Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pushkar Fair in India

Today I bring you a bit more of Indian Culture but this time thru the eyes of Sashin Kaushik. This amateur photographer from Jaipur (India) quit his engineering course to follow his dream of being a photographer. 
I support arts and talented beings who had the guts to fight against what society wants you to be, to live an happy life being yourself and doing what you really want.   

Sashin is the author of all photography and text that is coming. I was present in Pushkar Fair 2011 and I highly recommend this event! This is also a glimpse into indian lifestyle, rituals and culture. Enjoy :)

Two Sadhus (Hindu Monks) resting

Spiritual Harmony: Old man offering prayers

The holy city of Pushkar is located in the Ajmer district of Rajasthan, India. Pushkar is one of the five sacred pilgrimage sites for devout Hindus.

Every year Pushkar plays host to the Pushkar Fair which is now well known world over for its Religious fervour, festivities and the camel  fair that takes place along the sidelines of this annual gathering. The Pushkar Fair occurs every year in the Hindu month of kartik (October/November). 
Evening Ghat Arti (Chanting Prayers and worship the holy lake)

Night view of fair ground

During the fair, Pushkar is transformed from a quiet little town into a center of cultural activity which is full of colour, sights and smells very distinct to India. The village folk visit the fair dressed in all their finery .Tall Men in bright coloured turbans, with their weather beaten and tanned faces supporting large well kept moustaches, ears pierced with gold and silver rings and tops , women wearing colourful Gagra - Cholis and bright Coloured Odhnis on their heads. Ears, necks, arms ,and feet laden with chunky silver and gold jewellery. 
 Some  girls were offering prayers to holy lake. They used to lit lamps which known as Diya and float them in lake.

Local who is depict Indian Godess “Maa Kaali” to earn money.. he goes to various shops and they give him money.

Pushkar lake view

The photo opportunity provided at the Pushkar fair is tremendous and that’s why I covered this fair. I was there to feel the local atmoshphere and it was so welcoming and unforgetable.
Local shop for traditional shoes.

This old man was selling Miracle Rings which can change your destiny (Although I didn't give it a try ;-)

Streets of pushkar during fair.

There is a big Mela Ground where all the cultural activities takes place. These contests and competitions are organised In the vast, specially-built amphitheatre on the outskirts of the town, A festive, carnival atmosphere prevails in Pushkar during the fair's two-week duration. Giant ferries wheels and open air theatres offer amusement, while food stalls do a brisk trade, as do the shops that sell a fascinating variety of goods. In the evening, people huddle round campfires listening to Rajasthani folk ballads.
Local market place.

                                                             Street vendor who was selling sweets.

The best part of the fair was the streets of town, You can find there lots of locals and tourists, street vendors, various shops and roadside eat outs. It was a nice experience to roam in streets and capture them.

If you feel like working with talented Sashin send him an email koshik770(at)gmail(dot)com with your ideas! Check his facebook page for more beautiful pictures or if you need a graphic designer work. 

Thank you so much Sashin for your collaboration with Shanti Free Bird, come back soon :) 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Life in South America (and cultural shock)

Hello dear pals and traveler fellows!
You have no idea how much I missed this place, my virtual home. These 2 weeks were completly insane, really! I left Portugal in the end of September and seems I'll come back in the end of April, wow!! Remember when I talked about settling down? Hahaha it's not going to happen... for right now. But I have some plans for 2015 including leaving my life of nomad and living out of a backpack and live one year somewhere, which is still a secret. First I gotta be sure that is going to happen, then I can spread the word. If all goes as planned, I finally can host people in my house :) It's about time to pay back all these years staying with adorable and helpful friends, family and couchsurfers.

This time the reason why I'm not updating the blog 2-3 times a week as usual is because last week my laptop broke down, ooohhhh! My beloved electronical device that keep me in touch with the rest of the World :( I will try to fix it during this week, I think I just have to download Windows 7, cross your fingers guys! But that's not it. I lost my cell phone and now I don't have an alarm clock hehe (great excuse to purchase a smartphone, finally!) and I broke the screen of my new Canon DLSR big bummer!! I hope I can get it fixed in Bogota or some big city. Now I only have the tablet, at least something :) Keep positive Marta, better breaking electronics then a leg, right?

