brazil-cover

My New Brazil Travel Guide is Available Now on Amazon

Do you want to know where you can swim with enormous fish in crystal clear hidden rivers, without harming the ecosystem? Or how you can safely visit the inner city favelas, and help support the people that live there at the same time?

Perhaps you’d like to stay at the most beautiful hotels and guesthouses in Brazil, while knowing that your choice is benefiting the local community and environment?

And if you are not traveling right now, the adventures and stories will entertain and encourage you to get planning and start packing!Tucan

I have published a collection of my travel stories from around Brazil and produced a new type of travel guide. I’m very proud of it, and I’m happy to say that it’s available now everywhere on Amazon.

If you are in the UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M7RYBBA

Or the USA – https://amzn.com/B01M7RYBBA

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Actually Nusa Penida!

How to Live and Work in Bali

3°C and snow.

Snow

London Snow

That’s what I woke up to on 3rd February 2015 in London. Not that unusual I suppose, it is winter after all. Winter in London. Then I smile. I know that from today, I’m going to Bali for 6 weeks.

I’m going for a number of reasons. Because I want to. Because I can. Because I’ve just finished a big project helping social entrepreneurs become investment ready.  Because other entrepreneurs are going to be there too, working on their businesses. Because I want to take care of my health. Because I want to learn new skills, have new experiences, make new friends and meet new role models.

I love my life, work and friends in London, but it’s great to be able to spend weekends playing on deserted sandy beaches. One of my favourite hobbies.

And here’s a little video update from me:

More and more of us are living and working in this way. It’s inspiring to see a community of people building their ideal lifestyle. Whether that’s being a location independent digital nomad, or simply setting up a life and raising a family in a peaceful community.

Tribe Wanted

I’m part of this ecosystem. I use the tools that support this lifestyle. For community and business support, I’m really enjoying being part of Tribe Wanted Bali. A collective of digital nomads all working on our businesses and startups together between January and March here in Ubud.

Ben Keene, founder of Tribe Wanted and our “tribe leader” goes above and beyond the call of duty to support his tribe on their startup journey.  Great new friends with common values and a shared vision. What an inspiring group! It continues to be a worthwhile experience, and I believe we’ll see more and more of these kinds of startup support programmes. And I should know. I design them.

Hubud

As for infrastructure, we’re spending a lot of time at our local coworking space and entrepreneurs community, Hubud. So if the regular Tribe meetings and team support weren’t enough, we have super fast internet, healthy food, and workshops too.

Check out this great and very new TED talk from one of the co-founders.  “How to put more life in your work”.  If you’ve ever thought that the life you expected versus the life you are experiencing might be different, this is definitely the TED talk for you.

YogaBarn

And this is Bali, so healthly living is important. I did 100 laps in the pool before breakfast. When would I do that in London? I never have. And yoga. So much yoga. The Yogabarn complex is beautiful. I spent a week here on a seven day juice fast and detox, but that’s a story for next time.

Want to know more? Do leave any questions or comments below. I love to hear from you!

Social Enterprise Tour Group

The Best Social Enterprise Tour of East London

If you are looking for the best free self-guided tour of East London, this is my recommended route. I recently worked with the British Council to guide a group mostly Hong Kong citizens around some of the best social enterprises in London. A great group NGO workers, academics, and social entrepreneurs. Get in touch via the comments if you’d like take this tour with me.

FoodCycle

Bromley By Bow FoodCycle is a charity social enterprise that combines volunteers, surplus food and spare kitchen spaces to create tasty, nutritious meals for people at risk of food poverty and social isolation.

We stopped for a talk from Helena Chouchani to learn more about their growing number of FoodCycle Hubs across the UK, and franchising plans for expansion. Of course we stayed for a yummy lunch too!

Bikeworks

Bethnal Green Bikeworks runs a variety of community cycling programmes including employability for disadvantaged groups, all ability cycling, bicycle reuse and recycling, school cycle training and more. As a business it provides cycling services to consumers and organisations – so buy your next bike from here!

