Korean Sex Slaves in Japan – The Battle Isn’t Over Yet

Sculpture Dedicated to Korean Sex-Slaves for Japan (©photocoen)
It had been a beautiful afternoon of strolling around Seoul. We had left the subway for what it was: efficiently transporting people from A to B. We weren’t here for efficiency but for sightseeing, for getting a feel for the city. And walking is the best way to do so.

Amidst the spic and span of glitzy glass skyscrapers my eyes caught yellow Post-its stuck to a wooden fence that surrounded a high-rise under construction. Between all the silver and transparent cleanliness and somewhat sterile feel of this business part of Seoul, the colorful, randomly pinned notes stood out. I took a closer look. Continue reading

Travel Memories – The Beauty of People

Workshop in Quito, Ecuador (©photocoen)In Quito, Ecuador, Coen and I camped in a car workshop for a couple of weeks. We were surrounded by broken vehicles and mechanics whose overalls were black from grease and dirt, and the noise of a blaring radio. This was not the first time we were camping in a workshop; we had done so before during our then ten-year overland journey in Asia and South America.

You get used to many things when traveling for a longer period of time, but each time I am flabbergasted by the hospitality of people and the confidence they have in us. Continue reading

Overlanders of the Year Award

Overlanders of the Year Award - Overlanding in Brazil (©photocoen)Expedition Portal assigned us their annual Overlanders of the Year Award 2013. For those who are unfamiliar with Expedition Portal:

Expedition Portal is a community of adventure travelers, where the primary means of exploration is by 4wd and Motorcycle. Founded in 2005 by Scott Brady, CEO of Overland International, expeditionportal.com is operated by a team of experienced adventurers, our staff having completed expeditions on all seven continents. With the growing popularity of overland travel, expeditionportal.com has expanded in membership and content to represent the single-largest repository of online overland resources on the web. This includes 2,000+ feature editorials and over 1.2 million forum posts. Most know us as ExPo.

Overlanders of the Year Award

Here is what they wrote with regard to our Overlanders of the Year award:

If you have been following Expedition Portal’s front page in the last few months, you’ll be familiar with Coen and Karin-Marijke of Landcruising Adventure. On the road since 2003, they’ve driven their Toyota BJ45 Land Cruiser through Europe, Asia, and South America taking their time to fully experience the landscapes and cultures they visit. A decade may seem like a long time to traverse just three of the world’s continents, but their journey is not a trip so much as it is a lifestyle. When the Expedition Portal team sat down to reflect on the past twelve months and begin the process of selecting the recipients of our Overlander of the Year Award, we couldn’t think of anyone more deserving than the adventure duo of Coen and Karin-Marijke. We not only admire their unusually slow pace of travel, we are captivated by the elaborate stories and images featured on their website. Their collection of windshield views is one of the best pictorials in all of overlanding. Ever eager to share in their travels, Coen and Karin-Marijke took the time to answer a few questions so we could all get more insight into what it’s like to travel for a full decade.

Here’s the interview.

A Successful Children’s Home in Suriname: Sukh Dhaam

Kids painting Sukh Dhaam's church.

Kids painting Sukh Dhaam’s church.

It is Friday afternoon and it has been a long week of writing and researching. I’m tired.
“I’m going to lie down for a bit and listen to some music,” I tell Coen over lunch.

“After you do the dishes, I’m sure,” he responds, but with a smile. He has done the cooking so the dishes are mine. I’ve never had the discipline to do the dishes right after a meal, why would I do so now? The reason is simple: if I wait another twenty minutes or so, about a zillion ants will have beaten me to it, which is not exactly my idea of a proper dishwasher.

The spray can is working overtime; the ants and I are in serious combat to gain the upper hand. Hygiene is taken to another level. Leaving my spoon on the table, with which I just stirred sugar in my coffee, is punished immediately – the table top will soon be black. Ants were the cause of our first laptop to give up (they like the heat inside, and had eaten away the cool pad). Are they the reason for this laptop to have hiccups as well?

