Annika Wachter and Roberto Gallegos cycled once around the globe. How they learned to see the world with different eyes and why cycling promotes empathy.
IIn the Thai border town of Mae Sot, I got to know Sia while doing Thai boxing. She helped me with my research on the whereabouts of the Burmese refugee boy “Little Tiger”. When we parted ways there, I didn’t expect to see each other again.
But as luck would have it, weeks later I went on a motorcycle trip to Chiang Rai. And Sia was in the region at exactly the same time. When she suggested I spend three days with her friends and family, I couldn’t say no.
DTo be able to travel and work on the go is a dream come true for me. But even this dream is not perfect in reality. After a good eight months, what I feared before starting my trip around the world occurred: mental exhaustion.
It was a gradual process. It was only when I realized that I was constantly tired, often had headaches and couldn’t sleep well that I knew something was wrong. But what is so exhausting about my life as a digital nomad?
I didn’t want to admit it to myself, but I’ve developed a certain addiction to smartphones. I recently opened the analysis app on my mobile phone for the first time and was shocked to discover that in the past few weeks I have spent an average of eight hours a day on the smartphone.
It’s my navigation device, translator and notepad, camera and search engine for accommodations, restaurants and attractions, and my entertainment device. And much more.
However, according to the analysis, I mainly use it for communicating. I received about 2,000 messages in three weeks via social networks alone, not counting emails. Since I try to answer all messages quickly, I should also have sent around 2000 in the same period.
Obviously, it’s the constant networking that exhausts me the most. Since the beginning of the year I have more than 60 new people in my life with whom I have shared unique experiences and know many of their personal life stories. We are in contact and write to each other. And then there are friends, family and work contacts in Germany. I would like to take care of all of this, but it has become too much.
When I found out, I was in the Thai border town of Mae Sot after finishing my story about the Burmese Muay Thai fighter “Little Tiger”. Again met countless people, some taken to the heart, tragic family stories heard. My head was full, I couldn’t take in anything and only wanted one thing: rest. So I went to the monastery for a self-prescribed digital detox.
From Mae Sot, a dream road leads north through the mountains, always along the Burmese border. After a good 460 kilometers I reach the longed-for resting place: Wat Pa Tam Wua. The Buddhist monastery welcomes people willing to meditate like me for one to ten days 365 days a year – free of charge. A donation afterwards is of course appropriate.
Idyllically located in a valley with rice fields, the site is known nationwide for its beauty. The monastery is now allowed to receive visitors again under strict Corona hygiene requirements. Daily temperature measurements, wearing masks near the monks and frequent hand disinfection are mandatory.
When I registered, I was surprised to find that I don’t have to hand in my smartphone. Conversations are also allowed outside of the meditation sessions. It’s a shame because I had hoped for a complete deprivation of communication, as I had experienced during the Vipassana meditation in India.
In addition, some of the guests see the monastery as an opportunity to socialize – a horror for me. Only after several days do I notice that you can put on a label that says “Silent”. This protects against contact. After all, all visitors get an unpretentious white costume to wear, which protects against optical stimuli.
You sleep in a common room or in individual mini bungalows on a thin mattress over wood. So I inevitably wake up every time I change position, if any bone has to rearrange itself with the wooden floor.
At 6.30 a.m., we give the monks a breakfast ritual of plain rice to eat, which they collect in a container. “Pretty monotonous breakfast,” I think to myself. But no, the rice is brought together again and serves as the basis for our strictly vegan food.
During the lunch ritual, which already takes place at 10.30 a.m., the monks keep the food that we serve them. We can eat the rest. That is the second and last meal of the day.
Meditation takes place several times a day: walking, sitting and lying down, each about half an hour. It takes me three days to arrive mentally and three more days to enjoy the meditation. Only after a week do I feel ready to switch on my smartphone again and return to the everyday life of a digital nomad.
Now I have to be more conscious about how things are handled and prioritize my contacts more strongly. And as one monk put it so beautifully: The art lies in applying what you have learned in the monastery in everyday life. I’ll try it.
Read more parts of the world tour series “One Way Ticket” here. The column appears every two weeks.
