Around the World in Eighty Couches

16 01 2012

We’ve heard it all: backpacking Asia, roadtrip around America, hitchhiking Ireland, cruising the Amazon, jeep safari in Africa, sailing the Carribean to trekking the Himalayas one way or another we knew a friend of a friend whose uncle’s neighbour’s daughter’s bestfriend whose dentist’s assistant’s niece did this. But Fleur had something different in mind: to experience Central Asia not by mode of transportation, but through mode of hospitality.

It’s one way to sleep with 20 other people in one room in a hostel, but it’s another thing to walk in to a total stranger’s house and sleep on their couch. We’d do it for friends if they need to crash for the night, right? Why not to strangers?
It’s a bit crazy.

“Fleur is about to lose her couchsurfing virginty as she travels through China, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, joining the burgeoning couchsurfing community. Fleur is on a mission to discover what motivates people to intive total strangers to sleep on their sofa and what it is that has made couchsurfing such a global phenomenon. “

As Fleur experiences the global phenomenon of couchsurfing we are introduced to a world where the place is about the peoples’ homes. From mats to cots, on the floor or on a bed that seemed half consumed already by bed bugs to a close encounter of sharing a bed with a couple, a new breed of hospitality is born. When doors are open wide and beds made for Fleur, a sultry ensemble of characters will deliver a story to tell worth reading for.
Maybe in the comfort of your own couch.

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CAPTURE: Vista

15 11 2011

A twenty minute twelve dollar ride from Panama City lay Isla Taboga, a destination for locals to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and a quick way to get back to nature, get a tan on the beach or even enjoy a quiet walk in the small town of San Pedro. In the middle of this quaint town, like any Spanish colonized town, was the Iglesia de San Pedro dubbed as the second oldest church in the Western Hemisphere.

The exterior of the church itself was less impressive. For a church that is apparently the second oldest in the Americas it was a little boring on the outside. No frescos, no intricate carvings nor gargoyles that stick out. It was just white. Plain. Dull. However, serving as its purpose the church has served as the house of god to the people of Taboga. I quietly walked inside to a couple of women having a discreet conversation and a few children running amock only to be sent outside by the women. Another woman knelt nearby the altar and another lady walked towards a stairwell at the corner.

I asked her “Que es?

Por la campana” she said, for the church bell.

Ah. Up she walked the stairwell and I asked her if I could come up and see, I felt privileged that she even said yes. Halfway upon walking up the claustrophobic winding stairwell a booming of sound surrounded me almost knocking me to the ground. I grabbed ahold of the handles and waited until the booming ceased.

I scrambled up the stairwell, I didn’t want to wait for a second booming of the bells I needed to get out of this trap. As I reached the top my eyes were blinded by the sun and waited for them to adjust. Seconds later the silhouette of the bell ringer came into formation, and then the bell, and then the window, but what stunned me the most was the view that was presented in front of me. The small houses, the boats, and the ocean all in a breathtaking view. The church of San Pedro may not be the prettiest church anyone would ever see, but the iglesia itself is lucky to have a view that it has admired for centuries.





Heaven on Earth is an awfuly big secret

2 09 2009
 
“I just feel like everyone tries to do something different, but you always wind up doing the same damn thing”

 

When Richard lands in Bangkok, all he wanted is to have an adventure – an ultimate adventure. Not the typical tourist destination, not the the typical prepackaged resort, nor the typical backpacker’s route – but a once in a lifetime experience that travelguides just won’t cut it. The problem is, everybody seems to be going to the same place and doing the same thing- until he meets Daffy (Robert Carlyle).
Daffy speaks about a paradise that is a myth in the tourist world, a paradise that only a few deserve to know and only a handful could find. Then Daffy hands Richard a map to a supposedly secret island where you will find a beach.

But it isn’t just any beach, it is the ultimate perfect beach.

Now that fate has handed him an adventure he couldn’t surpass, Richard (played by Titanic star Leonardo DiCaprio) recruits a French couple; beautiful Françoise (Virginie Ledoyen) and sweet caring boyfriend Étienne (Guillaume Canet star in Joyeux Noël) to come with him to the island and search for this paradise.

“My name is Richard. So what else do you need to know? Stuff about my family, or where I’m from? None of that matters. Not once you cross the ocean and cut yourself loose, looking for something more beautiful, something more exciting and yes, I admit, something more dangerous. So after eighteen hours in the back of an airplane, three dumb movies, two plastic meals, six beers and absolutely no sleep, I finally touch down; in Bangkok. “

But like any paradise it has its price, as beautiful as it may seem it is far from perfect. Shark infested waters, untrustworthy tribe, a dangerous secret – a perfect cocktail for a ride you’ll never forget. Based on the book of the same name by Alex Garland, The Beach is a story of an American backpacker (in the novel he is British) trying to escape reality looking for a thrill and ends up in an adventure he will never forget. Like most backpackers in Thailand he is captivated by its beauty and charm. Every traveler wants to find his own paradise and Richard is determined to find his own in the exotic land of coconut trees and buddhas, and will all of these comes a deception that in escaping reality perilous forces is at hand and only a few brave will conquer the courage to face them.

The Lord of the Flies inspired story depicts a dog-eat-dog world even in paradise. It isn’t easy finding a peace of heaven you can call your own and that essentially, every one of us is looking for an escape. Enjoy the coconut trees, pristine waters, white sand beaches and the beauty of Thailand in this film, in a blink of an eye it may soon be gone from your movie screen.