Tag Archives: travel writing

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 ūüôā

We had an amazing time in Norway, the highlight of this was our fjord journey up the west coast to Troms√ł – more on that later ūüėČ 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
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Mykines, Faroe Islands

Yesterday we caught the ferry from S√łrv√°gur on V√°gar to Mykines – the most westerly island in the Faroes.

Mykines is a beautiful place, famous for its Puffin population and beautiful cottages with grass roofs.

The other thing Mykines is well-known for is the unpredictability of its weather, which affects reliable transport to the island. The ferry only runs during the Summer months and if there are southerly or westerly winds then the ferry cannot dock. The other transport option is helicoptor, but it is also reliant on the weather.

We are all hoping for good winds tomorrow as we head back to V√°gar, though if we are stranded there are plenty of potatoes to cook ūüôā

Kirkjub√łur, Faroe Islands

Yesterday the TCP crew went on a bit of an adventure to Kirkjub√łur, a historic village located on the southern point of Streymoy Island.

Kirkjub√łur village is considered the Faroes most important historical site and has a number of ruins dating back to the 1100s.

Kirkjub√łargar√įur (Faroese for Yard of Kirkjub√łur, also known as King’s Farm) is one of the oldest still inhabited wooden houses of the world, if not the oldest according to Wikipedia.

The old farmhouse of Kirkjub√łur dates back to the 11th century. It was the episcopal residence and seminary of the Diocese of the Faroe Islands, from about 1100. The legend says, that the wood for the block houses came as driftwood from Norway and was accurately bundled and numbered, just for being set up.

The ruins of the Magnus Cathedral (Kirkjub√łm√ļrurin), built by Bishop Erlendur around the year 1300 is very impressive. The medieval building was never completed and still remains unfinished and without a roof.

The grass roofs of the traditional houses are very beautiful and something I have not seen anywhere else.

What I am finding even more beautiful is the landscape of rocky outcrops, cliffs and islands jutting out of the sea. It is the stuff of dreams and magic and we can’t wait to experience more of this beautiful place.

Scandinavian adventures have begun!

Well here we are in Denmark! This trip has been a very long time in the planning and we are really excited to finally be here. After what seemed like the mother of all long hauls, we landed in Copenhagen this morning and will be staying in Drag√łr overnight.

Tracey was very keen to see Drag√łr, as she had created an Augmented Reality walk for Cultura21, the Nordic Network for Culture and Sustainability in 2014. At the time she created the work, it was never a thought that we might actually visit there one day.

Drag√łr is a well preserved fishing and market village, situated south east of Copenhagen. Drag√łr’s history goes back to about 1200, when it was the market place of huge Herring catches and much trading throughout the Middle Ages. There are some beautifully restored cottages, complete with thatched roofs and it is a real pleasure to walk along the little cobblestone streets. We are staying at the Strand Hotel, which is a very cute place and also full of history.

Tomorrow we are on the move to the Faroe Islands where we will be participating in a Clipperton Project journey. We are really looking forward to being a part of one of these projects and hope we will make some good connections on the way and learn lots about the Faroes and its people.

Well, after more than 30 hours in transit and a big walk this morning in the drizzle, we are officially in recovery mode – trying to avoid jet lag!!

Why India is Not Expensive For Tourists

By Rohit Agarwal

Visitors have been visiting India for thousands of years. They have left a variety of comments on their observations. Some reported on the advanced level of civilization. Some reported on the wealth and majesty of the ancient kingdoms. Some reported on the variety in the terrain. And even more reported on the variety in the people. From human-eating Aghoris to God-like Kings, there are reports on the beauty of the women. Always accompanied by more reports of the beauty and lustre of their ornamentation. There is, however, not a single comment on India being an expensive place to visit or live in.

Jama Masjid - Photo by Dennis Jarvis, CC BY-SA 2.0
Jama Masjid – Photo by Dennis Jarvis, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://www.flickr.com/photos/archer10/2215082618

This has in fact led to a new trend today. Many expatriates, especially pensioners, have decided to not just visit India, but to in fact spend their lives here. This phenomenon is also seen in many other countries in South East Asia. The availability of all necessities at a reasonable rate is the primary factor. In many of the popular places where you can find expatriates living in India, such as Goa, Jaipur, Agra, Lucknow and many of the hill stations in India, such as Darjeeling, Ooty, Mussoorie, Manali and Naniatal, the cost of living is much lower than in any developed country.

Accommodation

First of all, everyone needs a place to stay or spend the night. The availability of economic accommodation is, in fact, on the rise in India. Although the rents and prices are quite high in the big cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, this has led to smaller cities, which very earlier not so confident, offering much better alternatives. For those on a very short visit of less than a month and wanting to cover as much territory as possible, there are even sites where locals host guests in their own houses for free. Such sites include couchsurfing.com and globalfreeloaders.com. These are very popular in India, with Indians wanting to host guests to learn more about the world through their guest’s experiences.

Asians are very hospitable by nature and Indians are no exceptions. If you are able to strike a real rapport with the locals, they will usually offer you some food and drinks. And if you actually like it and let them know, you will get enough to fill you up and more.

Some useful economical accommodation options:

Salvation Army’s Guesthouse at Colaba, Mumbai. This is a stone’s throw behind the famous Taj Mahal Hotel, which fronts the Gateway of India. YMCA & YWCA have an extensive network in India. Youth hostels are a great option. The added advantage here is that you will get a chance to mingle with locals, as youth hostels are popular with the locals too. You might even end up making a friend or more for life.

Travel

Thanks to the British, and then India’s social politics, travelling in India is easy. Travelling by train is the best and most economical way to transit between one city/town and another. There is a special quota reserved for foreign visitors, so it is usually not a headache to get a seat. But do try to always book your tickets at the earliest, as the trains in India are always full.

The canteens at railway stations are an economical refreshment option. The hygiene is better than in most other small outlets in India. You would usually get some simple western-type food, such as sandwiches or cutlets, and drinks as well as the staple Indian cuisine.

Other common modes of travel include the airlines, buses and taxis. Rickshaws operate in most big cities for travel within the city.

Food & Beverage

India offers some of the spiciest and some of the sweetest food in the world. As anybody who has eaten at any Indian restaurant will know. The Samosa has become our mascot for cultural exports.

The cuisine in India varies with its people. As you move from one social group to another, you will find a different cuisine. And the variety in India beats any other country, hands down.

The variety in the beverages is also just as splendid. From the thick Lassi of Punjab to the refreshing Chaach of Gujarat to the invigorating Nariyal Pani (Coconut Water) of the coastal belts, your thirst will be quenched in India.

Shopping

Almost everybody who visits India wants to take back a souvenir. There are so many monuments in India and all of them would be replicated in small souvenirs that you can buy. India is also famous for its handicrafts. As it has a huge tribal population.

India was also the only source of diamonds in the entire world till about only a century ago. It has again become the largest diamond cutting and polishing centre in the world. Gems and jewellery is a very popular shopping item in India. Many tourists buy things in India which they can sell in other countries for a profit. This is a smart way to reduce or even totally compensate the cost of your trip to India.

As you can see, coming to India is never a question of money. It is only a question for the heart. India beckons; will you answer the call?

Quick Guide to Travel Photography

By Garry Benson
Edited by Tracey Benson

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

Travel photography is a creative adventure. Away from home, you have the opportunity to record the unfamiliar with a fresh eye. This can be as true of a regular family holiday as of rare and special trips to exotic places.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

Purely as records of experience, travel photos are often irreplaceable – you cannot go back. This means that to find, take and bring home an accurate record you need to be well prepared. An important section of these notes are such essentially practical matters as what equipment to carry and how to look after it. There are also general tips on travel formalities and on the challenges of different locations. And a final section shows how to put it all together in a slide show or trip album.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

But travel photos can be more than by-products of a trip. Holidays and journeys give you the luxury of time – time to observe the beauties or oddities of the world and to compose images that capture the atmosphere and spirit of people and places. By travelling as a photographer and with a photographer’s selective eye, you can come home with a collection of evocative images.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

1. Planning a Trip
Anticipation is one of the pleasures of travel. And with some advance knowledge of where you are going, you will waste less time in the wrong places and come back with a more interesting photographic record. Also, you will take better pictures if you have packed the right equipment. So before you leave, do some planning.

The first stage of preparation is to research as thoroughly as possible the places you will visit by going online, using guides, travel books, brochures, magazines and postcards. Such visual material will provide a starting point for your own photographs and websites like Tripadvisor help to inform you about other travellers experiences. You should also find out what kind of weather to expect, if there are strict rules about access to particular sites, and the starting times of any special events to be held during your stay. For example, a nearby town might be celebrating a festival; or a night scene reproduced in a travel book may suggest a good subject for time-exposure pictures. All this research will help you decide what equipment is vital and what you can leave behind.

The need for planning does not stop when you get to a destination. If you’re alone, you can work out a photographic schedule according to the subjects that appeal to you most. But if you’re holidaying with family or friends you’ll have to organise your photographic schedule around your companions’ plans. So try to organise your more ambitious outings for the days when others are indulging in more conventional amusements. For example, if you need to take a long, steep climb for an overall view of a resort, wait until your companions are relaxing on the beach, rather than drag unwilling hikers along with you.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

2. Travel Formalities
Camera equipment tends to attract attention from customs authorities, particularly at airports. In some countries, the amount of equipment you are allowed to bring in is surprisingly limited, and if you are flying overseas with more than one camera there may be problems.

Try to check the allowances beforehand with the tourist information services and Smart Traveller. In practise, customs officials have wide discretion over how strictly they enforce the rules. A reasonable, cooperative attitude will often work wonders. Remember that the regulations are generally designed to prevent people selling items at a profit without paying duty. Always stress that your cameras and equipment are personal effects.

A good tip is to list cameras and lenses, with their numbers, so that the list can be registered with customs, both when you leave your own country and upon entering a foreign one. Alternatively, suggest that the details are entered by customs on your passport so that you are obliged to take out the same items you brought in.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

3. Local Research
However well you prepare the ground for a trip before leaving home, there is no substitute for on-the-spot research. The more information you can glean from local sources, the more chances you have of finding unusual viewpoints or rich photographic source material. Begin with that published information ‚Äď guides, maps and postcards from bookshops and kiosks at stations, airports and hotels. Studying postcards is particularly useful: you can put yourself in the photographer‚Äôs position, and then consider other possible viewpoints and approaches. next, visit the local tourist office and travel agents. There, you can get free, up-to-date literature and detailed information on subjects that interest you. A list of organised tours, even if they are too expensive or not to your taste, can be helpful when you plan your own excursions.

Finally, remember that your best sources are all around you: the local people. Never hesitate to ask and ask again. A sound policy is to ask several people the same question, because not all the information you receive will be reliable. The staff at your hotel or guesthouse will usually be very helpful, but if possible take the precaution of checking out what they tell you at the photographic site. For example, if you want to get shots when fisherman are retuning with their catch, make your enquiries at the harbour.

The first step at any site is to make a reconnaissance visit. If time and the site permit, walk around the subject to assess every possible angle. Make running notes of the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches, and try to imagine how changing lighting conditions will affect each view. Again, postcards of the subject will provide useful comparisons. Deciding when and how to take the picture will depend on what you want to convey about the subject.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

4. Judging a Location
Once you have research a locale and have a clear idea of the subjects you want to photograph, you should consider the best conditions for taking your pictures. Of course if you are recording an event. Timing, and to a certain extent camera position, will be predetermined. But for more stable subjects ‚Äď scenic views and interesting landmarks and buildings ‚Äď the time of day and the viewpoint you choose are all-important.

