Posts tagged travel
The truth behind elephants rides
world elephant day

Are you familiar with the photos where happy tourists on the back of an elephant? We see it everywhere, many companies use such photos to attract customers. Most of us who go for it are animal lovers - because we love this beautiful animal, and want to have the "once-in-a-lifetime" experience to interact with them. 

But there are some ugly truth behind this activity - the elephants have gone through tremendous suffering for us to enjoy the moment and posing for photos.

They were captured from the wild

Elephants are not domestic animals, all the elephants you see are captured from the wild. They are social animals who live together as family like we humans do. However, baby elephants are on high demand as they are easier to capture and train. They would be separated from their mothers at a young age and spend the rest of their life in captivity. 

They are broken

Elephants are intelligent animals with long-term memory and strong needs for affection. In order to get them 'trained' for riding or performance, the trainers go through a process to break their spirit. They are chained in a pen where they cannot move, often without water or food; they are beaten with bullhook (with a sharp end) till they bleed all over; they are forced to go into positions that break their bones. 

They are over-worked and poorly treated

They are money making machines. They will walk miles under the sun without having a rest; they are fed with poor food and sickness are often over-looked; they are chained up so they cannot move even a little bit when they are not 'working'. When you see an elephant moves side-by-side or swings its feet, they are not dancing, they are frustrated.

This is an issue very close to the heart of our female travel community If you care, here's how you can make a difference.

Do not go to any rides or performance. There are other ways to enjoy interaction with them - in their nature habitats when they are free. Fortunately, the world is waking up to this issue and there are many sanctuaries have opened with the purpose to rescue them. You can book a tour with these sanctuaries, where you can go for a walk with the elephants, take a bath with them, make medicine for them, learn about them. And your money will be spent on making their life better, no causing them to suffer.

Spread the word. Most people do it as they are not aware of the ugly truth. Just let them know. 

Sign the pledge. World Animal Protection is working with policy makers and tour operators to make a different, help the movement by signing HERE


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Why I Travel

I started writing this post with the title "why we travel" though I don't think I have the right to say "we" as every one of us travel for different reasons, and each individual reason is no better than the other.

I put travelling in the same category as reading. As an individual, one is conditioned by the environment you grow up in, by the people you make daily interactions with, and by the experience one is living. Reading and travelling are two activities that help us jump out of the environment we are used to in order to experience a different type of life.

read travel.jpg

My journey while growing up was smooth. My parents are doctors, so I always went to the best schools and always stayed on top of my classes. I used to think there was no other world beyond this little circle of mine - or I simply didn't pay any interest as it felt far away and irrelevant. When I was a teenager, my dream then was to live in a house with my best friends in no other place than my home town. Back then I hated travelling. This is because I saw going somewhere else as being away from my friends.

My first year in the UK brought me a lot of changes. It was the first time I made friends with people from different parts of the world. It was during my discussion with them that I realised how limited my view of the world was, and how different life can really be. I was amazed with the open mindedness shown by some of them; they simply do not judge other people's views, but instead, try to understand them -when all I did was try to stubbornly prove myself right. I grew more fascinated with the different perspectives life had to offer and I wanted to see them with my own eyes. That was when I fell in love with travelling.

But when I started travelling, it was done in "Chinese style". It was like a competition of how many places you could squeeze into a day. The urge to see the world and experience more within a limited time drove it (in China, there's only 10-day annual leave). The privilege a lot of people enjoy here (holidays, transport, visa-free, etc.) are simply not enjoyed in China. So please, when next you see a group of Chinese tourists, do not judge them.

I have friends who are always proud to announce the number of countries they've been to. While I'm proud of them, what makes me proud of myself is not the number of places I've been to, it's the number of friends I've made and the number of people I've met along the way. Now when I travel, I would happily spend a few days with a new local friend I have made rather than rushing off to see more sights. I learnt how to trust the people I meet on the road and how to accept their warm hearts. Some of my most treasured memories would not have happened without them; like staying in a temple at Old Bagan and meditating with the monks and people, or being taken on a scooter to see the most thrilling and amazing sunrise with no other soul in sight.

