$$$ KPO and CZM $$$: RTW to Mexico - Chichen Itza

Sunday, February 2, 2020

RTW to Mexico - Chichen Itza

Our first stop of our Round The World (RTW) is at Yucatan, Mexico. Yucatan is a place with long Mayan history and also houses one of the seven wonders - the Chichen Itza. Since we are travelling around the world, we definitely cannot miss this!

As we only touched down at Merida Airport at night, we decided to spent our first night at a hotel near the airport - Hotel Hacienda Inn Aeropuerto. This hotel is just 3 min drive away and is very affordable. It only costs SGD 48 per night. It looks a bit old but good enough for anyone who just wants a place to sleep in. 

The next morning, we booked a taxi back to the airport to pick up our rental car at Hertz. Our car was very affordable too - USD 90 for 4 days. We happened to book it when Hertz was having a 20% promotion earlier around Jan 2020. With our car,  we drove to Merida downtown to change some Mexican peso. The money changers in Singapore did not carry this currency (or the other currencies in South America either). So we exchanged USD with an online money changer (Thin Margin, shall blog about it another day) and decided to change it into the respective currencies along the way. It was quite interesting that the money changer we saw in Mexico only carry very limited currencies like USD, EUR, CAD and MXN of course but do not carry currencies of its neighbouring countries. We changed a couple of hundreds and we were in our way to our first stop - Chichen Itza!

As we were about to reach our destination, we were stopped by some of the locals trying to scam us to park at some random parking lots. We ignored them and continue to drive on. There were also plenty of local guides stationed by the roadside. One of the guides there quoted us MXN 1,000 for English speaking guide. As the English is a bit cui, we said no. She then lowered to MXN 800 but we still declined. What's the point of engaging in one if you know you won't understand anything. Lol. In the end, we managed to find an English speaking guide (Henry Jose) with relatively good English for MXN 650 after we entered the premise. Not bad at all.

The guide started by explaining the Mayan's religion and beliefs. They have an uncanny resemblance to Buddhism/Taoism. They believe in Heaven and Hell and also reincarnation. There are 9 levels of Hell (unlike the 18 levels which Chinese believes). He then brought us straight to El Castillo (aka Temple of Kukulcan) which is a temple of the serpent deity. The pyramid has 4 sides, each side having 91 steps, when added together and including the temple platform on top as the final step, adds up to a total of 365 steps which represents the 365 days in a year.

In addition, the Mayans have designed the temple such that during spring and autumn equinoxes, the late afternoon sun casts a series of triangular shadows against the northwest balustrade, creating the illusion of a feathered serpent "crawling" down the pyramid. Given that the temple was built around AD900, we were simply amazed at how advanced Mayans were in their architecture back then!

The whole guided tour took about an hour. We were quite pleased with the guided tour actually. We did try reading up about the Mayan history on ourselves the day before, but the guided tour provided us with much more details such as the religion, interpretation of the carvings etc. It definitely was money well spent! After that, we decided to explore the area ourselves.

El Castillo

The sacrificial platform for the warriors

The Great Venus Platform used for ceremonial purposes - dances/rituals/public speeches

Carvings on the wall of the Ball Court of Chichen Itza

Mayan house

Random vendors which you can bargain with because we did

The opposite side shows the restoration efforts (before vs after)

We spent a total of around 2 hours in Chichen Itza, and by the time we left the place, it was already 4pm. Hence, we have to give our initial plan of visiting Ek Balam a miss and head straight to our hotel which is located at La Coloradas, about 157km away. By the time we reached our place at 6pm, the sky is completely dark. We initially planned to visit the pink lake at La Coloradas, but decided to leave it to the next day instead. We headed straight to check in to our next hotel - Posada Las Coloradas which costs $60 per night. To our dismay, it is such an ulu hotel, with super weak wifi, and barely hot shower. There are no food places nearby at 6pm - all the food places have closed by then. We could only sleep/hibernate and look for food the next day. Lol. What a day!

Stay tuned to our day two!

Total damage:
Expressway/Private Road Toll - 106 MXN
Parking at Chichen Itza - 80 MXN
Chichen Itza Tickets - 972 MXN (486 MXN each)
Guided Tour - 650 MXN
Random Souvenir - 150 MXN (we bargain from 350 MXN)
Fridge Magnet - 20 MXN (we bargain from 50 MXN)

Our Google Timeline

You might be interested in these articles too:
Our KrisFlyer Star Alliance Round The World (RTW) Trip Planning/Booking
RTW to Mexico - Chichen Itza
RTW to Mexico - Coba Ruins
RTW to Mexico - Isla Mujeres
RTW to Mexico - Tulum
RTW to Peru - Cusco

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