Cancun Day 2 - Chichen Itza
Our first full day in Cancun, the site I wanted to see the most is the famous Mayan site in Mexico - Chichen Itza. I booked the full day tour with Charlie Drew for a good discounted price ($45 per person). Our hotel pick up was scheduled at 7:10 - 7:30 am but we woke up way earlier than that! We were used to our regular work hours so even without an alarm, we naturally wake up at 6 am! I packed sunscreen, insect repellent, water, and made quick breakfast and we left our room at 6:50 am. We still have 20 minutes left so we walked around the hotel area. It was very quiet in the early morning, completely different atmosphere than it was packed with tourists during the day. The reflection of the blue sky and white clouds from the hotel's infinity pool was amazing, excellent view to start our day!
The hotel's exterior:
Around 7 am, we walked to the hotel lobby and wait. There were few couples who were waiting for tour pick up as well. A tour coach came around 7:15 am and the driver came in the hotel and called out names. We broad the bus and the bus stopped in few more hotels to pick up guests and then the bus dropped us all off at Plaza la Fiesta,Kilometer 9 in the hotel zone. We got off and went in a large souvenir shop and a staff inside told us to pay at the cash register on the back of the shop and pick up our ticket. We rushed to the cashier and it was a line there! We told the lady our names and paid her the price that I negotiated with Charlie Drew with USD and got our tickets. We immediately went back to the front of the shop to find our tour. At each entrance of the store, there were signs for different tours so get in the correct line! We were in line for less than 5 minutes and off we go! The tour was almost full so get in line early especially if you want to sit with your group!
After around one and a half hour ride, our first stop was a cenote (Mexico have a lot of cenote which is fresh water well). When we got off the bus, the surrounding looked like a farm to me lol!
Our tour guide walked us to the entrance of the cenote. He stopped in between to show us the "hole" - the top of the well, it was really deep!
The entrance was really near the "hole" and we walked down the steps to enter the cenote:
Hold on to the rail because the steps could be slippery!
The "ceiling" of the cenote, rock formations which was really cool:
After many many steps, I finally saw the cenote! The beam of light was shined through from the "hole" that we just seen!
Many people were swimming here, the price for swimming was $7 and they do have changing rooms. Right in the middle of this huge well was a platform with locals dressed up in Mayan clothes and singing Mayan songs. It was really cool both atmosphere wise and temperature wise in here!
We had an hour in the cenote so we took our time and enjoy the Mayan songs and took pictures of this huge underground water well. The walk back up to ground level was not bad as long as you hold on to the rail. When we got out of the cenote, we visited the Mayan house.
This area mimic the ancient Mayan lives. There were peacocks all over this place as well!
Forgot to mention, whenever we got off the bus, we sprayed insect repellent or else we would be full of mosquito bites! We got back to the bus and everyone got back on time! Next stop was lunch at an open restaurant: buffet style which was included in the tour price. There was a huge souvenir shop (of course) under a huge wooden tent almost connected to the restaurant. Food wasn't ready so people spend sometime shopping while waiting for food. This huge shop was full of silver jewelries! We weren't interested and we had no idea what is considered to be a good price so we didn't buy anything. Maybe half an hour of wait, food was ready! There were plenty of choices: soup, meat, veggy, and fruits mostly Mexico dishes but was decent. Drink is not included but price wasn't bad!
We had plenty of time to eat so we weren't fell like rushing. We used the restaurant facility there as well as our tour guide suggested. We hopped back on the bus and spend another hour ride or less. Our bus stopped at the entrance of a building where we waited for our tour guide to give us our tickets. Here have more shops too but very expensive! Our group split into two groups: English and Spanish. Our tour guide was the one for the English group and he was really good. As we walked into the "park", there I see Chichen Itza, the picture I always see when googled "Mexico"! I just couldn't believe it, I am here!
I was so excited that I ran to the front before others blocking my way and snap a shot with pyramid :) Actually Chichen Itza was a Maya city, this whole area is referred to Chichen Itza while the pyramid is named El Castillo meaning "the castle".
Alright enough of the excitement, follow back with our tour group! Our tour guide first showed us the "ball court" and told story about it. So generally, two teams playing and had to get the ball into a small ring, the winning team's team captain will be decapitated. Sounded cruel but to the Mayans, it was an honor because it was like sacrificing only the best to their gods. Our tour guide also told us stories about different class of Mayans, history of some of the temples around it. There were so many different magnificent structures that I don't really remember which is which...sorry...so you have to go there and find out yourself :)
The most important story I remembered was about pyramid of course! The pyramid consisted of four sides and each side has 91 steps, do the math 91 x 4 = 364 plus one step on the top = 365 which resembled 365 days in a year! Mayans were great astronomers and mathematicians, very amazed by how they know all about it thousands of years ago! Furthermore, it was built at an exact angle that on every Spring and Autumn equinoxes, the shadow of the stairs on the north side/face formed triangular shadows that together looked like a serpent coming down the staircase. It was suggested that it represented their god Kukulcan so every spring equinox, the god will came down from the sky to bring fertile to the soil so the Mayans could grow their crops.
After the stories of the pyramid, we had free time to navigate around this once the most important Maya city ourselves. Thanks to the booklet that Charlie gave us, it also has a map of Chichen Itza so it really helped us navigate our way:
We stayed close to the pyramid, it was too hot and far to make our way to the cenote. More amazing view of the pyramid, never get tired of it!
The "back" face of the pyramid:
Picture of us...be careful who you asked to have your picture taken! Only people in your tour group!
We walked to the nearby Templo de los Guerreros (Temple of the Warriors):
Very amazing standing columns in the temple:
Another smaller pyramid:
Also note that inside Chichen Itza, there were locals selling souvenirs at lower price than in Cancun but I heard the quality could be not as good as the exact same item in Cancun. Chichen Itza is mostly open areas so while looking at those awesome structures, don't forget to reapply sunscreen!
All the architecture ruins in Chichen Itza were incredible. That was one of the thing I liked about Cancun, have both the "paradise" areas and historical areas!
Our tour left around 5pm and got back to the hotel zone around 7:30 pm, our bus stopped by each hotel that guests staying in to drop them off but it was very organized and they know exactly which hotel they had to stop!
When we were back to our hotel, we walked down to La Habichuela Sunset to have our dinner. I read about their famous dish Cocobichuela (coconut curry shrimp and lobster) so wanted to try it out. The restaurant was beautiful well decorated!
The interior of the restaurant:
The waitress walked us down this flight of glass staircase and went out to their "back yard" since we asked for outside sitting. The outdoor sitting area was beautiful and romantic too!
Very nice chairs:
Very romantic with mini light bulbs and the moonlight!
The food came and here's the famous dish Cocobichuela:
I wasn't impressed with it; it was more of a sweeter side than spicy curry which I thought it was. It costed almost $30 too for small chucks of lobster!
Hubby ordered some fried fish but he said was just okay!
Our dinner was almost 1200 pesos with tips, around $88 USD. For the food quality, it wasn't worth it but definitely worth for the atmosphere :)
We walked back to our hotel and it was like 10 something! It was a long day for us but we visited Chichen Itza; my #1 site to visit in Mexico! I planned tomorrow to be a "on our own day" so no need to wake up at a certain time. We jump into the Jacuzzi when we got back to our room, what will be a better way to relief our stress than the hot Jacuzzi!