Tulum – Felipe Carrillo Puerto

d tulum to fcp
Pro-tip: Drinking too much alcohol the night before a demanding bike trip is not recommended.
Pro-tip 2: Neither is eating new/sketchy/street food. Make sure you have at least 12 hours to get the worst out before starting to bike. Too much information? 😀

I knew that today would be a long day. 96 km is a big step up from the 64 km I biked on my first day on the road, so I decided to start early and split the trip in three.

23 km south of Tulum, we have another archaeological site, called Muyil. Biking there was a piece of cake. A very sweaty piece of cake, but a piece of cake nonetheless. A straight well-paved road with plenty of space for biking. (Though it doesn’t seem like a common activity, because everyone looked at me as if I were crazy when I said I’d bike there. Imagine their reaction when I added that I will continue all the way to Nicaragua.)

Most exciting thing on this route: A bump made my bag of nuts fall out of the basket, and I had to walk back and pick it up.

The town doesn’t seem to have any hostels, so it’s not a place to stay the night. I could only see a few small huts and the archaeological site, which costs 40 pesos to enter. (Roughly 2 USD, or a little less than 2 EUR.)
17 muyil ruins
This is the type of ruins I had hoped for! I can believe so many people go to the Tulum ruins and pay more, when it’s so much less interesting.
18 muyil
Seems to still be worked on though, as people were still digging, and it was quite badly signed. What’s in this cave for example?! No sign told me.
19 muyil hole
For 50 extra, you can take a short jungle hike to a lagoon, and it’s cool if you like walking in the jungle. There’s also a watch tower where you could see everything from above.

I really wanted to cool down in the water to survive the rest of the trip, but was disappointed to learn that you can not swim in this lagoon, only take a boat trip for more money.
23 muyil laguna
There’s supposedly a swimmable lagoon nearby, but I was already a little late, so I had to get going.

We need two more pics of the ruins:
17 muyil
20 muyil ruins

I barely got up on the bike when I saw a roadside restaurant called “Chunyaxche“, and decided to avoid the midday sun and get something to eat. 4 tacos for 65 pesos is a little more expensive than usual, but won’t break your bank.

It was time to do the main biking of the day! I put on my headphones and listened to the audio book for Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower“, and enjoyed the next 29 km of forest highway, barely seeing a single building along the way.

With 44 km to go, there’s a cafe/pub called “Cafeteria La Selva” on the side of the road. It’s your last sign of civilization until you reach Felipe Carrillo Puerto, so I recommend that you take a break and enjoy a freshly made and very fruity honey melon juice for 15 pesos. At this point, I was still not tired at all and thought that this was going to be a breeze, but little did I know the horrors of being a small human on a bicycle until that same afternoon.
25 exhausted
(I added some special effects to this picture to simulate my discomfort.)

As with my first longer distance, each 10 kilometer seemed twice as long compared to the previous 10. When I had almost biked 90 kilometers (plus an unplanned one hour hike in the jungle, including climbing a watch tower), I really wanted to throw in the towel!  This was too much for one day, and I stopped and sat down on the side of the road. No water left, and no energy left. Would I die?!

No, I wasn’t quite that melodramatic! 20 minutes later, I was up on the saddle again, and managed to ride the final kilometers of this incredibly exhausting day. “More breaks next time might be good”, I thought.

In the next post, I will tell about my experience of Felipe Carrillo Puerto!


Tulum pt 2 and the ruins

c tulum pt2
Not the best start of the day. The power went out early in the morning in the whole city, meaning no aircon in the dorm. Damn, that got sweaty.
To get back my Visa card, I had my alarm set to 7:30am to go to the bank in time for the opening, but the hostel owner had given me the wrong info, because it opens at 9am and not 8…
Now I’m back again at 9am. Please gods, karma monsters and other supernatural forces, give me some good stuff now!

*Five minutes later*

Okay crap, I couldn’t have my card, and I had to contact my Swedish bank to block it, and have a new one sent to me. I’ll figure out a good address for it, probably to a new friend in Belize.
Meanwhile, this blog will now be about how to survive without a credit/debit card!

11 viewTo make the most of the day before continuing my journey tomorrow, I went to the Tulum ruins. Fewer people today (I arrived much earlier, around 10), entrance ticket is 80 pesos without a guide, but me and a friend ended up with a guide for 170 instead. Definitely worth it, because I learnt a lot about the natives, Mayans especially, who built the city around 1200, and their fascination with astronomy.

The ruins themselves were honestly nothing special. A pretty big lighthouse was the highlight, but there was nothing like the temples that can be found elsewhere in Mexico.

