Friday, 17 April 2015

Colonia – Uruguay

Colonia was a gateway town to Bueno Aires – Argentina and who could resist a ferry border crossing. I figured I would at lease check out the small town for a few days since I was going to pass by but stayed one day too many. Jump down the bus and right in front of me was the tourist information centre. Uruguay was really easy to travel I thought and superbly efficient if not expensive for South America. If you read my previous post you would know I was running away from Casino in Montevideo. Tourist map and I spotted 2 casino within 3 blocks of each other ….. shit now I am really fucked …. Oh well

Upon scouting out the casinos I realized they were really small for a really small town. Colonia was a town no larger than 5 km long and 500 meters wide hence if you really wanted one could just walk everywhere. So with a small casino that has only slots I was saved for a while (Slots ain my Poison) but did ended up donating 100 UGY to the Miss Kitty slot machine. Damn Captain and his Kitty ….
Jetty - Colonia
I made a new friend in the hostel, Pai from Brazil and she ended up behind my scooter that we rented for a day scooting around Colonia. Scooter rental required a motorbike licence so the hard and painful 1 year ( plus 1 year dawdling ) getting that licence was worth it I guess. The scooter was USD 25 per day and required either a credit card or a USD 400 deposit. I choose the USD 400 for I knew if I crash that bike it will be more than that.

Scooting around Colonia we realized it could be done walking but a lot of the town was just houses upon houses. Other than the old town which was I think 300m by 300m there was nothing much to see but it was a nice quint place to zoom and just pass time for a day or two. I was even starting to wonder why the town was even a UNESCO heritage.
End of it we returned the bike 2 hours earlier than expected and the fuel that we tried to re pump to full do not even take 1 litre. Poor gas station attendant barely press for more than a second and everything came spilling out again. Time get into Bueno Aires …..

Bull Fighting Ring in Colonia

Monday, 13 April 2015

Dilemma of a Gambler - Uruguay

Woke up in the morning by the bus attendant serving breakfast and handing back our passports; I sneak a peek out the bus window looking at all the towns passing by on our way to Montevideo. The bus pulled over many small towns along the way and in every one of them, I could spot a casino. I was counting casino though the bus window like counting white horses. I was a bit worried for being in Uruguay now.

The first thing I did once the bus reached Montevideo was get a map from the tourist information office which was located right inside the bus terminal. One … two … three … four …. Casino marked on the tourist map. I was f*cked.
I had not seen a casino for over a month since leaving Lima in Peru and here was nearly 3 Casino within walking distance and 1 that was a short bus ride away. Somehow I feel that tourist map should not include Casino points. If it’s prominent enough a tourist will wander into it surely like me but putting it on the map is just temptation on a whole new level.

First day and I check in the hostel after looking around quite a bit and headed off to visit the city. Nothing that charming but lovely all the same was Montevideo with lovely old classical building mixed with lovely modern building beside, clean roads easy navigation, beautiful coastline but nothing fantastically eye catching. It was just that kind of city, just enough intricate architecture building to shape the city and a nature coastline that makes it’s not boring but not quite charming enough to make it stand out like a jewel.
First day …. First 4 hours and I have walked the whole city plotting the route along the casino lines and visited all 3 of them. It was time to leave the city of Montevideo. Leave and try to keep my meagre winnings of 300 peso (about SGD15). Next day I got up and headed straight for the bus stop and hop on a bus to Colonia. I thought I made it, I survived! Not losing everything and actually manage to earn some pocket change plus satisfied some of the gambling craving but Colonia had two casinos in them …. A walking city no bigger than half a mile had two casino in it.

There is no escaping the devil within you ……

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Border Crossing – Porto Alegre (Brazil) to Montevideo (Uruguay)

The weirdest border crossing I ever had was this one, even the euro border crossing which was non-existence was more understandable than this one hell of a ride. The bus ride to Uruguay was not too bad and I am starting to see the awesome comfort that everyone is talking about bussing around South America. Thou good comfort comes with a price so at 190 BRL about SGD 95 for just 12 hours the bus was superbly nice with working WIFI and hot meals on board.

Crossing the border
Crossing the border however was worrisome for me as I knew the stupid tour in Iguazu f*cked up my immigration process. I had no exit and re-entry stamp when I visited the Argentina side of the Falls but I had an entry stamp from Corumba but at an earlier date. Boarding the bus at Porto Alegre I had to surrender the passport to the bus attendant (Like an Air Stewardess but on a bus) which she said she will return to me once we reached Uruguay.

It was an overnight bus and I was bewildered that I could just sleep through the border crossing but I made sure to tell her that I must get an exit stamp for Brazil and an entry stamp for Uruguay. So the bus depart and everyone went to sleep after late supper was served. The next morning as we were nearing the final destination of Montevideo she started handing back all the passport or for the locals, Identification card.
I got mine back in one piece and checking the passport sure enough I had two stamps,
Exit from Brazil (which was stamp next to the Argentina Visa entry at Iguazu hence I knew the officer was onto me.
Interesting way to cross a border …. Where they don’t even bother to see the actual person to process the passport. The bus attendant did it for everyone so at least 40 people plus per day and there would be at least 10 buses going that route and coming back another 10. You could say the border crossing was non-existence. Risky thing is that if the people make a mistake with your passport you won’t know till you are deep into the country and by then it will a day later and you are seriously in trouble.
Oh well … trust the local system and pray nothing goes wrong.