Given the plethora of tours and exotic destinations, planning an adventure can be both exciting and overwhelming. With so many distractions, the well-being of the people who support these incredible destinations are often overlooked. The consumer’s lack of awareness is a major underlying issue in this struggle for human justice. This next blog series will shed light on the ongoing socio-cultural impacts of the tourism industry as well as solutions that can be taken to prevent being a part of the problem.
Reaching the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and inhaling the magnificence of the African safari is undeniably an experience of a lifetime. As you revel in the raw natural landscape, take a moment to ponder the contributing factors that went into making this glorious life changing moment a reality.
Bearing the Burden
Porters are undoubtedly the backbone behind any mountain expedition. These hard working individuals undertake the daunting task of carrying the enormous load of gear for the entire trekking group. Imagine the difficulty of climbing this challenging peak with as much as 66 lbs on your back? Bearing the burden, is only a portion of the hardships that the porters must face. The harsh environmental conditions and lack of proper equipment present various health implications including: exposure, hypothermia, frost-bite, altitude sickness, and in the worst cases, death. Many tourists misconceive the severity of the situation, by making the assumption that porters are accustomed to such extreme conditions. This premise is far from the truth, according to the International Porter Protection Group porters suffer from more accidents, illness and deaths than Western trekkers. Inadequate clothing, footwear, shelter, nourishment, medical care, insurance, and wages also contribute to the problematic life of the porter.
Ever cringed and declined when offered a strange looking dish in a new country? Gawked when you saw someone dressed strangely in a different nation? If so, then you are not being culturally responsible and respectable. A few weeks back we discussed how important is it to know before you go. Preparing for your adventure travels by learning the customs and traditions of your host country can help you avoid awkward situations. After living in Shanghai for 4 years, I’m here to give you a few tips on being culturally responsible in China.
If you are luckily enough to have a native guide in your travels to China, then you will get to enjoy the best local cuisines the country has to offer. Chinese food is shared and served family style on a rotating glass circle in the center of the table. Always arrive on time to dinner, as punctuality is valued in China and a demonstration of respect.
Sometimes it’s good to be an English speaker. It’s a language that twists and turns swiftly, with new words created ad hoc to accommodate current pop-culture phenomena. To the same end, old words are often joined together to give birth to lexical offspring that carry a meaning more precise than their “parents” could have ever accomplished pre-morph.
It’s through these blessed unions that we get to use words like gelmet (a gel-sculpted hair helmet) and jorts, the middle-aged man’s best friend. And as useless as a spork (spoon-fork hybrid) is, it carries just enough kitsch cache to warrant slipping it into conversation from time to time.
Another frankenword that’s gaining a lot of buzz around the adventure travel and eco-tourism worlds is glamping—otherwise known as: glamorous camping.
It was only a matter of time before roughing it went cash money millionaire. Although the days of pitching a humble tent are by no means gone, many trekkers today are looking for a little opulence while braving exotic territories.
We are excited to have guest blog post from one of our travelers, Steve Wilson. Steve is taking an amazing trip and is chronicling his adventures on his blog, A Hungry Man Travels. Follow his travels by reading his blog and checking out his photos. Thanks, Steve, for sharing your walking tour of Reykjavik with us...
I was very lucky to go on a private cultural walk of Reykjavik today with the lovely and talented tour guide Birna Poroardottir (that is one hell of a last name eh? You can just feel the Norwegian influence here sometimes lol). Honestly, it was an incredible tour simply because it was so nice not only to see the important landmarks and icons of the city, but to also go off the beaten path and explore alleyways and old houses. To walk into the oldest house in the city (which currently houses a clothing store) or visit a seafood restaurant by the waterfront to talk with the fisherman, who in turn surprise you by offering a non-seafood Icelandic treat known as slátur (the innards of sheep, yum) blódmör (blood), which is basically an Icelandic version of blood pudding and tastes amazing (and according to Birna, very healthy and good for you – I had to smile at that). To visit Lydveldisgardur (Republic) Park and see the four stones dedicated to the 4 regions of Iceland or get the chance to meet the hot Chef of Einar Ben, one of the oldest fine dining restaurants in the city (and where I’m having dinner tonight!). Not to mention visiting the biggest and most visible phallic symbol you’ve ever seen after the CN Tower in Toronto; the tower of Hallgrimur’s (Hallgrimskirkja) Lutheran Church. Amazing.
Our "Eat, Pray, Love" journey has led us to an organic farm in Italy and a wellness retreat in India. For our last entry, we'll focus on the universal importance of sustainable tourism, using Bali as a prime example of eco-conscious travel done right.
“The key point is to have genuine sense of universal responsibility, based on love and compassion, and clear awareness.” - The Dalai Lama
Liz Gilbert (and her on-screen counterpart, Julia Roberts) went to Bali in search of an equilibrium between worldly pleasure and spiritual devotion. Sustainability itself is the equilibrium between community, conservation, and commerce. Having a sense of universal responsibility is key in managing the balance of these interrelated components.
Finding Balance in Bali
Bali is world re-known for it’s incredible lush tropical surroundings, beaches, and unique culture. Unfortunately, commercialism and environmental destruction are putting these incredible Balinese qualities at risk. Thankfully, with the help of sustainable tourism, measures are being taken to preserve this nation’s treasures for generations to come.