Ethical, Eco-Friendly Travel – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , December 26th, 2018

Eco Friendly Travel

Especially while travelling it’s difficult to be environmentally cautious, as taking off by plane is by definition not eco-friendly. And have you ever realised everything ‘travel’ comes in plastic? Small plastic travel shampoos, deodorants, toothpaste and other stuff.

But plastic isn’t the only problem: sunscreen ruins coral, Western values may endanger local cultures and let’s not even speak about animal tourism. BUT no need to cry and think the world is doomed because of your travels! I’m going to tell you exactly how to travel greener: sustainably, responsibly & ethnically.

Expressed simply by The World Tourism Organization, sustainable tourism can be defined as:

“Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”

In other words: to travel sustainable means you have to protect and enhance places for the future – everywhere you go. On an economic, cultural & environmental level, so generations after you can enjoy the same (no wait: better) experiences in those places. Minimising the negative impact of tourism, by helping to make a positive impact. So let’s dive into that!

SAY NO TO PLASTIC

Plastic pollution is such a big deal. It becomes even clearer when you travel to Asia and find beaches full of it. Not so fun fact: there are no more beaches on earth untouched by plastic pollution (even the unexplored ones on uninhabited islands). We looked up some plastic pollution statistics and it’s so incredibly shocking.

By Maartje Hensen – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Eco-Friendly Gifts for Zero-Waste Travel – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , December 19th, 2018

Eco-friendly gifts

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again, which means: presents-time! It’s tricky to find the perfect gift for a traveller. Or maybe you are a traveller and don’t know what to list. Or maybe you want to treat yourself. But do not worry, these sustainable travel products are a must-have. Especially while travelling it’s difficult to be environmentally cautious, as almost everything ‘travel’ comes in plastic. So let’s get rid of the single-use plastic and reduce your waste to ZERO with help of these eco-friendly travel essentials and make your travels greener!

NOTE: if you decide to buy these as gifts, consider eco-friendly gift wrapping: use what you have, reuse & be creative!

ECO-FRIENDLY TOILETRIES

Let’s start our journey towards zero waste and no more single-use plastic in the toiletry bag! Because let’s be honest: all the travel-size shampoos and lotions are not sustainable at all. Refillable bottles are a little bit better, but let us suggest some greener alternatives.

SHAMPOO BAR

The best thing about shampoo bars is not even that it’s better for the environment, the bars actually last longer than any other bottle of shampoo AND you can bring it in your carry-on as it’s not liquid! There are so many great brands out there and although Lush is currently the most famous shop for it, we don’t think it’s the best one out there (our hair gets so dry at first and then quickly greasy again). We love our shampoo bar from Boobalou! The shampoo bar also comes in eco-friendly packaging and can also be used as a soap bar (or well, that’s just what we do).

By Maartje Hensen – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

 

Chiang Rai Day Trip – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , December 12th, 2018

Chiang Rai Day Trip - Once Upon a Journey

Chiang Rai is a city in Northern Thailand located about 185 kilometres from famous Chiang Mai. A Chiang Rai day trip is perfect from Chiang Mai. We think it’s an absolute must to visit! Where in Chiang Mai you can find many old temples in Chiang Rai, there are newer ones like the White and Blue Temples.

We love exploring places by motorbike but this time we decide to go on a private tour with TakeMeTour, as it’s a 3-hour ride to Chiang Rai and a guide can tell us all about the places.  In this blog, we will tell you all about the perfect day trip and the things you can’t miss when visiting Chiang Rai.

WAT RONG KHUN AKA WHITE TEMPLE

Wat Rong Khun is one of Thailand’s most special and famous temple. To foreigners the temple is known as the White Temple, you can definitely see where that name comes from! The temple is open for visitors since 1997. An artist from Chiang Rai, named Chalermchai Kositpipat, completely rebuilt a temple and created the White Temple as you can visit now.

The temple is incredibly beautiful and unique. Every detail of the temple has meaning. The bridge is the Gate of Heaven while the hands in front of the bridge reach from hell. Good to know: since this temple is famous, it can be very crowded.

By Roxanne & Maartje – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Thailand Gay Travel Resources

 

Bandung Road Trip – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , November 29th, 2018

Bandung - Once Upon a Journey

Bandung is Indonesia’s third biggest city and is located in West Java. With way cooler temperatures than Jakarta, it’s the perfect getaway. Be prepared for some crazy cool Instagram spots like Rabbit Town, beautiful mountain scenery and many traffic jams (it’s almost as busy as Jakarta). There are a lot of fun things to do in and around Bandung and you can totally do it on a day trip!

In and around Bandung you can find many crazy Instagrammable hotspots. And you will find them in the weirdest places. The first one we stumble upon is the area around Cakrawala Sparkling Nature Restaurant. A great place for drinks and food at one of the restaurants or just to enjoy the view and photo spots.

