Surfing in Taiwan Pt.2 – Jici beach and the bike trip

Despite having over seven hundred miles of coastline and a huge swell window for catching waves and swell, the history and surf culture in the country has not had very long to develop and is still very young and emergent. After losing their territory in mainland China during the Chinese civil war in 1949, the opposition to the current Chinese communist party fled to the island of Taiwan. From then, all the way until 1987, suspicions of the sea meant that the government prohibited civilians from accessing the beaches, swimming was illegal and the majority of the coastline was sealed off. These restrictions and beliefs explain much of the attitude and inaccessibility that we have been experiencing on our travels of the island so far. However, since the lifting of this ban surfing on the island seems to have started developing with surf shops sprouting up and creating surf spots in places like Yilan in the North and Taitung in the south. It now seems like a few locals are beginning to take to the water. For the last few years there has even been an international surf competition held in Taitung in collaboration with the WSL helping to give the island more international recognition for its waves. So waves are plenty, we just needed to be patient and wait for the conditions to arrive and search out the best places to surf.

Back in Hualien there was still exploring to be done. As agreed, Una took us on a trip down the coastal road to visit Jici beach, the closest beach to Hualien and known in the area for its surfing. The main route down the east coast is a small road that hugs the coastline offering vast ocean views for the entire journey including a view of Jici beach from the other side of the adjacent cliff top. We stopped here enjoying the views and learnt there was going to be an entrance fee to the famous Jici beach, which was confirmed on arrival a few minutes later. The sandy beach was long and golden, a handful of vans strapped with boards and salty Taiwanese surfers walking around the beach giving the place a colourful surf vibe. All seemed good but for the fenced off beach and serious looking local sitting in the shade demanding the 100$ entrance fee, although this didn’t apply if you were a local. There were no boards to rent but this wasn’t a problem today. Despite over twenty surfers in the small sectioned off ocean, the waves were non-existent, rolling under the surfers in the water and gently flopping on the shoreline. Sadly for us this wasn’t the reception we were expecting and none of us were excited about paying the fee to enter.

 

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View of JIci beach from the cliff top

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View of JIci beach from the cliff top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for a way past the fences and barbed wire we suggested to Una driving just up the beach to avoid the entry fee and have a swim. She seemed strangely surprised by this, reminding us of the local attitude of only surfing and swimming where you are explicitly allowed to do so. We stopped the car a few hundred metres up the beach and dived into the cooling ocean, escaping the hot sun while Una observed from the rocks.

With the sun dipping low behind the mountains turning the sky over the water into red and orange flames, we began our journey home catching sight of a handful of surfers silhouetted against the sky bobbing up and down in the water beyond the cliff. Opposite, on the other side of the road, a surf shop with boards racked up along its wall waiting to be borrowed. Me, Celia and Elisa, a fellow hostel volunteer, vowed to return on our next day off.

The day off soon arrived and operating on a tight budget we took the hostel’s city bikes and loaded up the baskets, completed with a big bunch of fat, sweet bananas from a lady on the roadside. We headed south out of Hualien ready for our 16km cycle to the surf shop following the coastal road towards Jici beach, prepared to find what we could along the way. The sun was already hot in the sky, and although the ocean was spread out in front of us, no matter how hard we looked, at each hopeful swim spot we were unable to get to the water. It is amazing that despite the ban on entering the water being lifted so long ago, so much beautiful coastline along the east coast is inaccessible, with steep cliffs offering no path down to the water, or equally steep concrete walls and concrete blocks littered over the beach to break the waves and prevent access to the water.

 

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View of JIci beach from the cliff top

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View of JIci beach from the cliff top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot, sweaty and tired, early that afternoon we reached the surf shop. Except for the friendly dog waiting for us by the gate, the place was completely deserted and we could find no one. After snooping around for a few minutes we sat down on a hammock and had lunch overlooking the sea. No surfers and no possibility of surfing the small but rideable waves, we finally found a path leading down to the beach close to a hotel and were able to freshen our tired body’s before the cycle home.

