- An area you still need improvement in –
The only thing that I can think of is that I don’t really explain my thoughts before moving on right away. Like in this post, the whole thing is basically a bunch of “I love” statements and jumping around. I could have went far more in detail but instead I just went to town with admiration. I also need to work on finding other references when I bring up history or politics and just expect readers to know what I’m talking about.
- An area you improved in –
I think I got better in summarizing. I would have wrote this with far more difficulty if we hadn’t worked on summarizing lengthy Reading Like a Writer chapters.
“Drew Binsky is a travel blogger who makes daily three minute travel videos. He is huge on social media. He has visited 153 countries and he aims to go to every single country in the world. He studied abroad in Prague and fell in love with traveling. He became an English teacher in South Korea. He started this blog in 2016. He has a page, “Personal Accomplishments” where he lists his other hobbies / activities that he tries to do while travelling, like golf and bungee jumping. He has done videos about Kurdistan and the tricky topics of Palestine. The thing that really stands out about his work is his videos. I also like his insights on Iran. Sometimes travel blogs only focus on tips and advice, or destinations but Binsky also focuses on people.”
- An area you feel more confident about –
I feel more confident in writing in general. My posts were noticed a few times by an actual travel blog! (Big shoutout to dreamgoexplore, they have a really awesome blog!!)
I didn’t get around to posting about my Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland trip. It probably would be too long to share. 3 whole weeks of fun and excitement!!! Man I miss it. Maybe someday I will get around to it.
I would feel even more confident if I could actually go visit the countries I wrote about over this semester so I can write more about them and not just about other people’s experiences. Someday maybe.
I also feel more confident in quoting.
“They went to Cheri Monastery and the National Memorial Chorten where they got to see spinning of prayer wheels. “In Buddhism it is believed that the more you spin the prayer wheels the more good karma you accumulate, which is extremely important for a favorable rebirth during the next life.””
- Your proudest moment –
I’m always proudest when I can talk about Bhutan. My Bhutanophile post was super fun to write out my obsession for Bhutan. I always feel like it’s my mission to share about the little Kingdom because it doesn’t get talked about at all here. I can’t afford to go yet (ha…haha) but maybe I can entice someone else into going.
” To me Bhutan is everything I could ever dream of and is far more exciting. People are missing out. I have many Bhutanese friends online. I tried to learn Dzongkha, the national language. I listen to Bhutanese music and watch Bhutanese film. I follow and am grateful for the Wangchuck royal family and the Kings. I love Bhutanese architecture, art, Tshechu festivals and traditional clothing.”
“I want to feel like I belong. I seriously think I was born Bhutanese in another life or dimension. I want their culture to stay Bhutanese and never get ruined or changed by the West. Modernising in education, medicine and infrastructure is fine but learn and speak Dzongkha, wear the national dress, have festivals, keep Buddhist traditions going, etc. Just never change what makes Bhutan incredible. Hopefully one day I can see this paradise.”
- Over the semester I gained insight in technology. I will also leave with a better understanding of how to actually run a blog (and not just reblogging random stuff) and making your own content. How it feels to update weekly. I’ll take these lessons and feel more confident in writing for future classes.
What really gets me excited about someday visiting Iran is mosques. I love love love Islamic architecture. Some examples that I really love: Vakil of Kerman, Shah Cheragh, Agha Bozorg, Jameh Mosque, Nasir-al-Mulk(Pink Mosque), Shrine of Imam Reza, Kabood Mosque, Lotfollah Mosque, Naqshe Jahan, Imam Madhi Jamkaran mosque, Shah Mosque in Isfahan.
I love Arabic calligraphy. I love giant arches. I love domes and minarets (slender towers built on both sides of a mosque). Artistic designs for mirrors! Qajar art! Persian gardens! Palaces! Detailed Stucco work! Mihrab and minbar styles! I get chills when hearing the call to prayer. I would stare endlessly at muqarnas designs. Mosques don’t have photos or statues like Christian churches but they make up for it in everything I mentioned. I am not religious but most religions sure know how to get-cha with pretty as heck buildings.
I dream of singing inside this mosque. This is all just too much history and art for me to soak in.
A few of my examples are based on the Esfahani style of architecture. It was influential during the time of the Safavid dynasty.
