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4 tourists dead from bomb explosion at Taba border on sunday

Scary thought that I was there just over a month ago… I count my blessings everyday!

the Educationally Frustrated student

Miriam’s whatsapp message to me just a few hours ago came as a surprise. I’ve been concentrating so much on my students union campaign that the outside world has been a distant thought.

So when her message read; “did you know that yesterday a bus full of (south) Korean tourists exploded in Sinai desert? There was a bomb inside and 13 people got injured, and 4 died. 50km from the Israeli border in Taba. Wtf!” I was brought be back to reality!

ShowImageJust over a month ago I was in the Sinai desert with Miriam. Her “WTF” expression is mutual… It’s just crazy to think that we walked down that same street where the bus exploded on sunday, when we crossed the border from Israel on New Years Eve…

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Out and about in Amman

I wondered aimlessly through the streets of Amman taking in the sights, sounds, and stares from the locals! My starting point – the famous Rainbow Street then up and down into the bustle of downtown – Al-Balad… If you plan to walk around Amman note that the city is full of hills (they don’t show you that on the map) so have your walking shoes ready… Or take a taxi. A yellow one of course!

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Look out for my posts on leaving Israel, discovering something jammy in Amman, and arriving back home to reality – back to the lecture room! The Educationally Frustrated student

As always, thanks for following 🙂

The desert in a bottle… Sand art in Amman

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Camels trail lazily through the heat of the desert towards an oasis, mountains lean into the skyline in the distance. The scene is a picturesque array of beautiful colours skilfully blended together…

You don’t need to have visited the Wadi Rum to be transported there. You can get the essences of the the Jordanian desert right on the streets of Amman – in a bottle!

I met Hisham as I wondered aimlessly through the bustling streets and markets of al-Balad, downtown Amman. The young artist who has been making sand art bottles for 7 years, invited me to sit and watch as he once again mastered his art of capturing the desert in a bottle! Click here to watch the video!

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You can find Hisham’s stall in al-Balad, downtown Amma, opposite the Roman theatre.

Or email him for more info and to place orders: sandbottles@yahoo.com

Enjoy Amman!

Good bye Sharm, Hello Cairo!

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Two nights spent in Sharm El Sheikh – check! That’s two days out of my 28 day trip done… I’m going according to plan, that’s a good start!

I knew when I booked my accommodation that I wouldn’t want to stay much longer than two days. I’m not a resort sort of person and Sharm El Sheikh is very much a resort sort of town.

My hotel is nothing to write home about, bedsides the fact that it isn’t a hostel yet it’s as cheap as chips ($16 for two nights!) Yes, as one if the reviews clearly stated, there are misquotes in the lounge (thankfully not in my room), and yes I did get my first Egyptian mosquito bite on my face as welcome (thank goodness they are not in completion with the Ghanaian mosquitos!), but at least it’s clean and safe (the hotel that is).

The sand storms have prevented me from venturing out of the hotel (it gets pretty windy here, they forget to warn holiday makers that)… Though I doubt I could see myself sunbathing by the Red Sea… I’m saving all that for part two of my journey when I reach Eilat!

Overall, for the two nights that I needed to simply to recharge and get some writing done on my blog (check out my new blog The Educationally Frustrated Student), this place suited me fine. Food isn’t included with my room (I love a bargin but that would have been a steal!) though nothing on the menu seemed to appeal to me so I opted for a big bottle of water and (before you think I’m on some diet) a big packet of crisps! Even the flavour was written in Arabic so I couldn’t tell how many calories I consumed… That’s what I call guilt-free!

One of my pet peeves (which includes people picking their nose in public and being “sssss”ed at) is walking into a shop and they have no prices on the items – nada! It means any price can be called when I query. And that’s exactly what happend when I walked into the hotel store to buy my, uuhmm, guilt-free crisps. It’s not like they were even imported for the price to be as high as back home. These crisps had every vital importation from the name and flavour down to the weight and nutritional information in Arabic. I couldn’t even read the sell by date. When I questioned the shop assistant why there were no prices, he said simply that

“The Russians don’t like seeing the prices on items!”

Great, so because of the Russians who don’t mind beig ripped off I had to pay the rip off price!

Anyway, besides that, all has gone smoothly, but that’s because I haven’t bothered to venture out or speak to anybody (you so much as greet a local and he’ll think you’re a sex tourist)! This evening while heading to the lobby to use the wifi (another pet peeve is when a description fails to to be completely accurate; wifi isn’t available in the rooms – only in the lobby), one of the staff greeted me “Good evening.” I responded (nicely, for a change). He then took the liberty to ask if I’m having good stay. I replied yes (was there something exciting to do in this place that I was missing out on?!) He then said he saw me sitting alone in the lobby not talking to anyone so he wondered if I’m ok. Perfect, let’s keep it that way, I thought. I don’t want any man thinking they can come and invade my space!

But in less than 20 minutes since that conversation, some man did came to sit in a seat near me in the lobby and try to make conversation; in Arabic. I thought my “not interested” gesture was enough when he moved to another seat in the lobby… But then he came back pointing at his phone. Really?! Wasn’t your man pride broken enough the first time?! So I gave him another gesture to go away. Can’t he see I’m working (writing for my blog)! At that point I looked around the reception counter for staff. I would expect this hassle if I were outside but not in a resort!

I must remember I’m in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language and they have a different culture to mine… Plus I’m travelling a lone. So I have to be careful how I say no to people… Though in my book no means no.

Anyone know a nicer way to put it?… Stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted as I arrive in Cairo later today!

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My dodgy resort with tacky flashing 2013 lights which is missing the “3” on every other flash!

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From a distance, it actually doesn’t look too bad!… Good bye Sharm El Sheikh!

This Time Last Year… Israel

This time last year I was in Israel.

How can approx 365 days have flown by so fast?

Despite the political issues (I’m not getting into that topic), I had a great experience in Israel. I’ve been meaning to go back but as alway time (and many other factors) prevent this.

Vondi and I make friends with locals

Vondi and I make friends with locals

I met Vondi at the airport going to Tel Aviv. Vondi and I use to go to the same gym- in fact the same gym class (LTB) but only ever spoke once when she asked if I’ve been t NYC as I was wearing the sweat shirt.
So when she approached me at the airport heading to the same destination as me, well you can imagine my surprise and luck! We hung out together in TA and enjoyed the nightlife dancing (great clubs out there)!

Eating out in Palestine

Eating out in Palestine

I took a bus to Palestine with Vondi which was rather straightforward. However we were advised to take a taxi from the bus stop to the centre once we arrived. Of course we followed our instinct and walked to the which was relatively safe. Once at the centre there is the birthplace of Jesus and other Orthodox churches.

This trip is amongst my best, I think it’s fair to say. I was lucky to meet wonderful people who had an open heart, open mind and some time to spend with me. There was a good balance between spirituality, relaxation and straight up partying…

To think it was all a year ago is rather surreal…

Here are a few of my memorable bits in pictures 🙂

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Sunset in Tel Aviv… Jaffa in the background

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satisfaction guaranteed! My favourite foods…

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My host in TA Micky at a fish restaurant 🙂

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Finding some spirituality in Jerusalem

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The Dead Sea and all its mineral goodness!

WHERE WERE YOU THIS TIME LAST YEAR?

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