ONE YEAR OF COVID-19 PANDEMIA: WHAT CHANGED IN THE HUMAN COMMUNITY?

Dear readers,

today by far a bit more than one year is spent from the COVID-19 outbreak, a deep chance of habits among us human has occurred even we did not want it by any means.

One year ago, myself was just back from my last overseas travel to Asia and yet I was not really aware what such virus pandemia was about and how serious consequences could bring, now I could say that by travelling in that time I take charge of a potential huge risk not only for my personal health and someone’s health but also because the outbreak turned out a sort of ‘worldwide war regime’ since no Country in the world was enough prepared to face up such a worldwide emergency and as a result each Country during March 2020 started to close the borders for the tourism like a domino effect, therefore I risked of not returning back to my living Country, however fortunately I landed at Vienna airport right on the last day before they would have fully-closed it to start arranging all the COVID-19 precautions. I have to admit that at the beginning I underestimated the situation by believing that such a virus would have been faded out like when it happend with SARS in 2003.

If we were to make an objective assessment of the situation, we would say that before the COVID-19 we humans were used too much to the COMFORT zone: we had everything granted, hang-out anytime and anywhere we wanted, have a plenty of choice about What-to-Do and Where-to-Go, all this spoilt us very much, nevertheless we never seemed to be happy because we never took into account that a worldwide health issue could affect us, we were under the illusion of being invulnerable, in fact we are NOT.

I would say that COVID-19 pandemia is like a 4th worldwide war with the only difference that this is not fought with (chemical) weapons, so if before the human was never satisfied suddenly he/she ended up to comply with a sort of regime. For some of us this has been being a great opportunity to discover ourselves from the spiritual point of view (check the past article https://giuseppegiampino.com/2020/04/12/easter-time-over-the-covid-19-outbreak-a-great-opportunity-to-research-and-plan-something-new/), start to plan/rethink our future life including our ambitions, hobbies, etc. in other words this situations still represents for us a clear opportunity for growing.

One spontaneous question we should try to answer is: how our ancestors who experienced the 1st and 2nd worldwide war would react to this situation if they were to be still alive?

I personally gave an answer to this question and I say that I firmly believe that they would be wise enough and responsible. Unfortunately and Fortunately neither are our ancestors alive nor we experienced war time (at least in Europe).

What can the pros and cons of COVID-19 pandemia be?

I have drawn out the following PROS:

  1. Less mobility which means a decrease of the worldwide pollution
  2. Re-discover our spirituality by leaving apart unnecessary distractions
  3. Learn how to behave with one another and try to put aside our being superficial

CONS:

  1. Deterioration of the social relationships since they are permanently being replaced by virtual relationships
  2. Widespread fear of doing any activity

Naturally, more CONS can be identified, however if we focus too much on those we would never overcome the current situation. Let’s try to imagine how people from rural villages e.g. in Indonesia are living this situation, probably they may not be aware of this virus and even if they are they are used to a genuine and simple life-style and they do not psychologically suffer this situation very much.

Last but not the least, most of us as world explorers asks this question: when could we return to explore the globe? 🙂

There is no certainty about this point and beyond the covid-19 issue there are other matters such as the pollution and sustainability, e.g. the intensive air traffic is a big source of pollution for our planet and even barely the worldwide medias seriously talks about it, I firmly believe that in the coming future we will have to get used to a new idea of travelling which does not include fuel-powered means of transport, we all know that the future of the planet is entirely on our hands.

Having said that, I warmly welcome you to comment with your hints and remarks on how to deal with the pandemia as much best as possible for our good human future.

Giuseppe

Patterns of Journey for travelers who likes the ‘sense-of-discovering’

Dear readers,

since the COVID-19 outbreak started off, most of the ordinary businesses for the tourist industry were forced to disrupt its activities, now after three months of such a pandemic outbreak, each Country of the globe is considering to re-open some activities by categorizing it into a number of phases, however so far nobody knows whether the corona virus will be defeated any time soon.

Let’s assume we will get soon over the ‘COVID-19‘ tunnel, for our future travelling challenges we may want to consider a new pattern of exploring journey which puts us out of the so-called ‘comfort-zone’ 🙂 For instance: during one of my past travels I met a Swedish guy “Tariq” who ventured to travel all the way from Sweden to Malaysia by a cross-trail bicycle, it took him approximately nine months to get through by taking several stops in many Countries in-between, even it may sound extreme this is a great example of an ECO-friendly and riveting globe trotting 😉 of course this choice does not fit everybody, it involves us to have a strong mind-set as well as a very-flexible attitude.

In this regard, we can identify three categories of travelers out of the comfort zone:

  1. Temporary traveller
  2. Medium-long term traveller
  3. Permanent traveler

Let’s pick up the first category which is likely the one concerning most of us:

First of all I would classify as a temporary traveller whoever travels for 30 days maximum, here since we perceive the time-pressure, we are supposed to know what we want get from our short ‘adventure’ by excluding any unnecessary thing as much as possible.

In order to achieve this, we need to set up a structure which helps us to decide what it is for and where we can do this and that, e.g. if we are in for the outdoor sports, then we would be focusing on where and when you could get the most of it, we would be neglecting unrelated activities such as nightlife. Short-term travel might look like over-planned because of the narrow time frame, however if we carefully focus our attention on few activities we can still have a room for some creativity, perhaps some of us may be asking, how can we?

In this regard, I am glad to share with you a draft plan that I prepared before travelling to Vietnam earlier on 2019, I used to make such an itinerary plan for 15 days, so it falls under category 1. (use the bottom horizontal scroll bar to display all the other days)

DAY/StagesFri 26th Apr.Saturday 27th AprSunday 28 AprMon 29 Apr.Tue 30 Apr.Wed 1 MayThu 2 MayFri 3 MaySat 4 MaySun 5 MayMon 6 MayTue 7 MayWed 8 MayThu 9 MayFri 10 MaySat 11 MaySun 12 May
1Regiojet bus Bratislava —-> Vienna airportFlight Bangkok —> Ha Noi 7:45am – 9:35am
by Thai Airways
Check-out at the hostel and morning photo-tour (free improvisation)If Sapa, then the challenge will hopefully be: http://sapaochau.org/sapa-trekking-and-homestay/sapa-trek-and-tour/trekking-tours/off-the-beaten-track-2-day/Off-beten trekking tour part 2Morning arrival at Ha Noi: Stay at Ha Noi or further bus to Cat Ba island?Fulld-day Jungle trekking tour in CatBaFull-day of kayaking around Lan Ha Bay by exploring the floating villagesBus back to Ha Noi, transfer to Hai Pong?
Or 1 more day by chilling in CatBa island?
Back in Ha Noi with a booked accommodationBooked plan to visit Hoi An:
VietJet Internal flight Ha Noi – Da Nang
Full-dive tour around Hoi An, and/or visit to the nearby islands?Ck-out from the Hoi An resort and transfer to the Da Nang airportHa Noi city lifeAs previous dayFinal good-bye dayArrival of inbound flight scheduled at 7:35am Vienna airport
2Flight Vienna – Bangkok 2:35pm – 5:35am (+1day)
by Thai Airways
ETA for Ha Noi: around 11:00am2pm: Bus to Sapa? Or to Cat Ba island? http://greensapabus.com
https://catbaexpress.com/bus-hanoi-to-cat-ba.html
1st full day of off-beaten trekking path tourEnding time: 5pmIf CatBa, then estimated arrival after 11am and check for a last-minute accommodation.Ref. https://www.asiaoutdoors.com.vn/kayak.htmlImprovised soft tours/chilling
time prior to the forthcoming planned flight transfer to middle-Vietnam
Ck-in at a booked resort with poolPhoto-walking, small shopping, chilling at the resort and more.Fly back to Ha Noi. Booked accommodation for the next 3 nihtsPhoto-walking, small shopping, wellness, chilling time, etc.As previous dayAs previous day
PS: need to by a suitcase to carry extra new gadgets bought over the last 3days?
3Ck-in at the booked hostelNo accommodation is bookedas aboveNight bus back to Ha NoiAfternoon time in CatBa:
check and book for jungle trekking tour and for a kayaking trip for the two upcoming days Ref. https://www.asiaoutdoors.com.vn
Trekking ends by 5pm.Kayaking ends by 5pmOverview approaching visit at the city centre of Hoi An UNESCO heritage, full of colorful lights, traditional shops and Cafes.Afternoon time: start of grand-finale with pure improvisation what-to-do and where to goIf so, there are still few hours till 5:30pm to do so 🙂
4Ha Noi overview sightseeing*For Sapa accommodation might be provided by the tour agent http://sapaochau.orgas aboveSleep on the busChlling/sleeping time to get back in a shapeEvening time: (Post-)Sunset photoshooting?One more sunset shooting session?Sunset shooting session in
Ha Noi?
Photoshooting session by the sunset as well as at night5:30pm: deadline to transfet to Ha Noi international airport.
5Get to Sapa O’Chau branch to know details about the off-beaten trek in SapaEvening stroll in Sapa to check the poor ppl villagesSleeping at the planned homestay by the tour agent at half-way of the tourIf stay in Ha Noi, then chilling time and decide what and where-to nextTrekking dayKayaking and evening chil-out around CatBa townChill-out/motorbike tour
(if CatBa)
Photo-walking/chill-outThai Airways flight to Bangkok scheduled at 8:45pm
6Evening chill-out
treno 4/g a sett)
Bratislava –> Vienna airportHa NoiHA Noi –> Sapa? Cat Ba island?Sapa O ChauSapa -> Ha NoiHa Noi? -> CatBa island?CatBa islandCatBa IslandCataba//HaI Pong/Ha NoiHa NoiHa Noi -> Hoi AnHoi An/Islands
nearby
Hoi An -> Ha NoiHa NoiHa NoiHa Noi (final day) – departure back to EU
Ha Noi -> Bangkok -> Vienna
Draft itinerary plan for northern and central Vietnam 2019

