Turkey sees a rise in hotels for holy guests

Turkey sees a rise in hotels for holy guests

Turkey’s  move towards a more Islamic identity hasn’t only meant a growing popularity for headscarves amongst women in the country that has been secular since 1924  ­­- it has also led to a growth in so-called Halal tourist resorts. A New Yorker article from 2016 neatly summarises the socio-political context:  “Throughout his tenure as Prime Minister and now as President, Erdoğan has distanced himself from (modern Turkey’s founder), Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. He views himself as the father of a new Turkish identity, one aligned more closely with its Ottoman past, its Islamic heritage. He has taken the country in a more religious direction, similar to a place it was in before the 1997 coup.”

One of the outcomes of such a move is the burgeoning crop of Islamic friendly hotels serving halal food and enforcing a no-alcohol policy in all or some areas of their premises, alongside on-site prayer facilities. Such hotels and resorts have separate pool, spa and leisure facilities for women, whilst some properties have private women-only beach swimming and/or sun tanning areas, whilst others have mixed beach areas for families with modest swimming dress code.

Halal hotels were once the preserve of rich Muslims, but over the last couple of years, these hotels are cropping up along Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, in resorts such as Antalya. Resorts previously catering to beer swilling Russian and west European tourists are now keen to respond to the growing number of websites offering Islamic friendly holidays for Muslim travellers, joining the various other speciality holidays on offer such as kosher, vegan and even specialist Christian holidays.

Join Justine on her trip across Turkey or purchase the DVD or digital file at our shop.


main image: Panoramic view of the courtyard of the Blue Mosque, in Istanbul, Turkey. The courtyard has a square shape, but the mercator projection necessary to squeeze all the field of view into the frame bends the horizontal lines. Panorama created with Hugin.

By Benh LIEU SONG – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12654068

Gotta face? Best mask it.

Gotta face? Best mask it.

The use of face masks across certain parts of Asia are proliferating…especially in Japan. The Japanese penchant for facial cover ups has been steadily gaining traction since the early 20th century.

When the global influenza pandemic of the early twentieth century killed approximately 30 million people, covering ones face with a scarf or veil became a popular choice of protection against germs. Years later, the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 filled the sky with smoke and ash negatively impacting air quality for many months, the inhabitants of Yokohama and Tokyo once again donned masks. But it was a second flu epidemic more than a decade later in 1934 that saw the mask become the ubiquitous, oft donned accessory across the country’s urban metropolises.

Japanese culture’s high regard for courtesy to their fellow country persons meant that face masks went on to become a necessary and expected accoutrement — serving to shield others from the sneezes and sniffles caused by allergic reactions to the sharp increase in cedar pollen, as well as offering an albeit minimal, but guard nonetheless, against rapidly rising pollution levels during the industrialising post war era of the 50s. Such considerations neatly folded into the emphasis on sustained productivity, a notable feature of Japanese corporate life; to be seen to be active in preventing the transmission of germs and protecting oneself from possible viral contamination is regarded as an act of utmost politeness.

Whilst the actual effectiveness of wearing masks is disputed, their continued popularity is also attributed to the benefits masks offer to those who suffer from social anxiety, or those wishing not to be seen when looking less than their very best.

The face mask market is now worth $230 million and brand alliances with popular cultural icons mean masking ones face is a trend sure to to stay for some time.

Sources: https://qz.com/299003/a-quick-history-of-why-asians-wear-surgical-masks-in-public/

Join Megan for more intriguing adventures in Central Japan.

Venice gives fast food the chop

Venice gives fast food the chop

Venetian authorities have banned the sale of  kebabs from its central tourist district in an effort to preserve the cultural identity of the historic city which they say is being diminished by fast food outlets.

Venice’s tourist chief, Paola Mar, says the sale of mini pizza slices will also be banned from fast food outlets though also added, “The city does not object to kebabs or fast food in principle and does not have a problem with people eating outside.”

Mar went on to say, “The problem is that with a tourist city like ours, there is a risk of it losing its identity.”  Only foodstuffs such as artisanal ice creams will be excluded from the ban.

Venice, like much of Italy, is proud of its locally sourced cuisines and is the latest city to shut out fast foods from its popular tourist districts. Similar measures have been enacted in Florence and Verona, where it has been met with opposition from locals who appreciate the variety that other cultures bring to the Italian offering.

Venice receives millions of tourists each year and has  long grappled with environmental protection measures for its canal city, including limiting tourist numbers and the introduction of charges to enter public spaces, such as St Marks Square.

