Can Sand Degradation be Solved?

When I think about sand I am immediately transported to a beach walking along the shoreline in the sunset. When some of us think sand we think about how much concrete we can make using it. Isn’t it weird how people have different perceptions on every little thing.

File:Beach Sunset at Point Chevalier Beach - Auckland.jpg - Wikimedia  Commons
What is Concrete Sand Types & Specification - Concrete Information

As beautiful as sand is; it is the most mined commodity in the world. Almost 85% of material pulled from the earth is sand. After water sand is the most consumed. Not only is sand used in construction it is also used to make the toothpaste that you brush your teeth with.

10 Most Trusted Toothpaste Brands | St. Lawrence Dentistry

From the wind shield on your car to the glass ware and vases in your home without sand these things would be impossible to have.

170 BLOWN GLASS ideas | glass blowing, glass, glass art

The saddest thing is that sand is almost everywhere but we are running out of it due to urbanisation and the high demand on this commodity. Despite regulation set up between 50 to 60 billion tonnes of sand is used annually. Meaning we are extracting three times more sand faster than nature can replace it.

People have also been killed for sand. The common victims have been police officers, journalists and protestors. The problem is that sand is as a vital resource and it fetches a high price. It has attracted the attention of criminals and the sand mafias- these are illegal and very violent sand miners who dredge sand in prohibited areas. The sand mafias are a big problem in India. 36 year old Sangeeth Balan was bludgeoned to death with the arm of an earth mover for resisting a gang of illegal miners who arrived at his residence with excavators and trucks.

Why can't we use desert sand for construction? Is there any use of desert  sand? - Quora

Singapore, a very beautiful country indeed! I have always wanted to go there. This country is the largest importer of sand because of it’s land reclamation activities. Export of Indonesian sand to expand Singapore’s land area has put 80 Indonesian islands at risk of disappearance due to sand extraction.

Singapore Country Profile - National Geographic Kids

Nations like Cambodia, Malaysia and Vietnam have completely banned export of sand to Singapore owing the economic and environmental burden. Unenforceable and lax regulations by the global sand industry has seen Singapore’s sand acquisition go undisturbed.

To save this very limited overused resource I believe we really need to rethink construction and our infrastructural projects. Recycling glass into sand has proved possible without losing the qualities of natural sand. This can reduce the amount of glass that goes into land fills and in turn reducing the coastal shoreline damage. Have an idea on how we can reduce sand usage? Comment and let’s discuss.

Wild animals do not perform because they want to: they perform because they are Afraid not to.

Whips, fire, chains… name it all. This is the life that circus animals are reared through. Stripped of all dignity as living beings they are threatened with fire, they are chained for hours on end and they are caned and whipped by the trainers at the circuses. Today I shall focus on the wild animals commonly seen at the circus.

  1. Tigers

If you have had a chance to read this or watch this on the nature channel, then you are probably aware that the greatest fear for tigers is fire! Now the picture portrays a tiger jumping through hoops of fire. Can you guess how many years of torture, starvation, whipping, caging, chaining and caning it took to achieve this?

These tigers are sold to the circus through the black market when they are cubs. They pass through years and years of torture, and even this cat soon comes to learn that when I don’t do what the trainer wants I will be starved for days on end or I will be wiped. The tiger has no choice but to adjust to the new lifestyle and hence we end up with a tiger jumping through hoops of fire.

2. Lions

Chinese circus defends using rare animals in its acts despite poor crowds  at shows and constant criticism of its methods | South China Morning Post

Just like their stripped cousins lions pass through similar treatment at the hands of trainers. They are denied food, caned, wiped and even dragged by chains around their necks. They are constantly locked up in tiny cages and let out only during training. It is sad that circuses get away with this because government agencies neither monitor training sessions nor the animals’ living conditions.

3. Elephants

Circus Animals Pictures | Download Free Images on Unsplash

Elephants are probably the most common circus animals. They are separated from their mothers as calves and they spend 23 hours per day chained to the wall. When they make a ‘mistake’ or refuse to comply with the demands of their trainers bull hooks, electric shocks and whips are usually the punishment for this. Below we see a bull hook being used on a baby elephant.

