Short stay in Quito, Ecuador

Planned on staying 3-4 weeks in Quito, Ended up staying just 11 nights. not that it hasn’t been a pleasant experience, generally ecuadorians have shown great hospitality and friendliness towards us, especially to Darwin. Quito, as we quickly realized, is too busty and cosmopolitan for our liking. That coupled with the pollution/ smog, we decided to not stay in Quito for longer than we need to and wanted to move on to another part of Ecuador. Furthermore, we we preferred spending more time on the coast where it’s warmer ( its been quite chilly in the evenings without central heating!).

We spent most of our days touring Quito, exploring its treasured colonial buildings and churches and visiting a few museums. We spent a couple of nights at colonial house hostal in old Quito, which allowed us the opportunity to explore the historic district. The colonial buildings and churches are so impressive, it is no surprise that Quito was declared a World UNESCO cultural heritage site.

Be forewarned, do not venture in this district past dark, it’s fairly dangerous (muggings)! We went out twice at night as naive tourists, and were given a warning from an expat on avoiding certain streets. A couple from the UK who were staying at our hostel were nearly mugged on their second day in old Quito, I felt terrible for them!

A few must dos in historic quito:
1. Grande plaza / government palace
2. San francisco church and plaza, and museum, circa 1550, oldest church in Quito and largest architectonic (whatever that means) complex in America. The inside is bordering guady and beautiful in Baroque style with its very intricate carvings and ornamentation.
Image3. La Ronda
4. El panecillo- a difficult climb when your at the 2nd highest capital in the world (2800m). It’s a hill located in the middle of the city at an altitude of 3016m. A monument of the Virgin Mary is located on top, standing 41m high. Image

5. Mercado public market- cheap eats and best bargains on fruits and veggies.



After exhausting ourselves exploring old Quito, we moved locations to la marsical, the entertainment district of Quito. La marsical is also known as gringo land since its teeming with tourists. It has many bars, restaurants, cafes and shops to entertain tourists, so we found the area better suited our needs. there are also la policia everywhere, so it’s fairly safe to venture out in the dark.

Things we did to keep entertained:
1. Telefirco – impossible to catch public transit to this place. We taxied there for $5. On the way back there’s a tourist shuttle that will stop off at certain districts in the city such as la marsical, for $1 pp. Also if you have children less than 2 years of age, they won’t allow them on the cable car. The telefirco is an aerial tramway on the east side of Pinchicha Volcano at about 4000mImage
2. Mitad de mundo, inan solar museo – take the blue line all the way to ofelia station, then a bus labeled mitad de mundo. Once you get off the round about at mitad, head north (if the monument is in front of you, head to your right) and walk along the busy road for about 200m. You’ll see a sign for the museum. This is where the real equator line is (latitude 0), not where the monument stands (and where you have to pay $2 to see).

3. Park carolina and botanical gardens- the gardens has more than 1200 species of orchids and other unique flora species of Ecuador. Image

4. Artisanal markets
5. Casa del cultura museo
6. Rugby match- we got extremely lucky with this. The Jaguars of Guayaquil were staying at out hostel and so it happened that we got a ride to watch them play. A real delightful bunch. We’ll definitely get in touch with them when we travel through Guayaquil in Jan.
The transportation system in Ecuador is absolutely amazing, cheap but not necessarily fast. Within the city the fare is $0.25; there are 3 major lines you can take (red, blue and green) and they are relatively simple to use. The buses are extremely rammed in rush hour (7-9am and after 1pm when school is out).

Darwin’s been a fairly easy traveller. Everything is new and unfamiliar territory so he is often preoccupied with exploring. That said, he still is crawling which makes things difficult to keep him clean ( hands, knees). I worry a great deal about his health and I cringe every time I see him suck his hands after crawling around common areas or pick things off the floor and place it in his mouth, ugh so gross! I also worry about food poisoning and have been diligent about cooking his food and providing purified drinking water. There’s also no routine for baby which I think is important in teaching a child discipline. He sleeps well throughout the night which is terrific, but meal times vathese pending on the day so feeding him on a schedule is difficult. A part of me tells me to relax and that I shouldn’t be so uptight, another part worries that Darwin is going to develop bad habits during meal time. On top of all these worries is his nutrition, luckily we found a decent iron fortified cereal (quinoa!) that I think easies my concerns and also I’m still breast feeding. yes, I know there are  many worries! All I know that he’s been a content little boy since arriving in ecuador and that Tim & Darwin have really bonded, which I had hoped they would during our travels.