The world is without limits. The more I travel, the more I know that there are so many things I do not know yet. The more people I meet, the more I learn about human kindness and the deep connection we all share. The more places I go to, the more I understand that freedom is not about physically being on the road, but about mentally being on the road.

That is why for me, travelling is about finding my true self. Through the people I’ve met, I’ve had the opportunity to temporarily enter into someone else's life and experience it so I can learn to see the world from a different perspective; to feel from where my heart really lays rather than what my mind has been conditioned to believe.

travel alone meet friends

This is what I call true freedom, and this is why I travel and why I love solo travel. Someday my body may not allow me to be on the road but my heart and mind will never stop.


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Stay hygienic on the road - Essential packing list for women travellers

Travelling is fun. But a lot of us, women travellers in particular, have experienced some upsetting situations during our trips, some of these include a dirty toilet, running out of feminine products, etc. Below is a list of things that can really help you stay hygienic and confident but are usually overlooked when you are packing for your trip.

packing list for women travellers

HAND SANITIZER

This is one thing that should be on top of our list. We use our hands to do a lot of things; it is only important that we ensure they are free from germs. When we are in the mountains or in a rural village, getting clean water and soap usually seems difficult as they are not always within reach. Therefore, you need to ensure that you carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you. Sanitizers do not only clean hands, they clean surfaces too.

*Tip - Public transport (including airplane) are normally filled with different types of germs. Clean your hand often during a long-haul train or a long flight, and also avoid touching surfaces except when necessary.

POCKET TISSUES

You are probably used to having toilet paper and tissues as part of your daily life. But this isn't the case everywhere around the globe. I've been in some awkward situations where I had to ask people 'next door' for some dry paper. Simply carry a pack of pocket tissue with you all the time. 

MENSTRUAL CUP

I made the decision to replace my tampons with menstrual cups just last year, and I'm impressed! There are a lot advantages to be derived from doing this. First off, it holds a lot more than a tampon or pad -unless you're having a very heavy flow. You only need to change it when you wake up and before going to bed. It's comes in very handy when you're on the road. It is also very hygienic; you do not need to worry about bad smells or infections after a long day without changing it. It is also quite compact; you only need to carry one in your bag and worry less about when your unexpected friend comes to visit. And to top it all, it's environmental friendly as it creates a lot less waste.

*Tips: 1) Always wash your hands before using the cup. 2) If you cannot find a microwave or a hob to sterilize it, use your hand sanitizer! 3) If you are changing in a public toilet, carry a bottle of water with you in order to rinse it. And if you do not have water, simply wipe it with tissue.

SHEWEE - FEMALE URINE DEVICE

This is one device a lot of us have probably not tried on. I didn't understand the purpose of this device until I had no choice but to use a toilet that's so disgusting, you wouldn't want your skin or bottom to touch any part of it. This device is an essential device as it is good for situations where you cannot find a proper place to urinate. It allows you to do your business while standing up. Additionally, you do not need to venture too far off the path before being able to finish your business when in urgent need; this simply makes it safer.

*Tip - Carry it in a separate plastic bag or case as you may not be able to wash it clean every time you use it.

VAGISIL CREAM OR ANY SIMILAR PRODUCT

Just pack it with your other medications. Sometimes, the humidity and long day activities can cause irritations. Although it's best to seek medical help, this cream will help you relieve the symptom so you can continue enjoying your trip.

*Tip - Avoid wearing thongs or G-strings during the day. There's a higher chance you'll get irritated when you wear these clothing, unlike when you wear briefs.

CONDOM

Always have a condom with you, even if you don't expect your trip to involve any sexual activity. This is for your own safety. Things can happen when we least expect them (the chances are small but we should be always prepared). Should we end up in an unexpected situation, at least we'll have protection.

Is there anything else you think can help us women while we're on the road? Leave a comment below so others can become knowledgeable about it.


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Love the sea? Be a responsible ocean traveller

Summertime is here again in Europe. For many of us, this means sunshine and the sea. Tell me, who doesn't love the see? Its vastness, peace, and refreshment... Last week, I pampered myself by taking a diving holiday in the Red Sea.

