Do You Remember the Time? In Egypt

I know I've been meaning to post about my adventures in Egypt, but life happens and this will probably be a shorter write-up that doesn't express all the aspects of Egypt. As I get ready for another journey soon, I realize that I needed discuss the quirky but glorious times of Egypt with my muse. 

Cairo - In Cairo, I would have a wonderful tour guide who showed us the first pyramids of Djoser before moving on to the glorious Great Pyramids and Sphinx. I feel no words will convey their majesty and amazingness as it was so great to finally learn how they were built in steps then covered in limestone. We had hilarious hotel experiences with perfume, breakfast boxes and some great pigeon and mixed meat at the place of our tour guide. I also enjoyed shopping around for papyrus where the guy entertained with glow in the dark cats.....which are not very common in Egypt.

Speaking of which, there were a variety of myths about Egypt that were pretty dashed when here. Nobody has a "Walk Like an Egyptian" pose here, all the Egyptians are my skin tone or darker (and there's even some Nubians and Hittites who they traded and fought with on there), and there are so many different poses and representations of the gods and goddesses it's mind boggling. On the return, before seeing some of the Christian and Muslim region of Cairo-change of pace, we saw King Tut's wonders - the man had layers and layers of gold and was probably the original cribs with how much jewelry he had and he huge pierced ears. However, pretty soon I was Ancient Egypted out as I need a break from it to see other global aspects. We celebrated a birthday with our tour guide's other client and had a blast which makes for those really magical moments I enjoy in travel that are impromptu. 

Luxor - Luxor was a big shift and a far smaller, more religious but still touristy town. We had a shift in drivers and tour guides which wasn't great as the Luxor (and later Aswan) tour guide was bizarre and socially inept. It was good to note that I wouldn't be doing tours that much again and probably going back to my usual way of figuring it out. However, the treasures in Luxor are worth it. Luxor Temple is a pretty cool temple in the shape of Ramses II*, but the Karnak Temple with its huge pillars, the colorful Dendara Temple (go there!), Queen Hapshepsut's nicely designed place (only female Pharaoh!) and of course the Valley of the Kings which showcased preserved ancient tombs and their walls that depicted Egyptians as Black, not Arab nor white. It's empowering to know we built all of Ancient Egypt and you really can't know until you go and see those statutes, colors, styles, and figures for yourself. 

The other highlights were the strange food we went to for a tour that was overly classy Italian food (strange to have), shifting guides, Alabaster sales, hookahs (official) and lemon mint juice, with Muslims celebrating Merry Christmas at the hotel while taking pictures in Santa outfits - go figure. 

*Ramses II built most of the temples you will see in all of Egypt, he unified Upper and Lower Egypt and loved his power. After seeing his mummy, I realized he was a pretty big dude for the time and lived for about sixty years. He and to a lesser extent, his wife Nefertari, are all over the country and you will get used to that symbol. A true master of his domain. 

Aswan/Abu Simbel - Aswan had less on the temple side but the Philae Temple on an island and the magnificent Abu Simbel, are worth the journey (even if it took four crazy hours in a car). Abu Simbel is another three hours or so from Aswan - Sudan is visible from it - but it is arguably one of the best temples in the country, huge statutes, walls and dedication to the gods/goddesses and Ramses and his wife. It is timeless.

Still the main attraction in Aswan is its modernity mixed with tradition. Everyone will try to convince you to take a boat on the Nile River, the back alleys offer tea house, a hustler might know all four or five languages you ignore him in, people in my skin tone with curly hair are in hijabs or not, and a promoter might get you to follow him on facebook for the grand opening of his hipster dessert spot. Yes Aswan, is a bizarre combination of Luxor and Cairo or past and present and it's intriguing just to walk in its bizarreness. The only negative would be that one of the guys taking us to the airport tried to hustle us because of not tipping as much (they will want a tip everywhere) it was a bad practice and I can definitely only recommend Jakada Tours for Cairo and Alexandria. Find a driver and enjoy Luxor and Aswan otherwise. You should also definitely fly everywhere.

