Wednesday, July 25, 2012

#TTOT Round-Up: Travel Photography

Every Tuesday, it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Each week is a fun, new topic. Join either of the two sessions at 9:30am GMT and 9:30pm GMT to get in on all the fun travel talk!

Just follow the #TTOT hashtag! 

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT on "Travel Photography!"

Q1 via - Besides Instagram ... What are your favorite photo apps?
  • : I use my Flickr app a lot though to keep track of my Project 365 photos - am storing all them on there in a set  
  • : I'm really liking "Pixlr-o-Matic", and "Just Pictures" to see all my stuff in one place 
  • : Snapseed, for all pre-Instagram needs
  • : We use Picasa 3 for editing and organising images 
  • : Colour touch from Android App. You can edit your pic in many ways 
  • : Filterstorm! It’s got all of the basic adjustments - cloning tools, selective adjustment and fairly effective noise reduction 
  • : I like Postagram, Stachematic, BeFunky, Photo Editor+ and Camera+ 
  • : Good app for panoramas - AutoStich
  • : Camera 360 for android is my smart phone photography app of choice
  • : Camera FX for Android is very useful and worth the buy

Q2 via - A picture is worth a thousand words. Share a travel photo that tells a story! 

: London

: Joshua Tree

: Nepal

: Sabah

: Guatemala

Q3 via How can you still capture great travel photos when the weather is not cooperating?
  • : weather can make for some incredibly dramatic photos
  • : Use those cloudy days to play around with your photography, like going black and white
  • : Harsh midday sunlight is the biggest enemy, get under shade, use fill flash and if camera allows it try bracketing 
  • : In rainy weather, make photos pop by adding the colors red, fuschia, orange, yellow to scene, such as with a scarf, umbrella, coat 
  • : Photograph the detail; often cities look dramatic in the wet so keep shooting; adjust white balance to warm things up
  • : Cloudy days can be great for photos - especially if you're photographing people 

Q4 via Most photogenic place you have visited?
  • : Rolling hills/farm land in Kenya - seemed draped with green velvet tacked in place with acacia trees 
  • : Iceland, because it has EVERYTHING. Mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, black sand, icebergs, geysers, cute villages, beautiful people
  • : Without a doubt, New Zealand. A photographer's dream
  • : Antarctica because the light is AMAZING
  • : Bosnia. The incredible natural beauty combined with horrific war scars was genuinely moving 
  • : India so photogenic with its monuments, landscapes, colors and incredible people
  • : Santorini, Greece, without a doubt 

Q5 via - 3 useful travel photography tips for beginners?
  • : Forced perspective. Early morning photography. Take pictures of everyday scenes 
  • : Be observant, be curious but remember to 'zoom with your feet'
  • : 1, Rule of thirds; 2, stabilize the camera in low light; and 3, use fill flash (or add it via software)
  • : Get close, no flash
  • : Always keep your camera ready to go. You don't ever want to miss a moment, especially while traveling
  • : Clean your lens 
  • : Don't be shy. Shoot in the early morning or evening for best light. Don't just shoot from eye height, change angle
  • : Always make sure the light source is behind you ... pack an extra battery ... take lots 
  • : Get to love 'macro' focus - sometimes most intriguing pics are in the close-up detail 
  • : Be respectful 

And there you have it, "Travel Photography!"  

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Travel Games!" Submit your questions HERE!

See you next Tuesday 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT for the next #TTOT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the "Travel Photography" discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

#TTOT Round-Up: Adventure

Every Tuesday, it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Each week is a fun, new topic. Join either of the two sessions at 9:30am GMT and 9:30pm GMT to get in on all the fun travel talk!

Just follow the #TTOT hashtag! 

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT on "Adventure!"

Q1 via : What does "adventure" mean to you? 
  • : If it takes your breath away, even momentarily, it is an adventure
  • : Being just a little bit scared, but doing it anyway 
  • : Getting out of your comfort zone, that's adventure. Doesn't have to be crazy - it's different for everyone 
  • : When the unplanned happens, creating a great story
  • : Adventure is when my heart beats faster as I discover a new place; live a unique experience; travel with no set plans 
  • : Adventure means getting out of your comfort zone, trying something unexpected and doing something that makes you a little afraid
  • : Walking out the door with no expectations, at home or abroad  

Q2 via : What is your best adventure memory? Do you have a picture?

