Before joining my new job, my friend from overseas and I, we decided to take 6 days off and go somewhere where we haven’t been. After a bit of research, Bali, Indonesia was our choice since there were direct flights to go there. For 2 guys wanting to hang out, this seemed like the natural choice. It has it all, trekking, diving, surfing, white water rafting, its cheap and off course a reputation for partying.
Offerings to the Gods
Being men, we did everything the last minute and we did not really coordinate or gave it much thought since we were sure we can find our way around any city in the world once we got there. So I got there a day early or should I say he came a day late. We stayed in the ‘rowdier’ side of Bali to be close to the action and as close as we can to the beach. My perception of Bali was that it will resemble Phuket, Thailand. However the place is much, much bigger, more organized, and neater in certain areas. The party scene was a lot more subdued and smaller. The beach was great for surfing, but not as scenic as Phuket. So we lounged around the first couple of days and had great plans for white water rafting, trekking and off course surfing on for the 3rd,4th & 5th day. A memorial monument for the people who died in the Bali nightclub bombing
However, we found there was a Silent Day religious festival!!! Which we had no clue what it was, until we got a brochure telling us we are not allowed to walk on the streets, drive a car, turn on the lights, put on music or even leave our rooms for a full 24 hours!!! When they said Silent they meant Silent!! Dress up for the Holy days
We had to cancel our plans and look for a plan B. Plan B was to get out Bali since Silent Day applied to Bali only and not all of Indonesia, so we booked a ferry to the next island Lombok. The island hardly had any entertainment for tourist. Barely 5 large footstall /restraints and half a decent bar/food joint. The weird thing about it was that the Indonesians were Muslims, unlike Bali who are hindu, but many were form Arab, Yemeni origin! Some even spoke some Arabic!!! Some even dressed like Arabs to sway the public opinion to vote for them. Lombok style elections
From a scenic point of view, Lombok was very pretty and hand some chilled out resorts, but besides trekking and some diving there was not much more, so we had to improvise, and decided to have a early start the next day and figure out what to do. The next day, our Lonely Plant Guidebook said the super tiny Gili Island was the place to be. It’s a very short distance form Lombok and it had a great reputation for parties, restaurants, diving and its was exceptionally beautiful. Fishing Indonesian style
Transport to Gili was arranged for late afternoon and we had decided to kill time by learning to drive scooters! There were no teachers, just some dudes standing by the street side and we cut a deal with them to teach us for 2 hours and we will pay them. We felt like 2 kids learning to ride bicycles in a park, literally. It was fun for one hour but after that it got old and we did not dare go on the roads. The 3 Gili islands in the distance
Getting to Gili in a local boat was an adventure in itself, especially when the boat was having trouble starting and we encounter a weather change on the way, which made the journey rough but interesting. By the time we arrived in Gili, it was clear and the island was truly paradise. Gili Style Transport
There were no cars allowed. You had to walk, rent a bicycle, or ride a horse. The island was around 2 kilometres long, hedonistic, no police on the island, the 250 or so locals were all Muslims who liked to party, dive and took matters super easy. The restaurants were simple but amazing, the wooden cafes were so chilled out, it was a dream. We hit the jackpot. We had such a relaxing time there but we had time constrains and spent less than 48 hours there before heading back to Bali. Blessed and protected car
I guess having Bali shut down for a day helped Gili become extra lively, but if it wasn’t for the Silent Day Festival we would have never encountered this awesome experience. Sometimes it a blessing in disguise for plan A to be abandoned.
Before I go into the subject, I just want to apologize for not writing for while, not sure what is wrong with me but I have not been doing any of the stuff I like, I am not depressed or anything like that but I have been spending time web serving, playing video games, doing the plans for the house we are going to build and off course lots of my time is consumed with my baby girl. You don't know what your missing
This post is long overdue and it should have been posted 5 months ago when I went to Egypt. I was there for work again and I went to Hurghada, and the trip happened to also be my last trip with my ex-company. This time though it was different, I wanted to see the touristy side of Egypt and I got an added bonus by having a night with some local flavor. This trip changed the way I viewed Egypt, which was not my cup of tea, coffee or juice. Cairo is polluted, dirty, and overcrowded, with pushy people, the pyramids are over hyped, even though they are impressive, and although Cairo has improved dramatically from the late 90’s in terms of corruption, pushiness and people trying to take you for a ride, I never liked it at all. Saying that, I found the upper Nile part of Egypt, completely different, with the people easy going and it had magnificent historic sites which are mind boggling by any stretch of the imagination.
