Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cathedral Of Old Town Dubrovnik

The first day I was in Dubrovnik I didn't notice all the signs of war around the old town - like the smattering of bullet holes all along one side of the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin.  I just saw a beautiful church in a beautiful old city.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Looking Through The Dubrovnik Wall

Peeking out an open space within the Walls of Old City Dubrovnik, all the rooftops and village-like life going on below.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Posing With A Lion Cub, And Other Ethical Animal Travel Decisions

Getting close the a wild animal on your travels sounds exciting. I have seen lots of photos posted on Facebook by my friends, and other bloggers, with pictures of themselves sitting beside an adult tiger or cuddling a lion cub. And these snaps ARE pretty impressive.

If you can allow your eyes past the chain around the tiger's neck.

But is it right?  Are wild animals meant to be cuddled by humans? Are you helping, or harming them, by doing this? Is this something you want to take part in, really, when you are travelling the world, collecting experiences?

I hope these are questions people ask themselves more and more, as these opportunities present themselves all over the world.

The Thailand Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi has been in the news this month, with authorities looking to close it down due to mistreatment. Stories of the animals being drugged, chained very closely, taunted and teased with food have existed for some time.

Then there is the Giraffe slayer who has been recently internet-shamed by Ricky Gervais, for posting of her recent kill - an activity people all over the world seem to get excited and outwardly proud about. There are many instances of people hunting, killing and then posing with animals. But almost always, these are contrived situations where the odds are stacked against the animal for the tourist's benefit.

In Cambodia, just outside of Phnom Penh, you can go to a shooting range, and I understand you can pay $100US (well, this was the talk back when I was living there) to shot and kill a cow with an AK-47. I am always stunned that people take this up, and then brag to the world about their "feat".

My time being driven through Kruger National Park and seeing the wide range of animals living and interacting with their natural environment, was incredible. Going with a tour guide who was a conservationist, and so evidently a lover of the animals she observed from her vehicle, was brimming and admirable.

This was how wild animals are meant to be living. Co-existing, hunting for their own meals, living in the food chain of the jungle. Natural.

Our guide was respectful of the animal's space, habits, habitat and behaviours. Careful, and cautious, so as not to disturb. A perfect, real, and exhilarating experience as a tourist.

Whilst I was planning some time in East London, I actually looked into visiting a place for that super cute selfie with a lion cub.

A couple of us starting reading up on these places around the country, and were quickly horrified at what we found about the industry.

I read articles about the industry of these "petting parks". Where they bred these lions to be sold to the many private reserves around South Africa. The parks where tourists can come and sign up to hunt and kill them, in closed off designated land for this purpose. A canned hunt, it's called.

Bred to be petted as a cub, and then confined to an area ready to be hunted down and killed by tourists.

No, I don't want any part of that supply chain.

The differences between conservation and mistreatment need to be investigated as you travel around, looking for unique experiences. Up close comes at a cost - to the animal.

Leaving only footprints, take only photos from the places you visit - but considered, ethical ones, that do not endanger, or support the death of that animal and others like it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Onofrio's Fountain From Above

The view of the square that holds the gorgeous Onofrio's Fountain in Dubrovnik is best viewed from the Old City Walls. Much of the old city can be watched from this perspective, for an enriched sense of life below.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Paterson Project - Melbourne Street Art For A Cause

A building along Smith Street is about to be demolished and made into new apartments. But before the space was ruined for progress, the three floors of space was opened to some of Melbourne's most interesting street artists.
Panels and walls painted, the building was then open to the public for one night and a day for viewing, and bidding on pieces. All money raised went to the Royal Children's Hospital.
Awesome idea, and incredible art - the Friday night was a bustle of people checking out the works, and enjoying the bar set up on one of the floors.
I put in some bids, but was there too early in the auction to win any of the pieces. Was wowed by the art creations though!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Take A Stand. Raise Your Voice. Join The March - Movement Towards A Fair Australia For The Asylum Seeker Debate

There was a massive march through Melbourne on Sunday, with 15,000 people using their feet and voices, to raise the need for change about how Australia treats asylum seekers and refugees. This was echoed around the country, and the world, as people gathered in cities such as Perth, Canberra, Darwin and Adelaide, to march as well. Plus, ex-pats and concerned world citizens posted gatherings protesting about the policy of prolonged detention by Australia on various social media.

The momentum feels like it is growing, and the tide turning towards a more compassionate Australian public, little by little.

Apart from marching on this one day, here are a few other little actions you can take on, to help make a difference and keep this movement towards a more just approach to asylum seekers going:

Read more widely. Currently, our government has bans on the information coming out of the detention centres, and the mainstream media seems to support this wholeheartedly. The need to read more widely, from a range of different sources, to find out the truth about what is actually going on, and wade through the different opinions and thoughts on the debate, has been thrust upon us.
Also read the two reports on the situation of detention in Nauru, released very recently - firstly, the Australian Human Rights Commission's The Forgotten Children report, and then the damning Moss Review into the allegation of sexual abuse in the Australian detention centre. The evidence speaks for itself.

Know the facts. There is so much politicised language being repeatedly used in this debate, that the truth and humanity about the issue gets lost, intentionally, I am sure. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre's Hot Potato Fact Sheet will help you here, to be armed with the truth about the numbers, the costs, the "queue", and the fear being sold to the public.

Read about some of the places and issues people are fleeing from. Places like Syria and Iraq and Palestine are in the news frequently, and so it should be easy to review your understanding about these situations. Issues faced by the Rohingya and Tamils in Sri Lanka are not so widely covered in the present media, and might be a little harder to find, so I have linked a couple of my posts there to get you started.

Write to your local MP, or let them know your thoughts on the debate. At the end of the march in Melbourne, advocate Pamela Curr urged people to go and visit the office of their local government representative and tell them that you care about the way Australia is mistreating people in detention. She said that MPs say they rarely hear about the asylum seeker debate from their constituents.
You can also write to them, which I have done, to let them know your thoughts and concerns. This site, They Vote For You, will tell you where your Member sits on the issues debated in parliament, and thus will help you shape your appeal or congratulations, on a humane stance towards the people turning to Australia for assistance and protection.
I now await a response from mine, which included an offer to meet and chat about my work experience to help inform her of the situation.

Get to know someone for whom these policies affect directly. Visit someone in detention. There are people held all around Australia, some for years and years without release nor information about why they are being detained, with very little to do, and fast dwindling hope and faith in the good of the world. You can go and spend an hour or two with someone, and make a difference in their day. And in yours, while you are at it!
Several asylum seeker agencies and advocacy groups around the country can assist with this, like DASSAN in Darwin, who have a great program in place. You will be supported, and have peer meet ups, to ensure you are well equipped and supported when doing this.
There are actually many ways you can spend time with people who are asylum seekers or refugees in our community, too - join a Welcome Group event or program, sign up for The Welcome Dinner Project, become a tutor to school children in the community. The possibilities are endless, when you start looking!

Oh! And you can share this post! Tell other people how they too, can get active in the debate and fight for change.

I would love to hear how this post has inspired action, if it has - please drop back and let me know what your MP said in response, or tell me about a visit you have made. Share a conversation you've had where you have helped someone see things differently, or tell me about a situation you have read up on that you didn't know about before!


Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Luminous Rain-Soaked Street Of Old Kotor

After exploring the small Old Kotor town, and climbing the old wall, we returned to the little streets to find it glistening after some rain. All the more enchanting!

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