Rabbit town is even more random, but we like fun places so it’s perfect! If you want colourful pictures, go here. The building is full of crazy, colourfully decorated rooms – on multiple levels. We paid 65.000 IDR entrance fee to Rabbit town.

By Roxanne & Maartje – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Indonesia Gay Travel Resources

 

Yi Peng Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , November 23rd, 2018

Yi Peng lantern festival - Once Upon a Journey

If you have ever seen pictures of Yi Peng lantern festival in Chiang Mai, you are probably as enchanted as we were. Thousands of lanterns floating into the sky, all around you – just like that one scene in Tangled. Okay, admittingly, that’s how we found out about this festival in the first place. The idea of something so magical happening in real life was too good not to check out ourselves!

We dove deep into the web to find everything about this sensational event and unfortunately, instead of magic, we found a struggle. There is surprisingly little information on this increasingly popular event and the information that is out there is very vague… Our mission, aside from experiencing our Disney moment, became to collect the best information and tips for YOU to experience the magic!

A couple of days before the festival starts, we arrive in Chiang Mai. Surely locals can tell us more about the festival and where to go!

YI PENG (OR YEE PENG?) AND LOY KRATHONG

Yi Peng is also known as Yee Peng, the local name of the lantern festival in northern Thailand. Yee means two and Peng means full moon day, which relates to the night of the festival: during the second full moon of the Lanna calendar. Usually, this is in November. In 2018 it takes place from November 21*. This full moon is also the 12th full moon of the Thai lunar calendar, which means Loy Krathong is also happening: a 3-day festival celebrated throughout all of Thailand and surrounding countries.

The two festivals, Yi Peng and Loy Krathong, are celebrated simultaneously during the period of the full moon. Both are light festivals (see how this can be confusing?), but Loy Krathong means ‘to float a basket’ and is celebrated by lanterns on the water, whereas Yi Peng is all about sky lanterns.

By Roxanne & Maartje – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Thailand Gay Travel Resources

 

Udon Thani’s Red Lotus Sea – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , November 16th, 2018

Red Lotus Sea - Once Upon a Journey

YES! Thailand still has hidden gems only a few (western) tourists know about. Talay Bua Daeng – or Red Lotus Sea – in Northeast Thailand is one of those gems and it’s definitely one for the bucket list. CNN named it one of the world strangest lakes in 2014 and well, it’s not a lake you see every day – for sure.

Imagine a lake with thousands of pink flowers, spreading as far as the eye can see!

Getting on the lake by boat is one of the most romantic experiences we’ve ever done. And Valentine’s is actually the perfect time to visit: the red lotuses only bloom a couple of months each year. But that makes the experience the more special. It is quite off the famous routes through Thailand though, but no worries: we will tell you everything you need to know about visiting this magical pink lake.

The season for the pink flowers to bloom is from December to the end of February, just after the rainy season. When you visit, make sure to go early in the morning. From sunrise to noon you can see the water lilies opened up: they open when they see the first morning light and close when the midday heat comes.

By Roxanne Weijer – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Thailand Gay Travel Resources

 

How Queer Friendly is the Netherlands?

Author: , October 25th, 2018

Queer Netherlands - Once Upon a Journey

Travelling nowadays seems like the ultimate dream. We’re living that dream, and it is an absolute fairy tale! But, travelling the world as an LGBT traveller isn’t as easy as packing your bags and go. We have travelled to countries with anti-gay laws and we refuse to boycott countries for that reason. We believe travelling the world is for everyone! However, it’s important to do it safely. A few important questions to keep in mind before flying to a new destination: what are the LGBT+ rights? What’s the public opinion like? Where are the LGBT+ safe spaces? In our “How LGBT friendly is…” series we’ll share all so you have fewer worries and more fun on your travels! In this blog post, we answer all those questions about the Netherlands. How LGBT friendly is the Netherlands?

The Netherlands is often referred to as one of the most LGBT friendly destinations in the world (ranking #9 of Spartacus Gay Index 2018). Therefore it isn’t weird that LGBT rights in the Netherlands have been some of the most progressive in the world. The Netherlands is home to the world’s oldest existing LGBT organisation: COC Nederland, an organisation that has been fighting for LGBTI rights nationally and internationally since 1946.

In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize marriage. Registered partnerships between same-sex couples are allowed since 1998. Same-sex couples may adopt together and lesbian couples have access to IVF. There are anti-discrimination laws since 1994 that ban discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation. From 1985, transgender people can legally change their gender when undergoing surgery and hormone therapy and since 2014 without undergoing surgery and hormone therapy. It’s possible, from 1970, to state “sex cannot be determined” on a birth certificate. This year, the Dutch court has ruled that a third gender must be recognised, adding a neutral option to the ‘male’ and ‘female’ gendered boxes. Overall, the Netherlands has great LGBT laws and keeps working on them!

