Day 3 – Altitude Sickness is not a Joke

Let’s rip the bandaid off this one quickly and painlessly. I went from GMT +7 (Bangkok) to GMT +8 (Guangzhou) to GMT -7 (Los Angeles) to GMT -5 (Lima) to GMT -3 (Santiago) and finally to GMT -4 (La Paz). That’s 6 time zones in I’m not quite sure how many hours. I can’t calculate anymore. But if I pick a point, let’s say Bangkok, I left at 3am, April 6th and I arrived La Paz at 3.40pm April 8th. In Bangkok time, that’s April 9th, 2.40am. That’s almost exactly 3 days. Of these 72 hours, I spent 28 hours spent in LA by choice. So really, I travelled about 44 hours. The point is, I’m in La Paz (and I’m still mildly functional)!! YAAAAAY 🙂

PS. Emphasis on “mildly”.

I took the most picturesque flight from Santiago de Chile to La Paz. This city’s landscape is what makes it so special. All their towns are built in the craters and canyons within the mountains. I’ve seen a lot in this world, but nothing quite like this.

Some photos from the Chilean side…

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La Paz’s landscape is what makes the city so special. All their towns are built in the craters and canyons within the mountains. You can barely call them valleys. I’ve seen a lot in this world, but nothing quite like La Paz. Some photos during my descent into La Paz…

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I apologize in advance for the poor equality of photos as they were shot from an iPhone, since my DSLR wasn’t accessible at the time.

So I landed in La Paz without any further hiccups. Here’s when I experienced my first moment of altitude sickness. It might be important to add that La Paz’s airport named “El Alto” is really fitting to its name considering the airport is situated on the highest point in La Paz at approx. 4000m above sea level.

I walked out of immigration to baggage claims and tried to carry my backpack, along with my day pack on my front, totaling about 16kg. This was a piece of cake in LA, seriously.. I walked kilometers with those backpacks strapped onto me like a champion. As soon as I tried to pick it up from the conveyer belt and directly place it on my back, I almost fell. It was as though the wind was knocked right out of me. I was weak and  extremely dizzy. Having travelled such a long way didn’t help either. After 3 embarrassing attempts I managed to pull my shit together, completely out of breath and gasping for air. The drive over to my hostel picked up my spirits. Views of La Paz wear steep, downhill layered winding roads with orange houses all along the top of the mountain to the bottom of the valley. Here’s what I managed to get from the drive on my iPhone. I’ll save the DSLR shots for day 4!

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Altitude sickness is a serious issue. This much I realized on the first day in La Paz. I arrived at the hostel, walked up 4 flights of stairs with my backpacks, and I was exasperated by the 3rd floor. I just couldn’t breathe in as much oxygen as I would have liked. My throat was itchy and dry, and I felt dissatisfied with my breathing rhythm. It was actually impossible to take deep breaths.

I finally reunited with Krista after 3 years of not having seen each other. It was cute. We cuddled in bed and had a catch up session on our lives, and that basically continued on as we walked through the streets of La Paz, and onwads at our extended dinner.

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Walking downhill wasn’t difficult. Uphill on the other hand, even in the slightest, was a daunting task. We had to pace ourselves. After all, we’re still acclimatizing, and this takes 72 hours. As we arrived back at the hotel I could feel my joints start to ache. All my joints. It’s the symptoms of altitude sickness. I woke up this morning with my joints still aching and a high fever, probably due to the massive migraines I was having. Altitude sickness is not a joke, and I’m probably only experiencing it very mildly compared to what others have faced. I hope my day turns around from here. Let’s see, it’s still only 6am. I’m pretty jetlagged. Oh, the troubles with travel! Haha.

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