Baggage Check

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Baggage Check.”

I read a great to do list today that someone had kindly shared,

  1. Be grateful
  2. Be kind
  3. Let go of  what I can’t change and  things you can’t control
  4. Listen to my intuition
  5. Be productive and calm
  6. Breath.

All are fantastic actions to live by but for me the most relevant to how I am feeling at the moment is No. 3 letting go of what I can’t change and things you can’t control.  A bit about me to ponder is I lean more to fight side of the flight or fight scenario, perhaps it’s the Taurus  in me, a stubborn bull who finds it hard to budge.  To add to the situation I may also be a little bit of a control freak but only little.

Have I lost the battle if I let it go, perhaps what I should be asking myself is if it was a cause worth fighting for.   My intuition tells me no, my heart tells me yes.  Dam heart.  Now I have the theme song from Frozen in my head.

As I read through these actions it occurs to me that they are more powerful when checked off in an order that is conducive to where you want to go and feel.

  1. Be grateful – Always, I have a great life filled with wonderful people in it.
  2. Listen to my intuition –  I know whats best for me and what is not.
  3. Be kind  – Be kind to myself, you tried and it’s not about losing a battle it’s about conceding honorably.
  4. Be productive but calm –  Better out than in ,  write it down and get it out of your system.
  5. BREATH –  Relax
  6. Let go of what I can’t control or change –  Done!

Felling so much lighter now,  will rinse and repeat for the next few days just to be sure.

Jordan and the Amazing Maher

Jordan a country in the Middle East with a big heart is how I would sum up this little piece of desert paradise.  When speaking with people who had traveled to Jordan before they always led the discussion with stories about how wonderful and friendly the people are.  This was to become the theme for my story  after spending four days in this lovely country, which begins with my arrival at Queen Alia airport.

After making my way through the security checks I was greeted by my guest supervisor from United Travel.  With a big smile he welcomed me to Jordan and asked if I had already obtained my tourist visa.  ” No I haven’t, where do I get it from? Was I supposed to get before I came? My travel said I could get it when I got here”  as I rambled on and on he looked me with a big smile and just said ” Relax, no worries I will get you one for free”.   “Free? really? wow!”, instantly relaxed and pleasantly surprised.   A few moments later I had a free tourist visa for Jordan and another friendly welcome from the customs officer who stamped my passport and wished me a pleasant stay. After collecting my luggage I was introduced to my driver  Maher,  who I call the Amazing Maher of Jordan.

 The Amazing Maher was my driver during my stay in Jordan and kept me entertained with funny stories and was so kind, especially when I was injured and unable to complete my day trip to Jaresh.  When we were driving to the Dead Sea on my last day he received a phone call from his mechanic, however it was not about the car, his mechanic was calling to see how his client (me) was doing after injuring myself.  Maher had serviced the car the day before and mentioned that I had hurt myself during my trip to Petra so of course this mechanic whom I had never met wanted to call and check if I was feeling much better.  A great courtesy that Jordanians extend to those who are guests in their homeland.

The Amazing Maher looks after all his clients like they are family and during my time in Jordan I would learn all about his and even meet one of his sons.  A clever young man named Mohammed who is on the precipice of success with a brilliant product he developed and launched.  Maher of course is a very proud farther of three sons and two daughters and I’m sure a wonderful husband too.

One of the many stories that Maher told me that made me laugh was about how his daughters came home from school crying one day.  When he asked what was wrong they explained that a man had been outside their school and was saying horrible things to them.  The next day he picked up one of his sons and drove to his daughters school, sure enough this disturbed individual was there.  Now Maher is over 6ft tall and so is his son, you can imagine what happened next.  After an exchange of words his son picked up this man and put him in the boot of Maher’s car. Crying and pleading to be let out he promised never to come near the school again. To the delight of many school girls who were watching the drama unfold and laughing at this man who had harassed them.  He was never seen again and Maher’s son become the hero of many school girls that day.

Maher’s family originated from a small village in Palestine called Wallaja and relocated to Jordan in the 1940s. Like so many other Palestinian families they were forced to make the difficult decision  to leave their land.  How heartbreaking it must have been for his ancestors to leave everything they loved behind to form a new life in a new country. They have never been back but perhaps one day they will be able to, one can only hope.