13 lighthouse
12 lighthouse
The tour was 40 minutes and then we could walk freely. We felt like we had already seen it all, so we biked to the beach.

Three old locals, a man and two women, were sitting in the shade as we biked the last bit on the sand to reach the beach. They were super nice, asked about my trip, offered a beer, and promised to keep an eye on the bike while we cooled down in the sea.
When we came back, I saw an outside shower there on the beach. A guard said that it’s only for the hotel guests, but as soon as he walked away, my new oldie friends started saying “hurry, take your shower now!!”
I hesitated, saying it was against the rules, but they kept insisting and encouraging me until I finally gave in and took a quick shower after all.
I’m such a rebel!

Food in Tumul (To make it easy, 20 pesos is roughly 1 USD.)15 tacos
Despite being a touristic village, there are definitely cheap places to eat. Tacos can be found everywhere, for 12-15 pesos each. They’re smaller than we’re used to though, always soft corn tortillas, and usually only have a few ingredients each. 3 are enough to get full! Home-made horchata (rice drink with almond and cinnamon) or simple fruit juices can be bought for around 15 pesos each.16 tamales
Tamales don taco has tamales for 15 each, and can come with chaya (the Mayan spinach), chicken, beans, eggs and/or many other things. Very soft and unusual, but tasty!

Las Quekas is a simple eatery with soups for 15 pesos and quesadillas (tacos but slightly bigger and cheese, but no vegetables) for 13 pesos each.

La Hoja Verde
If you want to spend a little more, this is one of the vegetarian restaurants in Tulum. They have a large amount of freshly made juices (choose 3 ingredients among things like pineapple, carrot, celery, orange, cucumber, and a lot more for 35 pesos, which is not super cheap, but certainly less than half of what you’d pay in Scandinavia), and today I tried their Nopalina salad, which ended up being another personal favorite, with vegetables and a warm tomato mix, surrounded by nacho chips. A good lighter lunch!
14 nopalina
Tomorrow I’m biking to Felipe Carrillo Puerto!

A day around Tulum

b tulumTulum is the most touristic place so far. Sure, Playa del Carmen is also touristic, but it’s a bigger city and at least half are Mexican tourists anyway, so it feels more authentic. Here, it feels like everyone is European, and they’re the typical hipster backpacker kind, so there’s a lot of vegetarian restaurants, souvenir shops, and a lot of bike renting shops (80-150 pesos for a bike of varying quality per day). The reason for the latter is that the beach is about 5 km away, and ruins and other sights are also a few kilometers away.

There are also lots of burritos here, even though I’ve been told that burrito (my favorite dish!) is NOT really Mexican (or at least not southern Mexican), but rather Tex-Mex. Here they have it in spades though, because tourists keep asking for it.

Emotion Tulum Hotel & Hostal
I’m staying at a very normal standard hostel, 16 beds in a well air conditioned dorm room. One loud and drunk guy at night and music played outside past 3am, but I’m an earplugs lover, so sounds don’t bother me much.
The included breakfast consisted of the standard coffee, white toast and cereal, as well as the usual “I’m from this country and I’ve been here and there for this long, how about you?” conversations with the other backpackers. 2 eggs per person was a nice bonus though, and for 8 USD per night, this place is affordable.

07 easy road
Most were about to rent bikes for the day, and me and a Danish girl decided to go to the Tulum Ruins archaeological site just outside Tulum together. The trip was 3.7 km, and it was a breeze compared to the long trip from the day before, with a separate path for bikers to avoid deaths. My friend’s bike was quite crappy and its saddle kept breaking, so that made it even more slow-paced, which was nice in a way, because we were in no rush anyway.  Perhaps a bike for 100+ pesos is worth it, rather than the cheapest you can find!

Upon arrival, I was very disappointed to see huge lines of tourists, queueing to get in. I don’t know why I expected the place to be empty and ready to be explored in privacy.
We decided to bike back and find a beach instead, and maybe get back to the ruins early tomorrow morning instead.

08 beach roadTrip was nice, went in a “wrong” direction first but eventually found the place, and I ended up biking almost 16 km today. Yesterday I forgot to complain about how my hands got very numb now and then from biking. It happened today as well, but not as much. I think my body is learning that biking is not a lethal activity!

09 beach arrival
We arrived to the beach through some vegetation, and it was amazing to cool down in the Caribbean sea.

10 playa
La Playa! Plenty of tourists, overpriced sun chairs and king sized fluffy sun beds, but there was also empty patches of beach that we could enjoy.
Then we got hungry.

El ParaĂ­so
Nothing along tourist beaches is cheap, but we settled at this beach restaurant and ordered a “molcajete” for 300 pesos; a meal for two people. I just had to mention it because so far I have not been super impressed by the food in Mexico (it’s my favorite cuisine in other countries, heh), but this one was awesome. Unlimited corn tortillas, guacamole, beans, sauces and a big pot of chorizo, beef, pork, chicken, and veggies. Normally I try to be vegetarian (for all the reasons, it’s the future if you ask me!), but when traveling in non-vegetarian-friendly places, you need all the protein you can get.
So yes, I recommend that one if you’re in the neighborhood!

The trip back home was uneventful, but when I came back to Tulum and wanted to withdraw some money from the ATM, that little douchebag decided to eat my card and not give it back to me! This is a pretty serious problem, because you know. It’s how I get money. I woman tried to help me, but the bank attached to the ATM was already closed, and we couldn’t do anything.
I suppose I can send money online to Western Union offices here and there in each country (it’s probably cheaper than the ATM fees even), but I will still go to the bank tomorrow morning and try to get my card back.

Let’s hope for the best. 😩

Total biking distance for the day:
Hostel – Ruins: 3.7km
Ruins – Wrong way: 3.9km
Wrong way – Beach: 2.2km
Beach – Hostel: 6.0km
Total: 15.8km

Playa del Carmen – Tulum

a playa - tulum04 me and bike

Except for the initial confusion of how to bike through a Mexican city without dying, the trip started really well! It was not very hot and I kept a good pace, I sang loudly, I enjoyed the wind, I compared my speed to the cars (counting seconds until I reached a certain spot that the car passed), and there are decently wide paved sides of the road where it’s easy to bike without getting killed. Also, barely any uphill at all! “This is the perfect route to start a biking trip!” I thought.

Then the road kept going, and kept going. The smaller cities I was supposed to pass never came. I had suspected that it would often get dull, biking through the same terrain for hours, and my solution is to listen to an audio book to pass the time faster! But this first time, I wanted to experience it al natural. Then suddenly the cities came swooshing by one by one, and my mood got better again. Perfect route to start a biking trip.

It’s worth noting that I’m not an experienced biker. I did actually bike for an hour or so in Croatia back in 2014, but other than that, I doubt I’ve used a bicycle at all since 2001.

A sign said “Tulum 35”. Halfway there! I celebrated by taking a short break and eat a banana. It was probably the best banana I’ve ever had. Was thinking of taking a longer break somewhere, for example by the many cenotes (cold fresh water streams surrounded by trees and vegetation, they’re quite nice), or by one of the Maya ruins that were advertised along the way, but I decided to just go on while I was in the zone. “I can do some fun things tomorrow instead!”

05 bananaI think it was around the sign “Tulum 25” where I realized that I was getting exhausted. I felt new pains every five minutes. My foot cramped up, then my shoulder complained about the position, then my legs started dying. Then my neck hurt. Then the foot cramped up again. Then my knees.
“Almost there though, it’s a little challenging but not more than that.”

My second banana was eaten in practically one bite. My 1 liter of water was almost out.
“Definitely need more than that next time”. I started eating cereal out of the bag while biking, because by now, my stomach was the loudest complainer.
“Come on Tulum, any minute now!”

Then finally came a new sign. “Tulum 15“!! The kilometers got longer and longer for every minute! All I could do was to look down and power through, step by step.

I kept wishing for a new Tulum sign, but it never came. “Tulum 10 should have been here by now. Maybe even Tulum 5!” It was so demoralizing that I never got an update! I began to plan what to write in this blog. Something like: “Then it finally showed up. Tulum 10. Never in my life have I hated a sign so much!”

But in the darkest of moments, I was greeted by this sign:
06 tulum 500m
Never in my life have I loved a sign so much!

Found “Emotion Hostel“; I had chickened out and booked an 8 USD dorm bed before departing, and as I entered and told them I had a reservation, I could barely stand up. Had a shower, and crashed down on my bed in this wonderfully air-conditioned room.

Now an hour later, I’m already fully restored, and it doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore! But unless you’re fit and have done some regular biking recently, I recommend that you take a lunch break and a couple of hours of rest somewhere in the middle of the distance! 64 kilometers in one go is a lot. It’s satisfying now though, and I’m sure my body needed the wake up call! I’m sure there will be much tougher roads yet to travel…

Now let’s see what I can find to eat.

– Distance: 64 km
– Time: 3 hours
– Difficulty: Let’s call this one a 2.5/5
– Number of crashes: 0
– Number of sudden wiggling that could have resulted in death: 3
– Number of insects in mouth: 1
– Number of dead birds on the road: 2