Posts categorized under ‘People’

Hitchhiking through Armenia, Georgia and Turkey

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

About a week ago I finished my hitchhike from Vanadzor in Armenia to Ankara in Turkey, a trip of 1500 km. I managed to get a ride from all kind of car, taxi- och bus drivers as well as a long comfortable ride in a truck. Several times the drivers invited me for food and/or a place to sleep for the night, even though we most of the time could not even have a basic conversation because of the language barrier. Here are some pictures from the trip:

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Vanadzor, Armenia to Spitak, Armenia (21 km)

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Spitak, Armenia to Giumri, Armenia (46 km)

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Giumri, Armenia to Achaltsiche, Georgia (164 km)

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Short walk out of  Akhaltsikhe

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Trying to take a shortcut through the mountains, but after some hour/s realizing the road is blocked with several meters of tall snow

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So have to hitchhike back to Akhaltsikhe again…

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Beautiful waiting place in Akhaltsikhe as the sun sets

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Achaltsiche, Georgia to Batumi, Georgia (320 km)

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Batumi, Georgia to Rize, Turkey (130 km)

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Morning in Rize

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Moving slowly between the cities but at least moving

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Finally got a ride with this amazingly kind truck driver

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A few hours of dinner with his family and then back on the road

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Night stop sleeping inside the truck with early start again

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Cheese delivery driving me some 10s of kilometers

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Last route about 100-120 km arriving to Ankara with these guys

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Faces of Asia

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

I realize I haven’t been updating the web site for a while and although I have been in Bulgaria during the last months I decided to post some sunny faces from my backpacking trip in Asia from the beginning of this year.

Faces of Asia

Faces of Asia

Faces of Asia

Faces of Asia

Faces of Asia

Faces of Asia

Faces of Asia

Faces of Asia

Faces of Asia

Faces of Asia

Faces of Asia

Faces of Asia

Faces of Asia

Faces of Asia

Faces of Asia

Faces of Asia

Faces of Asia

 

Dangerous travel destinations

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

A hot topic between travelers is which cities or countries that are the most dangerous to visit. Everyone have their own opinion and the list of dangerous places is as long as the list of people adding a place to it according to their experience or what they have heard. The same goes for which places people think are NOT dangerous, and the two lists are strangely similar.

So what is the background to this phenomenon? Here are a few ideas of what can tribute to people’s opinion:

Mean world syndrome
Two of the biggest influences on people today are television and newspapers. Because bad news sell better than good news people get brainwashed and start to believe that the world is worse than it is.

Beliefs & Life experience
Any impression people are getting from ANYTHING is based on their base beliefs and past experience in life, which in turn is connected.

Different travel patterns
People have their own way of travel, their own personal style and preferences. Depending on if your travel is based on travel guides or companies, recommendations or pure improvisation you will much likely experience different things even when traveling to the same destination.

Random meetings
We usually base our impressions on who we meet and speak to, and even if people have the same travel patterns and style they will meet different locals because of general randomness in life. Even if the locals have a general idea of their own city the opinions differ a lot depending on their social status and living style, experiences and so on (beliefs & life experience). These opinions will then mirror to the travelers that meet them.

WHO is it dangerous for?
Another perspective is that people think if a place is dangerous for some people, it is also dangerous for them. There are for example a lot of places which are more dangerous if you are in a criminal gang or working as a police. But that doesn’t mean it is more dangerous for local people or tourists.

Dangerous travel destinations

Posters in Guatemala City for lost or killed people

Travelling alone VS travelling with a friend

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Sometimes we travel alone and sometimes we travel together with one or more friends. Both variants are great and should be experienced by everyone. When you are travelling alone you have no one to adapt to, never having to make compromises. Every decision is your own. Things are more difficult but you feel more pleased after accomplishing them. You have time to think about life, sometimes too much time. Meeting new people is on autopilot, it happens automatically and all the time.

When travelling together with a friend on the other hand people tend to cling together, or at least not have the same need to meet new people. You always have someone to share all the new experiences with and someone who you together with can make good decisions. Your combined shared knowledge becomes a strength as well as your combined muscle power.

Be sure to take a friend you know well, or have a backup plan if you get tired of each other. Many friendships have been destroyed because of travel, but many friendships have also become stronger.

