Author: Jurek Lubinski
Upcoming events in Melbourne!
Dear friends of Drop the Tension,
We are is delighted to announce two upcoming events we’ve been planning for the short time we will spend in Melbourne! We would like to ask you a big favour? Can you please share these events in your networks, inviting friends who might be interested in attending them?
The first one will touch on a place which has captured our attention the most during our overland trip from Melbourne to Poland — Palm Island. During the second event we will try to share what we found to be one of the most important social phenomenons we encountered while travelling — the impact people make while visiting distant places.
Feel free to come to both events and please help us spread the word by sharing our facebook events and inviting your friends over! See you there
Details below: Continue Reading →
How to stay warm while travelling in cold places
At the moment here in Poland we’re having a cold wave with temperatures below -20°C. I wrote the following post to share what my mom had been always telling me, but what people from warm climates might have never heard. These few simple tips can make even temperatures as low as this really enjoyable, so why not sharing them with those who might want to travel in the wintertime! While Wendy, always afraid of cold, actually quickly started to enjoy the snow. During our travels in Russia we met (female!) hitchhikers who had travelled across Siberia in the winter.
So get your warm clothes and go enjoy the frost!
Our first podcast! :)
We had the pleasure of recording our first podcast!
During our overland&sea travel from Australia to Europe we had a chance to shortly speak on radio and give a couple of interviews for local newspapers, but this is the first time we had an opportunity to share our ideas about dropping the tension and following your passion in a proper podcast for the California – based Learn Educate Discover!
Happy listening and if you like what we say – feel free to share the message 🙂
Trans-Siberian Railway your own way – how to guide
A week on the train. 8 time zones. 9288 kilometres – a quarter of the Globe. Endless forests and swamps, wooden villages, train stations alike magnificent palaces surrounded by decaying heritage of the once mighty Soviet Union. Friendly, hospitable, spontaneous and from a foreigner’s point of view – positively crazy people. The richness of Russia, the contrasts between the wealthy and the poor, modern and old, clean and muddy, silver watches and gold teeth. The heart of Eastern Europe with Moscow and other big, modern cities slowly fading away to the endless grasslands, mountains, wilderness. Golden, mosque-like domes of Orthodox churches step-by-step giving way to actual mosques, Buddhist stupas, followed by vast forests visited by nomads. Eventually arriving in Vladivostok at the Pacific, from where it’s just a ferry ride to Japan. Or a 250 kilometre car ride to the North Korean border.
This romantic image must catch anyone’s heart in one way or another. Who has never dreamt of travelling by the Trans-Siberian Railway? But how to do it?
Sure you could go to a travel agent and let them organise the trip. But you’ll soon find that not only will you spend up to 3 thousand dollars on getting it organised but you’ll also spend the whole journey partying with fellow Europeans, Americans or Australians instead of actually getting to experience the reality of the train the way it is.
Wanna do it differently? Let us tell you how to pay USD 160 for getting a Russian visa, buying the ticket and enjoying the magnificent journey the way locals do!
Western Mongolia – Practical Guide
Having decided to go through the west of Mongolia instead of Ulaanbaatar, we didn’t really know what to expect – there was not much information online. Hence, we thought it could be very useful for future travellers coming this way to have some practical information available online. But don’t worry, if you’re not going that way, this post won’t bore you with dry facts – you’ll learn about the fascinating reality of Mongolia!
What was the name of this village before the revolution? “There was no village here before the revolution, it was a river here,” says Kirill (36), whose family are the only permanent dwellers of Чырвоны Кастрычник (Chyrvony Kastrychnik, Red October in Belarussian), “In the early years of the Soviet Union, they straightened up the Dnieper River for navigation. People from an overpopulated village nearby moved here then.” The whole region of Polesia, full of swamps and flooding rivers, has long been ignored by history. Local folks spoke their own language that had no name, they were calling it “our speech”. Even in the interwar period of 1918-1939, many dwellers of Polesia were not seeing themselves as belonging to any nation – asked who they were, they would answer “we’re from here.” They lived the same way for hundreds of years, growing and collecting food in the summer and in the winter making clothes and other commodities. “Every day of the year had its scheduled tasks, they always knew what to do,” says Kirill, “The oldest people remember it as a very happy time, with almost unlimited freedom.” Everything got changed in the time of the Soviet Union, that is after World War II in the west of Polesia and here – after the October Revolution, the Red October.
Unexpected art of Minsk
For the last 10 days we’ve been in Minsk, Belarus. Being here reminds me of how Poland was early in the ’90s, when the plastic, colourful world of empty satisfaction from buying stuff you don’t need hadn’t yet replaced the grim, grey world of pissed-off, grumpy people drowning in mud, being so frustrated with lack of opportunities. For most of the time, the weather here has been more grey than you can imagine, with low hanging clouds, freezing drizzle, dense fog… in such weather, you have to keep the lights on inside your house even though the daylight still lasts 10 hours. People here don’t have perspectives either. They need to work very hard for really little money and grim, concrete-paneled communist blocks are still being built and partly covered with pale pink or green paint. If you ask someone a question and don’t articulate your words clearly enough, the reaction more often than not, will be What?! And, stuck deep in this kind of environment, which only lurks, waiting to bring up the worst moods from the gloomiest parts of your psyche, we discovered some amazing art. But first, look at a couple of pictures to get the atmosphere.
Continue Reading →
We entered Laos (in the middle of July) accompanied by Wendy’s dad Greg, who joined us for a week, rediscovering the backpackers trails of the 70’s. Laos welcomed us in a completely different style – it appeared the whole country, however small, poor and undeveloped, is covered with a network of tourism industry. This, mostly being eco-tourism, has created a barrier between us – visitors and the real life of Laos. Barrier in the form of money, the one thing we believe divides people the most. Barrier high but not uncrossable.
Today I’d like to introduce you to a sport discipline. This would be completely irrelevant for this blog if not the fact that if you wanna freedive there’s one thing you must make sure you do – drop the tension.
The real Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan is (in)famous for its Full Moon Party – an event where thousands of beautifully tanned young English-speaking Europeans, Australians and Americans proudly display their six-packs and cleavages, drinking mixed alcohol from buckets, their feet cut with broken glass scattered in the beach sand, getting wasted (and hopefully laid) to an echoing cacophony of US Billboard top 10.
Many people say Koh Phangan is heart-shaped, but for the sake of this explanation, let’s simplify it into a square. In the lower-left corner is Thon Sala – the island’s town. The lower edge is an extension of the town with supermarkets, atmosphereless night clubs, steak bars and, most important – hostels. Important because this is the way to the lower-right corner, Haad Rin, the Full Moon Beach. A concrete skeleton of a peeling, abandoned unfinished hotel casting shade on faceless souvenir shops immediately makes you understand where you are. While most people come here with a simple and positive reason to have a good time, what they don’t realise is that the Thai people spend their childhood looking at falangs (whites) who are either drunk or hungover, and in the natural disrespect learning to extract cash from the ones who have less brains but more in their wallets.
Without this introduction I wouldn’t be able to say that the reason I’m writing this is as simple as that: the rest of Koh Phangan is completely different.