Category Archives: Nature

Portugal & Friends

What a wonderful time!

It has been almost 3 weeks since we landed in Portugal. We stayed at 2 great friends houses in the area of Cascais & Sintra, one of the most beautiful parts of Portugal, with breathtaking sceneries, vibrant culture, and unique micro-climate. It was great to see our many friends there and get back to normal life with shopping, dining and partying;-)

Kids enjoyed a lot playing again with kids their age, as they did not meet that many kids during the trip!

We did a few hikes in the region and were struck with the beauty of this piece of land at the western tip of Europe. You will see in the below photo gallery some views of Sintra forest and La Serra mountains, as well as some of the mythical beaches, like Praia da Guincho the extreme water sports arena (with wind and waves every day), and Praia da Ursa that is known for being one of the most beautiful beach in the world, and it’s probably true!

We are now a few days from getting back to France, and honestly, we are all soooo excited to find our sweet home, and end our one year nomad life… That’s the great thing with such a World Tour I guess: you are happy when it starts, and happy when it ends!

Landing back home in Carry-le-Rouet expected on the 15th of August!

Soon back….

 

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North India road-trip – The Photo Album

This is it. Our time in India is almost over, and we are leaving the Himalayas today.

After the retreat, we could enjoy the Dharamsala countryside, visiting waterfall, temples including beautiful Norbulingka, craftsmanship centers and a beautiful Tibetan school, all under the lovely monsoon weather (I think we didn’t see the sun even once;-)

 

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Norbulingka gardens and temple near Dharamsala

This area of India was definitely the most peaceful once, and it was great again to see all those communities living together in peace. It was also quite moving to see this Tibetan community thriving here, perpetuating the Tibetan culture and arts, with the desire to be able to go back one day in Tibet, be it a free country, or an autonomous province within China, the “middle-way” proposed by the Dalai-Lama. With their many monks & nuns and living compassion culture across all ages, the Tibetan people are a living exemple of what world peace & love should be.

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Norbulingka Buddhist temple

We will be back here one day!

Please find the complete North India road-trip photo album here, with the best pictures of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himichala states we visited.

And below a quick snapshot of the last days in Mc Leod Ganj. Now heading back to New-Dehli before taking-off for Europe!

May Tibetans we able to return their home country any time soon!

 

South India experience – the Video

We had a wonderful stay in Kerala, the most religious state in India, often cited as “God’s own country”. Our Yoga & Meditation retreat in Varkala, our visit of Kollam, followed by a 3 days cruise on a traditional “Kettu Vallam” house-boat across Kerala, from Kollam to Allepey and  Kochin! This is the video of our amazing South India experience, a bewitchment of the senses!

P.S: YouTube has decided to prevent me to use the beautiful “Indifference” song from Pearl Jam, so the video has no music from 9’25” to 13’… which will feel a bit weird (algorithmic retrieval of the music which is supposed to leave the other sounds intact, but that’s not quite the case…), but it’s still worth watching! Enjoy…

Ayurveda Retreat in Kerala

ENGLISH: I had a wonderful time at the “Kairali Ayurvedic Health resort” near Palakkad in Kerala.
The resort is surrounded by rice fields and nature. Trees and flowers all over the resort, the place is very peaceful and invites guests to relax and enjoy their stay. The team was also highly competent and friendly.

The basic principles of Ayurveda are natural ways of living a healthy life.
According to Ayurveda, every human being, is a unique combination of the five elements – earth, water, fire, air and space and the 3 vital forces (Doshas) of life – they are called Vata (ether and air), pita (fire) and Kapha (water and earth). Maintaining a balance of these forces assures one of a prolonged and healthy existence.

Ayurveda advocates a two way healing process : preventive and curative. Panchakarma is the preventive aspect of Ayurveda and works toward raising the immune system efficiency in the body.

Treatments, yoga, meditation and meals are all contributing to a better health. In Ayurveda, “health is ultimately happiness of both body and mind“… and after this 12 days stay at Kairali, I definitely left happy!


