Fitness Tip: Eat First then Shop

With the holiday season knocking at the door, it is always a challenge to keep fit and healthy.  To maintain one’s weight during the year is not so easy for most of us, let alone maintaining one’s weight during the holiday season! All that turkey and holiday parties are extremely deterimental to one’s waistline. So today I want to share with you a little secret on how to stay active and burn away a little of that holiday eating.  I realized this was something I had only begun doing recently since I began my weightloss journey over a year ago.  Now it has become a part of my routine.  What do I do?  It’s easy.  I eat first then I shop.

Didn’t I say it was easy?  Now the important part is implementing it.  Before in my much much chubbier days, which I am happy to say is now behind me,  I didn’t give a slight thought as to what I’ll eat and when I’ll eat it.  I’ll eat when I’m hungry and then I’d shop or go hang out with friends when the time suited.  Oftentimes, if I am out shopping I’d lose track of time, find myself shopping until late in the evening, discover I’m starving and then fill my stomach with whatever I was craving. Being dehydrated and starving, the choice would often be unhealthy alternatives.  I’d come home exhausted, sit on the couch and then sleep.

That was the old me.  I ate before I slept.  I ate then sat down.  I ate then watched TV.  I ate then ate again.

Nowadays, I avoid doing it as much as possible.  When I go shopping or go hang out with friends, I try to schedule it so that I always eat first and the go shopping or go do my errands.  This way, I am sure to have eaten my lunch/dinner on time and then burn it off with the walking.   I don’t crave unhealthy foods and I don’t slow down my metabolism by putting it into starvation mode.

You might wonder if just simply eating then walking helps?  Believe me it does.  Every little action counts if you want to stay healthy and keep the weight off.   Walking actually burns quite a bit of calories. According to  (  if you are leisurely walking like when you are shopping, you burn roughly 220 calories an hour!  Now that’s equivalent to burning off a cup of starbucks latte coffee, almost two cans of of coca cola or perhaps that piece of chocolate cake you had previously. 

If you take the stairs or you are carrying shopping bags, you will be burning even more calories.  Every little calorie counts especially if you want to continue eating all the Christmas and New Year goodies!  I certainly enjoy eating and don’t want to forgo eating the delicious goodies.   I also don’t want the weight gain. 

So my tip to you is to plan out your day in advance.  Plan to eat healthy foods first and then do an activity that burns it off.  If you need to go shopping for presents and gifts, make sure you have had something to eat.  You’d spend a couple hours shopping so why not make use of it to burn off all that food?  You won’t find yourself starving and be tempted to eat unhealthy food.  Drink water when you feel tired, most likely you are dehydrated. 

Stay active and stay healthy!  Every little action counts 🙂 Remeber:  Eat First then Shop 🙂  Happy Shopping!!

The Anna Restaurant & Art Gallery

The festive season has begun and with it comes the time for gatherings and reunions. Although we don’t have the whole Christmas feel in Bangkok just yet it is coming. I start to hear Christmas songs and the shops are all changing their displays. Now all we need is abit of snow in Bangkok. So with all these festivities going on, it is of course the time to go out and meet friends. Friends you haven’t met in a long time, friends who are back on a visit and friends who just want to hang out and have a good time. Last weekend I went to meet some good old friends whom I’ve known ever since I can remember. We went to this new restaurant called “The Anna Restaurant and Art Gallery.”

It’s a cute restaurant and one that is simple in its furnishings yet pleasing to the eye. It’s housed in a relatively large compound of an old styled Thai wooden house whose interiros have been fully renovated. The ambiance is white, clean and homey. I could easily be eating at home but with the added benefit of a full menu and wonderfully friendly staff. They have many rooms, but the one we sat in was especially refreshing with big windows. The corner I sat in was close to some trees so we felt like we were sitting in a little conservatory. I like being able to look out and see the blue sky and some trees.

There is also a lot of space which is something I love. Your seat is comfortably set apart from the other table so you don’t feel like you are imposing on them or happen to just hear their conversation. At Anna restaurant, you have your privacy and the table is large enough for all your food. Large enough but not too large to make conversation difficult. Perfect. It’s always these little details that matter.

