Life in Lyon

 

During my time in this French city, I really enjoyed the little things. I was extremely happy every time I went to the market on the square behind my building, where I bought large amounts of fruits and was always greeted with a smile and sometimes even free stuff! I also really enjoyed an evening at home with a good book, a walk along the Rhône, taking a bath, drinking my morning smoothie, talking to my friends, writing, improving my French… I have not done a lot of big things and I actually haven’t really traveled outside of the city during these months, but I don’t regret that. I needed it like this and it was great.

Every week there was an event from Couchsurfing; a boardgame night in the center of Lyon. It was in one of my first weeks there that I went to one of those evenings and I became a regular instantly. We played all sorts of games with people from all kinds of different countries and it was such a blast, again and again, every week. I’m still sort of amazed by how much fun I’ve had there every week. The people who showed up were very nice and I spend a lot of time with the ones who were also regulars outside of these nights too. I’m very happy with my group of Lyonnais friends, even though I did betray one of them in a spy game and they didn’t feel like they knew me well enough until we played a game of two truths and a lie. I would have thought inventing lava sharks and mushroom cacti were ingredients for a lifelong friendship, but I guess it takes more than that ;)

I actually didn’t take many pictures throughout the summer, so in my last week in Lyon I went crazy with my camera to capture all the great memories. You may not enjoy watching them as much as I do, but I hope they are at least a little entertaining :)

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Roadtrip in France

The weekend before my 25th birthday was really special to me. One of my best friends came to visit me in France and we drove all throughout the area, stopping in different beautiful places, taking pictures and laughing. It was really grounding to see her there, because I was already feeling rather miserable and had decided to leave my job at the camping site. She traveled very far, using not the most comfortable ways to travel, to see me for just two days. And it was great. I felt understood and remembered that there are people in this world who are on my wavelength, which is a feeling I was missing there.

She brought me presents for my birthday – which were perfect and showed me she knows me well :) – and a card from another one of my best friends – which contained words that I needed at that moment – and we slept together in one of the huge safari tents. I liked the slumber party, I liked the company, I liked the travel vibe we had going. Honestly, I really liked being able to complain about everything at the camping site too. Roadtrippin’ together was great, even if I did occasionally drive past our goal (an available parking space, mostly), making us having to drive in a circle to end up there again.

Saying goodbye to her on my actual birthday was really hard for me, because it meant I had to stay there by myself for even longer and having spent two full days with her made me realize how great life could be. How awesome my life is. How great my friendships are. How much I miss being able to connect to people on an intellectual level and feeling understood.

Well, this all sounds rather dramatic, I’m aware of that, but that’s the way it felt. And honestly, this weekend is really the only good great memory I have of my time there. So seeing the pictures again… that’s just magical.

 

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Solo adventures in the Ardèche

I’m late in uploading all of my pictures, as you have recently enjoyed some from six months ago and also a few from nine months ago. So now, uploading these pictures from four months ago is not so bad. Soon there will be more pictures from the same period and even a few recent ones!!!

Bali’s Trick Art Museum

So, it was a while ago that I’ve been to this awesome museum and I cannot believe that I’ve withheld the pictures from you up until now. They are very cool and I really like how they turned out.

So enjoy watching my brother, his girlfriend and me doing things that look amazing, but were actually just us standing around striking up poses in a 3D museum.

Why I didn’t ride an elephant during my time in Asia (and you shouldn’t either)

I could have, trust me. They are available to ride in a lot of places. But even before I went on my trip, I had already researched a few places and found one of which it was clear they treated the animals well and that means, there would be no riding.
At first I thought I wouldn’t get to go here, because it was in the north of Thailand, and I wasn’t planning on going there. But plans change because there is something to be said for spontaneity and so I ended up going to the Elephant Nature Park after all.

The morning started with a pick up in Chiang Mai, and during the bus ride there we were shown a video where we learned some basic rules for interacting with the elephants, but we also saw some of the horrors they go through. A lot of elephants are still used for logging (dragging huge tree logs), but there are many elephants that are being used as touristic attractions as well, not to mention the circus shows that feature elephants, because they are insanely smart and can do tricks.

The thing is, no elephant in its right mind wants to do these things. It is unnatural for them and in order to get an elephant to do these things, their spirit has to be broken. Which basically means that they are being tied up very tightly and beaten until they will comply. Until their soul leaves them and there is just a shell of an animal left.

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All elephants have an owner, and as long as the elephant still does what they have to for them, they will be of use. But as soon as they get older, or the abuse has been so bad that the elephant shows wounds or isn’t able to work in any other capacity anymore. That is the point where the elephant rescue center shows up to offer them money to take the animal, because they won’t sell them earlier, which means that all the animals in the center are pretty damaged – except for the baby elephants that are born there.

Nevertheless, their new life in the park allows them to heal, and the high prices charged to visit the elephants in this park and to hear their stories, allows the park to continue this work.

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The day consists of feeding the animals, walking around to pet them, to take some pictures (of course), but mostly to watch them in their natural habitat, which has been recreated in this park. They mostly eat. Sometimes they play a little, or throw some mud on their backs to keep the sun off their skin. We also go to do something that was advertised as ‘river bathing with the elephants’. This basically meant you could throw buckets of water on them, so that wasn’t really what we had envisioned.

One of the highlights was the vegetarian (but basically vegan) lunch. I could eat everything that was being served and the buffet was huge. Needless to say, I was stuffed after lunchtime and almost felt like walking at the same pace as the huge elephants.

 

 

And after reading this story, what if I told you that here in Asia, they have slaughter houses where they kill elephants, in order to be able to eat their flesh. Maybe they sell elephant flesh in every restaurant*.

You would be horrified.

And I feel the need (I’m sorry) to point out the hypocrisy in that**. Because this is exactly what happens to so many cows, pigs, sheep and chickens every day. Each year there are 9.000.000.000 (LOOK at all those zeros!) animals killed for factory farming, in just the US.
By spending your money on meat, you are encouraging this industry to keep doing what they are doing. And if you’re all about death and despair, then, by all means, keep doing that.

But if you feel bad for abused elephants, or dogs, or cats, or kangaroos for that matter, please just ask yourself why them.

Tell me, what is the difference between these precious elephants, and a ‘regular’ farm animal? Because to me, they are all the same.

*The elephants are not killed to eat, this was hypothetical.
**If you eat meat.

The north of Thailand

So, my initial plan was to just visit Bangkok and the south of Thailand. But everyone I met along my travels, and I do mean everyone, told me to go to Chiang Mai and Pai, because these were supposedly the best places in the country. So, flexible me booked a few plane tickets and I decided to visit these towns. Coincidentally, I had been eyeing this elephant park that is really close to there, so it gave me the opportunity to go there as well. But I will post about that later.

The pictures you see here were taken in the town of Chiang Mai, and when I was in Pai I rented a motorbike and went around there, so the nature pictures are all from the area near Pai.

I will save you the story of how I ended up throwing up in the mini van, because that mountain road that takes you to Pai is really as bad as they say. It wasn’t pretty, but I guess it was worth it?

I know I haven’t been very verbal lately, in my posts. Lack of time and lack of inspiration are the causes, but at least the pictures are very beautiful :)

Oh, and all the roads depicted here… Yeah we rode on those, with our motorbikes. And let me tell you… That is the best feeling in the world.