By the time you read this I'll be in Malaysia, where I plan to travel around for three weeks and explore Borneo, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and more so please follow along with me on Facebook!
Traveling to Malaysia will be easy: I've got my ticket, I'll take my passport and get a visa on arrival. Not a second thought.
But I couldn't do that in... say, Transnistria or South Ossetia. What if I want to travel to a country that isn’t internationally recognized? What if there are no passport stamps or visas? In August 2010 I wrote about some of these unrecognized countries and this month, Amber Lamboo - who has already written two issue of Women on the Road News - introduces us to a few new ones. Some of these may surprise you!
Now if you're reading this and dreaming of traveling, why are you still at home? Are you confused by all the choice out there? Is fear holding you back, or money or the lack of a travel partner? Whatever the reason, two books can help.
If you're in your 20s or 30s, I recommend The Art of Solo Travel. It's snappy and vivid and fun and shows you the way if you're traveling solo for the first time.
If you're beyond your thirties, then my own Women on the Road: the essential guide to baby boomer travel will demystify travel for you. In this book I take you by the hand and help you decide where to go, how to save money, what to take and when to travel, how to stay healthy and safe - pretty much everything you need to know to see the world. (If you've already read it I would love it if you could leave a review over on Amazon.)
Women on the Road NEWS: Contents for Issue #65
- Countries that Aren't Really Countries
- Connecting with Women on the Road
- Women on the Road Recommends
- Travel News from Across the Web
- Cause of the Month: Polar Bears
Western Sahara and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic ("SADR")
Western Sahara, a territory on the coast of Africa, has Morocco to the north, Algeria to the east, and Mauritania to the south. In 1975, Spain handed over administration to Morocco and Mauritania. A war erupted between Morocco, Mauritania, and the Polisario Front, a national liberation movement and a 2,700km wall now divides the Moroccan controlled territory (the Western Sahara side) from the Polisario Front (the SADR side). Western Sahara is mostly desert flatland and is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, with more than half of the population living in the capital of El Aaiun (also called Laayoune). The SADR has even fewer people. Travel to Western Sahara is possible with a Moroccan visa, but the SADR side of the wall is entirely off limits. Curious? This photo essay will give you a glimpse of Western Sahara and this story will show you it's definitely off the beaten path.
Republic of South Ossetia
South Ossetia, a breakaway region in the Caucasus mountains, declared independence from Georgia in 1990. Russians have supported the independence bid but the Georgian government has attempted to retake the region by force, leading to war in the region as recently as 2008. It is recognized by only five other nations, including Abkhazia, another unrecognized country. Despite a ceasefire, this is still one of the most dangerous areas in Georgia. Not only do you have to be adventurous, you also have to get around the fact that Georgia has passed a law declaring travel to the area illegal unless it is on humanitarian or security grounds. Nevertheless, South Ossetia has a website describing its cultural attractions and how best to travel to the area. Tempting, but not recommended.
Nagorno-Karabakh is an autonomous region in the Caucasus between Armenia and Azerbaijan, to which it officially belongs (even though Azerbaijan hasn't exercised power over it since 1991). While travel to the area is possible through Armenia, it can become a juggling act since entry from Armenia is considered illegal entry into Azerbaijan. To enter Nagorno-Karabakh, you need a visa from their embassy in Yerevan, Armenia. If you intend to visit Azerbaijan as well, ask Nagorno-Karabakh border officials to stamp your passport on a separate piece of paper so you won't arrive in Azerbaijan with evidence of travel to Nagorno-Karabakh (this could get you deported or land you in prison). Most people travel here to hike the Janapar Trail and to visit the area's monasteries.
This territory is part of Moldova, tucked between the Dneister River and Ukraine. It declared independence in 1990, but the Republic of Moldova considers it owns most of it. Entering Transnistria can be done from both the east and the west. When visiting, you must fill out a landing card. Entering from Ukraine will not get you a Moldovan entry stamp so if you leave through Moldova, you may have problems exiting. There have also been reports of Transnistrian officials trying to extort bribes. Transnistria does have a tourism website that offers a wide variety of tours of the area. The capital of Tiraspol is small enough to see in just a few hours. If you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be one of the few to visit.
