Clockwise from L to R: Texas by Issy Croker, Andalusia by Tona Stell, Kolkata by Ashley Frangie, Kazbeghi in Georgia by Robbie Lawrence, Kumano Kodo Trail in Japan by Alexa Firmenich
Then there are the places where time-honoured cultural traditions have endured, in spite of significant political challenges. Around the world people are calling for freedom for Tibet, and writer Monisha Rajesh was able to bear witness to the Chinese occupation of the region. Setting out on the Qinghai Railway, Monisha was acutely aware of the way Chinese forces had seized Tibet and persecuted monks in the Fifties, concerned that all she could do as a visitor was watch and observe. But during her journey she met a guide who assured her that tourism to Tibet remains vital, as discussions with foreign travellers help locals freely communicate with the outside world.
The country today called Georgia has also known decades of political oppression. An independent republic since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the nation is now coming under the international spotlight thanks to its burgeoning cultural scene. Georgia’s rapid artistic expansion has lead to its capital city Tbilisi being coined as ‘the new Berlin’. But as SUITCASE’s newly appointed Digital Editor India points out, this unimaginative label is rolled out any time an ex-Soviet nation has a creative element to its development. Accompanied by atmospheric images taken by Getty Award-winning photographer Robbie Lawrence, her pieces on Tbilisi and Kazbegi offer a far more nuanced portrait of the country.
The restrictive labels thrust upon Georgia remind us of the need to carefully consider the language we use to describe destinations, especially those deemed ‘emerging’ or ‘developing’. Our emphasis at SUITCASE is always on listening to and working with locals, but ultimately, trying to pin down a place in words and pictures does in some way lead to its spirit being bridled and haltered. We hope we’ve encouraged you to go and visit the destinations featured in this issue, and in doing so, have allowed their spirit to run free.