Category Archives: Writing

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Hello dear readers – it has been a very long time!!

We have been thinking about ways to consolidate our content from the geokult travel and geokult sites and have now migrated all of our posts to www.geokult.com .

The decision is a reflection of our desire to make stronger connections between creativity, travel and exploration – both internal and external 🙂

Train journey to Bergen 2017

We would love for you to continue the journey with us so hope you will subscribe to our posts atwww.geokult.com.

Missing in Action

Dear readers, it has been some time since we have posted a blog.

Although we have been missing in action online we have still been having some adventures. For example, Tracey was in Norway for three months doing some creative research into her ancestry. Her project Waters of the Past has resulted in some wonderful collaborations and connections. The project was also presented in a number of exhibitions and symposium, such as Balance UnBalance 2017 and RIXC Open Fields 2017.

Tracey’s project was also featured in the Drammen newspaper. Please don’t ask for a translation 🙂

We had an amazing time in Norway, the highlight of this was our fjord journey up the west coast to Tromsø – more on that later 😉 Here is some teasers:

This year we don’t plan to go too far from home ground. We have lots of short trips planned and we look forward to sharing with you some of the great places we enjoy here in the Australian Alpine region – better known by Aussies as ‘the high country’.

We will publish a new article from us each month as well as feature some guest writers. Contact us if you would like to submit something for publication.

Ps – we are now also in Instagram – follow us at geokult_travel

An article about Tracey
An article about Tracey

The Snæfellsnes and journey to the centre of the earth #SIMResidency

Yesterday was an amazing day as I set off with some of the artists from the SIM Residency on a road trip to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, north-west of Reykjavik.

Our first stop was the historic town of Borgarnes, where we went to the Settlement Center. We had a lot of fun in the exhibit, where there are some 3d fibreglass interactive maps, a bow of a ship that moves and some great information about the early days of the Icelandic Sagas and the creation of the parliament in Iceland in 930AD (located in Þingvellir). Lots of buttons were pressed and plenty of laughs were had on the recreation of the viking boat. We also took a few pictures of the fjord behind the museum.

From there we headed to Stykkishólmur, where we enjoyed some great fish and chips on the wharf before heading to the Library of Water and checking out the incredible church.

We took our time heading west, taking lots of photographs along the way before stopping at Ólafsvík and checking out the triangle church.

Everywhere we went there were lava fields – I was amazed at how soft they felt – I always imagined them to be really hard. I think they would be dangerous to walk on as you could fall through the sections that are sparsely covered, or covered in moss.

The next stop was at the Saxhóll Crater, where you walk 300 metres up a flight of stairs to arrive at the top of the crater. There are fantastic views of the surrounding landscape, especially the Snæfellsjökull volcano.

The Snæfellsjökull volcano, glacier and surrounding landscape was the inspiration for Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, which incidentally was one of my favourite books as a child. Although we were keen to go to the glacier, we were informed that it takes about five hours, you need shoes with metal spikes, an all-wheel-drive vehicle – none of which we had. We also learnt that much care was needed as there were cracks in the glacier as it is summer. We decided that it might be better to go with a guide another time.

On the way back to Reykjavik,we were so lucky to see some Gray Seals at Ytri Tunga. When we arrived we were told by some other tourists that there was only one on a rock, but we thought it was worth walking along the beach anyway. When we got close to the rocks we saw the big one basking on a rock and then over the next 20 minutes around half a dozen appeared. Also the sun was just gorgeous, sparkling and golden as it was reflected on the water. Here is a short video of the seals – it is bit wonky as I only had my phone with me.

After leaving at 10am, I finally arrived home by around 1.30am – a huge day and biggest thanks to the awesome driver Ella <3. It was an amazing day and a taste of what an incredible place Iceland truly is.

Exploring Christchurch

My journey to Christchurch to work on a book project is my first time travelling to the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. Although I have been to NZ a few times over the last decade, I have never ventured any further south than the region of Taranaki.

Christchurch, as many readers would know, was devastated by an earthquake in February 2011. It has been a difficult and expensive process to rebuild the city and although a lot of progress has happened, many heritage buildings may never be restored just because of the sheer cost.

Today I spent the day walking around the city centre and also rode the inner city tram which was a really nice way to learn about Christchurch. It is a little pricy at $20NZ, but you can hop on and off all day. The drivers also share a lot of local knowledge so I think it is worth the money.