Jordan is a remarkable country not just because of wonderful places like Petra and the Dead Sea.  It’s a country that helps others in need by taking them under their wing when people need shelter.   This country has taken in over 600,000 Syrian refugees not to mention many Palestinian people who began to flee their country in the first part of the 19th century.   It has a big heart that puts others to shame.

From the air the Jordan landscape looked so flat with endless desert as far as the eye can see.  However this is not the case, Amman reminded me so much of my home town Wellington.  Anything but flat, with hills covered with houses and narrow streets that would wind up, down and all around.   Driving out of the city on one of the main highways really showcased the diversity of the Jordan landscape.  From hills covered with houses and the busy city, to a landscape so flat with fertile fields changing to barren desert, then mountainous valleys.

Diversity also exists within the people of Jordan and the lives they lead from those in the city and small towns to the bedouin people who lead a nomadic life living off the land and their goats.  The population of Jordan is 7 million with 4 million of those living in Amman, that’s pretty much all of New Zealand.  The people of Jordan are so friendly and laid back just like their royal family who you can apparently bump into at family restaurant or out and about in Amman just like everyday people.

I think one of the best things about traveling solo is that you have the luxury of connecting with people easily.  When you are in a group situation you tend to hang with the group, they become your social hub and not often do you venture out of it.  I was lucky to have such a great driver who I now call a friend and still keep in touch with.   Jordan will be a country I will visit again sooner rather than later as there is still so much to see and I know I will be welcomed back warmly as that is how this country rolls.

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The hills of Amman
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It was quite hazy in the city due to the heat and dry desert winds.
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The old and the new creeping up on the horizon

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Rolling hills just outside of Petra
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Bedouin settlement

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Why did the camel cross the road?     To escape the on coming dust storm.
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On the way back from Petra we drove into a massive dust storm it was so dense
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The Amazing Maher in his youth he was a hair model, true story
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My new friend seeing me off from the airport

Liebster Award

Thank you for the nomination,Reluctant Wanderlust now it’s time to pass on the love.

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So, here is how it works:

Once you are nominated, make a post thanking and linking the person who nominated you. Include the Liebster Award sticker in the post too. Nominate 5 -10 other bloggers who you feel are worthy of this award. Let them know they have been nominated by commenting on one of their posts. You can also nominate the person who nominated you. Ensure all of these bloggers have less than 200 followers. Answer the questions 11 questions asked to you by the person who nominated you, and make 11 new questions of your own for your nominees or you may use the same questions. Lastly, COPY these rules in the post.

Here are the answers to Reluctant Wanderlust nomination questions

1.What inspired you to write your first blog post?

There were two inspirations that led me to start writing a blog. The first was to expand my creative self. Photography was my real creative outlet, I documented what I would see and writing gives me the medium write about what I feel. My second inspiration came from a book I read on positive psychology that encouraged journaling about positive things to train your brain to focus on the positive things in life leading to a happy you.  So I combined both and now I have a great outlet for my creativity and it’s great fun.

 2. What attracts you to a blog?

The writing style and the vibe, if it’s positive and fun then I will follow you forever.

3. What are the top 3 places to visit in your list?

Cuba, Rome, Turkey In that order

4. If you had all the money you need, what would you do?

Exactly what I am doing now, just living my life and loving every minute of it.

5. Any advice to yourself, 10 years in the past?

A common belief is that if you work hard you become successful and then happy.  Don’t fall for this trap,  focus on getting happy first, then you will find yourself working hard and enjoying it, before you know here comes success.

6. What are your hobbies?

Photography, Horse Riding & Writing

7. The best place you have ever visited?

Abu Simbel, Egypt, absolutely stunning.

8. Which book are you reading now?

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg a brilliant role model for women leaders.

9. Which book is always on your to-read list, but you never end up reading it?

Steve Jobs Autobiography, interesting guy his innovation and drive is inspiring.

10. What are your personal stress busters?

Running or any exercise just as long as you are out and active, get those endorphins going.

