Uncornered Market » travel blogging http://uncorneredmarket.com travel wide, live deep Fri, 12 Sep 2014 12:46:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Panorama of the Week: Lake Titicaca, Take a Hikehttp://uncorneredmarket.com/panorama-hiking-lake-titicaca-bolivia/ http://uncorneredmarket.com/panorama-hiking-lake-titicaca-bolivia/#comments Sun, 28 Nov 2010 18:24:05 +0000 http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/?p=6073 By Daniel Noll

Lake Titicaca, big stuff. South America’s largest lake, the world’s highest commercially navigable one. And if you take it all in from Bolivia’s Isla del Sol, something beautiful. Deep blue skies hang above inky fresh waters, clouds pop over a lonely landscape, and the whole scene is wrapped by the 20,000 foot snowcapped mountains of […]

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By Daniel Noll

Lake Titicaca, big stuff. South America’s largest lake, the world’s highest commercially navigable one. And if you take it all in from Bolivia’s Isla del Sol, something beautiful. Deep blue skies hang above inky fresh waters, clouds pop over a lonely landscape, and the whole scene is wrapped by the 20,000 foot snowcapped mountains of the Cordillera Real.

It’s one thing to admire the lake from the shores of Copacabana, Bolivia’s main outpost on the lake, but it’s another to hike the length of Isla del Sol. Breath-taking, quite literally.

360-Degree Panorama: Lake Titicaca from Isla del Sol, Bolivia

panorama directions

Because of the altitude — a lung-aching 3,800 meters (12,500 feet) — you can feel the burn. Go slow, appreciate the villages, the people, the donkeys, the llamas, the history.

Our suggestion: take a boat from Copacabana to the northern side of Isla del Sol and hike to the village of Yumani on its southern edge. The walk offers great views of the lake and a few sites of reconstructed Incan ruins.

Although Yumani has experienced a bit of a boom in guest house construction recently, you can still see pack donkeys carrying supplies through town and young girls shepherding llamas from the fields.

After an overnight stop, hire a boat in the morning to take you to the village of Yampupampa on the mainland. From there, hike the remaining ten miles back to Copacabana. Along the way, it’s a different world: villagers rely mainly on agriculture, livestock and trout fishing.

So if you find yourself in Bolivia, take in Lake Titicaca. And if you find yourself at Lake Titicaca, be sure to take a long walk.

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Travel: A Means or an End?http://uncorneredmarket.com/travel-means-or-an-end/ http://uncorneredmarket.com/travel-means-or-an-end/#comments Sat, 06 Nov 2010 18:40:31 +0000 http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/?p=5859 By Daniel Noll

We are excited to announce that we have been selected by G Adventures for their Wanderers in Residence program. In preparation for the official announcement today, we answered a few questions about our journey, including the age-old travel writing and travel blogging query, “Why do you travel?“ In doing so, we ticked off a list, […]

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By Daniel Noll

We are excited to announce that we have been selected by G Adventures for their Wanderers in Residence program. In preparation for the official announcement today, we answered a few questions about our journey, including the age-old travel writing and travel blogging query, “Why do you travel?

In doing so, we ticked off a list, gazed at our navels and stumbled onto a stickier query: Is travel merely an instrument to achieve a set of objectives or is travel an aim in itself?

It was my first flight. Eastern Airlines, Scranton Pennsylvania to Orlando, Florida. Our plane took off in the pre-dawn as night yielded to morning. I was eight and had just gotten my first pair of wings. I was also terrified — only slightly — that just a few inches separated me from the open air at some obscene altitude of 29,000 feet. But I was thrilled. Life below was small through those funny-shaped windows, the earth bent, and I watched a sunrise in a way I had never watched one before.

Above it all, I was going somewhere, taking a trip. I was traveling.

Literally and figuratively, I felt a lift. I felt it in that airplane. I felt it on the Caspian Sea, on the Annapurna Circuit, and in the Pamirs. I felt it coming to Toronto a few days ago (surprise, we’re in Canada!). I have felt it on so many journeys for business, for pleasure and now for somewhere in between. I land in airports and get on buses and meet people and eat food and climb mountains. I seek to understand places, things, culture and history.

All these journeys and destinations later, it’s that feeling of possibility that comes packaged with taking a trip –- call it a travel high — that I get when I’m on the move.

But why? The feeling that we get when we travel — do we experience it because we are achieving stuff? Or is there something else?