So Hualien was not able to give us the waves we hoped for, with little evidence of any surf culture and beautiful but frustratingly inaccessible beaches it was time to leave the town and head South.

Next stop Taitung!

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Surfing in Taiwan Pt.1 – First stop Hualien

 

After travelling around China for a month, the visa rules required us to leave the country before we can enjoy the second 30 days of our stay. Looking for beaches and surf, we travelled to Taiwan, a mountainous island with a balanced personality somewhere between the western world and china, 100 miles to the west. With a tropical climate, over 1500km of coastline to explore and periodic summer typhoons reaching the east coast, it seemed we were sure to find what we were looking for.

Travelling on an ambitiously tight budget we decided to base ourselves in Hualien city for the first two weeks of our stay, volunteering at a hostel close to the beach on Taiwan’s east coast. However, soon after arrival, hopes of surfing began to test our positivity when we asked a fellow volunteer about the local beach. She informed us that yes, the beach was very close but it was not possible to swim there, let alone surf. Naturally doubting these claims the next day we went to see for ourselves.

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Checking out the beach at Hualien

The results were not promising. The majority of the coastline along Hualien is made up of steep concrete walls and sea defences, with a shipping port to the left and a fenced off factory to the right. The section of beach between was made up of huge boulders with small but crazy waves breaking on top of them at the shoreline. Although we were able to dispel the myths and have a little swim, it did seem that this was a less than ideal surfing spot.

On return to the hostel, talking with the owner, we learnt some interesting things about Taiwanese culture that were going to put some hurdles in the way of our search for waves. It turns out that the Taiwanese are not very fond of the beach or sea.  From a young age children are strongly discouraged from going into the sea by fearful parents who tell stories of sea ghosts to discourage them from entering. I’m sure this doesn’t apply to all locals here but we were told that it is very common for people to never learn to swim. Naturally, therefore the beach is not something people enjoy as they do in Europe and this is obvious in Hualien where the huge concrete walls separate people from the sea. The hostel owner Una was also convinced of the sea’s dangers and agreed to take us the following day to another beach, a short drive north, for its excellent views and to show us how impossible swimming and surfing was.

The views were indeed beautiful. From the cliff top, the long empty stone beach curved round far into the distance, the sun shining over the expanse of ocean to the right and, to the left, the mountains of the Taroko national park towering into the clouds. The ocean and its risks are something to approach with great care and respect but on first impressions the beach didn’t seem particularly dangerous, although, like the beach in Hualien, it didn’t seem like a great surf spot. The waist high waves seemed to build steeply and, suddenly, peak and then crash down on the stones, all at the same time within about one meter of the shoreline before sucking back into the ocean. Not great for riding but good for playing around in, even with Una anxiously watching from the shore.

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Warnings along the empty beach

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View from the cliff, the mountains of the Taroko national park in the distance

Relieved that we hadn’t injured ourselves or been taken by the sea and its ghosts I think Una became a little more relaxed and intrigued by our danger swimming and, at this point, we learnt another big difference in Taiwanese attitudes: You don’t really visit a place or do something unless someone or something says that you can. This beach wasn’t a designated swimming beach so the few people who can don’t swim there or even go there by the look of things. Although hard to understand, this did mean that wherever we went from here we would probably have these beautiful beaches to ourselves. Una kindly offered to take us to see the nearest surfing beach in Hualien, Jici beach later in the week. Until then, no surfing but time to enjoy the natural beauty of this rugged island.

To be continued … Pt.2 Trip to Jici beach and the Bike trip

Translations of china Pt.1 – My favourite and funniest translations from travelling in China

Visiting China for the first time, there are many things that stand out creating lasting memories and images of the country. The smells of chinese specialities being cooked in stalls along the street. The noise of traffic chaos as  motorbikes weave through people, beeping their horns offering a ride. The towering skyscrapers overwhelming you as you make your way through the city or the equally impressive mountain ranges of the national parks.

