No good Backcountry Nomad trip is complete without an expedition into nature. Exiting the sprawling, status-hungry, car-obsessed city of Riyadh, I set my sights on visiting “The Edge of the World”. I was not expecting 1000 ft desert massifs shooting out of the ground in a flat region of Saudi Arabia.read more …
I spent eight days in “Barricade City”, a.k.a. Riyadh, a.k.a. “Oasis”, a.k.a. the capital city (and birthplace) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). In March 2019 Saudi was on the cusp of progressive transition via the “2030 Challenge”. My visit was on a government Visa as a Design / UX Mentor through the 500 Startups accelerator for MENA (Middle East and North Africa). The Country was not perfect, there wasn’t an abundance of things to do, but I really surprised myself how much I enjoyed my time here.read more …
I live my life in nature, with the environment, so I’m especially invested in conservation, keeping things wild and #protectpublicland. I bicycle everywhere, eat mostly vegetarian, don’t fly that much and only rely on a car to go to the mountains so I have felt particularly good minimizing my climate impacts. However, driving tens of thousands of miles and flying tens of thousands more over the last year made me start to worry I had unbalanced this equation. People who earn more, produce more carbon and by taking a sabbatical with so many flights, I definitely felt like I was #livingThatLife. What to do?
Interactive map of my last 270 days of travel.
Going full time traveling to visit all the national parks, live simply, seek wilderness and travel the world has been sold as the ideal dream and fully living life in many a social media account. I too was allured towards these ideas and ten months ago decided to try it out. I had a clear idea of all the amazing things I would do and see but in retrospect less of an idea about the true costs. Both financial and personal. Let me give you all the details…
Image: On camel safari in Jaisalmer
Tired, frustrated and probably confused are how you will feel many times in India. Either from interacting with the complex culture formed uniquely and richly over thousands of years or from some modernity struggling to integrate within that context. Of course you will feel happy, delighted, surprised, welcomed, curious and a plethora of other positive emotions too which is why India is sooooo worth traveling.
I spent six weeks in India over winter in late 2018 and early 2018. Over which I visited Rajasthan, the Kashmir Valley, hill stations such as Amritsar and Dharmashala, Agra and the two big cities of Mumbai and Delhi. This is like 5% of the main attractions of an area so large and rich as India so this information might not work everywhere but most of it will. In an effort to ease frustrations and set expectations I want to share several of these essential learnings.
(To get a more cultural insight into my experience read this)
Image: Old Delhi contained by the paid entrance to the Fatehpuri Masjid Mosque
Until India, I have never been so encaptured by a culture that I didn’t want to leave it. The food is probably the best in world with so much variety and flavor on both sweet and savory spectrums.
Image: Raj Kachori at Haldirams is beautiful, sweet and savory. Every bit an example of fantastic North Indian chat food.
The people typically kind, prideful, eager to engage and helpful (if it’s not their job to be so). The colors make the rest of the world seem bland. Saris always shouting brightly with shimmering patterns. Intricate, unique artwork can be found everywhere in monuments, crafts and even ordinary street art windows.
Image: Foldable bamboo ink elephant composed from hundreds of figures.
Even the transportation trucks, lowered to basic standardization in the West, sport custom paint jobs and ornamentation! Yet, India is a complex county and sometimes hard to understand. I want to share several themes I’ve come to love from this magical place.
Image: Military stationed at an intersection
Taking a bus into Kashmir you pass several military convoys, men with machine guns on the road side every few minutes and numerous parked armored vehicles with men manning guns in the turrets. It is clear the Kashmir and Jammu (J&K) region of India is still a conflict region when I heard an IED killed four police officers in Sopore, 25 miles NW of the main city of Srinagar the day we arrived.
So this one time I was late to the airport and they threatened to compound all my climbing gear at security 30 seconds after they gave a last call for my gate… I almost re-missed my next connection because an airport doctor examination on a barley conscious companion completed 30 minutes before that flight outside security… Followed by almost being kicked off the plane since my medical wavered friend looked feverish and had just left plague-ridden Madagascar…
I guess this story is worth sharing.
Every city on the tourist beat has a mahal (Indian Palace), Fort or Temple that makes you say it is the most majestic, beautiful or magnificent thing you’ll see in India. It was encouraging to see Mohguls and Rajput rulers over the last five hundred years sponsoring so much art and creation as well as their military might. We spent 15 days in the Indian province of Rajasthan in the blink of an eye and visited only the main attractions. Missing the smaller towns, outdoor experiences like trekking and places like the “rat temple”. Given the richness of the area I hope to at least express the differences and highlights of each city. It’s hard to describe these places so I’ll try to do my best with photos.
In Madagascar it is easy to get off the beaten path. So often that you’ll spend your time trying to find a beaten path at all! Traveling here is rewarding and we appreciate our travel where we: