Culture Archives - foXnoMad

Category: Culture

How To Pronounce Kyiv And Why It’s Not Spelled Kiev

Ukraine has been on the news a lot recently due to the war with Russia and you may have heard its capital, Kyiv and other cities, being pronounced multiple ways. Due to all of that variation from “keev” to “keyee” from journalists, it can be confusing to know how to properly say these places. To help answer those questions as well as the history behind the names of Ukrainian cities and spellings, Irena Chalupa recently joined me on an episode of the foXnoMad Podcast. Irena is a journalist specializing in broadcast from northeastern Poland who spent 23 years working for Radio Free Europe in Germany, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic as the director of the Ukrainian Service. She has also worked for the Atlantic Council think tank and was a Fulbright Scholar in Ukraine during 2016-2017. She is currently an editor at StopFake.

You can watch a clip from our discussion in the video above or listen to the full podcast here.

Travel Bans Don’t Work And Won’t Stop Omicron

anchorage airport

Just when we thought the Covid-19 pandemic might be waning a new variant with an intimidating name has closed borders, invited panic, and amplified our collective frustrations regarding this virus. Omicron is a new pandemic, like the old one but condensed in time and reaction. We have over two years of experience with Covid but the world is making the same old mistakes with Omicron.

Let’s start with travel bans. They don’t work because they are too little too late at best and lowkey racist at worst.

South Africa Punished

Omicron was first identified in South Africa. Last than a week later, the United States, Europe, and 70 other nations had banned travel from South Africa and 7 neighboring countries. Historically, the countries that visit South Africa the most are the U.S., UK, Germany, Netherlands, and France. Using this faulty travel ban logic, shouldn’t travelers from those countries be barred as well? How about their neighbors? What about Europe?

You see the problem. Travel bans chase the virus well after it’s spread far and wide. Omicron was, it turns out, in the Netherlands at least a week before South Africa identified it.

Travel Bans Effect

Travel bans, when implemented early into a pandemic, can slow the spread of a virus and give countries a chance to prepare. What the preparation looks like varies in pandemic stages but we have a vaccine. We’ve had a vaccines. Travel bans can slow the virus to give people a chance to vaccinate ahead of it. Travel bans don’t stop the virus. And they don’t fix the underlying problem that unless people vaccinate, mask, and continue to social distance then the virus keeps spreading and staying ahead of us.

“We need a balanced and proportional response. That means no travel bans, but testing and quarantine for people coming from countries where omicron is circulating,” says Raghib Ali, an epidemiologist at the University of Cambridge.

Every time a virus, any virus, infects a host it has a chance to mutate. Think of it like a giant game of telephone. (Remember that from grade school?) Imagine the virus is a recipe and our bodies are all cooks. Each time a cook gets a recipe, they might make the dish a little different. A hamburger becomes a panini. A panini becomes a pizza. A pizza becomes lasagna. Eventually, the vaccine designed for hamburgers doesn’t recognize what a lasagna is. We’re playing catch up against nature and that’s always a losing proposal for humanity.

Hurting On Many Levels

Countries like South Africa who’ve identified variants might be much more reluctant to do so if there’s the threat of a travel ban. The effect on the local tourism industry – reeling already globally – has serious implications, especially for poorer nations. Tourism is the crusty glue barely keeping the world together. Crime and poverty increase without it in places that rely on travel.

Blocking travel also means aide workers and scientific supplies to the places that need it most. The UK has banned travel from 11 countries – all African – being called by travel apartheid by Nigeria.

Olufemi Awokoya told the BBC he was trying to raise money for his wife’s quarantine, as she is due to return from a trip to attend her mother’s memorial service. “She is being punished and our household is put in financial hardship. She is an NHS worker and tripled-jabbed, and we can’t afford the £2,280 ($3,024) hotel bill,” he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a global problem with a global solution. But the more we keep dividing ourselves into nations of isolation, vaccinated and un-vaccinated, the virus will keep conquering us, a divided species.

Why The World Needs Tourism Back But Better This Time

seward alaska

Look, traveling won’t make you an enlightened person or justify long drawn out soliloquies on Instagram under a photo of your butt sticking out. Traveling in many ways is a narcissistic clout grab phenomena. But underneath it, tourism is a crusty glue between the table legs of international relations barely keeping it from completely tipping over.