: Having a volcano erupt right in your face

: Tracking mountain gorillas in Uganda. So expensive but SO worth it- I'd do it again

: Climbing Mt. Kinabalu in Borneo and reaching the peak in time for sunrise

: Discovering an entire whale skeleton at Jugular Point, Antarctica

Q3 via : What would your ultimate once-in-a-lifetime adventure be? 
  • : I've always wanted to trek across Mongolia 
  • : Sail around world
  • : Would love to follow the Spice Road and eat all the cuisines that used those spices
  • : Photographing the migration in Masai Mara 
  • : We would have to say that a trip to space would be at the top our list
  • : The Mongol Rally
  • : Great white shark diving sans cage
  • : A safari n South Africa as well as getting up close and personal with mountain gorillas in Kenya/Uganda 
  • : Give me a nice catamaran and a few sailing lessons and I would love to explore the Philippine islands and Papua New Guinea

Q4 via : What would the three essentials in your Adventure Travel kit be?
  • : As in any trip the 3 Ps. Purse, passport and pants 
  • : Camera, Water, and Toilet Paper
  • : Food, more food, and some extra food. Hunger blows and I don't want a grumbling stomach to distract me from the adventure 
  • : Loads of hair elastics and clips for unruly hair, a hip flask and one of my favourite books, probably a collection of fairy tales 
  • : A knife, torch and spare pair of dry socks 
  • : Comfortable shoes with good tread, headlamp, collapsing umbrella (for sun & rain)
  • : Patience, inquisitiveness (not to the point of intrusiveness) and adrenalin

Q5 via : What scenery do you enjoy the best adventures?
  • : Love rugged hills or mountains along any coastline. Pure heaven for hikes 
  • : I am game for anything but love to be near water/ocean/lake/river/waterfall ... any water please 
  • : Cities! Higher rate of encounters with strangers; new situations. Adventure for is about surprising interactions
  • : I've turned into a jungle fan, but mountains are a close second 
  • : Gotta go with Forests. You never know what lurks behind the next tree
  • : Adventure can be found anywhere, mountains, beach, another country, etc. Just need the right attitude 
  • : All of the above; there is beauty in mountains and oceans, but also in the cities, old buildings, museums, art, the people 

And there you have it, "Adventure!"  

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Travel Photography!" Submit your questions HERE!

See you next Tuesday 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT for the next #TTOT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the "Adventure" discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

Burmese Ginger Salad Recipe: Jinn Thoke

Most of my knowledge of Burmese culture comes from my super-weird family. I can't attest that I have any special insight into the customs and habits, but one thing that I have gathered from my family and from the trips I've taken to Burma is that eating is a very social event!

I've spent many an afternoon with my Burmese side of the family, sitting around the living room listening to them gossip, sip pots upon pots of freshly brewed tea, and munch on light snacks for hours on end.

Burmese salads are commonly served to keep the socializing from ending. The salads are intensely flavorful, and wonderfully paired with a subtle black tea. My favorite Burmese salad is jinn thoke, a surprisingly quick and easy ginger-based salad that's absolutely delicious and refreshing, even for someone like me who isn't typically a fan of ginger.

Ingredients: (serves 4)
  • 3 tbs pickled ginger slices
  • 1 tbs sesame seeds 
  • 1 tbs chickpeas, fried
  • 1 tbs lima beans, fried
  • 1 tbs yellow beans
  • 1 tbs peanuts, crushed
  • 1 tsp yellow bean flour, lightly roasted 
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce (can be substituted with salt if you wish)
  • 1 small green chili pepper, chopped
  • toasted garlic


Toss all ingredients together until mixed. Season to taste. Place in bowl, garnish with toasted garlic, and serve.