Travel As a Means to an End

Since Mr. Dictionary always helps me understand what I’m writing about, I consult him again to clarify some terms:

  • means: an agency, instrument, or method used to attain an end
  • end: an intention or aim

The argument that travel is a means to an end (or various ends, for that matter) is well stated implicitly and explicitly in just about every travel article, travel blog post or “About Us” page: to learn, to escape, to challenge ourselves, to discover, to seek thrills, to meet new people, to satisfy our curiosity about the world and to do so firsthand.

We can all attest as to the ability of travel to provide a context to do any and all of this at once. Our world provides travel as the ultimate excuse to move through it. In this way, travel is a gateway, an enabler.

Travel As an End in Itself

But let me play devil’s advocate. Take all the answers you’ve ever given to the question “Why do you travel?” Couldn’t you have achieved all the same ends — learning, growing, exploring — perhaps a little closer to home without traveling?

But travel is a funny thing. Merely taking a trip — the movement, the places, the journey, the destination — suspends us in a different frame of mind.

Traveling places us in an intangible emotional context. And that sets it apart. Not unlike cooking, making music, running, doing yoga – and dare I say, having sex – traveling delivers something above and beyond the end product.

Travel as a Means and an End

We travel because it enables us to pursue and achieve all things conceptual and concrete that we speak to on this blog. But as I examine our own behavior and the behavior of others who travel, I have seen something else that transcends the story of travel as an enabler.

Someday, someone will publish a grand unified theory of the way our brains work. And when they lay the folds of our brains bare with the chemistry coursing through them, travel will have its own special place.

Travel enables us to do things. But travel is also the thing itself.

So why do you travel? For you, is travel a means to an end, the end itself, or both?

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TBEX ’10: Where Travel Blogging Meets Speed Datinghttp://uncorneredmarket.com/travel-blogging-meets-speed-dating/ http://uncorneredmarket.com/travel-blogging-meets-speed-dating/#comments Fri, 25 Jun 2010 19:45:58 +0000 http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/?p=4141 By Daniel Noll

This weekend, Audrey and I will be shaking hands and kissing babies, schmoozing and pressing flesh at a meet-and-greet with the well-traveled. Those of you in the circle know it as TBEX. To those of you outside the world of travel blogging — yes, Virginia, there really is such a thing — it’s the Travel […]

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By Daniel Noll

This weekend, Audrey and I will be shaking hands and kissing babies, schmoozing and pressing flesh at a meet-and-greet with the well-traveled. Those of you in the circle know it as TBEX. To those of you outside the world of travel blogging — yes, Virginia, there really is such a thing — it’s the Travel Blog Exchange conference.

As we dropped in on PREBEX, an ad hoc pre-conference cocktail hour, it occurred to us that the networking process is probably a lot like speed dating: get your story across in a short time while listening to and understanding the story of the person to whom you are speaking.

Problem is, we’ve never speed dated.

So in the spirit of cutting to the chase, here’s our Pocket Guide to Uncornered Market (@umarket on Twitter). It covers some of the off-the-bat questions. And for those interested in digging a little deeper, it includes a section on our travel ethic.

For those of you at TBEX ’10, please say hello and let us know a bit about yourself. For everyone else: if you’ve ever harbored burning questions about us, now is the time to ask.

The Basics, Off-the-Bat

Q: How do you stay so good-looking while traveling to so many grotty places?
A: An occasional shower.  Laundromats. Q-tips. $0.66 haircuts in Peru.

Q: Who are you?
A: We are an American husband-and-wife travel, blogging, writing and photography team on a journey around the world. Curiosity guides us, humanity is what touches us.

Trying to Stay Warm on Detaille Island - Antarctica
Dan & Audrey in Antarctica.

Q: How long have you been traveling?
A:  At the time of writing, 1,298 days — since December 2006 when we swapped our jobs in Prague, Czech Republic to travel around the world.  For the fuller — and more interesting — story, check out Wandering the Zeroes.

Q: How many countries have you been to?  
A: Quite a few. Probably north of 70, but we really haven’t bothered counting.  We propose a better quantitative proxy measure: median time in each country visited.  For us, it’s not so much about how many countries you’ve been to, but how and how well you’ve grokked them.

Q:  How do you stay sane and married after traveling all this time together?
A:  Easy: a healthy supply of tranquilizers. Just joking.

Q:  What is your style of travel?
Simple, budget, public transport, guest houses, street food, markets.  Having said that, we do enjoy posh from time to time and graciously accept gratis invitations to 5-star properties :)

Q:  What do you hope to do when you grow up?
A:  Change the world, change minds.  If that doesn’t work, we’re thinking street food vending in Varanasi.

