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!
This article was first published on tourism_LOG blog where it was one of the winning pieces of the “Fair travelling and experiencing the world” competition. It’s a shortened version of 5 WAYS TO BE A CONSCIOUS TRAVELLER post with text cut down to minimum for a quick read.
Travelling to far away countries has become a possibility for more people than ever before. This is really exciting as travel is the best education we can get, helping us to become an informed global citizen. But no one ever really teaches us how we should travel…
We fly, sail, Interrail, cycle or hitch-hike around the world, staying in hostels, resorts, home-stays, couch-surfing… But how to get most of our trips while making sure we respect people and places we visit? How to be a CONSCIOUS TRAVELLER?
Cheap airfares are making overseas travel a possibility for more people than ever before. This is really exciting, as travel is the best education we can give ourselves to become informed global citizens. But on the other hand, no one ever really teaches us how we should travel….
We brushed up against many different forms of tourism on our overland journey half-way round the world, and it seems to us there is plenty of room for more conversations around conscious travel. In fact, if it was up to us it would be a compulsory school subject ;). Travelling “right” is really a double-sided coin that comes down to:
- Ensuring proper respect to the people of the places we visit
- Ensuring travellers get the most out of their trips abroad.
This article is Drop The Tension‘s first in our series of useful information to help backpacker-local interactions be positive experiences for both sides. Take this as a guide for anyone heading overseas. But it might be especially useful for a young person heading off backpacking for the first time (Know someone? Share this their way!), especially if you’re travelling solo (we think you’re awesome :))
We’re not into rules and remind you that this is just a guide of things to keep in mind. Common sense is the first thing you should pack for the trip and it’ll help you determine what is appropriate for your given situation. Any questions or comments, please contact us below – we’d love to start a discussion around this topic!
So, WHAT IS CONSCIOUS TRAVEL?
Conscious travel is about being aware of the impact your being there has on a place. A conscious traveller should strive to keep their travel low-impact. In this, I mean that we don’t want the places we visit to change dramatically through our visit. It’s that old rule ‘leave things as you found them… or a little bit better.’
Your impact includes everything from:
- The cultural impact: in some destinations, you’ll find yourself getting a lot of attention as a foreigner. The world round, people are listening to western music and watching Hollywood films. Seeing you can sometimes be the movies ‘coming to life’. People will be watching how you behave and might even copy what you do. While in the ‘spotlight’, don’t behave in a way you wouldn’t want to be copied… Don’t make yourself (or your country) famous for something you wouldn’t want it to be famous for!
- Your environmental impact: many places in the world lack environmental education. If locals are paying attention to your behaviour, disposing of rubbish (which, by the way, was introduced to the rest of the world by ‘The West’, without even a hint as to what to do with it!) correctly or refilling plastic water bottles where possible can start showing people other ways of doing things that care for the surroundings.
- The impact of where and how you spend your money.
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!
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.
During our visit we met a bunch of passionate people with exciting ideas to help shape the future of Timor-Leste. While you’ll find plenty of foreign aid workers in this new country, surely the Timor of tomorrow is best shaped by those who know it best: Timorese people. Here is a brief look at just some of the cool projects we discovered:
– Arte Moris: walking in off the dusty streets of Dili into the Arte Moris gardens is like arriving in the Berlin underground art scene… In a tropical jungle?! Amazing sculptures made almost entirely of collected rubbish. Litter is everywhere in Timor-Leste, with waterways often looking more like rubbish tips. There is no waste system in place and at best it’ll be burned (which of course isn’t good at all!). So to find people using this rubbish as the raw material to make something beautiful is really exciting. The team of artists who live and work at Atre Moris (the vibe is totally ‘artists squat’), run workshops to encourage local youth in creative expression, interwoven with themes surrounding the environment. Inside we caught an exhibition of two local artists, giving insight into daily life in Dili. Other works combine traditional handicrafts into modern works.
More than anything else, Aussies (as Australians call themselves) are an incredibly nice and relaxed nation. In Aussie English the one and only popular answer to sorry, thank you, please, and practically anything else is, the ultimate Australian expression – no worries. And they indeed do not have much to worry about.
Thriving economy, reasonable social welfare, pleasant weather (in most inhabited areas) and a relatively peaceful multiculturality ensure that most Australians can just focus on enjoying their lives.
Recently my sister said on Facebook “I want to live in a world where money doesn’t mean a thing.” Some of her friends said “me too!”, others “dream on!”
Well, such world does exist. Not far from Nimbin, New South Wales, we met a lovely, down-to-earth couple living on their permaculture farm, without money. They said they do use some, but try to limit it as much as possible, and it has a very positive impact on their lives.
That’s pretty advanced though. It’s a long way and not everybody would be comfortable with getting to this stage. But what most of us don’t realize is that you can stay being who you are, stay cool, while getting to be less tied to your wallet. And I guarantee it’ll make you happy! Here’s a few tips on what to start with.
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Australia’s really upside-down. The sun shines from the north, the stars are upside-down, mammals carry bags on their bellies, trees loose bark in the winter which takes place during the summer and wine is cheaper than beer. But is it really such a different place?
Before coming here, I had a vague image of Australia as of a major modern country with big cities, skyscrapers, happy people, fascinating nature, Aborigines, kangaroos, surfers… I knew it occupies a whole continent, so I was automatically assuming it’s a kind of empire of its own – like a less expansive version of America. I was expecting a really big nation, strong, proud of their achievements; I was expecting a country with dense infrastructure, with big, modern cities comparable to Paris, Berlin, New York, Singapore. Cities with extensive public transport, modern museums, state of the art infrastructure, clubbing, parks, all the things you expect from big, vibrant contemporary cities. Also, I was expecting a network of smaller cities like Leeds, Lyon, Dresden, Helsinki, with their less vibrant yet still lively faces.
I was expecting a strong national psyche, I was expecting many people being ignorantly closed (as citizens of empires tend to be), welcoming me to their great continent-state. I was expecting a nation too big, strong and busy to pay attention to some guy from Eastern Europe.
Well, I was quite wrong.
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In this series of posts, I am going to show you Australia from my personal perspective. It’s meant for Europeans who have no idea about Australia and for Australians to see how they country looks through the eyes of an outsider.
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