Watercolourisation of The Strid

Refamiliarising myself with CorelPainter again- I’ve completely forgotten how to use the program! One cool feature of this software is that you can taken a nice photo and reconstruct it into a painting- soooo cool.

The Strid, Bolton Abbey UK


School’s out (finally)

It’s been a hectic month or so of cramming/study, but final exams are over- Hurray! I’m now half way to completing my MSc (i.e. 3 more years to go- ugh).

Feels great to have my evenings off; I’m now focusing my attention on preparing for our trip to Ecuador (2.5 months, sooooo awesome). We’ve dedicated every night to learning Spanish- there’s a fairly decent (and free!) Spanish on-line tutorial that we’re using. The tutor/teacher Paralee is annoyingly enthusiastic, but if you see past her gleaming smile, the lessons are quite helpful.

I’ve also started on a list of places to visit/things to experience whilst we’re in Ecuador. This list keeps growing and 2.5 months now doesn’t seem long enough. I’ll share this list on my next post once I complete it.

There are other things that I need to list out, like what to bring for baby in terms of meds, carriers, crib, clothing, food, etc. I’m determined to bring Darwin’s travelling cot/crib (by Phil and Ted) which only weighs 5.5lbs without the mattress and can easily fit into my backpack. I also purchased an awesome baby carrier by Osprey (Poco series) and totseat for mealtime (see pics below). Darwin’s going to be the best equipped travelling baby ever!


WordPress Stats

Just perusing through the new statistical features provided by wordpress. Almost 40,000 views!

Happy to know that the ALL TIME search engine term on my blog is “dharmshala”; woohoo! my travel blog posts are being read. Very sad to know that the second top hit is “camel toe”- ugh. The post with me in my Nepalese leggings weren’t meant to attract perverts. Booooo!

Summer’s End

Feeling and smelling autumnal now. Summer’s such a short season, so unfortunate especially when I was JUST getting acclimatised to the hot humid weather (i.e. not sweating or feeling uncomfortably sticky).

Summer’s end also is making me sad because it’s another day closer to the end of my maternity leave. Can’t believe 7 months have already passed- I wish I can spend the summer with Darwin for ETERNITY!

We had an enjoyable summer together- morning runs, baby laptime sessions at the library, render-vous with friends and family…of the most memorable were: my brother’s wedding and a family vacation out to the Rockies; week trip out to Vancouver to visit Jenny; babysitting my niece Liya for a week; re-uniting with some old childhood classmates.


(Brother Phong and his beautiful Bride Christine)


(Tim and I emceeing the wedding reception. I also gave a presentation and made a video/slideshow about the  newly weds; you can view the video here:


(TIm, Darwin and I at our neighbours 80s retro party)


(Darwin having a jolly good time in Vancouver)


(Darwin looking enthused about mum’s 10k race)

To mark the end of summer, we went on a camping trip to the Rockies (Kootenay Plains/Bighorn Region) for the Sept long weekend. Such gorgeous scenery, makes up for the long car journey there!




(Crescent Falls, Bighorn River)

Image(A somewhat amusing photo of Darwin reaching for all the things)

Vancouver: Another family vacation

I love love love Vancouver! Awesome food, beautiful scenery. Hoping to live out here some day…

Collage 1: Godmother Jenny, Uncle Mike, and friends.


Collage 2:

  • At the public market on Grandville Island;
  • On the Seabus en route to the Maritime Museum;
  • At the Richmond Night Market where Tim ate bbQ horse meat (yuk);
  • At the Vancouver Jazz Festival
  • Hiking in Mount Seymour


Collage 3: Cutesy photos of Darwin and my walk with Darwin along the seawall.


Last but not least, the highlight of my trip! Getting a NOSE PIERCING! Whoop! Not as painful as it looks- truly!


10 Things I wish I knew…

I was writing up a list for a friend who is expecting, but I thought it might be useful for other expectant mums too. This is a list of things I wish people told me, paid more attention to, or wish I discovered earlier. They are just suggestions though and not DO or DIE items. Just some things that I found/thought would make life easier.