By Roxanne & Maartje – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Netherlands Gay Travel Resources

Amsterdam Pride – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , September 28th, 2018

Roxanne & Maartje - Amsterdam Pride

There’s no time to rest, as the next Pride celebrations are already here! After a fantastic Pride weekend in Berlin, we fly back to Amsterdam. We rest and work for two days in Eemnes before the exciting new things are happening. Amsterdam Pride is a lot about partying but we also have some meetings coming up. Somehow, now that we are back in the Netherlands we get opportunities to connect with people we couldn’t connect anywhere else before (read: networking!).

The highlight of Amsterdam Pride is the canal parade on the first Saturday of August. This year will be the first time we will go on a boat of the parade. Normally we see all the boats passing by from the streets so it’s going to be a whole different experience this time. Thanks to our new Berlin-slash-gay-friend Haroon Ali we connect with some great people from Amsterdam Marketing and that’s how we get the opportunity to be on the NYC-Amsterdam boat. Why an NYC-Amsterdam boat? Next year, 2019, NYC will host World Pride. Something we are already insanely excited for. Mark June 2019 in your agenda: World Pride time! See you there?!

Amsterdam Pride is a lot different than most Prides worldwide. In Amsterdam, it started as a celebration of freedom and diversity instead of a demonstration. Prides elsewhere are usually inspired by the Stonewall riots, but in the Netherlands, that’s continued by Pink Saturday. In 1996 Amsterdam Pride started. The canal parade grew the past years till a parade of 80 boats and over 500.000 visitors! To make our boat even more special we learn a choreography. Together we will dance on the song Go West from the Pet Shop Boys, the entire boat ride.

By Roxanne & Maartje – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Netherlands Gay Travel Resources

Taiwan’s Pingxi Lantern Festival – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , September 13th, 2018

PINGXI LANTERN FESTIVAL

If you are looking for magic, you should go to a sky lantern festival. Sky lantern festivals are one of the most magical things on earth. Disney dreams will come true. We can’t get enough of them, so after experiencing Yi Peng in Chiang Mai, we travel to Taiwan to experience the magic of the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival. It’s one of the most spectacular happenings in Taiwan.

As it’s a big happening, you would think there’s a lot of information available online. Unfortunately, the resources of the Taiwan Tourism Board were limited and the blog posts we found, didn’t provide us with the right transportation-information. Therefore, we end up in the wrong town. We will not let that happen to you, so here’s the ultimate guide to Pingi Sky Lantern Festival!

WHY SHOULD YOU GO?

The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival takes place once a year, usually in February or March, during the first full moon of the Lunar New Year. The festival has been named one of the 15 Festivals To Attend Before You Die and one of the Best Winter Trips. So, it’s a must see! At night, thousands of lanterns float up into the night sky, and with them, so do many dreams and wishes for the new year. The lanterns are released in group releases. And it’s truly like a dream come true.

WHERE SHOULD YOU GO?

So here’s where it gets tricky. The festival takes place in the Pingxi district, in New Taipei City, and lantern releases are held in the towns Jingtong, Pingxi and Shifen. The biggest lantern releases are NOT held in Pingxi old town – so don’t try to go there, like we did. The biggest event is in Shifen, where they set up the main stage at a parking area and is transformed into the Shifen Sky Lantern Square. It’s located close to the Shifen waterfall, and only a short 15 minute walk from Shifen Station.

By Roxanne & Maartje – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

China Gay Travel Resources

Las Pozas Garden in Xilitla, Mexico – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , September 8th, 2018

Las Pozas garden - Once Upon a Journey

Walking in the surrealist garden of Edward James, Las Pozas, makes you feel like you are in a totally different world. A world where fantasies and imaginaries come to life. We feel like true explorers, walking in a jungle, not knowing what we see next or where we end our exploration. It’s a place we recommend everybody going to, it’s a hidden gem located deep in the Mexican mountains. Definitely one for on the bucket list!

HISTORY OF LAS POZAS

Las Pozas garden was created by the British poet Edward James. He moved to Xilitla where he started growing exotic plants. But in 1962 frost and blizzards destroyed all of his orchids, he decided to make something permanent which the weather couldn’t destroy. He wanted to create his version of the ‘Garden of Eden’ with giant concrete sculptures. It took him 20 years from 1949 until his death in 1984, to design and build the concrete structures resembling floral elements, which costs over 5 million dollars. And yet, most sculptures are still unfinished.

Las Pozas, the Pools in Spanish, is named after the pools covering the place, coming from waters that flow naturally through it. There’s also a beautiful waterfall.

HOW TO GET THERE

The surrealist garden is located in the jungle near a small mountain village called Xilitla, in the province San Luis Potosí, Mexico. To get to Xilitla you can drive there yourself by rental car (like we did), or go by bus. It’s about an eight-hour drive from the capital. Be prepared for a long trip with winding roads. If you have time and money we really recommend renting a car. You will have the freedom to go where you want and to explore authentic Mexican places, like this place!

By Roxanne & Maartje – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Mexico Gay Travel Resources