I’m on top of the world looking down on….


I feel like I’m on top of the world. Honestly, I feel like I’ve climbed a very giant mountain, and I’m just standing right on top with my arms wide open and breathing rarified air.  Shania Twain

I have had many opportunities to climb to the top of things (or fly over if the climb is beyond my limits.  I recently took my first helicopter ride in South Africa and climbed all over Table Mountain.  I hope you enjoy.

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Daily Post Atop Challenge – Some of my favorites

Trivial Mind, Starlight, mama, OHM, At home, witty, bend, Albina, hudson , intent, jaspas, changing, geriatrix, Cees, Lago, ladylee, wonderful, thirdperson

 

Ancient, Ostentatious, Giant, Sacred, Culture, Treasure – Welcome to Egypt


“…as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold – everywhere the glint of gold. For the moment – an eternity it must have seemed to the others standing by – I was struck dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, ‘Can you see anything?’ it was all I could do to get out the words, ‘Yes, wonderful things.”
― Howard Carter, Tomb of Tutankhamen

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Tutankhamun – This was one of the last places I visited.  Because we were not allowed to take photos in the Tomb of Tutankhamen, or anywhere in this section of Valley of the Kings, I have borrowed some stock photos to give this place some context.

King Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered by Howard Carter on November 4 1922.  It took him over five years to find the tomb and it was discovered actually by chance and just as Mr. Carter was getting ready to pack up and move on from this area.  King Tut’s tomb has been one of the most important discoveries in the field of archaeology based on the fact that we were able to discover the diet from that era, developmental markers, how mummy’s were preserved, and the lifestyle of the elite from that era.  DNA revealed the family history.  It was a mystery for centuries and it was assumed that this young king had been murdered.  Mystery resolved and it appears, though we can never know for certain, that this young king actually died of natural causes.  It is still difficult to process and understand some of the cultural understandings, or misunderstandings.  It was a fascinating glimpse into the beliefs of just one ancient society.

The Curse of King Tut

To me the story of the discovery of the Tomb and the “curse” rumors that followed this discovery was more interesting to me than looking at the tomb itself.  Legends of a “Pharaoh’s Curse” ran rampant after the tomb was discovered.  It was said that anyone who disturbed the sleep of the ancient rulers would be cursed.  After Tut’s tomb was found, 12 members of the original discovery group died within seven years after the opening / finding of the tomb.  Lord Carnarvon, the person who financed the search, died within a year of the tomb opening.  Dozens of others, including the daughter of Carnarvon, died in mysterious ways after the opening of the tomb.  Mahdy, the man who approved the exhibit going to Japan, was killed by a car while leaving the Cairo museum.  After being associated with the tomb, or tours, or anything related to Tut, storms raged, people died, rumors escalated.  The truth is, in our modern era, most of the deaths are easily explained and many of the deaths happened decades after the discovery.  Further, Howard Carter, the man who was in charge of the search, discovery and recovery lived for a couple decades after the finding.. so much for curses.  However, it is fun to assume that all the deaths were really related to the discovery.

Denial aint just a river in Egypt.  – Mark Twain

The Nile cruise brought us from Aswan to Luxor.  We were able to visit Karim, the Unfinished Oblisk, The Valley of the Kings, Edfu Temple, Philae Temple, Al-Deir Al-Bahari Temple, Bit Rahina Museum, a variety of markets, take carriage rides, and see  and experience the enormity of ego that must have existed among the old kings, queens, and pharaohs.

Uper Egypt was chosen to build the massive temples because the belief was at that the after-death journey would be easier to take from the higher regions.  Luxor was decided to be the best place with the Nile River passing through its eastern and western banks.  Every single inch of this location seemed to have a story or legacy and you can read the story plainly on the walls, the grounds, the entire inch of land.  It was one of the biggest open museums I have ever witnessed.

I would highly encourage anyone who has the ability to do it, go and visit this amazing country.  It’s small enough to go from one end to another in 4-7 days.  The people were friendly, the stories intriguing, and the visions of extreme ostentatiousness astounding.

I hope you are enticed to visit with my little nibble of Egypt through photos.

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Egypt was big and beautiful, ostentatious, friendly, quirky, amazing, and full of history.  It would be difficult not to feel the sacredness and culture that existed in this country.  I have huge hopes that the kind and friendly folks I met in this expansive desert will find ways to move forward and regain an economy that will help to preserve the history of this place.  I am glad I went when I did because it was not crowded and we were treated great.  I hope that many more will come and study the walls, the temples and the tombs that are so freaking big you can hardly imagine.

Thanks for stopping by.