Q:  What do you write about on your blog?
A:  Like a high-quality box of chocolates — you never know what you are going to get: a cros pollinator’s view of travel, socioeconomic perspectives, food, photography and microfinance.

Q:  Where are you going next?
A:  After two more weeks in the United States, we will return to Prague for a spell and steal off to an undisclosed location for a couple of months with the plan to visit East Africa in the fall.

Ethos:  Who We Are and How We Engage

The story is in the stories.

Practical: How to Travel Without Hugging the Bowl

Mesmerizing:  Bolivian Salt Flat (Salar de Uyuni) 360-Degree Panoramas

Human: Microfinance: Seeing is Believing

Personal Growth:  Living Deliberately

Idealistic: Travelers As Diplomats

Insightful:  Seeing the Unseen in Patagonia

Atypical: An Unusual Look at Potosi, Bolivia

Ravenous: Peruvian Food Isn’t Just Ceviche

Assimilators:  It’s one thing to do a million different things in your travels.  It’s another when you draw the common thread: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Travelers

Adventurous:  How to Drag Audrey Down a Volcano

Culinary:  A Cooking Lesson at Spanish Language School

Vigorous: Battle at the Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan Border

Funny: 7 Ways to Trek Like a Supermodel or Oh Brothel Where Art Thou

Nuts: 1296 days on the road and carrying all this sh*t?  Bona fides on crazy street.

———-

Whether you find yourself online or offline, we look forward to continuing the conversation. And if you’ve had success in speed dating, please feel free to share your secrets.

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Do You Travel to Blog or Blog to Travel?http://uncorneredmarket.com/travel-to-blog-or-blog-to-travel/ http://uncorneredmarket.com/travel-to-blog-or-blog-to-travel/#comments Mon, 01 Mar 2010 16:49:12 +0000 http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/?p=3553 By Daniel Noll

If you consider yourself a travel blogger, I have a question for you: Do your travels determine your blogging? Or does your blogging determine your travels? In other words, does your blogging life – your online persona and community – actively play a role in how you choose your travel destinations and activities? If you […]

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By Daniel Noll

If you consider yourself a travel blogger, I have a question for you: Do your travels determine your blogging? Or does your blogging determine your travels?

In other words, does your blogging life – your online persona and community – actively play a role in how you choose your travel destinations and activities?

Digital Nomad, Audrey on Laptop - Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Not a bad place to work. Rio Dulce, Guatemala

If you are not in the travel blogging world, but you happen to be in the metaphor business, a similar question applies to you: How much of what you do is motivated from within?

If this looks like a twist on the career advice, “Do what you love and the rest (i.e., the satisfaction, success, money, etc.) will follow,” it is.

What the heck is the metaphor business?It’s one in which, as you have an experience, you undertake and capture it in a way that can somehow be shared or monetized later. If you are a travel writer, travel photographer, lifestyle writer, or food writer, you’ll probably know what I mean.

The Travel Blogger Example

We once assumed that most travel bloggers do as we do: choose an itinerary based on their own interests and write about their experiences. But a few articles came across our RSS readers earlier this year in fact underscoring that others take a wholly different approach. They actively choose and tune their travel trajectory based on what they perceive will be of interest to their readers, even if other destinations or activities may be of greater interest or better suited to them.

This is a deliberate choice, but it does cast light on the relationship between an experience, reflections on that experience, the consumption of those reflections by an audience and the influence of audience reaction on future decisions.

Our Approach

We began this blog to share our around-the-world journey. Along the way, we hoped to use and hone our writing and photography skills to engage readers in travel as a gateway to understanding our world (and hopefully becoming less fearful of it). As we’ve executed, we’ve made inroads into the travel blogging world — and in turn we’ve realized that there are myriad approaches to and reasons for travel blogging. And as our understanding of the blogging world evolves, we regularly examine and question our own approach.

Although we occasionally call out to our community for guidance, we generally make itinerary choices based on what we believe will engage us and teach us something.

We understand that we sometimes do this to our own online peril. For example, an article about kids working the mines in Bolivia is interesting to some and a meaningful issue that we believe both deserves attention and accurately reflects our travel experience. To us, it’s worth the effort to write. However, we’re aware that it’s not a particularly hot travel topic primed for viral success.

Asking You

Tomato-throwing caveat: One approach to travel blogging is not inherently better than another; each has value and satisfies different needs. I ask the question below not with a specific answer in mind, but as an open inquiry. I’m curious about the relationship between the experiences you choose and your audience.

Do you travel to blog or do you blog to travel?

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