It might look cumbersome, however it isn’t 🙂

From this practical example, you might notice several activities which are related to the place you want to explore, i.e. Sapa area is mostly for hiking and trekking, alternatively the town of Sapa offers SPA and other chilling activities, in both cases you may want to include the photography as a hobby 🙂 Besides that, you can break each single single day into sateges, maximum 6 stages would be enough for not making it too cumbersome; some of those stage can be left as a ‘jolly’ so that you would be deciding on the spot about what to go for 🙂

When it comes to the ‘medium-long’ term journey the things are different, we do not need for such an accurate itinerary plan, however we still need to know where we want to go and what we want to do as basic, in this regard I would pick up as example the 37-days journey which I experienced in 2018; here, since my core focus was to enjoy the nature, I came to the decision to dedicate a full month travelling around Indonesia, after that I spent the last 7 days in Kuala Lumpur and then in Singapore, yes just seven days were worthy since the city life was the second concern of my journey 🙂

To be fair, this is a kind of journey which requires some time to make our own research and possibly get inspirations by some locals we meet by chance in our living country, it will help us a lot, for instance, before travelling to Indonesia, I had a chance to meet two indonesian women in my living town, I mentioned them about my travel plan and since I wanted to travel first to Java for 14 days and then move to Sumbawa for just 3 days and finally to Flores for 11 days, they nicely managed to persuade me to cut out 3 days for Sumbawa and I spent three more days in Flores instead.

As a result, I got more than enough time to enjoy a motorbike tour across Flores, if you wish to read more just refer to this article: https://theblogofeggiamp.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/flores-the-conservative-face-of-indonesia-with-surprising-people-on-the-way/

One hint I want to give you is that if you are travelling in a not-so-developed country, you will benefit a lot from renting a motorbike because you will have more space for the improvisation and more chance to discover some unbeaten spots 🙂 For your convenience I have embedded a screenshot about what was the motorbike tour I did on the way to the east (I could just fit 10 stops on it, in fact I did more)

10 Key-stops in Flores

Finally, the permanent journey is something which we know when we start but we don’t know whether or if ever ends, honestly in this kind of journey I can’t be helpful because so far in my life I haven’t experienced one, however my guess is that all we need is just answer the following questions:

  1. What is your mission?
  2. How do you want to be globetrotting?
  3. How do you want to live?
  4. What are your expectations out of it?