It's Indisputable: Bullhooks Are on the Way Out | PETA

4. Monkeys

What are the worst cases of animal abuse in circuses? - Quora

Chained, shocked, starved and whipped. This is the daily routine of a circus monkey. On top of the abuse these animals have to endure extreme weather conditions for extended periods of time. The next time you see a monkey dancing or riding a bike ask yourself why?

So what happens to these animals when they get too old to be in the circus? These animals face uncertain futures as they get older. Most of these animals are sold to hunting ranges, others are sent to unregulated roadside zoos and the rest well they get put to death. The only way to stop this usage and abuse of these animals at the circus is to not go to circuses that use animals for entertainment. The next time you are in Thailand or Nepal do not ride on an elephant!

The question should not be what happens to animals when the circuses are closed it should be ‘what will happen to animals if circuses are not closed?’

73 Million Sharks Lost Yearly To Finning

Hi guys! It’s been a while hasn’t it? Well, I’m back. I hope you are all doing okay today? I know I am! Tell me in the comments where you are reading this from and what you would like me to talk about next I will be glad to pen that in.

Why Shark Finning Bans Aren't Keeping Sharks Off The Plate (Yet) : The Salt  : NPR

Hmm… going back to our title yes you read that right 73 million sharks are killed yearly for their fins. If we are being specific that’s about 73-100 million sharks. Before we get into the shark killing let us first discover how the fins are used and why.

Shark fin soup is a delicacy in South East Asia and China. I have just added a map below so that when I am talking about South East Asia you can really have the mental picture of the countries.

Map of Southeast Asia (Southeastern Asia)

In traditional Chinese medicine, shark fins are believed to help in areas of rejuvenation, appetite enhancement, and blood nourishment and to be beneficial to vital energy, kidneys, lungs, bones, and many other parts of the body. Now as you can see I used the word believed it’s not a surety. Is it possible that sharks are being killed for a fools errand? And to what end?

According to a Washington post I read a while back, believe it or not but shark fin soup has no nutritional benefit! It is apparently tasteless and harmful. With sharks being so high up in the food chain the amount of mercury, cadmium, arsenic and many other poisonous metals is limitless. In short by killing sharks for their fins they are in turn killing us.

Shark fin soup losing its appeal | The Star

What is the value of shark fins? US $400 Per Kg. The average shark fin weighs around 2 Kilograms. In order to create this Billion dollar industry 73 million sharks die per year. That is 73 million predators wiped off the face of the ocean. Take the food chain below as an example. when the sharks are no longer there this means there will be an increase in Tuna a decrease in Mackerel eventually the Tuna will have no food to eat in turn killing an entire ocean species. The small fish will then overpopulate because they have no predators bringing about lack of food for them and it goes on and on until an entire ocean ecosystem is wiped out.

food chain | Definition, Types, & Facts | Britannica

What happens to the shark carcasses after finning? I won’t call them carcasses let’s call them bodies because these poor sharks are finned when they are still alive. Imagine your limbs being cut from your body when you are alive, no anaesthesia or anything just pure pain! People ask if fish feel pain… Here’s the simple answer of course they feel pain, they bleed, they have a nervous system so they obviously feel pain. Let me write this in bold (fish are sentient meaning they feel pain, they feel fear, they have the capacity to suffer and to feel distressed)

Say no to shark finning! | Shark, Save the sharks, Sharks funny

Where was I? So these sharks are finned when they are still alive and their finless bodies are thrown back into the sea where they suffocate-have you ever tried to hold your breath under water until you can’t anymore? try it, that is how suffocation feels, for those that do not drown they bleed to death or eaten by other animals. I don’t know about you but this makes me very angry! What are you as the reader going to do? The best thing to do for the sharks is to LEAVE THEM ALONE!

The forest adventure with The Traveling Mindset

Welcome back folks and happy new year from The Traveling Mindset. I am so happy to be writing to you guys again! It has been what a few months, good news I am now back for good!

Today I just want to mention how much fun we had at the Paintball challenge at the Kereita Forest. We pride ourselves in promoting the destinations we visit. A few months ago, we decided to have the paintball challenge which was coupled with a nature hike through the forest and a dip at the waterfall.

