Life in Laos through the lens of a diplomatic wife raising twin toddlers.
One thing I love about the internet is the ability join a community of like minded travelers from all over the world with the kind of kindred spirits who travel deep and want to understand the culture, food, language; travelers who participate in local customs and meet local people; and travelers who share themselves in positive ways wherever they go. Each one of us become transformed by our experiences and know in our gut that we are never the same after every encounter that impacts our perspective. We are hooked not only by the discovery of the world but a constant rediscovery of ourselves, and we cannot stop.
It is this kind of community that I have found in AFAR, first with a subscription to their travel magazine and now as a member of their on-line community where we share photos and experiences, ask questions, and help each other reach the kind of depth we seek in our adventures. I’m inspired by the photos that are posted in their “Highlights“section while scrolling down the entries lost in daydreams (and you know how prone I am to wanderlust daydreams) so easily triggered by the images and descriptions that other members post. I’ve posted my own questions in the forum and received answers generous in details and useful information, and I try to reciprocate wherever I can contribute. And even though I’m not currently traveling, by visiting this community on a daily basis I get the satisfaction of fulfilling my wanderlust desires vicariously through other passionate travelers.
Recently, AFAR launched a 5-week photo competition to win a free trip to India. I didn’t enter because I thought I would win (although I did wonder if I could even go on the prize trip with two toddlers and an impending move to Laos). I entered because each week’s theme prompted more daydreaming to think back on my past travels and to sift through the thousands of photos that I haven’t looked at in years to come up with a meaningful submission. Last week I submitted this photo under the theme “Unlikely Art”. My entry didn’t win but it got featured on AFAR’s homepage! I’m so excited! You can see the amazing winners of each week’s competition here, here, here, here and here. The final contest winner for the free trip will be announced soon.
You can read the description that went along with my entry below but I would highly encourage you to join AFAR’s community yourselves. At the very least, the photos are wonderful so make sure you have a look. I think you’ll really enjoy it, and you’ll be just as hooked as I am!
“The city of Nukus is located in the Karakalpak desert of western Uzbekistan and is the gateway to the famous shrinking Aral Sea and the graveyard of ships stranded in the sand. Once controlled by the Soviet Empire, Uzbekistan has a history of repression and is currently ruled by a strict dictatorship government. Freedom of expression is not a given right for it’s people, and voices against the government are duly hushed.
When I stumbled upon these hand-prints on a school in Nukus, it symbolized to me the possibility for future generations of Uzbek citizens to break free one day, emerging from the darkness of dictatorship and reaching up into the clear blue sky of freedom.
These are my thoughts and dreams for a beautiful nation with a lot of potential. However, the Uzbeks that I showed this photograph to just thought the kids were naughty and made the school filthy, and they should be reprimanded for the mess. Oh well, a mess to some is unlikely art to others.
Nukus is easily reached by a 1.5hour flight from the capital city of Tashkent. From there, you can arrange tours to see the ship graveyard in the Aral Sea. Then I would recommend going south by bus to Khiva for a day before continuing on to Bukhara, Samarkand and back to Tashkent to complete your trip.”
Do you participate in an on-line travel community? Which one(s)?