Done the dishes, been to the toilet. I lie down in the hammock strung on the one-meter wide veranda of our guest lodgings, which is part of Sukh Dhaam’s children’s home in Alkmaar (Sukh Dhaam means House of Happiness). Continue reading

Exploring São Paulo – Meet Extraordinary People & BossHouse

São Paulo (©photocoen)Throughout our more-than-ten-year journey we’ve met people in intriguing ways, which in some cases has led to a long-lasting friendship: people who stopped us in the street to invite us to their house, an invitation through our website. We love the sightseeing and roaming-the-countryside aspect of traveling; however, in the end our warmest memories are always related to people.

I was reminiscing on this the other day with Coen, as we tend to do every while. Admiring a sunset above the ocean, sipping from our pisco sour cocktail, talking about the rich lives we lead… I figured it might be a nice idea to focus on a short series on exactly this aspect of traveling: meeting people, how beautiful they are, and how one thing can lead to another. Here’s part 1.

Meet Our Friends & BossHouse in São Paulo

São Paulo is South America’s largest metropolis and the place to go if you love international cuisine, entertainment and nightlife. Coen and I weren’t particularly attracted to it as its huge (17 million inhabitants!) and didn’t really have an image of being a safe place. There was no reason to visit it until we received an invitation from Milena. Continue reading

Famous Traditional Dances in Bolivia

A masque in the dance of La Diablada, Urkupiña Festival in Cochabamba, Bolivia (©photocoen)

A masque in the dance of La Diablada – Dance of the Devils (©photocoen)

Many Bolivian festivals are a form of religious celebration, expressing a syncretism of paganism and Catholicism. Folkloric dances and music each have their unique costumes, musical instruments and rhythms, and these celebrations may last for days on end, often from early morning to late at night. Some traditional dances from the Andes have spread throughout the country and can be found in many of Bolivia’s large processions, like the Morenada, Diablada and Caporales.

Dancers during Urkupiña Festival in Quillacollo, Bolivia (©photocoen)

How do you recognize folkloric dances like the Morenada, Diablada and Caporal, which are part of Bolivian festivals such as Carnival, Urkupiña and el Gran Poder? Let’s take a look. Continue reading

Women Empowerment in Bolivia – a Yoghurt Factory

Doña Edelfrida daily walks 5 kms to the yoghurt factory to deliver 40 liters of milk (©Coen Wubbels)

Doña Edelfrida daily walks 5 kms to the yoghurt factory to deliver 40 liters of milk (©Coen Wubbels)

During Coen’s photography assignment for Bevrijde Wereld (locally called Mundo Nuevo), a Belgian NGO that supports agricultural projects with the emphasis on food safety, we visited a project focusing on women empowerment: a yoghurt factory in Koari, central Bolivia.

INCCA is one of Bevrijde Wereld’s partner organizations in Bolivia and the yoghurt factory was one of their successful projects. Soon after the start of the yoghurt factory, the women were given the opportunity to sell yoghurt to schools in Tiraque (near Cochabamba), where it would be part of the school breakfast, which meant a weekly production of 14,000 bags with 100 mls of yoghurt. How did they manage?

Continue reading

Women’s Opinions Didn’t Count – Planting Trees in Bolivia

During Coen’s photography assignment for Bevrijde Wereld, a Belgian NGO that supports agricultural projects with a focus on food safety, we visited various rural communities in Bolivia. In the village of Kolga Koya each household received six fruit trees and was instructed on how to plant and maintain them.

Planting trees? You dig a hole, put in the tree, close the hole and water the tree, right? Or is it not that simple? Continue reading

Making the World a Better Place – An Animal Rescue Center

Just outside Guayaramerím, in northeast Bolivia, we stumbled upon Ituaba Eco Hotel, a hotel-cum-animal refuge center-cum-recreation park. During our visit the animal refuge center was home to two blue-and-gold and two scarlet macaws, two toucans, two ocelots (medium-sized wild cats), wild boars, a young tapir and a couple of emus. Continue reading