There are some fabulous places to visit when in Christchurch. I had a great time exploring the Re:START markets. The market stalls are mainly set up in shipping containers and the area was the first to be reopened after the 2011 earthquake. There are some great shops with lots of local products. My favourite shop has to be HAPA – I just love all the handmade jewellery, ornaments, cushions and knick knacks. Unfortunately my budget is very tight this trip so no spending sadly though perhaps this is a blessing in disguise 🙂

The other place I enjoyed visiting is the Canterbury Museum, which is free entry and open 7 days a week. There are some great exhibits, including a replica of the street from the early 1900s. It is also worth noting that the museum is located close to the Botanic Gardens which is a lovely  place to walk around.

Street art is in abundance in the city centre, making the cityscape lively and colourful. It is also a nice distraction from the many damaged buildings and empty city blocks.

It will take a long time for Christchurch to rebuild entirely, but what I find inspiring is that the residents of Christchurch are helping to shape the future of the city. For example, many people love the shipping containers at Re:START, so they may become a permanent fixture. Also the community has asked that the city’s skyline have less high-rises in the future, so the only high-rise buildings that will exist into the future are the ones currently standing.

There are some great art and technology projects that have focused on the city:

  • Soundsky: Artist/designer Trudy Lane and sound artist/musician/developer Halsey Burgund have been the main coordinators of the project to-date with significant input from Michael Reynolds of A Brave New City, and increasing numbers of local artists interested for their audio works to join the environment.
  • Sensing City: The Sensing City Trust is a non-profit organisation working with Christchurch stakeholders to help them understand how data can inform decisions about city management. The Trust has two active projects – one focussed on the impact of air pollution on respiratory disease, and the other on cyclists generating data to inform cycleway development.
  • SCAPE Public Art installs free-to-view contemporary public art in Christchurch city. Their vision is for Christchurch people to be excited, engaged and stimulated by the contemporary public art that is well-regarded and known by the national and international art world.

 

This evening as I write this post a small shake has been recorded south of Christchurch – though only 2.4 magnitude. I did not notice anything 🙂 In any case, I am very much looking forward to working on the ADA book project and learning all about booksprinting!

Thoughts on The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel: Linda Carroli

Introduction

We are very pleased to welcome a new contributor to Geokult Travel – Linda Carroli. Since the mid 1990s, Linda and I have been good friends and have collaborated on many art and media projects. Linda is an Australian based writer and urban practitioner, who also has consulting experience across a broad range of fields – art, community development and heritage. She is internationally recognised for her writing and contribution to the arts, winning many awards. We hope you enjoy Linda’s thought-provoking writing and commentary on travel.
Tracey Benson

Book Cover: The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel
Book Cover: The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel

The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel by Linda Carroli

This is the first blog post of many I hope to share on Tracey and Marty’s Geokult Travel blog. In my posts, I will explore more unusual and unexpected aspects of travel, tourism and travel writing. This first post is a musing on The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel by Rachael Antony and Joël Henry (The Laboratory of Experimental Tourism). While the book is now nearly a decade old, having been first published in 2005, it continues to enthral and enhance a travel itinerary. In a sense the book offers ‘gamified’ travel in a way that makes for a sense of difference and play – experiencing differently or playfully. ‘Gamification’ means the application of game dynamics and processes to non-game contexts.

‘Experimental Travel’, also known as experimental tourism, is acknowledged by the authors as difficult to define. They describe it as a “playful way of travelling, where the journey’s methodology is clear but the destination may be unknown”. They suggest that the only requisite for such an approach to travel is an adventurous spirit. Discovery and exploration are multiplied by playing some of the games or following some of the simple instructions. The instructional nature of experimental is particularly interesting: the acceptance of constraints, such as directions, help redefine experiences.

The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel provides a catalogue of 40 experiments for you to try as well as details the results of experiments undertaken through the Laboratory of Experimental of Tourism.

The book includes methods drawn from the Situationists such as dérivé, as well as Dada and Surrealist style games. Psychogeography, mythogeography and flânerie are also in the mix. Imagine throwing a dice or coin to make decisions about your tourist experience and to define your travel itinerary. Have you ever considered spending 24 hours in an airport or journeying from airport to airport? Airports have been described by anthropologist Marc Augé as a ‘non-place’, an institutional environment designed to expedite transit and passenger conveyance, though strangely reminiscent of a shopping mall.

