The Floating Market in Damnoen Saduak is one of the most famous floating markets remaining in Thailand. Vendors on boats float down canals selling everything from coconut ice cream to elaborate noodle dishes. The town where the market happens is an easy day trip from Bangkok, but we would recommend arriving the night before and going to the market in the early morning before the hordes of tour buses arrive. Here is a short video from our trip.
Day two in London was much more comfortable and fun after a good night’s rest. We kept commenting on how cool it was to feel so foreign in a country that still speaks our language! Crossing streets, as expected, was dangerous. We kept looking the wrong direction and almost getting run over. Thankfully, we figured out the train system a little better and spent the day jetting all around, seeing some of the most famous sights first. We also got super lucky with beautiful weather in this usually rainy metropolis.
Our hosts suggested we check out Camden, a more trendy, hipster-ish neighborhood in north London. It was great! We got to see an old lock on the little river pushing boats through, check out an awesome crafts and food market, and found craft beer!
After only stuffing our faces a little bit on the best falafel I’ve ever had, we were off to Brixton, all the way in south London. It’s a more ethnic neighborhood with a little bit of seediness and a cool up-and-coming food scene. We checked out some pubs and then headed to Brixton Village Market. This awesome little warehouse holds over 100 different tiny restaurants, each with around 12 seats each, serving different cuisines from around the world. Apparently you only have to sign up for a six-month lease to open up here, which makes it a great avenue for those without a ton of cash to get started. What a cool idea! I wanted to eat everything! But we settled on sharing a Pakistani “thali”, or sampling plate, from Elephant, which was wonderful! You can also BYOB to these restaurants, so we grabbed a couple cervezas from the Colombian shop next door.
Sufficiently stuffed, we headed back home to rest before our onward journey. We both agreed that London was much cooler than we expected. We were not at all excited about British food, but you can get any kind of food from anywhere in the world in London! It’s such a multi-cultural city, which we really loved. We’ll be back someday!
The second half of our too-brief stint in Guatemala took place in Panajachel, the biggest town on the shores of the Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala’s largest crater lake. The enormous blue expanse, ringed by cloud-topped volcanoes on every side, was impressive.
There’s no end to boat trips, hikes, kayaking trips, and bike rides you can take from Panajachel (locals call it “Pana”) around the Lago de Atitlan. There is also an endless street of craft stalls with (allegedly) the cheapest prices in Guatemala. We took advantage and shopped a lot!
We definitely didn’t have enough time at Lago de Atitlan! Next time we’ll have to explore the smaller villages surrounding the lake. It was a great short visit though!
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The Quilotoa Loop is an amazing dirt-road route stretching from Latacunga to Laguna Quilotoa and then back. It’s full of tiny villages, breathtaking views, and authentic markets. Traversing the loop involved a few buses and lots of hiking!
We stayed one night in Latacunga at the beginning of the loop, and also left our big bags there so we wouldn’t be saddled with them while hiking. The most remarkable thing about Latacunga is that it has been destroyed no less than THREE times by Volcán Cotopaxi. We found this interesting because Latacunga is a lot farther away from Cotopaxi than Baños is from Volcán Tungurahua. And the people of Baños say it can’t be destroyed, ha!
The first day of the Quilotoa Loop we took a bus 20 minutes to the Thursday market in Saquisili. Lots of fun stuff in the market there!
After the market we caught a bus three more hours (plus one more for a flat tire) to Isinlivi, where we stayed at the amazing Hostal Llullu Llama and made great friends with the only two other people there! A wonderful start to the Quilotoa Loop!
Otavalo, Ecuador, was my absolute FAVORITE place on our trip so far. It was just indescribably cool. The main attraction is the Otavalo Market. It is a massive Saturday crafts market – supposedly the biggest in South America! Tons of traditionally-attired Quechua locals take over the streets of the whole town center, selling beautiful artwork, handicrafts, livestock, clothing, anything you can imagine! We also LOVED the food market, and all the great but cheap restaurants around town. In general, Otavalo struck me as a excellent place to chill and enjoy a small-town atmosphere, while simultaneously soaking up indigenous Ecuadorian culture in a beautiful environment! I wish we could have stayed longer. Really though, the pictures have to do the talking!