THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
The Dreamtime, or the Dreaming, portrays the Aboriginal beliefs in spiritual existence. According to the tribes that first settled down in the continent, the Dreaming's roots date all the way back to the very begging of the creation of the world. The meaning and ideology of the term is generally not so well-understood by non-indigenous people as it is referred to as part of the culture of one of the early nations, which differs from modern perceptions.
The Spirits were the creators of everything. They made the land and the seas, the rocks and the plants, the sky and the earth. They were the higher power and the Australian Aborigines spent their lifetimes honoring this power, which guided their path and shaped their way of thinking. Not only creators of everything, which could be seen as well as felt, the Spirits also gave the Aborigines the Dreaming.
The time when everything started existing according to the initial Australians, was called the Dreaming. This is the foundation of the continent's culture. The origin of the Dreaming goes way back - 65 000 years back in time to be exact. The Ancestors of the nation shaped the land, forming some parts of it as sacred. The Aborigines were very careful and overprotective of those places, strongly believing in their significance.
The Australian Aborigines are known to have believed that the world didn't have any shape and was therefore empty. Darkness dominated, and life was simply asleep, but this changed when the creation began happening. After the Dreaming and the influence of the Spirits, objects began taking shapes and came to be. They created the four elements: water, earth, air and fire, as well as all the planets, the Sun and the Moon. The Dreaming therefore is a continuous process, which never ended. It is a small cosmos on its own, unifying the past, present and the future into one.
The Australian Aborigines' home riches so many vivid areas of the continent, including Fraser Island, Tasmania, Palm Island, Groote Eylandt and Mornington Island. The Aborigines had very strong believes in relation to the powers of the land, claiming that they never owned it - it rather owned them. The only reason they were able to call it their home is because they were looking after it and the land was taking care of the people in return.
Equally important to the Dreaming was the tribes' understandings of the disappearance of the Spirits. There came a time, when the creators of everything vanished from sight. Some of them were thought to have started living in sacred places, which is why the Aborigines perceived their homeland to be so sacred. The ancestors of today's Australians used to believe that the creators started living in rocks, in water holes and some went up to the sky to guide the people from above and keep them safe. Others transformed completely, taking the forms of the rain, the lightnings and the thunderstorms so they could be part of peoples' life.
Among the hundred's different Aboriginal languages, there isn't a word to describe 'time', because to them this simply doesn't exist. Dreaming and Dreamtime are used to replace it and summarize the ideologies of the Aborigines about everything they knew, everything they could see, feel and experience. This is why the Dreaming has such a vivid, and overwhelming meaning and has survived the obstacles of time. For the past couple thousand years, the Dreaming has built a rich cultural heritage that can identify a whole nation.
Read more about the Land, its connection to people and the way it has been perceived from different generations in the very first print issue of ORIGIN. The Land Issue covers varied topics, most of which remain related to cultural aspects of the land and its importance.
A lot of people travel to explore places and learn about them which is the message that ORIGIN wants to spread. With traveling, however, comes certain responsibilities that we should all be aware of. Elephants riding has become a popular way to explore locations by land. People have been doing this as part of their trips, mostly to places such as Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia and other parts of Asia. It is a common thing to see in certain places in Africa as well. We investigated the activity to explain why it is wrong and riding elephants should be banned everywhere.
Our first print issue studies culture and traveling represented through the land. We explored various location around the globe and learned what makes the land so valuable, which nations cherish it and how it helps us establish an identity. Traveling is important to us but traveling responsibly and making an impact is what we feel proud to stand behind. This is why riding elephants as a way of amusement should be reconsidered.
Let’s talk about the details. Elephants are very caring and extremely intelligent animals. It is a well-known fact that they never forget anything. When kept in captivity instead of spending their life in the wild, elephants die younger. Unlike in other species, this is common for the gentle giants and is often a result for stress.
Many African cultures respect elephants, believing they symbolize strength, loyalty and power. However, power can be a very tender concept. Elephant used as a tourism tool suffer from great pain daily. Elephants can be hurt very severely from the weight of carrying people and a trainer on their backs. The reason for this is the design of their spines. They have sharp protrusions, extending upwards from their spine instead of having round spinal disks. The protrusions and the tissue that serves to protect them can be harmed easily from weight pressure. Once a damage to their spine has been made, there is no going back and sometimes the harm can be irreversible. While this can’t be physically seen, the harm that the chairs can do to the elephants’ skin is. It is often the case that the chairs and the weight on their back can damage the animal’s skin and cause pain to their body. The chair, called Howdah, that gets attached to their backs, rubs on their skin and can cause blisters, which can sometimes get infected.
The training that elephants are required to go through when in captivity sometimes adopts a traditional Thai ‘phajaan’ or ‘crush’ technique. Explaining the technique would compare it to the animals’ spirits constantly and continuously being broken by the means of torture and social isolation. This is done in order to tame them. Elephants are wild animals, this is their nature as they are born in such conditions. Making them safe and obedient around people requires them to go through such training. As horrible as it sounds, in some places young elephants are taken away from their mothers to be abused with nails, bull hooks and bamboo sticks to make them obey rules, given by people. The animals often lack sleep and are starved to become submissive.
Actions from such nature are cruel and harmful as the technique is used to crash the animals’ spirit. Once wild and free, elephants become a source of tourism and entertainment. Nobody, who cared about sustainable tourism should ever ride an elephant.