We were lucky to have a private tour from co-founder Jim Blakemore. He talked about the entrepreneurial journey, and how their social outcomes can continue to grow as the business grows.

Hackney Pirates

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Yangon Bakehouse

3 Social Enterprises You Will Love In Myanmar

When you go to Myanmar, definitely visit these places.  You’ll get great food and souvenirs, and you’ll truly be helping the local people who need it.  The amazing power of social enterprise – do what you love and make the world a better place at the same time!

As I mentioned in my previous post “5 Fun Things More People Should Do In Myanmar“, there are three great social enterprises that I recommend you visit on your stay.  Here’s a bit more information about each of them:

For your lunch – Yangon Bakehouse

As a customer, what you see when you walk into Yangon Bakehouse (YBH), is a small bustling cafe with a delicious looking menu, and mouth-watering baked goods on display. I ordered a chicken wrap with fresh salad, fresh juice, and had a brownie and coffee for dessert.  If I’d have been passing by, that might have been all I’d have noticed. Freshly prepared, high quality food.  But behind the scenes there is another world going on, that sets this cafe apart from the rest in Yangon. The next day, a came back and met co-founder Cavelle Dove, who explained more.

“YBH runs an apprentice training programme for local women that have come from difficult circumstances” Says co-founder Cavelle Dove. “All women that join the apprenticeships are referred from specialist agencies that work with women in need.”

“The program sees the women training with YBH for 10 months. They become part of a family. During the apprenticeship, they are paid for their work, and often for the first time they feel a sense of security. They are able to access healthcare, and plan for their children’s education. By the end of the program, the women have key skills that can be transferred to other restaurants and bakeries around Yangon, and will be especially well suited to the high value work in the growing tourism sector. ”

The Yangon Bakehouse shop front maybe small, but the dreams and plans are big. New partnerships and locations were being put into place when I visited, so have a look at the Yangon Bakehouse website for the latest information on new locations, and more beautiful photos.

For your souvenirs – Pomelo Yangon Continue reading

Sunset in Bagan

5 Fun Things More People Should Do In Myanmar

In this post, I’ll take you through 5 things I think more people should do in Myanmar, and why. If you haven’t already, be sure to read my previous post – 5 Beautiful Things Everybody Gets To See in Myanmar.

Sometimes it seems that every tourist in Myanmar is trying to do things that no one is doing. There are some great things to see and do, but if you yearn for  experiences that are a little more rare, try a few of these.

1) Sunrise from anywhere, in Mandalay

Everyone is pretty much obsessed with sunset in Myanmar. For good reason – it’s beautiful. But don’t forget about the equally beautiful sunrise.

On my first morning in my lovely guesthouse (Ma Ma’s Guesthouse) in Mandalay, I went up to the roof balcony at about 6am.  By 6.30am, the sun was starting to peak over the hills, giving me my first daylight view of the city.  I also managed to accidentally give a good scare to one of the guesthouse staff. She came up to sweep the floor, and wasn’t expecting a foreigner behind the door taking pictures. So I took a picture of her too.

They say Mandalay Hill is an excellent place for sunrise and sunset. I didn’t make it there that early. For me, it was a fine, deserted walk up in the middle of the day. Occasionally I was stopped and asked to pose for photos. To be back in Asia is to be a mini-celebrity again!

2) A Scooter Trek from Hsipaw Continue reading

Superheroes

7 ways to be a terrible volunteer abroad

You’re going to volunteer abroad, and you want to make sure you do a terrible job. Here’s how.

1. Be a Super Hero

In another country, you are a Super Hero.  Your simple deeds will fix the world, probably in two weeks or less.  Make sure everyone knows that you, and you alone can save them in their hour of need. You are not there to be of service,  you are there to be the saviour, and of course should be treated as such.  Expect local people to worship you and bring you offerings.

2. Don’t accept the unknown

Make sure that you are not open to any kind of new experience.  Demand that everything be exactly the way it is back home, otherwise you will leave.  Do not be flexible and adaptable, and definitely don’t try anything new.

