Cultural Travel

The Sound of Music in Malaysia

Malaysia is one of the world’s best kept secrets in the way of food, place, and how about a world music festival to top it off? Cultural travel to Malaysia is a trip that can enliven the senses. Each year, in a place called Sarawak, a world music festival takes place. Where is Sarawak? It is in Borneo. Take a look at these musicians at the Rainforest World Music Festival.

Lan E Tuyang performed by the Sape Masters: (l-r) Mathew Ngau Jau, Asang Lawai, and Tegit Usat at the 2011 Rainforest World Music Festival


It is not only their music and instruments that are inspiring, their textiles and garments are enough to make me want to get on a plane. Borneo here I come. Here is another video of musicians from Borneo.


And lastly, the most clear sound of sape orang ulu. I love the sound of these instruments.!



Cultural Travel Shock

Cultural travel shock is an experience that occurs when we travel to a different culture and find ourselves in stark juxtaposition  to the beliefs, ideas, language and economic differences with another culture.  Opening oneself to experiencing culture from the inside out means allowing and opening to the differences, smells, tastes, and traditons of a culture, and suspending the “frame” around what we think and know about culture. Dealing with cultural travel shock means walking through walls of fear, and being uncertain withing the context of the culture that you are visiting. There are many places where cultural travel shock is more acute. These places are usually places where the culture is still somewhat intact. Places in the South Pacific, certain islands of Indonesia, and numerous other places in the world, have cultural story and traditions still in place. There is a certain protocol that is important to remember while in another culture.

Here’s what the travel dudes say about cultural travel shock:

To start, one thing that you can do is to change some of your perceptions and think of culture shock as the first step towards learning about other cultures.

Remember that in every culture some things may be right and valid while in your own culture they might not. Remember that each culture is shaped in response to peculiar environmental challenges that differ from society to society and from country to country. So if people dress or eat differently it is because it helps them to adjust best to their local environment. If you have this understanding you will be less likely to feel offended and disturbed by local customs.

Research on a culture’s beliefs and traditions can also go a long way in understanding cultural differences. As an example, women in Malaysia wear sarongs and long skirts, and it is way out of context to wear short shorts, or skirts that are really short. As a visitor to another culture, it is really disrespectful to stand out like a sore thumb.  It is better to do the necessary research, and find out in advance what customs and beliefs a culture embraces, so that you can gain cultural awareness and immerse yourself fully in the experience of embedding yourself within a culture. Cultural travel shock has much less impact on you when you do your homework before getting on a plane, or ship to travel to the other side of the globe. Cultural sensitivity is an attribute we could all foster, and it makes us better citizens of the world. Read the whole article on how to deal with cultural shock here.

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Cultural Travel with An Escort to Burma

I’m not the type to want an escort anywhere, especially on a trip, but having things planned out for places that are otherwise inaccessible seems pretty appealing when you consider all of the time and planning required to go to unknown places. Cultural travel with an escort to Burma may qualify for a trip that I wouldn’t mind having an escort. In fact, in places such as Bhutan, the government requires that you have an escort to move you throughout the country. You are also required to spend a minimum of $200.00 per day while in Bhutan. What a wise way to keep the masses from ruining your country. Burma is a country  that has just opened the pearly gates again to tourists, and is probably one of those places that you might want to have an escort with you.

You might ask, what is there to see in Burma? A blurb in the Telegraph talks about Burma’s highlights here:

After years of anticipation and frustration, lovers of south-east Asia are now able to visit the region’s least explored – and arguably most magical – country. Rural Burma is a scenic backdrop for stops including the Pindaya caves, the ancient temples and pagodas of Pagan, historic hill stations and a cruise on the Irrawaddy River. Inle Lake, the colonial architecture of Yangon (Rangoon) and the northern city of Mandalay are further highlights of a tour with Voyages Jules Verne.

  • Voyages Jules Verne 0845 166 7003; offers the 14-night Discover Burma tour, departing on August 13 and September 10. From £2,495pp, including return flight.

Burma has some of the world’s best exemplars of neolithic artwork in caves. The neolithic culture of Padah Lin caves is indicative of one such site. Below you see the neolithic images from the Padah cave.

cultural travel to Burma

Neolithic paintings at the Padah Lin Cave Burma

 Photo from wikipedia-uploaded by Dimitri Lytov

There are numerous other wonders in Burma that any human being would find interesting and fascinating. For one, the temples are extraordinary, and cultural travel with an escort to Burma can provide an enlightened twist to a traveler’s experience of all of the dimensions of Burma. The people there are interesting and while there has been considerable unrest, the rich traditions and beliefs of the culture there is worth the time and effort it takes to get there. There are 135 distinct ethnic groups, and 4 different languages spoken there. Below is an image of a little girl from Padaung.