The Lonely Planet Guide is but one resource for experimental tourists, and will not placate everyone’s sense of adventure. Road Junky, for example, describes it as ‘sanitised’ and has compiled a list of 101 experimental travel ideas available online, with many of them prompting intercultural and interfaith excursions (not to mention national security concerns!), such as visiting every Muslim country in the world. Initiatives in Countertourism are attentive to the heritage tourism experience and encourage:

innovative consuming, intervention and even ‘infiltration’ to transform the way that the heritage industry and its sites are visited, looked at, experienced, conserved, managed and changed.

Technologies, such as GPS and GIS, and social media can also enhance the experience. Perhaps there’s another guide to be written about experimental travel using social media e.g. You arrive in a place and tweet asking for advice on a good place to eat, go to the first recommendation. You can continue to co-design your travel. Many of the experiments are open-ended urban incursions, they are ambulatory and constrained. If you have doubts, try it locally first. Try backpacking in your home city, or taking a line for a walk in your neighbourhood. Part of the challenge lies in figuring out how willing you are to relinquish some of the decision-making by following simple instructions and venturing into the unknown or unplanned. While some aspects of the journey are pre-figured, the route and the destination are not.

[NOTE: You are always responsible for your own safety when using experimental travel guides or practicing experimental travel. The author and publisher of this blog disclaims any responsibility for and liability for loss or injury in the event of experimental travel.]

Biography

Linda Carroli is a Brisbane-based writer and urban practitioner. Her consulting work has included studies on visitor experience, tourism infrastructure, cultural and heritage tourism, and destination management.

The Culturally Aware Traveller

Over the years, I have been fortunate to travel to a number of countries whose culture and lifestyle is dramatically different from our relaxed lifestyle in Australia. Many of these counties have strong religious and cultural protocols that as a visitor you need to be aware of and respect.

In this post, I would like to share some hints for how to be a respectful traveller. We have found by following a few simple guidelines, that people are much more likely to talk to you and make friends if you show respect for them and their culture.

To start, here are some general points:

1. Open your mind. After all, aren’t you travelling to learn something new? By having an open mind, you will earn respect and be more readily welcomed by local people. Be tolerant and respect diversity, and importantly – observe social and cultural traditions and practices.

2. Respect human rights and show respect for your hosts. Treat people as you would like to be treated.

3. Protect wildlife and habitats. Don’t purchase products made from endangered plants or animals.

4. Have respect for the artistic, archaeological and cultural heritage.

5. Support the local economy. The best souvenir you can take home is something that has been made locally, where the money goes back to the community.

6. Take time to understand the customs and traditions of your host country. Avoid behaviour that could offend the local population. Some of these points will be discussed later.

7. Be familiar and comply with local laws

Overview

I hate to say this, but one of the big mistakes that Australians in particular make, and perhaps people from other western cultures, is being too laid back. They often take their relaxed attitude with them overseas, often not realising they are showing disrespect to their hosts, but also dressing in ways they would never do at home. Bali is a great example, often on the main street we will see people walking around in their swimming costumes like the whole island is a resort. Sorry peeps, the locals might not say anything to you but you are saying something to them – very loudly. Keep it at the resort, or at least throw on a tee-shirt and some shorts or a skirt before you decide to go for lunch in your bikini.

Modesty

My rule of thumb here is don’t wear less than the locals. For example, when we travelled to Turkey I discouraged Marty from wearing shorts, as we were travelling to a Muslim country and I had some experience in dress etiquette from past trips to North Africa, Malaysia and Java. It was ironic when we met a tour guide who said that the Turks call people who wear shorts ” Germans” (which mens tourists), indicating that you stand out as a tourist when you are a guy wearing shorts. We were often complemented by locals (some of whom are now our friends), that we “are like Turkish”. I was so happy when people said this to us as I felt accepted, even though we are tourists.

When I pack to go to Turkey my wardrobe is not that different to what I wear at home (except around the house). Trousers, long skirts and long sleeve tops covering my shoulders and chest are staple items. With blouses and tops, I try to avoid tight, clingy fabric, opting for flowing designs that are also long enough to cover my backside. I also make sure I have an assortment of scarves, just in case we go to a mosque or somewhere more conservative, where I might need to cover my hair.