Working hard for the money
My cousin joined me on my last day of work day in Egypt, and the holiday started by asking a local friend to show us the night life, the typical reaction was to take us to a couple of western night clubs, which were fine but not what we wanted to experience, we wanted to see where the everyday average Mo hangs out and that’s what we got. The grand entrance
They even mummified crocodiles
It was a belly dancer joint in the back alleys of some dingy building by the sea. The joint was run down and shabby, but lively and loud. We arrived around 1:30 a.m. and the club was happening. We saw a man with his wife and his 7 year old daughter and their infant, in a crib. The 7 year old was dancing away with the belly dancer till 3 am, while the baby slept through all the noise and smoke. People were rolling joints and smoking hashish openly, every time you ‘sprayed’ the dancer with small note of money, the band will call your name throughout the song and if you did it long enough the band leader and dancer will force you on to the dance floor. We stayed there till around 5:30 a.m. and then we had to leave, the ride to the hotel was another 45 minutes long and we had shuttle to catch at 7 am. We would have stayed longer had it not been for that. Cruise ships as far as eye can see
The 4 hour shuttle ride to get to our Nile Cruse was scenic apparently but we were hurting and snoozing off as much as we can. The interesting part, beside all the pretty villages saw were the number of police check points along the way. There were many towers, concrete blocks, barricades which forced us to slow down every 20 minutes or so. The police hardly asked much but would take a look inside and at times ask for our papers. Take a balloon ride if you don't like cruise ships
The cruise ship was tacky, and old although it was a 5 star cruise, not sure how they rate their hotels in Egypt since the 5 star is equivalent to 3 star here in Oman, but to be fair we did not pay much for it. Food and board was included but no drinks and I don’t mean booze when I say drinks, they only offered us coffee not even water!!! The lock before closing
The ship was going in zigzags all along the trip cause the there areas where the Nile was very shallow, it was very interesting to see how the Captain knew his way around the Nile in the 4 day trip. Another, interesting part was using the lock to get elevated to the higher side of the river, I have never experienced being enclosed in an area, closing the gate , having it flooded, then opening the gate to pass to the higher side of the river. Hawckers
Eating breakfast on the top and collecting trash in the bottom
Another memorable sight was when the boat hawker tied their boats to the cruise ship and started throwing their merchandise, with great precision, through the room windows, even into the 4th floor rooms and onto the upper deck, whether you like it or not, you were going have things thrown at you to inspect, when your done inspecting chuck it back, or throw them money back with the bag they threw along. They took the chance that you might take the merchandise and disappear or that their product might bounce back and fall in the river, if they missed target. This scene happened a few times along the trip and it was amusing as well as annoying after sometime. Everything pales in comparison
The most famous of them all
With regards to the historic sights, words can not describe the wonders we saw, the mammoth scale and details of these temples will only make you wonder how could this progressive civilization 2-5 thousand year old advance so far, only to disappear without transferring their knowledge to others? How did they advance so far much so long ago? Scientist are still puzzled and can’t find out how they constructed these monuments. One wacky theory was that the Pharaohs were extraterrestrials, however after seeing these landmarks that withstood so many millenniums, I can now I say its not so wacky at all. These are a fraction of buses we saw that day
Obviously, tourist from all around the world were there, even though there was a financial crisis around the globe. Thousands of them and hundreds of cruise ships where going up and down the Nile. The Egyptian guides were fascinating, speaking in any language you imagine. Their knowledge of history was questionable at times but only because their civilization's history was so rich with lots of details, no matter how long you stayed in the temples there were thousands of questions you could ask. Private strolls
Our final part of the journey was going to the Aswan's High Dam and the biggest man made lake in the world, Lake Nasser. The dam that turned the Egyptians, and later the Arabs, against the west because they back out of funding them and made them turn to the Soviet Union. Even though the dam supplies electricity to Egypt and controls the floods and droughts, it destroyed and wiped out many of the Nubian heritage and historic monuments, their people, over 60,000 people were dispersed forever. There were other environmental effects caused by the dam, for example , many of the minerals and sands were trapped behind the dam causing some problems with farming , even the Mediterranean fishing industry was affected due to the reduction of minerals carried by the Nile to the sea. The land is still fertile, but not as much
The temples and people of Upper Egypt were a fascinating experience that made me change my perception 180 degrees about this great country, so take my word, don’t judge Egypt by your Cairo experience…. there is a whole different world waiting on the other side Egypt.
First of all I have to apologize to everyone for not writing for so long and especially Lirun, who kept asking me to blog. There is has been a lot of things happening in my life, my pc kept crashing and I lost my photo software which I use to resize photos for blogging. The PC crashed more than once. Then I could not find software to resize photos that are simple to use, I finally got something. A journey into the storm
I was traveling for work in Egypt and then took a few days for holidays and went on the famous Nile cruise. While on holiday I got a call informing me that all is clear and should come and sign an employment contract with a firm I applied for a few months ago. Egypt
I got back home resigned from my job and decided to take a short break before joining the new job. The day before I was supposed to travel, I had an allergic reaction to something I ate that nearly killed me. I have never had any kind of allergic reaction before, and having nearly chocked to death, from eating something in a buffet at a restaurant, got me paranoid since I did not know what triggered the reaction.
I had to take a detour on my break and do some medical check ups which came out negative and I still don’t know the cause of my allergic reaction. The doctor said I could develop allergies any time, so I need to test everything I eat. I have to walk around with an Epi Pen and make sure there is a medical center next to me, in case I need it, till date I don’t know what triggered it but I'm less paranoid since I have been testing all kinds of food. Which way to go?
Another big event was my old dog was dying and seeing him in that state broke my heart, he would not eat or move but if I called him, he tried his best to get up, but when he finally wobbled and fell, I knew it was time. I was helpless and although I had taken him to the vet a few times that week, and he was looking better, he would kept relapsing very fast and get from bad to worse.
The vet told me that the dog is really old and I should expect him to die if he went into surgery. There was something showing the X-ray but one vet did not want to take the risk while the other one said it worth opening him up and finding out if there is something they can treat. I basically told them, at this stage you might as well take all kind of risks because he was dying. Shockingly, they found a 4-5 kilo tumor in him that was pressing on all his organs. The tumor was nearly 15% of his weight. They basically opened him up from one end to the other. compare the size of finger vs. the size of the tumor
The dog is much better now but we had to take lots of care of him and had to feed him special food several times a day, make sure he is not acting funny, tablets, putting cream on his wound …..
Work has been very hectic but enjoyable and on a final note I am about to be a dad in a few weeks and we have been going around doing all the shopping needed, going back and forth to Dubai on weekends…. and I have checkout all the baby shops in Oman by now and my wife is finally satisfied with the stuff we bought