cultural tours

Cultural Travel and Following the Silk Route

When it comes to cloth, silk, and textiles, I will  jump on a plane today to explore the mysteries of how cloth, textiles and culture are intertwined. Cultural travel and following the silk route is a journey that is becoming more and more popular, and here’s why. Cloth and textiles reveal story, culture and beliefs in the most profound way. While textiles do not endure the test of time, the fragments and pieces left behind, tell us much about the beliefs and values of cultures long ago. One of my favorite scholars on textiles and the story behind cloth, is Elizabeth Barber. Her books led me to an interesting book about the Cherchen mummies in western China. Cultural travel and following the silk route is important for those of you who are textile buffs, or for people who want to explore culture in a three dimensional way throughout time. Here is one tour company who has been around for a really long time.

“Two thousand years after these routes were first opened by Chinese Han Dynasty emperors through outposts like Samarkand, Bukhara, Kashgar and Karakoram, a new kind of traveler equipped with cameras and iPads instead of swords and steeds is fascinated by the ruins and mystique of the long vanished caravans,” Weber said. Weber has led groups of travelers over portions of the Silk Route in China, Mongolia, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrghistan and Tajikistan.


Even for the die hard cultural travelers, there are some places in the world that require a guide. Seeing the silk route with a guide who is culturally sensitive to the time line and significant ingredients on the silk route is really essential. In this way, 14 days can be a rather condensed information and travel package that is sensible and meaningful for the textile lovers of the world. Cultural travel and following the silk route is “a lifetime experience” unmatched by any other. The Cherchen mummies alone are worth a trip into the desert of the Tarim Basin. See the full article about cultural travel following the silk route here.

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Cultural Travel to Bali

One of the greatest trips I ever made was a month long vacation to Bali and Indonesia. Cultural travel to Bali is a once in a lifetime experience. Bali is one culture with the beliefs and practices still intact, and when you arrive at the airport, you feel as if you have stepped into a dream. The offerings to the good spirits and the bad spirits are created each day, and offerings of food, incense, and rice are given on a beautiful woven palm frond. There is no other place on earth where the beliefs and rituals are embedded in the daily lives of the culture. From the temples, to the extraordinary crafts, the Balinese people are unique in their way of creating community for almost every event. Here is a link to a video that I created about bali. There are numerous tours that are heading to Bali. If drumming is your passion, you might want to learn more about a trip to Bali that features meditation and drumming. Tribal Music Tours offers the tour below.

Bali

Bali

 

Guests stay in jungle villas in Ubud where exploration begins by foot to the Monkey Forest and the village. During the trip, participants jam with gamelan masters during a drum workshop, visit drum craftsmen and master healers, take a Balinese dance workshop and experience a men’s kecak trance dance by night. The itinerary also includes a snorkeling excursion and visits to Tirtenganga, Tenganan and Amed.

A cultural tour of Bali will be an experience that you will never forget. Whatever your passion, you will find a piece of it in Bali. There are so many festivals that take place, and you might get lucky and witness wedding preparations which are beyond belief. Take the plunge and make your plans to visit Bali. For more information on the tour leaving this spring, check it out here.

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Cultural Travel Off the Beaten Trail

Everyone has their personal preferences when it comes to cultural travel. Mine is always related to textiles. One of the places in the world where textiles and silks shine very brightly is Vietnam. There are beautiful silks, and the Hmong  create very delicate Paj ntau cloths or flower cloths. This is a reverse applique technique that  the Hmong women have mastered. But textiles aren’t the only interesting thing about the culture in Vietnam. There are many other unique things to see and do off the beaten trail in Vietnam. Have you ever thought of caves being in Vietnam? Global basecamp’s tours of Vietnam are all off the beaten trail.

 Hmong Flower Woman- Photo by Christophe Meneboeuf

Hmong Flower Woman- Photo by Christophe Meneboeuf

Global Basecamps’ new Halong Bay Eco Tour ventures away from the crowds on a traditional junk, a wooden boat with three barge sails, cruising through peaceful areas of the Bay to Bai Tu Long. The cruise passes by floating villages, limestone peaks, and hidden caves along the way. Travelers have the opportunity to interact with the locals while exploring the floating villages by kayak. With a maximum capacity of eight on the junk, the cruises provides an intimate and relaxing atmosphere.

 

Cultural travel at its best, is a portal into the people and the richness of place. Seeing Vietnam in a boat or a barge seems really unique to me. On the water, you can be suspended in time while observing the diverse topography that Vietnam offers. Meanwhile, those of us that love textiles, can find the most extraordinary villages and weavers in the nicks and crannies of a back street. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to get on one of these barge sails. Want to learn more about what Vietnam has to offer? Read more about it here.

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