All in all, while some moments were silly, it was still an absolutely wonder to return to the Fatherland and see the glory of Ancient Egypt and all the Blackness that went into building it and the knowledge gleaned from it. 


Purpose, Reflection, and Future

Recently, I have been in a deep analysis as to who I am and what purpose do I serve in my own life, the lives of others and on this earth. I am not a spiritual crusader, but I do ponder on one's mission or meaning in life. As I nearly turn 30, I am at a crossroads in what to do with myself. Logical progression years ago seemed to teach which turned into leadership which turned into running my own school or becoming a professor. Then I lived and explored Southeast Asia for two months which led me to wanting to get out of America fast. With our new president it has only solidified that want.  

I began to research how to teach abroad, specifically around social studies and english. I had hopes for possibly teaching High School or sticking with what I already knew in middle school. I joined a few different institutions from Search Associates, research with International School Services, and Teachaway and a few others. Ultimately the Search Associates Fair, was a great experience, but due to missing out on a chance at teaching at Lebanon, I began to wonder my true reasons for wanting to teach abroad and true reasons for wanting to teach.

As such, I was led to believe I may have been going about this wrong. I was led to that by a great self-help book called What Color is Your Parachute? Within the book there is a thorough process called the Flower Method that takes a look at your thought process in regards to skills, knowledges, and locations and people for work. As such, I realized that teaching is almost but not quite satisfactory for what I wish to do with myself. Now, there is a process for still teaching a year abroad with Teaching Nomad to cover some college  and credit card debts. This is acceptable in China even though it prolongs what I want to do with myself. Still, it would be simply building towards a transition.

This transition has me looking at museum and historical research jobs as I think that that is truly what I'm best at besides travel. However, the research could even lead me to more travel to research the history of various civilizations in a cultural and social sense. As I am better at working with data and information around the humanities subjects this fit will be better for me. Thus, I am looking at jobs that focus on this through film and writing. So far, the museum world of NYC (Natural History Museum), The Smithsonian and it's African-American Culture Museum, and organizations such as the History Channel, Discovery Channel, PBS and National Geographic have a high appeal to me for research, study, writing, filmography and museum curation.

I may regret the years I lost on not knowing myself, but I don't regret the purpose I gave to hundreds of young Black and Brown kids in the US. In the end, my future lies elsewhere and all roads will lead to this. 

Travelblog: Touristy Temples of Siem Reap, Kampuchea(Cambodia)

Food wise, this is the weakest country which is why Kampuchea may have been my least favorite country. Many dishes were similar to the neighboring countries, but without all of the spices. The only exception would be Amok - the national tasty fish dish. I will say that frog legs are tasty here even though the dish requires several tiny frogs. Eel stew is also great but beware the spicy peppers, I was crying and the Khmer lady kept filling up my beers and ice to help me. Angkor and Cambodia beer is decent overall. 

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Travelblog: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Anyways, on to the culture of Chiang Mai, there are some wonderful small temples to see here. One of my favorite Theravada Buddhist temples is here due to its hall symmetry. Doi Sothep on the high hill is also a marvel to look at if you can manage the stairs (there's a lift too). The old city is charming with great places to grab Thai Tea or Thai Iced Coffee.

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Travelblog: Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok is controlled chaos. The traffic is heavy, there are tons of cars, and the people have a frenetic ebb and flow. At the same time, there are BTS skytrains and metros that bring in a semblance of order to move people around. There are also glorious temples like Wat Pho (pearl of inlay on the feet of a reclining Buddha - reclining Buddhas are one of the common position of Buddha in Theravada Buddhism). Another highlight  is Wat Phra Kaew which is the king's (insanely important to Thailand) palace and Emerald Buddha Temple. All of these I had a lot of fun with while dodging Chinese tourists and taking off my shoes everywhere.  In terms of culture, cooking classes and food tours on Tuk-tuks were other wondrous moments. As such, I now have an aversion for paying top dollar for Thai food since it was often a $1.50 for Pad Thai that was better than any in the US. Furthermore, my own cooking was better than most of the food I have had in the US.  This would also be my foray into Asian markets which I got so used to as it became the lifeblood of the regoin as people ate and bought ingredients in the markets.

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