Category Archives: Travel

Travel year 2014

January

Jordan – A dream coming true visiting the city of Petra and Wadi Rum desert

March

Attending ITB travel fair in Berlin, Germany

Day trip to Stockholm, Sweden

August

FINA World Masters Championships in French-speaking Montréal, Canada

Took the Staten Island Ferry and saw Statue of Liberty, NYC

October

Eating ice cream in historic Rome, Italy

November

Weekend trip to Tallinn, Estonia, and exploring the trendy Kalamaja district with wooden houses

It’s been a busy year. I’ve traveled quite a lot, but also pushed my studies forward, got married, made a bunch of new travel blogger friends and booked a trip to Japan for March 2015. Busy but rewarding year behind – and I’m looking forward to the next year with excitement. Remember that you can also follow my adventures on my other blog, Metallia Matkassa (though it’s written in Finnish).

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Dark tourism attractions – why do we visit them?

Dark Tourism is tourism involving travel to sites associated with death and tragedy.

I find dark tourism very interesting and a fascinating subject. Why do people want to travel to places where horrible things have happened? Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, Killing Fields in Cambodia and 9/11 memorial site in New York are just some examples of sites where horrifying events have taken place in the past and tourists visit these places daily.


Auschwitz-Birkenau – “The Death Camp” (Poland)

But back to the question – why? Personally, I’m not sure. I have visited some dark tourism attractions, such as Auschwitz I and II (Birkenau) in Poland. I think I wanted to visit them that I could see the places with my own eyes. After visiting the concentration camps I felt angry for days. Many questions popped in my mind and we talked about the visit with Markus a lot. How something that awful could have happened?

Titta Niemelä writes in her thesis, that “a visit to a dark attraction raises stimulation by providing often educational and strongly emotional aspects.”. I think that gives some clue, why people visit dark tourism sites.


Victims’ skulls in Killing Fields (Cambodia)

I think that preserving these sites is important. We should not forget what has happened to prevent it from happening again – “one who doesn’t remember history is bound to live through it again” (George Santayana). Visiting dark tourism attractions may make you feel sad and angry for days but the sites also teach us a lot about history. Even though awful things have happened it is important to remember, to honour the victims.

On the other hand it seems awful that someone is making money out of a terrible tragedy. Tourist masses visiting countries on an arranged bus tour to see people that have just felt the power of mother earth and lost everything they had. Taking photos of people living out of a cardboard box and showing them to friends and relatives back home is definitely not the thing to do. I think everyone should reconsider their motives before travelling to a disaster site. This kind of tourism is called disaster tourism, which in my opinion should be avoided, unless you are going there to help, volunteer or something.


Auschwitz I (Poland)

I still have to go back to the Auschwitz. When I was visiting the place, I couldn’t understand how some people could pose in front of the sadly famous gate (Arbeit macht frei – Work makes you free) smiling. Same applied to the holocaust memorial site in Berlin. People jumping in top of the grey blocks and taking funny photos: For me it was unacceptable. I’m not saying, that we shouldn’t show any emotions, but taking a selfie smiling in front of a concentration camp just doesn’t seem right to me. Visitors should understand the events that have taken place in the past, take them seriously and respect the victims.


Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (Cambodia)

But as said earlier, if we don’t let tourists to visit dark tourism sites it might lead to silence and ignoring of the places and events. We don’t want to forget, even though we might forgive.

Dark Tourism is a recognisable field of academic study and The Institute for Dark Tourism Research based at the University of Central Lancashire (in UK) is a world-leading academic centre for dark tourism scholarship, research and teaching.

What are your thoughts on Dark Tourism? Is visiting the dark attractions appropriate?

 


 

Interesting reading about Dark Tourism:

Motivation Factors in Dark Tourism (Titta Niemelä’s Thesis)

Dark Tourism: Why are we attracted to tragedy and death? (Article in Telegraph)

Can dark tourism ever be a good thing? (Article in New Internationalist)

(Photos from Cambodia taken by my partner Markus)

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Amazing places I’ve visited

During past couple of years I have visited some places which I probably will never forget. Every time I see a photo of that certain special place, I immediately remember how it felt being there, what I was hearing, seeing or smelling there. I’d like to share now some of these places that have really stuck into my mind.

Phewa Lake in Pokhara, Nepal

Seeing the Phewa Lake during sunset and smelling some fresh air was an unforgettable feeling when we first arrived to Pokhara after speding 12 hours in a local bus. Sunsets at the lake were breathtaking (and yes, I have about 1000 photos of those).

Top of Sarangkot around 6 am in Pokhara, Nepal

Sarangkot is a village at an altitude of 1600 meters with breathtaking panoramic Himalayan views. Taxi left us to the village and from there we continued hiking up the mountain reaching the top just before sunrise. We were in Nepal around april/may, so the visibility wasn’t the best and only time you could “spot” the mountains well was usually very early in the morning.