To find out more about Venice check out Globe Trekker’s Venice City Guide and Metropolis Venice on our website and store.

A Tradition in Bloom

A Tradition in Bloom

As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, the sweet scent of flowers in bloom fill the air. To us this might be a passer-by event or maybe even an Instagram worthy photo, but for the residents of Japan, watching flowers bloom or hanami is one of the most exciting times of the year.

Cherry Blossom Celebration - Tokyo

Cherry Blossom Celebration – Tokyo

What is Hanami?

Known for its elegant petals and pinkish hue, the cherry blossom flower is the classic Japanese symbol of spring and the beauty of ephemeral nature. Lasting only about two weeks before they begin to fall, it’s no wonder why cherry blossoms are admired by visitor and citizen alike. Family and friends flock to the parks to hold parties, listen to music, or eat lunch, just to be surrounded by their beauty. As the spring wind blows, its tiny petals dance through the fresh air landing on the soft grass or following the rivers’ tide.


Ladies in the Edo palace enjoying cherry blossoms - Toyohara Chikanobu

Ladies in the Edo palace enjoying cherry blossoms – Toyohara Chikanobu

So not only are these flowers quite a visual spectacle, but they also bring communities together. But this “looking at blossoms” isn’t anything new; in fact it is one of the oldest Japanese traditions in existence. Hanami became a popular practice at the Imperial Palace of Emperor Saga of the Heian Period (794-1185). From this period onward, poems were published and paintings were displayed in honor of these marvelous buds.

Today, the countdown excitement is heightened by the televised Cherry Blossom Forecast which offers a day-by-day analysis of the coming of the blooms – known as the cherry blossom front – as they sweep towards the north. The arrival of these pink and white flowers ushers in a new season and fresh start.


If you are like most people and don’t have the time or money to visit Japan during these precious two weeks, don’t fret. Hanami celebrations and festivals happen just about everywhere, including Washington DC, Georgia, San Francisco, Taiwan, Rome, and New York.

Cherry Blossoms - Maki Matsuda

Cherry Blossoms – Maki Matsuda

But there is no better place to go than Japan. These stunning flowers can be admired all over the country including Tokyo, Kyoto, and Honshu Island. In fact, there are many tours available for those that wish to immerse themselves in the ultimate cherry blossom experience.

For a luxurious excursion, Japan Deluxe Tours offers a variety tours including a 12-night experience that takes you to nine cherry-blossom-filled locations from Tokyo to Osaka.


For a more relaxed and inexpensive option, My Tokyo Guide offers several day trips to incredible destinations.



To learn more about Japan and all that it has offer, check out our Globe Trekker show Central Japan.


Written by Savannah Chinelli, intern at Pilot Productions HQ in London.

A message to our fans

A message to our fans

We urge you to visit our store or on Vimeo where we are curating this valuable and unique collection of shows for our loyal fans around the world.

Only a small selection of our shows are now available on Youtube and Amazon.

We are unhappy with the way these all powerful behemoths of the digital age treat content providers like us, small businesses, producing quality programming, who wish to reach as broad as an audience as possible.

Moving forward all our new shows will only be available on our shop or via Vimeo, our preferred online platforms, until further notice.

Something Silent, Something New

Something Silent, Something New

It’s quite hard to imagine a New Year’s celebration without the late night parties and colorful fireworks, but in Bali it is a fascinating reality.


Known as Nyepi or “day of silence”, the crowded streets and shops of the city are abandoned for a full 24 hours in respect of the New Year. These hours are dedicated to self-reflection and relaxation. Though it might sound boring, in fact it’s quite the spectacle. The celebrations start 3-4 days prior to Nyepi and end on the following day. These cultural performances include sacred purification rituals along with a wonderfully vibrant parade.

Melasti Ceremony

Melasti Ceremony #6 – Simplyoga via trekearth.com

The first ritual, Melasti, is a Hindu ceremony meant to cleanse the world of sin and bad karma. This is held on the edge of the beach in order to acquire the Tirta Amerta or “the water of life”. In addition, every sacred relic belonging to a temple is purified.

On the last day of the year, the Bhuta Yajna ritual takes place, allowing devout Hindus to eliminate negativity in order to renew harmony with God. This ceremony includes a procession of ogoh-ogoh, demonic statues made of painted bamboo and syrofoam meant to represent the evil spirits. When the parade is finished, they burn the statues.