For example, to help you choose the most effective conditions, find out both the time and the direction of sunrise and sunset; these will depend on the season as well as the place. Remember that the angle and quality of early light change very quickly; arriving at the site even ten minutes late may mean missing the best picture. Where the climate is consistent, you can plan your pictures precisely. Otherwise, be prepared to visit a site several times until the conditions are right.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

5. Putting it all together
Photographs are meant to be seen, and the lasting pleasure of travel photography comes when the trip is over and you can browse through your images. Selecting, arranging and presenting your pictures are as much parts of the creative process as taking photographs and deserve as much care.

The advance planning, local research and notes you made about pictures along the way will now pay off. Instead of a random heap of images, including some you cannot identify, you will have a unique and vivid record of your whole trip. You might choose to arrange your images consecutively, in order of then places visited; or according to one of more themes planned at the time. And keep an open mind ‚Äď you may find that an unexpected theme suddenly occurs to you.

The Evliya Çelebi Way Project: 2009 Expeditionary Ride, Part 6

The 2009 Ride – The Final Chapter
Contributed by Gerald Maclean

We camped in the open.

Anadolu keeps an eye on us.
Anadolu keeps an eye on us.

We were always happy to wake up in the morning.

Another beautiful day
Another beautiful day
Coffee was always ready.
Coffee was always ready.

And we were always eager and more or less ready to get going.

Carpe Diem
Carpe Diem
Getting ready for the day
Getting ready for the day
Getting ready for the day
Getting ready for the day

Some 1300 kilometres later, the horses and core riders fetched up in K√ľtahya, unfazed by adventures and ready for more.

The end of the Road: Titiz and Elis in K√ľtahya ready for more.

Titiz and Elis
Titiz and Elis
The supply vehicle was unloaded
The supply vehicle was unloaded

It was time to go home. The Ride was over. It had been a great success. Not one of the horses went lame. Did nothing go wrong?

~END~

Things that went wrong include:

  • matters that simply cannot be related in public
  • delays the first day over tack and rains that pour as soon as we set off
  • coping with the mud next morning
  • excessive hospitality on the part of villagers
  • getting lost in the forest
  • the problem of leaving waste behind
  • the politics of village life: the incident in the night at Ovacik
  • accidents to people requiring medical attention
  • the police arrest the supply vehicle
  • the snows come…

By any standards of comparison, the 2009 group of riders were and remained a happy bunch; there were far fewer of the kinds of personality clashes that I have known on other expeditions of this sort, and will draw a curtain over my memory of them, since they were seldom more than petty. And it is true to say that in general, the Ride that year was successful in all of its objectives. But there were, of course, unexpected problems along the Way. In addition to matters that should not be reported, these include:

  • delays the first day over tack and rains that pour as soon as we set off, and coping with the mud next morning
  • excessive hospitality on the part of villagers
  • getting lost in the forest
  • being suspected of being sheep rustlers
  • the problem of leaving waste behind
  • the politics of village life: the incident in the night at Ovacik
  • accidents to people requiring medical attention
  • the police arresting the supply vehicle
  • the snows arriving…

Note from Editor: Stay tuned for some reporting from the 2014 Ride – live from the saddle ūüôā

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 ūüôā

 

Oscar helping us out.
Oscar helping us out.

 

 

We Love Books!

Ok, I have a confession to make РI love books! To make things worse, I married someone who also loves books. Over the years I have bought so many wonderful books from Amazon, which is a great way to buy titles not easily found in Australian book shops.

Oscar contemplating some reading
Oscar Sun Ra contemplating some reading

Between us, we have a burgeoning collection of travel, art and cartography books. We thought that our followers might also enjoy some of the titles we have read, so here is a short list of some recent purchases:

We have recently become affiliates with Amazon, so if you click on these links and buy stuff, we get a small commission – which will help us fund this project.
Enjoy!