Some of the more subtle but hugely entertaining parts of my first visit to this country have been the translations. From safety signs to mountain ranges, the names and warnings have questionable translations and these are my favourite twelve from my first few weeks in China, I hope you enjoy!

1.”huge crowds of people”

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2. The “however series” on the food menu. Presumably not a dish cooked however the chef wants

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3. “dont litter, as you are civilized”

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4. “the wild monkey infesting area, Caution! Do not tease feeding”

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5. “Thunderbolt striking area. Be careful!”

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6. “Warning! Dangerous rock!”

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7. The “carefully hot” water

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8. The Zhangjiajie national park was filled with hilarious names for landmarks but this “wife expecting husband peak” was my personal favourite

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9. “Mountain land falls off possibly, be careful”

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10. There is just “NO WAY”

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11. Now to the smiling grass, my favourite signs so far that I don’t know how to interpret so that is up to you! “smiling grass hopes you make the round of your road”

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12. “Your interruption will scare the shyly smiling grass”

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The rules of the visa mean I have left the country, but I will be back for a second month so I hope there will be a second batch of translations coming soon!

 

Javierada – the pilgrimage to Javier

 

The people of Navarra made the first pilgrimage to Javier in 1886, to the birthplace of their patron saint and pioneering missionary San Francisco Javier, to petition him to end the cholera outbreak plaguing the area at the time. Now called the Javierada, every March thousands of people from Pamplona and its surrounding towns and villages make the pilgrimage through the countryside to honour their patron saint at this historical and sacred site.

People choose to start from various locations but from Pamplona the pilgrimage is roughly 50km and although this is a fair distance the walk is mostly flat and runs along pathways or roads that are closed for the event. Me and Esteban, the father in my host family, set off early in the morning to arrive in time for the celebration that is held in Javier for the pilgrims at around five o’clock in the afternoon. There was a cloudless, blue sky and the sun was creeping up over Pamplona as we left the house loaded with supplies for our journey. It’s not a trek through the wilderness so all you really need is food and water for the day. We had made a couple of huge tasty looking baguettes the night before and because in Spain it seems unthinkable to eat without it, we also took a bottle of wine.

As we began the walk I was surprised by the amount and variety of people the pilgrimage attracts. For the duration of the walk it seemed like there was an endless stream of pilgrims and you will find people of many different ages and nationalities most of whom are more than willing to have a chat and share some stories. It is a long, enduring walk but like any hike, take some comfy shoes and clothing, food and drink and maybe some company and you will have everything you need. As we left Pamplona behind the route passed through some small villages as the countryside becomes more dominant and after a few kilometres we were surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards circled by the mountain ranges in the distance. Walking through the peaceful countryside in the sunshine, soaking up the friendly atmosphere of the pilgrimage and the buzzing collective energy for reaching the destination my mind was easily diverted from my tiring legs and sore feet and the kilometres rolled by.

The first real landmark or dramatic change in scenery came a few hours into the walk when my energy was dwindling and we were both ready for a break. After powering up a gently inclined path for a little while we came to a clearing at the top where panoramic views of the snow topped Pyrenees in the distance instantly re-energised me. I didn’t expect to see them so clearly and dramatically. This was a perfect opportunity for a rest so we had a sit down in the grass, took out the baguettes and cracked open the wine to enjoy our lunch with a view.

Now feeling refreshed, we continued the route with renewed pace and were soon descending to the small town of Sangüesa, the next checkpoint of the walk. Just 10km from Javier, Sangüesa is a popular starting point for many of the pilgrims as, from here, you can follow the procession all the way to Javier. Here we met the two boys of my host family and grabbed a coffee to give us the last push to the end. By late afternoon we began the descent to the castle of Javier in time for the mass that is held for the pilgrims.

