Day 46 – failing to do ‘proper’ travelling – Tulum to Palenque, Mexico

Stories about the old days are dull.

I’ve tried to regale the girls with stories of poste restantes, long-distance bus trips and dysentery and they look at me as if I’m talking in swahili.

So I had hopes that our first – and only – overnight bus journey would provide them with a ‘proper’ travelling experience with some of these ingredients: rough roads, the stench of sweat, noisy passengers, broken suspension, the stench of someone’s on-board picnic, screeching videos played on poor quality TV’s with terrible sound, waiting 3 hours in digestive pain for the loo stop, rattling glass windows, interminable waiting around, long delays, roadworks, random police inspections.

You know, good character building stuff.

How wrong I was…

We booked the tickets with the main coach company of the area. The journey was 12 hours from Tulum in Quintana Roo to Palenque in the neighbouring state of Chiapas. It made sense to do it overnight. We have chosen to use public transport partly due to recommendation, partly to mix it up after a month driving in Costa Rica, and partly as I’m a bit nervous about driving in Mexico.

Little did I know we had booked the smartest, most luxurious coach in the Northern Hemisphere.

As we board, I realise the girls will now think that every coach journey is like this:

  • A man takes your suitcase and tags it before loading it, giving you half of the tag for proof of ownership
  • Headphones and water handed to you as you start your journey
  • TV showing music videos with excellent sound quality in the headphones
  • Wide seats which recline – a lot
  • Fully Air Con which you can partly control
  • Light above you for reading
  • Curtains which do their job
  • Lights dimmed at the appropriate times
  • Not full, no screaming people – even the baby five seats back was well behaved
  • Gents and Ladies loos on board

“It’s just like going on an aeroplane” Cesca says – ‘Yes’ I smile through gritted teeth, conflicted in my delight at my plan being foiled.

It gets better, or worse depending on your point of view:

  • The driver drove well
  • The driver swapped with another halfway through (this never used to happen)
  • The coach showed up only 15 minutes late and got us there on time.
  • The police did inspect us but it took 3 minutes
  • Very little traffic
  • Stunning morning views of the endless deep green countryside

The world has moved on in the past 25 years and clearly Mexico has at least one outstanding coach business. Thank you to our great drivers 🙂

We go to Palenque ruins tomorrow, watch out for the Ruin Report.

5 thoughts on “Day 46 – failing to do ‘proper’ travelling – Tulum to Palenque, Mexico

  1. ha ha Dan – I stumbled across your blog on FB the other day – this post had me chuckling – thinking of travelling with you and Stu and Algie etc with those bumpy bus journeys…dysentary…post restantes..hanging out of train windows drinking chai and how things have changed! it’s great to read your blog – seeing past and present and also as we are planning a trip for a couple of months next Jan with our soon to be 4 year old so lovely to see the family journey – thanks for sharing – Liz (Dillon)


  2. Totally loved Palenque 25 years ago! Then again Tulum literally had one beach hut on it so things may have changed!!!

    Have an awesome time.



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