If you are able to answer these questions above, it likely means that you are ready to take the challenge! Based on my personal experience with the temporary and medium-long term travel, I venture to say that such a journey should be experienced as a backpacker (at least as you start on it), secondly you shouldn’t plan anything in advance but you’d rather go on the spur of the moment which mean pure improvisation, it should be journey which often (if not always) put ourselves out of the ‘comfort-zone’.

Perhaps before taking such a challenge, it could be advisable to experience a one or two-months journey, however each of us in the world have a different life attitude, so even the one who never traveled in his/her life and is going for the first time might succeed his/her mission and have something meaningful to teach or share with other humans 🙂

Having said that that, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments on such three patterns of journey as well as feel free to suggest your ideas 🙂

Giuseppe

Easter time over the COVID-19 outbreak: a great opportunity to research and plan something new

Dear readers,

this Easter (fow who celebrates it) is by no doubt different than any other previous Easter we ever experienced so far in our life, the keen travelers like me are now on stand-by and forced to deal with some other activities, let’s say we are just out of the conventional every-day lifestyle we have enjoyed so far, for instance, our social activities are narrowed as well as the sport activities, however the world is not over, we just need to be more flexible than ever in adapting to a pattern of a new life.

One day, after spending few days at a friend’s place by meditating about ‘what next’, we found interesting the aspects of human spirituality by watching the following YoutuBe video that I share here below for you:

No worries! Just the cover is written in Italian and it means: ‘Arise the level of energy by staying sat down at home‘ , the speech of the video is delivered in english, the guy himself is an Indian yogi and author who raised a foundation focused on various fields of spirituality.

Regardless the religious belief that each of us belongs to, the content of the video is instructive, just don’t get discouraged with the beginning of the video which opens up with spiritual meditation of the body, after that he delivers his speech, during that he points out that the spiritual exercise can be very effective and can help us to re-discover our blissful of joy.

I believe that nowadays most us humans struggle in finding the (real) joy and as a result we let our brain to reason what makes us happy, what we believe that makes us joyful in fact is fake (just appearance) however most of us dislike facing the truth and this is how our ordinary life-style works.

Having traveled to India and few more asian countries where Hinduism and Buddhism are the dominant religions, I venture to say that they emphasize the meditation and spirituality a lot as a part of the ordinary the life-style, by this I do not mean that everybody in India, Thailand, Cambodia, etc. strictly follows this as a rule, the frenetic consumerist life-style contaminated everybody who works for a corporation business, and this is a sort of enemy for our spirituality.

Amongst other things, nobody knows whether we will be able to resume our ordinary ‘life-as-usual’ as it used to be until few months ago, therefore if some of us was entirely focused on making profitable business on the individual basis then we should resize our vision of the world, I believe that we all know that money at the end is just an illusion of happiness, for example people regardless their pockets are naturally supposed to actively contribute for a better collective life environment and we can not expect that someone will do it for us, otherwise the principle of human equality will never be applied 😦

To sum it up, I consider myself lucky enough to have explored thirty Countries of the globe, of which 23 in Europe and 7 in Asia, however these numbers would be meaningless if one doesn’t commit oneself to learn something from someone’s else culture, perhaps now for a while we won’t have chance to explore other cultures, so my recommendation is: let’s try use the best of what we learned out of having visited different cultures and see how it works, I believe that everybody is able to do so 🙂

Having said that, enjoy watching the video and feel free to share your thoughts!

Giuseppe

BEING A WORLD EXPLORER DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC TIME

Dear fellow readers,

most of us are aware of the fact that the pandemic spreading the coronavirus prevented us from travelling around the globe indefinitely 😦

However, few of us were lucky enough to afford to travel and stay safely until a certain point, this was my case and I am glad to share with you some relevant facts about what went on while exploring another part of the world: I traveled for a period of twenty days from 26th of February through 17th of March to South-East Asia, I explored Cambodia and Thailand, being an Italian living abroad but still holding an Italian passport it was not an easy challenge:

I was originally supposed to travel to Cambodia and then to Vietnam, by the time I started travelling all the way from Europe to Cambodia everything was smooth with no hassles, despite the media already on February started getting us warned and scared about the growing cases globally, for instance at Vienna airport nobody checked the temperature of the boarding passenger, only when I approached Bangkok airport they checked my temperature before transferring to another gate to fly to my final destination, in addition, I noticed that at Bangkok airport they provided everywhere spare hand-sanitizer gel.