On his world tour our author landed in Chiang Mai. The Thai city is known as a hotspot for digital nomads from all over the world. Anyone who thinks these are just scroungers is mistaken.
| Reading time: 4 minutes
BEven before my trip around the world, I was fascinated by the life of the digital nomads: traveling permanently and making money online – great! Due to the corona pandemic, many people around the world have now had the experience of working from anywhere. Of course, the home office not only has advantages, especially when children have to be looked after at the same time. But it shows that many office jobs can now be done from anywhere.
As a digital nomad, you take advantage of this, combine the passion of traveling with work. It is an alternative life plan, which for many is certainly only a phase in life. After all, many people have a desire to settle down and raise a family at some point.
But above all, the young generation, who grew up with the Internet, with whose help YouTubers and influencers can become millionaires from their children’s rooms, have a different idea of today’s working world. Living as a digital nomad doesn’t mean scrounging your way through the world and gambling away your career.
On the contrary: you have to take charge of your life self-confidently and with creativity. You run a similarly high risk as any self-employed or freelancer.
In Thailand I met several people who live as digital nomads. Often it is a natural development, as with Rochelle. She is from South Africa and moved to China three years ago to work as an English teacher. A popular job with foreigners.
Rochelle was on vacation in Thailand when China closed the borders due to Corona. Instead of firing her, the employer offered her to teach online. Since then she has been sitting in the tropical nature of Thailand and teaching Chinese children English via video chat.
She doesn’t want to go back to the metropolis of Xiangyang. She likes life in Thailand better. For twelve hours of lessons per week, she receives around 1,400 euros per month. Even by German standards, that’s a good hourly wage and more than enough to lead a comfortable life in Southeast Asia.
Another example is Anna. She is of Russian descent, emigrated with her family to the USA as a child, where she began her professional career in a large company. Shortly before the planned promotion to national HR manager, she asked herself: What am I doing in this office above the roofs of Manhattan? The job just wasn’t fulfilling.
She resigned and was taking a break in Russia. It was there that she came up with the idea of starting job recruiting. Instead of being an employee again, she founded her own agency. And instead of renting an expensive office in Moscow, she went to Chiang Mai in Thailand. Here she conducts online interviews with applicants from all over the world for international companies. And on her days off, she travels around Thailand.
In the United States, she can earn over $ 100,000 a year with her qualifications, she says. She is not that far with her mobile business – but it is her financial goal. Most of all, she likes her life more now than before.
I met Joseph during a Thai boxing class in Chiang Mai. He is a software developer from Puerto Rico. His employer has no problem with him working abroad online. The only condition: He must be available during the North American core working hours.
So last year he packed his stuff and went on a long journey. Like me, he was stranded in Thailand by the corona virus. In the past few months he discovered his passion for Thai boxing. He now trains six times a week with a private trainer.
It’s hard to believe that this bundle of energy has been overweight all his life. When he was 36 he felt comfortable in his body for the first time, he says. He was a couch potato in Puerto Rico – now he’s enjoying life as a traveler.
Three small examples of how to become a digital nomad. They all have international health insurance, put money aside each month and pay their taxes in the country where the income is generated.
All digital nomads have only one problem in common: they always have to deal with the visa or its extension. Thailand kindly extended the visa of all stranded tourists for the second time automatically and free of charge, this time until September 26th. Nice gesture.
Read more parts of the world tour series “One Way Ticket” here. The column appears every two weeks.
SSince the beginning of June, you can finally travel between the provinces within Thailand. By plane, car, bus or train. I have been waiting eagerly for this relaxation, because after two and a half months on Koh Lanta I am saturated with island life. And because I am currently not allowed to travel to any other Asian country as a tourist, it is my only option.
Even before I went on a trip around the world, I heard about Chiang Mai, the hotspot for digital nomads, i.e. people who can work from anywhere thanks to the Internet. Thousands of so-called expats from all over the world live there.
The second largest metropolis in Thailand is not only ideal for working and socializing, but also an attraction in itself. In addition, the picturesque surroundings are ideal for excursions. So go to Chiang Mai, I think to myself.
I use Facebook to contact a travel agent recommended to me. He wants to take me quickly and easily for the equivalent of 65 euros in a mini van from Koh Lanta to Bangkok to the airport.
In Thai terms, that’s a lot of money for a twelve-hour drive. Even the subsequent flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is significantly cheaper with 40 euros including luggage. The feared rise in air fares has failed to materialize, at least in Thailand.
