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Tag Archives: Traveling

Lost in the Valley of Death

Two men said goodbye with a godlike river thundering in their ears. Andrey Gapon, a 47-year-old Russian man, had spent three months on a self-made spiritual retreat in the Parvati Valley, deep in the Indian Himalayas. Walking alongside was an American man, 35-year-old Justin Alexander, a seasoned traveler and experienced outdoorsman who’d impressed Gapon with his wilderness survival skills, having just spent weeks living in a mountain cave. Now Alexander was embarking on a three-day trek to a holy site called Mantalai Lake, where he would camp under the stars with few supplies.

Gapon offered to go with him, but Alexander said it was a journey he wanted to do with a sadhu, a Hindu holy man who renounces possessions in a search for enlightenment.“I didn’t want to persuade him not to go,” recalls Gapon, but he was concerned. Just weeks before, Gapon had also trekked to Mantalai, a cluster of pools murky with glacial flour at the source of the Parvati River. The lake lies in a broad basin relentlessly tormented by winds and subfreezing temperatures. At around 13,500 feet, the icy moraine produces no trees for either shelter or firewood. Alexander didn’t have a stove or cooking fuel, so Gapon pressed something into his hand, a fitting parting gift to someone who valued both practicality and minimalism: a red windproof butane lighter.

https://www.outsideonline.com/2373446/justin-alexander-shetler-missing-parvati-valley

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Posted by on February 19, 2019 in Asia, Reportages

 

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The Disaster Tourist

“I beg that you see how I am only human,” Otto Warmbier pleaded tearfully at his February 2016 show trial in Pyongyang. The University of Virginia honor student sat in judgment beneath gold-framed portraits of the Kim family, tugging occasionally at the fratty summer jacket he wore over his parti-colored shirt. Before him: a scrum of cameras and a horseshoe of dour goons scribbling in notebooks. The courtroom itself—its dimensions were simply wrong. Too tall, too narrow, why’s there a fern in the corner. Dreamlike, in the eeriest way.

“I have made the worst mistake of my life,” Otto admitted. Two months earlier, he’d ventured into North Korea as part of a five-day package with a China-based outfit called Young Pioneer Tours. He and some other Westerners did what was apparently common on these trips: They imbibed a few cocktails, they snapped a few outré photos in front of statues of mass murderers. As they were boarding their plane out of the country, however, Otto was quietly apprehended. He was accused of committing “a hostile act against the state.” Eventually, Otto was arraigned on charges of working secretly for the U.S. government and attempting to “[bring] down the foundation of [North Korea’s] single-minded unity.” How he supposedly went about this was by stealing a propaganda poster from a forbidden floor of the hotel where his group was staying. For evidence, the North Korean government provided ostensible surveillance footage showing … a silhouetted humanoid … lifting up a sign? And leaning it against a wall?

http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/dark-tourism/

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2018 in Reportages

 

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The art of tour guiding 

Tour guiding in Australia is easy on some levels: you feed your charges well, take them to the right places, and try to keep their feet warm. But extreme weather, mechanical problems, flies in the daytime, mosquitoes at night, the Germans, the lack of sleep, the feelings of deep existential loneliness … all these things will conspire against you.
You should never, or almost never, give your tourists the choice between two options. This is a mistake inexperienced guides often make. Are you not the leader of this expedition? Have you not been here a hundred times before and know what it’s about? Don’t go inflicting the misery of democracy on them. It may seem generous and noble, but in the middle of an Australian summer I have seen some people reduced to tears.

https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2015/june/1433080800/robert-skinner/art-tour-guiding

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2016 in Oceania, Reportages

 

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Far Away From Here

Only a few slender strings were attached: two public readings and a commitment to spend the majority of the six months in the country. Beyond that, I would be left to my own devices. An apartment would be provided, and a stipend. I didn’t think about it for very long. I wrote back: Yes.
The invitation had come from the Literaturhaus in Zurich, one of those wonderful arts institutions of which Europe seems to have so many. Every six months they selected one writer, from anywhere in the world, to stay in the apartment they ran with a foundation. When I received the invitation, I felt as though I’d won a raffle I didn’t even know I had a ticket for.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/09/27/magazine/far-away-from-here.html?referer=

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2016 in Europe, Reportages

 

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Medical Mountaineers

To get to Saldang is simple, if not exactly easy. You walk. The nearest airport, many days away by foot, is a rough dirt strip at an altitude of about eight thousand feet. It sits on the side of a Himalayan mountain in the Dolpo district of northwest Nepal, on the border with Tibet. Heading north from the village of Juphal, a labyrinth of small houses on a steep slope, you encounter a place where fossil fuels are not part of daily life. In much of the region, there are no roads. Horses, mules, and yaks—and men, women, and children—carry goods on trails.
One autumn day, the Nomads Clinic, a medical-service trip, pilgrimage, and adventure expedition, set off from Juphal with six riding horses, and fifty pack mules laden with a month’s worth of food, cooking equipment, camping gear, and clothing. Six duffels were stuffed with medicine and medical equipment—asthma inhalers, deworming pills, vitamins, analgesics, antibiotics. Others held hundreds of solar lights, toothbrushes, sunglasses, and reading glasses, to be given away. It was the 2015 edition of a mobile clinic that Joan Halifax, a seventy-three-year-old American teacher of Zen Buddhism, has been coördinating since the nineteen-eighties, to provide medical care in places where there is little or none.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/21/medical-mountaineers

