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Showing posts from 2007

China by Train

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Travelling around China by train is fast. You can cross the country in less than two days.

Chinese Life in Fuzhou

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Our first Chinese hospitality exchange experience took us to Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province. It is not easy to find Chinese people among hosts and so we were very grateful to Lee and her roommate Barbara. They welcomed us wholeheartedly and took us to their family. Lee came to meet us at the train station when we arrived. That was actually the first time in one and a half years that somebody did so. Imagine how great it feels when you arrive tired from a 20-hour train trip and somebody is greeting you happily like an old, long awaited friend. These things we have really grown to appreciate when travelling a long time in countries where most of the time we don’t know anyone.

Expatriate Life In Nanjing, China

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Nanjing has a surprisingly lively expat community considering that more internationally appealing Shanghai is just a few hours’ away. But Nanjing has a few advantages: living is cheaper and people are more patient with foreigners. The one and only reason why we stopped in Nanjing was couchsurfing. People don’t usually come to the city that much for tourism as for a longer stay, for example to learn Chinese or to teach English. All of our hosts and other couchsurfing people we met were teachers. That seems to be, actually, de facto for foreigners everywhere in China. Somehow expatriates are always polarised by the purpose of their stay. For example in Thailand it was sex tourism.

Palladium-Porcelain-Panda

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Global Nomads Päivi & Santeri celebrating their 3rd wedding anniversary on the road in China. Here are some photos of our Palladium-Porcelain-Panda wedding anniversary (the 3rd). Other wedding anniversaries and our wedding.

Travelling to holy and mysterious Tibet

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Travelling to Tibet by the new Qinghai-Tibet railway was awesome and easy. No notorious travel permits were needed. Tibet itself with its mountainous scenery and minority people reminded us of Bolivia, which we love, except that it was way more touristy. Still, at least the train trip was worthwhile.

Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China

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Hohhot (Huhehaote in Chinese), is the capital of Inner Mongolia province located beyond the Great Wall in China. Many Chinese asked us why we were going there. According to them, there is nothing and the remote province is populated by "barbarians". Inner Mongolians call themselves Mongolians just like Outer Mongolians. Hohhot proved to be an interesting blend of modern China and Mongolian culture. You can feel the difference right away when you get out of the megalomaniac train station. Nearby streets are full of little eateries where people sit outside. In September the weather was already a bit chilly and people were keeping themselves warm by the fires, wearing jackets and wollen pullovers.

Couchsurfing in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

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Ulaanbaatar’s city centre is Soviet-style. One part filled with dilapidated apartment buildings and the other with gers (or yurt, a kind of tent). After living seven months in a hotel in Cambodia and six months in Thailand, we thought it would be great to try something else for a while: couchsurfing and Mongolia.

Vietnam by Bus

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Travelling by bus from Cambodia to Vietnam and all the way through Vietnam from South to North.

Life in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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Phnom Penh in Cambodia is a relatively hassle-free long-stay destination thanks to corruption especially for global nomads. We have had a pleasant chance to meet our friends in Cambodia this year. First Bill and Betty came over from the US on their six month tour around China and South-East Asia. Together we explored Phnom Penh and Angkor, and made a virtual tour to Angkor temples. Bill & Betty travel a lot spending around half a year abroad. We met in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where we both used to live. You can read about Bill’s and Betty’s travels at Bill’s blog. After the first of May came Helena who took care of Santeri when he was a baby. Helena is living in Kuala Lumpur where we celebrated last Christmas with her family. Helena used to live in China for some years, and according to her Phnom Penh is very much alike. She had been travelling in the neighbouring countries but this was her first visit to Cambodia.

Pirate Books: Lonely Planet Cambodia (2007 Enhanced Edition)

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This Enhanced Edition is a lonely planet parody that is better than the original. The printed book was for sale in Cambodia.

Part 1: Armchair Travelling

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Travel literature review. Detailed descriptions of places and of the beauty of the landscape inherent in travel literature are tedious.

The Best Travel Books

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Our two favorites in travel literature are Jet Lag’s Molvanîa and Will Ferguson’s Hokkaido Highway Blues. Molvanîa travel guide is an excellent parody of travel guidebooks. Molvanîa is a fictional country, “untouched by modern dentistry” as the book describes. It is, of course, situated in godforsaken East Europe, which is a most convenient base for mythical stories. The book is a rare treasure among travel literature’s usually dead-serious genre.

Boycott Against Air Europa

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Boycott against Air Europa. They trashed Päivi´s backpack and promised refund, but getting it took a year and way too much trouble. Päivi´s backpack received a bit too rough treatment on our flight with Air Europa one year ago, and it broke down. The company promised to refund the damage, as it finally did. But getting the money required dozens of emails, phone calls, and facsimiles. We even had to turn to the European Consumer centre. Here’s the full story why we boycott Air Europa. Our flight was from Salvador, Brazil to Madrid, Spain. When we noticed that Päivi´s backpack had trashed, we filed a baggage claim report right away at Barajas airport. First, we were told to get a replacement bag in Madrid, but unfortunately the luggage shop that Air Europa used, did not have backpacks. Next, we were told to buy a new one from Finland where we were going, and to send the receipt to Air Europa’s Luggage service for refunding.

Our website has been redesigned

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Our site has been revamped. We changed the navigation bar to the left side where it is easier to use. There you can search blog entries by countries. You will also find information about why we left the rat race and became full-time travellers. The happiness test allows you to measure how happy you are. The test is related to the book La Habanera which we wrote about our new career choice and leaving our country of origin, Finland. In Highlights (on top of the right dock) you can explore one of the most memorable destinations of our travels so far, e.g. Samba Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Trans-Siberian Railway, and Russian Rainbow Camp. We use six categories for blog entries: Travels, Photos, Books, Articles, Boycotts, and Humor. In future, we plan to write more articles about our philosophy of traveling from the perspective of responsible and sustainable tourism. At the end of the dock you will find a link list of blogs of some our travelling friends, travel-related discussion forums…

Happiness test

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Test your happiness using our free test. It was created for the book La Habanera: The Escape From The Rat Race.

An Orwellian Vision of Air Travel

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An Orwellian vision of air travel: increased fear-driven security procedures make air-travel ever more difficult and uncomfortable. As current, fear-driven security procedures increase, travelling by air will be even more difficult than today. It might not be enough to leave all liquids, arms, blades, scissors, and lighters at home as human bodies may pose an even bigger risk for flight security. Bodies can burst into flames, plastic explosives can be swallowed or surgically implanted, and nerve gas agents can be easily hidden in any luggage. Some mighty explosives contain the same material as human body. Imagination is the only limit how those assets can be used as they have to be boarded in any case. If paranoia and fear of death escalates further, the following Orwellian vision might be inescapable. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Sihanoukville, Cambodia

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New tourists arriving in Sihanoukville, Cambodia get attacked by an aggressive taxi mafia mob. Watch the video and see by yourself.

A Once In A Lifetime Experience

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An unforgettable Cambodian-Finnish friendship day in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with sauna and Santa Claus. Sauna And A Plunge Into The Mekong River One of the most memorable days during our travels was definitely the Cambodian-Finnish friendship day in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The festivities included sauna bath, a plunge into the nearby River Mekong, and meeting of Santa Claus. Here is a detailed story of the great day when we felt like kings. During the 2.5 years of our travels 3 times around the world we have never experienced such a genuine and unselfish hospitality.

Critical Eye On Tourism

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Critical eye on tourism: why travel literature encourage marketing talk and critique is falsely perceived negative? Tourists returning home from their travels are often reciting familiar, positive mantras which can also be read from any tourist guide book or travel agency’s brochure: the weather was great, beaches brilliant, people friendly and smiling all the time, all the sights bigger and better than anywhere else in the world, and the night life buzzing around the clock. Critique does not have a part in this gospel despite the difficulties encountered. This raises an interesting question: Why is criticism silenced? Let us examine two fundamental factors for this behaviour: 1) travel literature and travel-related discussion forums which encourage marketing, and 2) the common misconception according to which critique is negative.

Temples of Angkor, Cambodia

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Welcome to Angkor Temples virtual tour! This way you can avoid all the usual scams and rip-offs, and visit the temples without harming them. The absolute highlight of our travels in South-East Asia has been meeting our friends. First Martijn and Uswa came to see us in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and now Bill and Betty in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Bill and Betty wanted to see the famous temple area of Angkor so we joined the caravan and headed to Siem Reap. The bus ride was slow even though the roads were pretty good. The 225-kilometre-ride took seven hours.

לה הבנרה

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La Habanera - The escape of the rat race in Hebrew. Free ebook. לה הבנרה

Photos and Feelings from Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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A photo blog: Rikshas and frog legs in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The capital is an interesting mix of the colonial heritage and Asian culture. Our friends, Betty & Bill came from Vietnam to see us, and we will travel with them for a while. We visited a popular square in front of the Royal Palace. Cambodia has still a king, although his position is controversial because he supported Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot. During the reign of Pol Pot over million Cambodians were terminated in the process of creating a Marxist agricultural utopia.

Are we guests or tourists?

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We have been told a few times in travel-related Internet discussion forums that when we travel outside Finland, we are guests. Therefore we must refrain from expressing any opinions on that country or its people unless our view is positive. Criticism and especially trying to right wrongs is not seen as acceptable behaviour of a guest. Are we guests or tourists? Let us consider a bit more deeply the concept of ‘guest’. Traditionally it refers to a person who is invited to a country or a home by a host. How many people have actually been invited to visit a country? Certainly diplomats, visiting governors of other nations, some sportsmen and other celebrities. But what about regular tourists on their holiday?