The Koreo-Sarem: Discovering Korean Food in Central Asia

“Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go.”
– Anthony Bourdain

Kimchi. Kimbap. Korean fried chicken.
I’m guessing these aren’t the items you were expecting on a Central Asian restaurant’s menu, right? Yet, in the two months we explored this incredible region of the world, these are the items that kept popping up in traditional bazaars, mall food courts, and downtown restaurants of any large Central Asian city.

Why is there so much Korean food, we started to wonder. And so began our quest to find the answer, leading us into a history lesson of incredible cultural importance. This quest ultimately led us a deeper understanding of Central Asia, a region that is so multi-cultural and complex, it is hard to summarize in a few sentences if someone were to ask “What is Central Asian food?”
When trying to describe and make sense of anywhere in the world, perhaps the best place to start is with food. It’s something we can all understand, something Anthony Bordain advocated which can connect cultures around the world. And through this common ground, perhaps we can start to piece together a sense of understanding of the unknown. … More The Koreo-Sarem: Discovering Korean Food in Central Asia

How Travel Teaches Us the Art of Letting Go

In our society today, especially in first-world countries, we can get caught up in societal pressures and standards of living. Our daily “first-world problems” can often overcome us and leave us stressed and anxious. We can find ourselves worry about career progression and measuring our accomplishments to others. We can find ourselves giving in to societal pressure of buying brand names and the newest high-tech gadgets, believing those advertisements that we NEED them to be happy.

Thoughtful travel can teach us to let go of all these expectations and pressures overtime. It opens our eyes to a world of many realities, many standards of living, and many contrasting “rules” to live by.
What exactly does travel teach us to let go of and how? Read more to find out 3 things you learn to let go of on the road … … More How Travel Teaches Us the Art of Letting Go

Experiences are Worth More than Material Things

Experiences are priceless. While a product will get old and lose value over time, our memories and learnings from each adventure we take will forever be with us. Sure memories fade. We may not remember the exact date we visited our favourite country, the name of the first kind-hearted local person who helped us find our way in a foreign country, or the name of that beautiful monument we snapped a hundred photos of. But the feelings we experienced never go away. The challenges we face on each of these adventures make us grow stronger. The beauty from these trips gifts us with a sense of wonder and contentment. Each trip expands our mind. Not one in particular is life-changing; rather, over time, the collective experiences have together changed us into better people. … More Experiences are Worth More than Material Things

The Kindness of Strangers: A Tale of fate and fortune in Morocco’s Conservative South

I recently read the amazing Lonely Planet book called The Kindness of Strangers: Tales of Fate and Fortune on the Road by Don George. It’s a wonderful collection of real-life stories by travellers who encountered random acts of kindness on the road to anywhere, often in strangest of circumstances and certainly never expected or required. Sometimes, unfortunately these wonderful acts of kindness get lost in negative situations that arise when on the road as world travelers, or get muddled by negative news stories that skew people’s perception of a country and its people. But after reading these real-life incredible examples of pure kindness, it is no exaggeration to say it has the power, on the most negative of days, to restore our very faith in humanity. It also made me think of my own tales of fate and fortune. We all have them. But we often don’t get our chance to publish them. So here we go …

Countless of such “random” acts have warmed my heart on so many adventures I’ve embarked on. One, in particular, in a small town in Morocco’s conservative south, particularly stands out … … More The Kindness of Strangers: A Tale of fate and fortune in Morocco’s Conservative South

Volunteering Abroad: Don’t expect to change the world. Instead, choose an organization that is.

When we told people we would volunteer abroad in Central Asia’s second poorest country, Kyrgyzstan, the most common response was to ask if we would either build houses or help orphans.
Our answer? None of the above.
As young professionals, taking care of kids and doing construction labour aren’t exactly our strongest points. We went through ups and downs as we researched the most impactful volunteer opportunities out there, and finally came to a simple realization. If we want to make an impact, just ask the locals what they really need. And so we did. … More Volunteering Abroad: Don’t expect to change the world. Instead, choose an organization that is.

When in Uzbekistan: 5 Surprising Encounters that Make the Best Travel Stories

Uzbekistan has never been considered an easy country to travel but it is continuously changing, now more than ever before, as it opens its doors to the world. Even our brand new Central Asia Lonely Planet (despite it’s best intentions) had become outdated in some respects just three months after publication. That’s how fast the country is changing. In some ways, it was easy to travel Uzbekistan – streets were spotless, public washrooms were incredibly clean, people were friendly with local vendors in bazaars offering generous samples while pushing for a sale more in an endearing rather than annoying way. But traveling a country essentially closed off since independence almost 30 years ago, is never without its surprises. And Uzbekistan is no exception. But it’s often these surprises that make the best travel stories when you return home. Here are a few funny things you may encounter on a trip to what is often viewed as the most preserved ancient Silk Road country in the world. … More When in Uzbekistan: 5 Surprising Encounters that Make the Best Travel Stories

How Expectations Kill your Trip (…and everything else in life)

It was our first day on our 12-day tour of Mongolia’s Gobi Desert and the Central plains. We were perched on a small rock formation in the middle of nowhere in the Northern Gobi Desert at a nomad family’s ger camp, watching the sunset over the small cluster of white gers in the horizon. The setting sun colored the sky with a pink and orange glow, casting a shadow on the majestic horses grazing in the distance owned by our nomadic hosts, roaming free like wild animals, as all animals do on the great Mongolian Steppe. But instead of smiles on our faces, we were filled with a confused sense of negativity for the past hour. This isn’t what we had wanted. Well actually, let me rephrase. This is exactly what we wanted, but we didn’t know it at the time and couldn’t see clearly due to our preconceived expectations of what a tour in Mongolia should be, and what we envisioned living with nomad families would be like. And so began our lesson of incredible importance in the middle of nowhere in Mongolia’s bare, vast Gobi Desert about the power of expectations … … More How Expectations Kill your Trip (…and everything else in life)

Travel with Thought: How You Can Change the World with 5 Easy Decisions

Did you ever think about when you go to a resort in Central America, and the locals are prohibited from entering the beach, does it actually benefit them and their society as a whole? Imagine if you are not allowed to watch the sunset on the most beautiful section of your own country? This is how it was for local Cubans before 2008. When you eat at Mac Donald’s in a foreign country or beeline for that Starbucks, are they really the only businesses that can offer you that cup of coffee or greasy burger you crave? Or could you take your dollars to the family cafe next door instead and enjoy a similarly delicious burger or cup of coffee after practicing ordering in the local language? Travel has the power to change the world. But it also has the power to destroy environments, offend local customs and fail to bring money to the hands of locals who need it most. If we put a little thought into our travel and into where our money goes, our trip will actually do good in the places we visit, without requiring a lot of extra money or time. Read more to find out 5 easy decisions any traveler can make to travel with more thought, positively impact the world, and in turn, gain richer cultural experiences and personal growth with each trip we make … … More Travel with Thought: How You Can Change the World with 5 Easy Decisions