Category: Brazil

Sep 04 2009

Last day in South America

Took a metro to Villa Madelena this morning. There are some very nice houses there and then walked to Ave Paulista which takes around 2 hours. Passed by Rua Teodoro Sampaio (which has many stores selling musical instruments) Oscar Freire (an expensive shopping area).


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Met up with Thiago at Barra Funda on the west side at 1pm and visited the Latin American museum and a few others spots.
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Thiago got us some pastels and sugar cane juice for lunch. Met Renan (a michael jackson wannabe)
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in the Latin American museum and we went to Rock Galleria (mall for hippies and rock music enthusiasts) and Rua santa Ifigenia (a place selling all kinds of cheap electronics from China, they are all OEM products because Brazil has a high tax rate on branded electronic goods. You can get a 128G of USB thumb drive for around $25 or maybe less).
Someone tapped me on the shoulder while I was walking at downtown turned around and it was the malaysian guy I met few days ago. I can’t imagine how small is the probability to meet the same guy in this city of 12 millions twice.

Played soccer with some Brazilian kids at Thiago’s apartment and those kids do move fast and are very skillful, they live by soccer.

Had dinner at one of Thiago and Isis’s favorite restaurant.
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One of the best part of the cow, I forgot the name
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Then Thiago sent me to the airport. Had some issues with my passport at the airport because I am flying to Egypt after London and they thought I will need a visa and a yellow fever certification to Egypt. Cleared things up and managed to get on the flight and like always, Brazilians at the airport are very friendly and very easy going.

I am quite impress with Brazilian culture. Brazilians are very clean and neat people, no matter inside the house or on public road, it’s quite clean. People here respect the laws and follow it. For example, car doesn’t park on the parking line, apartments are quiet and people are considerate. Brazilians line up everywhere and I have not seen people cut queue so far. The most important thing is the friendliness of Brazilians, they are the friendliest people I have met so far.

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Sep 03 2009

To Thiago’s place

Moved to Thiago’s apartment this morning. I met Thiago and Isis at the hostel in Santiago and they invited me to stay with them. Took the subway at 6.50am to Itaquera which is on the east side of Sao Paulo.
Thiago the man
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Thiago is super nice and taught me some Brazilian slang and introduced me to some Brazilian music. We made a Sao Paulo dish called Cuz Cuz Paulista.
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Thiago and Isis.
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Thiago showed me around downtown and we went up to Edificio Altino Arantes and got a nice view of the city.
Sao Paulo city is huge with tons of high rise buildings
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Suddenly rain poured, we got all wet and we went to a juice bar. Juice bar in Brazil is popular because Brazil has a lot of tropical fruits. Some popular local fruits are Guarana ad Acai. Thiago has classes in the evening so I just wandered around the city. I still have not watched the movie Bruno so I called up Bomi and it’s very nice of Bomi to accompany me to watch the movie. What can I say, Sacha Cohen is one crazy actor and we had a good laugh. On a second thought, maybe it’s not a good idea to watch Bruno with a pretty Brazilian Korean girl.

Still standing after Bruno
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Thiago picked me up from Paulista Mall and we went to a bar at Itaquera to have vaca atolada soup. There is a live music at the bar, they are playing MPB which combine Jazz with Samba.

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Sep 02 2009

To Campinas

Went to the tourist information center so I can get a map of Sao Paulo. The place is at Sao Joao 465 and close to the Sao Bento subway station. Found out that there is a place to have a bird eye view of city and the building is called Edificio Altino Arantes. It’s just right at the corner of the Brazilian futures exchange. Unfortunately, the place was close so I will try to get there again tomorrow.

A steep street towards the shopping area of 25 march.
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Rua 25 de Marco which have wholesellers selling all kinds of goods from underwear to electronics.
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Heard that there are many Chinese from wenzhou that made a fortune setting up shops here.

Tried asking directions on the street from someone on the street and funnily he is from Malaysia, pretty crazy. Got some tips about doing business in Brazil and learned that the cut off date of getting a permanent residency was Jan this year. Those that still want to
get permanent resident here can pay just a few hundreds to a lawyer for some under the table procedures.

Theresa who I met in New York is back in Sao Paulo so I plan to visit her restaurant in Campinas.(Campinas is the third largest city in Sao Paulo state, around 1.30-2 hours bus ride)

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Took the 2.30pm bus (Lira) to Campinas and arrived at Theresa’s restaurant around 5pm.
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Me and Theresa
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There are many nice apartment buildings in Campinas.
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The cities I been to in Brazil so far are comparable to any other first world cities unlike what I expected from a third world country. Brazil has great infrastructures, very clean subway, good roads and well planned cities.