Although the journey is what this experience is all about, the sight of the town of Javier and its impressive castle swarmed with people feels like an oasis in the desert after a day of hiking. It was great to lie out in the grass in the shadow of the castle and celebrate our arrival with the buzzing of pilgrims around us. You will need to save a little energy reserve however as a visit of the castle and its adjoining Basilica is very worthwhile. Dating from the 10th century the castle was the property of the family of San Francisco Javier and now that it has been restored you can explore the rooms and courtyards and climb the central tower to see uninterrupted views of the grounds and mountains in the distance.

An exciting journey through the less well explored countryside of Navarra, this is a great event that gives you an opportunity to meet all sorts of people and be part of this historical and unique pilgrimage. If you are planning to visit Pamplona during march I definitly recommend the Javierada!

 

What is it like to live with a host family?

 

When you are moving abroad it can be really difficult to integrate into a new community and find your feet, especially if you are moving somewhere with an unfamiliar language and culture. To be welcomed into a family, I think, really enhances your experience and it can be very comforting to have a group of people giving you a little bit of love when you are starting out in a completely new environment.

I found my host family by chance. I didn’t realise at the time that it was such a popular option, and how valuable it would be for a family to have a native English speaker live with them. One day at school a fellow teacher asked me if I had thought of living with a local family as he knew many who would be interested in having me stay. He phoned around and I met one of the families after school. They seemed to like me so the next day I moved into my own room in a flat with the family, really close to my school. On the day I moved in I was given a key, presented with my own unique napkin ring and welcomed into the family feeling very blessed to receive such a welcome. They gave me a tour of the house and one of the sons showed me around the town and helped me settle in.

After four and a half years of living with friends at university I had become quite happy living independently and enjoying the freedom that comes from living in your own house so at first it was a bit strange integrating back into family life. I expected this but it was an odd transition. Remembering to be back for dinner, contributing my dirty socks to the family wash at regular intervals and getting my place in the bathroom queue most mornings certainly took some getting used to. Honestly, by living with a host family you have to be prepared to give up some of your freedom. This becomes particularly hard when you start making friends but I still think it is a great thing to do as the benefits more than make up for any freedom you may loose.

So why is it a good thing to do? Firstly, if you are hoping to learn the local language and improve your language skills, living with a family is great. The parents I lived with spoke no English and they enjoyed talking to me in Spanish a lot. I learnt loads just listening to them talking and explaining things to me and after a few weeks we developed a relaxed relationship where I felt comfortable practicing my speaking skills, asking questions, and developing my language with daily practice.

During my time at University I had mastered pretty great pesto pasta however, for the time living with my host family, this skill was not necessary. On my first night staying with the family, I was taught how to make the infamous Spanish omelette, and during my time I have been really lucky to taste traditional Spanish culinary delights daily. Spanish cuisine is quite distinctive and it has been a real treat to learn some Spanish dishes and enjoy them with the family, something I certainly wouldn’t have experienced living on my own in a flat.

 

One of the best things about living with this family were all the random experiences I had with them. For them it was just normal life, but when you move abroad all your senses are heightened to the differences of your new life and the new place you are living in. What may be normal life for your family, can be a great experience for you. Having lunch with the grandparents, helping prune the olive trees and visiting aunty in the mountains are not only all great ways to see what it is like to live here but they are also experiences that I wouldn’t have had without the family.

Living with a family is not all about you and what you can gain from the experience. It is also about what you can give back, like any family. The obvious appeal to having me living with them is the help the family can get with their English skills. The two boys in the family are learning English at school and they got to practice their English daily with me and I gave them a few relaxed lessons a week to help them improve. Furthermore, as much as I enjoyed learning from my family about the Spanish culture, they too enjoyed asking me questions and getting insights in to what it is like to live in England and the cultural differences between the two countries. I even taught the parents a few English words and treated them to a deluxe version of my pesto pasta!