I love diving. It's not just a getaway to a different place, but to a whole different world. The sea life displaying beauty all around you while you float in the water. The visibility I experienced in the Red Sea was great -20 meters. However, the locals told me that the visibility has significantly reduced over the course of the last ten years. While the blooming tourism has presented the locals with lots of opportunities, our behavior is costing us the environment.

This reminds me of the trip I took to Indonesia last year, I saw the once crystal clear sea turned into a belt of floating rubbish. This really broke my heart. Underwater, there was debris, clearly visible to the eye, floating all around. All of these were not there when I had first visited the place five years ago.

We love our homes and with the sea being the mother of all life, it also serves as our home. Treating it with love and care should be on our priority list. Traveling the ocean in a responsible manner is one thing that's very easy to do, the only thing is, most of us are not aware of how to go about it. Therefore, I have compiled some tips below to ensure that we travel the ocean responsibly.

SEE BUT DO NOT TOUCH

This rule applies to all see life -the ones in the water and those on the beach. Even if you put them back, picking them up or touching them in the first place have already disturbed their way of life, or worse, destroyed it. Be aware of your surroundings whenever you are in the water – swimming, diving or snorkelling, for the sea life and also for our own safety.

DO NOT LITTER

There are thousands of sea lives dying as a result of the rubbish that we produce and dump into the sea. In order to minimize this, ensure that you clean up after yourself. Do not leave even the tiniest bit of rubbish behind as even these can be very dangerous to sea creatures. And as a contribution to having a clean ocean, whenever you see rubbish lying around, do your best by picking it up and disposing it properly.

DO NOT FEED THE FISHES

I have to admit that I have done this a few times in the past years. I enjoyed having the fishes around me and thought giving them food was a positive action. It was recently that I learned how harmful this can be; it can cause behavioural change of the fishes that they get use to human feeding, thus change their natural diet. This eventually will lead to lack of necessary nutrients. In addition, not all types of fish eat human food, constant feeding in one area means certain types of fish would over-populate, and over time, the ecosystem will be changed forever.

DO NOT STEP ON CORALS

Corals are not stones, they are living things! A touch can kill the reef, thereby destroying the whole ecosystem dependent on it. And there’s safety concerns: the sharp edges can also hurt you.

DO NOT SEE ANY ANIMAL PERFORMANCE

Sharks and dolphins do not belong in swimming pools, but in the sea. If you know you want to see them, look for a natural way of viewing these beautiful and lovely animals. Avoid any and every performance that subjects them to the entertainment of other people. Also avoid tours where they "chum" the water or use different feeding methods to lure them in.

OCEAN FRIENDLY SUN CREAM

This is one thing that's often over-looked. The chemical products from most commercial brands will destroy the lives of reefs and other sea creatures. Think about the amount of sun screen thousands of people on the beach are pouring into the sea each and every day.

How do you buy a sunscreen that's ocean friendly then? What you need to do is ensure that the sunscreen you are buying doesn't contain these reef-damaging substances, including Oxybenzone, butylparaben, octinoxate, and 4-methylbenzylidine camphor. Look for a product that uses sunblock such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide instead of chemical one.

SPEAK UP

This one is quite difficult to do and I've sometimes felt self conscious as a solo female traveller. When you see that someone is doing something harmful to sea creatures, do speak up. Not to start an argument with them or go into fits of criticism, but to politely correct them with a gentle tone. Do not become offended or angry. When you see people throw different things around, pick those things up in their presence. It's not like most of us do not care, we simply are not aware of the harm we are causing. And since we were once in that ignorant position, we should be understanding, accommodating, and be able to properly guide others.

If you want to take it a step further by taking actions when you get back home, you can go through this article from National Geographic; it will definitely help a lot.

http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/take-action/10-things-you-can-do-to-save-the-ocean/

 

We're building an app exclusively for women travellers. It connects you with each other around the world. Helping you have an easier, safer and more enjoyable journey. Sound good? Sign up below to join our Beta, be the first to try it out and help us develop what works for you.

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