Give my mom's jinn thoke recipe a try and see if it doesn't inspire hours of conversation with your loved ones!

© Connie Hum 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Passion for Food: It's in the Genes

Every time I'm back at my parent's house in California, I fill up on all the home-cooked Burmese and Chinese food I can possibly stuff myself with. I consider myself extremely lucky that my mother is such an amazing cook and that from a very young age, I was exposed to "exotic" food (she was always getting recipes from her friends at work and trying them out at home).

Mom trying out fried sardines in Istanbul

Of course, at the time, my conforming child-self wished I could have meatloaf and TV dinners like all my "normal" American friends were having!

Now I see how fortunate I was. My passion for food and eating came from my mother. She showed me how flavors and colors can enhance not just your dining experience, but your life as well. Eating with my mother was always a social affair full of friends and family, stories, jokes, and laughter.

My mom and I traveling in Bagan, Burma

I love my mother so much for teaching me how to enjoy and appreciate food in and of itself, and for teaching me to share that joy with others.

For the longest time I had wanted to get her recipes down on paper and share them on my blog. Unfortunately, I was always traveling and whenever I visited, it was only for a short amount of time. This past month I was in California for several weeks and finally managed to get a couple recipes to share! Be on the look-out for them in the next few weeks!

Thanks, Mom, for having the patience to cook with me in your kitchen as I try to frantically scribble down the ingredients and take photos before everything burns! I'm sure my readers will also appreciate it, especially once they try your recipes!

© Connie Hum 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

#TTOT Round-Up: Staycations

Every Tuesday, it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Each week is a fun, new topic. Join either of the two sessions at 9:30am GMT and 9:30pm GMT to get in on all the fun travel talk!

Just follow the #TTOT hashtag! 

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT on "Staycations!"

Q1 via State your case for or against a staycation.
  • : For - no bags to pack and unpack. Against - you still get bugged by phone calls and visitors
  • : For - You get to discover new things in your backyards. Against - You learn a lot when you're out of your comfort zone
  • : FOR: discovering parts of your country that you previously took for granted
  • : Many people - especially travellers - know faraway places better than their own city. Staycation to be tourist in your own city
  • : A staycation to me is a normal Saturday or Sunday
  • : Exploring your own home can have more lasting rewards -- you might find your new favorite bar, reading spot, burger place, etc
  • : Against. That's what the weekend is for. Vacations are for going somewhere

Q2 via I see staycation as nearcation, what inexpensive or free things are there to see and do near you? 
  • Mumbai has many amazing free places. Take a walk across old Mumbai, visit art galleries, museums, flea markets
  • : Vintage markets of Amsterdam are pretty unknown and unmissable 
  • : If you are ever in Edinburgh you must go to the Natural History Museum. It's amazing, free, and a great day out 
  • : DC is the land of the free... Museums, concerts, you name it
  • : Around here (Iceland) you can explore hot springs, lava caves, go hiking without spending a penny 
  • : Ride the entire circuit of various bus lines in your area to see things u never saw before
  • : From Bangalore, day trip to culture-rich Mysore or bird sanctuary Rangantittu. Coffee country Coorg makes quick, cheap, fab rest and relaxation
  • : I've yet to find a city that you aren't free to walk around. Explore, observe, absorb

Q3 via What are the Top 5 do's and don't to make a staycation feel like a vacation?
  • : Make a list of ideas for a friend visiting from overseas - and then go do them yourself
  • : DO try new things, eat out, turn the phone off, relax, splurge DON'T work, stress, clean, stick to routine, care about the weather  
  • : Do try something new, send a postcard, buy a souvenir, act like a tourist! Don't wish you'd gone on vacation instead. Enjoy it 
  • : Try hosting couchsurfers and show them around for a different take on your home town
  • : Do be sure to share your local adventures with others just like you do when you get back off a vacation 
  • : Do something you won´t normally do. Don´t use the car. Do smile....always 
  • : Don’t do anything you do normally. Don’t tell people you're home 

