We had been told that local women were afraid that incoming people might steal their bead patterns, therefore we outlined the reasons of our visit in advance. Emilio and I, are both handicrafts lovers and are strongly convinced that in todays globalized world, there is a desperate need to protect traditional culture in all its aspects. This includes designs and the intellectual property expressed in beads, necklaces or earrings that contain specific features of indigenous society.
SLG Mag : A Fresh Perspective
Standing at the foot of that mountain, placing one foot on the rocky ridge, I was keenly aware that despite my casual interest in the hike, this was a moment that might not have materialized if I had not turned in that passport. As my foot slipped many times while walking up the rocky ledge, I held the hands of several friends I had made during the bus trip. There were so many small transformations that were taking place in me while I made the trip to the top. Little did I know how many more transformations lie ahead.
I still cringe when I remember that when Sahar and I finally got to that bakery in Barcelona, I didn’t even order the famous chocolate cake. I had a creamy, flaky thing with berries on top, almost exclusively because it looked like it would have fewer calories. I smiled with Sahar in the pictures of us with our treats, and the coffees beside them, and the polished plates and spoons at the end. I even used one of those pictures as the background on my computer desktop for a while afterward. But that was really just because it had felt so good to be with Sahar. It should also have felt good to eat cake.
I just booked the hedgehogs into a “hedgehog hotel”, as I am heading to Italy for two weeks. The hedgehog hotel costs approximately $200 for two weeks. MADNESS. This seems a little steep, as my hedgehogs sleep 23 hours a day, and I cannot imagine what kind of high-end services a hedgehog hotel could possibly include. I imagine my hedgehogs swimming laps in a huge infinity pool, sipping cocktails next to the bar.
And beyond this unconventional coffeeshop scene, I was not just the only foreigner, I was also the only woman. Even better. The only other girls in the vicinity were “waitresses” if that’s what they should be called, I am not sure. They simply brought over this tea-drink along with cups of ice and fresh packs of cigarettes for the men. But somehow, by the grace of God, this random coffee shop slash smoke-den had WiFi. So I was able to nervously WhatsApp my best friend. Unfortunately in the US it was at 3:30 AM. Meaning no one was awake. So I was left to experience this intense culture shock without a hand to hold. Maybe in hindsight, it was better this way.
So next time you’re thinking of taking a city break, why not consider visiting a country which needs your tourist dollar more than we do? The UK has plenty of cash stashed in off-shore accounts. London is a hub for commercial wealth. Deals and speculations made here affect the lives of millions. If you do decide to visit; perhaps come to New Cross - that’s where you’ll see foodbanks, derelict pubs, housing estates, the forgotten, unemployed, artists, people who are forever being pushed to the side and on my street, a community who support each other in the belief of mutual aid.
Because we were immersed in hill tribe culture, rather than just passing through, we had the opportunity to truly get to know the people we were staying with, and for them to know us. Most tourists, most people in general, don’t want to actively contribute to the exploitation and further impoverishment of an indigenous culture. But, there is a certain disconnect between tourists’ benevolent curiosity and the hill tribe villagers’ need for privacy, respect, and income. What is the happy medium?
The Road To 25 became an interactive 7 month travel project to be led by us. Not wasting anytime we chose our departure date, January 22 2014, and purchased plane tickets from JFK NYC to Heathrow London. Beginning January 22nd we embarked on an endless journeys traveling to different countries, participating in new experiences and activities that push us outside comfort zones. Along the journey we will obtain and document stories, encounter amazing people, see life changing places, and experience heart lifting cultures, all to be shared with our followers. The main hope of the project is to spark ideas and motivation in others to conquer their own goals.
Luxury malls in Jakarta are like artificially controlled bubbles. They are escapes from Jakarta’s realities: the traffic, the poorly planned city streets, the poverty, the chaos and so forth. Ultimately, Jakarta’s luxury malls embody the gap between the have and have-nots. But this symbolism is ironic. Malls are easy to navigate, purposefully designed, spotlessly clean, cater to the elite and are highly secure: the opposite of Jakarta’s roadways and neighborhoods.
Tanned smooth skin, dark hair and dark eyes. While trying to study a culture it is difficult to know if one is fetishizing that culture, or innocently developing a curiosity in that culture. Thinking back on my experiences dating Korean men in my earlier years in Seoul, it is hard to know if I was exploiting these individuals, as a way to get closer to Korean culture. Coming from a small rural town in central Australia, I had virtually 0 exposure to East Asian men in my childhood and youth, and this potentially sowed the seeds for fetishism/my fixation on East Asian stereotypes
Every year, upstate New York gets a few warm, perfect fall days. They’re exactly as they look in postcards or J. Crew catalogues, with green trees blazing red as far as you can see, and you’re supposed to spend them hiking, picking apples, and stirring pumpkin puree into everything from muffin batter to black bean soup. These are almost biological rituals: your body wants all the endorphins and vitamin D it can get before the slushy rain, and then the snow, settle in from October to April.
As a Muslim woman, I cannot serve as ‘one whole’ witness in the court of law—only as half a witness. So by law, I am inferior, weak, unreliable and half a person. Very much aware of my status as a woman in this country, I am still legally free to drive, vote, work and write. The hypocrisy of secular legislations versus theological laws is confusing in the urban culture of Pakistan, and both somehow contrast sharply with reality.