Just before I book the flight, an important question occurs to me: I want to know from the travel agent whether there is a risk of quarantine in Chiang Mai. “This applies if you come from a province that has reported Corona cases within the last 28 days,” is the answer.
This stupidly applies to both Krabi, the province of my island, and Bangkok. In addition, the decision about a quarantine is at the discretion of the respective province and its officials. If I’m lucky, I’ll be spared, but I can also be unlucky.
The risk is too great for me. To land in a two-week quarantine after all the weeks on an island, possibly in a hotel specified by the authorities, would be a super meltdown for me. I row back disappointed and stay on Koh Lanta.
Fortunately, the situation on the island has eased. Suddenly I am smiled at and greeted by strangers. The locals are transformed and no longer have any fear of contact.
Masks are still mandatory when entering supermarkets and some shops, otherwise wearing them in public is looser. The fear of the virus seems to be over. Many people want tourists back.
The temperature checkpoints and the subdivision of the island into zones are a thing of the past. The curfew at night was also lifted. So I can move around the island with my moped completely freely.
To make the last few days on Koh Lanta a little sweeter, I swapped my humble adventure hut, the only luxury of which is a fan, for an air-conditioned bungalow on the west side of the island in Klong Nin. Still, after two and a half months it is not easy to part with the family that has given me (and a few other stranded people from Europe) so much shelter.
I spent probably the most extraordinary time of my life with them. The phase in which the corona pandemic peaked worldwide was for me a daily change of emotions out of fear, uncertainty, impotence, hope and ultimately gratitude for having found a refuge on my trip around the world.
The two small children in particular have grown dear to my heart. The ice has only broken with them in the last few weeks, since the fear of touching is over. And so the two-year-old Mowgli found someone in me who likes to carry him through the wild garden of the facility so that he can find a cat to stroke. In addition, the family masters the balancing act between closeness and willingness to help on the one hand and distance and restraint on the other hand in everyday dealings.
However, it is time to move on. I haven’t made it to a big city yet, but I can significantly improve my standard of living on the island. My new bungalow not only has air conditioning, a fridge, a kettle and a bathroom with a mirror, but also an outdoor kitchen on the terrace.
For the first time since I left Berlin at the end of December, I can cook for myself. What a joy! My breakfast tip: homemade pancakes with peanut butter, banana, mango or papaya, with yogurt and honey.
Read more parts of the world travel series “One Way Ticket” here. The column appears every two weeks.
EA curfew in the Thai island paradise of Koh Lanta? There are worse things. Spending several weeks in a bungalow complex surrounded by palm trees is surely seen by many as a vacation.
But even I am surprised how much deprivation feels in such an idyll. Especially when the last bit of joy is taken away from you. The morning jog? Not possible anymore. Meditation in the Buddhist temple? Forbidden. Go to the beach by scooter? Punishable.
The only thing left is grocery shopping early in the morning before the body temperature checkpoint opens at 8 a.m. This checkpoint seems to be particularly tough on tourists, so I avoid passing it.
There I had an unpleasant encounter, which led me to the police station because of the unauthorized use of mopeds. I was not aware of the regulation that only came into force a few hours earlier.
So my two bungalow neighbors and I leave every morning at 6.30 a.m. equipped with respiratory masks to stock up at two food stands and in a supermarket. For me it is the early highlight of every day: an hour of freedom outside the bungalow complex.
Walking and parrying at sunrise, sipping fresh coffee and putting together your daily meal, that makes us in a good mood. A rare commodity in Corona times.
Because a lot has changed on Koh Lanta since the pandemic. The mood in general and towards tourists in particular is tense. Not only do I find the looks and behavior of some locals uncomfortable, but also my bungalow neighbors and many other tourists who report their experiences on a Facebook page.
But how can I resent the islanders? If the people here were insured and informed as well as I was, they would probably also have my serenity.
In addition, the first two infected people on the island were tourists. After a few days of getting used to it, I finally accept to be considered part of a dangerous minority.
Nevertheless, it hurts when my last bit of freedom is also taken away after a local complained to the police about our morning grocery shopping. He had to know that, like many other long-term travelers, we have a special permit to stay in the bungalow.
Most of the tourists on the island had to change to two predetermined “quarantine” hotels. Fortunately, this was spared me and the three other bungalow residents. Since we have had no contact with other tourists for weeks, we are most likely Corona-free.
