Leaving to Live

Leaving to Live

A Kurdish refugee boy from Kobani, Syria clings to a fence that surrounds a refugee camp in the border town of Suruc. Traveling is a part of the human existence. We travel to explore, grow, evolve, and appreciate. We travel for adventure, education, and interaction. But there is also a darker side. There are forced travelers: travelers who leave their homes and their countries because they have no other choice. They may be forced out by natural disasters, environmental crises, or poverty. They may fear for their lives because of war, human rights abuses, or terrorism. Leaving to Live Refugees are a part of this group of forced travelers. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a refugee is “a person who has fled his or her country of origin because of past persecution or a fear of future persecution based upon race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, he or she cannot return home or is afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.” Refugees have existed for centuries. However, the surge of refugees fleeing conflict across the globe “reached record numbers and drew widespread attention in 2015,” according to The Borgen Project. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that the population of forcibly displaced people has reached nearly 60 million, up 15 million from 2012. Of this number, they estimate there are 15.1 million refugees of concern, the highest level in 20 years. An additional 5.1 million registered refugees are located in some 60 camps in...
Journey to the Red Centre: National Parks in the Outback

Journey to the Red Centre: National Parks in the Outback

The moment visitors step into the Outback, they know. The Outback has been described as a feeling, rather than a specific geographic area. Whether through its beautiful outdoors or fascinating history, the Outback brings out the spirit of adventure in even those who least expect it.  The Outback, consisting mostly of the central, arid areas of Australia, is well known for its Aborigines, rare animal populations, stunning natural splendor, and great stargazing. To showcase this beauty, the Australian government has created multiple national parks for visitors to enjoy. Three of the most notable national parks are Kakadu, Litchfield, and Uluru, all found within what is called the “Red Centre.” As the name suggests, this highlighted area of the Northern territory gets its name from its dry climate and distinctive red soil. Home to one of the oldest cultures, the Red Centre offers visitors mystery, enjoyment, and Australia at its finest. Kakadu National Park In Kakadu National Park, the northernmost national park, visitors can enjoy boat tours and safaris. Kakadu National Park is one of the few parks in the world to receive both World Heritage Area and UNESCO site listings. Within this park, over 2,000 plant species and rare to almost extinct animal species live in a range of geographic and climatic habitats from rainforests to floodplains. Kakadu offers some of the best locations for fishing or bird watching at Two Mile Hole, Four Mile Hole or the West Alligator Head. With 300 fish species and more than 290 bird species represented in the park, visitors are sure to find something worth seeing. Tourists can also enjoy a nice hike or...
Thailand on a Budget

Thailand on a Budget

Amazing beaches, delicious food, and affordable prices; Bangkok, Thailand has everything you want and more at an affordable price.  Some people travel off as little as $30 ($1 converts to about 30 to 35 THB) per day.  The methods of transportation you use can easily cut down on travel time and cost.  Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) and Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) stations are among the most tourist-friendly and reasonably-priced methods of transportation in Bangkok, with prices ranging from 15–25 THB (less than $1) per one-way ticket.  In addition to the MRT and BTS, other affordable means of transportation include taxis, tuk-tuks, public buses, and motorcycle taxis. Pay specific attention to hotels which are in close proximity to main transportation hubs, such as BTS and MRT stations.  Many hotels will also arrange transportation services for you at reasonable prices.  Silom Embassy Row and the Sukhamvit are promising areas for affordable hotels, with May through September being the cheapest season.  Remember to always check customer ratings on a reputable site before booking your room. Cultural attractions are a “must see” in Thailand; this encompasses Buddhist “wats” or temples.  The most frequented temples are Wat Phra Gaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), and Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn, which also has a spectacular view of Bangkok).  These three prominent temples are accessible by long boat along the Chao Phraya River and are renowned for their architectural beauty and unique historical significance.  While in the area, be sure to visit Dusit Zoo and the Parliament House which encases many of Thailand’s royal treasures and...
Antarctica