Just a few points to note! When heading to the forest you should be wearing very comfortable shoes and clothes. I am talking tracksuits, sport shoes and shorts. Ladies bad news but no dresses and skirts to this place- you will not have fun and probably will not be able to do any activities.

Sorry I forgot to mention, the activities at this place include, paintballing, horse riding, ziplining, archery, team building and nature walks. There is also a hotel where you can have your meals at. It is a nice place to do some photography at. Towards the end I will mention the prices for the activities so have no fear.

Where was I? Oh right! We set out at exactly 9 Am EAT and we had to use the bypass due to construction on Waiyaki way and we ended up coming out at Limuru- beautiful place by the way- very cold though! The scenery here is amazing because of the tea farms. Just a heads up if you want to head down for a tea farm tour this is the place. So, one and a half hours later we arrive at our destination. Another thing about then Kereita forest (if you are late for your activities, you will not do them and you will not be refunded- just remember to keep time if you had booked for the activities before hand)

After arrival, due to the dangerous times we are living in we signed up a sheet and our temperatures were taken and recorded. We were then led to the kitting area and here you get briefed on safety and how to use the paintball guns. You are then given protective gear which is an overall and a helmet. You get divided into teams and you do a few test runs just to get a feel of the gun and to how shoot it- just getting comfortable. After this you are thrown into the arena- also not a literal arena! And the games begin- may the best team win. Okay guys here is where the comfortable shoes come in; this game involves a lot of running and physical activity- I wouldn’t wear uncomfortable shoes if I were you! An hour of shooting, running and being shot at eventually brought out the winning team.

So people are tired we head out and go to Mama Chiku’s Place in Kijabe to have our lunch. Let me tell you! This lady can cook, and her only policy is you have to finish everything you serve on your plate. So much food in bowls before us. Of course we are so hungry after all that running-naturally, eating begins with a lot of excitement. I mean we are hungry at an all we can eat. The camaraderie in the cafe is just amazing; talking, laughing and joking. The food begins to set in, people stop talking, and Jackets are removed. The only talking that you can hear is,’ hey who wants my chicken?’ , ‘Who wants my greens?’, ‘Who wants my potatoes?’… etc. At this point we are so full that we need to walk all this food off!

We set off from Kijabe and head back to Kereita forest, our bus gets stuck in the mud so we have to do some walking back to the forest. We head to the nature trail and begin our nature walk in search of the waterfall. I mean what’s a nature walk without a water body, am I right guys? After an hour of walking, hiking and falling in the mud we get to the waterfall, finally- progress! We all know what happens at waterfalls and nature walks! Let’s unleash those crazy photos now!

Another 30 minutes and we are back at the reception of the forest. One of us had a birthday of course we are gonna celebrate. A surprise cake is unleashed to the team! After a nature walk I think cake is kind of a requirement or not . Depends on how you take it, everyone with their opinion right? Well, where was I? Oh right! Here we are singing ‘Happy birthday’- you would think the one with the loudest voice was getting the biggest slice of cake, apparently not! But it was worth a try-you never know. We finish our celebration and now it’s time to head home, we walk slowly to the car park and thank heavens, our driver managed to get out of the mud. We get into the vehicle and off we go, I don’t know why after such an amazing day the journey home seems so short.

Before I sign off the prices are as follows:

CampingNight guard (1,000)1,000500
Horse riding30mins
1 hour
4 hours
Footgolf1 hour
2 hours
Tree PlantingPer tree250250
Nature Walks1 hour
2 hours
Archery1 hour12001100
Paint balling1 hour17501600
Mountain Biking1 hour
2 hours
4 hours
Full day( own bike)  
Ziplining2 hours/2.2kms/6 lines
45 mins/750m/2 lines
Night zipline/2 lines

Thank you for reading!