Preceding this day of excitement is the silent Nyepi ritual beginning at 6:00am until 6:00am the      next morning. This ritual includes enforced regulations on Balinese residents, including visiting tourists and non-Hindus. Besides the obviously deserted streets, there is no work (Amati Kary), travel (Amati Lelunganan), and entertainment or pleasure (Amati Lelanguan) permitted. There is also a strict ban on the use of fire or light of any kind (Amati Geni). The more devout residents even forbid talking and eating.

Ogoh Ogoh - Sybren Stüvel Flixr

Ogoh Ogoh – Sybren Stüvel Flixr

Although this probably sounds quite harsh for us Westerners, the Balinese see it as the most sacred day of the year.

On the second day of the year, Hindus perform Ngembak Agni, the final ritual fostering forgiveness among friends and family.

The Balinese year follows the lunar sequence, meaning it is 78 years behind our Gregorian calendar. New Year’s Day falls on the first new moon in March; this year is was on the 28th of March.

If you’re interested in attending this very special Balinese celebration, here are some quick tips to make the experience easier:

  • Book your flights respectively: Arrive before the celebrations begin and depart after the 1st of the year, as the airport is closed during the 24-hour period
  • Consider how you’re going to spend Nyepi as visitors are confined to their hotels
  • Arrive early to watch (or participate in) the celebrations as they can get quite crowded

Planning for next year? New Year’s Day will be on the 17th of March 2018.


Want to see more of what Bali has to offer? Check out our Globe Trekker series: Indonesia & The Eastern Islands


Written by Savannah Chinelli, intern at Pilot Productions HQ in London

The Cherry on Top

The Cherry on Top

Perched in the northwest corner of the famous Trafalgar Square in central London stands the Fourth Plinth. Since 1998 the plinth has been a a platform for enabling showcase their masterpieces by artists from around the world The Fourth Plinth Commission has recently announced the spectacular winning statues for 2018 and 2020 – a bull and a cherry. 

New York City resident Michael Rakowitz has won the 2018 prize for his sculpture of the Lamassu, a winged bull deity destroyed by ISIS in 2015. This recreation is apart of his project The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist, which first came to life in 2006. The projects’ goal was to recreate the over 7,000 archaeological artifacts that were looted from the Iraq museum during the war. The Lamassu recreation will be made out of Iraqi date syrup cans, representing the decline of the once flourishing industry before the Iraq Wars.

Rakowitz is an Iraqi American artist best known for this conceptualised art displays. His art is deeply rooted in Middle Eastern politics. His work is currently being showcased in his grandfathers’ old packaging facility, Davisons & Co., which will be opened until the end of October. One of Rakowitz’ more notable projects is Enemy Kitchen (2004), in which he – with the help of his mother – teaches the public popular Baghdad recipes. His goal was to enlighten those who took part in the project about the Iraqi food and culture.

“As an artistic gesture I try to make an unlikely thing happen, and the impossible becomes possible,” – Rakowitz

His sculpture will be revealed next year.

London-based artist and poet Heather Phillipson is the 2020 winner for her sculpture THE END. The fiber-glass model consists of a cherry-topped dessert being eaten by a fly as well as a drone flying overhead which allows for curious onlookers to watch a live feed of the square from their mobile devices or tablets. The bulk of the sculpture is a generous dollop of whipped cream, chosen by the artist because of its indulgence and instability. Phillipson’s work delves into society’s shared experiences, be it as celebration or protest.

Phillipson’s work explores cultural references and emotional responses. Phillipson’s voice over film 100% Other Fibres.created for Frieze projects in 2016  was the recipient of the Jarman Award, an accolade recognising innovative and imaginative artists working with moving images for her The. Her work has been widely shown at institutions and fairs such as Frieze New York, the New Museum in New York and at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Germany.

Her work is currently being exhibited at the Drawing Biennial in London.

“It is important to go straight to the cliche and look at it. Not being able to accept anything at face value,” – Phillipson

Her sculpture will be revealed in 2020. 

Although they won’t have their sculptures on display in Trafalgar Square, it is worth noting the other shortlisted artists who have also created incredible works of art. 

Damián Ortega

High Way is a magazine-inspired sculpture of juxtapositions; with a light-green pickup truck at its base, followed by scaffolding, oil cans, and a ladder all placed with precision. This Mexican artists’ work reflects his ongoing interest in presenting the simplest of objects by experimental and culturally introspective means.

Huma Bhabha

Untitled is a structure having seemingly straight stepped out of a sci-fi film. The New York-based Pakistani artist created a simplistic silhouette comprised of a dark body and polystyrene head lending it a mysterious and brutish appearance; Untitled leaves room for interpretation.