Took bus 386 from R. Maria Monteiro to Campinas bus terminal then got on the 8.30pm Cometa bus to Sao Paulo. Cometa has more buses and is faster than Lira. I just write this down so I will remember if I am coming back again.

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Aug 31 2009

Sao Paulo

Dani brought me to Ibirapuera park today, it’s the largest park in the city. In the evening, I visited Dani’s university, Scerna University. Most Brazilians in university work during the day and study at night (from around 7-11). Unlike in US where students study full time and work during the summer. Brazilians work as a trainee in their field of study during the day and this is one of the requirements to graduate college.

Brazilian cooking by Dani’s mum
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Avenue Paulista (Main business district)

There is a restaurant week in Sao Paulo too, just like NYC. Dani made a reservation at one of the restaurant for lunch. But because of bad traffic in Sao Paulo we went to Liberdade instead.
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Liberdade is a place similar to chinatown or I should call japantown instead with restaurants and shops selling oriental food and stuffs.
Melona after lunch
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Sao Paulo has the biggest population of Japanese outside Japan and Japanese migrated here during the early 1900s. Brazilian Japanese here are the third generation and they assimilate well to the Brazilian culture, a little similar to Chinese Malaysian I think. The third generation Brazilian Japanese doesn’t speak Japanese anymore.

Met up with Bomi which I met few years ago in Dresden, Germany. Bomi is super helpful and she is my tour guide for the evening. We met up at the subway station Se which is considered the center of Sao Paulo.
Mr Paulo with the church behind
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The history of São Paulo city proper begins with the founding of a missionary school on January 25, 1554. The school which is at the heart of today’s city.
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Walked around the city for around 3 hours and Bomi showed me around the city center while explaining about the history of the city.

Bovespa
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Showed me around her medical school, the oldest in Sao Paulo.
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Then Bomi treated me for dinner at a Churascuria restaurant. There are all kinds of seafood and meat, it’s buffet style. The waiters keep bringing out meats from all different parts of the cow.
Camera shy
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Seafood on my plate, fish, shrimp, lobster, mussels…
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We cleaned up the food…not really..
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Aug 30 2009

To Sao Paulo

Leaving Rio

Took the 11.30am bus to Sao Paulo. It’s 6 hour bus ride (68 reais). I wished I have more time in Rio since it’s a very nice city with very friendly locals.

I was doing my math about my budget on the bus and I guess I just passed the US$1000 mark around today. I guess I have been pretty tight with my money so far. Almost 4 weeks of traveling, busing from different cities, paragliding, clubbing, eating some good food and I am spending less than if I just stay in NYC.

Arrived in Sao Paulo around 7pm. Sao Paulo is huge, it’s a city with concrete jungle, high rise buildings everywhere. It’s much bigger than New York city with 11 million people living in the city and 20 million in Sao Paulo state. I am doing my second couch surfing here with Dani. Took the metro from the bus terminal to Chacara Klabin station which is close to Dani’s apartment.
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Hang out with Dani and her friends
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at a cafe and have acai, it’s very creamy and tastes just like smoothies. Acai is very common in Brazil and people here eat it like smoothies. In US, there is a big marketing campaign about acai berries and how the berries will cure all kinds of diseases and help people lose/gain weight. It is very expensive in US to buy acai juice but here it is just like any other fruits.

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Aug 29 2009

San Theresa and downtown

Moved to a different hostel Stone of a Beach just for comparison purposes. Took the subway to downtown.

Walked to San Theresa which is an artistic place up on the hill.

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Took a tram up there and the tram is packed like sardines. I just managed to hang on the rail.

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Walked around the city and to Sambadromo which is the place to be during Carnival. All the samba schools will show their best performance here during carnival.

Went to the beach again in the evening. I didn’t take as much pics as I should have since everyone mentioned not to look like a tourist for safety purposes. However, I have not had any problems so far. There are many people playing soccer at the beach and everyone plays soccer so well here.

Leblon is beside Ipanema and Leblon is considered a place for upper middle class. Met up with Bruno I knew from Santiago, Chile at Leblon at night and he showed me around.

Apartments at Leblon are expensive and someone mentioned that some rich drug dealers live here as well. Took a public bus from Leblon back to Copacabana at 3am in the morning but I didn’t feel unsafe at all.

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Aug 28 2009

Favela tour

Rio has around 500 Favelas. The Favelas is right in the city, sometimes just beside a rich neighborhood. Favelas in Rio are run by drug dealers and Favelas have their own laws. Police can’t go inside to the Favelas since it can be very violent.
I was deciding whether to take a favela tour since some people say it’s morally incorrect to pay to see poverty and treating people as objects.
However, I took the Favelas tour (65 reais) anyway to Rocinha which is the biggest Favela in Rio. The Favela at Rocinha has 100 thousands people officially and some say there are as many as 200 thousands residents. The disparity between the rich and poor is Rio is big and
to understand Rio, I guess we will need to understand a little more about the Favela. There is an agreement between the Favela tour program with the local drug dealers and the guide told us that walking in the favela is safer than walking around the city because if someone
tries to pickpocket any tourists, they will be killed by the drug dealers.