My questions to nominees

  1. What was the best post that you feel you have ever written? Not by likes or views the one you wrote and thought ‘wow’ that is a great piece of writing.
  2. What is the best piece of advice you would like to pass onto fellow bloggers like yourself to grow and develop their own blogs?
  3. Where are you going to travel to next?
  4. What are your top 3 essentials that you can’t travel without? (Passport,laptop and phone excluded).
  5. If I asked you where I should go on my next travel adventure what would you recommend and why?
  6. Where in the world have you eaten your best meal?
  7. Whats the best travel advice that you can give other travelers?
  8. What are you doing when you are not traveling or blogging?
  9. What’s your ideal blogging space like?
  10. What inspires you to write your blog?
  11. Where is the world have you visited that you will go back to for sure?

Worthy blogs I have nominated are……..

https://hugothero.wordpress.com/

http://boardingpasstraveler.com/

https://travellersfootprint.wordpress.com/

https://theingriddiaries.wordpress.com/

http://spreadyourwingswithme.com/

https://diaryofzxq.wordpress.com/

Keep Calm & Just Keep Living Your Life

We were treated to another astral phenomenon on the weekend, the supper blood moon.  Unfortunately we have some in this world who choose to live their lives in fear and project that fear onto others.  The dooms day fundamentalist, you know who you are.  Pay no attention to them and just carry on living your life and appreciate every moment especially the good times with people you love.

Here in New Zealand we were not able to see the eclipse as it was below our horizon by the time it took place.  I did however take a snap of the full moon over my house, if you were lucky enough to see this cool  event, YAY for you!  It has since passed and we are still here so lets just carry on and keep living our lives to the full.

Always be kind to the those who cross your path and be fearless because that way your life will always be an adventure.

Islam For A Beginner – Part 3

Throughout my travels in Egypt mosques were a dominant presence.  If I didn’t see one I certainly knew was close by the call to prayer ringing out from a minaret some where nearby. Finally on my last day in Egypt I had the opportunity to visit one which was a great way to end my journey through this remarkable country.  I have always been curious about what a mosque would be like to visit and traveling in a country where Islam is the majority religion only increased it.

The Mosque I visited was built for Muhammad Ali,  a beautiful mosque made from alabaster and limestone.  When visiting Alexandria my guide Mohamed had pointed out a grand statue of a man riding a horse in the town square.  It was of Muhammed Ali a commander in the Ottoman Empire who ended the French occupation of Egypt and then became the countries ruler, his dynasty would rule Egypt for over a century.  Externally the building is quite impressive especially the courtyard tiled completely of alabaster, but it was what I felt and found inside the Mosque that really moved me.

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The court yard and clock tower

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The inside of the Mosque was absolutely stunning, it felt as though I had stepped into a completely different world.  It was so open and spacious, the high domes decorated in gold and blue was like staring up into the heavens. Serene is what it was like, so peaceful and calm with people just chilling out on the floor enjoying the space.  One of the best vibes I have ever experienced when visiting a religious place and I certainly visited a few during my travels through the Middle East.

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Beautiful

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Haram was a word that I learnt that day. Sitting in a cafe after my mosque visit the Friday prayer session was being broadcast live.  I watched as Muslims prayed and then a sermon was delivered to the hundreds in the mosque and the millions across Egypt watching the same broadcast as me.  When speaking his emotions changed dramatically and the word that stood out was haram as it was spoken with such an authority and force.  I asked Mohamed what it meant and what it was in reference to. He explained that it meant something that is forbidden as it goes against Alah and the sermon being delivered was about ISIS.

Thinking about a past interview I watched where a CNN reporter asked a really stupid question to a very intelligent theology professor who also happened to be a Muslim.  “Why does Islam promote violence?” his response stuck with me and I now understand it more than I did the day that I watched the interview.  “Religion is neither violent or peaceful it is just religion, it’s what people bring to it that can make it violent or peaceful.

That statement is so true and I really got it that day standing in the mosque, like a light bulb being switched on. When I entered the mosque I felt peace and tranquility it was absolutely amazing.  A similar thing happened when standing on Mount Zion at the tomb of Jesus Christ or before the tomb of King David.  While these historic religious places are all very beautiful I don’t think they actually have any ethereal presence, after all they are just made of stone. I think it was the energy of the people around me reacting to these places, positive, peaceful and love projected out for all to feel.  That is what these people brought with them that day and what I was lucky enough to pick up on.