 

FRENCH: Apres un voyage de plus de 36 heures depuis l’Australie en passant par Hong Kong, me voici enfin arrivée au “Kairali ayurvedic Health resort” à proximité de Palakkad dans le Kerala. Me voilà partie pour 13 jours de cure Ayurvedique.

Le resort est perdu dans la campagne, au milieu de rizières et de champs verdoyants, surtout depuis le début de la mousson. Le centre est composé des petites et grandes chambres éparpillées dans un jardin luxuriant aux nombreux cocotiers, fleurs et arbres en tout genre : manguiers, Jack fruit, arbres aux vertus médicinales…

L’Ayurvéda

L’Ayurvéda est la médecine traditionnelle indienne vieille de 5000 ans. Ayu signifie “vie” et Veda “ science”. Pour essayer de simplifier, selon l’Ayurvéda, une bonne santé n’est possible que si l’équilibre entre les trois Doshas (constitutions), Agni (notre métabolisme), Atma ( l’âme), Indriya ( organes) et Manas (pensées) est respecté. Les thérapies sont évaluées en fonction des trois Doshas : Vata (contrôle le système nerveux) Pitha (système métabolique) et Kapha (lubrification des articulations du corps). En résumé: la santé ne peut exister que si à la fois le corps et l’esprit sont équilibrés et heureux!

Le déroulement de la cure

Après une visite avec un Médecin ayurvédique (6 ans et demi d’études) celui ci défini le type de traitements que l’on reçoit pour les jours qui suivent en fonction de l’objectif des patients (préventif, curatif, perte de poids, régénération….).

L’organisation de la journée est rythmée par un programme très précis : lever avant 6 heure du matin pour préparer le corps à l’activité de la journée, 6h30 – 7H30 cours de yoga, un traitement le matin, le déjeuner de 12h30 à 13H30 un traitement l’après midi, séance de méditation de 18h30 à 19h30 suivie du dîner. Heure du coucher 21h.

Yoga et méditation

Le yoga et la méditation sont des pratiques courantes et font partie intégrante de l’Ayurveda afin de garder ou retrouver l’équilibre physique, mental et spirituel.

Il m’a fallu un certain temps pour m’habituer à comprendre le maître yogi qui s’exprime dans un anglais à l’accent indien très prononcé…encore maintenant j’hésite souvent sur le lieu du corps où je suis sensée me concentrer! Mais la séance donne toujours de l’énergie et le professeur chante les mantras divinement bien! La séance est très équilibrée avec un moment de recueillement, de méditation, d’exercices de respiration (Pranayama), de salutation au soleil et de relaxation.

La méditation est un moment privilégié pour se détendre (oui la journée a été très fatigante!). C’est surtout un moment que l’on prend pour chanter des mantras souvent pour la paix dans le monde, ou pour chanter des sons qui font vibrer des parties différentes du corps en fonction du son chanté. Le résultat est assez étonnant, et si la parole n’est pas toujours comprise, le son lui, permet de situer très clairement la partie du corps qui vibre. La suite de la séance est comme une relaxation, il s’agit du Yoga Nidra.

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Les repas

Les repas sont végétariens et l’Ayurveda part du principe que nous avons besoin d’une alimentation variée, avec des légumes et fruits de saison, des céréales et des légumineuses, comme en Naturopathie!

Chaque jour est une découverte de chaque instant où tous les sens sont en alerte pour mon plus grand plaisir!

Le petit déjeuner est composé de fruits frais puis d’un plat indien comme un Upma (genre de semoule aux légumes) accompagné d’un coconut chutney (délicieuse sauce à base de noix de coco) d’un jus de fruit frais et d’une tisane qui accompagnera toutes mes journées (beaucoup moins délicieuse).