We got up the Favela by motorbike.
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Favela in Rocinha
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Favelas in Rocinha has water and electricity, it’s just like any small town with their own community. Saw some people carrying machine guns on the street, they are the drug dealers and we can’t take photos of them.

Met up with Emily and Jahmila again and we went to the Botanical garden. The botanical garden has a wide varieties of plants (more than 7000 plant species) since Rio has great weather

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The area Lapa is the place to be on Friday night. Brazilians love to party and there are many clubs with all kinds of music in Lapa. Met up with Alindro, a brazilian friend I met yesterday at the CS event and we went to Lapa. Brazilians are a friendly bunch, hang out with Alindro’s friends and we went to one of the club with rock music. Brazilian girls are great dancers and we had a good time there.

Even at 3am there are still many people on the street with samba drums playing. The place is 10 times more crowded than lower east side on a Friday night..Lapa is amazing..

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Aug 27 2009

Second day in Rio

Took a bus to Ipanema which is west of Copacabana. There are more local Brazilians at the beach at Ipanema and more tourists and foreigners at Copacabana.
The song “Girl from Ipanema”

Brazilian volleyball without hands

Took bus 584 to Corcovado which has the famous statue of Christ Redeemer. There are 2 ways to get up there, either hike up the hill for 2 hours or take the funicular which cost 36 Reais (around US$18). My leg tells me to pick the second option and also it’s late in the afternoon.


Cristo Redentor

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It’s a cloudy day so the view is not that great.
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The skies clear up on the way down
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Took a bus to the city in the evening walked around downtown. Since the sky turns dark at 6pm it was a little scary at first since Rio can be dangerous and everyone talks about the crime a lot.

Walked around Rua Buenos Aires and there are many shops selling all kinds of stuffs.
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At the hostel, almost everyone is either British or Irish. Kind of tired of hearing british accent everywhere so I figure I need to meet some Brazilians. Found out that there is a Couch Surfing meeting at a bar at Laranjes tonight. Took a subway there and had a fun time hanging out with some Cariocas (locals from Rio). They thought me that 3 things a guy need are Rio is Praia, Cerveja and Gostosa.

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Got a ride back home to Copacabanna from Thiago along with some Brazilians.

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Aug 26 2009

Rio de Janerio!

Arrived in Rio bus terminal at around 1pm after almost a day on the bus.
Rio is the 2nd largest city in Brazil with around 7 millions people. Rio is famous for its breathtaking landscape, its laidback beach culture and its annual carnival.
The weather is warm here and after getting off from the bus, I stopped by an information kiosk to get some info and started to feel the friendliness of Brazilans. The person at the info kiosk is so helpful and spent almost 45 mins telling me all the attractions to visit and things to do. Jorge wanted to go to US to fight MMA, since we both learned Muay Thai before, we cliqued along pretty fast.
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Took bus 126 (2.2 reais) to the hostel Mellow Yellow in Copacobana. From the bus terminal, it’s around 30 mins ride. I got a 24 beds dorm (28 reais) which has the most number of beds I have seen so far.
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Rio is very beautiful, there are beaches, lakes and mountains around the city.
Map of Rio de Janeiro
Rio's map

Walked around the Copacobanna and Brazilians in Rio are called Cariocas. They seem to be a relax bunch.

There is a soccer game tonight at Macarana Stadium, Flamengo vs Fluminese and the hostel is organizing a trip there for 70 Reais. From what I heard, Brazilian soccer match can be pretty rowdy, since the game will only start at 10pm and the subway stops running at midnight so I just tag along for the trip.

Pre game
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Macarana stadium
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Game
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Goal!
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Later I found out that the ticket for the soccer match only cost 15 reais. Dammit, the hostel overcharged us.

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Aug 25 2009

Bus ride to Rio

Taking a 23 hours bus ride to Rio at 1pm today. The distance from Puerto Iguazu to Rio is around 1500km. The bus to Rio doesn’t provide food, unlike the service provided by the bus in argentine and we stopped for dinner and breakfast along the way.

Took the bus from Puerto Iguazu (315 argentinean pesos) to Rio since it’s 150 pesos cheaper than taking a bus from the Brazilian side. Brazilian economy has been pretty strong and the Reais has been strengthening against dollar while the argentinean pesos is weakening against the dollar since the beginning of this year.

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Cama seat which is pretty comfortable
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