3. Be the smartest person in town

You know best, and make sure every else knows it.  You know how to do everything better, so make sure you tell everybody that what they are doing is wrong. Don’t learn why they are doing things the way they are, just tell them what they should do.  You are foreign, so of course you must know better than the local community, right?

4. Go with the most expensive and famous volunteer operator Continue reading

Winning with the TAT

How we got more than a million votes in two weeks, and won the Little Big Project Blogging Challenge

This in-depth article is about how my small team managed to smash all expectations and get more than 600,000 rating votes for our blog in less than two weeks.

**UPDATE – THE OFFICIAL COUNT IS IN – WE GOT 1,078,049 VOTES – OVER ONE MILLION!!**

First of all – a big thank you. Without you, and thousands of others, my team would not have been able to win the Little Big Project. With your help, we were able to win a grant of $5000 for an NGO that specialises in ecotourism and responsible volunteer tourism – Openmind Projects.

Thank you to all of you that voted, shared, liked and participated. My team-mate and I also won $1000 each, and courtesy of Thai Airways, return flights to Thailand for me, and return flights anywhere in Asia for my Thai team-mate.

Here ‘s a quick recap, before we get into how we did it.

From July 3rd to July 17th  myself and nine others were selected by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to promote ecotourism and responsible volunteer tourism in Thailand.  The five international bloggers were paired up with five Thai bloggers, to make five teams – all working with different host organisations around Thailand.

My team’s project was responsible ecotourism and marine conservation in Phuket.  My amazing Thai teammate was Wimalin Chalermporn, known to everyone as Fha.  Our host organisation was Openmind Projects (OMP).  You can still see all our coverage of the two weeks, and the huge number of voting hits we received, at the official competition website. The competition – whichever team gets the most total combined rating votes for all blog posts, wins $5000 for the host organisation.

So how did we win?  Continue reading

Vote for us!

Help promote ecotourism in Thailand

Are you a supporter of ecotourism, and responsible volunteer tourism?  Do you want to help protect and preserve marine national parks

I’ve been selected to help the Tourism Authority of Thailand promote these types of activities in Phuket, and I could really do with your help.

I’m working with a great team at Openmind Projects, and together with my Thai team mate Wimalin (Fha), we are trying to help them win $5000.  We’re doing many things, and focusing on the amazing work the Park Rangers are doing to protect and preserve the marine national parks.

Please help out this great organisation by following the steps below. Continue reading

Volunteering Abroad – Pay to join or do it yourself?

Have you thought about volunteering abroad, but not sure about paying an NGO to organise your volunteer experience? Can’t you just do it yourself, or pay your own way? I’ve had the chance to try volunteering abroad in different ways, and I’ll share with you what I’ve learned. Before you volunteer, read this:

Paying to Volunteer – Nepal
In Nepal, I chose to join a small NGO that offered me the experience of helping a small school with its English Education. I found them online, checked out reviews from past volunteers, and decided to join. Continue reading

Beautiful Thai Waterfall

How to Win a Volunteer Ecotourism Trip to Thailand

Have you ever won a holiday? I’m slightly surprised, delighted and grateful to say that I have been selected to join a 20 day volunteer ecotourism project in Thailand.

Here are three tips to help you get selected and win your own Inspiring Adventure:

1. Be Connected

You have to hear about relevant competitions from somewhere.  Start a meet up  or a twitter account or a Facebook page around something you are passionate about.  Connect with other people who are interested in the same things.  Help these people find relevant, exciting, interesting opportunities, and they will help you too. I saw the competition on Facebook in April, entered it, and shared it on the Inspiring Adventures Facebook page and Twitter.  Did you see it?  Did you enter? What are you doing to build your own relevant connections?

2. Enter the competition

As Woody Allen says, “90% of success is just showing up”.  If you don’t enter because you don’t think you will win, you will never win.  Do you know how many other people entered?  Do you definitely know that someone else is going to win?  Sign up for the competition and try. You might just surprise yourself. Continue reading