In a sense, elephants have a human soul. They socialise and feel everything – pain, happiness, grief, sadness etc. They spend their life building families and finding friends. The largest land animals are a gift from nature and it is our responsibility to take special care of them and make sure they live according to their nature. Many animals, who are kept in captivity, are forced to live in isolation and carry heavy loads all day long, which is a wrong way to treat them. Their strength and power shouldn’t be abused but treated gently and celebrated by people. Elephants require minimal care to stay happy and healthy, which comes from giving them freedom to behave naturally and socialise. It is our responsibility to be culturally aware while traveling and make sure to spread awareness about the problem.
You can read the rest of the article as published in the LAND issue.
SAFETY TIPS FOR SOLO FEMALE TRAVELLERS
Women face health and safety risks when travelling solo. These are our top tips on how to stay safe in a foreign country and enjoy the trip, if you are a solo female traveller
Words: Aleksandra Georgieva
Photography: Taylor Brandon
16 October 2020
Solo travelling has gained the attention of many adventurers across the globe. Wandering about different countries solo is a great way to explore destinations and the local culture. However, compared to men, solo female travellers are at statistically higher risk of violent acts against them. The United States State Department says: “When it comes to health and security, women travelers are more likely to be affected by religious and cultural beliefs of the foreign countries they visit. The truth is that women face greater obstacles, especially when traveling alone.”
Unfortunately, the world can be a scary place – from fully developed countries to destinations less recommended for solo women, danger can happen when you are alone and abroad. There are no dangerous destinations, just dangerous people. Yet, people with bad intentions can be found anywhere and there are many dangers to women who travel alone.
We take a moment to give a few pointers of how to travel as safely as possible. For those of you, who won’t let the fear of what might happen stop them from travelling, we here are some tips to keep you safer when you are abroad solo.
Take group tours. Guided trips are a great way to explore a destination in a safer way. When a local guide accompanies you, they usually speak the language and pave the way with certain level of protection.
Don’t walk alone at night. Make sure to reach your accommodation before sundown.
Watch what you drink. Never accept a drink that you haven’t seen poured in front of you or one offered by a “friendly” stranger.
Split your valuables. Don’t carry all of your cash in one place, divide your belongings and even carry two phones, if you can. In case you get robbed, you won’t lose everything and you’ll have a way to call for help.
Get yourself a doorstop and stay where you can lock the door. Wedge a rubber doorstop under the inside of your accommodation room door when you are in the room. It is much harder to push a door open this way. Also, never stay somewhere you cannot lock yourself away from strangers.
Look out for other solo female travellers. Introduce yourself to the women, who take on similar adventures as you. You will naturally look out for one another.
Make friends with locals. Many cultures respect elders so chatting to them might go a long way. Introduce yourself to food sellers, guards and other locals in the area and learn a few greetings in the native language. Increase your visibility by showing friendliness and make sure to mention how long you’ll be staying for.
Tip hotel staff. Especially in countries with high poverty rate, this tip can really benefit you. Yet, in any establishment tipping everyone from the maids to concierges, servers, desk and luggage staff will make you memorable and is likely to guarantee you rescue if you need it. In some cases, if you are in trouble outside, you can call the hotel for help and you might still get it.
Choose wisely. Book stays in Airbnb with Superhost status or hotels with 24-7 security.
Use apps to contact local law enforcement if needed. Examples include RedZone, Noonlight, MayDay, Chirpey and Tripwhistle which help you flag incidents and call for help.
Use your voice. If you feel threatened, scream and yell. Should you find yourself on a quieter street, make your way to a populated area as quickly as possible. Fall into the embrace or nearby random couples saying you’re happy to see them, if needed.
Stay alert especially during overnight travels by busses or trains. This rule also applies at any other time and setting as well. If someone acts suspicious or tries to get close to you, don’t be afraid to overreact. Cause a scene if needed. Acting reserved to strangers could save you from trouble.
Act out loud. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation or neighbourhood, or you feel harassed, don’t be afraid to act erratic. Talk to yourself, drool, laugh out loud, etc. never be afraid to embrace someone suspicious, who is trying to get close to you in public.
Blend in as much as possible. Women are at high health and safety risk by cultural and religious beliefs in foreign countries. Try to dress according to local customs and wear modest clothing.
Learn to defend yourself. Martial arts and self-defence tactics are life-saving. Above all trust your instincts. Carry a pocketknife, a pepper spray or anything else that could be used as a weapon and give you time to flee danger.
Put safety above money. Don’t risk your safety to save a few pounds. Don’t leave things to chance and plan ahead as much as possible. Travel safe even if that means paying extra. Buy a local SIM card so your phone works internationally, take an Uber to track your location and stay in central accommodation.
Know the destination you visit. A lot of countries issue travel advisories for foreign countries to assist their citizens. Some publish advice specifically for female travellers and other groups, others provide statistics of the common risks by area or release lists of safety levels by country. Gather the information on every country you visit and get a hold of the contact details for the closest Embassy or Consulate of your home country.
The list with fundamental travel safety tips for women is long. There are plenty of cases where female harassment victims are dismissed for inappropriate travel behaviour based solely on their gender. Governmental agencies and websites advise what women shouldn’t do when travelling the world, but none seem to feature lists on the appropriate male behaviour to prevent travel safety dangers in the first place. Women are taught that the world is filled with danger and travelling solo becomes a dilemma of the risks and lack of equality. Yet, if travelling is in your blood, keep on doing it.
Solo female travellers face various health and safety risks based on inequality, cultural and religious beliefs in foreign countries. Danger puts off many women from embarking on that solo trip they wish to take, yet the numbers of solo female travellers worldwide gradually increase. If you wish to travel solo, you should embrace it. Don’t give in to fear because the world is overall filled with much more kindness than evil. Make sure you take all the precautions to defend yourself against a potentially dangerous situation, and solo travelling may turn out to be the best decision of your life.
Keep travelling. Keep exploring. Keep staying safe.