People of the World: Maptia Storytelling Theme 8

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

This theme features 26 gloriously human stories from far-flung corners of the globe. A compendium of worldly tales that celebrate the wondrous notion that our reality does not exist in any absolute sense, but rather that there are a near infinite number of ways of orienting ourselves on this planet.

“In the end, I think it’s pretty obvious at least to all of all us who’ve travelled in these remote reaches of the planet, to realize that they’re not remote at all. They’re homelands of somebody. They represent branches of the human imagination that go back to the dawn of time.” — Wade Davis

Like any well-told tales, we hope these will inspire you to care and foster a curiosity for otherness—whether for indigenous Amazon tribes and colourful Indian Gypsies or for the mountain-dwelling Hmong people and the young Burmese Monks—you may find a feeling of fascination emerge of which you were not previously aware.

Without further ado, we suggest you close your other tabs and pay attention—you are about to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime anthropological adventure! We hope that you enjoy discovering what an astonishingly diverse, curious, and absurdly fascinating species we humans can be.

Click on the link below to read the 26 stories.

Read More

Adrenaline Seeking: Maptia Storytelling Theme 7

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

Have you ever embraced gravity and free-fallen through the atmosphere, made your way through the barrel of a double-overhead wave, or triumphantly punched the air after scaling the vertical face of an icy mountain? Have you ever felt your stomach drop at the sight of an ‘iron-boomerang’ shaped dorsal fin heading in your direction, or glanced up from 50m underwater, knowing that you only have a single breath of oxygen left to make it back up to the ocean surface?

The object of life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy sh*t, what a ride!’”— Mavis Leyrer (age 83)

Click below to read the 20 adrenaline-fuelled and heart-pounding tales, contributed by intrepid members of our community.

Read More

Announcing Our New Team Member and (Another) HQ Relocation

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

In mid-December last year, the three of us bid farewell to our unconventional home between cultures in the little village of Taghazout. We had grown attached to the gregarious Moroccan surfers, the generous Arabic-hollering vegetable sellers, and the amicable café owners... not to mention the charming and endlessly curious local cats and goats.

With our impractically-sized (but nonetheless lucky) globe and our folded canvas maps packed carefully away, we flew back home to England.

With the African chapter of our startup adventure concluded (at least for now), the curtains were drawn for a brief intermission as we rejuvenated (assisted by mince pies and mulled wine) with our family and friends over a wonderfully British Christmas. Rather predictably, January whooshed by and soon our bags (and our globe) were packed—we were back on the road again.

Before we knew it, we had landed in what was to be our new home...

Read More

Around the World in 80 Stories

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

We’re quietly chuffed to declare that since we launched Maptia last September, over 10 months of collective human time has been spent reading the stories crafted by our wonderful founding storytellers.

That roughly equates to 432,000 minutes—or more impressively, over 8 million nanocenturies—spent reading tales of hiking summits, hitting the open road, visiting magnificent world wonders, setting off on urban explorations, attending festive celebrations, and embarking on exotic culinary adventures. And what is perhaps more amazing is that our readers have so far hailed from 163 different countries around the world!

To mark the occasion, we have compiled a tremendous armchair adventure—a full circumnavigation of the globe taking you around the world in 80 stories. 

Click on the link below to embark on this RTW Adventure...

Read More

Culinary Adventures: Maptia Storytelling Theme 6

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

Have you ever experienced a moment when you have tasted something and the world is changed—be it a transcendental bowl of pho soup or tasting kopi luwak, the world’s most infamous cup of coffee? Have you ever learnt the art of making sweet candies in rural Myanmar, foraged for rare truffle in secret English woods, or felt the roof of your mouth instantly explode with a searing spear of spice-induced heat?

“You have to taste a culture to understand it.—Deborah Cater

Rick Steves once quipped that, ‘travel wallops our ethnocentricity’—stating that when you immerse yourself in an unfamiliar culture, you become aware that there are an infinite number of ways to orientate yourself on this lump of spinning space rock we call home. Without doubt, one of the most profound and transformative of these ‘whallopings’ can occur through the medium of food.

Taste speaks the truth. It creates momentary mouthfuls of exquisite epiphanies that thrust our senses into ecstatic parallel universes of unfathomable zesty and zingy dimensions. A foreign flavour opens up untrodden paths to explore the ‘terra incognita’ of our personal culinary cartographies. In the spirit of St. Augustine: 

The world is not a book but a Smörgåsbord—and those who don’t travel, experience only one dish!

Click read more below and tuck in to all 20 mouthwatering narratives...


