Whale Watching

The whale watching cruise ? Ours could be aptly named “tail watching “ cruise. All the hype and the buildup proved to be mostly for a glimpse of the back and the tail of the gigantic mammal…and of course the water jet.. I assume the passengers’ excitement was ignited by the feeling that the enormous mammal is somewhere swimming around us. ..

It wasn’t like any previous animal watching excursion I’ve been on. The last one, 2 days ago, was a bear safari in Whistler, BC , and we were quite lucky to spot one. The ranger saw him, did a U-turn and the considerate Teddy hadn’t budged, graciously waiting for us.

We looked at him, through the glass of the Land Cruiser, and he returned the favor and then disappeared into the woods. We saw all his body parts and took a photo.

The same with the other safaris in South Africa and Sri Lanka…In the latter the leopard  eluded us during the two excursions, however we didn’t have high expectations from the beginning , it is all a matter of luck…either all of the anatomy or nothing…it’s not like this “tail only” formula !

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However we “hit “ it big during the Alaska cruise. It was unplanned, the view unobstructed, and was greatly enjoyed.

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 up 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 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.

A Heaven Minus Adam

Sri Lanka  – 24 /31 March 2017

No coffee

No AC

No WIFI in the rooms!

No, it’s not hell, just a detox retreat

The bright side?

Daily sunrise walk on a turtle nesting beach followed by Pilates, post breakfast massage treatments, post lunch “relax time “, and predinner yoga.

After surviving three days of splitting headaches and a state of constant lethargy I discovered I can live without my morning dose of caffeine and WhatsApp!

All in all I got a taste of hell and heaven, a heaven minus Adam.

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When we the picture with the waves turned out to be a picture with the rising tide.

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Colombo, Sri Lanka – 31 March 2017

Dressing up

Dressing like the locals gives you a feel of the place, whether for:

-a photoshoot: India, China, Peru and Japan

-modeling the outfit for your travel companions: Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan and Guatemala

-going out for dinner: Cambodia

-dressing up as an empress for dinner in a “palace turned restaurant”: Vietnam,

Or for the whole stay: Iran.

7F20F976-E068-4F14-AFD2-80A61A436855Udaipur, India – 16 February 1998

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Beijing 31 August 2011   China   25 Cheng Du April 2012

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Lake Titicaca, Peru – 21 October 2011

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Kyoto, Japan – 2 April 2015

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Sri Lanka – 24 February 2004

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Uzbekistan –7 May 2007

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Guatemala – 30 October 2015

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Siem Reap, Cambodia – 26 February 2003

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Hue, Vietnam – 16 March 2001

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Shiraz 28, Isaphan 30 Apr 2003 Iran Kangavar 9 May 2001         

 

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