Q4 via What other '-cations' words would you like to never hear again?
  • : Mancation. Horrid word. And makes me think of a mankini. Just no
  • : Confiscation - especially bottled water at airports! Such a waste
  • : Gentrification. It takes away original charm
  • : Carcation. It's called a road trip
  • : Not a '-cation,' but we just heard 'babymoon' used. Not sure we like it
  • : 'Greycation' sounds a little harsh - just because you're over 50, doesn't mean you feel old 
  • : Praycation sounds like pure torture
  • : Bro-cation! The word makes me cringe a bit

Q5 via What was your best staycation and what made it so great?
  • : Without doubt childhood memories-spending time in the wilderness near home 
  • : We're biased, as ex-Nairobians, our favorite staycation has always been Maasai Mara
  • : Going on summer bike trips through the Dublin mountains, but ending up back in your own bed. Cheap, fun and stunning countryside
  • : Two weeks around Egypt with a Norwegian friend was the best staycation ever! Discovered countless things so near to me 
  • : Any time I have friends come visit Toronto I have the *best* time playing tourist in my own city 
  • : When I moved back to Montreal. I had no money to travel, so I re-discovered my city. Never been more in love 
  • : Cornwall or Bristol - family silliness and exploring the area made for loads of great holidays over the years 
  • : The time I spent wandering around Madrid with my brand new camera last summer- like seeing the city w/new eyes

 And there you have it, "Staycations!"  

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Adventure!" Submit your questions HERE!

See you next Tuesday 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT for the next #TTOT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the "Staycations" discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

Like Water for Chocolate Fundraiser Ends Well

In early 2010, I participated in a charity: water fundraiser called "All's Well That Ends Well" to raise $5,000 USD to bring clean drinking water for those living in developing countries. Get it? All's well... As in water well? I thought it was pretty smart...

Collecting water in India during my "All's Well That Ends Well" fundraiser

As part of my efforts to increase donations, I created an incentive for donors. I called it "Like Water For Chocolate."  If someone donated $30 USD or more to my fundraiser, which was "like water," (as their contribution would go towards building a water well for an entire community) I would bake them a chocolate treat as a personal thank-you for helping me reach my goal. Like water for chocolate. Brilliant idea, right?

"All's Well That Ends Well" was a challenging fundraiser for me as I was actually traveling in Burma and India at the time. I wasn't able to connect with as many people as I could due to the intermittent access I had to the internet, and of course, the bonus of a baked chocolate treat was a promise for the next time that I would see each individual donor and not an immediate, tangible reward.

Chocolate truffle brownies as incentive for "All's Well That Ends Well"

Still, the donations came in. A friend gave up alcohol for the duration of my fundraiser and donated the money he saved to the cause. Another hosted dinner and movie nights in his apartment to raise awareness and proceeds. It was truly thrilling for me to check my progress every week or so while I was traveling and see how much was raised.

After the three months of fundraising, I collected a total of $1,405 USD. Incredible! Although I didn't meet my goal of $5,000 USD, the money I did collect was combined with other fundraisers to complete a water well project.

Photo of the actual water well my fundraiser helped build in Mai Hutsa, Ethiopia

It wasn't until recently that charity: water contacted me to provide a full breakdown of how they were using the money I had raised to help the village of Mai Hutsa in Ethiopia build a water well. In addition to now having access to clean drinking water, the entire community of 225 men, women, and children have been taught safe hygiene practices and water well maintenance.


Chocolate trifle was just one of the chocolate treats I made for donors

The news of the water well progress comes at a perfect time as I'm currently back in the States for the summer and ready to bake up some chocolate treats! I hope all the donors are ready for their chocolate sweets after they've done something so sweet for the people in Mai Hutsa Village, Ethiopia!

I am extremely proud of this fundraising project, but I certainly didn't do it alone. An immense THANK YOU is due to the ones who donated to All's Well That Ends Well: Matteo Casola, Neil Medel, Pim Savetmalanond, Leigh Cambre, Nicholas Polytaridis, Aleks Ozerov, Duane Pena, Sean Quinn, Milania Dela Cruz, Nelson Chen, Parker Whiteway, Jonathan Yu, Nitin Khapre, Kale Gaddy, Christopher Choi, Hannah Wilner, Stanley Lei, Carrie Helfman, Victor Wong, Cheryl Magdaraog, Jacquelyn Vo, Melanie Montoya, Ivana Williams, and "Anonymous."  