Read More

Festivals and Celebrations: Maptia Storytelling Theme 5

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

Have you ever experienced the sensory overload of Burning Man or watched cultural barriers disintegrate during Holi’s glorious human rainbow? Have you felt the magical effervescence and communal joy at the Thai Lantern festival, watched a procession during a penis festival in Japan, crashed an Uzbek wedding, or spent Christmas away from home baking in 36 degree heat?

“If you concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. You’ll see that there is life in the desert, that there are stars in the heavens… Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.”—Paulo Coelho

Since the earliest days of humanity, festivals and celebrations have brought communities together—fostering traditions and forming an important part of our cultural heritage—yet in recent years we feel more connected to our iPhones and via the internet than each other. As as result the value of opportunities for meaningful, real-world connections with both family and strangers is greater than ever. Some celebrations can feel like stepping into dream-worlds in which cultural norms cease to apply, and for this reason, attending great festivals can feel like turning up the saturation on life.

Click on the link below to read all 21 stories and explore an interactive world map of festivals and celebrations from all corners of the globe.

Read More

What’s on Your Bookshelf for 2014?

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

Great books give our senses a workout. They make us laugh, cry and expand our emotional horizons, provide us with new perspectives, teach us about different realities, free us from feeling tranquillised with trivialities, and above all make us feel gloriously alive! Just in case your left-brain needs convincing—did you know that reading also keeps you mentally sharp, can chill you out and relieve stress, and can even increase your capacity for empathy...

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”—Dr. Suess

I already love books’, we hear you cry out. ‘But there are so many... I just don’t know where to start...’ —Ah ha! That is precisely why we have reached out to a few of our good friends with impeccable taste, and with their help, have compiled a short-list of thirteen somewhat under-appreciated but remarkable gems written in the last hundred years that deserve a place on your bookshelf for 2014.

Click through below to see the eclectic combination of 13 books we’ve gathered together.

Read More

Urban Exploration: Maptia Storytelling Theme 4

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

Have you ever spiralled down into a disused tube station, feared for your well-being during an exhilarating ride on the backseat of a Vietnamese motorcycle or scaled a derelict chimney in London? Have you ever wandered through the perpetual flow of humans in a Mumbai market, felt the chaos resolve itself around you as dusk falls and lanterns alight in Kyoto, or found yourself wonderfully lost whilst meandering down a charming Milanese side-street?

The French have a wonderful word—flâneur—for someone who seeks to explore and understand the nature of a city’s landscape, usually by taking spontaneous adventures amidst the ebb and flow of life going on around them. In this week’s theme we invite you to lose yourself reading about the flâneur-esque adventures of Maptia’s streetwise connoisseurs and explore a myriad of cities through their eyes.

Click the read more button below to peruse the 26 curious tales of urban exploration that we have featured in this week’s theme.

Read More

Seven Steps to Becoming a Spontaneous Explorer of the World

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

Greetings future explorer of the world! In this post we will be introducing you to Spontaneity and his mischievous cousin Serendipity.* They have faithfully accompanied many great explorers throughout the ages and we can guarantee that befriending these two on the road is bound to lead to unexpected wayward adventures and happy coincidences.

Inspired by Guerrilla artist Keri Smith’s delightful book on ‘How To Be An Explorer of the World’ and also some of the wonderfully creative ideas listed in the Lonely Planet ‘Guide to Experimental Travel’, we have compiled a short, illustrated field guide with seven ideas that we hope will encourage you to succumb to your spontaneous urges, adopt a healthy caution against over-preparation, embrace serendipity, shed the heavy cloak of routine, chase down happenstance, and invite chance to be your chaperon as you follow in the footsteps of the three aforementioned Princes—Onward! ¡Vamos! Allons-y!

Click the read more link below to discover our illustrated guide.

Read More

Natural Wonders of the World: Maptia Storytelling Theme Part II

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

Have you ever bathed in the ancient springs of Pamukkale? Woken to the unmistakable dawn chorus of the Amazonian wilderness? Followed an underwater kaleidoscopic rainbow of coral? Tasted the relentlessly dry heat of the Sahara Desert or dreamt of finding yourself face to face with a Komodo Dragon?

A few days ago in Wonders of the World: Part I we shared tales from ten astounding man-made wonders of the world, and through the stories in Part II we hope you enjoy exploring some of the remarkable natural beauty of our planet.

Click the read more link below to explore a map of the stories and discover six wonderful tales from our founding storytellers.

Read More

Wonders of the World: Maptia Storytelling Theme 3

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

Have you ever stood, enveloped in the cool, morning mists of the Andean foothills, and watched the first rays of sun strike the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu? Have you ever felt the modern world melt away as you wander amongst the Pyramids of Giza, dwarfed by their audacious size? Have ever stopped in your tracks, your world arrested for a moment, as you experienced one of the wonders of our world for the first time?