For me this hasn’t been about searching for a religion that I want to convert to and embrace.  It’s about learning and making up my own mind up about what Islam represents. Peace, equality, family unity, self reflection and empathy for those less fortunate were the lessons learnt. I have enjoyed learning about Islam and grateful to the kind Muslims that I met during my travels who helped me learn about their beautiful and diverse religion.

My learning has not stopped with my travels and I am currently reading a book written by the intelligent theology professor I mentioned earlier named Reza Aslan. His book No God But God is an interesting read about the history and future of Islam.  

Tian Tan The Giant Buddha

After dangling in the sky for around 5 km in your crystal cabin and magnificent views of the South China sea you eventually catch your first glimpse of Tian Tan the giant Buddha.  Built by the Po Lin Monastery he sits proudly on the peak of Mount Muk Yue symbolizing the stability of Hong Kong, prosperity of China and peace on earth.  Tian Tan is not the only attraction at the end of the 360 cable car, it’s also  where you will find Ngong Ping Village and the Po Lin Monastery.  If you have a half day to spare in Hong Kong this is a great place to go especially if you are in between flights as the 360 cable car is only a 20 minute drive from the airport.

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Tian Tan the giant bronze Buddha 

Ngong Ping Village is quite cute, it has a few tourist shops selling all kinds of souvenirs, restaurants and a Chinese movie theatre.  An impressive gateway followed by a path that is lined with Chinese warriors takes you to the monastery and the 600 step climb to the base of Tian Tan.   It was such a hot humid day especially after climbing 600 steps but the views were stunning and why come all this way to just stand at the bottom of the stairs.

There is something quite calming about this place, perhaps it’s Tian Tan overwhelming presence that gives this piece of Hong Kong such a chilled out and peaceful vibe.   Even the random cow I passed on the pathway to the steps of the Buddha was chilled out.  No one seemed to fussed as he wandered pass just like the rest of the tourists.

If Buddhas are your thing you may also want to visit the monastery where they have the room of 1000 Buddhas.   After the climb and heat I was ready to head back to my hotel and swimming pool to get in a quick swim before my 6pm flight to Amman.  A trip to Tian Tan was the perfect way to spend some down time in between flights.

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Ngong Ping village located at the end of a 5.7km cable car ride

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Hong Kong City of Lights

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Hong Kong at night is pretty but they must clock up a pretty impressive electric bill as the city is lit up like a christmas tree and at 9pm this christmas tree city is set to music.  You can watch the light show from the pier or jump on one of the many cruise boats floating around the harbor.  There are a variety of boats to choose from, launches, floating restaurants, the old junk boats with the red sales look really cute but watching them float pass and listing in the light swell on the harbor kind of put me off.  My boat was a much sturdier vessel with a nice open deck on the roof and bar that included drinks as part of the ticket.  The light show starts at 9pm and goes for about 15 minutes but the cruise itself is much longer as it takes you around the harbor where you get to see Kowloon Island from all angles.  So pretty and a great way to see the city at night, I love that I had the chance to visit.

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Lucky Parents? I Don’t Think So……

How often have you made the comment to a friend or family member about how lucky they are to have great kids? If you have then I ask you to read on and think about what it is you are saying.

In a conversation with a good friend who I hadn’t spoken to for a long time the subject moved onto her children.  My dear friend is the mother of two beautiful girls and an energetic and lively gorgeous boy.  She said that she is often told how wonderful her children are and that she is really lucky to have such great kids. While she appreciates  the compliment it leaves her feeling a little miffed.

It has nothing to do with luck it has everything to do with hard work, raising kids is hard especially on my own.

Raising her children to be well rounded, kind and respectful of others comes down to hard work, dedication and good parenting.  She has put in the miles as a single parent and is reaping the benefits but not the recognition she deserves.  So why do we take that away from hardworking parents, especially mothers?  I am sure it’s not the intent to do so but sometimes even the best intentions can still cause the recipient to be a bit miffed.

The next time you compliment a hard working parent on how great their kids are, don’t tell them they are lucky.  Just give them the recognition they deserve by congratulating them on being fantastic parents.  I know I will from now, one more lesson I am grateful to learn.