Nevertheless, after the complaint from the locals, the three of us are now prohibited from shopping in the morning. Instead, only one of the three of us per day with local support can do the shopping for everyone. No more walking, parrying and in a good mood.
It was a small ritual, but a valuable one for me – in a daily changing set of rules with an uncertain outcome. My mood is on the floor. It takes a few days before I get new optimism again.
As a distraction from Corona and against the lack of exercise in the bungalow complex, each of us develops our own work-out program. There are not many possibilities, the wooden structures of the bungalows are not even suitable for pull-ups.
After all, we can train with leftover building material and also carry out exercises with our body weight. It is always enough to sweat.
Deprivation of liberty also makes you creative. Thanks to internet access, I use the time to create my own website. A bungalow neighbor from Italy is developing a start-up concept and two other neighbors from Switzerland and Chile are teaching each other German and Spanish.
We have been playing cards every day for weeks and after years I started playing table tennis again. It hardly matters that the trowel coverings come loose and flutter wildly. Modesty and gratitude for the little things are the order of the day.
I can also be grateful that Thailand, like all the other tourists stranded in the country, automatically extended my usual 30-day visa without bureaucratic effort, but automatically until the end of April and now until the end of July.
So in the end I am happy to sit out the Corona crisis on Koh Lanta in the good company of my roommates. And I still hope that I can continue my world tour soon.
Read more parts of the world travel series “One Way Ticket” here. The column appears every two weeks.
I.I was stranded in Thailand on the island of Koh Lanta. Completely voluntary, mind you. When I am not allowed to fly to Laos from Bangkok, I decide to interrupt my trip around the world for a few weeks and pause on an island.
I admit that I had a little naive hope of being able to hide from the corona virus. But no, that doesn’t work either.
Because of its proximity to the mainland, I chose Koh Lanta on the west coast of Thailand. From the coastal town of Krabi there are cheap transfers to the island by group taxi.
A ferry takes about two hours and the crossing takes only a few minutes. In an emergency, I could swim the distance by swimming, I think.
Strictly speaking, Koh Lanta are two islands connected by a bridge. I choose the less touristy southern part, Koh Lanta Yai, and rent a small bungalow in the countryside. I can sit out Corona here for weeks, I hope.
Unfortunately, the main street is currently being redesigned, which leads directly past the bungalow complex. But in Corona times, construction noise and dust are the lesser evils. Especially if you can escape to dream beaches. And there is enough of that on Koh Lanta.
My bungalow is near Old Town on the east coast of the island. The most beautiful beaches are on the opposite west side.
The half-hour ride on the scooter provides a welcome change. Nui Bay and Bamboo Beach quickly become my favorites. Surrounded by lush green hills, you can relax on the white crescent-shaped beaches with turquoise-blue water.
I’m slowly trying to structure my everyday life a bit: jogging at sunrise, meditating in a Buddhist temple, writing texts during the day, sunset on the beach. Sounds enviable, it is – but only in the first few days.
On March 26, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha proclaims the national emergency, which should initially last until April 30 and then be extended until the end of May.
This gives the government and regional authorities more powers to act against the corona virus. Breaches of the rules can be punished with up to 100,000 baht (the equivalent of around 2,800 euros) and up to one year in prison.
From now on, freedom is cut in slices. At first all restaurants and bars close. Food is only available as take-away. Since then I have been producing mountains of plastic waste unintentionally.
Except for the supermarkets, all shops close. Body temperature is measured at the entrances first, then customers have to disinfect their hands. Respirators are mandatory in public.
Finally, there are the first two Corona Falls in the north of the island, which is more frequented by tourists. They are tourists. By the end of April the number increased to nine, only two of which are locals.
Understandably, the infections startle many islanders. After the first cases, the island is divided into control zones, at each control point the temperature is now measured.
All of the measures were to be expected, many countries are no different. As a foreigner, however, it is difficult to stay up to date every day, as the new regulations are initially published in the national language.
So my three bungalow neighbors and I did not notice when tourists were suddenly prohibited from using the scooters. Unsuspecting, we leave at noon to get food.
And we are stopped at the first checkpoint. Two men forcefully explain to us that we have broken the law. You would have to get the police. We would find instruction more appropriate. But no, there is no mercy. The atmosphere is uncomfortably charged.
