An elephant is "cheating" a lot!

Théotime was talking about it from the beginning, and on our side we really wanted to go see these big beasts a little closer… But here, rubbing shoulders with elephants is not trivial, and has asked us a lot of ethical questions. At the beginning of the 20th century there were 100 000 elephants in Thailand. Today they are only 5000, half domesticated. But here's the rub: a domesticated elephant costs between 20 000 and 30 000, in other words, it's worth it. And tourism demand has made it a very lucrative activity, but at what cost? Almost all domesticated elephants have undergone the so-called "Phajaan": The Elephants are hunted and captured before the age of 3 years, then for 1 week and sometimes more, are subjected to torture (we pass the details for our young readers), In order to crush their wild animal soul and subdue them. Then, "Reminder bites" are administered regularly so that the elephant always remembers this period and continues to submit. Besides this Phajaan, an elephant on which we ride is also torture, knowing that he can bear a load of more than 150kg, that the nacelle that carries the tourists weighs already 60kg, and that sometimes we see 4-6 people on, + his guide…

An elephant that draws with its trunk or other trick, it is an elephant that does not have time to eat its 200kgs of daily food, which takes it between 18 and 20h/day. And their proboscis serves them to breathe, incidentally…

So yes we were very keen to see elephants, but not in these conditions. After reflections and research we opted for a refuge of elephants, or normally they were collected after all these tortures, and live now in good conditions while being well treated. We loved to rub shoulders with them so close, spend a moment with them to feed them, bathe with them in the river… An unforgettable experience for Théotime than to find yourself next to these mastodons! We saw elephants obeying the voice of their masters and the sugarcane they love. They lived in a green environment with space, and we saw them eating a lot!

Yes but here… In all this we have also seen scars and traces of blows, and not sure that they are all very old… These elephants also knew how to make "tricks" like barrir when they were told "Thank you", to make a love with their trunk… The subject of abuse seems really taboo when asked (and English is suddenly much more approximate) and one wonders if the inscription "No Riding" (you do not get on the elephant) is not rather a new tool Merchandising that has made its appearance as there is awareness on the part of tourists. And then there were these funny tubes that hung in the master's belt, knives to cut the sugarcane or bullhook (small hammer with a tip used to beat them)?!

The border seems pretty thin, and leaves us a lot of question marks yet.

Back to France!

On July 11th, after a harassing 26h of flights and transits of all kinds, we return to the south of France to the mother of Amel in order to give birth to our little adventurer who will have followed us for the entire duration of the journey!
A very appreciated break in the trip, which allows us to catch our breath before considering the continuation of the adventures at 4.
After a very peaceful pregnancy, that we all lived together every day and at the rhythm of the movements of the growing baby, we choose to give birth to this little being in an equally serene way: Edison was born on August 28th, in the sweetness of Our home for these few months of transit in France. Théotime who had accompanied her with his songs, stories and laughter throughout his life in utero, discovered his little sister a few hours after his birth, and it is naturally that life at 4 began!
Edison, on October 9th we will resume our trip where we had paused in the itinerary, direction Thailand, then South India for another few weeks of travel!

The temples of Java

We take the time and first explore on a whole day the temple of Prambanan. In a large green park stands the Hindu Candi Çiva temple, built between 900 and 930 AP. A.D., and many times restored afterwards. The towers erected to the sky symbolize Mt Meru, a sacred mountain in the Himalayas of northern India. Inside these towers, we can observe the statues of the great deities Çiva, Vishnu and Brahma.

For history, two religions clashed in Java in the 9th century: Buddhism and Hinduism. These two religions set up their base in the fertile plain of Yogyakarta, built Prambanan and Borobudur and clashed to have the hand-put on the island. Java was hindouisée. But in the fifteenth century, Islam arrived and its expansion ended Hinduism (which was not the case in nearby Bali).

The next day, we head towards Borobudur, in a box of rice fields and palm trees. The road is long, but it is worth it: Built with 1 600 000 blocks of volcanic stone (from the andesite), it is the largest Buddhist monument in the world!

Again, earthquakes and violent rains have degraded the building that needed restoration to keep its splendor.

One speaks of Borobudur as a "stone mandala", ie that his ascension promotes the spiritual ascension of the believer. We thus pass the sphere of desires, that of appearances, before reaching the sphere of emptiness or spiritual awakening, with its immense hollow stupa, still a symbolic replica of Mt Meru.

Théotime takes great pleasure in looking for Buddha's representations inside the stupas ("Does he still have a head?"), or to observe the various sculptures on the walls to recognize animals. The statues of stone lions still inspire him a fearful fascination, and he likes to go and touch them furtively the claws or teeth, well brave the little man!