Finally by living with a family you can make a real attachment to the place you are living in and feel like you have integrated into the community a bit. It gives you a chance to meet great people and create a friendship that will last. I will certainly be back to Pamplona in the future!

 

 

 

Things to do near Pamplona #1, Olite

 

The first time I visited this little Spanish town the experience wasn’t great. I was with my host family on the way to have lunch with the grandparents and we stopped by Olite because they had told me it was very beautiful and were eager to show me. My eagerness to see the town didn’t last long upon arrival. This was back in February and I was still in denial that the whole of Spain wasn’t warm all year round. As a result I was severely underdressed for the freezing cold rain pouring down and the wind that was bending my umbrella all over the place. My host family too were having a bad time and after a few minutes we agreed to get back into the car and put Olite in our diaries for another day.

Olite is a small town in the centre of Navarre and only 42 km south of Pamplona. It is a pretty medieval town with grand stone houses and narrow cobbled streets with many little shops selling treats of Navarre. Pinxos are the tapas of the north and you can find a few welcoming bars where you will be able to enjoy a caña (the Spanish standard sized beer) and a delicious pinxo for around 3.50€. In the sunshine, if you are lucky. The town is famous for its palace but there are also two churches, one built during the 13th century adjoining the palace and the other located next to the town dating from the 12th century that are worth the visit. The town also has a monastery, underground medieval galleries, and numerous vineyards and bodegas producing the famous wine from the region surrounding the whole town.

Recently I decided to visit Olite on a solo trip one day after work. The sun was shining and I was feeling adventurous. Getting there by bus from Pamplona is easy, cheap and pretty quick. On arrival the first thing you notice is the huge castle that makes this town famous. In the 14th century King Charles III commissioned the building of his royal palace, establishing it as a royal seat of the kingdom of Navarre for centuries to come. The castle, which takes up a third of the old town, received many additions and modifications throughout the centuries that have given it its charm.

It cost just 2€ to enter and you are free to explore the multitude of staircases, towers, tunnels, rooms and courtyards distributed around the palace. It is so enjoyable to get lost here just wandering around and stumbling across a sun soaked courtyard full of trees or finding a staircase to a room offering fantastic views of the town and vineyards stretching out to the horizon. You can easily spend a good couple of hours or more here exploring. There is quite a lot of information available about the castle and one of the rooms houses a display of the history of the palace and its restoration since it was set on fire by the guerrilla Espoz y Mina who feared it would end up in the hands of the approaching French army.

When you have enjoyed the palace and all its quirky features you can go and explore the no less impressive town and walk among the vineyards, most of which offer wine tours if you have some money to spend.

Who knew what was being concealed by the wind and rain on that freezing day in February? Olite is a great little place and I definitely recommend it!

Thinking of teaching English abroad?

 

So you’re thinking of moving abroad to teach English and wondering if it’s a good thing to do?

The short answer is yes, go for it! Here’s why…

Making the decision to move away to a new place and work in a different country can be a daunting one, especially if you have not lived there before and you don’t speak the native language at all. But here are some reasons why I think it is a great thing to do.

In many countries it seems that the demand for English teachers is very high, particularly in the larger towns and cities. This means that it wont be too difficult to find yourself a job teaching in a school, academy or even privately. If you can get a job abroad while still being in your home country then that is great and will certainly give you some piece of mind so start looking early for jobs in academies and schools. If you don’t find a job before you move, don’t let that hold you back. It seems risky but in my experience it is easier to get a job when you are already living in the place where you would like to work.

I think experience and qualification requirements depend on the country you plan on travelling to, but don’t overlook the assets you have. When I moved to Spain I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t have the qualifications or experience to be a teacher. I had worked with children a bit before but not much more than that. I was surprised to find that when I got my first job my most impressive asset, to my employer, was that I was a native English speaker. This is something I hadn’t really thought about but schools really value it, so you should too.