Other interesting posts can be found on these links:  Ostentatious, Giant, Ancient, Sacred, Treasure, Culture, Chiseled, Leaders, Adjective, Ouch, yellow night, showing off, being human, specters, pyramid street, Ancient, Fab 50, abacus, size matters, princess, prompt row, fog, personal space, poignant, scared, land, tombs, good father

The Dark side of Egypt – Gobble..gobble


What to do for Thanksgiving?  Hmm… Family is far away, no one is visiting me, feeling a little sorry for myself and BOOOOOM.. a very good friend of my and a great travel companion tells me she is going to Egypt to visit some friends for Thanksgiving.  I do a little groveling, sobbing, and not so subtle hinting that I have NOTHING TO DO FOR THANKSGIVING!!!  Lo and behold.. she takes the hint and I’m packing for Egypt.  Yahoo..

It was an amazing 7 day trip, packed full of trips and tours, amazing people and amazing food.   I would so encourage people to attempt this journey at some point in their life.  We used a company called Memphis Tours but there were so many to choose from and all the people on all of the tours seemed to be having a good time.  Right now is the time to go as well.  The travel warning has been lifted, the people are friendly and super easy to please and the sights are beyond amazing.

So for my first installment, I present to you, the dark side of egypt – –

Luxor Temple at night

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Luxor Temple was built around 1400 BC.  It is an ancient temple complex that is on the east  bank of the Nile River.  This temple was beautiful and super inspiring.  It was where one of the most important religious festivals in Egypt where (statues or Gods..still a little confused on this point) traveled from Karnak to Luxor.  There was a lot more info about cults, shrines, royal Ka’s, symbolism and Kings that I sort of missed.. but you can google that if you are interested.

Then there was the Nile cruise on the Minerva (boat) from Aswan to Luxor and stops along the way.  The cabin crew were phenomenal.  Every single time we came back to our room, there was a new animal either hanging from the ceiling or resting on our bed.  It is true that we did not have a single towel in our bathroom the entire cruise.. but they were easily accessible in their natural habitat on our beds.  Amazing service and such a fun time.  Not to mention the beautiful scenery along the way.  Think of it as a bus tour by boat.  Even had massages available on the top deck.  I would highly encourage people to book their trips now!!!

 

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Having a nice cabin with beautiful views from hot spot to hot spot was so much nicer than busing it.

A night market – horse cart through a market only wide enough to walk through.  Also a few dark pyramids that we got to crawl through.

A hot air balloon ride that started in the dark and flew over Valley of the Kings..

and … and… finally… Gobble Gobble doesn’t always mean turkey around a candle lit table.. though sometimes it does.

Last but not least, and possibly my favorite photo.

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It was 445 in the morning, this is a picture of a wonderful Egyptian man who was tasked with driving me from the hotel to the airport on my last day in Egypt.  As we were driving to the airport, his phone rang.  He answered it and then started wiping his eyes.  He looked at me through the rear view mirror and with tears streaming down his face said, “My wife just had a baby boy.  We have been waiting for many years and God has finally been willing.”  I asked him why he was driving me to the airport when his wife was having a baby and he simply said, “We have to work.”

As he dropped me off, he asked if he could take his photo with me because i was the first person who received this news… well of course.  It was super touching.  Great way to end this trip.  Happy Thanksgiving all.

Other Dark Posts inspired by Ailsa’s Travel Theme Dark

 

 

Bikes and Birds in Amsterdam


You can’t show more balance than a bike or a bird.  Unless you are looking at 2 drunk men on top of a building.  Oh Amsterdam.

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So yeah, I mean, I guess you could, but for this trip, it was a perfect theme to end the month.  Work life and travel balance.  But back to birds and bikes.

 

I hope you enjoyed.

Other balanced posts.

  1. Naomi
  2. Travel with Intent
  3. Dancing Palm Trees
  4. Wind against current
  5. TVOR
  6. Lady
  7. Another day
  8. Travel Rat

 

Warmth


I had the pleasure of visiting the Chitwan elephant breeding center a couple of months ago and was reminded of how much elephants can produce feelings of love and warmth in me.

A couple of interesting facts about elephants are:

Elephants have the longest pregnancy of all animals at 22 months.  Elephants cry, play,and laugh.  Apparently they also communicate by purring.  Elephants mourn their losses by touching the skulls and tusks with their trunks and feet and will pause and stay silent for several minutes when they pas the place their loved one has died.  Elephants hug with their trunks.  Elephants are sensitive and caring animals and when their young cry or express pain, other elephants will touch and caress it.  They express grief, compassion, self-awareness as well.

It is true that this center also made me a little sad because I don’t feel that elephants are meant to be chained up.  Even though the care-givers swore that these elephants were only chained up for a couple of hours a day, I still felt sad for them.

Others warm posts: