Friday, December 3, 2010

Weekend Inspiration to Wander

Turkestan Yurt Camp, in Kyrgyzstan. (By lensfodder)
Wanderlust. The world is a big place, get out there and discover it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Whale of a Secret

OK, so while it isn't exactly a secret anymore, it isn't a well known fact either. The Filipino village of Donsol, which lies in the Sorsogon region on the southeastern part of the Bicol Peninsula, does hold claim to one of the worlds interesting animal tourism attractions. The villagers there have, for years, been dependent on village industry and the success of fishermen from the village to drive local economy. The waters near Donsol were known to have a large whale shark presence. Though the whale sharks had been known to locals for over a hundred years, they were feared to have been dangerous and potentially deadly. This kept the locals well away for that period.

The uncertainty of the local economy and the fear of the whale sharks all changed in January 1998, when a group of Scuba Divers dived with the whale sharks despite being unaware of the actual threat the animals posed. Soon though the group realized the sharks posed no threat, when the Scuba group leader made contact with the docile creatures. Two months later, Donsol had become the "Whale Shark Capital of the World" and still holds claim to that title nearly 13 years later.

Whale Shark and Diver (by Robin Hughes)

While I haven't yet had a chance to visit Donsol, I imagine and have heard that swimming with these giants of the ocean is almost an otherworldly experience. If you have the opportunity to take the time to have a dip with these ocean-dwellers. They arrive as early as November, but the official season for whale sharks is between February and the end of May but for best viewing opportunities visit during March or April, when numbers are at their greatest.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Five Obscure Modes of Transport

Every day around the world, billions of people use some form of transportation. While we as a Westernized society are very familiar with transport such as cars, buses, trains, planes and boats, there are some modes of transport we aren't so familiar with. With the world being such a vast and diverse entity, populations throughout the world find different needs for certain methods of transport. Listed below are just some of the not-so-common methods of transport from throughout the world.

Bamboo Train - Cambodia

Bamboo Train, Cambodia (by Noud W.)
The Bamboo Train, also known as a Norry, is an improvised rail vehicle from Cambodia. They run at 50/km an hour and are very cheap. The system is plagued by frequent derailments and breakdowns and is largely abandoned due to the Khmer Rouge shutting it down for some time. The Bamboo trains are powered by small motorbike or tractor engines. They are a must see and ride if you are planning a trip to Cambodia, as this may be one of the world's most endangered forms of transport.

Dhow - East Africa and the Middle East

Dhow in Zanzibar (by ld_germain)

The Dhow is a traditional Arab sailing vessel used throughout the Middle East and Eastern Africa. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are used for different purposes. Generally larger Dhows are used to lumber heavy goods between the Persian Gulf and East Africa, while the smaller Dhows are used for personal transportation and leisure. From Zanzibar, off of the coast of Tanzania, Dhows are a used frequently by tourists experiencing the local culture. 

Auto-Rickshaw - Asia & South East Asia

Auto-Rickshaw in India (by eyesore9)
The Auto-Rickshaw (also known as the Tuk-Tuk and numerous other names) is a mode of transportation commonly used through a range of Asian countries including India, Pakistan, Thailand, Cambodia and more. Other countries throughout the world also use the Auto-Rickshaw, although much less commonly. Two major issues with the vehicles are pollution issues and top-speed issues, due to the fact they cannot keep up with other automobiles they share the road with. Despite these issues, the Auto-Rickshaw is still a major form of transportation in developing countries. 

Elephant Back - South East Asia

Elephant back riding (by JKDs)

Elephants have been used for human pursuits for centuries in logging, zoos and circuses, safari-style hunting and medieval warfare. Elephants are still used in logging throughout the world, but are also commonly used in the tourist industry as an attraction to foreigners. They are easily found throughout South-East Asia and provide an unique and adventurous way to discover the sights and sounds of the tropical countries throughout the region. 

Ostrich Riding - Southern Africa
Ostrich Riding in South Africa (by jomilo75)
Although not an official mode of transport, it is a very uncommon and unusual ride! The first signs of humans riding Ostriches were found in a tomb in Egypt, with a statue of  Arsinoe II of Egypt riding an Ostrich. Since then there have been countless other forms of Ostrich riding, which is still a common practice throughout Africa. Ostrich racing was also first popularized in the US in 1892, and races are still held annually in the Phoenix, Arizona area. 

As you can see, although this is only a very small list, throughout the world people have come up with various convenient modes of transport. Please leave a comment if you know of or have experienced any other interesting forms of transport. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Planning begins.