Being a teacher is a great way to earn money whilst experiencing a new place. As a valued profession in demand, it’s also a pretty well paid one. In my experience in Spain you can expect to get paid between 15€ and 20€ per hour for teaching English and in a school you will probably get a nice lunch included. The work can be more difficult, mentally, but the perks of the job balance this out. When you’re teaching, every day is different. Of course you can expect a few days to be tough but it is more likely that you are going to be having a lot of fun with some great kids and fellow teachers. It is a very rewarding job and if you put the effort in there is nothing better than being personally thanked by a parent or teacher, or seeing a struggling student improving.

Being an English teacher doesn’t have to consume all your time. In my current school I work from nine in the morning until two in the afternoon with some free periods where I can do some lesson planning. Now that spring is here that gives me a lot of time to enjoy and explore the place where I am living. Working hours can obviously vary a lot but just because you are getting a grown ups job don’t think it has to take up all your time.

Speaking the local language is definitely not essential as most English classes will be taught only in English, but if you do want to learn a bit of the language, working in a school teaching can be really helpful. Because you’re interacting with the children all day it is surprising how much vocabulary, and how many useful phrases, you pick up and learn from the kids you are teaching.

Finally, and I think most importantly, living and working in a country is a really great way to get an in-depth experience of a place. You will really get to immerse yourself in a new culture and get to see the less well visited spots, exploring things at your own pace. You will have time to meet some great people and build friendships with locals and parents who can help you get to know your new home and become part of a community.

I hope anyone thinking of teaching abroad has been sufficiently encouraged, leave a comment below if there is still anything you are unsure about. I’m going to write a post about how to maximise your chances of getting a job soon so follow my blog and look out for more!

 

 

 

 

 

A good day surfing

 

Surfing is a very unique sport and part of what makes it unique is the importance of the elements whose unpredictability gives surfing both its appeal, and frustration. There are now very sophisticated forecasts available to help you predict everything from wave height and frequency, to wind speed and direction and probably even seaweed per m3 of water, all up to two weeks into the future. However despite all this technology nothing is, and probably will never be, certain. I have turned up to a near flat forecast in the North Sea to find fun sizeable waves that left me grinning from ear to ear. Like wise I have been escorted to promised six foot barrels in Indonesia, only to be washed around in a windy mess.

Since I moved to Pamplona I have been taking regular trips to the Basque coast with some fellow teachers at my school on the hunt for waves. This part of Europe offers endless spots running along the coastline ranging from beautiful town beaches such as San Sebastian and Biarritz, to little coves and secluded spots all with consistent waves and reachable within an hour of Pamplona.

Last week we were headed for Hendaye, a small town on the French/Spanish border with a long golden beach and uninterrupted views of the vast Atlantic Ocean. Looking at the forecast the night before, it was more than tempting to cancel my 7am alarm and wait until next weekend. We were expecting medium size 3-4 foot waves and a disastrous 30mph wind and rain. You don’t need to be an expert to realise that in the ocean, trying to catch waves, probably won’t be a great place to be.

However, we were all committed and at 7:30 the next morning I climbed in the car with my two friends and the journey began. As we crossed the border a heavy rain had begun to hammer down on the car. Along with a temperature drop as we descended the mountains to the town, the prospect of removing our warm clothes and fighting ourselves into a wetsuit was a daunting thought, perfectly illustrated by my friend’s fearful face next to me.

We parked the car and gazed out through the windows shielding us from the wind and rain. The forecast seemed pretty accurate, medium sized sloshy waves being blown around by a relentless wind. My friend was the first to voice the rational response to what we saw, suggesting we wrap up warm, go and have a coffee and maybe head home. But we had come to far now and as bad as it looked I have never been one to decline the opportunity of a surf of any sort. For the next few minutes we all stayed sat in the car conjuring the will power that was needed to venture outside and suit up. In the end it took a communal 3, 2, 1, go! to get us all out and changing as quickly as possible before the cold got to us too much. Car key “hidden” on the wheel, we made our way down to the beach to make the best of what the ocean was offering, despite the lack of fellow surfers in the water being quite disconcerting.