Barbara Michoma,

The Traveling Mindset


‘the hills of adventure’

Every second I remember this place I shiver with excitement. It was the most thrilling and blood rushing place I have visited so far. It is not the people, it is not the animals but it is all about the scenery; the feeling of being one with nature, the adventure and the many obstacles that come with interacting with nature. The view is just to die for! Did you know that if you stand on the peak of Ngong hills you can see the whole of Ngong town, Kiserian, Kibera (the largest slum in Kenya), panoramic site of the famous Great Rift valley and some of Nairobi city? Don’t believe me? Well see for yourself!

Well what can I say? More like where should I begin? Do I start with the hills or the flora and fauna? Or should I talk about the windmills? The panoramic site of the great Rift valley? The grounds for hire? The restaurant on top of the hill? I am very confused! I think I will talk about the windmills fast. Ngong hills happens to be the home of a windmill farm which provides all of Ngong town and most of Kiserian town with electricity. This is one of the oldest and most sustainable way of electrical power production.

I used a matatu from town and alighted at Ngong town where I got a motorbike. Anyway, I arrived at the pay point where I decided to hire a guide since on that day I was a lone wolf and I had heard that it was unsafe to go by yourself. Only at a fee of 1500KES one can get a guide who will explain about the hills and also keep you safe. At the bottom of the text is my armed guard known as ‘Momanyi’- very good guide by the way.

Walking and hiking at the first two hills was almost too easy and somewhat cool because of the many rotating turbines, even though the sun was shining. With my one bottle of water in my hand continued walking slowly. Here we encountered human settlements and many animals enjoying the luxury of green grass.

At Ngong hills the law of nature- the higher you go the cooler it becomes is defied or maybe it was just me because I was busy dying of sweat and heat! But for sure the third hill began getting a bit difficult for my first-time hike. Atop here is the Kompass restaurant that has many activities; including zip lining, mountain biking and archery. Each of these activities at the restaurant at a fee of 1000KES.

As you keep hiking up to the fourth and fifth hill the difficulty shifts from moderate to very difficult. These two hills were very challenging for me. They are extremely steep and even if you are a seasoned hiker you will definitely break a sweat. As you can see from the image this two hills are quite steep, they cannot be compared to the first three.

As for the sixth hill I began getting into forested area and this is one of the reasons an armed guide is required to go to Ngong hills. Well I am panting as I right this! Let me sip my water as I continue. Okay so the forested hills difficulty(hard), here plants constantly brush you as if to say hello. (compare the difference in steepness between the fourth and the fifth hill)

When I thought the difficult part was almost over the seventh and last hill came into view. My jaw dropped in shock as I asked myself if I could manage this. This was very, extra steep with a very forested area. I was able to push myself and went all the way to the peak where the wonderful view I have been talking about massaged my eyes. Oh! I almost forgot to say this, seventh hill difficulty (extremely hard).

Believe me descending the Ngong hills is more difficult than going up the hills because at this point I was already tired and hungry. Finally, after three and a half hours I had hiked all the way to the peak and back to the foot of the hill. The only thing that I wanted to do was have water and sit down which I was glad to do immediately I got home. This place will leave you thinking, ‘who sent me?’

Ngong hills has many high points that have been used to install communication masts of several telephone networks. It is not only easy to see them from the foot of the hill but also from the summit. It also has 30 wind energy generation power sites. This is one of the major attractions that Ngong hills over to visitors. It is said that these turbines generate power to the whole of Ngong town and Kiserian town.

It is a major tourism attraction site due to its vantage point and it is mostly associated with scenic beauty. When one stands at the peak it is easy to see Nairobi town, Ngong town, The Great Rift valley and Kiserian town. It also has high altitude (seven hills) for sports training and hiking areas many are times that you will encounter famous marathoners and athletes training at Ngong hills.

It has beautiful grounds for hire that can be used as picnic sites and for religious retreats or weddings.

Are you a person who loves adventure? Do you enjoy pushing your body to the limit? Well the seven hills that make up Ngong hills is just the place for you. This place will push you to the breaking point, it will make you want to quit and turn back home; that is if you manage to climb all the way to the end. It is the best place for team building and if you also like running this place will definitely make you question your fitness. Bring your family, bring your friends Ngong hills is the place to be! I recommend Ngong hills to any traveller who happens to stop by Kenya. You have not seen Kenya yet if you have not been to these hills.

Barbara Michoma,

The Traveling Mindset.



