Yoga Retreat in Bali

The Warrior of the Light retreat in Bali will be an odyssey from the yoga mat and beyond on living out our dreams, embracing the uncertainty of life, rising to our own unique destiny, and being strong enough to accept and learn from “so called” failures. Join us on this beautiful voyage and we take an exploration to bring out the Warrior of Light within YOU! Embark upon the way of the Warrior as one who appreciates the miracle of being alive, one who accepts “failure”, and one whose journey leads one to become the person one wants to be.

Join Go Eat Give for once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the true culture and cuisine of Bali, Indonesia. We will give you a complete spiritual experience with daily yoga classes, spa treatment, and plenty of time to relax by the pool!

Full itinerary at www.goeatgive.com/trips/yogaandculture-in-bali/

Go Eat Give Insight to Cuba

Join Go Eat Give and GCIV Executive Director, Shell Stuart for an insider look into Cuba. A visit to Havana and Trinidad offers an unforgettable and unique experience to learn about the legendary history, art, music and architecture of Cuba. Each day, we will explore a different element of this beautiful country that is frozen in time. From a walking tour of Old Havana, to touring a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to visiting Hemingway’s private estate, and the picturesque Bay of Pigs, you will get to experience the real Cuba. During this one week tour, you will stay at private homes, eat at authentic restaurants, visit popular sites and volunteer with local projects.

More information at at www.goeatgive.com/trips/tour-of-cuba

10 Things I Love About Mongolia

Mongolia was one of the countries that I was fascinated to travel to, but didn’t know much about. In my imagination, I had pictured a vast barren desert with nomadic culture. Though some of that was true, I discovered a lot more in Mongolia during my one-week visit. Here are some of the most beautiful things that took me by surprise…

Lush Green Landscapes – Yes there is a big desert covering a big chunk of the country, but there are also forests with trees, and lush grasslands. The rainy summer season and the rivers help irrigate the area. In winter, most of the country is covered in snow. Note: Ulaanbaatar (UB) is the coldest capital in the world, having a January average of -20 °C (minimum reaching -45 °C).

Village in Terelj National Park/ Photo by Amanda Villa-Lobos
Village in Terelj National Park/ Photo by Amanda Villa-Lobos

Free Roaming Animals – During my long drives through the countryside, I saw hundreds of yaks, sheep, goat, cows, horses and camels roaming around on their own. Because Mongolia still preserves it’s nomadic culture, many families keep a herd of animals, and keep moving to different locations for better grazing access. Note: The Mongolian diet is rich in meat and animal products (such as milk, cheese, yogurt) as this is the only source of food in many areas. 

Two humped camels/ Photo by Amanda Villa-Lobos
Two humped camels/ Photo by Amanda Villa-Lobos

Cute Kids – The children in Mongolia have a blend of Chinese, Persian and Russian looks. They are chubby and adorable! The kids who grow up in the countryside learn survival skills at an early age. They ride horses, milk animals, collect firewood and build gers.

Family at a parade in UB/ Photo by Amanda Villa-Lobos
Family at a parade in UB/ Photo by Amanda Villa-Lobos

Sleeping in Gers – While I am not a big fan of camping, I enjoyed staying at the luxury ger camps – Dream Terelj Lodge and Dream Gobi Lodge. Can you imagine waking up to this view? Here I was able to experience a nomadic home which is constructed using minimum equipment (felt, poles, lattice, cloth, ties). There is a door and an opening on the roof which is uncovered to let the light in. My ger also came with a fan, heater, lights and a private attached bath. Did you know? It takes about 2 hours for a family to construct a ger and only half hour to dissemble it.

Traditional Costumes – The Mongolian national costume is a robelike garment called a deel. It is worn with a thin silk sash several yards long tightly wound around the waist. Attached to the sash are essential objects such as the eating set, tinder pouch, snuff bottle, and tobacco and pipe pouches. Female attires are adorned with ornaments and jewelry. There are different kinds of hats and boots, depending on which part of the country they belong to. Travel Tip: There is a costume parade at the opening ceremony day before the annual Naadam festival in July. This is a good opportunity to see families from all over the country dressed in the traditional clothes. Tourists are encouraged to dress up too!

Mongolian women dressed in traditional costumes/ Sucheta Rawal
Mongolian women dressed in traditional costumes/ Photo by Sucheta Rawal

Winding Back The Clock –  Mongolia’s ancient culture is well persevered at the 13th Century National Park (located 2 hours outside UB). Here visitors can eat traditional food, visit old gers where Shamans practiced religion and Chinggis Khaan’s teacher lived, learn to write in Mongolian script, and play a horse headed fiddle.

Vastness of the Gobi Desert – The Gobi desert is the coldest desert in the world and home to many important cities along the Silk Road. It is said to be high energy place, covered with fossils as old as 100,000 years. Bayanzag aka Flaming Cliffs is a location where the highest concentration of dinosaur bones and eggs have been found. Travel Tip: Travel through the vast region of Gobi can take several days as there are no roads or signs; there are few flights which can be affected by weather conditions; the region shuts down in winters; and there are not many places to stop and ask for directions! 

Flaming Cliffs/ Photo by Amanda Villa-Lobos
Flaming Cliffs/ Photo by Amanda Villa-Lobos

Warm Hospitality – My hosts for this trip were Voyage Unique Mongolie. Khishigjargal and her husband, Dorjpurev took us around the entire time, giving us a very personal experience showing us their country. It felt like we were on a holiday with the family. We sang songs and ate candy during long drives, and stopped to have picnics in breathtaking sceneries. No matter where we went, we experienced the same level of polite and warm hospitality. Even when language was a challenge, the employees at hotels and restaurants would make a sincere effort to address our needs the best they could.

Drinking tea at a nomad's home/ Photo by Amanda Villa-Lobos
Drinking tea at a nomad’s home/ Photo by Amanda Villa-Lobos

Modern Mongolian Music and Dance – The traditional Mongolian dance is bielgee, which is performed by both men and women. Rhythmic movements, fast beats and expressive gestures that represent daily life, are simply captivating. Mongolian musicians are especially talented using deep throat singing, and several local instruments, such as the horse head fiddle, drum and gong. These days, techno and rap are being integrated, creating fun modern tunes. Travel Tip: Watch a traditional concert by the band Tumen Ekh ensemble at National Recreation Center in UB.

Naadam Festival – The annual festival celebrates the ancient sports of Mongolia – horseback riding, archery and wrestling. The entire country goes on holiday while families dress up, go for picnics and cheer the contestants. The main competitions take place at the stadium in UB, but events are also spread out. One of the most fascinating aspects of the festival is to see 5-12 year old kids race horses for up to 10 kilometers. They ride solo, at very high speeds, through the countryside! The winner receives a medal, money and bragging rights.

Horseback racing at Naadam festival/ Photo by Amanda Villa-Lobos
Horseback racing at Naadam festival/ Photo by Amanda Villa-Lobos

Announcing – My First Book on Kids Travel

BIG NEWS!!! My first children’s book, Beato Goes To Greenland will be available in bookstores and online next week! Pre order your copy through Mascot Books by clicking here.

Beato Goes to Greenland cover

It has been a long process. I have started to write books, finished the chapter outlines, pitched to editors, and ditches the whole idea – about a half dozen times. I always knew I wanted to write a book, or two, and several of my well wishers (including readers, editors & publishers) have encouraged me to do so. However, I never quite believed in myself. Who would want to read this and why?

And I never found enough time to write, or perhaps made it a priority.

I have sort of dedicated my life to food, travel and community service, since I left corporate America to pursue my passion. I founded Go Eat Give in 2010 as a blog, and later into a nonprofit organization, with a mission to raise awareness of the diverse and beautiful world we live in. Finally, I discovered an audience, that is perhaps the most impressionable. Beato Goes To is a series of children’s illustrative books that takes young readers on a thrilling adventure across different countries. They learn about nature, culture, food, costume and much more.

I have no prior experience writing children’s books, but felt compelled enough to take this project on. After months of browsing through the little sections of Barnes and Nobles, and reading all the stories about bunnies, princesses, bees, elves, and what not, I realized that there were hardly any books that taught kids about travel or culture.

The main character of the book is my larger than life cat/ baby, Beato. He has been a great inspiration to me, while he lounges on my feet, at my desk, in the couch, and watches me write day after day, occasionally rising from his naps to give me a head nudge. Anyone who has met Beato can’t stop admiring his large size (he is a 20 pounder), handsome looks (yes he has his own Pinterest page), and friendly personality (aka life of the party). It just made sense that Beato took on my persona and started traveling the world!

Beato the cat

What I hope to accomplish from the series is not only to provide entertaining and educational material to kids, but inspire them to learn about each other and discover the world. We live in a interconnected community, where we have no other option but to expand our horizons. To do this at a young age will only give someone a head start.

So if you are reading this and know of any parent with young kids, send them a link to www.BeatoGoesTo.com. Perhaps you can recommend my book to your teacher friend or neighborhood preschool. Beato Goes To also makes a great gift for any young reader in your friends and family circle. Pre order your copy today!

 

Customized Lightweight Luggage That You Can’t Lose

When shopping for new luggage, what are some things that you look for? For me, it is looks, durability and price. With thousands of black, blue and red check-in bags circling around the conveyor belt, it can get difficult to identify your bag. Have you ever picked up someone else’s suitcase because it was the same, make, model and color as yours? Have your personalized luggage tags and luggage labels fallen off? Well, you can now get some relief with custom bags from UGO Bags.

I ordered a medium hardshell suitcase with Go Eat Give logo design and immediately placed another order for a large one! Here are some things I loved about UGO Bags…

uno bags goeatgive

SUPER LIGHT – Don’t you hate it when the bag weighs half the luggage allowance, leaving little room for your much needed clothes and shoes? The UGO Bag has shell casing that is super lightweight and robust polycarbonate. I can lift the large bag with one hand and no effort.

CUSTOM EXTERIOR – You can select an existing design on UGO Bag website or completely customize your own. Collections include colorful images of pets, cities, sports, contemporary art, and more. Chose the case color (white, black or silver), upload a photo or logo, change the colors (10 options) of the handles and the wheels, and click “add to cart.” It takes less than 5 minutes and now you will be able to spot your bag at the airport! The image is actually engraved on the bag, so it doesn’t risk peeling off like some of the adhesive ones.

uno bags customize

SMART INTERIOR – One of the things I look for in a good piece of luggage is how much storage capacity it has. UGO Bag’s smart interior design with multiple pockets divides both halves of the bag and secures belongings when opening. You don’t need to carry packing cubes as everything is already built in.

IN BUILT LOCKS – You buy a $200 bag, then a $10-20 lock. Often times, you lose the locks in hotel rooms or at home, then you go buy some more. Not anymore! The UGO Bag has a built in TSA locking system, so you can ensure your luggage is secure at all times.

GOOD WARRANTY – My UGO Bag is made with high quality materials and looks very cool. It says “Made in US.” UGO Bags warranty promises to repair or replace any malfunctioning or defective luggage in the first 5 years.

FUNCTIONAL DESIGN – The bags also feature ultra smooth four-wheel spinner, top and lateral handles for easy loading and unloading, and side bumpers allowing horizontal storage of luggage. The multi-lock retractable trolley handle allows for smooth maneuverability.

ufo-bags-luggage

MOBILE ART – If you are an artist or photographer and want to feature your work on a bag, apply here.

UGO Bags come in 3 sizes – Small carry-on $199, Medium for 1-3 night getaway $249, and Large $299 for week long trips. If you would like to order one for yourself or as a gift, use discount code  “UGOEATGIVE25” to receive 25% off!

Is This The World’s Most Sustainable Village?

Picture a human female nursing a stray doe with her own breast milk. When I first saw this video in a BBC documentary, I was speechless. It was filmed in a village in Rajasthan, India that I had never heard of before. The lady’s husband found a baby deer who went astray, brought it home, and took care of it until it was ready to go out into the wild again. The documentary showed the close quarters humans and animals share and the loving relationship they have with one another in this village.

My tour group to India in March 2016 and I went to witness this firsthand. We hired a jeep that took us on a half day safari through the Bishnoi community near Jodhpur, gateway city to India’s desert.

bishnoi village

At first glance, we saw nothing unusual. Thatched huts, modest brick homes, dirt roads, open grasslands, cows, farms, etc. School kids waived at us as we drove past. They screamed out all the English words they knew, “Hello, dollar, pencil, I love you, bye!” We passed by the little one story building that was their school. Then we saw wild camels grazing in the field next door. A few deer and antelopes. More cows and buffalos.

Bishnoi is a religious group found in the Western Thar Desert of India, and areas of Punjab, and Sindh in Pakistan. Founder of the religion, Guru Jambheshwar gave the message to protect trees and wildlife around 540 years ago, prophesying that harming the environment means harming yourself. He formulated twenty nine tenets. The tenets were not only tailored to conserve bio-diversity of the area but also ensured a healthy eco-friendly social life for the community.bishnoi village india

It turns out one of the tenets includes providing protection to all animals. Which means that the Bishnoi people allow their agricultural crops to be grazed on by wild animals and predators, only to gather what is left for themselves. This is hard to imaging because the area is dry, people are poor, and there is not much food to go around anyway.