1. Don’t buy baby talc/powder. I bought a huge bottle of it pre-Darwin…and it’s practically gone unused. Discovered there’s a possible link between respiratory illnesses and baby powder (mainly talc). Current powders are made of cornstarch, but I decided to steer clear from it all together. I just use a facecloth to dry baby’s bottom. Then I apply vaseline all over. No diaper rashes thus far!

2. Plastic diaper pad with padding (not so environmentally friendly though). So many accidents happen in the middle of diaper change that it gets annoying having to wash the pads. Tim’s mum bought us a plastic one when we were in the UK. It’s so simple to clean!

3. Have a changing station in the bathroom. We don’t use wipes, only flannels/facecloths for diaper changes at home so it’s convenient having the sink/water accessible, plus Darwin likes his bottom wiped with warm water.
4. Vitamin D for breastfeed babies. I was surprised that this vitamin was lacking in breast milk and requires supplementation.
5. Sorest nips you’ve ever known from the start of breastfeeding. It’s like sandpaper being rubbed against your nipple- TRULY painful. But it disappears after a few days. Also your breasts get engorged with milk (hard as a ROCK) and that is also very painful. Luckily it only lasts for a week or so. It took 2 months for my breasts to regulate milk production so had very leaky boobs. I have yet to find a decent brand of disposable breast pads b/c of this issue. AVEDA pads are okay, but not the greatest. DON’T buy the silicone breast pads when you have very leaky boobs. They’re very ineffective.
6. You’ll still look preggo after having the baby (uterus is still swollen). I don’t know why I assumed the belly would automatically deflate after giving birth. Grannie underwear is a must after a c-section!
7. Promise yourself to get out of the house and go for a walk every day. This would prevent you from looking/feeling like a slob.
8. Have a smart phone. You’ll need a good camera to capture those precious moments; or the internet or your favourite mobile apps like TED talks, Scrabble, RDIO (or music) etc. to keep you entertained whilst breastfeeding. I wasn’t able to read a book while nursing, even with a nursing pillow. Audiobooks from is a good alternative (I don’t watch television).
8. Learn how to breastfeed lying down- it’s a lifesaver when you’re half asleep at 2am and have to feed.
9. Make frozen dinners pre and post-baby (I already knew this but it’s important enough to include on the list). Tim and I would make large quantities of a dish and then freeze a portion of it. It’s such a timesaver for days you just don’t feel like cooking.
10. Don’t drop the baby, esp. on its head. SURELY everyone should know this!?

Darwin’s trip across the pond

Haven’t had much time to write in my blog lately (not surprisingly!) so a picture post will hopefully suffice. Quickly scanned through the plethora of photos of our recent trip to the UK/Germany/Amsterdam and drew up a few collages…hope you like them!

1) Darwin’s meet and greet with his overseas family. So many people happy to meet lil’ Darwin!


2) Walking the countryside is a perfect way to discover the UK. Tim was slightly obsessed with canals so we walked along a few as well. And yes, I carried Darwin everywhere we walked!


3) Delighted in some English cuisine!

L to R, Top to Bottom: Ploughman’s lunch, Full English Breakfast, Roast Turkey, Roast Pork


4) Few attractions visited in-between family visits:

The Shambles in York, York Minister, local cricket match in Malpas (down the road from where Tim’s parents live), Port Meirrion, Anglesey Island (Wales), and Cowry (walled city):


Downtown Manchester, Dinner at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, Anne Frank Museum/House in Amsterdam, canal boat tour in Amsterdam, Crouching Tiger and Turtle sculpture in Duisburg (Germany), downtown Chester (walled city)


My favourite photo: Bolton Abbey, The Strid (Yorkshire)


Best purchase ever: Minton tea set from the potteries in Stoke-in-trent. Tea in a proper cup never tasted so good!Image

Family vacay in Banff

Loved having a lil’ mini getaway with the family. Was a bit disappointed that the trail up Tunnel Mountain was too icy; we stuck to trails along the Bow River which suited us fine. Darwin was such an angel during the long car journey- slept for most of it!






Some rural landscape photos taken on the way home.