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TULUM: WASTE OF TIME

Old Nov 22nd, 2003, 07:23 AM
  #1  
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TULUM: WASTE OF TIME

This is my opinion, but I see so many travelers making plans to visit this site, I'll Post my thoughts.

I have worked and traveled in the Yucatan since 1969 and seen all the major sites at least three times and some, even more.

Tulum is a Post-Classic site which means its architecture is coarse and rudimentary. As well, the ruins themselves are small and dowdy. It exists on so many intineraries because it is the easiest site to reach from Cancun -- but even at that I would recommend either passing up Maya ruins altogether, or go to Coba further South, or carve out 2 days and spend an overnight at Chichen Itza for a real thrill.

Come to think of it, for a real experience, forget Cancun and make Merida a base and visit Uxmal, Kahbah, Sayil, Labna, Xlapak, and the caves at Loltun in the South -- the South is the true Maya Heartland, even today.

In the South you will meet the Yucatec Maya, the largest intact indigenous people North of Peru. Yes, there they are, farming maize and praying to jaguar guardians while modern Mexico develops around them.

Yes, a beach and a luxury hotel are perfect once in a while, but Yucatan is much, much more. \/
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Old Nov 22nd, 2003, 08:00 AM
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Thanks for the info and your opinion. I was debating on whether to see Tulum or Chichen Itza. I still need to see about hotels, I will be with my Sister and My mom (whose 73). We will only have 2 nights and we don't get into Cancun until 4pm the 1st night.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2003, 08:22 AM
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Sounds as if you are tight for time.

But, in any case, we are coming into the cooler months so your mom will have the most comfortable time of it.

It is ideal, I think, to spend one night at Chichen. That way you can visit in the late afternoon and early morning -- much better experience without the heat.

Maybe you could travel there and back in the heat of the day under AC!

We like: http://dyred.sureste.com/dolores/
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Old Nov 22nd, 2003, 08:41 AM
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Poppa - you are of course entitled to you opinion but personally I disagree - I do not think Tulum is a waste of time.
I agree on some points - compared to Chichen Itza or Uxmal (my personal favorite) or Coba, Tulum is not representative of classic Mayan architecture and is a minor site. BUT and this is a an important but - how many people frequenting this forum are really that so interested in pre-Columbian civilizations that they actually care whether Tulum is an "important" site or not. Most people seem to just want to see "a" Mayan ruin. Tulum has some advantages in that respect. It is easily accessible, it is doable in a relatively short period of time and it is scenic and photogenic. AND if a visit to Tulum inspires someone to get interested in seeing further Mayan ruins so much the better. Maybe then they will want to do what you suggest and explore this fascinating civilization in more depth. Of course if someone is choosing between Tulum and Chichen Itza (or better yet Uxmal) - then they would definitely have a more enriching experience at Chichen Itza or Uxmal.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2003, 09:06 AM
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Of course that's one way of looking at it.

On the other hand, some might see Tulum and then hark back to Peggy Lee singing, "Is That All There is?"

I am conflicted on the point and just want to let people know so they can, perhaps, plan two trips -- one to Cancun and the other to Yucatan.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2003, 09:18 AM
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It seems like transportion to both places is quite lengthy and expensive. I really don't want to drive-i'm chicken- but maybe it's a thought since we all are good drivers and since we like to stop and check out things on the way. Any ideas on the cost differences between a private hire or the buses or vans?
I'm thinking maybe we should stay the 1st night close to the airport and head out to the ruins the next morning and spend 1 night/2 days exploring. Maybe a tour group that offers over night stays. I'm open for suggestions.
The last 11 nights we are going to Isla Mujeses so i was trying to do the ruins 1st. We will be going in May.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2003, 10:08 AM
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I would take a 1st class bus. Relax, total comfort.

But I'd also ask about a taxi, since there are 3 of you. You may make out better. You can do that at the airport. Make arrangements with someone to be picked up at your hotel and driven to Chichen.

You don't need to stay near the airport, taxis are abundant in town and that's also where the main bus station is.

It will be hot in May (but it is always hot). If you are going towards the end of the month, you may get some rain.

I think you are wise to hit the ruins first.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2003, 05:28 AM
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We have two days/ 1 night for the Merida area. Is that enough to see Merida and Uxmal? Merida is actually a side trip from Cancun for us. Any suggestions?
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Old Nov 23rd, 2003, 07:40 AM
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Merida is probably 5 hours from Cancun unless you take the Toll Road.

Uxmal is another 2 hours south of Merida and deserves a full half day.

Merida itself is a "walkaround" city with a variety of attractions to visit and/or savor.

It sounds as if you are tight for time.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2003, 06:13 PM
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We took a side trip to Tulum this past week from Playa Paraiso. We had a rental car so we were able to leave early & beat the tour buses.

The walk from the parking lot to the ruins is not bad--no reason to pay for the trolley unless you have a special need. It was a quarter mile or so & it wasn't any big effort (we were carrying our toddler most of the time). We didn't have a guide. They have a book store at the entrance & I would recommend getting a book & doing a self paced tour instead if you are interested in the history.

The scenery with the ruins & the ocean is incredible. You can go for a dip in the water. It's very inviting. Get their early.

