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Cartographies of Time: Part II

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

We believe that places are like people and that each has a unique personality. A defining and often delightful aspect of each place’s personality is the way in which time is understood, measured and perceived by the people who live there. Cross the globe and you will encounter many different rhythms of life - some slow, some frantic, some chaotic and changeable, some melodic and rich, and just a few where time goes by entirely untracked.

Many farmers use the subtle variations in seasonal weather patterns to measure the passing of time, while others’ religious beliefs can lead them to live their lives according to the waxing and waning of the moon, and some seafarers still track the time using the predictable arc of the sun, the stars and the moon. Each different culture and place has its own subtle melody and pace of life - time is experienced differently around the world.

When you listen to music, your heart-rate will often subconsciously adjust to the beat and tempo of the song. Likewise, if you spend long enough in a place that has a relaxed way of life, your own internal metronome will adjust to a much slower rhythm. This is one of travel’s less tangible yet more profound experiences - to come to understand and appreciate the way another culture uses time. Some are appreciative and take a meditative approach, while others are afraid that it is simply running away from them.

Click on the link below to read the post in full: 

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Photo Essay | Forces Of Nature

By Ella Frances Sanders, Illustrator in Residence Comments

Nature is a force to be reckoned with, but sometimes you can only stand back and watch, bound in a kind of dumbstruck awe at the ruthless power of it all. One of the few things that we struggle to control, the forces of nature can often leave us lost for words. There appears to be no reasoning behind the destructiveness and havoc nature can cause, yet there is also something reassuring about its repetitive and inexhaustible strength, and it is strangely healing for the soul.

This collection contains 20 incredible photographs of mother nature at her beautiful worst. Stormy seas, dark clouds, volcanic ash, tornadoes, cyclones and night skies set alight by thunder and lightening. Many thanks to all the charming photographers for sharing their beautiful compositions.

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

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An Illustrated List of People Who Do Good When They Travel

By Ella Frances Sanders, Illustrator in Residence Comments

Travellers come in many shapes and sizes. They travel with purpose, or roam aimlessly, instigate change or passively pass through, become consumed by wanderlust, drop off the grid, get lost, and find their way back home. There are as many different types of wandering souls as there are places to go, but today - inspired by Mark Joseph Deutsch's beautiful illustrations - we would like to celebrate one particular type: the traveller who does good.

These helpful people always seem to appear no matter where you go, and have somehow managed to disperse themselves across the planet to even the most remote and inhospitable places. The illustrated list below highlights (while embracing stereotypes) just a handful, and we are sure you will recognise aspects of yourself or a fellow traveller amongst them.

Click below to explore our illustrations. 

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Cartographies of Time: Part I

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

This is the first post in a two-part series on the cartographies of time. Here, we explore one of the most fundamental assumptions in recent Western civilisation - our perception and measurement of time. We ask where it came from, how it affects the way we live our lives  and the role travel has to play in the way we experience time. Part two will trace a handful of unique temporal footprints from different places and cultures around the world.

Travel has a wonderful tendency to make you question your assumptions, from the foods you thought you liked to the way you measure time. It can cause you to question your whole way of life, your morals, your beliefs, the things that really matter to you, and even your purpose here on this planet. Your life is thrown into stark relief by what you see other cultures doing around you and by the unfamiliar experiences you have while on the road. Occasional epiphanies will cause you to realise that the complete opposite of a previously held conviction is true.

If we keep an open mind, travel allows us to imagine ourselves in someone else's shoes, feel what others feel, and understand what shapes people’s world view in other cultures. Psychologists refer to this as ‘cognitive empathy’, which essentially means relating to and having compassion for other human experiences and beliefs. Here at Maptia, we think that collecting stories, fresh perspectives on the world, and an understanding of the nuanced differences between cultures is far more rewarding than collecting souvenirs.

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Stories From The Sky

By Ella Frances Sanders, Illustrator in Residence Comments

For what seems like a long time now, man has enjoyed the thrills that accompany flight, be it in a haphazard flying machine constructed in a garden shed, one of the first pioneering biplanes, cruising halfway to heaven at 600 mph in an aircraft, or seeing Earth from above while attached to a jetpack or wingsuit. For an even longer time before this, people were only able to speculate about how it might feel to reach up to the clouds and fly among birds, and the idea of flight was downright ridiculous to civilisation until someone achieved it.

Whether you are firmly rooted to the earth below your feet, or have your head in the clouds, hopefully these seven stories from the sky will inspire you in some small way to reach a little higher.

