Today is #EarthDay, but because there are plenty of people who have already contributed with very meaningful posts, I’m going to focus on something else that is very important to me: Today is also the 30th birthday of this wonderful human who I adore with all my heart. Happy Birthday my love! ♥️
It was arriving to the remote village (after a 3h long bumpy scooter ride), & we felt uncomfortable. Nothing special happened. A few kids put their hands out indicating they expected 🍬; some of the people stared seriously at us before returning our hellos. Nothing terrible. But something didn’t feel right. ... A few minutes there and we could tell they had received a fair number of visitors recently. The women shyly smiled & paused their activities as if posing for us to take a quick snap on our “tour”. And the gov officials, building a large parking lot, made it clear what it was for. Big changes were coming to the village, not to improve the local conditions, but for us, tourists. ... We did not want to become a part of that. We did not want to be just 2 foreigners that barged in and rushed out after checking off ☑️ ‘see Kayaw tribe village’ of our list. So we tried to be as discrete as possible. We didn’t take any pictures, even though literally everyone was fascinating. We didn’t ask to see the women weaving, or how the men built a house. We just sat under a tree to rest, before heading back. Then a woman approached us, & with simple sign language, invited us to sit with her. We did. We brought out some 🍇 for all of us to eat, whilst “discussing” topics such as family. We connected. It was then that we felt comfortable enough to take out our 📷. We took a couple of photos of her, and she took some of us. And we laughed a lot. ... As uncomfortable as it may be, the reality is that tourism is reaching every corner of the planet. Things are changing. Once remote villages will have big parking lots to accommodate the herds of people that want to be exposed to something different. And we may not be able to control these changes. But we can always strive to travel more consciously, to be kind and considerate of how we affect those we are privileged enough to visit, and to be thankful. ... We walked away with a special image that day. Not because it shows a Kayaw woman, but because it represents a beautiful moment we experienced. ... Have you ever visited a place at the brink of change? Did you feel uncomfortable about being a part of it?
When researching what could be visited in Oman, one of the things that stood out to us was spending a night in the Wahiba Sands desert. There seemed to be two ways of doing this: 1. Staying in a hotel camp that includes transportation. This meant paying big bucks (bloggers be recommending places that cost minimum 140€ a night as affordable 🙄) to get picked up and dropped off in a glamping situation. Apart from not being in our budget, obviously, sleeping in some jazzed up tents with all the facilities is just not the type of experience we’re after. 2. Going yourself, but getting there with a 4x4. This would also be expensive, not to mention risky, as off-roading with sand can be especially dangerous. It just wasn’t worth it. ... After all the research, it seemed like we would have to conform with seeing the dunes from afar. That was until we randomly came across the name of an oasis village. I checked, and it was on google maps with a road that led directly to it. We didn’t know if it was paved, but we thought we’d try. That’s how we ended up sleeping in the middle of the sand dunes on our own (please note that wild camping is legal in Oman). Our 2W car safely parked a 30min walk away, in a village reached by a tarmac road. Without any issues, and as cheap as it could get. And it was a wonderful night! ... This is why DIY is one of our main tips to save money when traveling! With just a little bit of research and imagination, you can have amazing experiences that don’t hurt your wallet. To read more of our money saving travel tips, check out our post (link in bio). ... What has been you best DIY experience?
Here I am, sitting in a patio in Bangkok, mending the holes in my underwear. It may seem like TMI, but I have a point.. . A couple of years ago I decided wholeheartedly to switch to ethical and sustainable clothing. After all, fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world, amongst it’s many other issues. For me, it meant stopping my shopping in cheap fast fashion stores, actually it meant mostly stopping my shopping altogether, switching to mostly second hand whenever I needed something (like the dress pictured here which I bought in Singapore), and once in a while investing in a few ethical high quality pieces. And I think I’ve mostly been successful. But one thing I have not found an alternative for, is underwear. I have yet to find a sustainable brand that has underwear that I like, I can afford, and doesn’t require be sent half across the world (because that defeats the purpose for me). That has meant that all my underwear is now 2+ years old. And it’s starting to show. Being unsuccessful in finding an appropriate alternative, has meant that instead of tossing it out as soon as it’s not in perfect shape, I find myself mending and extending it’s life. That is one of the positive things of ethical and sustainable fashion, that because of its challenging nature of higher expenses and limited options, it makes you really think before you purchase something new. Do you try shop ethically/sustainably? If so, which item of clothing has been the hardest to switch?
