The World Seen From …

Exploring the world from different perspectives, be it:

Riding :

A donkey while in Tenerife, Canary Islands 19 July 1985

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An elephant in Chiang Mai, Thailand 17 November 2007

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A camel in Norita campsite, Uzbekistan – 9 May 2008

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Sitting in:

A carriage in Fontainebleau, France – 6 September 1986

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A rickshaw in Vietnam – 11 March 2001

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An ox cart in Isalo Park, Ranohira, Madagascar- 5 May 2009

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Diving underwater in the Maldives – 11 July 2012

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Climbing up mountains in Bhutan – 9 October 2016

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Rising higher up above in a hot air balloon in Luxor, Egypt – 4 December 2016

Are You a Massage Lover?

There are two different types of people: the massage lovers and the others. I belong to the first group and admit having tried almost every kind of massage one might have heard of…yes, wherever my wanderlust bug took me I thrived to indulge in my favorite pastime.

While the “Razzie award” belongs to the Inca massage in Agua Calientes, Peru (it triggered pain in my neck i.e. Brufen was my best friend for quite a few days ), some of the best experiences were in :

Siem Reap, Cambodia – 25 February 2003 : advertised as “massage by blinds”, all the employees in this center were professionally trained visually impaired masseurs and masseuses.

Sri Lanka : Ayurveda treatments

Spice Gardens in Matala, Sri Lanka – 24 February 2004

and the star of them all, the Shirodhara – oil dripping technique 27 March 2017

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29 March 2017

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-Bali – 22 August 2012 : yummy treat(ments) i.e. coffee scrubs, chocolate massages…

Maldives – 10 July 2012 : the outdoor picture perfect spectacular setting

Shanghai, China – 4/5 September 2011 : relieved me from a chronic back pain in only one session…like magic!

Chiang Mai, Thailand – 15 November 2007 : Sleep inducing reflexology

– Chiang Mai, Thailand – November 2007 : the 2-hour body massage felt like seconds

Bagan, Myanmar9 February 2005: Room-reflexology

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Madagascar: much needed pampering between hikes

Reserva Forestal Los Santos, Costa Rica – 22 March 2018 : excellent “surround sound system” reaching us from the surrounding rainforest…chirping birds, cascading waterfall… live, no CD.

However, the one treatment that left me with the strongest impact was closer to home…Yes, here in Abu Dhabi where I enjoy an established yet dynamic routine.

Honestly, I went to the spa at the Emirates Palace out of curiosity…understandably, it’s the most luxurious spa I’ve ever been to. I suspected the tag price to be associated with the lavishness, the splendor of the surroundings.

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I found out it wasn’t exactly true: the treatment was above my expectations…pure bliss is a cliché! Words fail me… I can’t describe the burst of emotions I never knew existed and caused my eyes to well with tears towards the end of the treatment, once I felt, inch by inch, a warm blanket descending on my back before being left there and covering me like a warm cocoon.

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Heroin! It’s like heroin! Yes, well suddenly this particular article came to my mind…I read it twelve years ago in a Glamour UK issue while visiting my daughter Sara in Beirut. It was the addiction journal of a young teenager who revealed that the first time she tried heroin it felt like she was being enveloped in a warm blanket. I still remember that I thought then and there why wouldn’t she simply envelope herself in a warm blanket instead of letting herself be sucked into the downhill spiral that could have cost her her life?! Strange how our memory works.

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Anyway, back outside sipping on my minted tea in the relaxing area, a smooth transition before exiting the enchanting “realms of the senses”, I inquired about the “heroin effect ” treatment.  They don’t have it on the menu, it was bespoke! They came up with it when I asked for a “brain teaser”, a relaxing and energizing treatment.

Still under the spell, I left the premises with the feeling that the treatment I just experienced could really lead to a habit, a guilt free and harmless habit.

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde Sans The Evil Streak …a Woman of Many Contradictions

My sister once said to me, you are like Lebanon, the country of contradictions…

You are devout and a party animal… you endeavor to practice your 5 daily prayers and more, the beautiful voice of one specific muezzin makes you stop everything to listen to his beautiful call for prayer, but again certain songs can pull you to the dance floor with shameless abandon…

Your friends? Social butterflies and literati. You are equally pleased in the company of the younger in their 30s as well as the older with experience in their 80s.

What else? I love a good workout as much as I love farniente. I enjoy living in the fast lane, enjoy the adrenaline that helps me cope with a hectic lifestyle but equally enjoy a relaxing morning just catching up on the world or reading a catching book, staying home and not having any planned outings…

In the morning, I look forward to the peace and quiet of the night and the rituals preceding the “machine switch off” while at night I look forward to the morning “waking up process” and its routine – a warm shower and coffee in the garden listening to the chirping birds.

These contradictions must be explained by the following: my yin and yang DNA is probably the “joint account “of 2 extremely different ancestors.