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'The Adventurists' Map Of The World

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

Today we live in a world where we can step into steel-winged cylinders and fly to the other side of the planet. This is incredible, but a side effect of all this efficiency in travel can be to sterilise a sense of adventure. Like entering a cheat code in a computer game, arriving with modern transportation methods can leave you feeling that it was a little too easy. 

Enter The Adventurists

The Adventurists have been Britain’s primary exporter of old-school tomfoolery and reckless expeditions for the past decade. Unlike your more traditional adventure tour providers, they proudly operate at the ‘very blunt cutting edge of stupidity’ and are relentlessly fighting to ‘make the world less boring’.

Their founder, a gentleman with a trademark old-school adventure swagger is known only as Mr Tom, has previously admitted that he has a tendency to come up with plans ‘on the wrong side of stupid’. So in order to test the water (or ice) they formed ‘the institute of adventure research’ - a team of brave lemming adventurers who test out future ideas. Here we tell you more about the six expeditions that have made it through their dubious filters so far.

Our lovely intern Ella has also created a beautiful map to pay tribute to The Adventurists crazy expeditions that crisscross the globe each year. Read on to explore the map.

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Photo Essay: Faces of the World

By Ella Frances Sanders, Illustrator in Residence Comments

Every face tells a story - from elation to tragedy, from hope to desolate loss, from innocence to wisdom, from anger to joy, and everything else in-between. No matter where we live in the world, or where we are born, or the circumstances we grow up in, we share the capacity for similar feelings.

Photographs of people have a remarkable power to capture something vivid and alive about the human spirit, and to say more than words ever could. When we see such photographs, it is in our nature to be curious, to try and empathise with others in circumstances we can barely imagine, and to try and read the emotions that make up the lives of those distant to us.

 This collection contains 20 incredible photographs of both young and old faces from all over the world, and many capture a moment within a life with remarkable beauty and poignancy. Many thanks to all the charming photographers for sharing their beautiful compositions.

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

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Photo Essay: Under The Stars

By Ella Frances Sanders, Illustrator in Residence Comments

There is a certain something about the night sky. Clear skies and a lack of light pollution can leave you with a great darkness, one punctuated by bright stars and a view of the entire universe. Their luminosity can be staggering. In such a dense and manic reality, it is becoming increasingly important to slow down, and increasingly important to look up and remember that we are in fact amazingly small and insignificant among these vast, complex worlds.

This collection contains 20 photographs of the night sky, of the stars, of the constellations that surround us and fill us with an overwhelming sense of what can only be describes as wonderment. Many thanks to all the charming photographers for sharing their beautiful compositions.  

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

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Hand-drawn Maps Project: The World As It Isn't

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

From sketches on the back of a napkin to beautiful hand-illustrated posters, subjective and personal maps often convey the emotions and quirks of places much better than maps that aim for an accurate and objective portrayal of the world.  Most maps are designed so that you can find your way and view the world as it is, but sometimes the most delightful and interesting maps are created when we use them to tell stories of the the world as it isn't.

With this in mind, today we are starting a new hand-drawn maps project called 'The World As It Isn't' to explore and collect people's unique perspectives on the places they know and love.

Read on to see the Maptia team's hand-drawn map of where we live and work in Morocco and find out how you can contribute your own map.

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Photo Essay: Great Expeditions

By Ella Frances Sanders, Illustrator in Residence Comments

Expeditions, adventures, journeys, voyages, quests, travels - call them what you will, humans have long had an inherent desire to explore further, higher, faster, and longer than ever before - in some of the wildest and most remote places on Earth.

For many hundreds of years, man (and woman) have conquered unimaginable heights, crossed the most unforgiving of landscapes and survived the harshest of seas, all the the name of exploration.

This collection contains 20 of the greatest adventurers from the past and present - you will find both dusty black and white memories and vivid colourful photographs of modern-day explorations.

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

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Reading List: 34 awesome posts on travel, maps, and photography

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

Only just over a decade ago the idea that anyone, anywhere, could publish for a global audience was a still a pretty radical concept. Today the Internet is bursting at the seams with content and still it continues to grow at a voracious rate. Some of this content is memorable, some of it is newsworthy, some of it is inspiring, much of it is mediocre, and a huge amount of it is probably not worth our time to sift through. What's more, the growing perception that 'virality' is the holy grail for content combined with the sheer volume of blogs, articles, stories, photos, and videos being posted means that the truly thoughtful and meaningful content is often lost in the noise.