Le festival des découvertes des saveurs reprend avec le déjeuner et le dîner qui se composent souvent de la même façon. Un bouillon de légumes, ou une soupe, des crudités et un plat accompagné d’un chapati ou d’une dossa (galette fine) il en existe différentes, soit avec de la farine de blé (chapati), ou de la farine de riz et lentilles (Green Dhal dossa) ou encore la rogi dossa. Chaque jour je me régale de ces saveurs, de ces nouvelles associations ou des façons originales de préparer les légumes.

Les repas c’est aussi le moment des rencontres et des échanges. La grande majorité des personnes présentes sont indiennes, beaucoup viennent de Delhi ou Bangalore. Certains accompagnent leur parents ou viennent pour reprendre un peu d’énergie, perdre du poids, ou soigner un problème plus grave. J’ai été surprise de croiser si peu d’étrangers.

Le jardin Bio

La plupart des repas étaient élaborés avec les légumes et les fruits cultivés dans un jardin bio (donc sans pesticides), aux abords du resort.

Les traitements spécifiques

Puis vient le moment tant attendu des traitements. Ils sont nombreux et changent tous les 3 jours. Chaque soin a sa salle attitrée, car souvent le soin demande des accessoires particuliers.

Le patient reçoit 2 traitements par jour. Pour chaque soin les masseuses utilisent de l’huile, il y en a plus de 600 différentes en Ayurveda! Au centre ils en utilisent 70, les plantes sont bouillies avec l’huile afin d’en donner leurs bienfaits. Le choix de l’huile est individuel car elle est choisit en fonction de la personne, de sa corpulence, de sa peau…

Après s’être préparé en mettant en place un slip taille unique très sexy genre culotte de sumo en plus étroite, puis enveloppé d’un paréo, nous sommes accompagnés dans notre salle de traitement.

Pour chaque soin la personne s’allonge sur un Droni, lit en bois spécialement conçu pour les soins ayurvédiques. Le premier que j’ai reçu a été le “Abyangam” : grand moment! Une première pour moi car c’est un massage à quatre mains, la sensation est terriblement agréable et très efficace pour le lâcher prise! Massage de la tête puis des épaules en position assise puis allongé sur le dos, le corps est massé avec une grande quantité d’huile. On en ressort complètement détendu, un vrai moment de bonheur!

On enchaîne ensuite avec un bain de vapeur! La personne s’assoie dans une caisse en bois, où seule la tête dépasse, la vapeur d’eau chauffe le corps et continue à optimiser les bénéfices du massage en éliminant les toxines du corps.

Après il y a le rituel du nettoyage, dans une salle d’eau avec un seau d’eau et un petit récipient, on enlève l’huile en se frottant le corps avec une poudre d’herbes mélangée avec de l’eau. Le mélange est couleur vert feuille et permet d’enlever les cellules mortes, le tout étant complètement naturel et très agréable.

Les traitements sont nombreux et variés, mais tous nécessitent deux personnes.

Le “Dhanyamala Dhara” (un des traitements) , commence par un massage des épaules, puis allongé sur le Droni et après avoir enduit le corps d’huile en le massant, les deux thérapeutes versent un liquide composé d’eau chaude et d’herbes médicinales à l’aide d’un Kindi-Kernal (genre de théière). Là encore ce sont de nouvelles sensations, incroyable d’avoir ce liquide chaud versé simultanément sur les deux côtés de son corps lentement en répétant le trajet trois fois. La détente est profonde et la température du corps monte rapidement grâce à la chaleur de l’huile.

Certains soins utilisent des accessoires comme le “Sirodhara” qui consiste à verser de l’huile chaude sur le front dans un mouvement lent et régulier. Ils utilisent pour cela le Dharamshala Pot. Le “Navarakizhi” et le “Naranga Kizhi” utilisent des bundles (petits sacs de plantes médicinales), chauffés à la vapeur et passés sur le corps.

Il y en a une telle quantité que je ne peux pas tous les citer ! Mais chaque traitement apporte quelque chose de spécifique et c’est l’ensemble des soins reçus, l’alimentation ainsi que le yoga et la médiation qui permettent ensemble de retrouver un équilibre.