On Saturday, the 29th February, 2020 we embarked on one of the toughest hikes in Kenya. The Elephant hill hike is very challenging and it is used mostly by hikers who are training for Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro. The hiker I am about to talk about is only 6 years old. Before her, the youngest person to hike the Elephant hill was 7 years old with the Human rights defenders.


As of three days ago the Traveling Mindset is proud to shine light on the youngest hiker. Her name is Tatiana… Boys where are you at? You’ve been left behind! Anyway as I was saying we embarked on our hike at about 10:00 am and we got to the top at about 3:30 pm and believe me this is the time that the rain decided to descend with a newly found vengence.


We finished the hike at about 8:00 pm and Tatiana managed all the way. I would probably say that she was fitter and more resilient than even the adults. Congratulations Tatiana for making it all the way.


That’s me carving into my very first bowl.

Hello readers, I have been lost for a while haven’t I ? Well, here I am with my Saturday vibes. Guess what I did on Saturday? I went to my very first soap stone painting class. I would say that this is probably one of the best experiences I have ever had. I painted, I ate good rice and green grams, I went shopping and the best part of all I made new friends!

from the left Me(Barbara), Yolanda and Rebecca!

I decided to actually go ahead and book an experience on Airbnb. The first experience that appears on the page as fate would have it is James’ experience on learning how to paint on soapstone bowls. I promise that I was swayed by the five star rating and the images that came up on the page. It looked like an amazing thing to do, I guess what did I have to loose anyway? I boarded a matatu all the way to Kawangware from my home on waiyaki way ; this cost me about 30kshs, I then boarded a bodaboda to James’ place. Well, I admit that I was afraid of getting lost but James ensured that he gave even the bodaboda driver the directions and he also texted them to me.

Our group tryout bowl.

I got there at about 10:00 am and I was invited by James into his house where he showed me around his abode and gave me good stories as we waited for the two other visitors who were joining us. Eventually Rebecca and Yolanda joined us at about 10:30 where they were also shown around and our ‘lesson’ commenced. James told us his life story and all about how he ended up in soap stone painting and he taught us how to do the painting. we actually did all the designs and carvings by ourselves. He then eventually gave each of us our own bowls where we got busy and creative.

This is what we each came up with. Amazing right?

After our painting session James made us amazing lunch composed of fried rice and green grams. Apparently he’s got skills in the kitchen as well. Magnificent food! After lunch we eventually decided to head to Maasai Market where I discovered my amazing bargaining power. Who knows maybe I can make it a career? We eventually said our goodbyes and parted ways. Best Saturday ever!

At Maasai Market, we stopped for a mini photo session

Barbara Michoma,

The Traveling Mindset.


Image result for visa
An entry in a passport that allows you to enter a foreign country legally.

All travelers may at some point require a Visa to travel and cross borders into other countries. And many of us have maybe fallen victim because our local travel agents may not have explained to us what we need to do in order to get a visa. Or maybe you even just want to deal with your travel plans by yourself. Who knows?

If you are a frequent traveler you will realize that you may not require a visa to certain countries. Most times When crossing continents you will discover that you indeed do require a visa. For example a person traveling from England to Kenya will require a visa but a Ugandan traveling to Kenya will not and vice versa.

Image result for visa

As travelers we may not be sure what kind of visa we are supposed to obtain. So, let’s start slow… there are many different types of visas for different kinds of people. I will mention them here:

a) The work visa

This visa allows the bearer to take on employment or engage in business activities in the host country.

b) The student visa

This visa allows the bearer to enrol in a post-secondary education institution in the host country.

c) The transit visa

It allows the bearer to enter a foreign country for leisure/ touristic stay for a predetermined amount of time.

d) The asylum visa

Also known as a refugee visa granted to individuals fleeing war, natural disasters and other situations where their life may be at risk.

e) The business visa

This visa allows the bearer to engage in business activities without particularly joining the host country’s work force/ labor market.

f) The spousal visa

When couples do not live in the same country this visa allows you to visit your spouse.

g) The working holiday visa

This visa allows the bearer to undertake temporary employment in the host country for their traveling period.