Burma child from Padaung

Burma child from Padaung-wikipedia commons Dimitt


Burma is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia. Bordered by Thailand, India, China, Burma has a unique tie to ancient human beings, with a history that goes back 750,000 years! The neolithic paintings above, date back 13,000 years. It is easy to see how cultural travel to Burma offers a unique view into a culture that is knitted to ancient people of long ago. Burma is a country that one should fully explore in the way of research, before traveling there. Cultural travel to Burma with an escort would be a wonderful way to see places that would otherwise be difficult to access. If you’re going, you might want to check out the full article in the telegraph here.  Check out Lonely Planet’s guide to Burma. You’ll be glad you did!


Tibet Travel on Your List?

Let’s face it, life is brief, and if there is a place that you would like to travel to in the world, you need to make a commitment to travel. Let me ask you, is Tibet Travel on your list? If not, you might want to learn more. I the late 1980′s I traveled to Nepal, and it was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. Outside of the airplane window, I saw the most magnificent mountains in the world. Mt. Everest, and the Himalayas were so surreal.

Mt. Everest- Photo source: e


Tibet Travel Coop (TTC) now offers three kinds of Tibet tour. Depending on their interest, travelers can choose spiritual journeys, cultural odysseys, or adventure trekking. Itineraries can be tailor-made to suit individual requests.

“These journeys reveal historical and cultural places,” TTC said. “They include short hikes to stunning nomadic hillsides, connect the traveler with the hearts and minds of rural Tibetans, and the homestay trips in the Minyak region stay off the popular tourist paths.”

If you are interested in traveling to Tibet, be prepared to  have your life change. Seeing the Himalayas from an airplane, or by foot, can change your life forever. The sheer magnificence of these grand mountains will take your breath away. If you have considered going to Tibet, take action, and make your plans to go in 2012. The ability to understand things often comes from the rich experience of wonder. Tibet travel on your list? If not, perhaps you should explore Tibet today. Go here to learn more about Tibet.

Cultural Travel and Unknown Places

For many years, I worked along side Hmong sisters who helped me to sew soft sculptures out of silk fabric. While I have never traveled to Laos, I can say that it is on my bucket list of places to go to. One of the destinations for travelers to Laos are the caves that still hold the mystery of time and history. Lonely planet has a great video on the caves of Laos. Tony Wheeler gives a great account of the caves of Laos on Lonely Planet’s site:

Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler heads up the Mekong from Luang Prabang, Laos, to explore the Pak Ou Caves, a Buddhist shrine.


chom ong cave laos

Chom Ong Cave in Laos-photo by Torben Bjerring Redder

Cultural travel to unknown places can be really exciting whether you discover them on your journey, or seek them out in advance of going. You must go to the Washington Post’s travel destinations off the beaten path visual, pictorial show of places around the world that are off the beaten path. If images can speak, these photos can make you pull out your credit card to explore relatively unknown places. So go here to see these amazing photos of places around the world. Perhaps I will see you in one of them! Go here to see the photos.



Olypiad Travel to London

I love inspiring stories, and this one warms my heart. Why? Because Olypiad travel to London might be one of the compelling reasons to travel to London. Travel to London is exciting without the Olypmics,and includes some of the world’s finest theater and museum visits. The Olympics add an additional bonus for traveling this summer. If you’re considering going, check out this article on the Bdaily business network:

West Minster Abbey London

With one month to go until the start of the London 2012 Olympics, young people in North East England are launching a summer programme of free public events, festivals and exhibitions as part of the official London 2012 Festival and Cultural Olympiad celebrations.

The work of 15 youth arts projects will go on show across the region this summer, including a derelict police station transformed into an art gallery, a festival of Urban sport and arts, a travelling book museum, youth circus shows and a groundbreaking concert featuring DJ’s and classical musicians at The Sage Gateshead.

If you are set on going to London, this summer might be the summer to go, as the Olympics will add another dimension to your travel. There are many wonderful places to visit, and great theater, as well as historical architecture that will knock your socks off. Check out airfares, and plan your trip now to London. Olympiad travel to London makes the cultural travel experience even more exciting. Read all about travel to London this summer here.



Cultural Travel to the Mediterranean

There are few places in the world that have the beauty of the sea, as well as history that goes back eons of time, reflected in the architecture that remains. Cultural travel to the Mediterranean is one such place, and it exists in a modern world, with thousands of years of history embedded in the environment. For starters, there is Istanbul, one of the most exotic cities in the world, and a place where ancient history is everywhere in the temples, and the palaces, and the ancient mosques. A lifetime could be spent in Istanbul alone, as the aesthetic and historical architecture will bring you to your knees. If you’re looking for history and culture, and considering travel to the Mediterranean, then perhaps you should consider a cruise.

The Bosphorus

The Bosporus as seen from Nasa


The Bosphorus from Istanbul

The Bosporus from Istanbul perspective

I visited a family in Istanbul in 2002, and had the opportunity to see the Bosporus. The ferry is a wonderful way to see history from the water. It is really a wonderful experience to take a tour on the Bosporus.

