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Gregoire Mevel, the adventurer in a red van

Lifestyle

For several years, this young French adventurer more often spoke English than his mother tongue. Formed to a hotel career, he always placed the hospitality among his priorities. But the professional frame could not satisfy his desires for escape and meetings. His wanderings around the planet lead to an alternative project that fits him so well…     Found of mountaineering and nature, Grégoire chose to bestride his bicycle for a puzzling challenge: going from France to Bangkok via the North Cape. It took eight months but he has never slept at the hotel, preferring the hospitality offered by meetings. He imagined to produce the movie of his adventure but never edited the picture. He was not a film-maker … The trip ended but the idea of sharing human initiatives and local insights wasn’t fading. The young man confirms that hospitality and inventiveness do not know borders.     Then, he leaves for Canada and finally moved to Thailand where he learns online business. He chooses video production and already shares his escapades on You Tube. An idea is born; the project will be called Emerging Alternatives. To finance it, Grégoire passes from Asia to Australia where he works such a time in Sydney.   Emerging Alternatives   The world turns. New kinds of traveling are appearing, more instinctive and sustainable. Sharing the experiments lived anywhere also becomes easier. But anyway, you have to initiate meetings and more, to federate a tribe.     Emerging Alternatives - Through a brand new website, videos and a logbook on Facebook – tells about the far-off, give tips and tricks arisen from the experience of the traveler and will soon highlight ideas and unusual projects coming of almost anywhere and relating to different fields (farming, education, environment, etc.).     The project has three goals: to get the interest of the sceptics fearing to get off the beaten tracks, to inform and encourage those who already want to take the leap and most of all, to INSPIRE!   Instinctively nomad, Grégoire is conscious of wealth and limits of this kind of adventure. He designs his journey with respect for nature but assumes the energy cost. He notices that alternative travel does not bring a lot to local economies even if he participates in it as soon as possible.   Pragmatic, Grégoire does not want to take advantage of the generosity and hospitality of people he meets.  So, he created his own "caravan" from a second-hand work vehicle. Scrap materials, ingenuity, solar panels, elbow grease … this all red van becomes the banner of the project. Symbol of his freedom of thought, of movement, the Red Van is most of all, the low-budget house which he built himself.     A bridge for the future   If Emerging Alternatives proposes the adventure as an alternative to the traditional journey, Grégoire first presents it as a footbridge between continents, cultures, individuals, and universes. It has to become a way of sharing new ideas leading to a sustainable future. In connection with the philosophy of the E.A project, Grégoire Mevel, video director, also invites companies to make visual their environmental, social or cultural initiatives.     In his videos and on the website, Grégoire speaks and writes in English; logic when we want to talk with the whole planet … and quite understandable when we know that at the moment, our adventurer does everything, absolutely everything, alone! Whatever is your language of preference, the EA tribe only waits to grow, sharing your alternative ideas and know-how. Thanks Gregoire Emerging activities Grégoire 's Website      
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Spitzbergen : the great white paradise