Médecine Ayurvédique et la Naturopathie

La médecine Ayurvédique et la Naturopathie se ressemblent sur de nombreux points, c’est intéressant de voir que même à l’autre bout de la planète des personnes appréhendent la santé d’une façon individuelle et globale, intégrant l’équilibre entre le corps, le mental et la spiritualité.

Ce séjour a aussi été l’occasion de découvrir la culture du Kerala avec ses danse fascinantes!

Merci Vincent de m’avoir fait ce beau cadeau! J’ai savouré chaque seconde!!

Kerala: God’s own country

Kerala is known as “God’s own country” as it is the Indian state with the most religious diversity… and tolerance. Hindou temples, Christian churches and Muslim mosquee are often located within the same village area with a few meters between them, enchanting the atmosphere with religious chants often happening at the same time (even if it sometimes leads to a loudspeaker volume competition;-)

After our Yoga retreat in Varkala, we went north to Kollam to visit the ancient colonial city that saw Portuguese collons, followed by Dutch and the British… The backwaters, a long laguna between the ocean and the forest, stretching from Kollam to Kochin, are also a beautiful area to explore as it allows to approach nature and people from a very quiet perspective.

Kollam was also the starting point for a big surprise for Jade’s birthday…

Indeed, we had a “Kettu Vallam“, a traditional house-boat, coming right next to our guest-house, and she had to do just a few meters to jump onto that beautiful boat that we hired just for us to take an unconventional route, from Kollam to Kochin, going through natural lagoons, lakes and man-made canals.
And it was a good idea, as it is known that more than 500 Kettu Valams cruise around Allepey, leading to water-traffic-jams that pollute the experience, and we didn’t see any until we arrived… in Allepey😉

On the way, we have seen beautiful small villages with people literally “living with the river”, from fishing to washing, small hidden temples and churches, India’s Green Venice on Munroe island, holy places such as Amma’s Ashram where people from all over the world come seeking for enlightenment (which is internal peace and love), fishermen markets, and much more…

A deep immersion into Kerala’s nature, lifestyle and culture!

Here is a snapshot, and the full photo album below:

The full photo album is available here.

The video is on its way!

 

 

 

Australia Wild Islands – The Video

Well, it took a week to upload that video from India’s on & off Internet connection (thanks to the Monsoon), but hopefully you will appreciate watching it;-)

The video of our trip to Fraser island north of Brisbane, the largest sand island in the land and a beautiful piece of nature where the sand meets the forest and sea. Then Lady Elliot island, the most isolated island on the south of the Great Barrier Reef, with an incredible flight to get there, and mind blowing reef and marine life! Memories that the family will keep for a long time with lots of footage filmed from the sky!

 

Wild Fraser & Lady Elliot Islands

Brisbane was supposed to be the last stop of the Australian journey, but to leave on a wilder impression (we were still on the impression of an overcrowded coast), we decided to go to Fraser island, and then a surprise destination…

Fraser island was a short but intense experience. The ferry crossing from Hervey Bay allows to reach the world’s largest sand island, a sanctuary for wildlife… a 4WD! Indeed, it’s a popular destination for people how want to get into the wild by accessing remote beaches with a vehicle, which is needed because of the huge size of the island, more than 100 km long. There are plenty animals to watch in the sea and on the land, including the potentially dangerous Dingos (wild dogs, closer to wolves) which is normally preventing to go alone for hikes (which Delphine did).

