July 23, 2013

A serious question: Why do you travel?

Strays

I have a serious question this week. It centers around our motivations for travel. I’ve been asking this question a lot lately and am really intently listening for answers.

Why do you travel? 

No really, not the surface, “I need a break, I wanna see something different,” answers.

WHY do you travel?

What does it do for you? 

For those of you who’ve been at it for years, why do you keep going back to it?

For those who are just planning your first journeys, what is drawing you?

Why would someone leave comfort, safety, and ease for discomfort, risk and constant challenge?

“The wish to travel seems to me characteristically human: the desire to move, to satisfy your curiosity or ease your fears, to change the circumstances of your life, to be a stranger, to make a friend, to experience an exotic landscape, to risk the unknown..”

― Paul Theroux, The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road

Incidentally, I agree with Theroux in this, that the desire is characteristically human, it’s the layers of why that bear examining, for me. I’ve got a great interest in uncovering my own reasons, but I’ve also got an insatiable interest in your reasons.

What is it that drives us as a subset of humanity, as travelers to keep walking? 

Tell me. I’m listening.

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Category: General

July 16, 2013

Vagabonding field report: Finding the best-kept secrets in Busan, South Korea

Korea 7.1-7.12.13 386

Cost/day: $50

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?
After haggling over a hat with a friendly saleswoman, I stumbled upon an alley where old women sat in plastic chairs, clutching their purses and negotiating currency exchange with passing foreigners.

Black market? Perhaps, but I don’t think even the police could rouse these women from their territory. They seemed cemented to those chairs.

Korea 7.1-7.12.13 302
(more…)

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Category: General, Vagabonding Field Reports

June 19, 2013

Vagabonding Field Report: The Kalalau Trail, Kauai

Cost/day: $30 (includes camping permit and food hiked in)

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?
The fact that people are living out here for years at a time is pretty strange/amazing. Kalalau has permanent residents, even a “mayor,” hidden throughout the valley. These people grow just about everything they need to live on, and one couple even sold us some wine they make in the valley. They walked the two miles to the beach with their pet cat on a leash and sold us a bottle of some really nice pear wine. Also, this bug was pretty strange:

(more…)

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Category: General

June 5, 2013

Vagabonding Field Report:Taking The Broken Path To Paradise In Koh Phangan, Thailand

Koh Phangan beach in front of the Sanctuary Resort

 

Cost/day: $45/day-room, $10 per class, average $10 per meal

 

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

The coconuts here!!  The coconuts here are magic coconuts. I am staying at the Sanctuary Resort on Koh Phangan and, here, the coconut water inside of them is green.  It comes with spirulina and all kinds of grasses already mixed in.  Oh, and the coconuts that drop onto the ground seem to grow words.  Everywhere you look they are giving you messages that you just needed to read right that second.

(more…)

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Category: General, Vagabonding Field Reports

May 31, 2013

New museum to see: The “English Pompeii” is finally on display

As a fan of great museums, England, and historical stuff in general, I’m excited about a brand new museum that has just opened this week.

Located in the historic dockyard of Portsmouth on England’s picturesque south coast, the Mary Rose Museum houses the sixteenth-century hulk of the HMS Mary Rose, the pride of Henry VIII’s navy. Built in 1511, the massive warship sank off the coast of England in 1545 while fighting the French fleet. After ages under the waves, her remains were resurrected from the sea by marine archaeologists and installed in the new museum. A museum that, incidentally, is situated in the very dockyard in which the ship herself was constructed.

Remains of the Mary Rose

Remains of the Mary Rose

But it’s the collection of objects from within the ship—thousands of sixteenth-century items being called the largest trove of Tudor-era artifacts ever assembled—that are the real stars of the museum. By a stroke of fate, the silt of the sea floor created a virtually airtight tomb for the small objects within the vessel. The resulting collection of relics is so well preserved that it has been dubbed “the English Pompeii” for its quality and poignancy.

Sixteenth-century artifacts from the Mary Rose

Sixteenth-century artifacts from the Mary Rose

The artifacts on display within the hull include miraculously preserved musical instruments, rosaries, board games, silverware, weapons, book covers, medical equipment, furniture, coins, and even the remains of several of the Mary Rose’s sailors. Facial reconstructions of the recovered skulls put a human dimension to the 500 men who perished with the ship, as do the everyday items they used. Combs with Tudor-era lice still trapped in them are also in the exhibit, as are the remains of the ship’s dog.

mary rose 4

Taken together they are sure to tell a story of lives lived and lost within a sixteenth-century ship’s creaking timbers.

I can wait to see this for myself.