Unsurprisingly the waves weren’t very good, but the rain had stopped, the sun had begun to shine and as always it was great to get into the water after a week in the city.

After a couple of hours being washed around we found each other on the sand and decided to take a walk along the beach to see what else we could find, the strange hope of the waves being better somewhere else always tempting. After striding all the way up to the top of the beach with our boards blowing around in the winds we reached a large man made sea wall separating a harbour from the rest of the ocean, it was quite tall and was creating a little surfers microclimate paradise. Tall, glassy waves were wrapping around the wall that was sheltering them from the harsh wind. These were great waves, and after what we had been in all morning they looked heavenly.

With excitement bursting out of us we all ran across the top of the wall, climbed down the rocks and jumped straight into the line up catching wave after wave in the mostly empty water. Eventually, hours later, we washed up on the beach exhausted but each wearing an adrenaline filled grin of absolute content.

After a long winter I had caught the best waves I have had in a long time, but I had also been reminded of a good lesson for surfing and adventures of any kind. You never know what you are going to find, and sometimes it might seem like the best thing to do is forget it. But the important thing is making the journey and going for it because you never know what surprises you will find!

Waves for water

 

My girlfriend, Celia, Has been studying in China since February, and on the 29th of June I am flying out to Hong Kong to meet her and explore China and Asia together. This is great chance to see another part of the world and it is also a great opportunity to help some of the people living in the world less fortunate than myself in a simple and useful way.

Waves for water is a charity with the mission of getting clean water to every single person who needs it. Although it can be easily taken for granted, millions of people worldwide are currently living with no access to clean water and the waves for water ‘clean water couriers’ initiative is really simple and I love it! The idea was originally conceived in the surf community but it is applicable to anyone travelling to places in need of clean water. You raise funds to buy water filters, provided by waves for water, pack them with you on your travels and distribute them in the communities that need them. One filter cost $50 and can provide 100 people with clean water for 5 years. The idea is that thousands of travelling folks each with a few filters can make a very large collective impact. For more information about the filters, charity and the other work they are doing check out wavesforwater.org

China is often associated with huge cities and a rapidly growing economy and this is true however the contrast between the city and rural areas is huge. I had a look at the WHO/UNICEF water monitoring report and although many more people in Eastern Asia have improved access to clean water, 64 million people do not, the majority (69%) living in rural communities. In South East Asia a further 60 million people, in 2015, did not have access to clean water and again the majority (78%) are from rural areas.

In short, there are a lot of people who still need clean water in this area. These filters are not necessarily a long term solution but they will provide vital help to the people suffering now as a result of limited access to clean water. I’m in contact with some local charities to arrange an appropriate place to take the filters to make sure that they will get to the people and communities who need them.

I am planning to purchase 5 filters initially which will cost $250 (if I get lots of support then hopefully I can take more!). That’s clean water for 500 people for five years. I have set up a page on waves for water and if any of you feel that this is something you would like to be part of, then I really encourage you to donate to the fundraiser. Even a small amount of money will be gratefully and thankfully received and I would really appreciate your support. I will keep you updated on where they are going to be distributed and give updates as they are distributed so you will know that your money has been put to good use.

I also just want to raise awareness of this great scheme and encourage anyone who is planning a trip in the near future to get involved. Part of the appeal is that it requires very little work from you, as it says on the website “doing what you love, whilst helping on the way.” With a bit of planning you can make a big difference to some people and be part of a broader scheme to provide clan water to everyone who needs it.

The easiest way to find my project is to go to my fundraiser  or journeysofgeorge on facebook and click the link that will take you straight to the project homepage, Thanks for you support!