Antarctica

Fly in a helicopter. Hike to a beautiful view. Snowboard and ski. These outdoor activities seem standard to a variety of travel destinations. But add snowshoeing over untouched, snow-white flatlands, hanging out with colonies of penguins, and escalating up icebergs, and your vacation takes a sharp turn—a sharp turn south. Welcome to Antarctica. Almost twice the size of Australia, Antarctica spans an amazing 5.4 million square miles of land and showcases some of the world’s highest elevations. And despite its persistently frigid climate, Antarctica has welcomed visitors since the late nineteenth century. Whalers were the first to breach land in 1887, and there’s no doubt that their expedition stirred curiosity. Even the Royal Geographic Society urged exploration of the icy continent as part of their effort to “resolve the outstanding geographic questions still posed in the south.” Just over two decades later the first permanent station was built by scientific researchers from the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition. Though this monument stood as the only permanent station for forty years, many soon followed and exploration of Antarctica began in earnest, and today, the harsh, ice cap climate of Antarctica is home to state-of-the-art science. So why exactly is Antarctica such a hot spot for scientific research? It’s simple: Antarctica’s isolation makes it arguably the most untouched region of any in the world. Far from the frozen wasteland some may think it, Antarctica is a pristine natural laboratory—a scientist’s dream. Many believe that Antarctic visitors are primarily interested in scientific exploration, and that’s not incorrect. Antarctica carries the promise of untapped potential; for the same reasons that scientists are drawn to...
Turkish Delights

Turkish Delights

Turkey is a land laden with a mystical heritage. Some of that may come from its colorful history and cultural flavor, but some of that enchantment comes purely from the land itself. Turkey is rich in natural wonders, especially in sites such as Pamukkale, the Valley of the Fairy Chimneys, the Armenian Highlands, and the Aegean Sea. Many of these natural wonders remain well-kept secrets off the beaten path. The beaten path would typically lead to the urban sites of Ankara or Istanbul. But in this case, sticking to the beaten path would mean missing out on some breathtaking landscapes. Of those unique locations, Pamukkale easily crowns them all. Pamukkale is a natural wonder, a gem of geological formations, recognized for its pristine natural beauty around the world. It is a World Heritage site, prized for its hot springs and deposits of the carbonate mineral travertine. The travertine deposits give the rocky formation a crystalline, white appearance, matching its name, which in Turkish means cotton castle. Hot springs flow across and through Pamukkale, pooling at seventeen intervals like terraces across the high face of the formation. They closely resemble infinity pools found in high-end neighborhoods, only they’re pure white and on a cliff face. When the pools reflect the sky, especially the sunset, the effect is stunning. There has been some trouble with maintaining the purity of Pamukkale, so shoes are no longer allowed around the pools. But who would want to miss walking, or even wading, through those glistening hot springs? Not many who have visited in the last several thousand years have been able to resist the...
More than Corn Dogs: Food at the Iowa State Fair

More than Corn Dogs: Food at the Iowa State Fair

Nothing says “summer” like a hot corn dog, an ice-cold lemonade, and a stroll between the rides, games, and food vendors in the midway at a state fair. As one of the oldest and largest fairs, the Iowa State Fair is also perhaps the most famous. It was the inspiration for Phil Strong’s 1932 novel State Fair, which was followed by three movies and a Broadway musical. Each year, the Iowa State Fair draws over a million visitors with agricultural and technological expositions, carnival-style rides, musical acts, a life-size butter cow, and, of course, decadent food. Food has been a tradition at the fair since its earliest days. After all, the fair began as a venue for farmers to showcase the best of their harvests and their livestock. As the visitors gathered in the tens of thousands for the weeklong expositions, vendors provided food, snacks, and drinks. Because of the huge numbers of people, fair food was designed to be fast, inexpensive, and, most importantly, mobile. The corn dog, one of the quintessential fair foods, exemplifies this ideal: it is quick and easy to prepare, and it is made to be eaten while walking. In the past few decades, fair food has become more than a convenience; it is now an attraction by itself. According to Iowa State Fair marketing director Mindy Williamson, every year the fair holds a contest to determine new foods that will be highlighted during the fair. Vendors compete to submit the most unique offerings to a panel of judges, who determine which foods will make it to the fair. The final contest is determined...