Raqs Media Collective

Inspired by a similar relic which stands in Coronation Park in Delhi, The Emperor’s Old Clothes  represents the presence and absence of power – a  solo ceremonial robe and no emperor to wear it. This statue follows a long line of similarly themed works, including Hans Haacke’s horse skeleton which occupied the plinth in 2015.

All video clips are taken from The National Gallery’s Youtube Channel.


Written by Savannah Chinelli, intern for Pilot Productions HQ in London

If Walls Could Talk

If Walls Could Talk

Nestled just thirteen feet from the Israeli separation wall stands anonymous British artist Banksy’s largest and most controversial political testament yet, The Walled Off Hotel. The hotel opened earlier this month on the West Bank in Jerusalem and is a temporary and self-financed project of the famous artist.

Its creation marks the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a letter sent from Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Walter Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, stating that Palestine has become “a national home for the Jewish people”. This document was the cause of considerable controversy and backlash whose eventual outcome lead to the wall that currently divides the nation of Palestine with the state of Israel.
With the wall blocking much of the sunlight, it’s “the worst view of any hotel in the world,” said Banksy, which very much seems to be his point. Whilst the hotel view and its location forces guests to face the harsh reality that the Palestinians have to had to endure, the interior confronts the various political facets of the situation whilst incorporating many of the first world elements of a hotel that we seemingly take for granted.

Piano Bar - The Walled Off Hotel

Piano Bar – The Walled Off Hotel

The three-story hotel offers hostel-like accommodations as well as 9 private rooms and suites ranging anywhere from $30 to $965 a night. The more budget friendly rooms resemble military barracks with iron bunk beds and cold concrete walls. The suites are lavishly adorned and decorated, of course, with Banksy’s signature political art pieces. The rest of the hotel resembles an gentleman’s club from era of colonial Britain, complete with a tea room serving high tea in fine china, a museum dedicated to telling the story of the declaration and the wall, and even a piano bar which served as the focal point for the The Walled Off Hotel’s grand opening celebration which included the special guest Sir Elton John, alongside an art gallery filled with local artists’ work. After Banksy commissioned the project, it became an entirely independent local business, with none of its profits going back to its creator.

Banksy Art for Private Room - Uncrate.com

Banksy Art for Private Room – Uncrate.com

The Walled Off Hotel isn’t meant to offer guests the typical “vacation” experience, but rather to expose them to the realities of middle-eastern conflict. Although it’s not the most economically thriving part of town, several restaurants, shops, and bars surround the hotel, which Banksy assures is safe for tourists as well as locals.
Banksy hopes for the Palestinian-staffed hotel to keep its doors open until the end of the centennial year so plan your visit soon for this unquestionably inspiring and thought provoking experience.

To learn more about the West Bank, join Zay Harding as he explores Holy Lands in our Globe Trekker Series Holy Lands Jerusalem: The West Bank


The Walled off Hotel
182 Caritas Street
Bethlehem, Palestine

Written by Savannah Chinelli, intern for Pilot Productions HQ in London

Memories of Morocco

Memories of Morocco

Way back when Globe Trekker was a fledgling production company, series 1 was created.

In one of his very first shows as a Globe Trekker presenter, Ian Wright traveled to Morocco on the north-western tip of Africa. The episode went on to win a number of awards, including US Cable Ace award for Best Show and Best Host and was Ian Wright’s international and US breakthrough.

It’s a country of stark desert, high mountain ranges, and some of the most richly cultured cities in the world.
image: Lost in the mountains: Ian Wright
Ian began his journey in the port of Tangier, where most travellers enter the country. Sharing a ride with an American businesswoman as far as the small market town of Chaouen, Ian picked up some valuable tips about travelling in Morocco after which he hitched a ride to the walled city of Fez, through the Rif mountains, the country’s main Hashish growing region.

You can buy all of series 1 for our special anniversary price of just $19.95

Our 25th Anniversary Special – Globe Trekker Season One!

Our 25th Anniversary Special - Globe Trekker Season One!

To celebrate Globe Trekker turning 25, we have a very special special offer – own the HISTORIC FIRST SEASON and watch it instantly for only $19.95!!!! 

Our classic adventures include trips to:

Indonesia – The Eastern Islands
La Ruta Maya
Pacific Islands
Southeast Australia
North East Brazil
Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands
Japan – Tokyo to Taiwan
North India – Varanasi to the Himalayas
Africa – Zimbabwe, Botswana & Namibia
fabulous logo supplied by: Wedding vector created by Ibrandify – Freepik.com