The Blue City and Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, India

After suffering from some kind of food poisoning and travelling 2 days straight in a train from Goa to Rajasthan, I was more than pleased to see the blue city of Jodhpur and Mehrangarh Fort which I consider as one of the most beautiful forts I’ve ever seen.

The famous Taj Mahal in Agra, India

Taj Mahal is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and I can’t argue with that. We visited the Taj in early morning, when the structure was bathing in the first rays of sunlight. At 7 in the morning the place was packed with tourists but everyone was so amazed of the Taj that people calmly just enjoyed the view. I think that Taj Mahal is one of those places that you just have to see at least once during your lifetime and I am very glad that I’ve had the opportunity to visit it.

River Ganges in Varanasi, India

The holy city of Varanasi – Ganges, ghats and narrow alleys. Varanasi has a lot of pollution and the water in Ganges is nearly toxic, but as the river is considered as holy, locals swim in it and some even drink the water. I passed the swimming and drinking but we did enjoy the views for almost a week. Burning ghats along the river might be shocking for some, but I think that seeing the natural circle of life is nothing to be afraid of.

Petra UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jordan

Visiting Petra, historical and archaeological city in Jordan was definitely a dream coming true. When we finally were able to take a photo in front of The Treasury (that is also known from the Indiana Jones movie), I have to say that I felt like I was able to close one book and open another for new adventures.

Hiking down from the High place of sacrifice in Petra, Jordan

Not to mention when we hiked up to the High place of sacrifice, had a cup of tea with bedouins.. It was so quiet and calm up there. Nice bedouin guy who offered us the tea, said that he gets an headache from cities and prefers to live in the desert. I liked his attitude and think that maybe at some point of my life I should try that too!

What are the most amazing places you have visited? Or do you have any amazing places that you have not yet visited, but would want to visit?

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What kind of a traveller I am?

I was searching some stuff online and found a quiz “What Kind of a Traveller Are you?” from The Drinking Traveller‘s site. So, of course, I had to give it a try.

This is what I got:

Companion

You, my friend would probably enjoy travelling with a companion (or in a couple). You like to think a lot but you also like to talk. You want to share your travels with someone you really get on with, not a bunch of random people. However if you can’t convince anyone to come along with you by no means rule out the trip.

I guess the quiz questions were a little leading, but still, I would agree with that result. Past four years I have been travelling more or less with my significant other, Markus. When we met, he had just returned from a 5 month trip around South East Asia and Australia and listening him talking about SE Asia really made me want to travel there, as I had never visited for example Thailand before. Anyway, back to the result..

Before meeting Markus, I had travelled pretty much only alone. Maybe I had had some trips with a friend, ex-boyfriend or family or something, but finishing my exchange student year in Japan I returned there quite many times and travelled there alone. I considered myself as a lonely wolf, just enjoying the great company of myself when travelling.

Hiking in Nepal

But when Markus and I travelled together for the first time (which was 4 years ago in Laos by the way) I realized that yup, this is what I want – I want to travel with someone I can discuss and share travel stuff with during travelling. I remember, when some other traveller asked Markus “how can you travel with your girlfriend” with a big question mark over his head. Markus didn’t quite understand, what was the problem. After that we talked with Markus about travelling alone, travelling with your boyfriend/girlfriend or just with bunch of friends and what we think is the best way to travel.

I myself don’t see a future in a relationship if a couple can’t travel together. Or I mean, if there is one who wants to travel and the other one doesn’t. Markus and I both love travelling, so why not experience it together? To be honest, at this point of our relationship (as we have been together for quite many years already) it would be pretty strange if only one of us left abroad to travel for months! Of course, that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t travel separate, but usually we try to plan things in that way that both of us can go and travel (together).

The Treasury in Petra, Jordan

But when it comes to travelling with a friend for example, I would say.. It’s a pass. I would choose travelling alone before travelling with a friend. Why? Well, I think travelling with a (girl)friend would create an enormous risk of trip being ruined, both of us stranded on a beach without an escape boat to another island and a friendship ruined forever. The thing is, you see, when travelling with a friend – and I think no matter how good friend you got – you both might still have a pretty different view about what you want to do, what you want to see, where to eat, to go out bar hopping or not.. But when travelling with your partner, I think you have ended up together in the first place because you are alike, you share interests so when it comes to travelling you probably want to do and see the same things. (But, of course, I have heard stories when a girl and a guy leave home as a couple and after few weeks of travelling they break up and one has to reschedule the flight back home because they don’t want to be on the same plane).

But before anyone starts to complain that “yes, I have travelled with a friend and it’s great” or “I would never travel with a boyfriend” I would like to say, that the interesting part of us human beings is that we are all different. We don’t share all of our interests with everyone or like the same things. That is also true when talking about travelling. The most important thing is that you find the form of travelling that suits you the best! :-)

What do you think? Are you a couple traveller, a lonely wolf or a spice girl/backstreet boy (travelling with a bunch of friends) – or something else?

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