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (“TRNC”)
Northern Cyprus is a de facto state in the northern third of the island of Cyprus. In 1974, Greece tried to annex the island and Turkey invaded in response. This resulted in the island's partition between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot populations. Turkey is the only country that recognizes the territory as an independent republic. The island is divided from east to west by a UN buffer zone, but you can visit the area. All visitors must pass through immigration and most Western citizens can get a free visitor visa at the border. TRNC stamps are no longer a problem for later visits to Greece or Cyprus, at least for EU citizens. Find out more about how to get to the area and what to do when you get there.
If you enjoyed this newsletter, then please tell a friend about it!
Plenty has been happening, as usual - and the days are just too short to write everything I want to!
One of my most popular blog posts this month was about the Basque country and food - have a read: Blown Away by Bilbao, Spain
I spent a wonderful weekend in Evian-les-Bains where I learned to - taste water! You'll find out all about it in The Best Bottled Water? Just Ask a Water Taster
I also visited the charming Loire region of France - don't confuse it with the Loire Valley and its chateaux though. Discover Two Artists of Montbrison (hints: chocolate - again - and jewelry!) and in Four Irresistible Museums of the Loire.
I've now known Lisa for at least five years. We emailed, became friends and she ended up spending a week Couchsurfing in my house in France. Lisa is a special person - a talented woman whose talent hasn't gone to her head. Despite three Emmy awards, a couple of books under her belt, an award-winning blog and many more distinctions, she's level-headed and that's exactly the kind of advice she gives in her book. If you're wondering whether a life of travel is for you, don't decide until you read what Lisa has to say.
How to Become a Housesitter and See the World by Pete and Dalene Heck
Fellow bloggers Pete and Dalene have put together the ultimate housesitting resource. They've been paying their way by housesitting for years and now they're sharing everything they know with you! So if you've ever wondered how you can travel and live in the lap of luxury while you do it, you'll have to read this.
And if you haven't yet picked up my own women's travel book maybe this is the month you'll decide to travel!
For food lovers...
Kuala Lumpur: A City of Surprises
Chile: The Best Stargazing
How to Be a Local in Lyon, France
Mali for Budget Travelers
6 Exploded Expectations of China
7 Free Things to Do in Rome
Living in the Basque Country
Oman's Famous Mutrah Souk
If You're Visual
The Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Islands of the Galapagos
Rocky Mountain Timelapse
Montevideo: The Perfect Buenos Aires Getaway
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh
Toronto Street Art
The Whirling Dervishes of Cappadocia
Water Puppets at Halong Bay
The polar bear is the world’s largest terrestrial carnivore. There are currently 20-25,000 polar bears worldwide and 60-80% are in Canada. They are listed as a vulnerable species and if current warming trends continue, scientists believe they may be extinct within the next century.
Polar bears rely on sea ice to hunt and store energy for summer and autumn. Sea ice is now melting earlier and forming later - this means bears spend longer periods without food. If the ice breaks up just one week earlier in Hudson Bay, bears will come ashore about 22 pounds lighter and in poorer condition. Climate change is also causing a new problem: new diseases that have never before made it this far north.
WWF has annointed 2013 the Year of the Polar Bear. In 1973, the five polar bear range states (Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the US) signed the Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears to protect polar bears and their habitat; 2013 is the agreement's 40th anniversary. The range states will meet again in December of 2013 to discuss what should be done to promote conservation in the years to come.
What You Can Do
Kaleena Quarles will bring you... Chocolate Travel - the sequel! (yes - she has more!!)
© Leyla Giray. All rights reserved. Women on the Road™ News is published monthly. Reproduction of any material from this newsletter without written permission is prohibited.