This is not your ordinary yoga retreat! 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! Our uniquely designed itinerary gives you authentic exposure to the Balinese culture. From staying in a sustainable resort, where 100% of the proceeds go to the village dwellers, eating authentic local cuisine, learning local arts and crafts with renowned artists, to volunteering at Bali Children’s Project, your vacation will be meaningful to yourself, as well as the community you visit.
What did I like most about the Philippines? Well, a lot of things! Beautiful beaches, quiet islands, fresh fruits, friendly people, to name a few. Each day, I thought about what it would be like to live here and thought about the five most compelling reasons I would want to move to the Philippines.
Mangoes Grow Year Round – Mangoes, undoubtedly, are my favorite fruit. I have been known to eat a lot (record 15 in one sitting)! Growing up in India, I use to anxiously wait for summers when mangoes were available. In the Philippines, there is no one season for growing mangoes. The tropical weather allows good quality production year-round. As a result, you can get fresh mango juice, fruit, yogurt, desserts and anything else you can think of. Dried mangoes from Cebu are world famous and even available in grocery stores across the US.
Coconuts Are Everywhere – Philippines is the largest producer of coconuts in the world. It is a spectacular sight from an airplane to see rolling hills full of coconut trees on many of the islands. Whether you are driving, walking or visiting a home, there’s a pretty good chance you can find a fresh sweet coconut readily available. Coconut water is good for circulation, blood circulation, skin, provides energy, healthy for the heart and helps with weight loss. Where else in the world can you find a superfood for only $0.20?
Filipinos Have The Fountain of Youth – Well, not a fountain as such, but most Filipino look at least 10-20 years younger than they actually are. I asked a few people I met about the reason for their young appearance, and they replied that it was staying happy, always smiling and not stressing too much. “You must exercise your face muscles a lot” one lady told me. In fact, all of the Filipinos I met were very friendly and smiling all the time.
Freshness in Seafood is Redefined – I have turned into a pescetarian over the years and when I walk into a restaurant, my eyes go straight to the seafood section of the menu. In the Philippines, many of the restaurants would display your choices of fish, lobster, crab, shrimp, sea shells, etc. (live in tanks or on ice). You simply pick out what you want and how much of it, and the chef does the rest. I ate the biggest king crab of my life (at 4 pounds), which was still alive when I placed my order.
Budget Friendly Spas – Self care in the Philippines is a priority. Every mall, hotel and street corner has a spa, and most of them are no frills but offer really good service. Skilled professionals can do deep tissue, Swedish, or a local version of head to toe massage, leaving you totally relaxed. At $20 a massage, you can definitely afford to hit the spa a few times a week.
Philippines is an English speaking country. Even in the most remote places, people speak very good English, which makes it relatively easy to get around and interact with the locals. Other factors that make Philippines an attract place to live include – affordable cost of living, ease of finding domestic help, and year-round tropical weather. There’s also option to live in the bustling western capital of Manila with beautiful waterfront high risers, golf courses, international restaurants, and some of the biggest malls in the world; or at some of the isolated islands where you can enjoy quiet beaches, surf, swim, snorkel, and karaoke with the islanders at night.
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.
I have a confession to make. Until recently I didn’t know much about this tiny country the size of Maryland. I have only 3 friends from Armenia. I did go to an Armenian restaurant once while I was in Russia and have visited the Armenian quarters in Jerusalem. That is pretty much all my exposure to Armenian food and culture, until now.
Fortunately, I was invited by TATON and USAID on a media trip to Armenia, for 10 days. Here are some of the things I learned…
Armenia is located in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia. It was not always landlocked. The current day landmass is actually 1/10 of what it use to be at it’s peak.
The history of Armenia dates back to early civilization. One of the caves we visited had the world’s earliest known leather shoe, skit, and wine-producing facility dating back to 4000 BC. Noah’s Ark is said to have landed on the peak of Mount Ararat (then Armenia, now Turkey) during the biblical flood.
Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as a nation in 301 AD, though Christianity was practiced before that. There are over 3,000 churches and monasteries in the country, making it the highest per capita Christian monuments in a small area of land. Incidentally, many modern Armenians are not religious.
For a country its size, Armenia has the most varied landscapes. You can find snow year round on top of its highest peaks, mountainous terrains, colorful valleys, deep gorges, and one of the largest alpine lakes in the world. While Yerevan is a bustling modern city, scantly populated villages across the country are mostly rural.
Armenia is bordered on the north and east by Georgia and Azerbaijan, and on the south and west by Iran and Turkey. Thought its political relations with its neighbors have not been so good in the past, it is still a peaceful and safe place to travel.
The food scene in Armenia is amazing! The cuisine has influences of it’s neighboring cultures and different parts of Armenia have regionalized dishes. Every meal is a festive occasion where families and friends come together over piles of plates of fresh salads, cheese, bread, meat and fruit. My mouth salivated as I saw picture perfect fruits and nuts at the farmers market in Yerevan. They taste as good as they look!
The wines are great too. It seems everyone in Armenia makes their wine and harvests their own honey. The wine making tradition has been going on for 6k years and no special records have been kept of it. You can buy 1 liter of homemade wine for 1000 Drams (less than $2). There are also excellent wineries around the country that are gaining popularity in the international scene.
The people in Armenia are extremely friendly. If you meet someone for the first time, they will invite you to dine with them and give you small presents. This happened to me at multiple occassions. My American friends who live there safely hitchhike around the country as a mode of transport. There is practically no crime, though gender divides give rise to domestic violence.
Armenia as a travel destination is affordable and not overcrowded with tourists. Hostels in Yerevan can be found for as little as $10/ night, and even the most expensive hotels are $100+. High end restaurants cost $10-30 per meal, while delicious local fast food like shawarma goes for $2-4. Bus and subways can easily be accessed for $0.20/ ride while taxis are also very cheap. I never paid more than $5 for a ride inside the city.
I also learned more details about the Armenian genocide, beyond what is talked about in the West. While I had some prior knowledge about the historical events, I came to learn that the impact of these events is still felt today. Many Armenian families mourn their lost family members and are not able to overcome their grief, leading to deep depression that ultimately interferes in daily work and life. One of the locals told me that if the world comes forward and acknowledges that what happened in Armenia in the 19-20th centuries was a genocide, they might be able to get some closure.
More about my experiences with Armenian food, sights and culture on my next blog….
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).
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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…
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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). 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.
29 Rules of Bishnoi Faith
Observe 30 days’ state of untouchability after child’s birth
Observe 5 days’ segregation while a woman is in her menses
Bath early morning
Obey the ideal rules of life: Modesty
Obey the ideal rules of life: Patience or satisfactions
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.
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.
– 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