A pick-up picks us up. We have to lift our scooters onto the loading area and take a seat next to the security guards. Like criminals, we are transported across the island to the police station in the north.
We spend two hours there, filling out and signing a number of documents without knowing what it is all about. We take several photos. For what? No idea.
The scooter owner and his wife are also on site. Thanks to their advocacy, in the end we were only given a mild six-euro ticket.
It becomes absurd when we are then allowed to drive back across the island to the bungalow on the scooters. The whole action was unnecessary stress for everyone involved.
With the curfew since mid-April, measures against the corona virus on Koh Lanta have reached their peak. Note: Even in paradise, deprivation of liberty doesn’t feel nice.
Read more parts of the world travel series “One Way Ticket” here. The column appears every two weeks.
Dhis lavish illustrated book offers the most beautiful overview of historical travel women. Paintings and early photos show delicate women and massive matrones in an exotic setting.
You will meet old acquaintances like Ida Pfeiffer, who left Austria for Borneo at the age of 47, or Alexandra David-Néel, French Buddhist, who did not keep it at a young age. Women who traveled the peaks of the Himalayas, the deserts of China, the sources of the Nile or New Guinea.
But also little-known ones, such as Mary Seacole, born in 1805. The Jamaican started out as a spice trader, acquired medical knowledge, researched the Panama jungle and eventually became a nurse – in the Crimean War. She opened a hotel there, and Seacole, who was discriminated against because of her origin, was awarded a medal in London.
In the picture book “Women conquer the world” you can browse wonderfully, the biographies are read briefly and you learn a lot about the motivation of women traveling. A perfect read for armchair trips.
“Women conquer the world: adventure – travel – expeditions. On the Road on Far Continents ”by Alexandra Lapierre and Christel Mouchard. Flammarion Verlag, 2009
The American Gale Straub collected stories from women enthusiastic about nature on her media platform “She Explores”. Your book has been translated for the German-speaking market.
Mainly Americans tell of their adventures today in the American mountains and expanses, to which people from all over the world are drawn, from the wild Cascade Mountains in the northwest to the Sierra Nevada. There are artists, young mothers, musicians, photographers, rangers, socially committed and motorcyclists on the self-discovery trip.
In addition to the short texts, there are attractive photos. Now we are waiting for the next volume with European adventurers, starting with Billi Bierling, who runs the Himalayas archive in Kathmandu, about ice climber Ines Papert, the Northwest Passage sailor Tina Uebel, and all the still unknown adventurers.
Gale Straub: “She Explores. Women on the go. 40 adventures that will change your life, ”Knesebeck, 2019
How enviable: “We drank our tea from dented cans and the meat that smelled pungent of smoke had to be eaten without cutlery and plates, but that didn’t matter to us at all.” Isabella Bird was wild and free on horseback through the Rocky Mountains.
Born in Yorkshire in 1831 as a pastor’s daughter, she suffered a lot, but was fine when she was away. Bird threw constraints on trips from Australia via Persia to China. Her spirit of adventure carries her through the Rockies and the world.
Once the half-wild horse throws her off, in the middle of the wilderness, she rises again, first the horse buckes, then she lets the reins loose and lets it gallop. And cheers: “This air is an elixir of life!” But it does not get lost in Wild West romanticism, the miserable existence of the settler women, her “strict, hard, loveless, grueling life”, makes her shudder.
Bird is enthusiastic about nature, free life and at times “Desperado Mountain Jim”. In 1892, Isabella Bird was the first woman to join the Royal Geographical Society.
Isabella Bird: “A Lady in the Rocky Mountains”, 1880. Translated as a Ullstein paperback, 1989, antiquarian.
Switzerland produced many travel women, perhaps because the small country, with its narrow Calvinist ethics, triggered an escape reflex. In any case, the 48-year-old Swiss Ella Maillart packed her camera in 1951 when Nepal opened to visitors and traveled there.
As a young woman, she represented Switzerland at the Summer Olympics in one-handed sailing. In the 1930s she traveled to the Caucasus and the Soviet republics of Central Asia, among others.
During the war, she retreated to South India in spiritual retreat. In the land of the Sherpas, the well-traveled traveler recognized many similarities in 1951 and saw, for example, how similar the hand looms are in Nepal, Mongolia and Afghanistan.