Another symbolic of Borobudur that we liked very much and that we share here for the lovers of numerology: Borobudur is made up of 9 terraces. 504 Statues (5 + 0 + 4 = 9), 72 stupas (7 + 2 =…), 108 niches (…) on each side (4 sides, 4×108 = 432. 4 + 3 + 2 = 9…) … And there is no chance, we will always fall back to the number 9, one of the numbers of the celestial spheres.

Japan: 15 Fun facts incongruous or interesting

  • By entering and leaving the train compartments, the controllers always make a greeting by leaning forward. They can repeat these gestures up to 20-30 times per trip.
  • It is strictly forbidden to take the escalator with its stroller. Guards are watching. We do this by doing the small salute several times (do not have too much pain on the back) while punctuating it with several "Arigato cozaïmassss" by letting long hang the "s" in the manner of a snake. It's working.
  • When you have shoes removed for example in a tatami restaurant and you need to go to the bathroom, pairs of special toilet slippers are there to accommodate our little feet.
  • There is a toilet everywhere, with an exemplary cleanliness even in the subway. On the side of the toilet, you can put music if you want a little privacy.
  • At the pool, women bathe with a running pantyhose covering even their ankles, and a long-sleeved sweatshirt coming at their fingertips. In the same pool but on the Onsen side we bathe naked!
  • The Japanese love Théotime's blond hair and big eyes: When we walk we often hear "kawaiiiiiiii" ("cute"). When we take a picture, 20 Japanese have the same picture of us…
  • In 25 days and a lot of trips and visits we never heard anyone raising the voice.
  • The children are all an extraordinary calm. We never see them crying, or silently. No one runs all over the subway, throws his blankie, doesn't scream "I want a banana now!", NE… Except ours (and there we do not tell Kawai…)
  • It is possible to walk in an extremely dense crowd (think Paris time peak times 2) without anyone rushing you. Practice!
  • Babies are never breastfed in public even when they are small. There are specific places for this (and forbidden to men), referenced on an application. We're happy not to have our little voracious number two in open bar yet.
  • If you forget your precious iPhone in the subway, your neighbor will be waiting for you at the next station to give it to you. Tested and approved (once we are sufficient).
  • In supermarket stores and supermarkets, cashiers talk to us all the time they spend our articles. We think they say something like "a sandwich will make 200 yen, a cupcake 118 yen etc etc…" But we're not sure. We don't understand anything!
  • Our flagship meals always in these same supermarket: croquettes (fried rice ball and stuffed) and chicken skin skewers (yes Yes only skin)
  • There are no garbage cans in public places, the street… And rarely in the subway. Yet we have never seen a single paper on the floor.
  • Unfortunately when there is a dustbin we have the choice between glass bottles or "to burn". Recycling does not seem to have made its place yet.

Troop report and some figures

End of April 2018. In a few days, it will be 4 months that we are on the roads, between Central America, South America, Polynesia and New Zealand. Already a long way, and yet still surprises and wonderful discoveries on the road. We quietly take our cruising pace, according to our desires, weather, playgrounds … Our journey is also built day by day, and around Theotime, which in its way allows us to appreciate the Many little things (we'll remember for a long time the "pasta! with tuna on it, great!" during our Spartan diets on Easter Island!). We had planned our itinerary in France, finally arrived in the country we enjoy spending several days in the same place, ask several hours at noon near a torrent (ah !! throw pebbles into the water and make "Boats" with sticks …) or park.

At the dawn of moving to the land of the rising sun, to return to the northern hemisphere left on January 25, and to begin to reduce the kms and times of jet lag that separate us from France, the point on these 4 last months…

Number of countries visited: 5

Number of kilometers traveled: around 37000

Number of nights spent at the airport: 2

Number of nights spent in the tent: 50

Number of hot showers in America: 23/60 or 38% … ("A cold cold cold shower" as Theotime still tells us, used to run under the jet screaming to try to remove a simulacrum of soap … We do not drag on a thing is sure)

Number of good cheese: 1 (goat cheese in Pucon)

Number of failed attempts to find a good cheese: 43

Number of fantasy discussions around cheese: 98

* Repeat the previous 3 points by replacing "cheese" with "bread".

Number of times folded and unfolded: 264 (at the time of writing we are still alive)

Number of delicious naps spent by Theotime on the back of his dad while he sweated blood and water between mountains and tropical forests: 34

Number of stories read to Theo: 714 (7 different. He knows them by heart. US too…)

Number of books a parent reads from the Book Exchange: 17

Number of washing of our clothes by hand: 37

Number of layers changed: 530

Number of stray dogs that accompanied us on our walks: 35 (sometimes 4 at the same time, there were people on the trails!)

Number of cows having tried to load us in New Zealand: 2 (we will find them with the tickle rather easy contrary to the placidity of the cows of our pastures).