h) The evisa

This visa is an electronic visa that is stored in a database rather than being stamped in the passport.

i) The immigrant visa

This visa allows the bearer to permanently reside in the host country.

j) The nonimmigrant visa

This visa allows the bearer to enter the host country on a temporary basis.

k) The schengen visa

This visa allows the bearer to have a short stay allowing its holder to circulate within the Schengen area(covers 26 countries). These states are; Austria, Belgium, Czech republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. This visas are issued by the schengen states and intended stay should be no more than 90 days in any 180 days of period.

l) The type O visa

In the Us this visa is offered to those with extraordinary ability in science, arts, business, athletics or extraordinary achievement in motion pictures and television production.

m) The type P visa

This visa is offered to athletes, entertainer’s artist and essential support personnel who come to perform in the United states.

n) The type Q visa

This visa is required for those who are traveling to participate in international cultural exchange programs in the United states for the purpose of providing training, employment, sharing history culture and traditions of their home country.

o) The exchange visitor visa

The bearer of this visa is allowed to go to the United states to participate in exchange programs.( students, teachers, professors, research scholars, professional trainees, and visitors coming for travel, consultation and research purposes)

p) The religious worker visa

This visa allows those who are authorised by a recognised entity to conduct religious activity in the United states.

q) The domestic employee visa

This visa is elligible to domestic workers who accompany their employers to the US.

r) The media/ journalist visa

Journalists or media personnel from foreign countries are elligible to attain this visa for a temporary period to engage in their profession. They must however, have a home office in a foreign country.

s)The ship crew visa

This visa is offered to ship crew that will be crossing over to international water.

The next time you are preparing for travel at least you will know what kind of visa you need to acquire.

Barbara Michoma,

The Traveling Mindset.


Image result for pangolins

Today is the day folks that we celebrate the most trafficked animal in the world. Sad right? Have we all come across pangolins? Have you seen them on the internet? Have you seen them in person? Maybe? Maybe not? Pangolins my dear friends are the scaly ant eating legends with long nails. I hope that I have given you a rough idea about what they look like.

Why do these animals get trafficked? Well, I’ll tell you just like any other trafficked animal; their scales are used by the Chinese to make ‘medicine’. Today as we celebrate these animals that are desperately in need of help from all of us as a planet. we need to tell everyone who will listen why we need to change the mindset of all these people.

Image result for pangolin trafficking

Of the 100% trafficked animals, pangolins make the 20%. Now, i just wonder… How many people who have bought medicine made from the scales of these animals have been healed? They are now accused of being responsible for carrying the corona virus. I wonder if this disease will save them from being used to make medicine and will stop their trafficking? Only time will tell. We at the Traveling Mindset value all animals and we will continue to tell everyone about the importance of biodiversity.

Image result for world pangolin day

Barbara Michoma,

The Traveling Mindset.


Image result for hunting auctions

Elephants, Rhinos, Lions, Leopards and even Buffalos have been subject to hunting since time immemorial, more often now than ever. Our wildlife is under attack; the big five are dying due to human error. We have to stand up for our animals. Our tall beauties- the giraffes have also been victims to this greedy hunt trade.

Image result for hunting auctions

Can you believe it? Just by the tap of a button, you can actually place a bid to hunt poor defenseless animals. I don’t know about you; but this does not sit well with me. Recently Botswana lifted its ban to hunt elephants again. An auction firm actually sold tickets to hunt 70 elephants. 70 elephants! Can you believe this? They actually put up 200 elephants for sale!

Image result for hunting auctions

The number of animals hunted everyday is on the rise especially in Southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana & South Africa), Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Their Eastern African counterparts mostly condemn all hunting practices, they are however, dealing with the issue of poaching.

Image result for Southern africa

Hunting; a sport that is treacherous and torturous to animals. Have we not heard of hunting using guns, and even worse have we not heard of lion caned hunting? How much more pain do these poor animals have to bear for their salvation. It is so sad that the very people who should be living in harmony with animals are the ones actually harming them. When will enough be enough? All these animal auction firms should be closed I believe.

Image result for caned hunting

Barbara Michoma,

The Traveling Mindset.