Showing posts from May, 2014

Visiting the Mayan City of Chichen Itza

I got reacquainted with the Mayan civilization - which extended from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala all the way to the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico -  when I saw a TV documentary about ancient cultures a few years ago. The Mayans established theirs around 2000 BC, and it flourished before the end of the first millennium. They developed math, astronomy, arts and architecture that rivaled other great civilizations.  One of the places that the documentary mentioned was Chichen Itza, one of the largest Mayan city-states. It  became the dominant city starting around 10th century AD, after the decline of Mayan cities such as Tikal in Guatemala, Bonampak in Chiapas, and Althun Ha in Belize, enabling it to control the Yucatan peninsula and set its hegemony. It was conquered by the Spanish conquistadores in the 17th century. The steps of El Castillo. Notice the zigzag pattern of the shadow A  I was armed with this historical back story when I set out on a 150-kilometer bus

Mambukal Falls, Murcia, Negros Occidental

I spent my Holy Week weekend in Bacolod City with my family. Between visits to our relatives in several towns around Negros, we took the time to visit the Mambukal mountain resort. The resort, maintained by the local government, is located in the town of Murcia, just in the vicinity of the Kanlaon volcano. The mountain resort, at an elevation of 1,200 feet, is surrounded by a rainforest, and pockmarked with several hot spring pools and camping ground.  You can go boating in one of the ponds We drove to Murcia from Bacolod City on Black Saturday, with my counsin on the wheel. It didn't take us long to get there, only about 30-40 minutes from the city, though we stopped by the house of my uncle to get lunch before setting out for the resort.  The scalding water of a hot spring in Mambukal It was kind of hot and humid when we got there. The swimming pools around the resort were full of locals, and I wasn't really in the mood to frolic in the pool with them

Top Picks for International Museum Day, Year II

T o celebrate the International Museum Day l ast year I run up a list of notable museums to visit in several cities around the world. I'm coming up another list for this year, featuring the museums that I visited in Mexico City, San Francisco, Cambridge, Los Angeles, Manila and Baler.  My picks for this year are: The Mexica gallery of Museo Nacional de Antropologia Museo Nacional de Antropologia , Mexico City  One of the most important museums in Mexico, the Museo Nacional de Antropologia houses Mesoamerican artefacts dug from several sites in Mexico and Central America. Among the famous pieces on display at this museum is the 24-ton Aztec calendar stone and a Mayan stelae from Tikal, Guatemala.  The museum is located between Paseo de la Reforma and Calle Mahatma Gandhi, and accessible via the subway.   Diorama of Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan Museo del Templo Mayor, Mexico City Just adjacent to the ruins of Tenochtitlan in the Zocalo district of Mex

Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico

There was a lot of interest about Mesoamerican calendars in the last few years, more famously on one certain Mayan long count calendar that supposedly predicted the end of the world in 2012. That really didn't pan out, but my interests in Mesoamerican artifacts and culture did not abate. Not that I'm part of the  tinfoil-hat crowd, but rather because I was a history student once, and nothing is more fascinating to me than to see ancient cultures up close. So it was not out of the ordinary that I went to see the Museo Nacional de Antropologia (National Museum of Anthropology) in Mexico City when I visited the city. It took me two rides in the subway to get there from my hostel, me navigating by maps posted in the train stations and having to muster my knowledge in Spanish to understand the blaring PAs at the stations. I wanted to get there as soon as I can, as I have a flight to Cancun that afternoon. Facade of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia The museum was

Throwback Thursday: Lakers vs Celtics at Staples

I forgot to blog this then, so I'm putting this on Throwback Thursday. One of the reasons why I wanted to visit Los Angeles is so I can watch the home team play, and the schedule was right on. There's a Lakers game on the day I was to arrive in LA, and it was serendipitous too, as it was against the Boston Celtics. This was my third time to watch an NBA game, after the one in New York , and the o ne played in Manila . Fans milling outside the Staples Center I arrived in LA just that morning and after checking in my hostel in Hollywood Boulevard I went to the Science Center and the Museum of Natural History, and from there, went straight to the Staples Center, the home of LA's two basketball teams.  A mural for Kobe Bryant The Lakers weren't that of a strong team this season (and so was the Celtics), but I still follow it just the same. I was hoping that I can see Kobe Bryant play, but he was injured at that time, so tough luck.  Luke Walton si

Beach Bumming in Cancun

Aside from climbing pyramids and doing some pilgrimage , I did get to do some fun stuff while I was in Mexico. And where else to do seriously fun stuff in Mexico than in the city of Cancun? Cancun is located in the south of the country, in the state of Quintana Roo, in the Yucatan peninsula. Cancun, the name of which means "nest of snakes" in Mayan, faces the Caribbean Sea.  Truth in advertising  I arrived in the city after spending a few days in Mexico City, flying in via Aeromexico . I came in just a few days before spring break, which just suits me fine as I could avoid the crowds of inebriated freshmen imbibing vast amounts of mojitos on the beach. I did not hit the beach right away, as I went to Valladolid and Chichen Itza first, the former to jump in a cenote , and the latter for the Mayan pyramids. The Vegas-like Hotel Zone Cancun is actually delineated into two areas, Centro, where I stayed, and the Hotel Zone, which sits on a island. The is