Lifestyle

It is the main island of Svalbard archipelago, extremely north of Norway. Larger than Belgium and the closest to North Pole, this kingdom of ice is one of the last accessible and wild Arctic territories. It is not surprising that Spitzbergen annual average temperature is of-5°C. Sky is often cloudy and there is no tree there. Winds blowing down from the mountains to the sea can reach 80 km/h but showers are rare. Two thirds of the island is covered in moving glaciers which, in summer, pour tons of enormous ice cubes in the sea.       Spitsbergen is a vast cold desert; the diversity and the magic of its mineral landscapes impress. Like a puzzle mixing frozen peaks, tundra near coast, glaciated valleys and wide plains in the center of the island. Scandinavia expert at 66°nord and mastered in polar zones, Nicolas Bichet specifies "the nature is raw. Spitsbergen was finally little colonized by man who has really no place here … Here, we are alone fronting elements. In a way, it is the edge of the world. "   Pack-ice, Permafrost and midnight sun   The landscape is shaped by glacial relics old of 10 000 or 1 000 years. Even if in summer the ground can thaw out till 2m, an invisible ice sheet exceeding 100 meters thick persists almost everywhere, it is called permafrost. The pack-ice and its majestic cliffs surround the archipelago until April and leave the northwest of Spitsbergen between June and August. Very unpredictable, it sometimes drifts on hundred kilometers within the day.           The long winter hosts the polar night from November till January, with sweet moonlights and glittering Northern Lights. Finally, from April till August, the sun reasserts and shines continuously. We go out of the darkness and we lose time marks in the lightness of the midnight sun.   A white and very alive desert … Near the pole, the nature is very vulnerable in the outer impacts and man has to remain discreet. The Svalbard archipelago shelters 3 national parks, nature, ornithological and botanical reserves. To be there is a privilege which makes the adventure absolutely amazing.     Spitsbergen is barren but so alive! Concerning flora, weather conditions and frozen ground almost all year long let all the same some 170 species of plants push, as the Arctic willow, a funny crawling tree and of course multiple lichens and mosses. Concerning fauna, we could not imagine the diversity of species living here. Would it be an exploration zone for ornithologists? The list of sea birds nesting in Spitsbergen in summer is impressive: Arctic tern, guillemot, petrel, puffins, barnacle goose, sparrows, ptarmigan and even some very rare seagulls. Sea mammals also populate the region. The whale, victim of an intensive hunting up to the 19th century became rare. But we can often admire benches of belugas sliding along the west coast, some narwhals in the East and these small whales called finback in the fjords. The kayakers will also have to be careful in the very curious walruses which, protected for 65 years, are multiplying, and also the seals whom they will meet regularly.   Ashore, the Arctic fauna in Spitsbergen also has its symbols. The mutineer polar fox, searching for food, appreciates the company of bird colonies. As for the Reindeer of Svalbard, you can meet him nowhere but here. Solo or in any small groups, he often approaches inhabited places.     But the strongest symbol is the polar bear, lord of the ice floe. Protected species, he is always the object of a hunting quota; nonetheless, there are approximately 2 500 polar bears in Spitsbergen.   Ice melting in spring pushes him to migrate northward in search for pack-ice and food. Nicolas Bichet confirms "we often meet polar bears. Powerful and curious, he inspires deep respect. Being able to admire a female and her bear cubs hunting the seal, it is a crazy chance. " The animal is not naturally aggressive but as the explorer owes to be careful to end its journey, when we camp near the coast, we schedule night patrols not to be surprised by this impressive visitor!   … Also having a history and some inhabitants.     Trappers and whalers arrived on the Svalbard archipelago during the 16th century; Then, the first mining activities around coal and the great expeditions towards the North Pole. Today, Spitsbergen counts nearly fewer people than bears!   Rather than cities, we find here communities of interest governed by the Norwegian law. The "major" city and administrative center, Longyearbyen, is at first and until 1989 a mining city created in 1906 by the American pioneer and businessman, John Munroe Longyear. Today, it became an appreciated stopping-off place and counts nearly 2 100 inhabitants native of 50 different countries. At the same time modest (by its size) and modern, her very Arctic character can be a surprise. We meet frequently some reindeers walking in the bend of a street and in town, there are roads dedicated to snowmobiles. Reminding of the mining traditions, we remove its shoes by entering the hotel or the restaurant and during the polar night, we leave to the work with a headlamp!   50 km south, Barentsburg shelters a Russian community about 400 souls, arisen from the mining. In the northwest of the island, Ny Alesund can boast being at the same time the most northern community of the world and an international scientific center which welcomes 40 permanent residents.     In Spitsbergen, you do not have to be afraid of losing you in the crowd but the living conditions in polar environment will make you appreciate the smiles and the human heat.   Invitation to the polar adventure, Spitsbergen is (as told in a famous French song) a white paradise where the air remains so pure that we bathe inside ♪♪ ♫ ♪   For more info about Spitzbergen, you can follow the below links:   Agence 66° Nord, agency specialised in Polar travel Nicolas Bichet, Polar regions specialist Paul Nicklen, Animal Photograph
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Royal Enfield and Trans Himalayan route: made for each other

