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.