24 February 2016

//all photos taken on my 35mm film camera//

001. While in Chiang Mai we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit The Elephant Nature Park for a day and I can safely say it was one of the most incredible things I have ever done. If you haven't heard of The Elephant Nature Park before it is essentially an elephant sanctuary for the beautiful creatures that have been unfortunate enough to cross the path of cruel humans. The park is run by a wonderful lady called Lek, who has dedicated her life to rescuing and rehabilitating these gentle giants. When I visited, the huge sanctuary was currently home to 65 elephants, 400 rescued dogs, a herd of buffalo, numerous cats and one pig. They certainly go above in beyond in terms of rescuing elephants and all animals from being used in an abusive manner or as exploited tourist attractions. I am very passionate about this issue and I feel it is one not a lot of people are educated about (the amount of times I have seen Facebook friends on the back of elephants and have been tempted to send them an essay about it...). I hope this post can help spread some light on this issue for you if it's the first you have heard!

002. The main idea behind The Elephant Nature Park is to provide a home for elephants that free and safe from any harm. I feel so incredibly lucky to have experienced these wonderful animals free and happy in nature, after learning all about their horrific and inhuman stories of pain that have been inflicted upon them. The whole day had a bizarre feeling to me; it felt magical to see these giants roaming around,  but hearing their awful stories made my heart heavy with sadness. How can human beings be so cruel to a creature so kind? Feet blown up from land mines while working in the logging industry, blind from the tourist camera flashes or spotlights at the circus, broken limbs/distorted legs from being overworked in harsh conditions, blind from having their eyes stabbed out by owners, permanently injured backs from people riding them- THESE CASES ARE NOT UNUSUAL. Elephants are not ours to exploit, they are mammals too- they are smart, they have feelings, they have memories. They do not want to be locked up each night and dragged around all day in pain while someone with a selfie stick is sitting on their back!

003. If you love elephants or call yourself an animal lover please don't ever ride them, or participate in elephant tourist traps while in Thailand. Throughout travelling Asia we saw first hand elephants at the sanctuary, but also elephants who were being exploited or ridden by tourists- you can see the pain in their faces, compared to the elephants who are now living a life of freedom. If you want further support or need a little more convincing on why riding elephants should NOT be on your bucket list take a look at this, this and this. And please, if you ever have the chance to travel abroad ALWAYS seek out the ethical and magical places like this park, because they truly are a diamond in rough and deserve all the support they can get.

Lena x


17 February 2016

//all photos taken on my 35mm film camera// 

001. Next stop Chiang Mai- we walked out of the airport into a torrential downpour- literally running into a cab with ankle deep water and rising! After half an hour it stopped and the water subsided down the drains, a small taste of the South East Asia monsoons for us. Chiang Mai itself is a small peaceful city surrounded by lush mountains, countless temples, great markets and lots of cultural tours/experiences. We ended up staying in Chiang Mai for over two weeks, which all seems a blur now, but I will try my best to recount all my favourite parts.

002. During our stay in Chiang Mai we created a pretty comfortable routine- fruit from the local markets for breakfast, along with $1 fruit shakes, then dining out for lunch and dinner at vegetarian restaurants. I honestly don't think we had a meal that wasn't at a vegetarian cafe- we were spoilt for choice! My top recommendations are Aum, May Kaidee's and Taste from Heaven. Food in Thailand is so cheap- you're looking at $2-$4 for a main- but the portions can be a little small, so don't be afraid to order more! Trust me authentic Thai food is amazing and you are going to want to taste it all. We spent the rest of our time wandering around the city, doing yoga, looking at the hundreds of temples, cute street dogs and just living slowly. Markets are definitely a must do in Chiang Mai. I highly recommend the Walking Street Markets on a Sunday night- they are one of my favourite markets in all of Asia (and trust me I've seen a lot!). Lots of more unique handmade items at really good prices. If you only make it to one market in Chiang Mai make it this one.