Logistically speaking, it was a nice side trip for us. Not too far from our resort--even with a stop in Playa de Carmen to pick up some diapers, we were back in time for lunch. Had we planned better we would have stopped at a cenote along the way.

I think it's a good place to visit to get a taste of Mayan culture if you don't have the time for other, further ruins.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2003, 06:29 PM
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Yes, as I said, I am conflicted about this.

I hope people get a "taste" at Tulum and it prepares them for more.

Chichen is a revelation, Uxmal is a dream, Labna is an engaging mystery, and Palenque should complete one's life.

Of course , there are cities yet uncovered to dazzle us further.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2003, 06:58 PM
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In Chichen Itza stay at the Mayaland Hotel it's a few steps from the Ruins.
Enjoy!
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Old Nov 25th, 2003, 03:57 PM
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Insofar as hotels go, it all depends.

Mayaland is a grand old trouper and close to the ruins. Doubles are going for about $140 + 17% tax.

Dolores Alba is 1.2 miles from the ruins and charges $40 with (I think) tax included. It has two pools, AC, etc.

It all depends on your pocketbook.
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Old Nov 26th, 2003, 01:11 AM
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I would say to *complete* one's life as a Maya I would also visit a site with stellae such as Copan. I appreciate Honduras is a long walk from Cancun! Its fine seeing the carving of chac mool and jaguars on the Yucatan sites but I saw nothing there that compared to the intricate stellae of Copan. Bear in mind this is intricate stone carving of figures about 2-3M tall - not huge monuments which are the other end of the scale. If you're going to cover architecture other than Mayan it is off course adviseable to see Teotihuacan and all the museums in Mexico City.

http://www.honduras.net/copan/ruins/index.html
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Old Nov 26th, 2003, 11:29 AM
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Of course, there is Palenque.
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Old Nov 26th, 2003, 10:08 PM
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Anyone who thinks Tulum ruins are "boring" is a boring person. I've seen quite a few Maya ruins too...Palenque, Copan, Kohunlich,Tikal, to name a few, and each has it's own charm, individuality, intrigue, and history. If driving in the area, stop by the ruins of Xel-ha, skip the, whatever, water park, of the same name. It's on the right on 307 South across from the Xel-ha park. It is a very small site, but the murals there are some of the most spectacularly preserved I have seen in this area. A walk down a sac-be to a beautiful cenote and small temple should not be missed. Boring to some. Heart racing to someone else.. To each his own. Enjoy your vacations!
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Old Nov 27th, 2003, 05:37 AM
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Ha, belle, I had been waiting for someone to say what you just did.

I suppose Tulum could be described as boring by some, but my husband and I have been twice, and we found it to be anything but dull. (We have also been to Chichen Itza, Coba, San Gervasio, Xel Ha and several other smaller ruins.)

To some people, imagining what daily life was like and learning about the people who lived there is exciting, no matter how "important" one thinks the site is.

We found some things of the most interest to be found at the smaller ruins. For example, on Cozumel, at San Gervasio, a relatively small (and probably "waste of time" site to Poppa) site when compared to others, the people had an underground cave system where they could go to get out of the sun and heat. You could actually go into it and imagine them sitting in the cool passageways.

The first time I went to Tulum, the majesty of the main temple overlooking the white sand and turquoise sea brought tears to my eyes. (But I guess I must be easily impressed.)

Having the opportunity to spend hours at a relatively small site not overrun with people racing from temple to temple to make sure they "see everything" like they're at Disney World can allow for a much more in-depth experience for people truly interested in the culture and not only impressed by the "bigger is better" theory.
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Old Nov 27th, 2003, 07:17 AM
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But I demur!

I said Tulum is a waste of time, not boring (although I find it so). What prompted my Post was a desire to let folks know what Tulum was and was not.

For folks who are on the Peninsula for the first time, there are many more interesting and worthy diversions. IMHO

And, so far, no one has taken up the latter part of my post, the suggestion that tourists realize they are right in the midst of the Yucatec Maya. These people poke a stick in the ground to plant corn and talk to jaguar guardians to help insure a good harvest. They hold rain ceremonies and appeal to the same Chac whose likeness appears on the ruins that dot the area.

Think of it! With a little effort (as I note in another Post), people who don't want to chug tequila and barf on their dates, (or hole up in a resort) can take a wholly unique path in their visit to Yucatan.

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Old Nov 27th, 2003, 08:00 AM
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I agree with much of what you say, but I would also assert that "people who don't want to chug tequila and barf on their dates" probably go to extra lengths to seek out cultural and historical experiences that vary widely based on their interests.

Your enthusiasm for the "off the beaten path" experiences to be found in the region is wonderful, but I think you can convey the excitement you feel without denigrating sites that many people find well worth visiting and enjoying.
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Old Nov 27th, 2003, 08:06 AM
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Once again, Diana, I am not "denigrating," rather, giving people new to the area an idea of what they are in for when some tour agency wants to whip them out for half a day or more to what is billed as an "ancient Maya ruin."

Contrary to what some might think, the fact they had an epiphany at Tulum doesn't grant them psychological ownership over impressions to the site. It remains open to evaluation.

Come to think of it, that IS precisely the right term for Tulum -- but not as is commonly understood.

I just posted on Ek Balam, another place not out of the reach of visitors to the Caribe side.
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