When I travel to Asia, I do pack a little lighter but try to follow some simple guidelines. In most Asia cultures it is not appropriate for women to expose their shoulders, so I avoid sleeveless tops. I also opt for longer skirts and trousers (below the knee). For men, it varies, but the rule about sticking to long or 3/4 length trousers in Islamic countries is a good one to follow.

Eating

This one is a challenge for me as I am left-handed, though my advice here is if you are travelling to a non-western country then you should eat with your right hand. There are lots of other rules to be aware of too – for example in India it is customary to wash your hands before eating – because it is acceptable to eat with your hands. I would say it is just good hygiene to wash your hands before eating. In many Asian countries you will get a fork and a spoon instead of a knife and fork. Watch the locals for hints here, but I tend to just use my fork to eat with and the spoon is to help push the food on the plate.

Keeping time and gestures

Many of the countries we have visited have very rubbery time management skills, often joking about how things run late – Turkish Time, 5 Turkish Minutes, Bali Time, Rubber Time as all common expressions. What we have learnt is that there is no point in getting cranky if things don’t run to time, you will always get there (fingers crossed). In Turkey the irony is that it is very uncool for you to be late, but you are not to complain if the other person is late.

Eye contact is a tricky one. As a westerner we are socialised to make eye contact, to look people in the eyes and smile. In rural Turkey there were some rules around this – women should only make eye contact with other women and men with other men. This used to be an interesting feat as we would walk a lot and people would often say hello, but after a couple of months we got the hang of it. Rural people in Turkey are incredibly generous and would offer food, lifts and tea, which we would always accept out of politeness, realising it was a great chance to learn more and meet some wonderfully kind people.

Another example of avoiding eye contact is closer to home. For many Aboriginal people in Australia, it is considered rude to look someone directly in the eye and a sign of respect to defer the gaze. I have mainly encountered this custom in the Northern Territory, especially when I was growing up. As a young person I understood this custom as a form of shyness.

The protocols around touching another person is something to be aware of when travelling – for example, touching people of the opposite sex is not acceptable in Islamic countries, unless you are family (or considered family). Touching people on the head is also a no-no in many Asian countries and with Maori peoples. My approach to meeting and greeting people in regards to touching, is that I let the person from the host culture guide me, for example – if someone offers a hand to shake, I accept. I take the same approach with other protocols including the hongi, the Maori greeting where you press noses and inhale. Also, read up before before you go.

The most important piece of advice I can offer about being a culturally aware traveller, is to have a great time on your journey, learnt lots and grow 🙂

Seeking your input
This post is a work in progress and if you have any pointers to add, please let me know and I will add your advice to this post.

Useful resources

The Responsible Tourist and Traveler
Five Ways to Show Cultural Respect in Your Host Country

Thank you lovely followers and likers!!

I just checked the stats this morning and really excited to say we have done great in May so far!

Last month we had a total of 1754 views and 505 visits, this month we have had 2083 views and 648 visitors.

Thank you so much for taking the time to look at our posts, like them and make comments. We really appreciate it and your support inspires us to create more content for Geokult Travel.

Here is a cute photo of our kitty, Oscar, whose full name is Pharaoh Sun Ra Oscar Bratski Maine Coon Cat. He has been writing some articles for us and is exhausted from all the hard work 🙂

 

Oscar helping us out.
Oscar helping us out.

 

 

Check out our new section of the site: Destinations

Good morning lovelies!

To make it easier to find articles and photos of some of our favourite locations, we have created a new section of the site: Destinations. Under the tab, located on the main menu, you can find information grouped under the place-name.

We hope this new feature will be useful and help you navigate our site.

Tracey and Marty in Istanbul
Tracey and Marty in Istanbul

 

200 followers – thank you!!

Thank you to everyone who visits our site and likes and follows our posts. We really appreciate your support – it inspires us to continue to write and publish our travel stories.

Don’t forget – we welcome guest contributions (like the prolific Garry Benson), so if you have a great story please check out the submission guidelines and  contact us.

Thanks again – you are awesome!

This is us at our fave cafe in Istanbul , more later 🙂

Tracey and Marty in Istanbul
Tracey and Marty in Istanbul