Black bucks migrate from far off lands to the lake in this area, where they are provided ample food and protection against hunting.

black bucks in bishnoi

They are also strictly vegetarian and do not allow the killing of animals. They go to the length of removing each ant or bug from firewood before using it for consumption.

Bison are also known as tree huggers due to an incident that happened in 1730. A local lady, Amrita Devi protested against the Maharaja to not cut trees in the area. 363 villagers died while protecting nature. They do not wear blue clothing as a large quantity of plants are harvested to make blue color dye.

carpet weaver in bishnoi village

During our visit, we stopped at the homes of a potter and carpet weaver to learn about local arts and crafts. Then we ate lunch at the home of Mr. Tulsiram, a Bishnoi villager. We welcomed us to his mud house with warm hospitality. We sat on woven beds and enjoyed a simple yet delicious meal of bajre ki roti (millet bread), daal (lentils), and ker sangri (capers and greens).lunch in bishnoi village Tulsiram encourage me to eat more as he commented, “The only thing I bought for this meal was salt.” Like most people in the village, he grows everything he needs, including oils and spices. Though he doesn’t have much in terms of materialistic things, he is living a very sustainable and fulfilling life. Tulsiram in bishnoi village

29 Rules of Bishnoi Faith

(source: Wikipedia)

  1. Observe 30 days’ state of untouchability after child’s birth
  2. Observe 5 days’ segregation while a woman is in her menses
  3. Bath early morning
  4. Obey the ideal rules of life: Modesty
  5. Obey the ideal rules of life: Patience or satisfactions
  6. Obey the ideal rules of life: Purifications
  7. Perform Sandhya two times a day
  8. Eulogise their God, Vishnu, in evening hours (Aarti)
  9. Perform Yajna (Havan) every morning
  10. Filter water, milk and firewood
  11. Speak pure words in all sincerity
  12. Adopt the rule of forgiveness and pity
  13. Don’t steal and not keep any intention to do it also
  14. Do not condemn or criticize
  15. Don’t lie
  16. Don’t waste the time on argument
  17. Fast on Amavashya and offer prayers to Vishnu
  18. Have pity on all living beings and love them
  19. Do not cut green trees, save the environment
  20. Crush lust, anger, greed and attachment
  21. Accept food and water from our purified people only
  22. Provide a common shelter for male goat/sheep to avoid them being slaughtered in abattoirs
  23. Don’t sterilise ox
  24. Don’t use opium
  25. Don’t take smoke and use tobacco
  26. Don’t take bhang or hemp
  27. Don’t take wine or any type of liquor
  28. Don’t eat meat, remain always pure vegetarian
  29. Never use blue clothe

Spring Retreat in North Carolina

Join Calmtivity Yoga and Go Eat Give for the Awakenings Retreat in Boone, Nort Carolina. Awaken into new beginnings as we transition into the Spring Equinox. We will journey through our Ocean of consciousness awakening the Ocean Floor of Security, the Ocean Waters of fluid decision and action, and the Horizon of infinite possibilities. This liberating journey will ignite the cool flame of Self Respect and Courteousness as well as “I AM GREAT (inhale) and I Know It (exhale).

Nestled among forest and Blue Ridge mountains, the Art of Living Retreat Center offers peace and tranquility like no other place. Soak in the Spring scenery and become one with nature, as you replenish your mind, body and spirit after the winter’s harshness. Enjoy healthy vegetarian food using farm fresh ingredients, and relax with natural Ayurvedic treatments. We proudly invite you to re-introduce yourself to your True Essence, The Brighter Self.

More information at www.goeatgive.org/trips/trips/spring-retreat-in-north-carolina

Cultural Exploration of North India

Mystical and colorful; a symphony for all of your senses, that is India. Allow Go Eat Give founder, Sucheta Rawal take you on an insightful journey through her hometown India.

HIGHLIGHTS:
– Cities Visited: New Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Agra, Jaipur & Jaisalmer
– Places of worship from Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Bahai religions, all located within a few miles from each other, making New Delhi one of the most religiously diverse cities in the world
– Dinner and cultural performance with a backdrop of the spectacular Taj Mahal
– Legendary monuments built by the Mogul emperors, that ruled India for hundreds of years
– Golden Temple in Amritsar, one of the most spiritual places in the world and a Sikh pilgrimage site
– Site of where the Indian freedom fight against the British took place
– Change of guards at the India-Pakistan border
– City known as Paris of India and rated best place to live, Chandigarh
– Sucheta’s grandmother, an 84 year-old philanthropist who founded many of the organizations in north India
– Dinner at homes of local families
– Guest lecture about the highly competitive education system and what makes Indian students rank #1 in the world
– Authentic gastronomy handpicked by Sucheta herself.
– Taste Punjabi and Mogulai food like you have never before!
– Sucheta’s favorite restaurants for Indo-Chinese, street food and fast food
– Shopping for handmade shawls, saris, gold, handicrafts and more
– Expert tailoring and custom made clothing (suits, saris, etc.)
– Volunteer at women’s shelter, orphanage and local projects

More information at www.goeatgive.com/volunteer-vacation-in-india

To inquire or reserve contact (678) 744-8306 or info@goeatgive.com

Lunch and Learn: A Savings Plan for Travelers

Are you looking to travel more in 2016 and beyond? Join Go Eat Give for a workshop to make sure you fulfill your New Year’s Resolution. Whether you are starting with a small or large budget, Curt Coulombe, financial advisor for Elliott & Associates Wealth Advisors, wants to help you devise a savings plan to ensure you financial flexibility to travel at least once per year.

“Lunch and Learn” ticket includes a light lunch and presentation.

RSVP required. $10 donation benefits Go Eat Give, 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit organization that raises awareness of different cultures through travel, food and community service.

Order tickets via Eventbrite at https://travelfund.eventbrite.com/

Reminiscing about Brazil with Go Eat Give volunteer, Amanda Villa Lobos

Meet Amanda Villa Lobos, a 26 years old energetic and passionate lady currently volunteering at Go Eat Give. I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with her for the last few weeks as we worked side by side on Destination Brazil. Since our initial encounter, I have been drawn to her perceptions of the world, largely because it’s very evident that she has travelled vastly. The experiences she has picked up along the way make her a wholesome individual. She tells me a little bit about Brazil and the memories she has of her beloved home country.

Amanda 2

When and where were you born?

I was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1988, and thereafter my family moved to Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. Most of my time in Brazil was spent there. My parents are diplomats so I lived in many countries across the world. However, I spent a total of about 8 years in Brazil, traveling back and forth.

What is your fondest memory about Brazil?

My favorite childhood memory is climbing mango trees and snacking on juicy yellow mangoes. I enjoyed that so much. I would look forward to the weekends just so I could climb mango trees. I would be the only one climbing, and I think it’s my love for nature that prompted me to do so. Despite living in Brasilia, I was very much in touch with nature. I remember making teas with different herbs that I picked up, and making juices out of fresh fruit that I would find.

You’ve travelled vastly around the world. What do you think sets Brazil apart from other countries?

The people! Brazilian people are very hospitable. They invite you to their homes and share their personal space with ease. Sharing a meal, amidst laughter and great music, with friends and family is the order of the day. The relations amongst people are deeper and there’s a deeper sense of belonging. Everybody is welcoming and friendly.

What’s your favourite Brazilian food?

Meat tastes way better in Brazil because the livestock is grass-fed. Brazil is a huge country and every region has something special to offer. Our food is also highly influenced by different cultures from Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Asia, because we are a nation of diversity. This is evident in the huge variety of food that we have. For example, while making Feijoada, a Portuguese black bean stew, the locals would mix the beans with water/broth with some pork ribs. But the best Feijoada was made by the African slaves, because they added the ears and tails, typically parts of the pig that were thrown away, to the stew that made it a richer, thicker sauce. Today this is one of the most popular dishes in Brazil that gets friends and family together over the weekends.

Coxhinia is my favourite pastry. It’s a little piece of dough that fits perfectly in your mouth, and it’s stuffed with chicken and cheese. It’s crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside. It literally melts in your mouth. Cuscuz Paulista could also easily be one of my favourite dishes. It’s made out of different flours and delicately finished in the shape of a round cake. It has tomatoes, green peas and shrimps around it, and looks like a beautiful cake.

What do you miss the most about Brazil?

I miss the beaches. If I could wake up every day in Rio, looking at the sand and beautiful water with the waves breaking, then I would be the happiest person alive. There’s nothing more healing than being close to water for me. And people who live by the ocean are so peaceful, especially in the mornings, because they pass by the ocean before work and this gives them energy and Zen to face the day.

Amanda 4

~ By Christine Okwaro, event planning and fundraising intern at Go Eat Give. Christine grew up in Nairobi, Kenya and has lived in China and Switzerland. Her personal blog is www.thetravellers.de