Maillart is astonished and is admired in the remote villages. She gets involved, her tone is factual and therefore touching. In the end she visits Bodnath with the huge stupa. This suburb of Kathmandu was a much visited place even back then, but she sees it as new and undiscovered.
Ella Maillart: “In the country of the Sherpas”. From the French by Andrea Springler. With an afterword by Felicitas Hoppe. Nagel and Kimche Verlag, Zurich, 2018
The book title alone! “All roads are open”. In June 1939, Annemarie Schwarzenbach drove to Afghanistan with Ella Maillart in a “new Ford with a Graubünden license plate”. She wrote about it in feature pages and reports, and the book summarizes these texts.
Schwarzenbach has had several drug withdrawal cures, the journey is not an escape for her, but a “necessity”. It’s about the happiness of being on the road, but also about social upheavals and deep holes, in the streets and in souls.
Your journey leads from Geneva via Italy to Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan, from there back to Switzerland. Schwarzenbach praises Afghan hospitality.
She also struggles for the “peace of our poor souls” when traveling, but is captivated by the magic of travel; Cities with seemingly unreal names like Samarkand, Astrakhan or Isfahan would “really be the moment we enter them”. Your travel book ends with thoughts about the “morning glow of departure”.
Annemarie Schwarzenbach: “All roads are open”. Lenos Verlag, Basel, 2000. Antiquarian.
This woman must feel completely locked up now, with all the international travel restrictions. Christine Thürmer is an extreme hiker, she has walked over 30,000 kilometers, but she also paddles and cycles.
Most recently, she was traveling in Europe in 2017. Hiked from Koblenz to Tarifa in Spain, the southernmost point of mainland Europe, almost 4,000 kilometers away, used up three pairs of shoes and 40 kilos of chocolate.
The fear of sleeping in the tent in the forest is unfounded, she writes. Large cities or one’s own house are more dangerous for women. She doesn’t tell stories every day, she collects exemplary events. The helpfulness of foreign people, for example, the search for accommodation and cheap food.
Thürmer has moved far from her former life as a manager and lives with unwashed T-shirts and body odor. Then she cycled from Berlin to Finland and paddled 850 kilometers through Sweden. She writes about the freedom to live this way – but does not speak of the loneliness of the travelers so detached.
“Hike. Cycle. Paddle. 12,000 kilometers of adventure in Europe ”by Christine Thürmer. Malik at Piper, Munich, 2018
Birgit Lutz has been to the North Pole 15 times and crossed the Greenland ice sheet. For this book, she returned to East Greenland in 2016. She lived in Tassilaq and she lived with people, something that adventurers usually don’t have time for.
She spoke to many of them about a past as a hunter and a future that is uncertain because, according to Lutz, what people have learned no longer matters – knowing where mussels grow, when whales come. Not everyone came along so quickly on the way to the Internet future.
Lutz also writes about alcohol, incest, abuse, and suicide, but she is reluctant to make a judgment and doesn’t jump to conclusions. In her book you can feel the grief over some conditions, but also the perplexity. And she writes about the happiness that flows through her when she is immersed in the tranquility of nature.
“Today we go fishing for whales … How the Greenlanders took me into their world” by Birgit Lutz. btb Verlag Munich, 2017
“Surf like a girl” – the title is deliberately ambiguous: You surf like a girl – anyone who has read the book will only use the sentence as a compliment. The book designer Carolina Amell presents surfers all over the world in short texts and with photos.
Just looking at them, you want to immediately lead one of these lives that the women tell about: there is the Moroccan surfing master Meryem El Gardoum, there are the Filipino sisters Ikit and Aping Agudo, there are those who surf in the sleet and others who Bring women closer to surfing in Iran. Or Anne Taravet, who climbs onto the board at the age of 60.
All surfers were photographed on the most beautiful beaches, from Portugal to Ireland to Hawaii. Many women say that they have found their inner balance with the sea. Others found access to the world with the board or helped others, for example in Sri Lanka or in Morocco, where women surfers are still looked at today.
“Surf like a girl” by Carolina Amell. Prestel Verlag, Munich, 2019
The last tip is a book that prompts you to go out, right now, in these times. Because walking around in the city is still allowed if you follow the rules of distance.
“It had something to do with the absolute, complete freedom that comes from putting one foot in front of the other,” writes Lauren Elkin. The New Yorker discovered walking for herself in Paris.