Enjoy however you are travelling and make the most out of it!

Travelling alone VS travelling with a friend

Romani language

Monday, May 14th, 2012

The Romani language is for most people a mystery, both when talking about it’s history and how it is structured today with inspiration from other local languages. Here I will give you some background information on the origin of the language and how it became what it is today.

The origin of the Romani language
The Romani language started as a military language in India. Because of a large number of mother tongues in India the Indian people used this invented military language as a common language while they were in the army. When the Indians later moved away they continued to use this language between each other as they had no other way to communicate.

How the Romani language changed
After moving out from India the, what we today call the Romani people, encountered new words that they added onto their own vocabulary. This could be either words for things that was not a part of their original culture, or new words that came along with time passing, like words for car or television. Of course these new words were taken from the language of the country they were currently living in, and this is also how we today know the path of the Romani people’s travel.

Today’s Romani language dialects
The Romani language has four main dialect groups: Southern (or Balkan), Vlax (or Danubian), Central and Northern. The dialects within these groups are all different but the dialects that have changed the most from it’s original language are the dialects spoken today in Scandinavia, Britain, Spain and some parts of the Balkans where only the Romani vocabulary remains.

To finish of for this time, here is a Romani saying (proverb):

“A good man can find treasure in poverty,
while the fool will perish even in church”

Romani language (Roma neighbourhood in Serbia)

Source: We Are the Romani People by Ian F. Hancock

International Roma Day

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

8 April is the International Roma Day, a celebration of the Romani culture with the goal to educate people about the Roma people and the problems they are facing. The Roma people are commonly discriminated when it comes to housing, healthcare, education, law enforcement and employment, as well as being target of attacks.

Here are some earlier posts about Romani:

Origin of Romani people

Anti Roma explained

Photographing the Roma people of Serbia

International Roma Day

Anti Roma explained

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

As I sadly continue to meet people all over the world that are anti Roma and being able to count the “other side” on my fingers I thought it’s time to explain why Antiziganism is so common and how it all started.

Misunderstandings about the Romani origin
Because the first Romanies came into Europe around the same time as the Turkish invaders and Islamic crusaders a lot of people thought the Romanies were connected to those events and people. In Germany they were even suspected as being Turkish spies.

Not only is the Romani history difficult for outsiders to understand, it is even common for Romanies to not know all the details about their own history. This makes it even more difficult to spread the correct information as there is so much misinformation.

Being without a country of their own
Another problem comes from the fact that the Romanies have no home country and because of this nobody to stand up for- or represent them. For example in a recent conference against intolerance all the different national delegates were allowed to speak besides the Romani as they “don’t have a country or government”. This also makes it easier for people to blame problems in their country on the Romanies when they don’t get the chance to defend themselves.

Romani culture
As the Romani culture encourages Romanies to keep together without much interaction with other cultures a lot of people see them as “the others” which adds to their suspicion against Romanies. This also makes getting to know their culture more difficult for outsiders, and without people understanding their origin and culture they are “mystified” and stereotyped. One example of stereotypes is the Gypsy style that many people connect to being free from work and responsibilities, similar to the hippie style.

The Romani culture also have similarities with Indian culture in occupations and way of living, which in the original homeland of the Romanies [India] have normal or even high status but in Europe are the total opposite. One example of this is the large amount of children that is seen as a fortune as well as a survival strategy in the Romani and Indian culture.

So these are some of the reasons why Antiziganism is still going strong with no trace for it to become better during any near future. One notable thing to think about is that in this modern age racism and discrimination against dark skinned people is generally looked at very negatively in most parts of the world, but at the same time the majority of people are showing Anti Roma tendencies and discrimination against them is still to this day the default.

Roma family, mother washing clothes in the background

Roma kid with big pants

The origin of Romani people

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

Most of my friends know that Romani people is one of my biggest interests and Bulgaria is a good place to be if you want to help the Romani people as there are at least half a million of them living right here. But where did the Romani people originally come from?
Well, about 1000 years ago the people we today call Romanies were living in north India, more precisely in the Hindu Kush mountain area. But at the same time as Islam was spreading into India, the Romanies fled out towards west. About 250 years later, in the late 1200s, they arrived to Europe and the Balkans. Shortly after began a 500 year long period in which big parts of the Romani people were enslaved, a period that only ended in 1864. This long period of enslavement did of course make a huge impact on the Romani people and left them with a very uncertain future when the slavery ended.

