Category Archives: Romana
A few years ago, not too long after we met, Emanuele and I wrote together a list of things we wanted to achieve in life. Working remotely was on this list. Actually we wrote something like ‘having a location-independent job or business that allows us to travel often and spend time with our family’. We were getting tired of the Dublin daily routine: commuting to work in the cold and rainy Irish weather, sitting in a grey office all day long, having uninspiring canteen lunches. We were also growing frustrated with the limited amount of annual leave we were entitled to, and – consequently – the limited amount of time we could devote to visiting our families in Italy and Portugal, and to traveling for our leisure.
As we quit our jobs and traveled around the world, we met a bunch of people who were already working remotely and living a location-independent lifestyle. Meeting these folks and talking to them gave us a certain confidence that we could achieve location independence too – we just had to find a way. Continue reading
When we were in Asia, as part of our round the world trip, we tried to learn as much as we could about the diverse and fascinating cultures we came across.
One thing that we loved doing was reading both fiction and non-fiction books about the countries we were visiting. Even though there’s no replacement for being there in person and feeling, smelling and seeing things for yourself, a good book will entertain you and, at the same time, enhance your understanding of a place.
Books can tell you things that local people may not be willing to talk about openly. They can also answer questions about behaviours and customs that may otherwise be left unexplained – how many times did we ask locals about how a certain tradition may have originated, or what was the meaning of some rituals, just to find out they didn’t have a clue?
Below is a list with some of our favorite reading while we were travelling in Asia:
Hover your mouse over the book titles to see the cover, the price and the average customer review from Amazon. You can also buy the book by clicking on the ‘Buy Now’ button. If you do so we’ll earn a small commission from Amazon, just so you know.
Romana says: I left Dublin with this 920 pages book on my backpack. I started reading Shantaram in Dublin before our trip and I finished it at the end of a troubled trip to Mumbai, as our train approached Mumbai’s chaotic and overcrowded slums.
This book tells the seemingly semi-true story of a convicted Australian heroin addict and bank robber who escaped prison and fled to Mumbai, India, where he got involved in organized crime and other nasty business. In the first half of the book, which I found the most interesting and entertaining, Gregory David Roberts, author and main character, tells about his daily life in the slums of Mumbai.
Not only did I smile and cry alongside with the characters of the book, but I also got an invaluable amount of insights on the Indian national psyche. The second half of the book was in my opinion a bit less interesting and even a tad boring at some stage. However this is still one of the most entertaining books I’ve read and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good reading.
Also, because many people travelling in India are still reading this book, reading Shantaram will provide you with one or two good conversation-starting lines if you’re travelling solo
Emanuele says: Far away from a cliché-image of India as a colourful and exotic destination, Aravind Adiga‘s fictional story brings you into the dark side of the subcontinent south of the Himalayas. A great story that delves into the gap between the filthy-rich and the animal-like poor, the corruption and the other underlying mechanisms of the Indian society.
Romana says: No other book (or movie) made me shed so many tears as First They Killed My Father. I still remember being on an old bus somewhere in Cambodia and having to stop reading the book because some people started to look at me wondering if I was feeling well as they could ear me crying.
Loung Ung, Cambodia-born author and human-rights activist, tells the story of her family and herself as a child, under the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, between 1975 and 1979. I believe this book is a MUST read if you want to learn more about Cambodia‘s recent, tragic history.
Romana says: Lucky Child is a sort of sequel of First They Killed My Father and I read it because I wanted to follow the story of Loung and her older brother after they fled Cambodia to live as refugees in the USA. In Lucky Child Loung also tells the story of the other three siblings they left behind in Cambodia and all the difficulties they went through in the aftermath of Pol Pot’s regime.
Romana says: Do you remember the most famous picture of the Vietnam war? A young girl, naked, runs out of a smoke cloud with her arms open and a terrified expression on her face, after having been hit by a napalm bomb.
Even though the Vietnam war ended a few years before I was born I remembered that picture very well, so when I saw it on the cover of a book in a shop in Vietnam I almost immediately knew I wanted to buy and read that book.
The author narrates the story of this little girl called Kim Phuc and how the Napalm attack changed her life forever, turning her into Vietnam’s most famous casualty. As you go through Kim Phuc’s life, a rich historical context emerges, which makes you learn more about the war, the communist regime and its propaganda, as well as the local traditions and the culture of Southern Vietnamese people.
Romana says: Even though it’s always been at the top of the list of the countries I want to visit, I didn’t go to China yet – and I read this book at home, so for consistency’s sake Wild Swans shouldn’t be in this list Still, I loved Wild Swans so much that I had to share it here too. Wild Swans is such an absorbing story that once you start it becomes hard to put the book down. Emanuele bought this book years ago for himself but I managed to put my hands on it first and once I read the first page I just couldn’t let it go. I told him so much of the story that in the end he never ready it
Jung Chang, the author of the book, tells here the story of three generations of her family: her grandmother, her mother and herself.
An extraordinary reading at the end of which you’ll learn so much about China, the communism, Mao Tse Tung and the Chinese culture in general.
