After 11 days of traveling through Chile, Xiaohang Feng was able to say that she had the time of her life.
The Chinese banking executive won the trip as the prize for reaching the highest score in the Chinese language ChileQuiz!, an online trivia competition run by Fundación Imagen de Chile with over a thousand questions on the country’s history, geography and culture.
Accompanied by her friend and former university classmate, Siying Huang, Xiaohang’s first destination in South America was Easter Island, where she spent four days.
“More than anything else, the island is a relaxing place and the coast is perfect,” she said. “Imagine eating fresh fish and vegetables in a restaurant with beach views.”
The warmth and friendliness of the island’s locals also drew Xiaohang’s attention: “Walking around the island, we got lost but some helpful people took us back in their car. And not only that…they also gave us alfajores, [a typical Chilean chocolate cookie], and a local fruit called guayaba.”
Next stop on the journey was San Pedro de Atacama, the stunning oasis town in the middle of the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth. There, Xiaohang and Siying visited some of the better known attractions in the arid zone surrounding the town, including the Valle de la Luna and the Tatio Geysers.
“The Atacama has some impressive natural views and sitting there watching the sunrise, you can feel the rhythm of the earth!” the ChileQuiz! winner said.
Her friend, Siying, was struck by the friendliness of the locals, along with, “the fresh fruit, the small handicraft stalls, the restaurants and the beautiful church in the town center.”
Before returning to China, Xiaohang and Siying spent two days in Chile’s capital where they went shopping, ate ice creams and dined at Los Buenos Muchachos, a traditional restaurant with regular performances of Chile’s national dance, the cueca, and native dances from Easter Island.
“Santiago is a city with a lot of feeling,” Xiaohang said. “Some of its barrios are really romantic and taking a walk through the streets underneath a shining sun is a wonderful experience.”
And the highlights of the trip? The mysterious stone statues called moais from Easter Island, the otherworldly desert landscapes in the Atacama, and the chirimoya alegre, a popular local drink made by mixing orange juice with the juice of the chirimoya, a native South American fruit.
Back in Shanghai, both Xiaohang and Siying say they will recommend Chile as a holiday destination to their friends and families. Their tips for traveling in Chile? Learn some Spanish before making the trip and bring along some U.S. dollars.