Through the stories in Part I of this theme, we are sending you on a vicarious and colourful journey to experience 10 goliaths of human creation—via the diverse perspectives of our founding storytellers.

Click the read more link below to explore a beautiful map of our wondrous stories.

Read More

On the Road to Somewhere: Maptia Storytelling Theme 2

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

 Have you ever felt the tug of the horizon, or been filled with a fierce desire to seek a life of freedom on the open road? Have you ever felt the rumble of cylinders or the squeeze in your thighs as your feet push the pedals? Have you ever left a million footprints behind you or pressed tire tracks into the dust of a faraway land? Have you ever turned the key in the ignition with only miles of unknown adventures ahead? Have you ever drawn a finish line that you barely believed you could reach? 

For the twenty storytellers featured today in our ‘On the Road to Somewhere’ theme, the answer is a resounding yes. Together they have driven, cycled and walked across six continents — conveying themselves by car and motorbike, on bicycles, scooters and rickshaws, and even on foot. We (genuinely) calculated that these twenty journeys rack up enough cumulative miles travel to the moon and beyond.

Click the read more link below to explore a beautiful map of today’s theme, and to peruse the twenty featured stories themselves.

Read More

Hike to the Summit: Maptia Storytelling Theme 1

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

 Have you ever marvelled at the scale and magnificence of those great, immoveable giants of nature, the mountains? Have you ever felt the cool caress of a snow-scented breeze from distant peaks, or seen the first long sun rays of dawn dispel shadows as light creeps up to heights? Have you ever lifted your eyes to a looming ridge and found a deep well of strength and resolve to take the next step upwards? Have you ever stumbled, half-delirious with fatigue and joy, onto a summit?

Today, for our inaugural Maptia Storytelling Theme, we bring to you the inspiring tales of thirteen mountainous adventures from all over the world.

Each of the featured stories touches on a different aspect of hiking, whether it is the mental and physical endurance required, the sublime feelings of insignificance evoked by the majestic surroundings, the relationships forged through adversity, or the jokes and laughter shared along the way.

Click the read more link below to explore a beautiful map of today’s theme, and to peruse the thirteen featured stories themselves.

Read More

Places Are Made Of A Thousand Stories

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

Today we are delighted to announce that Maptia is officially launching! Here we share with you an illustrated guide to Maptia, the new storytelling platform on a mission to build the most inspirational map in the world. This post was written by Dorothy Sanders, Jonny Miller, and Dean Fischer, co-founders at Maptia. Illustrations by Ella Frances Sanders.

Maptia is a beautiful way to tell stories about places. It is a new platform designed for thoughtful, inspiring stories that make us want to get out there and explore the world, and each story has its own unique map.

A story could be big or small, a fleeting moment or the tale of a long journey. It could be about a place close to home or on the other side of the world. A story could be told by someone living just over the road or travelling many thousands of miles away. It could be told by you.

Today we are sharing version one of Maptia with the world. It is just a taster, an embryonic version of what we hope to build one day. Head over to our new homepage to check it out. There you will find some of the top stories contributed to Maptia so far, and you can also create your very own beautiful, typographical version of our manifesto.

Read on to learn more about what we are building, the philosophies behind storytelling on Maptia, and our vision for the future.

Read More

The Final 12 Maptia Moments

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

Over the past six months we have featured an eclectic mix of 47 memorable travel or life moments from places all over the world. Some have been inspiring or uplifting, others have made us want to grab our backpacks and head for the open road, some have made us laugh, and in a few cases some have nearly brought us to tears. Thank you to everyone who has taken part in this wonderful project.

Maptia moment submissions are now closed, but we wanted to end on a high and leave you with the final twelve moments that have found their way to the Maptia HQ from all over the globe.

"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." - Anaïs Nin

Click below to read the last Maptia moments and see the maps we have created for them...

Read More

18°S and 71°W with Ed Stafford in Olorua and the Amazon

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

Ed Stafford is a man who doesn't like to quit. In 2008 Ed set himself the audacious goal of being the first man to walk the length of the Amazon from sea to source. A mere 860 days later he returned home safe and sound with a well earned National Geographic's adventurer of the year award and a story to tell the grandchildren. You can read his story in his excellent 'Walking the Amazon' book. More recently Ed spent 60 days on the Fijian island of Olorua, completely alone and with nothing to help him.