She invents the word Flâneuse as the epitome of a free woman, happily strolling in the streets of the big cities. Because when it comes to flaneur, women are not meant, because apparently uninvolved observation was only so easy for men, because they could walk through the city as invisibly.
Lauren Elkin weaves biographical strolls with the traces of famous women, follows Virginia Woolf through London, Jean Rhys through Paris, Joan Didion through New York. Her conclusion: “From Tehran to New York, women still cannot move around the city in the same way as men can.”
So she demands the Flâneuse’s right to “take up space in our own way”. So, get out!
Lauren Elkin: “Flâneuse. Women are conquering the city – in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London. ”Btb, Munich, 2018
This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We would be happy to deliver them to your home regularly.
At first, our author saw himself hardly affected by the pandemic on his world tour. But at some point he got scared too. Because in some places in Asia there are tips against the corona virus that hardly calm down.
| Reading time: 4 minutes
I.I was lucky on my trip around the world. In January the media in India told me that a new virus was spreading in China. In early February I saw the first effects at the airport in Bangkok. All people already wore respirators there. I continued to fly to Nepal. The global extent was not foreseeable at this time.
I spent almost three weeks in the deserted Himalayas and felt safe from the virus. Even the onward journey to Burma was easy. When I got there in late February, Corona was hardly an issue, my day-to-day travel was not affected at all.
In contrast, the information from Germany with ever increasing escalation levels seemed surreal. So I stayed in Burma three weeks before I was forced to change my plans.
On March 16, the Burmese government issued a statement on the corona virus. Until then, there had been no officially coronavirus cases in the country of 53 million people, even though Burma shares a border of over 2,000 kilometers with China. The neighboring countries of Bangladesh, India and Thailand were already reporting on infected people at this point.
The government spokesman’s explanation for the phenomenon: food and lifestyle would protect the Burmese. So you mainly pay with cash and not with cards.
Can a lot of garlic and hot chilli help against Corona? I would have liked to believe Burma’s government. In any case, it gives every Burmese dish a wonderfully intense taste.
After the questionable attempts to explain it, it was clear to me that Burma would not be spared either. The most obvious reason for the long absence of the virus: hardly any people were tested for it. It was only on March 23 that the Burmese government announced the first two cases of infection.
In the week after the government’s declaration, the situation worsened worldwide. National borders were closed, visas neither issued nor accepted, flights canceled, entire nations put into sleep mode.
>> You can read about all current developments related to the corona virus in our live ticker.
Now I too was afraid of stranding somewhere. As long as I could, I wanted to determine the location of a potential quarantine myself. So I left Burma early for Laos at the end of March.
I had received an online visa for Laos at the last minute. However, my airline in Bangkok did not want to check me in for the flight to Vientiane. The reasoning would no longer accept my visa there, although the Laotian government’s website explicitly stated the opposite. However, the airline relied on internal sources.
Since I always have a bad feeling when I oppose fate, I quickly accepted the decision. Even though Laos didn’t officially have any coronavirus cases at the time, I knew it was only a matter of time. And stranding in a country with one of the worst health systems is certainly not a good idea.
Fortunately, I got a 30-day visa for Thailand when I entered Bangkok. And since it was the last country in Asia to accept me, I had no alternatives.
The only question was: at which place do I want to strand voluntarily? I admit that I’ve always had a somewhat bizarre romance of apocalypses.
As a child, I like to imagine what it would be like to be all alone in the world, the last survivor, so to speak. Somehow at the time I thought it was nice to have the whole world just for me – nowadays I see it in a more differentiated way.
After a short internet search, it was clear to me: I want to go to an island, but just not strand between hotel castles. So I was looking for an island that could be reached quickly from the countryside, while being large and diverse, but above all not distorted by tourism. In the next part of this column, I will tell you what it finally became.
And why don’t I fly back to Germany? Quite simply: My return trip would currently be associated with great costs, circumstances and uncertainties. Flights are canceled in rows, reimbursements are problematic. There are few transfer options, and even these are not safe.
I currently have no home or work orders in my home country and should quarantine immediately. I shouldn’t see family and friends. Since I am in good health and do not belong to any risk group, traveling home would definitely be the worse option for me.
That’s why I take a break during my world tour in Thailand and not in Germany. Because I am confident that there will be a normal life after Corona.
The “One Way Ticket” column appears every two weeks.