One common misunderstanding is that the Romani people came from Egypt, and this is also how they started to be wrongly named as “Gypsies” instead of the correct term “Romani people” or the subgroup “Roma people”

I will continue with these posts about the Romani people now and then, in the hope of that people will make less false presumptions and also learn more about their origin and culture.

Romani girl

Moshav & Kibbutz in Israel

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

While hitch hiking in Israel me and a friend got a ride by a guy who’s family are living in a moshav, and who were himself planning to live there in his near future. He invited us to visit the moshav and we ended up staying there for two days, living as a part of his family.

A moshav is a type of community or settlement with the members of the community owning their own farms, in comparison to the kibbutz where the community shares the farms. In a moshav the people get a specific amount of land for farming when they get married. Nowadays it is more difficult to find good farming land which have resulted in some of these farms have been placed in the no mans land between Israel and Jordan, thanks to a agreement between the two countries. The same agreement gives Jordan a bigger ownership of the Dead Sea which is getting smaller and smaller every year because of mistreatment by the salt companies.

In this specific moshav where we were staying, the Zofar moshav, 2 out of 3 people were workers from Thailand. These people work on the farm land but with no other integration in the community. They even live in specific areas of the moshav which is only for them. Walking around in the moshav you can hear the loud music and karaoke singing from these areas, and to walk there feels a bit like walking around in Thailand.

Besides the no integration part of the Thai people, the feeling of a moshav or kibbutz are of utopia. Everything is perfect, beautiful and calm. The relationships between the different families are close and only a few people or families have chosen(?) to be for themselves. The area around the moshav is amazing desert and perfect for walking, jogging or even taking the motorbike or quad out for a spin. Still, with the desert looking like it will never end you know in the back of your head that if you need to go to a town it is only some hour away.

Not only can a moshav be self sustainable and also sell what they produce, some of them are using solar power both for themselves and to sell the extra power they don’t use. This usually means a small initial investment that is already payed back within 5 years, and then 15 more years of around 2 000 euro per month earned per family for the power they sell to the power companies.

All in all a moshav is a very nice way of living and it seems that also the young people are interested in keeping this tradition alive, although sometimes with newer technologies and ideas.

Moshav
Zofar moshav

Agricultural worker
Farm worker

Family house
Family house with solar power

Family dinner
Family dinner with amazing food, wine & kippas (hats)

Farm dogs
Well trained dogs that do not enter into the houses

Cat and toy
Curious cat

Ping pong table
What is a sunny day without playing some ping pong?

Tea pot with palms
Tea and palms

Sheep fucking
Sheep’s having some fun

Family breakfast
Breakfast (Jachnun; dough with spicy tomato sause) with the neighbours

Dog upside down
Dog taking a rest upside down

Bird cage
Bird cage with tons of birds…

Hungry cat
…And one hungry cat outside

Lunch plate
Again food.. This time a quick lunch before hitting the road

Israeli desert
Beautiful desert with camels

Negev desert

Moshav farms
Farms in the distant

Moshav tomato farm
Tomato farm

Moshav paprika farm
Peppers farm

Cockroach robot

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Yesterday I went to a robot fair here in Sofia that is arranged to show off the projects that the students in the university are working on and for them to make connections. The theme of the robots were supposed to be robots that can help people in their homes, but most of the robots were more to show the possibilities with robot technology then to do something practical. The robot that amazed me the most was the Cockroach robot, which is like a car for a cockroach. The cockroach is walking on a ping pong ball and this is then telling the robot which way to drive. If there is a risk for collision this is detected by the robot and small fans start blowing in front of the cockroach to make it change direction.

The guy who made this robot, Valentin, have the idea that for the next step connect a small robot to the cockroach brain and this way be able to control the cockroach with a remote. Although I feel bad for the cockroaches I think Valentin treats them good as he has a big collection of bizarre animals at home as a hobby.

Although Valentin invented this exact cockroach robot the idea was inspired from ConceptLab.

Also right now in Sofia there is a 3 day extreme sport movie festival with movies of varied quality. Today is the last day of the festival and for more information and the program, follow this link: http://www.predizvikatelstva.com