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2016 in Asia

 

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Wanderlust runs in American veins, from Comanche to retiree

On visiting the United States, the Tibetan dignitary T T Karma Chophel met with a group of supporters in Utah. He was there to discuss democracy, but his gaze kept travelling out across the high desert to the snowy mountains on the horizon. He thought of yaks and yak-herders, making their endless migrations across a similar landscape in Tibet, and he assumed there must be some US equivalent. ‘Who are your nomads?’ he asked.The answer to that question depends on how you define a nomad. Some scholars, such as the Russian authority A M Khazanov, maintain that nomads have never existed in North America, with the possible exception of the Navajo, who became semi-nomadic herders after commandeering horses and sheep from Spanish settlers in New Mexico. For these scholars, who specialise in Central Asia and Africa, the word ‘nomad’ can be applied only to pastoral herding tribes who subsist on their livestock. Webster’s dictionary counters with: ‘Any of a people who have no permanent home, but moving about constantly, as in search of pasture.’

Source: Wanderlust runs in American veins, from Comanche to retiree | Aeon Essays

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2016 in North America, Reportages

 

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Guida pratica per viaggiatrici solitarie

“Non voglio più morire di noia, di birra, di una pallottola vagante. Di infelicità. Me ne vado”. Sono le parole di Catherine Poulain, l’autrice di Le grand marin, un romanzo che racconta i suoi anni rudi vissuti a bordo di una nave in Alaska: mani spaccate dal sale, temperature polari, convivenza non sempre facile con i marinai.Il libro è un bestseller in Francia, dove Poulain è stata paragonata a Herman Melville e Jack London (in Italia il romanzo sarà pubblicato a novembre da Neri Pozza). Se la letteratura è uno specchio più o meno deformante della realtà, allora conviene far caso che per la prima volta una storia di questo tipo – avventurosa, estrema, ma scritta da una donna – ha ricevuto in Europa tanto interesse di pubblico e critica.

Source: Guida pratica per viaggiatrici solitarie – Valentina Pigmei – Internazionale

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2016 in Reportages

 

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I nuovi viaggiatori che non prendono l’aereo

Questa è l’epoca dei viaggi senza: senza soldi, senza mete prestabilite, senza bagagli pesanti e soprattutto senza aerei. Un fenomeno ancora di nicchia, che tuttavia sta interessando sempre più persone: non tanto, o non solo, chi dell’aereo ha paura, ma soprattutto quella generazione di viaggiatori cresciuta a suon di ecosostenibilità e anticonsumismo. È cominciata qualche anno fa, un po’ all’interno di una generale smania di lentezza, con una terminologia molto programmatica: lo “slow travel”. Da fenomeno più libresco e teorico, è diventato via via un piccolo “movimento lento”, fatto di storie ed esperienze realizzate.

http://www.internazionale.it/notizie/2016/04/27/viaggi-senza-aereo

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2016 in Reportages

 

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Il vero spirito del viaggio è il ritorno

Dice un proverbio tuareg: “Entrare nel mare è facile, ma è difficile uscirne”. Di sicuro il mondo si divide in due: chi ha paura di partire e chi ha il terrore di tornare; chi non si decide mai a farlo e chi ha problemi a smettere. Faccio parte della seconda categoria: tornare da sempre mi angoscia, destabilizza, fa deperire. Non ho mai compreso a fondo le motivazioni di chi desidera tornare a casa mentre è ancora in movimento, senza essere preso da un senso di vertigine. Non parlo tanto di turismo, quanto di viaggi. Tuttavia in generale ho detestato fin da bambina l’idea del tornare, anche dopo un semplice weekend al mare, forse traumatizzata dalla citatissima frase di Andrea Pazienza: “Mai tornare indietro, nemmeno per prendere la rincorsa”.

http://www.internazionale.it/opinione/valentina-pigmei/2016/04/17/viaggiare-viaggio-ritorno

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2016 in Reportages

 

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Living Like Thoreau in a Cabin in Alaska 

couple of years ago, I woke to three birds circling over my body, barking. I’d been sleeping in a bivouac, a kind of raincoat for a sleeping bag, camped in the tundra of Alaska’s Kantishna Hills. I unzipped the bivouac and popped my head out, peering up as the eerie silhouetted birds swooped toward me. The moon was a low and yellow sliver in the eastern sky; clouds to the northwest stacked in electric oranges and dark purples.The birds’ bodies stretched wide, their faces were flat. I could see faint stripes on the undersides of their extended wings. One of them landed on my food canister nearby and hissed. The other two circled about fifteen feet above the ground. They rose, then dove toward me, then rose and circled once more. They kept a rhythm: every few circles, one of them plunged toward me again. They eyed me from above, barking all the while like angry watchdogs. When one came close enough to claw at me, I flung my arms overhead and screamed, “Stop! What’s wrong! Go away! Please!”

Source: Living Like Thoreau in a Cabin in Alaska – The Atlantic

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2015 in Reportages

 

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