Another remarkable city is Istanbul – not least because it sits on two continents. Straddling the mighty Bosphorus in Turkey, the city sits in both Europe and Asia and with a population of over 13
million it’s one of the largest cities in the world. This unique position has made Istanbul the centre of world trade and culture for thousands of years and a melting pot of different cultures. This is one of the reasons that the entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The other reason is the amazing architecture on display; ranging from ancient Roman, through Byzantine and Ottoman eras right though to modern skyscrapers – highlights being the magnificent Hagia Sophia, once the biggest Cathedral in the world before being converted into a mosque and now a museum, and the truly stunning Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque – its buildings can hold 10,000 worshipers and its distinctive dome and striking minarets puncture the city’s skyline.

Finally on this whistle-stop tour of the Med’s best cities is Spain’s beautiful Catalonian capital Barcelona. Highlights abound in this beautiful city, no matter whether you’re looking for world-class historic, cultural or sporting thrills. Of course, no trip to Barcelona would be complete without a trip to Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia – whilst a little bit of a tourist cliché these days, you won’t fail to be wowed by the amazing and intricate design. You can even climb its distinctive spires for a view of the city and an opportunity to see the ornate stonework up close – although it’s not for the faint-hearted as the spiral stairs are extremely narrow in places.


Cultural travel to the Mediterranean is a rich experience that is not so difficult to do. Istanbul is really full of culture and art at its finest. The museums there, and the mosques and palaces are worthy of getting on a plane to travel there. If you have never been to this part of the world, now is the time. Don’t wait until your life creates an opening. Rather, make your plans to see those places that call you, like the Mediterranean. Go here to read more.




Cultural Travel Research

Before going to any country around the world, it is important to explore everything you can before getting there. Now, there is a website that offers cultural travel research for you before you go to the other side of the world. Included in this site are books, films, restaurants, and cultural places that you might not otherwise find. You may choose to do your own cultural travel research, but this site offers a tool for researching places from the perspective of what is going on now. You might want to check out this site, as it is really a great resource for the cultural traveler.

cultural travel research

This website offers visitors, individuals or companies, extensive cultural information about many cities throughout the world. With cultural information, we’re talking articles, films & books that refer to, or are about countries everywhere.

On their bio page they wrote “We also seek to offer a different perspective on people, places, and cultures that are often marginalised or misrepresented in traditional media. By doing so, we want to inspire people to be cultural travellers, wherever they go, wherever they come from.” The latter being something we’re also very passionate about with our local-orientated and up-to-date content.

When traveling to a country or specific city, this website suggests which books and films you should consider reading or watching before or during your trip

So hey, why not let this website do the heavy lifting in researching places to go to? There are many resources on the web, but this one seems to aggregate information in one place, and is of value to the person who does not like to do a lot of planning in advance. Cultural travel research doesn’t have to be hard. They do it all for you! Read more about this site here.


Cultural Travel to Tibet

Tibet is one of the last frontiers of cultural heritage that remains intact. Cultural travel to Tibet is rich with a culture that has existed for thousands of years in a place that holds it’s sacred beginnings in the temples, the mountains, and the people who live there. Recently, there have been restrictions on travel to central Tibet. A travel agency in Tibet, called “Explore Tibet- a Lhasa based travel agency,” has provided alternative cultural travel experiences in Khan, which is located in eastern Tibet. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle states:

The Kham region of eastern Tibet (western Sichuan and Yunnan Province) has a dramatic landscape different from the central part of Tibet. The high altitude Tibetan plateau slopes down into China’s Sichuan basin, and the rivers dropping down from the Himalayan peaks have cut deep narrow gorges with lush vegetation and spectacular waterfalls.

This area is home to the Khampa, a Tibetan cultural group with their own language, clothing, architecture and lifestyle. Kangding, the traditional capital and trading town of Kham, is the gateway toTibet.

tibetan woman

Tibetan Woman- Photo by

If you have not been to this beautiful part of the world, let me attest to the magnificent beauty and wonder that will take your breath away. In addition, you will see a culture that is still intact with their story, language and cultural traditions. Do not waste a moment more, make plans to visit Tibet today. Go here to read the article in the SF Gate.

Barcelona, Barcelona

Last year, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Barcelona. Traveling alone, it was so easy to get around, see the museums and all of the other wonders of Barcelona. Barcelona is becoming increasingly popular these days for culture seekers and the city has some of the finest artwork in the world. There are numerous museums, the Picasso museum, numerous works by Gaudi, and a city bus that you can travel on all day with headsets in every language to describe the sites. While there, I felt like singing “Barcelona, Barcelona!” I saw some of the most amazing exhibits while there including the Russian Dancer, Diaghilev’s collection of costumes from the early 1900′s. Below is a model of Gaudi’s method of creating arches in the Sagrada Familia.

Sagrada Familia


In addition, Barcelona City is becoming more known for conferences, as it is a city that offers diversity of people, culture and place. Market watch posted this:

Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia and a major Mediterranean city is gaining touristic popularity year on year, and its municipal government is striving hard to reach even higher standards. It has become a tourist destination worldwide as a result of the beauty of its old town, its cultural mix of tradition and modernity, an exciting nightlife, a mild climate and the duality between the sea and the mountains.

So, if you’re going, do some research. Flights are pretty reasonable and usually direct. Before long, you’ll be singing “Barcelona Barcelona too.”  Read more here.





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