We are in Colombia for 2 weeks, I've been writting all transportation costs from my itinerary to share with you in the end of this trip. Transportation is super expensive here! For example: for less then 2 hours trip you pay 10 bucks. Doesn't sound a lot but when you travel 5 months, it's a lot! It was an awful surprise, I thought Colombia was just any Central American country but not really, besides food being cheap (fruits and vegetables are so delicious) life costs is just as same as Portugal. I really don't know how mostly colombians can live like this since their minimum salary is about 300 dollars. Someone told us that the government pays (more or less) well for each kid so there are many women out here with a bunch of kids and stay at home, instead of working.
Zipaquira, where is located the First Wander of Colombia: The underground Salt Church

For the third time in my life I felt the Cultural Shock, I thought after 7 years traveling this wouldn't happen anymore but I was wrong and now I understand is something that can happen anytime in your life. Nobody is unponished.
I traveled and worked in California for 2 months before coming to Colombia. We arrived Bogota which is pretty polluted, noisy, busy, tons of hours in traffic (also has good areas and interesting spots to visit - blog post coming soon) and felt like flying back to USA in the next couple of hours. Ahhh! But the worst is people ripping you off all the time. Although I'm experienced with this matter, I gotta say is very annoying all the time, even the man in the Exchange Money shop, he gave us 5 dollars less, just a try. All the time we have to check change and ask all prices before purchising something. I believe this happens more often in capitals or touristy places. I hope so!
Another thing about (mostly) colombians that piss me off from the moon and back is when we ask directions, even if they don't know, they will say something, but that something is wrong, making us waste time and patient. We had such an hard time with this matter but now we know: ask 5 different people and make a decision.

All these points made me feel sad, traveling like this makes your life harder. Don't think life of a traveler is super simple and easy because we don't have to pay car, house or bills. Sometimes we struggle a lot with the culture and with our budget. But this is also the reason why we love to travel: to understand the World, to see with our eyes and to discover the new. This way we appreciate even more our culture and feel so fortunate! One thing I can tell you: Colombia is very beautiful, I'm grateful for being here.

You might be wondering if I will stay in Colombia until April, nope, I will go to Venezuela next, Ecuador, Peru and if there is time and/or money Bolivia. Any tips of where to go and where to sleep is much appreciated! Or any tips in general about these countries are welcome. No return flight as usual :)

I'm going to prepare few posts for next days. If you want me to post about something in Colombia that interests you send me an email or leave a comment.
Hasta luego hermanos! Nos vemos!

Psss - Today is the last day to participate in this Painting Giveaway I'm hosting with Artemtinta. Don't forget to enter to get a chance to win a Christmas handmade with love gift. Good luck!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Why I dislike Touristic Buses

Touristic Buses can be very easy to use and usually affordable but when I look at people riding one, they look so sad and bored... Never noticed? Do it the next time you see one.
I understand that most tourists that use it only have 2 or 3 days to see as much as possible the city, this way is quick and you don't get tired, just sit your butt, look around, take pictures and listen the guide person (if there's one or if it's not a tape). But do you actually feel the vibe of the city?

I only used one touristic bus in Toronto and I think it was the first and last time. Even if I only have 6 hours in a city! I rather use my feet and explore as much as I can. In the way I'll go to a local restaurant and order traditional food with a refreshing local drink.
The good thing about it? You can get a free map and follow the route walking or cycling ;)

These are the reasons why I don't like this kind of "traveling":

1. If you see something interesting there's no way you can ask the bus driver to stop. You miss many areas that you wish you could explore deeper.

2. You don't have any contact with locals. You don't listen their language and don't share smiles with them in the street. You will spend the day/half day with other tourists taking pictures.

3. The bus will drop you off to only touristic spots. There's absolutely nothing wrong about it but you are certainly missing outstanding places that you can only discover by yourself.

4. Oh you are hungry and that specific restaurant looks delicious? Forget it! Or... write down the name, maybe you can go back tomorrow, hopefully they aren't close on Sundays!

5. You think is a great deal paying only 40 bucks for a touristic bus? With this money you can get a daily bus pass, eat and buy some souvenirs. Yep, it's more work for you but it's worth it! Go discover yourself and save some bucks yeeeyyy!!

Do you like to use this so called Hop on Hop off sightseeing tourist buses? Which cities did you use it before?

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