For more information on the global water crisis and how you can start your own fundraiser, watch charity: water's informative video below.

© Connie Hum 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

#TTOT Round-Up: Jobs in Travel

Every Tuesday, it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Each week is a fun, new topic. Join either of the two sessions at 9:30am GMT and 9:30pm GMT to get in on all the fun travel talk!

Just follow the #TTOT hashtag! 

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT on "Jobs in Travel!"

Q1 via What's the craziest holiday job you have ever had?
  • : Working in a salmon fishing lodge for a whole summer! Without internet or phone services for three months
  • : Brushing Garlic, who knew that job existed 
  • : Selling wine at a Rick Astley concert
  • : A garden centre, most of the staff were ex-cons. Pretty unnerving being alone in the greenhouse with them
  • : Working at a gas station, climbing onto trucks and bulldozers when I was highly pregnant at 16
  • : Cleaning fish for dolphins
  • : Working in the kiwifruit industry is pretty wild in the "not fun at all, but weird" sense of the word

Q2 via What would be your PERFECT travel job, why?
  • : Designing travel gadgets to make traveling with kids easier. Why? Annoyed there isn't better stuff out there 
  • : Culinary tour operator. We'd get to research the good destinations
  • : Our PERFECT travel job would be setting up eco-tourism projects all over the world and promoting them
  • : Someday I might run a nice BandB or hostel at a really cool destination! I would love that
  • : Travel photographer. Gets to travel and photograph amazing places 
  • : Hotel bed tester. Send me all around the world testing out beds in the most luxurious resorts 
  • : Being a diving instructor has always seemed like the ideal job. Maybe in the Philippines

Q3  via @lizcleere What job skill could to take you round the world on an endless journey?
  • : Being able to speak fluently two or more languages 
  • : An ability to listen to people of other cultures and actually HEAR them
  • : Private pilot, helicopter or private jet would always be cool and could get you work in many places 
  • : Spreading fun and love wherever you go! People would want to invite you EVERYWHERE
  • : Good communication skills, and a willingness to try new things
  • : Knowing how to pour a good beer seems like a universal job
  • : Resourcefulness. Anything can happen and you need to be able to handle it when it does 

Q4 via What do you think is the biggest challenge to working while traveling?
  • : Procrastinating! Travel is a distraction in itself 
  • : Wifi. Goddammit. Hotels of the world- set us all free
  • : Being able to make enough money to support yourself while traveling and still having time to enjoy your destination 
  • : Restrictive visa requirements
  • : Probably adapting. Your new surroundings will likely take a few weeks or months to get used to 
  • : Finding the right balance of work and fun - Remember why you are travelling in the first place and for sure it's not for work 
  • : Finding convenient internet or phone connection and having the proper adapters. Possibly the 9+ hours time difference. Missing family/friends 

Q5 via What is your favorite gadget/app for jobs in travel? 
  • : My number 1 go-to app is TripIt - it has changed the way I travel and I love it
  • : CouchSurfing - the best tool to connect the world 
  • : Hardly a gadget these days but I've always found that a corkscrew comes in handy while working all over the world 
  • : DSLR camera! The plus of traveling a lot is the opportunity to capture some great visuals 
  • : Very boring but it's my iPhone. Useful to check mails on the run, google info for a client and manage multiple tasks in one place  
  • : Favorite gadget is the camera. Apps I love: TripIt, CurrencyConverter, iTranslate, and Skype 
  • : HootSuite & Buffer are great when I need to do social media work! Schedule tweets in advance then off to explore 

And there you have it, "Jobs in Travel!"  

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Staycations!" Submit your questions HERE!

See you next Tuesday 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT for the next #TTOT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the "Jobs in Travel" discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2012

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