However it wasn’t these that we enjoyed the most (especially after a visit to Tikal in Guatemala, but more on that in a later post).

All around the coast in this area are features known as cenotes. This is where the limestone rock collapses due to the vegetation above and to form a hole down into water running below. Near Tulum is the Grand Cenote where you can swim down into the caves with tropical freshwater fish (like you may have in an aquarium at home) as well as with terrapins. It really was a refreshing and well needed experience after the cycle from town in sweltering temperatures.

Cenote

Although a bit touristy, Tulum was a fairly relaxed place with one of my favourite treats of the tropics – sugar cane! And I’m not sure you’ll see a better sugar cane juice vending stand than a converted VW Beetle! It was an especially good addition to a mojito!

Sugar Cane Beetle

P.S. If you’re reading this before you leave Mexico to enter Belize and are using the Lonely Planet guidebook for Central America. There might be a couple of things I can clarify.

1. For a bus to Belize from Chetumal you need to go from the new market, not the bus station in an old American style school bus.

2. When leaving Mexico you may be charged 200 Pesos to leave via land. If you arrived via air be persistent as this tax should be included in the cost of your air ticket and therefore not be valid. If you are reluctant to get your wallet out they should just wave you through.

A Quick Blast Through Mexico

Mexico was never really a big part of the travel plan, the reason for coming here was Cancun was the easiest and cheapest place for myself and my girlfriend to meet coming from Canada and Europe. We didn’t intend on doing anything here really.

This changed when I found the Cancun Underwater Museum which looked incredible to someone like me who’s addicted to scuba diving!

It wasn’t possible to dive the museum on day 1 so that fell to going to the beach. And wow what a beach, crystal clear blue sea and white powdery sand.

Sadly, the many hotels that are on the beach try to deny access to non guests and there are limited public access points.Luckily for us, once you are on the beach it can be easy to use some facilities at hotels. Thank you very much Ritz-Carlton, you make a tasty margarita and have a luxurious pool! As silly as it sounds, I’d actually be tempted to book one of their hotels one day now as I know how good they can be while the Melia that denied access I might avoid. Funny how little things like that can influence your opinion!

As for the museum, it felt a bit like a wreck dive with many different cement sculptures. The idea of the museum is that is will eventually become the home to a new coral reef on top of the artwork and help reduce to the pressure on Cancun’s other coral reefs, a very nice idea I think.

Immediately after a short descent to 10 meters we came to an inspired replica of the terracotta warriors. Some of which you can put your regulator up to and purge bubbles through the sculpture so it looks like they are exhaling underwater! The sculptures are already developing plant life on them which perhaps takes away a bit of the drama but is good for the longer term plan.

Later in the first dive we came to a sculpture of a VW Beetle (a car formerly made and still loved in Mexico) as well as a cube of bricks. Both were already becoming home to small fish.

My favourite part of the experience came in the second dive. I didn’t realise the museum was spread over such a large area so when we came to a sculpture of a man at a bar, writing something with a tankard near his hand and a dog asleep by his feet I was really taken aback. It’s nice that for someone who grew up in Lancashire and Yorkshire there is a little part of home sat at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea!

Photo from Brits at their Best

On the way to the border with Belize where this trip was really planned to begin we stopped off at the town of Tulum – known for its Mayan ruins by the sea. However it wasn’t these that we enjoyed the most (especially after a visit to Tikal in Guatemala, but more on that in a later post).

All around the coast in this area are features known as cenotes. This is where the limestone rock collapses due to the vegetation above and to form a hole down into water running below. Near Tulum is the Grand Cenote where you can swim down into the caves with tropical freshwater fish (like you may have in an aquarium at home) as well as with terrapins. It really was a refreshing and well needed experience after the cycle from town in sweltering temperatures.

Cenote

Although a bit touristy, Tulum was a fairly relaxed place with one of my favourite treats of the tropics – sugar cane! And I’m not sure you’ll see a better sugar cane juice vending stand than a converted VW Beetle! It was an especially good addition to a mojito!

Sugar Cane Beetle

P.S. If you’re reading this before you leave Mexico to enter Belize and are using the Lonely Planet guidebook for Central America. There might be a couple of things I can clarify.

1. For a bus to Belize from Chetumal you need to go from the new market, not the bus station in an old American style school bus.

2. When leaving Mexico you may be charged 200 Pesos to leave via land. If you arrived via air be persistent as this tax should be included in the cost of your air ticket and therefore not be valid. If you are reluctant to get your wallet out they should just wave you through.

Goodbye London – Photo Blog

Gallery

After 18 months living in London, I’m packing up and ready to leave. I’ve loved living here, there’s so much to variety to the city from things to see and do, places to eat and drink and random events happening … Continue reading

Travel Photography and an Oscar win!

When I first started travelling, I never really cared about photography. I thought it distracted me from what I was actually seeing and doing. And I still think I had a point. However, now I kind of wish I’d taken more pictures (with a better camera) of some of the incredible things.

I’ve since bought a couple of decent cameras including an SLR and one for more extreme environments, partly due to my newly found passion for photography but also partly to recall the event in future years. It’s also stirred a bit of competition with my girlfriend to see who can take the best photos! You can see her best ones here.

One of my first attempts at taking cool (and slightly pretentious) pictures has just been featured by STA Travel to coincide with the upcoming Oscars. You see can it as well as the other fantastic winning entries on their website!

My Winning Entry!

A little about the photo: I took this on the Galata Bridge in Istanbul where an incredible number of fisherman set themselves up for the day. It’s surprising how much they catch given the murkiness in the water with ferries coming and going every minute of so. Just a stones throw away you can buy the best value meal in the city, a freshly grilled fish served in a baguette with crunchy onions.

As I go along I’ll try to show as many pictures as possible on here as well as on my Flickr account.

So here we go …

The first blog post is always a fun place to start, all those things I had in mind to say and now I come to write them …… oh bugger.

The reason I’m doing this is 2012 is the year I say ‘Sod it’ and bugger off around the world. As a kid I watched an unhealthy amount of Michael Palin and Alan Whicker travel programmes which has given me an unstoppable desire to travel the globe. It’s plauged me through University where I filled up an entire passport in 3 years in places like Malaysia (great place to go to study, or not actually get down to the studying in my case), all around Europe, China (courtesy of the British Government – see http://servalan.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/studychina/), South Africa and many, many other places.

I’ve spent the last two and a half years working away as an accountant for BAE Systems and latterly as a Strategy Consultant for a firm nobody has ever heard of when you tell them (http://www.pmsi-consulting.com/). They have kindly let me escape in a few weeks time to travel the length of Central and South America from Cancun in Mexico down to Santiago in Chile. Between now and then I have to squeeze in trips to Cuba and Ireland as well as a hop to Canada on my way to Latin America.

Hopefully I’ll fill these spaces with a range on interesting and insightful bits and pieces of commentary and photography that will keep you all interested or at the very least jealous.

I hope during my time away I’ll learn Spanish, volunteer with some worthwhile causes, spend a large amount of time being a beach bum as well as scuba diving and get a whole heap of life experience.

As I go along I’m sure more will become clear ….

In the meantime you can follow me on Twitter (@nihaoxiongmao), check out my Flickr or LinkedIn pages etc. and get in touch however you like.

Much love on this Happy Valentine’s Day. x

Iain