Knowing this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I enjoy the luxury of 5* hotels as much as I enjoyed the overnight homestay in Amantani Island, Lake Titicaca in Peru , the shared sleeping accommodation – we were 12 – of a wooden boat during a Mekong cruise in Vietnam, the rudimentary comfort of a traditional yurt in Uzbekistan, and camping in Bhutan under torrential rain  i.e. muddy terrain.

Anyone like me?

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Four Seasons Hotel Anahita, Mauritius –3/6 December 2014

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Le Negresco Hotel Nice, France – 14 June 2014 

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Lake Palace Hotel Udaipur, India –15 February 1998

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Riads, Morocco – 6/14 April 2016

Les Jardins de Shehrazad Fès 7/8 April         Riad Nashira Marrakech 10/12 April

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Shwe Inn Tha Floating Resort, Inlay Lake Myanmar – 10/11 February 2005

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Beach bungalow Hotel Vanille, Manakara Madagascar – 8 May 2009

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Local’s casa, Amantani Island Peru – 22 October 2011

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Wooden boat, Mekong Vietnam – 22/24 February 2003

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Yurt Campsite, Nurata Uzbekistan – 8 May 2008

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Campsites between Paro and Thimphu, Bhutan – 8/11 October 2016

From Place to Place

Applying black lacquer on the teeth of young coming-of-age women was a very popular rite of passage Hoi an,Vietnam – 18 March 2001

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Madagascar – 7 May 2009

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Peru – 27 October 2011
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Xangkhong, Chiang Dao, Thailand – 17 November 2007
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Carmine or brown red teeth colour are a side effect of chewing betel nut, a very common practice in SE Asia Paro, Bhutan– 7 October 2016

It’s a Wild Wild World

🇺🇸•🇰🇳•🇵🇷•🇭🇹•🇲🇽

// Part 4 of 7 //

Off the Riviera Maya, while snorkelling in the waters of the second largest coral reef between the “butterflies of the oceans” – stingrays – I felt overwhelmed by a feeling of sadness triggered by the following thought… I realised I love all creatures except the Homo Sapiens found in my birth country: the rulers and those electing them…the greedy and corrupt as well as the ignorants and bigots who put them in power…

The maligned animals of prey hunt out of hunger, ONLY…if they were to duplicate those Homo Sapiens’ greedy and auto-destructive behaviour, many species would have been extinct by now…

South Africa 12 April 2009

After reflection, I realised I didn’t feel that way during the previous encounters with the animals in their natural habitat…

South Africa 12 April 2009

On the contrary, I had some of the most exhilarating experiences while scuba diving in the beautiful Great Barrier Reef ( crossed paths with a white tip shark )

The Maldives 12 July 2012

The Maldives 10 July 2012

And in Sharm El Sheikh 24 November 2015

Ditto on terra firma during our safari in South Africa – 11 April 2009

As well in Madagascar’s tropical rainforest – 3 May 2009  

And again in the Andes mountains in Peru’s Alto Plano – 24 October 2011 

And lately in the cloud forest in Carara National Park Costa Rica – 20 March 2018.

My moodiness must have been induced by the elections taking place at the time in my birth country…this charade had affected me despite the disttance…

My Secret Lover

This is for all the good times I enjoyed with my secret lover. Yes, I’m admitting it now, I’ve had one for many many years.

This relationship only brought me extreme happiness and fond memories. I still remember how I used to check furtively the time while helping the children out with their homework.  I’d steal a glance at my watch longing for our daily dates then I’d rush quickly – literally running outside  – in anticipation of the strong emotions I’d feel whenever I feast my eyes on my lover…and because being one minute late meant I’d be stood up!!

I didn’t mind this zero tolerance stance because of the flexibility I was allowed: my love never missed a date, followed me everywhere even to Lebanon and didn’t mind if I was too busy to show up!

The other thing I enjoyed about my lover: I could be myself; I didn’t have to dress up for our daily date…casual outfit, no salon visit.

How convenient is that!

How did I manage to keep this relationship going on for so long? Honestly it wasn’t arduous despite my lover ‘s dynamic schedule (a fluctuation range of one and a half hour plus or minus ) for I was fortunate we lived conveniently near the Corniche so I cleverly timed my routine jog according to our daily dates.

Our relationship came to an abrupt halt when we relocated to a new house, quite distant from the Corniche…just like that.

For all those waiting for me to reveal the identity of my secret lover, sorry to disappoint, no juicy info: it’s the Sun right before it sets…

Well it must be something really out of this world to be able to compete with my hombre

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Aswan Egypt – 4 December 2016

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Phnom Bakheng, Siem Reap Cambodia – 26 February 2003

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U Bien Bridge Amarapura Myanmar – 5 February 2005

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South Africa – 12 April 2009

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The Canal des Pangalanes Manakara Madagascar – 8 May 2009

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Bali Indonesia – 20 August 2012

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Sant Josep de Sa Talaia Ibiza Spain – 14 June 2015

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Temple of Kom Ombo Aswan Egypt – 5 December 2016

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Duke Kahanamoku Beach Hawai USA – 23 April 2017

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Athens Greece – 4 April 2018

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Bhamdoun, Lebanon – 19 August 2018