Here’s why the world needs tourism, improved.

Pandemic Experiment

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many things. We’re destroying the natural world. Teleworking is feasible, preferable, and office life should die a quick death. We also got to see a year without travel. No, I don’t care about your tone deaf selfies in front of war memorials but rather want you to look at the globe. Take all those borders around the countries and you might as well make them walls.

Some have actually become walls. It turns out an interconnected planet might be keeping humanity from totally annihilating itself.

Civil Unrest On The Rise

According to the Global Peace Index, 2021 has been a year of civil unrest. Part of that is the stress the pandemic has put on governments. Yes, many of them suck at governing. Free flowing capital from tourism and commerce has highlighted why a social safety net paid with your taxes (but not these guys for some reason) is a good idea.

The pandemic has been a catalyst to some major problems. A world slowly cooking itself thanks to climate change, populist leaders helping themselves, refugees being used as human ammunition, the world is now in desperate need of tourism and the interaction understanding and connection is creates.

However small personally, economically, and ethically, the world needs tourism back in a new way.

Dictating Currencies

An economic crunch might be harming corrupt governments but it’s people who are feeling the pain. Aide to refugees and people in conflict zones has been severely hampered by the pandemic according to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC). This, in a year that’s seen refugee numbers increase by 4% and conflict in half or the world’s countries. Poaching of elephants in places like Sumatra has increased too as locals desperate for money are hunting the species into extinction. (They say trophy hunting brings in a lot of cash to Africa. In South Africa, it’s less than half of one percent. Let’s do away with it.)

empty national mall

Many travelers would be willing to pay to see these and other animals in their natural environment. Perhaps, in between selfies, a fraction of understanding is gained too. One that can be shared to others, even if by osmosis or inspiration. Maybe there is a better way to run this planet and see all its wonders.

It’s Humanizing

Speaking from experience when you’ve been to places like Yemen or Ukraine or anywhere for that matter they becomes less “they” and more that child who shyly asked to take a selfie with me. Whatever happened to them? Those people being pushed into barbed wire fences are people like me and you because you’ve met them.

The world gets smaller the more you travel. This should be the purpose of tourism. Not shopping in another country because it’s so much cheaper than home. That’s just dumping your money in another nation without having to live there and face whatever the government does or doesn’t do with it.

Traveling should facilitate understanding otherwise you’re just being the same old idiot somewhere else. But as governments open up for tourism, tourists should be more cognizant of where they’re going. Why it may be so cheap. And who the people are that live there. We’ve seen what a world without tourism is like and it’s certainly worse off but we don’t have to go back to the old way of doing things. We can, and should, travel smarter.

5 Creepy Travel Sites You’d Actually Want To Visit

creppy contrails

There are a number of spooky stories. Some are completely based in fantasy while others like recent murders a little too macabre. Mysterious encounters, sightings, and places you would actually want to visit (outside of the creepiness) do exist. These are 5 creepy sites from the foXnoMad Podcast you might actually want to visit on your next trip.

1. Margate Shell Grotto

margate shell grotto

Located in Kent, England and discovered in 1835 by a father and son digging around a duck pond, the Margate Shell Grotto is a snaking 185 square meter cavern. Adorned with over 4.6 million shells, it contains an altar room and rotunda. Nobody knows who built this mysterious site and there aren’t any good guesses either. You can though visit the Margate Shell Grotto for a few British Pounds and explore it yourself.

2. Socorro UFO Landing Site

socorro ufo site

On April 24, 1964, just outside of Socorro, New Mexico, Police Officer Lonnie Zamora was chasing a speeding teenager. As he headed out into the desert though something caught his eye. Zamora stopped pursuit and saw a craft with beings walking around outside. The U.S. Air Force conducted an investigation, collection photos and physical evidence to corroborate Zamora’s story. Even to this day, the official government site of Socorro lists its coordinates.

3. Historic Anchorage Hotel

historic anchorage hotel

Built in 1916 and the only historic hotel in Alaska’s largest city, the Historic Anchorage Hotel is known for 3 ghosts whose sightings are so common, a guest book at reception records them. If you want to see the otherworldly little boy, murdered police chief, or ghastly bride, rooms 215, 217, 202 and 205 are know to be especially haunting.