003. Because we were on a backpacker budget our days weren't always jammed packed with expensive activities, however we did manage to squeeze a few special things in. I wanted to do a Thai cooking class so badly so we booked one with The Thai Farm Cooking School. It was an incredible day of picking produce from their organic garden, cooking, eating and nursing our food babies. Our instructor Garnet was such a character- so hilarious and made the day even better. We also caught a song-tao up to Doi Suthep one day to see the huge temple on the hill- I do not recommend. It wasn't the worst experience in the world but the temple itself was waaaaaaay too touristy for something that's meant to be peaceful, although the view was nice. Save your pennies and just visit one of the many temples in town instead.

004. Finally... my favourite experience in all of Thailand... ELEPHANTS! I have a lot to say about this particular topic so I'm going to dedicate the whole next post to them. Stay tuned.

Lena x


13 February 2016

//photos taken on my 35mm film camera//

001. On the 21st of October 2015 we jetted off from the Gold Coast bound for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with our backpacks on and excitement levels high preparing for the adventure of a lifetime.  We couldn't really believe it was all finally happening, after a year of dreaming and saving. We had no idea what to expect or what Asia would have in store for us, but we couldn't have been more ready. (Quick tip #1 never fly Brisbane to Asia from the Brisbane airport, Air Asia leaves from the Gold Coast and it is WAY cheaper). 

002. Our initial reactions to Kuala Lumpur were a little disappointed and overwhelmed. The traffic was insane, as was the smog, or "haze" as it is widely referred to over there. Lucky we had a nice little hotel room to escape to for the few days we were there. Our neighbourhood was dirty and smelly, but we found an oasis 10 minutes walk from our hotel in the form of a street with 3 pure vegetarian indian restaurants on it. The cheap-as-chips indian food and the air conditioned tourist shopping hub Central Market nearby became our best friends. 

003. We also ventured out one day to see the iconic KL Petronas Twin Towers (which were just two huge towers). The huge mall underneath them was great for escaping the heat (plus shopping if you have money to spend), and we enjoyed a traditional Malaysian meal of vegan Nasi Lemak at Simple Life in the food court. 10/10 recommend getting that if you are in Malaysia at any point- it's all these tiny little components on a plate that taste so damn good all together! Later we stopped by the Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery for a vegan buffet lunch. If you are on a tight budget or are a veg head, GO TO THIS! It is a huge cafeteria style, pile-up-your-plate, kinda thing all for about $2. Plus it's in walking distance from the towers once you're sick of the whole tourist scene. It is packed at lunch time, with lots of nearby office workers coming in for a cheap feed- think Govindas but bigger and better. 

004. After around 5 days in KL essentially just eating and wondering the streets, we set off for Thailand. Not our original plan, but the haze was really getting to us- the two Aussies used to crystal clean air and blue skies. We had heard lots of good things about Chiang Mai, and couldn't wait to try out all the Thai food and cultural goodness the north had to offer! Stay tuned for Part 2 (I promise there will be lots more photos... clearly didn't think KL was too photogenic!). 

Lena x


5 February 2016

 001. I'm just going to back this post up to about 5 months ago when I was living in Alice Springs with Ben loving life, going on adventures and seeing more of Oz. All the memories I have of the Northern Territory are fond ones, I really did love it. I'm an east coast gal born and bred, so going to the red centre of Australia for the first time was really such an incredible experience. I hope these photos inspire fellow Australian readers to get out there and explore more of this beautiful and diverse country we call home, because I sure can't wait to see even more of it!

002. All these photos were taken on my little 35mm point and shoot. I love film photography, but I think I may take a little break because honestly it's pretty expensive compared to digital which is virtually free! I'm currently waiting for my 8 rolls of film from my 3 months in Asia to be developed... so it's safe to say that will cost me an arm and a leg. But it's totally worth it, candids and the surprise of film makes me one excited little bean.

Lena x

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