I was lucky to finally get some wind for a good kitesurfing session in shallow waters and a beautiful scenery of forest and sand dunes ending into the sea. Kids could enjoy a short stay in the resort, getting some good food and playing in the pool: I guess they needed that;-)

After Fraser island, we went for a little surprise for the whole family. In the morning, I brought them to the small Hervey Bay airport, and everybody quickly understood we were off to an island. After an hour of a scenic flight over Fraser island and the beautiful sand formations that look a little bit like the “Cap Ferret” in France, we landed in Lady Elliot island, the most isolated island on the Great Barrier reef that you can only access through a private plane landing on a small strip of grass…. The trip to the island is already amazing, but visiting it was even more impressive. Perfect coral beaches without any waste, pure water hundred miles away from the shore, amazing live corals and marine wildlife, and of course sunset like nowhere else… Lady Elliot a Unesco World Heritage site, and it is really deserved as this place is really nature’s heaven, protected from pollution, with wildlife also carefully protected. The island is famous for diving and snorkeling, so we did: several snorkeling safaris where the guides take you to the spots where the marine life is most active at a given time, which allowed us to see huge manta rays (some were certainly beyond 5m wide), big schools of fish, many turtles… We only missed the dolphins that came early in the morning and didn’t come back when we were there, but overall, the island hold it’s promise of showing nature in a spectacular form! We really hope this place will be preserved from the massive coral bleaching that is happening on the rest of the Great Barrier reef, largely due to the rapid increase of water temperature (of course linked to global warning), even if this phenomenon can not totally be explained at this stage.

The 2 days spent on the island where really out of time, and we felt almost alone as the accommodation of the island was far from being full, a benefit of travelling off season. One of the highlights of this world tour!

Immediately after landing back in Hervey Bay, we drove overnight to Brisbane to take a looong journey to our next destination: India! See you there!

A video should come soon if we get a normal Internet connection!

Australia Road Trip – The Video

4000 kms road trip from Melbourne to Noosa Bay, discovering beautiful nature, from cold Tasman sea climate to tropical bays north of Brisbane. Long roads, many hikes in natural parks, theme parks, surfing… and loooong moments stuck in the campervan practicing survival skills!

This is our Australian road-trip story.

Melbourne to Sydney road-trip

We left Melbourne with a pretty bad weather, and we were impatient to find some sun on the road to Sydney!

We stopped in the beautiful Wilson’s Promontory park where we could see plenty wildlife: Kangaroos, Wallibies, Ostriches, dozens of birds including the famous laughing Kookaburras (that do indeed laugh), and the cutest animal ever: Wombats! This place is truly amazing, and off-season, we could have it for ourselves. But the weather still being cold, we headed straight to Sydney!

The road was quite tiring, with Kangaroos jumping in front of the car, and unfortunately, dozens lying dead along the road, together with Wombats that also suffer from these roads cutting their habitat…

We arrived in Sydney where we had to deal with a number of issues, like a dead computer, and getting visas for India, which took 2 days, 3 attempts, and 8 hours total in the worst bureaucratic private company we had ever seen. We still hoping to get those visas on time!

Appart from those usual world traveler duties, we could enjoy what must be one of the coolest city in the world: young, dynamic, cosmopolitan, and surrounded by nature! We could attend the kickoff of the Vivid Festival, an amazing Light show across the city where the main buildings are transformed in art at night.

But the highlight was certainly our 2 days in the Blue Mountains. We initially were a bit scared by the proximity of the Highway that is getting people into this “World Heritage” natural park, but once you leave one of the numerous lookouts along the highway, you really quickly enter beautiful nature, and despite the crowds and dozens of tourists’ buses (mostly Chinese tourists) arriving there, we could do two hikes almost alone, as we were of course taking the “off the beaten track” trails, including the 3 sisters rock trail that is revealed only to those daring the 900+ steep stairs going down!

We could also meet our good friend Tom, the Marketing Director of South Pole Group, the company that we used to offset our Carbon footprint. We had passionate debates about Carbon compensation and how the world should move to go towards a more sustainable economy. The conclusions were not too enthusiastic, but we are still doing our best to travel with the lowest possible today.

We are now heading to the Gold coast and Sunshine coast, and we hope they are well named, because cold weather stuck in a camper-van is not fun (see Jade’s latest video telling all the truth;-) !

Here is the Melbourne To Sydney Photo Album with some highlights below!