Medium is a new publishing platform that is attempting to tackle this problem. We have very much enjoyed perusing the remarkable selection of authentic and interesting content on Medium over the last few weeks and thought we would share some of our favourite stories, posts, and articles in a curated reading list here on our blog. 

The 34 posts we have chosen range from personal contemplations on the act of travel and heartfelt stories from 9-5 escapees, to predictions on the future of photography and ruminations on the role of cartography in the 21st century. Kudos to all the writers who have done a fantastic job on these posts.

Click here or below to see the full list of posts. 

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Photo Essay: Disappearing Places

By Ella Frances Sanders, Illustrator in Residence Comments

There is all the time in the world. Or is there? For many places on our planet, the clock is ticking. Today we are more informed and more aware than ever before, and yet we still seem to be running headlong towards some kind of mass extinction of animal and plant life and also of the remarkable places that they live in. Future generations should be able to see, taste, smell, feel, and experience the wonders of the world in person - not simply read about them among the pages of history books.

One of the reasons we see travel, and the act of sharing our experiences when we travel, as such an important and integral part of our lives is that it gives us a real appreciation for the diversity of life and of places all over the world. It makes us feel incredibly lucky to have already had the chance to explore and discover some of these places, it ignites a fire in our bellies to see more, travel more, and to marvel more at the world, and it also makes us realise that we want to help make sure those places are around for many years to come. We hope that you, as part of a community that is passionate about places and about travelling, will feel the same.

This collection contains 20 photographs taken in places that are disappearing and - despite the best efforts of many - might not be here in 50 years time. We hope that you will read, learn and dream (maybe even act) on behalf of these unique and remarkably fragile places. Many thanks to all the charming photographers for sharing their beautiful compositions.

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

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Magnificent maps and cartographic curiosities

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

From stone-age cave drawings and ancient wafer thin papyrus transcripts, to the painstakingly detailed and hand-drawn maps of the Age of Exploration and right up until the present day, mankind has used maps to make sense of the world, and to 'codify the miracle of existence' as Nicolas Crane once eloquently wrote.

In this smartphone-saturated world we live in, we often think of maps as being synonymous with the road-and-place-name geography that we use for directions. It's easy to forget that even these hyper realistic maps are still abstractions of reality, illusions perpetrating to be objective representations of the world in which we are the central flashing blue dot.

Yet there is a whole world of maps (excuse the pun) which fall outside this narrow definition of what a map should be. At their best, maps allow us to grasp more tangibly at places, sights, sounds and even smells that would otherwise exist only tenuously within our minds and imaginations, and that maps have the power to evoke a sense curiosity, challenge you to question the boundaries and horizons of your small slice of this world, and awake in you an insatiable desire to explore the Earth.

Our favourite maps, like stories, are shamelessly subjective and these maps can be a boundless source of inspiration, delight and creativity. Read on to peruse some beautiful examples of modern day interpretations of the map.

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Photo Essay: Monsoon Season

By Ella Frances Sanders, Illustrator in Residence Comments

On the first of June this year, the monsoon arrived at the southern Kerala coast... right on time. Rains have already reached Mumbai, Delhi is usually washed by the end of June, and by mid-July much of India will be soaked. Although flooding can affect many cities due to the drains being unable to cope with the extreme volumes of water, a good monsoon can transform the people of India, the mood of the entire country, and much of the landscape during these few months... everything comes alive.

This collection contains 20 photographs taken during the monsoon season over the last few years, and allows you to imagine some of the incredible weather and emotion the country experiences. Many thanks to all the charming photographers for sharing their beautiful compositions.

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

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140°E with Tim White in Tokyo

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

Chances are you will have already seen one of Tim White’s amazing videos. A few years ago he travelled more than 38,000 miles to create the inspirational video series 'LEARNEATMOVE' and more recently he directed the equally impressive ‘Shaping History, Shaping Tomorrow’ in Tokyo that has been nominated for the Young Director AwardWe were curious to find out more about the man behind the lens and learn about his relationships with some of the places he had filmed. Here we discuss Tim’s perspective on Tokyo and his fascination with Japanese culture, and ask what advice he would give to aspiring filmmakers looking to follow in his footsteps.

Hi there Tim, we’re stoked to chat with you! Let’s jump right in... you mentioned that Japan was a place you had wanted to visit for much of your life, and it is often true that there are places we have never been to, yet somehow they capture our imaginations more than others. Are you able to pinpoint what fascinated you the most? Was it something from your childhood? Or perhaps the desire to experience a place and a culture far removed from your own?

I think from a very early age, a lot of Gen Y's were exposed to little snippets of Japanese pop culture; be it through watching Astro Boy and Power Rangers on TV or playing Street Fighter and Zelda video games – the influence of Japan's creative export is undeniable. For me, my interest in the Japanese creative aesthetic continued through my young adult life: I loved the uniqueness of Japanese cinema through classic directors like Akira Kurosawa and contemporaries such as Takashi Miike. I'm fascinated by visionary Japanese artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Nobuyoshi Araki. I'm really into Japanese bands like Boris, Cornelius and Acid Mothers Temple. I always loved the otherworldly quality of Japanese artistry; the seemingly controlled chaos, the intricate and often bizarre approach to artistic craft. I'm not sure if it’s coincidental then, that I ride a Fuji bicycle, drive a Subaru car and shoot with Canon cameras. Over the years I feel I've inadvertently surrounded myself with Japanese influence – on reflection it is surprising that it took me so long in my life to actually visit Japan.

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2°E with Rolf Potts in Paris

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

From bicycling across Burma, to shopping for donkeys in the Libyan Desert, to being drugged and robbed in Istanbul, to traversing Israel on foot... Rolf has had his fair share of epic adventures and has dedicated most of his life to writing about experiences that communicate the glorious complexity and possibility of being alive. In his books, Rolf shares the spirit and philosophy of independent travel. Through the wonderfully voyeuristic "Marco Polo Didn't Go There" and the Zeitgeist defining "Vagabonding", Rolf has inspired an entire generation (including us) to go out and see the world.

Rolf is one of the most thoughtful and eloquent writers of our generation, and we are honoured to have him here on the Latitude Series. In between his travelling stints, Rolf is also a lecturer at Yale University, and conducts writing workshops at the Paris American Academy.

We enjoyed chatting with Rolf about the flâneurs of Paris and his various vagabonding adventures! Later on in the interview you can also peruse the typographic poster we have created - inspired by Rolf's penchant for Walt Whitman's rousing poetry.

 Hi Rolf. Wow, we’re thrilled to include you on our Latitude Series, so let’s get the ball rolling. You once confessed that after visiting places like Bangkok and Beijing (and Athens, and Jerusalem, and Damascus and Bombay), you were concerned that Paris might feel dull in comparison. Yet you now consider it to be the most beautiful city in the world. What was it about Paris that proved you so gloriously mistaken and captured your imagination, and was it a relationship that grew over time?

I think this was a classic case of misplaced expectations. This is something that happens to travelers time and again -- and in fact one of the core challenges of travel is reconciling your expectations with what you really experience (and what is possible to experience) at a given place. I grew up with the impression that Paris was supposed to be this amazing, beautiful city, and I think there was a point at which I expected its reality to be less than its reputation. Unlike most American travelers, I didn't begin my overseas travel career in Europe; instead I wandered (and lived in) Asia for three years before I crossed into Europe from the east, over the Ural Mountains. And even then I spent most of my time hitching around the eastern part of the continent; it was three more years until I'd made it west of Venice. By this time I was smitten by the splendor of big, chaotic eastern cities like Cairo and Bangkok and Varanasi. I expected Paris to be quaint and clean and faintly dull.

This was an anti-expectation -- a reaction to prescribed notions of Paris -- but it was still an expectation that, in the end, needed to be overturned. One day of walking through the city into the late July evening and I was in love with Paris. It was a city that matched its grand reputation for beauty, but in a quiet and unexpected and completely accessible way. It really is a city that needs to be experienced at a walking, wandering pace, and that is how I've deepened by relationship with the city over the years. I've walked hundreds of miles inside the city, rarely the same route twice.  I always stay in an apartment at the edge of the 5th arrondissement, and I'm amazed by how I can stumble upon new things, even in my own corner of the city. I've always enjoyed the city as a flâneur, as a naïvist without a map, and I hope to continue to do so for years to come.

 

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Typographic Tribute to Walt Whitman

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

We could write a hundred blog posts and tell a hundred strories yet we would not be able to evoke the perspicacious spirit of adventure better than Walt Whitman does in his 'Song of the Open Road'. It is a celebration of freedom, an evocative call to arms to embrace life on the road. Thank you to Rolf Potts who passed on his passion for Walt Whitman's prose onto us!

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Help the Maptia Manifesto travel the world

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

Do you want to see the world? Follow a map to its edges? Change hemispheres? If the answer is a resounding 'YES!' then we have an exciting project that we think you will love being a part of...

We are asking each of you, our wonderfully globe-scattered pioneers, to sign the manifesto with your name and take a photo of it (with a couple of friends to help you hold it up) in front of somewhere awesome or interesting or unusual - whether it is in the country you were born in, or somewhere more exotic on your travels.  Here's how you can take part...

STEP 1 - Print and sign the manifesto. Download and print a copy of the Maptia Manifesto here and then write your first name in the gap in the first sentence of the manifesto.

STEP 2 - Take a (portrait) photo of your manifesto somewhere awesome. Ask a friend or two (indeed random strangers are usually happy to assist) to quite literally lend a hand and recreate the original manifesto with someone holding each corner.

STEP 3 - Send us your manifesto photo. You can send it to us at hello@maptia.com or tweet it to @Maptia. Be sure to include the following details: your full name, the place it was taken, and the date it was taken - then we can create the special 'polaroid-esque' section for your image (like in the photos below). Feel free to include a link to your website or blog so we can link your photo to you.

Click below to see some of the awesome submissions we have already received and get some inspiration for creating your Maptia Manifesto.

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18°W with Alastair Humphreys in Iceland

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

Al once described himself as, “a normal bloke with a mildly interesting story.” This is a typically British, self-deprecating way of saying that that he has ridden his bike 46,000 miles around the world, crossed Iceland's glorious wilderness on foot and inflatable packraft, spontaneously trekked the length of one of India's longest rivers, and pioneered the concept of microadventuresIn fact Ranulph Fiennes once described Al’s mildly interesting story as, “probably the first great adventure of the new millennium”.

Back in July 2010, Al teamed up with photographer Chris Herwig and hatched a plan to cross Iceland on foot, inland from the north coast up into the central highlands. From there, they then crossed the Hofsjokull ice cap to gain access to the headwaters of Iceland’s longest river, where they inflated packrafts and attempted to paddle downstream to the southern coast.

We chatted with Al about this epic adventure, his lasting impressions of Iceland, the microadventure movement, and his unrelenting desire to set himself a challenge. Look out for our microadventure competition at the end of the interview! 

Hey Al, great to have you on the Latitude Series! Thanks for taking the time. Let’s dive right in. So you and Chris must have spent a fair amount of time carefully planning and anxiously anticipating your Icelandic crossing - bet you were eager to get out there! However, thinking back, what were you most apprehensive about before you set off and how did your preconceptions of Iceland itself compare with the reality of the crossing?

We were mostly concerned with the packrafting phases. Neither of us were expert paddlers and we found it very hard to get useful information about the rivers we were going to tackle. This meant we were heading far more into the unknown than is wise for novice paddlers, and we were very far from help. Iceland was everything I had hoped. Sophisticated, charming, quirky in the city, wild and beautiful and remote in the wild places. I absolutely loved it.

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6°N with Chris Guillebeau in Monrovia

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Comments

Chris Guillebeau recently finished his eleven year odyssey to visit every single country in the world. Chris also writes for a small army of remarkable people on his blog, has given an exceptional TEDx talk, authored both the Art of Non Conformity (ANOC) and the $100 Startup, and organises World Domination Summits in his spare time.

To set the scene for Chris’ Latitude interview on Monrovia... back in 2001, after the 9/11 attacks happened, Chris and his wife decided to volunteer with the Mercy Ships as part of the support team in Monrovia - the capital city of Liberia in Western Africa, and a place scarred by over a decade of civil war and mass genocide. This was to be the first of five trips he has since made down to West Africa. 

Hi Chris, fantastic to chat with you. There are so many things we would love to ask you about, but we’ll do our best to keep it brief. So jumping right in... arriving into Monrovia for the first time must have been a real assault on your senses. You said that the streets were patrolled by tanks and the non-functioning lampposts were covered in bullet holes. From those first intense weeks there, when you must have still been adjusting to ‘feeling joy and sorrow simultaneously’, can you share the story of a particularly vivid moment or experience that really stood out for you?

Intense is a good word. There were indeed lampposts covered in bullet holes and tanks patrolling the streets. But that wasn’t all that was intense about it. It was also the beginning of something positive, like the first signs of spring after a tough winter when everyone’s been hiding out. The country had been in a series of civil wars for more than a decade, and while there was devastation everywhere I looked, I also saw a lot of people working to rebuild their lives. Women were out and about in the markets, and children were beginning to return to school—in some cases, after an absence of five years or more. I’m very glad I had the chance to be there during this critical time.

 

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