Journeying: Bangkok to Barcelona on Foot

Bangkok Barcelona a peu

The borders between urban areas and nature are fading. New cities are expanding into rural areas, and urban dwellers long for more green spaces.

Currently in central Asia. To see the latest posts from the journey, scroll to the bottom of this page.
But who really has access to nature in growing urban areas? How is nature being integrated into megacity plans? How are cities in emerging countries and developed nations making themselves more livable, resilient and sustainable? What are cities throughout Asia and Europe doing to improve equity and inclusion among their residents? How are cities creating opportunities for their citizens and incorporating social justice while also balancing environmental needs and natural resources capacity?

We hope to find out, and see for ourselves.

We are Jenn and Lluís, and in January 2016, we will start walking from Bangkok, Thailand, back home to Barcelona, Catalonia. Along the way, we’ll explore the idea of just cities, occasionally posting our perspectives, photos and podcasts of what we find in different corners of the world here on The Nature of Cities.

We’ll be walking in towns, cities and rural, far-from-anything stretches. We’ll stroll through parks, alongside rice paddies, up mountains, across deserts and into the chaotic bustle of city centers. Our feet will touch sidewalks, train tracks, riverbeds, paved roads and dirt paths. We think walking this distance—an estimated 14,000 kilometers—will create both an intimate and expansive view of our world while also compelling a deeply introspective look at how we interact with our planet and the people who call it home.

Our planned trek will take us through about 20 countries, starting in Southeast Asia and finishing on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It won’t always be a straight line, but it will be a route that will surely change our lives and, hopefully, touch the lives of others we meet along the way. We’ll share here what we see, hear, feel and experience along the way.

We hope you’ll follow our footsteps. You will find our series on The Nature of Cities here. For additional information about our journey, please visit http://bangkokbarcelonaonfoot.com.

Jenn and Lluís

Managing Informal Markets and Limiting Citizen Marginalization
Jennifer Baljko,  Barcelona

Street vendors. Market peddlers. Musicians walking through subway cars. Parking spot guards and car watchers. Van drivers with handmade signs competing for passengers. Hawkers who sell stuff out of the trunks of their cars, out of baby carriages, and from bicycle carts. Hagglers looking to pocket some cash along the...

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Bishkek: Building on Old Bones
Jennifer Baljko,  Barcelona

I have an affection for cities in transition. I like when I visit a city for the first time and get an immediate sense that things are changing, that there is a blurring between what’s old and what’s new. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan was one of those cities. When I first arrived...

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Dhaka’s Struggle with Traffic and Livability
Jennifer Baljko,  Barcelona

Ding, ding, ding. Ding, ding, ding. Honk, honk. Hoooonk. Honk, honk. Toot, toot, toot, ding, ding, ding. Honk, honk, honk. This is the sound of Dhaka. All. Day. Long. There are only a few hours before dawn when there is quieter hum of traffic. But for the rest of the...

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Closing the Gap Between Girls’ Education and Women in the Workforce
Jennifer Baljko,  Barcelona

Nilofar* leans over to pour us more tea. All conversations in Central Asia seem to start with tea. She is asking questions about our trip, wondering why we are walking from Bangkok to Barcelona. She wants to know if we have always traveled, how we can afford the trip, if...

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The Promise of the Big City: Migrants and Refugees Will Come to Your City. It’s Not a Novel Idea, but Cities Act Like it Is
Jennifer Baljko,  Barcelona

“My husband is in Moscow.” “My son and his wife moved to Moscow a few years ago.” “My brother and sister work in Moscow.” “I want to go to Moscow. I can find a job there, and make more money than here.” We heard all sorts of versions of this...

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Establishing New Models of Human Rights: Creating Clean Places to Live
Jennifer Baljko,  Barcelona

A Burmese man surprises me with a question, an idea that will make my thoughts race for weeks. “They talk about human rights abuses and political prisoners and all of these things. Yes, these things are important,” the man says, referring to the collective, unknown “they” who create the rules...

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Footsteps Through Thailand’s Cities and Rural Areas
Jennifer Baljko,  Barcelona

“Thailand is what you make it.” That’s what an ex-pat Westerner who relocated here a few years ago told us when we were strolling through Nakhon Sawan, a busy city in the country’s central/lower north region. This seems true in many regards, or at least from the on-the-ground impressions we...

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Setting Out from Bangkok. TNOC Podcast Bangkok to Barcelona 01
Jennifer Baljko,  Barcelona

Also available at iTunes. Story notes: I am Jenn Baljko, and my partner Lluís and I started walking from Bangkok, Thailand, back home to Barcelona, Catalonia. Along the 12,000km journey, we’ll explore the idea of just and green cities, occasionally posting our perspectives here on The Nature of Cities—photos, podcasts, and essays on what we...

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Where Walking and Just Cities Meet
Jennifer Baljko,  Barcelona

“We live in a fast-paced society. Walking slows us down.” — Robert Sweetgall, walking guru and president of Creative Walking Inc. Walking. It’s a natural, human thing to do. Whether we wander through wide open green spaces or ramble around in cities, the simple act of putting one foot in front of...

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