Mentor Blog #4: Iran
Drew Binsky is a travel blogger who makes daily three minute travel videos. He is huge on social media. He has visited 153 countries and he aims to go to every single country in the world. He studied abroad in Prague and fell in love with traveling. He became an English teacher in South Korea. He started this blog in 2016. He has a page, “Personal Accomplishments” where he lists his other hobbies / activities that he tries to do while travelling, like golf and bungee jumping. He has done videos about Kurdistan and the tricky topics of Palestine. The thing that really stands out about his work is his videos. I also like his insights on Iran. Sometimes travel blogs only focus on tips and advice, or destinations but Binsky also focuses on people. In his post about Iran, he talks about his top five best experiences from travelling there for 14 days. He has uploaded 14 videos of Iran. He used G Adventures and shared a link to his exact tour. I’m so jealous!!! ScrEEEEEE. Anyway, he always has really nice things to say about people that he meets. “I was invited (dozens of times) into peoples’ houses for a cup of tea and even offered a bed to sleep in. One time in Isfahan, I walked into a hardware store in the evening and the owner wouldn’t let me leave because he wanted to talk to me all night and he kept feeding me tea!” He also went to historical places like Persepolis. It was once the capital of the old Persian empire. He went to three Persian Gardens, I build them a lot in video games so it would be really cool to see in real life. Personally, I would love to experience how Iran’s society contrasts to ours, like “The models of cars on the road today don’t resemble anything modern (except for maybe a few neighborhoods in Tehran), there are NO international brands or chains anywhere to be seen except for Coca-Cola (no McDonald’s, Starbucks, Uber, Marriott, etc), and the wifi speeds will remind you of AOL dial up in the 1990s…” Untouched by floods of tourists. He lastly talked about food. “The cuisine is based on a combination of rice, meat, vegetables and nuts.” I am not that big of a food experimenter, but I’d be so down to try Persian rice. In both of our opinions, Iran is heavily misunderstood and truly is beautiful.
Mentor Blog #3: Mongolia!
So next up, is a travel blog named “Borders of Adventure” by Becki Enright. She has been passionate about travel since she was a teenager. She started her site and blog six years ago. While she has been a travel writer for eight years and has been featured in the news. She has an outstanding record of visiting 67 countries. Once again this blogger’s purpose is to shine a light on places that many see as unsafe, which are actually misunderstood. In her own words, “Borders of Adventure is a leading travel resource where destination inspiration is combined with social, historical, political and cultural reporting.” She has a whole resource page dedicated to help with booking services for hostels and hotels, finding cheap flights and rail tickets, travel insurance, options for money, luggage guides and group tours. She also has a page set aside for her opinion on the best things to buy for packing. In her other posts, I really love how much she writes. She talks heavily about politics, culture and history. I actually learned a thing or two from her posts about modern Iran and Persian history. Anyway, she has three posts on Mongolia dating back to 2012. She introduces the country by saying, “Outside of its unkempt capital, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia exists with very basic facilities, but that’s what makes it beautiful. On the road it can take hours of driving before you pass a small ger community, a Mongolian on horseback or another vehicle and in between you are blessed with the most stunning views of a country so untouched that you know you’ve reached the true heart of it.” She stayed for 20 days aka three weeks. She had to endure some challenges, lack of roads, weather conditions, truck getting stuck. I loved this line, “I’ve seen a night sky so clear that I didn’t think you could ever see so many stars, a land so serene in isolation and a culture so welcoming that I hope it never, ever becomes ruined by tourist traps or the greedy grips of mass capitalism (currently contained to Ulaanbaatar).“
Things I learned:
-Don’t make plans coming here. They won’t work haha.
-The Baga Gazryn Chuluu Rock formations are worshiped by locals because it is said that Gengis Khan camped here.
-The Gobi desert and the Khongoryn Els sand dunes. I never expected the country to be desert-y.
-Mongolia was invaded by Soviet Russia in 1936. I knew they had a sphere of influence on them but not a whole invasion.
-Mongolians are big on drinking.
-I had a good guess that English wasn’t spoken there. I also learned, from her experience, phrases aren’t easy to understand. Her entire time there and she only picked up on Thank You.
-Erdene Zuu Monastery is the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia.
-Domog is the most popular throat singing band. I’ve always loved Mongolian music, check out my playlist! https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLedEM9x8zES2a-QxqhkUkKEOdFAbwM5-x
-Mongolians really like Genghis Khan. I knew that most claim to be his descendant but I always thought it was a stereotype that they liked him!