As a self-confessed Vagabond-wannabe, I've always had a desire to travel to remote parts of the world and really explore certain regions. Places like the Amazon jungle, the Moroccan desert and the plains of Africa all make me giddy like a school kid. I have clashing passions though, as a semi-professional career as an SANFL footballer demands that I am in Adelaide for around 11 months a year. This doesn't leave a lot of time year by year to really take off and explore the world like I've planned.

That is why I've decided to save all my travel for a rainy day, although I would prefer not to have poor weather every day I travel! Well my big travel plans anyway, I might have a few short holidays to subdue the travel bug within for some time but eventually it will get the better of me. In the mean time I am making an effort to save money, which is obviously a vital part to the whole travel goal; as well as some up with a rough travel plan, that would obviously be very flexible. Currently that is what I find myself doing whenever I think of traveling and to some extent it does satisfy me. I know though that I won't truly be satisfied with my life until I take off for foreign shores on an extended vacation, with or without friends. Until then though, I've learned a few techniques to help me get through, which I will share over the next week. Stay posted until then!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

New Zealand Mourns

Despite being an Australian-born New Zealand citizen, I have a strong connection to the country. On my Mum's side of the family, majority of our family have been born and are living in New Zealand. This meant I was able to partake in numerous trips across the Tasman Sea to spend time with family. I find a inner connection to New Zealand that I am unable to explain, considering I have lived in Australia all my life. Proud is one word I would use. Proud of what such a small nation can do in this bad-ass world. It is the pride I have in my country that makes the news headlines from November 19, 2010 and the followings weeks so hard to swallow.

On this day, the Pike River Mine near Greymouth, on New Zealand's West Coast, was rocked by a powerful explosion which resulted in 29 miners being stuck inside the mine. The news spread across the world within hours. It was a tragic moment for New Zealand and the mining industry in the country. It was assumed there would be no survivors. Hope was being clung on to by families and friends though. After all, hope was all they and the rest of us praying for the safety of these miners could really hang on to. Dangerous conditions in the mine combined with a number of other setbacks slowed the recovery process considerably. Reports coming out early on Wednesday, November 24th stated that authorities believed there was a chance that there were survivors and everyones hopes began to lift. Unfortunately, as oft happens in life, things don't always go to plan. When a second explosion unexpectedly ripped through the mine that same day, everyones worst fears had instantly been confirmed. All the miners were dead, there would be no survivors. The tragedy ripped at the heart of the nation, and throughout the world as well.

If we learn anything from this, let it be that we are not here forever and that at any moment, your life or the life of a loved one may be taken away without notice. So don't wait for life to come to you. Be bold. Chase your dreams. Have no regrets. You've probably heard it all before, I know I have. Take a second though this time to actually take it all in. We only have one life so make the most of it.

Each of the brave miners had a life story. Wives, Children, Parents, Friends. A history of past events, good and bad, that made them who they were. One of the miner's was still only a child, having just turned 17 years of age the day before the mine collapsed. He died chasing his dreams in the mining industry, as he had always wanted to do.

 I am dedicating this post and my efforts for the rest of this year to be a better person in respect for them. 24 New Zealanders, 2 Australians, 2 Britons and 1 South African. Let us work to make sure their deaths aren't in vain. May their souls Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

127 Hours - based on a true story!

It's not often I find myself truly excited to buy a ticket to a newly-released movie at the cinemas. Sadly I'm one of those people who often wait for the movie to be released on DVD before I make an effort to see it. I even did it with Avatar, one of the highest-rated movies possibly of all-time. So this post marks some kind of a rarity, a special event on my calendar.

I remember hearing the story about Aron Ralston and the climbing accident that truly changed his life forever. If you don't know the story, I won't spoil it for you here. Simply put, he gets stuck between a rock and a hard place (this movie and story really shouldn't be joked about, but I had to slip it in). The subsequent 127 hours throw a number of different challenges Aron's way. It's best if I just leave the rest of the explanation to the trailer attached. Please though, be sure you make an effort to see this movie in the coming months - I have no doubts it will blow you away!

Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm sitting at the computer at home. The clock in the corner of my screen reads 4:07 PM. I've been busy all day but feel like I've achieved nothing. Who would've thought cleaning my room would really have taken this long? It doesn't matter now anyway.

 I find that by the time I keep hearing the sound of the vacuum cleaners humming over and over in my head that it's time to stop. I'm at that point right now.I'm going start the relaxation period of my weekend by cracking open some form of alcoholic beverage. I cannot wait for tonight's formalities.

Ps. If you get a chance, have a go at at the Traveler IQ Challenge on Facebook. The highest I've scored yet is 378,983 pts.