Lifestyle

There is no shortage of prestigious motorcycle brands. But straddling a Royal Enfield is a very special adventure. Exit speed buffs, this elegant Indian has for baseline "keep calm and ride safe ". Moreover, this bike of legend became the ideal mount to face the highest road of the world, the Trans Himalayan.   Inheritance of the British Empire, Royal Enfield is Indian since 1968, thanks to the bankruptcy of the English company and to the willingness of Indian managers. At first adopted by the local army for its robustness, it gained the heart of all thanks to its elegant shape and its power. The Chennai factory (former Madras, in the South of the country) based in 1956 by English became the brand headquarter. Here, 8 000 employees produce 30 000 new models every year.         In India, driving a Royal Enfield already means being somebody.   In many provinces, only the notables possess it. Here, you engage "for life" with your Royal. Some people buy it to pass on to their children. And in town, you can even drive it without helmet! In 50 years, many things changed at Royal Enfield except one: the hand manufacturing. You read well: in Chennai, no electronics, no computers. Assembly, painting, decoration, design, polishing everything, absolutely everything is hand-made. The fairing shines like a mirror, every logo painted on the reservoir owes its flow to the expert hand of a real artist. And this human implication gives a soul to this bike… A legend is born.         Reliable and strong, it is a high temper motorcycle made for the mountain. "You go up the mountains as a rider, but come back as an explorer ". That is what asserts the President of Royal Enfield. In the North of India we find the mythical Trans Himalayan, the highest "motor” road of the world. A proverb says "birds of a feather flock together". Thus not amazing that so many bikers of the whole world come to face it in Royal Enfield! Clermont Yu, a photographer settled in Paris, is going to try soon the adventure because" this moto makes dream of and this route is the highlight of road-trip ".       Fantastic ride   The Indian road is rarely an easy one and we all have in mind the scene of a fervent and muddled traffic. But Trans Himalayan except to the Indian rule. During 500 km, from Manali ( Himashal Pradesh) to Leh (Jammu and Kashmir) longing the north Indian border, mountains are calling the shots to the region of Ladakh, more than 5 000 m high.   From passes to valleys, it draws volutes, makes the traveler crossing the Indian tundra and mineral universe. Most of the time, it rather looks like a track. Riding is an odyssey during which bodies and machines are severely tested by holes, pebbles, mud and ravines. Facing the Trans Himalayan, it first means overcoming your fear of the unknown. Here, abrupt changes of weather, collapsed road, gas stations lack, bogged down trucks or rivers to be crossed give rhythm to the daily run of bikers.         We often meet poor workers coming from all the country to reconstruct sections destroyed by landslides. No way to forget the altitude… Pilots and engines run out of air in 4 000 m and tune-ups are needed. But the old bikers assert that a Royal Enfield never let you down in the difficulties. You just have to play smooth driving, to be patient and the solidarity between fellow riders makes the rest.   The reward? This unordinary road offers incredible feelings. The green, white or lunar landscapes, the summits crowned with clouds which glitter on a desert plain, a herd of yaks bathing in blue waters of Pangong’s lake, stopovers which often look like makeshift camps, a salutary massage in Leh to rest your painful muscles …   You will not forget the permanent smile of Indian drivers in their shipwrecked trucks nor the possible stop to Sony and Bony, a kind of Aladdin's cave where we patch up Royal Enfield of all Himalaya. And of course, the welcoming temples and the colored prayer wheels which mark out the road because you circulate on the "territory of gods ". Here, you can make bless your bike; A major rite for a machine having a soul.           Finally, the arrival to Leh, little town near the Roof of the world, is the end of the journey but its presence is a surprise so far from everything, with snowy summits background. One says that on arrival, we feel like deserving to be there.   From the Trans Himalayan adventure in Royal Enfield, you will return charged of images. An opportunity for Clermont Yu to specify: "I would have many things to tell and show when I’ll be back ".     To learn more about Royal Enfield, you can go here and there          
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