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Ecuador – Part 1

June 2018. Summer 2018. There were two Vietnamese girls who had a passion in traveling and exploring Latin America culture, decided to take a challenge to discover a part of the world where before, back in Vietnam, would they never imagine they could put their feet on. And let me tell you the story of those two Vietnamese girls in that trip. Exciting. Fun. Nervous. Sad. Thrilling. All kinds of emotions. I hope when reading these posts, you could also experience a part of Latin America countries, and who knows, you could – one day – explore Latin America and fall in love with them – just like I do.

Ecuador, in fact, was not in our priority list for our Latin America (LA) trip. But beyond our imagination, Ecuador has risen to the top in our heart. More than 20 days in Ecuador, this small country in South America offered me so many wonderful moments – and in a note, I can never list them all. But I know, those memories will always stay there – in my heart – to remind me that at the age of beautiful 25, I was in Ecuador and somehow it stole a part of my heart.

  1. Guayaquil

We reached Ecuador first through Guayaquil –  recognized as the largest and the most populous city in Ecuador. To compare, I think this city is like Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam – a hub for business and other economic activities. (somehow, I always compare everything of Guayaquil with Ho Chi Minh City that my companion had to use the hashtag #ngungsosanh).

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La Rotonda – This monument is located in Malecon 2000 – a pride and a must-see attraction of Guayaquil if you ask anyone where to visit in Guayaquil. This monument is to show the respects for the two liberators – Jose de San Martin from Argentina and Simon Bolivar from Venezuela who fought for the freedom of some Latin America countries against Spanish. And for sure, you will encounter these two names in many places during your LA trip.
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Wandering around Guayaquil, we met this statue. Not sure the meaning behind this statue, but he reminded us of “Chú bé liên lạc” of a famous Vietnamese poet – To Huu: Chú bé loắt choắt, Cái xắc xinh xinh, Cái chân thoăn thoắt, Cái đầu nghênh nghênh. Ca-lô đội lệch, Mồm huýt sáo vang, Như con chim chích, Nhảy trên đường vàng…
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The second destination in Guayaquil for us was Las Penas neighborhood. This museum located right on the way to the top of Las Penas neighborhood – Museo del Bombero – a small museum exhibited things of Guayaquil’s fire department. This city experienced many fires which destroyed many parts of it in the past. This museum – served as the gratitude of Guayaquil people to the firemen – the truly heroes of them. This museum is actually really small and you can go around it in just 1 hour. But the tour guide, the security person, the workers there were super friendly and kind. They couldnt speak English and we cannot speak Spanish, but somehow we can still communicate. How can you not be moved if a man was working on the second floor, but still tried to wave at us and say good bye to us when we already went out of the museum? Extremely friendly ^^
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A list of different armorials (coat of arms) at that museum – from different versions of Guayaquil fire department to many version of fire department in other countries. But sadly, they do not have Vietnamese one yet. Should I send express to them a Vietnamese fire department coat of arms?
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Las Penas neighborhood- Check in. It is much more beautiful if you can see it in reality. There are many houses here which are more than 400 years old, has colorful walls. To reach the top or the lighthouse and the chapel of the Virgin of Mercedes, you have to climb the 444 steps (haha, actually after climbing these 444 steps, I realized how weak I am)
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The lighthouse. A place where definitely you should visit during the sunset. You can see the whole city of Guayaquil from this view – watch the old houses of Las Penas neighborhood, together with the urban area near this spot and the Malecon 2000, of course. To the left of the lighthouse is the Ecuador flag and to the right is the Guayaquil flag. (from your view)
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View from the lighthouse. Simply gorgeous, right?
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A corner of urban area in Guayaquil
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View from the lighthouse at sunset. Simply gorgeous.
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The chapel of the Virgin of Mercedes
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When lights lightened up in Guayaquil and when day intersects with night.
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Guayaquil – if you reach Malecon 2000 – this will be the first thing that you see 🙂 Check in you are in Guayaquil, why not?
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Let’s try to be a firewoman :))
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Our trip in Guayaquil will never can be completed without this man. A really humorous guy with big smile and hip hop style who was really helpful and enthusiastic. He showed us many things in Guayaquil, offered us help by even going to the bus stop to return stuff to us and even bargaining bus tickets for us. What you can ask more from an Airbnb host – so really recommend Freddy’s house to anyone staying in Guayaquil.
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This is called Sancochos – Chicken soup in Ecuador.
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Quaker juice.
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A corner of a market in Guayaquil.
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We tried street food in Guayaquil.
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Our breakfast.
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This is how he made it.

2. Historical Quito

Quito is the capital city of Ecuador and very special. It is at the elevation of about 2,850 meters above the sea-level – which makes it the second highest capital city in the world. Quito, maybe very famous for different things, but one of the most notable thing from Quito is the historic center. The historic center of Quito can be considered as one of the largest and also well-preserved historic centers in the Americas. It was also one of the first sites recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site.

We arrived in Quito after a 9-hour bus from Guayaquil. Going by bus quite took a long time, but you can see the truly local life in Ecuador. I saw some motorbikes – just like in Vietnam. I saw many large areas of bananas and corns. Maybe that’s why bananas and corns are everywhere in Ecuador food.

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Taken from the bus. They even have a statue of corn.
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Church of San Francisco
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A spot you could see often if you wander around historical sites of Quito
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Church of La Compania de Jesus. The church is covered by gold – and one of the must-see attraction in Quito. Aside from the church, in the photo, you can see the two policia (Spanish word). There are a lot of polices in Quito, espcially the historical sites. Many Ecuadorian that we met and even reading in the travel books and websites, all told us to be careful at historical Quito as there are many homeless people out there. The truth is there are truly many homeless people in Quito, but they actually dont harm you – just be careful and you will be safe. And of course, with the number of very kind polices here, you will feel much safer.
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Basilica del Voto Nacional – The symbol of Quito church and one of the most famous one in the Americas. I do not know much about architecture, but you will feel amazed and attracted by the architecture of this church. Somehow, it reminded me of the St. Patrick Cathedral in New York.
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Actually, there is another spot with better view of Basicilla del Voto Nacional, but our weak and “rabbit” heart didnt allow us to climb another ladder to the top of the view. So be satisfied with this view 😛
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Outside of Basicilla de Voto Nacional
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Virgin Mary at the top of El Panecillo with the wings.
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Hey, Trang was here!
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View of Quito from El Panecillo with Trang at the highlight :)))
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A note from us in the book at El Panecillo. If you come there, please look for ours. 😛

(To be continued)

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