Every sustainable/ethical switch Warner and I make to our lives, is only possible because of others’ practices and work. We can only eat local and organic fruits and veggies, thanks to the farmers that choose the difficult path of harvesting our earth; we can only buy ethically sourced clothes and items, when a few businesses go against the capitalist norm and prioritize values over economic gain; we can only be zero waste, as long as others fight the convenience of plastic. So today we want to celebrate all these wonderful humans that make it possible for us to improve our own lives. Like this wonderful lady selling in bulk at the local market. Thank you for your hard work! Whose work are you grateful for today?
Today, this wonderful woman is turning 29 and I couldn’t be happier to share this special day with her (although we’ll spend most of the day on a 20+ hour bus ride🤢). . This year I have seen a blind kitten survive the chaos of India, and a very sick Sri Lankan puppy fully recover and find a home; been motivated by shouts to “keep going” whilst standing exhaustedly knee-deep in Himalayan snow; eaten some of the most delicious food I have ever had; spent beautiful evenings enjoying sunsets and stunning scenery; learnt to make photos and write; gotten the courage to get out of my comfort, travel and not worry about the future; been listened to every time I was stressed, anxious or frustrated; felt the comfort of ‘being home’ even in shitty hotels; and have gone to sleep hearing “I love you” every night. All as a result of having this Spanish power lady by my side. It is because of this lovely woman that I’m pushed to new highs and am continuously evolving in to a better version of myself. I can proudly say I’m a vegetarian, a feminist, an animal lover, a conscious traveler, and an enjoyer of life. Not because I have always been, but because Ale showed me how. I love Ale’s passion to address the wrongs, the shameless activist and protector she becomes when seeing others get hurt, her caring soul for animals, her intellect (making me loose every argument we have), her open minded approach to life, her urge to live fully and alternatively, her stubbornness to keep going, and the endless love and care she has for me. So here is a shout out to this beautiful soul, happy birthday my love!
One year ago we left our lives in Europe behind to pursue something different. We’re so happy we did!
Thanaka What you see on this woman’s cheeks is called Thanaka, a paste made from ground bark that is widely used in Myanmar. It is applied to the face, and sometimes arms, for cosmetic purposes, a cooling effect (really works!), and to protect from the sun. Thanaka is also believed to keep your skin healthy and smooth (and my do they have beautiful skin here). Oh and it smells wonderful! Who wants to try it? 😀
We were slightly scared of going to Thailand. We had heard all the stories of it being too touristic, filled with disrespectful party goers, and just overrated in general. It just didn’t seem to be for us. So we planned on quickly passing through it on our way to more suitable places. That is, until we got there. . We instantly fell in love with Chiang Mai. The smiley people, the cool markets, the delicious food, and the chilled atmosphere. It was the perfect combination of everything we like! . Now, for us Thailand is a country we want to go back to. A place we’d love to live in and discover further. . Isn’t it wonderful when negative assumptions are challenged? Where have you visited that turned out to be much better than you thought?
Today is #InternationalWomensDay! . Having worked on gender and women’s rights for many years, it’s a celebration I’m all too familiar with, and have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, it’s fantastic that, at least one day of the year, women’s rights are at the center front, with the aim being to gain greater awareness of discrimination, advocate for equality, and highlight women’s achievements. On the other, it upsets me how it is misused and commercialized. . IWD, in decision-making environments, mostly translates into a lot of empty gestures, often spending ridiculous amounts of funds, to make those higher up (also the ones responsible for an unwavering status quo) look good. All the commitments and special hashtags are soon forgotten, with nothing much changing for women, until the following year, when the exact same issues are brought up, and everyone once again pretends to care. Trust me, I’ve seen it happening live. And more general / commercial celebrations of IWD are not better either. Let’s just say that I want equal rights, not discounts to clothes and spas, or gifted 🧁 and 🌹 . . Yup, I have a lot of thoughts on this issue. But the basic gist is, IWD (for me) shouldn’t be about striking a pose and waving a special balloon around. It’s about something so much deeper than that, something that cannot just be addressed once a year. . So today (and everyday), I would like to challenge you (and myself) to: 1. Consider and become aware of all women’s rights everywhere. Be brave (it’s not easy to realize we’re all part of the issue) and willing to grow (I’m a more conscious feminist everyday that passes). Educate and empower yourself to be an advocate for equality. 2. Listen to and support other women, be open to learning about their realities, and be a source of kindness and encouragement. Empowered women (and men, should) empower women. 3. Fight whenever possible, in however way you can, for equality. Stand up for yourself and for others, specially for those who don’t have a voice / are not heard. 4. Never stop caring, never stop advocating, never give up! . Happy IWD to all you lovely, conscious, caring, kind, ethical humans out there!
