Sunday, May 26: Ailsa’s Travel Theme this week is Pathways. I’ve seen many beautiful pathways in my travels around the world.
Sunday, May 19: Ailsa of Where’s my backpack? challenges us this week to come up with “an homage to earth, air, water and fire.”
For earth, what else can I post but the mountains of Oman? Because they’re usually vegetation-free, they’re considered a geologist’s heaven. Here are the mountains that make up the sides of Wadi Ghul.
One evening, at Dana Nature Reserve in Jordan, the air looked quite unstable and threatening.
Water filled Santorini’s caldera after the volcano erupted some 3600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization. This was the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history. Now it is one of the most peaceful and serene places you can imagine, except for the tourists.
And fire has destructive power, but also provides much-needed warmth on a cold night in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Saturday, May 11: Ailsa’s Travel Theme for this week is Beaches. Here are some beaches I’ve encountered in my travels.
Let’s start at the beginning. Here is the beach of my childhood, on the York River in Yorktown, Virginia. I spent many of my teenage years hanging out with my friends on this beach.
In general, I prefer deserted, quiet, peaceful and unpopulated beaches, NOT beaches packed with people and umbrellas and chairs and tents and inner tubes like Guryongpo Beach near Pohang, South Korea or Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand. Most beaches in South Korea are crowded, as Korea is a tiny country with a huge population of 48 million people. Haeundae Beach in Busan is nice enough in early April, when this picture was taken, but it’s usually quite crowded.
It’s not so bad if the beach is set up with mostly EMPTY beach chairs and umbrellas, like this beach in Plakias, Crete, Greece. At least it’s on the Mediterranean, and what could be better than that?
Sometimes it’s nice to hang out at a hotel beach, like this beach at Shangri-La Resort near Muscat, Oman. It has a huge pool and a lazy river, so you can dip in the fresh water and wash off the salt and sand from time to time.
Some beaches in Oman are quite deserted or are used mainly by fishermen. Every time I’ve been to these beaches, they’ve been so extremely hot, I don’t find them enjoyable. Some of the beaches are so deserted they’re used only by campers.
This beach on the Dead Sea in Jordan is quite small, and it’s really impossible to swim in the water because of the high salt content. No matter what you do, you end up in a position like you are sitting in an armchair, with your arms, legs and head floating on the water’s surface. Only your rear end sinks in the water.
Some beaches are just little strips of sand situated on a lake shore, like this beach at Lake Langano, Ethiopia.
Luckily, there are some picture-perfect beaches like Sangju “Silver Sand” Beach in South Korea.
To see more beaches, check out Where’s my backpack? Travel Theme: Beaches.
Saturday, December 1: Ailsa of Where’s my backpack? has challenged us to come up with photos for HOT.
I have lived in Oman for the last year and 2 months and I have never experienced heat like I’ve experienced here, except during a month I spent in Egypt in July 2007. In both places, temperatures regularly reach 40-45 degrees Celsius (104 – 113 Fahrenheit) in the summer. When you breathe, sometimes you feel that your windpipe and lungs are turning to chafing hot sand. They literally burn.
If you want to see more images of hot, look through ALL the pictures in my entire blog. It is hot here year round. In the winter, the mornings and evenings are cool, but during the day, it always gets hot. Only on Jebel Akhdar, or swimming in a wadi or the sea, is a person able to cool off.
Here are some images for HOT. Some of the images come from India, Ethiopia and Jordan. Click on any of them for a full-sized slide show.
Friday, April 20: This week’s photo challenge is sun: “Sun. We’ve done sunset before, but what about when the sun, in its full glory, is the feature of your photo?“
Here’s my entry: the sun shining forth behind the clouds, illuminating the O Beach Hotel’s infinity pool and the Dead Sea in Jordan.
Monday, February 6:
#1. READY. These camels are ready to carry their next passengers through the maze of canyons that is Petra. Their task ahead is a demanding one, as Petra, Jordan is a huge complex of temples and sacrificial altars and treasuries and tombs; visiting Petra takes a lot of leg action and without the camels, horses, and mules that are ubiquitous here, a person must use every bit of energy just to make it to the finish.