My final verdict: A MUST READ even if China is not in your travel plans
Emanuele says: Another book which shouldn’t be on the list: I read this book a couple of years before the round the world journey. But my wanderlust levels increased dramatically ever since, so I had to share it here Italian travellers already know journalist Tiziano Terzani‘s powerful and compelling narrative, but I believe not many international travellers have read this author – so this may be a chance for you, non-Italian reader, to widen your literary horizons and discover new exciting reading material.
In 1976 a Hong-Kong fortune-teller warns Tiziano Terzani that he shouldn’t fly in 1993 or he’ll risk his life. Despite the demands of a life as a correspondent covering Asia for European newspapers, Terzani decides to take the warning seriously and, in 1993, he spends a whole year travelling overland (including a 13,000 miles train journey to Florence!) Terzani will spend one of the most extraordinary years of his life, while keeping his commitments as a journalist, meeting many fortune-tellers (and their prophecies) along the way and witnessing the constant tension between tradition and modernity in the Asian societies.
What about you? Have you ever read a book about a country you were visiting, during your trip? Were they fiction or non-fiction books? Any book you particularly liked? Do you have a recommendation for us? Share your thoughts with us – we love your feedback
When Emanuele wrote on his Facebook wall about our plan to move to Sicily he received an avalanche of comments from his (Italian) friends. Almost everyone said things like: “you guys are crazy to come to Sicily” or “you won’t last long there.”
Well, I can understand where they come from. There are many good reasons why many Sicilians (especially the younger generations) leave this island and move elsewhere (mostly abroad). Here are a just a few to start with:
1. In Sicily it can be hard to find a job if you don’t have the right connections (i.e. family and friends, or friends of friends, etc.). Even if you finally find a job you will likely be treated as a slave and if you complain to your boss, chances are he or she will tell you “if you don’t like it, there are hundreds of people ready to take this job.”
2. Italy scores high on corruption rates and let’s say it honestly: Sicilian Mafia is still a reality. Corruption damages the economy of the country and hinders the development of capable people. Of course the majority of Sicilians are honest people and they hate corruption and criminality. However, even those who are honest tend to exchange their rights for favors (it’s a kind of cultural thing), ending up in all sorts of compromises and indirectly supporting unfair and sometimes unlawful mechanisms.
3. The economic crisis is starting to hit Italy hard and Berlusconi’s right-wing government instead of pursuing high-income tax-evaders and cutting the politicians’ salaries and benefits, is taking austerity measures which will mainly affect the middle and the lower classes.
4. There is a lot of negativity, so even if you are an optimistic spirit full of ideas, it’s easy to get crushed by the pessimism that comes from everyone.
5. Bureaucracy can drive you nuts. To sort out my medical card in order to get access to the national health care system, it took me a week, lots of paperwork, stamps and signatures and a visit to 3 different offices.
6. If you are an environmentally-minded person you’ll cringe seeing pieces of rubbish lying here and there on the road sides outside the town, you’ll feel frustrated seeing people making unnecessary use of plastic (i.e. plates, cups and cutlery), and finally you’ll be perplexed to find about the high taxes you have to pay to support a nonexistent waste management system.
The list could go on as this land is full of problems and contradictions, and by now you too are probably saying: “you guys are crazy to come to Sicily”. So why Sicily? Why Siracusa?
1. Siracusa is for me a special place – I fell in love with this city over 4 years ago when I set my foot on it for the first time. In Siracusa you breathe and feel history at every corner, just like you could in Rome (just so you know, the two cities were founded more or less at the same time). The island of Ortygia, historical and cultural centre of Siracusa, is an extremely atmospheric place made of narrow lanes, picturesque courtyards, baroque buildings and breathtaking views on the Siracusa harbor bay.
2. There’s sun almost all year round (which we desperately needed after long years in the rain of Ireland) and even in winter it never gets too cold down here.
3. Siracusa’s sea is simply amazing. Some beaches around here have crystal-clear waters that remind me of Fiji, but unlike Fiji, the food here is delicious… hmm, no, let me correct this: the food is sublime!
4. Siracusa is a good place to live as an aspiring digital nomad. I know our friends are concerned with how we are going to survive here considering it’s so difficult to find a job, as I said above. The fact is we’re not looking to work locally, but to consider global, virtual jobs and work on a couple of personal projects that may become a source of income in the near future.
5. Being close to our family felt like the right thing to do at this stage of our lives (especially considering there’s a baby on the way). Sure, we will never be able to be close to both families as we are from different countries, but we are happy to be close to at least one.
6. We love the simple pleasures that we can enjoy here - walking to the street market under the warm morning sun, eating fresh fish and vegetables, taking a swim in beautiful blue waters, meeting nice and friendly characters, go for a walk at sunset close to the sea or among the narrow streets of Ortygia…
Well, I guess our round the world trip and our on-the-way-baby changed our priorities. We know Sicily is not perfect and many things frustrate us, but the good things easily outweigh the bad ones. And then again, is there such thing as perfection in any country in the world? Sometimes, having a so called “great job” (meaning earning good money or having a high position), living in a country where everything seems to work perfectly, doesn’t necessarily mean having a great life or being happy. Somehow, this became obvious to us while we traveled in Asia – if you ever get a chance, watch a documentary called Happy, as I believe it clearly illustrates this concept .
We decided to be happy too and work hard to create the lifestyle we dreamed of while travelling. We knew that we would not find this happiness in the life we left behind. However, despite my enthusiasm, some people still look at me as if I’m crazy, and I must admit that every now and again, even if for a split second, I wonder whether I’m doing the right thing or not. But then I become aware of how this negativity affects me and I see things clearly again: I know this is the way to go!
What about you? Do you ever wonder if you are doing the right thing? Have you ever been in a situation where people advised you against doing what you wanted to do so badly? Were there ever any situations in your life when your choices didn’t make sense to people around you? How did you react? Please leave a comment below if you fancy sharing your experiences with us!
Hello, my name is… well, actually I don’t know what my name is, because mummy and daddy are still deciding, but I know I’ll be a Siracusa, and I will most likely be born in Siracusa.
I was made in Sanur, Bali, 3 months ago with tons of love, and I traveled in mummy’s belly ever since, even though mummy and daddy only found out about me in their last days in Australia.
Mummy managed to keep traveling and never felt sick, but by the end of it she was dying for more comfort and my grannies Deolinda’s and Antonella’s delicious homemade food.
Mummy and daddy saw me for the first time last week in Portugal. They were very emotional when they saw me through the ultrasound scan machine and heard my heart beat. They are not sure yet, but they think I’m a boy. Mummy said I looked like my daddy because I was moving my hands a lot like a real Italian. I’m not sure what she means.
Now the 3 of us are in Siracusa (where else could the Siracusas be?) and we are getting ready to kick start our new lives.
Mummy is drinking almond milk and eating good food, while Daddy spends his time drinking espresso, eating aubergines (eggplants) and catching up with old friends. We are looking for a cozy home for the 3 of us, but not too cozy because as nomad spirits we might be on the move again at some stage in the future.
Well, that’s it for now. Mummy and Daddy will keep in touch, as for me… see you in 6 months
Greetings from Portugal! Those of you who follow us on Facebook and Twitter know that our big journey is over and that we’re spending some quality post-trip time with our Portuguese family and friends before we head to Italy. We’ll make new posts on the blog very soon as we have loads and loads of stories and photos to share, however we are taking it real easy for now
This is also one of the reasons why the blog has been quiet over the last couple of weeks… Hovewer NomadBiba, a fellow travel blogger, gave us a buzz the other day nominating us to participate into Tripbases’s 7 links project – how could we turn down her invitation?
So here are our 7 links:
1. Most Beautiful Post
Well… While it makes us uncomfortable to nominate our own best post (sounds kind of pretentious ), if we have to choose one, it’ll be Beautiful, exotic, spiritual, colourful Bali - it was written with the hearth and we are particularly proud of most of the pictures featured in that post.
2. Most Popular Post
Ok, this is not a real blog post but our About Us page – once we started the blog our About Us page received loads of encouraging comments from our friends, making it one of the most popular sections of our website
3. Most Controversial Post
We don’t think there is any particularly controversial post on our blog. However, if I am to pick a post that covered a potentially controversial subject it’s Chiang Rai: Meeting hill-tribes in Northern Thailand. During our time in South East Asia we saw the pitfalls of the ethnic minorities tourist business and came across many tour companies whose practices were less than ethical, therefore whenever we chose to visit any of these hill-tribe villages we did it through companies who showed a commitment toward the local communities, or, as it was the case in Sapa, North Vietnam, independently.
4. Most Helpful Post
A post that we know helped a few people (based on the feedback we received privately and the response on our Facebook page) was How we got enough money to travel? 5 tips on how to save enough for a long term trip. This post also helped some of our readers and friends, especially those who were less familiar with the concept of long-term travel, to understand what type of financial preparation you need to do before embarking on a round-the-world journey.
5. A Post Whose Success Surprised Me
When we published Bali’s memories: Fishing for pictures and friends in Sanur we were happy (and pleasantly surprised, of course) with the feedback we received about it both on our website and on our social media pages, including twitter and facebook.
6. A Post I Feel Didn’t Get The Attention It Deserved
When we started our world food thread, we were expecting the recipes we were going to share would get a lot more attention that they actually received. The post we’re going to feature here, having to choose from the two posts in the category, is Vietnamese cuisine: aubergine in clay pot in four steps
7. The Post I’m Most Proud Of
When, at the beginning of our adventure, wandering through the streets of Jodhpur’s old town, we met this little girl called Hemlta, she invited us in and introduced us to her family. In the following days we came back to her place to spend some more time with her and take some photograph. The post is Photographing Hemlta’s family
…and as part of the game here are the 5 bloggers I nominate to post their own 7 links:
Guys, check the rules on Tripbase’s blog and have fun posting your 7 links!