Ed, it’s an absolute pleasure to have you on the Latitude Series! Let’s launch straight in... When did the outrageous idea of walking the entire length of the Amazon first plant itself in your mind? What triggered the 180 degree turn from almost becoming a city stockbroker to spending over two years of your life following the planet’s most epic river for over 4,000 miles from source to sea? Was there one crazy, wild moment of complete commitment, or did the idea for your record-breaking expedition capture your imagination over time?

Thanks Jonny. It had started as a pipe dream - an idea that I never thought would come to anything. I was living and running expeditions in Argentine Patagonia and longing to return to a hotter environment - the jungle. People would ask me how long I thought it would take and I would laugh and say,  "Who cares! Wouldn't it be a fantastic adventure!?"

Click below to read the full interview...

Read More

Photo Essay | Unusual Indigenous Homes

By Ella Frances Sanders, Illustrator in Residence Comments

This week’s photo essay highlights just a few of the fascinating array of indigenous homes found in every corner of the planet. Many are remarkable feats of human ingenuity - beautiful constructions that utilise natural materials from the landscapes where these people live, and each home is uniquely adapted to the environment and climate in which it is situated.

To us at least, these communities often seem remote or even abstract, and it can be difficult to understand what life might be like for these people whose culture seems so different from our own. We recently wrote a post about the age of adventurous empathy and one of the ideas we focused was the importance of fostering a sense of curiosity and of seeking to see the world through another's eyes. We hope that through the stories behind the homes you see below, you will catch a glimmer of what life might be like for some of the isolated tribes and ethnic minorities, who are spread out across the globe in many beautiful and far flung places. It isn't always easy.

This collection contains 20 photographs of these amazing and unusual homes. We’ve tried to relay information about these homes and the people who inhabit them as accurately as possible, but if you have anything to add or amend, please get in touch with us. Many thanks to all the lovely photographers for sharing their compositions.

Click below to read more and to see the photographs and stories we have found.


Read More

11 Untranslatable Words From Other Cultures

By Ella Frances Sanders, Illustrator in Residence Comments

The relationship between words and their meaning is a fascinating one, and linguists have spent countless years deconstructing it, taking it apart letter by letter, and trying to figure out why there are so many feelings and ideas that we cannot even put words to, and that our languages cannot identify.

The idea that words cannot always say everything has been written about extensively - as Friedrich Nietzsche said, 'Words are but symbols for the relations of things to one another and to us; nowhere do they touch upon the absolute truth.' No doubt the best book we've read that covers the subject is 'Through The Language Glass' by Guy Deutscher, which goes a long way to explaining and understanding these loopholes, the gaps which mean there are leftover words without translations, concepts that cannot be properly explained across cultures.

Somehow narrowing it down to just a handful, we've illustrated 11 of these wonderful, untranslatable, if slightly elusive, words. We will definitely be trying to incorporate a few of them into our everyday conversations, and hope that you enjoy recognising a feeling or two of your own among them.

Click through below to read the full list. 

Read More

Photo Essay | One Man and His Tent

By Ella Frances Sanders, Illustrator in Residence Comments

This photo essay is about a state of mind, a feeling. It is about connecting with the wonder and force of mother nature, leaving the city behind for a while and pitching a tent somewhere in the wilderness. As the immortally wise Walt Whitman said, it is good for us to ‘grow in the open air’ and ‘eat and sleep with the earth’ and this photo essay hopes to capture some of that - some of that intangible, wonderful wanderlust. Taking to the road and embracing spontaneous adventure, map in hand.

This collection contains 20 incredible photographs of tents, snuggled into well-known places and remote places - surrounded by mountains and forests, pegged down in some beautiful locations and looking out over empty landscapes. Many thanks to all the delightful photographers for sharing their beautiful compositions.  

Click below to go to the full post and see the photographs, quotes and stories we have found.

Read More

The Age of Outrospection

By Jonny Miller, Co-founder at Maptia Comments

Imagine for a moment that you are reading or listening to a story so intensely that you forget yourself and step into the shoes of the storyteller. You see what they saw, hear what they heard, and feel what they felt. These moments are rare, yet when they happen it is as if we have been transported into their world and we are able to see through their eyes. It is a powerful, almost magical feeling. One that is a privilege.

 "The only true voyage, the only bath in the Fountain of Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to see the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to see the hundred universes that each of them sees, that each of them is..."  - Marcel Proust

Proust is talking about adventurous empathy. Seeking out new perspectives on the world and ‘possessing other eyes’ - or as Kathryn Schlz said, ‘seeing the world as it isn’t’. Although we would be the first to admit to our shamelessly optimistic and somewhat naive approach both to life and to building Maptia, we firmly believe that:

More than any other time in history, there is a vast and remarkable potential to spread vivid, thoughtful, and imaginative stories via the unfathomably dense communication network known as the Internet.


Read More