-Mongolian Gers (video reference) It is built with wooden walls, covered with skins, wool and felt. There is one door and no windows. The tent is held down with horsehair. They move locations four times in a year. There are rules to follow: don’t step on the threshold when entering, women sit on the right side (kitchen) and men on the left, the back of the ger is for prized possessions, photos of the family, religious altars, use an open palm instead of pointing, don’t pass things between the central support poles, don’t ask how many animals a family has, etc. They make money from selling dairy products, wool and cashmere. Children stay with relatives when they are going to school. They have TV’s (powered by solar panels), hospital services, and childbirth is done in nearest hospitals. Boys love to ride horses and wrestle. They get around with motorcycles. They hang up meat to eat in the winter.
Over this whole semester Marleigh’s posts are always the best. So much passion! I think it’s also because we have a lot in common. For one, she loves world music (Dh’èirich mi Moch Madainn Cheòthar”: A Song Review) and two, she is interested in history (Blog Reviews Blog- ‘Rejected Princesses’). Her final blog project is looking at art and artists. She pours a lot into each of her posts. She uses tons of pop culture references. She’s really good with her words and with explaining. It’s easy to follow and super interesting. Anyone who is passionate about art and art history would love to read this blog.
Bianca’s final blog project is about poetry. She looks at poets and explains what she can learn from them. Writing poetry has helped her feel more confident with herself in dark times. She has shared three of her own poems (Love, Love, Tree in Me) and then explains what they mean to her personally. They are really pretty!
Sarah’s English Blog
Hahaha, I severely enjoy this blog. It reminds me of those Illuminati confirmed videos and Shane Dawson. I really love conspiracies. I love this blog. She’s looked at 9/11, Flat Earth, and recently Donald Trump. Before she’s even connected to Alex Jones. “I will LITERALLY eat my hat” if she does something on FEMA camps. Whatever happens, keep this up. I’m excited to see more. uwu
Readers of this blog by now know I am a fan of what is different to most. To say I want to go to Pakistan or that I have a fascination with Islam automatically invites concern. ‘They have bad female rights! It’s an Islamic country! The media says it funds terrorists! Its unsafe!’ etc. Those are misconceptions. They usually have never visited or never met anyone from the place they are hating on.
I have a close friend online from Pakistan, Osama. He lives in Lahore. Studying at a University like me. He has told me so much about his country and it’s history. We have talked on and on about politics, music, cultural clothing, religion, cuisine.
He shared this photo of the Badshahi Mosque, iconic landmark in Lahore:
He has shown me videos of places around his country that show a completely different and beautiful scenery compared to what usually comes to mind.
I also have another friend, Sameen, from Pakistan living abroad. Who is totally wonderful. I absolutely love her traditional fashion. I appreciate her kind support from afar. She sent me a postcard!
They both think it is a shame that Pakistan is defined by terrorism and the war in Afghanistan. It does not deserve to define the people that live there. Pakistani people are just like everyone else…wonderful, friendly and nice.
Mentor Blog #2: Pakistan
“Lost With Purpose” is another blog about travel and backpacking ran by a 27 year old named Alex. I found this one when I was researching about solo female travel. I love how her homepage, titles and bio are all written in her own unique personal style. She writes so amusingly and you really get what she is saying. She takes amazing photos. Her top destinations are Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. She’s gone to places her government tells her she should avoid, like the border of Pakistan.
Her point of travelling was to again provide information but also in her own words, “Mission 2.0 is to promote tourism to these countries by sharing peoples’ stories, and showing sides of these countries that the media will never show. ” Which I think is super brave and goals.
My favorite post of hers is about how she saves money for travel. I really don’t have the understanding of budgeting but this guide gave me some nice ideas. She’s truly honest in talking about how hard travel blogging can be and how she would prefer to travel without all of her electronics sometimes. She has a huge following on social medias and has been interviewed and featured in all kinds of things.
She’s been to Pakistan four times and has had a lot of attention for it. On one interview for Pakistan Today, Alex explains how important it is to adapt to local culture, she says, “This way, the conversation can be about what you’re doing and not what you’re wearing. It is also a sign of respect for the local culture. Just yesterday, I went to a party in Karachi. Well, I was the only one there in shalwar kameez. So, I thought, this is awkward.” She says that the western media has it all wrong when it comes to Pakistan. She also talks about ‘unneeded ‘protection” that comes from being a female and a foreigner. “I have to say, I am very bitter about security here. I hate it when I’m given unneeded protocol. How am I supposed to relax in a beautiful green valley if there are men in Kalashnikovs standing next to me?”
Travel media has really grown tourism in Pakistan, showing a side of Pakistan the media doesn’t show. Not many people know how Pakistan really looks. Here is a short video, not by the blog, that shows how pretty Pakistan really is. My second fave post by Lost With Purpose is the great divide where she talks about how as tourists we don’t see everything by just going to iconic monuments in big cities. They saw both the traditional and modest part of the country and the Western part of the country. Seeing both sides really shatters mental images and myths. “There’s a massive disparity in this country between the rich and the poor, men and women, but it’s not something we’re truly confronted by often.”
