South America is a continent which for the longest time has always fascinated me purely because I didn’t know much about it. There was a sense of mystery and intrigue which simply drew me like an magnet. The idea of a trip to this continent was always there in the back of my mind but I never figured out when was the ideal time to go and when would there ever be an opportunity to go.
As luck would have it an opportunity presented itself in the form of a casual night out with my two friends Ethan and Vinay. They like me at the time were serving their National Service. Ethan always had the goal and dream of doing a South America trip after National Service. Initially what he proposed was a 3-month adventure which would start in north east coast of South America in Ecuador and finish in the city of Rio De Janeiro in Brazil. After meeting a couple more times we brought it down to roughly 6 weeks and we would be starting and ending in the city of Sao Paolo in Brazil. With rough itinerary planned, the South America trip with us three idiots was born. Ethan had done considerable research on his part to not only show Vinay and myself where we would be going but to also help us prepare. The trip would start with us taking the Singapore Airlines flight from Singapore all the way to the Brazilian city of Sao Paolo with a stopover in Barcelona. Then we would fly the next day into the Bolivia through the major gateway of Santa Cruz. From there we would enter the Andes in the town of Sucre then to the beautiful salt flats of Uyuni then the capital city, La Paz. After La Paz we would then proceed to Copacabana on Lake Titicaca then cross the land border into Peru then on to Cusco. Cusco we would be where we spent Christmas and where we would rest for a couple days before a period I called the Andean hell week. I christened the week with this charming name purely because of the amount of trekking we would be doing. We would be doing the Inca trail in we would spend 4 days trekking to the world famous Machu Picchu. Right after we do the trek we would catch a train then an overnight bus to Arequipa where we would be climbing the 5822 metre tall Misti Volcano. After the Andean hell week we would then proceed to Nasca to the famous Nasca Lines then Ica to see the oasis of Huacachina then the seaside town of Paracas. From Paracas we would then go to Lima then take a 30 hour bus ride to the capital of Ecuador, Quito. Then we would spend a week exploring the country and climb the Cotopaxi Volcano. Then fly to Rio de Janeiro and spend four days there then fly to Sao Paolo then back to Singapore.
The planning for this trip took several months and as the date was coming closer I started to feel anxious. It was the first time in my life that I have undertaken such an epic adventure. It was an adventure on a continent that is quite literally on the other side of the world and I would be struggling with the language barrier. It was only around the last week of November when everything was finally booked.
Soon it was 11pm on the 9th of December 2015 and the three families were all at the airport ready to send us off. It was not easy saying goodbye to my parents but I was excited to be flying off. It was the best way to end my two years of service and I couldn’t wait to come back with exciting stories.