#2. READY. My son Alex and his best friend, Elizabeth, dressed as Pebbles and Bam Bam, are ready to go out trick-or-treating for Halloween in ~ 1995. My son is about 4 years old here. These were the golden years…
#3. READY. Today, I am ready to begin teaching my Level 2 English classes at the Foundation Institute at the University. Shortly after taking this picture, I go to my first class to find one student has shown up. Later, we find that we will do a restart next week, insha’allah, after all the Level 1 & 2 students who failed in the fall semester re-sit their final exams tomorrow. All the schedules will now be reconfigured and students who pass this time around will be reshuffled. Hmmm… life in the Gulf.
Friday, November 11: Today I returned home to Oman from a six-day trip to Jordan for the Eid holiday. I absolutely adored Jordan. If you’d like to read about my trip, click here: a jaunt to jordan.
Tuesday, November 1: Today marks my first (un)official day of the holiday known in the Islamic world as Eid al-Adha. This “Festival of Sacrifice” is celebrated by Muslims the world over to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael in obedience to God. Lucky for Abraham, God intervened and provided his faithful servant with a ram to sacrifice instead of his son.
The real Eid al-Adha doesn’t actually start for a couple more days. To be honest, I don’t even know which day it officially starts. However, today we had drenching rain showers and flooding, so the university cancelled classes at 2:00 pm and, as a follow-up, in a stroke of generosity, cancelled classes for tomorrow as well. Torrential rainstorms are forecast through the weekend. Since no one knows quite what to do when it rains in Oman, it is impossible to get anything productive done. It’s better to not even try.
I took off for my 2:00 class today in the downpour, taking off my sandals to protect them from ruin while wading through the 6″ deep rivers flowing across the campus. I rolled up my pants legs and showed up in class barefoot and looking like a wet-dog version of Huckleberry Finn. My students got a hoot out of my soggy looks. However, as soon as I arrived, they began their protests. “Teacher, teacher, no class! No class! All the other classes are cancelled! Please cancel!” I said, “No, no! I must teach, it is my job. You can leave if you want but I must mark you absent.” Their disappointment was palpable. We plodded through our lesson on verb tenses, modals and passive voice… YAWWWWN….(poor kids) and I let them out as soon as I covered my agenda for today ~ nearly 40 minutes early!
Since it was pouring when I left my office, I left my purse, cell phone and, accidentally, all my white board markers, in the office. When I returned I saw a missed call at 2:00 from one of my coordinators. Rumors were flying about in the hallways that classes were cancelled since 2:00 (my students were right…all the other classes WERE cancelled!!) As an added bonus, classes tomorrow are cancelled. I’m thrilled because it means our Eid holiday begins one day early.
I wasn’t expecting any substantial holiday so soon after arriving here in Oman, but since it is handed to me, I must take advantage. I’m going to Jordan for only 6 days, because it was impossible to get reasonable flights going out on the first couple of days of the holiday. I leave Saturday, November 5 and return on Friday morning, November 11.
For those who have followed my travels in the past, you’ll be disappointed to know that I’ve hardly planned much of anything for this trip. I had planned to bring my Lonely Planet Middle East guidebook, but after my suitcases were all packed for Oman, I weighed them and found them to be over the baggage limit. I frantically removed about 10 pounds out of each bag. One of the things I removed was that guidebook. Also, on my other travels, I have read extensively about my destination, both fiction and non-fiction, and have been enriched by that preparation. This time, sad to say, it all came upon me too quickly. I’ve done almost nothing to prepare for this trip except to talk to one of my colleagues, Willem, who recommended every place in Petra where I’ll be staying: The Rocky Mountain Hotel and the Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp. From the owners of the Seven Wonders Camp, I got the name of the Jordan Tower Hotel in Amman. Other than that, I have NO plans. Just images in my mind of the terra-cotta colored Petra ruins and the city of Amman from a great movie I saw in the USA called Captain Abu Raed. My Jordanian friend Lina has already given me a feel for Jordanian hospitality and culture.
A near-spontaneous trip like this, without my regular Type-A planning, may throw me for a loop, knock me totally off-balance. Or it may teach me to loosen up a bit, go more with the flow. No matter. It will certainly be another unforgettable experience to add to many such in the past year and a half.