We love the feeling of discovery that comes with traveling. Not knowing what to expect, learning new things everyday, the endless possibilities. . But we’re not adventure junkies, at least not in the form other travelers seem to seek, or to the extent that it dominates our days. For us, it’s exciting enough to find a new go-to veggie food spot, recognize a few friendly faces, or simply spend some hours taking in a view. . That’s why, although some days are jam packed with action, many others are spent in contentment with simply being. Our hearts are filled, not by the number of monuments we can count as seen, but by the small discoveries and routines that make us feel a real connection to the place we are in. . Are you addicted to the feeling of constantly discovering something new? Or do you prefer familiarity? Or do you, like us, strive for a little bit of both?
Shoutout to the beauty in our differences! . The more we travel, the more we marvel at the beauty in our differences. Just a couple of hours can disclose a whole new world of architecture styles, surprising tastes, new sounding languages, and fascinating cultural traditions. How cool is that?!
George Town (Penang) stands out for it’s amazing food and interactive street art. Instead of being bothered by the fact that everyone takes the same pictures, we decided to join in. And it was so much fun!
Okay, it has taken us forever, but we have finally finished our comprehensive guide on consciously traveling through Oman on a budget! Please check it out (link in bio)! . We touch upon varied topics, from costs, safety and food, to mannerisms. All to make it a bit easier (and tempting) for you to plan your own adventure in this beautiful country. . Is Oman a destination you’d like to go to?
In Oman both women and men, dress very modestly. Most men wear an ankle length gown called a dishdasha, and women a long black dress called an abaya, with some, especially in more conservative areas, also wearing a niqab or burkha. Although conservative wear is encouraged (virtually any guide to Oman will tell you this, and there are also public notice boards at the entrances of villages and monuments asking you to cover you shoulders and legs), Omanis do not impose. It’s perhaps because of this, that we saw plenty of tourists walking around in short, tight-fitting clothes. And in popular swimming spots, most women wore bikinis, even with locals present. We personally prefer to do as the locals do, to the extent we feel comfortable at least. In Oman, out of respect, I made sure to always be fully covered, including wearing a scarf over my head. When swimming, I wore a bathing suit and a t-shirt and shorts on top (had considered leggings and long sleeves but seeing the rest I loosened up a tad). The only moment I didn’t respect my own strict dress code was visiting this lesser known wadi, as there was no one else in sight. It didn’t feel like a constraint. It felt appropriate. Being welcomed to this beautiful country is a privilege we wanted to honor. Are you conscious of what you pack when visiting other countries?
With its 2040 tourism strategy, Oman expects to more than triple the number of international travelers in the coming years. Tourism is seen as an opportunity to steer towards a more sustainable non-oil dependent economy. The aim is to make Oman a sustainable tourism destination; one where tourism benefits the host community, promotes and respects local culture and heritage, all whilst respecting the country’s resources and environment. Reading through the strategy, we can’t help but be impressed that all these elements seem to be included. We hope the governments’ acknowledgement of what sustainable tourism requires, translates into actual commitment in the design, execution and implementation of tourism initiatives in the future. After all, it would be a real shame to see all the beautiful doors like this one, disappear. Do you know of other countries that have a sustainable tourism strategy? We would love to see more of these initiatives, and how they actually translate into reality.
Oasis towns We were very lucky to go to #Oman in the cooler winter months (with average temperatures between 20 and 30ºC). But the country can get real HOT the rest of the year. That’s where Oasis towns come in handy. The irrigated date palm fields not only supplied the inhabitants with the food necessary, but also created significantly cooler outside spaces under the shade. On the other hand, the thick mud walls of the traditional homes provided insulation, that together with the ingenious cooling methods of their 2 tier windows, resulted in pleasant interiors to seek refuge from the blazing sun. Sadly these methods are now considered a thing of the past, with most people abandoning the old quarters of the villages to live in large concrete homes that need AC installed in every room to be livable. Because the homes are now spread out in the barren landscape, far away from any shaded public space, everyone hops directly in to their air conditioned cars to drive to a mall, when fancying a walk. This creates a great dependency on energy, that will for sure face challenges when the petroleum supply is finished. But by then, the ancient building wisdom will long be gone. We were instantly enchanted by the beauty of the crumbling oasis villages. It’s such a shame that they may not exist for much longer. ... This is a constant we’ve observed around the world. The arrogance of the modern man is resulting in centuries of knowledge becoming obsolete. The new deemed superior solutions pose numerous challenges for the future of our planet, and yet we seem to ignore our past. Have you encountered any ancient techniques that inspired you?
Four and a half years of planning adventures together! ♥️