4. Ruwa, Zimbabwe

One of the most conventionally un-explainable UFO encounters, the mass sighting and interaction between 62 students and faculty of an alien craft and beings in Ruwa, Zimbabwe has shook those who’ve studied it. Harvard professor of psychiatry John Mack interviewed the kids extensively and BBC’s local correspondent Tim Leach said after his investigation, “I could handle war zones, but I could not handle this.”

5. Bunny Man Bridge

bunny man bridge

The urban legend is creepy but the true story is even more bizarre. Studied for over a decade by Fairfax County Archivist Brian Conley, his paper on the government website is the foremost treatise on the Bunny Man. A small bridge in northern Virginia, there’s no asylum or gutted bunnies like the myth but a hatch through a car window? That happened to a couple on October 18, 1970 but a man dressed in a bunny outfit. Nobody was hurt and two weeks later, the Bunny Man was sighted again. Axe in hand, attacking an abandoned home, he threatened witnesses to stay away. Since then, he’s not been seen and nobody knows who this person was. You can try your luck (or lack thereof) on a Halloween at midnight, with a number of locals who dare to defy the curse of the Bunny Man.

Would People In Pakistan Be Willing To Say One Nice Thing About India?

India and Pakistan have fought multiple wars and the two countries don’t have good relations with each other. A mild way of putting it, considering the more than half century of animosity and territorial disputes all amplified nuclear bombs. So during a visit to Pakistan I was curious, is there anything nice people could say about India?

You can watch the responses in the video above, they’ll likely surprise you as much as it did me.

Behind The Scenes

Filming around Pakistan, I had this video in mind. Partly as a response to several videos I made comparing both countries which brought a lot of fighting in the comment section (browse at your own discretion). This made me curious, could we boil things down simply: can you say one NICE thing?

burns road karachi

I hesitated before asking the question to the first person, someone I had already interviewed as part of another project. His reaction was positive (aside from a fair amount of camera shyness). Perhaps it was a fluke, I’ll have to ask others and wait for the backlash.

It never came though, people were overwhelmingly positive. As you read this you may be thinking, yeah but well… insert excuse here. Believe me, those caveats bubbled up into my grey matter as well. Across several weeks, cities, and people from all walks of life, the responses were overwhelmingly positive. Not a scientific study but a start. We can go from there, whether we’re talking about nation or your next door neighbor or both.

The Outliers

There were a number of people who did have not nice things to say. Want to guess the number? A grand total of two. But the number of people who said nice things? 100%. Yes, those two people also did have a nice thing to say and are featured in the video.

Let’s talk about those two responses that weren’t entirely positive. One of the two aggressively asked me why I’m asking people to say one nice thing (and why I wasn’t doing it in some other country). I explained that it’s a question I had and he obviously didn’t have to answer if he didn’t want to. After a moment, he thought about it and did say one or two nice things.

The other went on a bit of a political rant about India’s internal political structure, said one nice thing, and then continued one a bit on politics. A bit off the rails but still he surprised me, he did have one nice thing to say. Hopefully you’ll find this video enlightening, encouraging and you’ll have one nice thing to say about it in the comments.

You’re a beautiful person and have a lot to offer the world. Keep striving to show everyone your best side!

What Is Harry Potter Shifting?

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2021.

Have you ever wished you could visit one of the fantasy worlds you’ve read about or seen in a movie? Well, shifters believe they can do just that and transport their subconsciousness to Hogwarts, specifically. There’s a pretty active community on TikTok #shiftingrealities where shifters explain how you can shift, what the experience is like, and what happens if you die in Hogwarts.

It all sounds a lot like lucid dreaming where you can control your dreams through various techniques to train your mind to recognize that hey, you’re in a dream and take over. Lucid dreams can often fly like Superman or transport anywhere in the world or perhaps, even to Hogwarts.

On a recent Geek Takeover Week episode of the foXoMad Podcast I and two Harry Potter experts shifted into reacting to shifter TikToks. You can watch a clip in the video above or listen to the full episode below. Evanesco!

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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