Generally speaking, after entering Cambodia most of people appeared to be very-relaxed like they did not want to care much about precautions for coronavirus, the clerk of the villa resort where I stayed in Siem Reap told me that there were no (recorded) cases in the region, however if you went to some pharmacies you could buy all the precautions you needed e.g. antibacterial hand gel and masks with filter.

This situation gave me lot’s of motivation to quietly continue on my trip, however this does not mean that we do not have to care about hygiene and so on, we MUST: Roads are usually dusty with red sands aside and badly-surfaced, so when you trip around either by a tour agent or on your own by (motor-)bike you will inevitably get dirty skin, I recall that I treated my hands with the antibacterial six times a day, dry hot weather and dust are terrible, look at the pictures below:

The most extreme scenarios I ever experienced were in Sihanoukville region: the city is completely being rebuilt with constructions, water pipes, road infrastructure and so on all at the same time with no safety rules, here the hygiene was an extreme challenge, I count that I disinfected my hands ten times per day for not talking about that I got to wash urgently my nose masks and even my backpack which became from blue to black colour!! This is just a not-to-go place for the time being.

Other than that, Cambodia has reported only 103 cases so far, it is difficult to argue on it, perhaps many factors like weather might leverage the spreading of the viruses, who knows? In any case you can keep following up the cases on this link: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

After seven days spent in Cambodia, I got ready and keen to fly to Vietnam, I had a scheduled flight early in the morning from Phnom Penh airport, but here a rocking surprise came out:

Being an Italian traveler with Italian passport I was denied at the check-in counter to fly to Vietnam, the reason for that? Vietnamese government enforced new restrictions for the italians just two days before my flight (3rd of March), no reason was worth to persuade them that I am an italian resident in another European Country, so I had to re-think my travel plans for the other 13 days. I would suggest you the following basic approach

  1. What do we want to do next?
  2. Where do we want to go next?
  3. How to manage it with some improvisation? 🙂

Even if a badass happened, it is a valuable experience to take it with energy to move on! Despite the clerk at the check-in was not so kind they still gave me a hint by suggesting me to stay and enjoy Cambodia longer, so I sat on a bench and picked-up my laptop, I started doing my own research and I gave myself an answer about What and Where, the outcome was Thailand, indeed it turned out to be a wise choice since any other Country few days later started to close the borders for the Italians (Thailand included), at least I could catch the final vector of the returning flight back to Europe, also the travelling life got simplified!

Now you may be asking how I managed it:

Being provided with a laptop and a smartphone with local SIM mobile data, I checked forthcoming departures to Bangkok and I caught an Air Asia flight to Bangkok which was just three hours upfront the current time, I just booked and paid for it, since I had time I could afford to make a research about where to go and what to visit since Thailand was not a new Country for me, this made me to decide to explore the North Thailand which is just a way less touristy than in the south and characterized by some national parks with some jungle trails to go for. Look at the pictures below:

Thailand itself is nowadays a well-developed country, in every public place they always provide you with hand-wash gel, they seemed to me to be more picky than any European country at least in the urbanized areas, when it comes to the life of people in the rural village they feel safe by doing their own life and as opposite they felt scared as they saw some exploring foreigner hiking through, one tour guide said that they think we could spread them COVID-19 , so all we did with some of them not friendly was just keeping some distance as a sign of respect, however nobody of us was not allowed to say them ‘hi‘ or better ‘S̄wạs̄dī‘ in Thai!

All in all, this is a life experience that I strongly suggest go for it, cancel your time off and go back to your ordinary country is the very last thing you should do, in these circumstances would have been a huge mistake which only could get you a way more frustrated, so never give up as long as you have a leeway to adjust your plans but let’s be responsible with the hygiene in this time! Finally, try to improvise some situations when ‘shit happens’ 🙂

Feel free to share your own experience!

Giuseppe