As possibly the nosiest person on earth, the ultimate pleasure for me is to nosy around other people’s business. Dead people in particular, especially if they died like a long long time ago in the era waaaay way before me. Let’s not look too closely at those sentences, shall we?
I am attached to three things that only exist in modern time; running water, electricity, and flush toilets. Oh and a microwave. If you cynics asses thought I’d say I’d die without wifi, thank you, but I am actually not that young, I have lived long before the internet became public. We Asian just don’t age until 60 yo when we magically puff into a dried prune in sarongs.
There to say, I like to marvel at ruins or abandonned houses or anything that left a trace of someone’s old life or even more: a disappeared civilization. I like to imagine how life was back then, how they have lived without basic comfort like cooking dinner in the microwave and amazed at how crafty they were tackling daily business in the most manual way.
Nico said I have a condescending misconception about the ’back then’ time. How dare he!
He told me people were just as smart as we are now, that everything ain't always all made from stones and sticks, and the earth wasn’t in sepia color. And he is right. He is always right, and it’s annoying. He’s right that people from back then are actually cleverer than most of us right now, they could build everything out of stone and sticks, they could even predict the future using stones and sticks. They also had more balls than all of us put together. The world hasn’t always been the same, and it’s perplexing. That’s why I like to hangout at ruins to have a glimpse of how life was back then when the earth was different. I guess I have the mind of Indiana Jones, the brave heart of Lara Croft, in the body of Dr. Shelly Oberon.
Mexico is definitely the best playground for inquisitive minds with a penchant for old sticks and rocks like me. It has tons of ruins to visit, and other tons to uncover. Our ruin running started at the Tulum ruins in Tulum.
Tulum ruins, hence the name, are located in Tulum. It’s about 5Km away from downtown Tulum where boutique hotels line up side by side to hip restaurants. There is even a dedicated line for bicycles and pedestrians to go to the ruins from downtown. Biking around Tulum, especially to the ruins is popular and most of the hotels/hostels provide bikes for rent. You can see all those inappropriately-dressed-for-biking tourists biking in their flowy dress along the biking path.
We have a rented car so we didn't bike all the way to the ruins, thank God. I hate biking. We drove first thing in the morning and decided to explore Tulum on our own. We have read more than enough blogs and travel books about Tulum ruins to have the audacity to feel like we’d be okay going by ourselves. Yet, being the noob tourists at heart, we still got scammed anyway. Surprised…
It wasn’t a serious scam, it hurt my pride more than it hurt my pocket, but that’s the worst part of being scammed while traveling: being taken as a clueless tourist (although we actually were, but hey, denial is a form of survival instinct). So, if I can share a considerably useful tip through this writing; do not park at the first parking lot you find at Tulum ruins, especially if you got there so early that the sun is still at the start of her shift that day!!!
When you enter the Tulum ruins site, there will be people in uniform that will try to stop your car, saying that they are officials and that there is no more parking inside. IGNORE THEM. We didn’t and it cost us 200 mxn instead of only 80 mxn if weren’t two gullibles that believed everything people in uniform said. It’s ridiculous, especially when the entrance fee to the ruins itself only costs 75 mxn per person.
Tulum ruins, is it worth the hype?
Well, that’s a very subjective question and only to be met with subjective answers. Tulum ruins is the only Mayan ruins build next to the sea, so that’s something. Paysage-wise tho, this ruin does sit nicely on top of the cliff overlooking the blue Caribbean sea with white sand as its bottom floor. It does make a good picture if you can get all those 1001 tourists out of the way.
The ruins itself isn’t that big. It doesn’t take hours to wander around, but still it’s better to visit it early or later in the afternoon since the sun can be unforgivingly scorching hot. Unlike the other ruins that are surrounded by trees, Tulum ruins does not have many trees that could provide shades from the sun. Put on your sunscreen and hat like your life depends on it in this place.
If you have ever been to Borobudur or Ephesus, you’ll find Tulum ruins a tad bit ordinary. The scattered architectural structures seemed a bit simple and on a minimalistic side. There’s no elaborate design or intricate shapes (or it was washed out with time???) apart from the carvings of the Mayan god’s face on the corner of its structures. The fact that it was built using limestone rocks doesn’t help as that type of rock does crumble rather easily.
When you are done with the temples, you can follow a stair down to the bottom of the rocky cliff to have some fun at the beach.
The flocks of tourists with selfie sticks and oversized straw hats (me included) felt overriding the site, especially the ancient structures aren’t majestic in terms of size. The heat, the humidity, and the crowd fades the mood of admiration for this Mayan temple, IMHO, and I was there right at the beginning of the opening hour.
There’s definitely no Indiana Jones-y atmosphere to this ruins, nor Lara Croft-y tombs to explore in this site. The real charm of the Tulum ruins doesn’t lie solely on the ancient structures but on the whole picture of where it’s located. The cactus that grows around it, the small birds that hide behind the bushes, the ocean breezes, the sound of the waves, and the stunning seaside view.
That being said, I honestly think the hype around this ruins is all about the beauty of the place, not so much for its historical worth. So yeah, go visit it when you are in the Tulum area.
Location: Tulum National Park, Carretera Federal, Cancun - Chetumal Km 230, 307, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
How to get there: Bike if you stay in Tulum downtown. Major public transportation like collectivos and Ado buses have a regular schedule to this site as it is one of the major touristic spots in the Yucatan Peninsula
Worthiness: If you are in the Tulum area, then absolutely yes!
Opening hour: 8 Am to 5PM
Entrance fee: 75 mxn per person (as per early 2020)
Insider tips: go there early and have your beachwear on underneath.
PS: it is a (very popular) tourism spot afterall, expect everything to be overpriced. The food, the souvenirs, and everything else that is sold in this site are bound to be overpriced. The good thing is, you are not obligatory to buy anything. There’s an Oxxo (Mexican 7eleven) right at the entrance if you need some snacks and water bottle before entering the site.