World’s biggest Bhutanophile
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had this “crush” and deep fascination for Bhutan. I’ve had many people confused and wondering why I care so much about the culture, current events and history of a such a unheard of country. To me Bhutan is everything I could ever dream of and is far more exciting. People are missing out. I have many Bhutanese friends online. I tried to learn Dzongkha, the national language. I listen to Bhutanese music and watch Bhutanese film. I follow and am grateful for the Wangchuck royal family and the Kings. I love Bhutanese architecture, art, Tshechu festivals and traditional clothing. I am so desperate to go! I have been called a secondary citizen and have had many people invite me. (Side note: My name Tasha is similar to a Bhutanese name Tashi meaning “good fortune”) They are always surprised at how much I care. The saddest truth is I don’t have the money and even my Europe trip was on burrowed money. All I can do now is read travel blogs, look at photos, ask my friends questions and pretend to feel the heavenly emotions and experiences. I want to meet colorful, friendly and happy people. Simple people who love their life. I want to be blessed by smiling young monks. I want to see how Buddhism is viewed and practiced. I want to be in the snow capped mountains. I would take mountains over ocean beaches. I want to get lost in markets trying on Kiras and scarves. Trying ALL of the food. They love spicy food my favourite! I want to hear people talking in Dzongkha, a very pretty language, that is nowhere near English. It’s fancy alphabet is burrowed from Tibetan, another culture I admire. I want to feel like I belong. I seriously think I was born Bhutanese in another life or dimension. I want their culture to stay Bhutanese and never get ruined or changed by the West. Modernising in education, medicine and infrastructure is fine but learn and speak Dzongkha, wear the national dress, have festivals, keep Buddhist traditions going, etc. Just never change what makes Bhutan incredible. Hopefully one day I can see this paradise~~~
Mentor Blog #1: The Dragon Kingdom
Earth Trekkers, is a travel blog about a family of four, that shares about their adventures travelling. They have visited a shocking total of 67 countries. Their pages goal is to “Get travel advice, find epic destinations, and try our sample itineraries. Hopefully, we will inspire you to go outside of your comfort zone.” And that’s just what they do. They give examples from the best hiking destinations, advice for travelling with kids, packing lists and more. They have an interactive map that you can explore the countries they have visited. The best part of their blog was the posts about Bhutan. They took and shared excellent photography. Photos cannot do Bhutan justice. Bhutan is an Asian Kingdom located in the Himalayas that has kept it’s unique and colorful traditions alive. They only recently opened up for tourism in 1974. They explained the tariff charge, route into the country and the tour company they went with. In Thimphu they visited a zoo, the Trashi Chhoe Dzong (a dzong is a fortress, religious and administrative center) and the market. They ate Bhutanese food, they love chillies (ema). They went to Cheri Monastery and the National Memorial Chorten where they got to see spinning of prayer wheels. “In Buddhism it is believed that the more you spin the prayer wheels the more good karma you accumulate, which is extremely important for a favorable rebirth during the next life.” Lastly in Thimphu, they visited the golden statue of Buddha, Buddha Dordenma. They drove to Punakha, usually the second place tourists go. On the way they stopped at Dochula Pass, to gain a view of the snow peaked mountains. 108 memorial Stupas were built to commemorate Bhutanese soldiers who died in 2003. At Punakha they visited their second Dzong, a super popular one. They white water rafted on the Mo Chhu River. They visited the fertility temple, Chimi Lhakhang. “Lama Drukpa Kunley, the Divine Madman, is one of Bhutan’s favorite saints, famous for his sexual exploits. His temple is now visited by childless couples searching to increase their fertility” The post also talked about Bhutanese woodworking, the meaning behind prayer wheels and temple paintings. Lastly, they wrapped up their trip by hiking up to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, probably the most known place in Bhutan. They had a great time in Bhutan. I just absolutely love reading and learning about Bhutan.
Cultural Historian wannabe
I am going to transform into a travel and culture blog. My hope is that I will make people interested and excited about rare places. At the same time I want to learn more about traveling to places I find cool and want to visit someday. I never want to stop expanding my knowledge of new lifestyles, cultures and traditions. I will be keeping this up for five weeks, a new country for every week. Each week I will post a review of the setup of one mentor travel blog. Later that week I will make a second post that includes personal connections. uwu~