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Category: Europe, Family Travel, General, Notes from the collective travel mind, Travel News

May 29, 2013

Vagabonding Field Report: Road tripping through Costa Rica

1 4 7

Cost/day: $65/day

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

The strangest thing had to be the view looking down at the tree tops when doing a superman over them. The superman zip lines were over a mile long through the mountains and they provided a uniquely strange – but amazing – experience.

11 IMG_4270 IMG_4386

(more…)

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Category: Central America, General, Vagabonding Field Reports

May 21, 2013

Ellis Emmett: The nine most important things in life

Ellis

The first things you notice about Ellis Emmett are his piercing blue eyes, the source of his deep, rolling laugh. This is a guy who loves life, and lives large; that much is clear from the moment he shakes your hand. He’s a builder, a farmer, an expert white water rafter, a mountain climber, an avid traveler, a photographer, a writer, and co-host of the fantastic SCUBA & adventure documentary series: Descending, which has been nominated for awards in Canada. He’s also a husband, a father, a mentor and a guy who dedicates a great deal of his life and efforts to inspiring others to “get off their butts and live their dreams.”

We talked about a lot of things while feeding his alpacas and rolling my kids down his back hill in the big blue barrels that he uses on rafting trips to store gear when there aren’t little boys who want to use them as adventure vehicles. We talked through mouthfuls of red curry with chickpeas that my kids said tasted like Thailand but reminded them of their favourite restaurant in Guatemala. We laughed in front of his enormous stone fireplace and swapped travel stories. This is a guy who lives in our world and who “gets it” in ways few people do.

Ellis is positively dripping with pearls of wisdom. Here is a short excerpt from our discussions on what he sees as being the most important aspects of life:

The nine things that I believe are important in life: 

Dream- have a dream. Dreams are so important. Without a dream you have nothing to strive for every day becomes the same.

Freedom- sometimes in order to have freedom you have to make a commitment not to have freedom for a certain time to achieve what you want to. Freedom has two parts: time and money. If you have enough time and enough money to do whatever you want,  whenever you want to, then you have freedom. You don’t have to have a lot of money, to be free. You can always scale down so that you need less, instead of continually scaling up

Growth- It’s important to be in a constant state of growth, to be continually evolving and learning in some way. If you’re not growing, you’re stagnating. To avoid stagnation, travel, explore, learn.

Physical- A healthy body and healthy mind go hand in hand. If you are not proud of yourself then how can you expect anyone else to treat you with respect? Ellis has a gym in his basement. His wife is a personal trainer. The day we’re visiting, his legs are killing him from a massive workout the evening before. He laughs about that as we hike up the hill from the alpaca paddock

Contribution- It’s very very important to give back. Don’t’ try to hold on to everything for yourself. It’s all part of the wheel and the process itself. In giving you open the avenue for receiving. The more you help and give to others, the more others will do the same for you.

Spirituality-  This can be in any form you want it to be. Spirituality is, I believe, a sense of self and acceptance of self. As human beings we have this inherent need to have a belief, who are we, what are we why are we here, where are we going (god I feel like a school teacher now!) Maybe to put it into one word, have a grounding. If you believe in Christianity that is equally as fine as Buddhism. it doesn’t matter what it is, you just have to believe in it. For myself personally, I’m an atheist, I don’t believe in any higher power. I believe we are the higher power. I believe each person has this massive energy and power within us. I’m not saying we are all gods, no, no. but we can do more than we know we can; we can do astounding things. If you set your mind to something you can do; it doesn’t matter what it is.

Love- “Just a small one,” he jokes with sarcasm in his voice… we as human beings need love in our lives, it comes in many forms: Romantic, family and self love.  But self love is probably the most important form. And this is where people make a mistake; people think, “No one loves me,” and love for themselves is overlooked. I’m not talking about self love in an egotistical sense, but it comes back to respect. if you don’t love/respect the person you are, then you can’t expect others to. It comes back to the old cliche, “You get back what you give out.” If there are particular reasons you don’t love yourself, get out there and change those things.

Passion- Passion is a lot like love, it’s one of those things that, if you don’t have it in your heart you’re half dead already. You have to have passion to get out there and live life. You have to have interests, things that drive you. If you don’t have passion, then keep trying things until you find the thing you love to do. It doesn’t matter if no one else sees it, if you feel it, go with it… you don’t have to explain it, just like love

Environment- Be very aware of your environment and its affect on you and your life. Many times it’s our environment that is holding us back, not the home you are living in. There are many things you don’t have a choice over, the family you are born into and the home you are in, but most people have more choices than they believe they do.

There are two aspects of your environment to consider:

The physical aspect: your surroundings. And the social aspect: This is even more important. Who do you hang out with? We hang out with the people we want to become. The people we hang with don’t want us to change, so they try to keep us the same. If you want to be better at something, go find the people who are doing what you want to do, find something in common and learn from them, grow from that lesson that they can teach you subliminally. If you don’t like the person you are, then look at the people in your life, the place you are living, who you are hanging out with. Maybe the first thing you should do is move, reinvent yourself in a new place, rebuild from the ground up.

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Category: Adventure Travel, General

May 15, 2013

Vagabonding Field Report: Java, Indonesia

Cost/day: $20

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?
We were on a seven hour train ride from Banyuwangi to Surabaya, and just about every imaginable Indonesian product was being hawked on this train. Fried rice, hot soup, live music, live animals…I was thisclose to buying a bird with a 6 inch beak protruding from it’s cage, and for only $5.  My friend pointed out that it would probably attack me before flying away forever, so I reluctantly passed. (more…)

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Category: General

May 14, 2013

Don’t fear failure

What would you do if you were not afraid?

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that don't workThat is the question I asked myself a few years ago when my husband and children wanted to ride their bicycles from Alaska to Argentina.

And when I got really honest with myself, I had to admit that, if I wasn’t afraid, I would go with them.

The trouble was that I WAS afraid. Very afraid. Terrified, in fact.

I was afraid that the mountains would be too high, or the headwinds too strong. The cold would be too cold and the hot would be too hot.

But when I was really, really honest with myself, I realized that it wasn’t the high mountains or headwinds that I feared. I was afraid of failure.

I was afraid that I couldn’t do it and would have to come back home with my tail between my legs.

In order to avoid the agony of defeat and humiliation of admitting I couldn’t do it, I had convinced myself that it was better not to try at all. If I never set out in the first place, I would never have to crawl back home, defeated.

you haven't failed until you quit tryingBut then one night I had one of those eureka moments – a moment when I realized just how silly I was being. That night, as I lay in my bed trying to sleep, I realized that if I tried – if I started pedaling – I did face the possibility of defeat. In fact, I figured there was probably a 50/50 chance I would fail.

But I also realized that if I never took that very first pedal stroke, I was looking at a 100% chance of failure.

When I looked at it from that perspective, I realized it made no sense not to try. I might fail – in fact, I had a very good chance of failing. But I might not fail. I might possibly succeed.

The rest, as they say, is history. Together with my husband and children, I flew to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and we spent the next three years pedaling south.

In the end, I didn’t fail. In the end, I did it. I pedaled 17,000 miles through fifteen countries. But it never would have happened if I wasn’t willing to risk failure.

Don’t fear failure. Redefine it. You haven’t truly failed until you’ve quit trying.

decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it


After spending 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel made the decision to quit her job and live a life less ordinary. Together with her husband and children, she cycled from Alaska to Argentina – a journey of over 17,000 miles through 15 countries. Now, she lives in Idaho, inspiring others to chase their dreams. You can find her at www.familyonbikes.org.

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Category: General

May 3, 2013

Experience a world-class performance of a historic play—where it actually happened

There seems to be an interesting trend starting in the theatre world, one which has history lovers and travel addicts like me very, very intrigued.

Theatrical companies are facing declining audiences as many now flock to the more realistic experiences of the modern digitally-enhanced blockbuster, and they have been forced to get creative in their choice of staging. This has prompted some to do away with the stage altogether; catering to people’s interest in a more, shall we say, “immersive” theatre experience. As a result, some highly respected British drama companies are beginning to hold performances of historically-based plays on the very sites where those stories actually took place.

battlefield of Tewkesbury

The latest—and largest—to follow this new trend is none other than Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The revered drama company recently announced plans to spend its new season performing the Bard’s three Henry VI plays, which cover the tumultuous and violent reign of Henry VI and the medieval War of the Roses, on the sites where the plays’ historic battles took place. The drenched-in-history surroundings of Tewkesbury, St Albans, Barnet, and Towton (no, NOT Downton) will see productions of the classic works set where the fifteenth-century king and his knights duked it out with his rivals for the crown.

towton battlefield

A similar performance was also held at the Bosworth battlefield in a production of Shakespeare’s epic Richard III, the main character of which has recently gained new fame after his remains were unearthed in a car park near the site of his death in combat. Across the Channel, a performance of Henry V—famous for his victory over the French and his “Band of Brothers” speech riling up his hopelessly outnumbered troops—will take place in Agincourt, the site of his unlikely triumph.

So, if you find yourself near any of these historic and serene locales this year, you might just be able to experience a world-class performance of a classic play—on the soil upon which it all happened.

Suddenly, a night at the theatre doesn’t sound so boring, does it?

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Category: Europe, General, Notes from the collective travel mind, Vagabonding Field Reports
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