For those who seek quiet restaurants, this one should is quite good. Despite being a restaurant where people seem to like having birthday gatherings, (there were at least three large tables with birthdays that day) the noise level remained at a reasonable level. There wasn’t the constant ring of noises going through your ears. My ears felt comfortably quite.

Now for the most important part: the food. The food was good and the menu serves Thai food as well as some western dishes. The Thai food all tasted good and were seasoned to fit everyone’s taste. Not too spicy, not too bland. They had dishes ranging from all the yums (thai salads), curries, vegetables and noodles to smoked salmon salad, spinach gratin, and even lamb. Being the confused Bangkokians we are these days, my table had both Thai and western dishes and we ate them all together. They were all delicious but not out of this world or a five star Michelin. It’s a wonderful restaurant to go hang-out and have reliably good food. Home cooking at its best.

I liked a certain Thai noodle dish made of shanghai glass noodles (that’s what we call them in Thai). The baked spinach gratin was also very good as well as the Casablanca lamb served with Roti. They were also presented beautifully which is always a feast for the eyes. Dessert was also good. They had a long list of cakes to choose from and all looked extremely tempting. There was the Banoffee (which seems to be a Thai favorite), Lemon Tart, Apple Crumble….etc…

What about service? Service was friendly and attentive. I didn’t have to wave my hand around to get attention, I was spotted whenever I needed someone. Oh, and if it’s your birthday all the waiters will temporarily stop and come sing you a big birthday song!!! The owner also came walking around to see how everyone was and if the food was okay. You can tell that he is clearly paying close attention to all that’s happening. Thank you!

In conclusion, this is a great place to go for all those reunions, birthday parties, or just a big family gathering. The food is great, the ambiance wonderful, and there is ample parking. If you go on the weekend, being located on Soi Pipat off from Sathorn Road (the business district) there is hardly any traffic. I took the BTS (skytrain) to Chong Nonsri and it was only a five minute walk. Price was extremely reasonable too. Having ordered ALOT of food, the bill ended up being roughly around 500-600thb ($16-20) per person. They also have a website:

And if you wondering, NO I am not getting paid to review this place. 🙂 Although I wouldn’t mind being paid to go try out restaurants….. hmm…

If there is a particular restaurant you love and would like to share it with us, please let us know! I would be more than happy to hear from you. Have a happy festive season! 🙂

Ramen at Ra-men Restaurant

I love lazy Sundays. I love it especially when the weather is not so warm outside and there are Christmas songs playing wherever you go. I love the feeling of not having to rush anywhere or having to be at a certain place in time for an appointment. What better day then than to go explore a new restaurant and find something good to fill our stomachs? Today, Alex and I went to a new ramen place recommended by my brother. Thank you. The ramen was absolutely delicious. It’s name is easy to remember. It’s called Ra-men Restaurant. What do they serve? Ramen.

The ramen I have to say was one of the best ramens I’ve had in Bangkok so far. Chabuton was good but slightly too salty for my taste. Ramentei is delicious, but the ramen at Ra-men restaurant was good. Very good. The soup wasn’t salty and the noodles the right consistency. I had “Hiyashi” which is the cold ramen noodle topped with vegetables and pork. I loved it, and despite it’s huge portion size, I finished it all. Alex had the pork ramen with soup. His was also delicious and the soup tasted wonderful. You can tell that this wasn’t mass produced. The ramen at this place gets top stars from me.

Now for the ambiance. I wasn’t really expecting anything fancy or super nice for a ramen restaurant but I have to say this place was quite unexpected. It’s a small restaurant, which is acceptable. I understand the lack of space, but there are certain things that somehow I just cannot quite overlook despite the wonderful food. The first thing that hits you is the smell. The place absolutely has a problem with ventilation and the smell hits you smack in the face even for someone with a blocked nose like me. It’s not a place you’ll take someone out on a first or second date. Both of you will come out smelling of food. The smell stuck for quite a bit afterwards.

I might be a bit picky, but when I see glass used for doors and walls, I like that glass to look clean. The glass here wasn’t. Some cobwebs were spotted. Looking at how inventory was arranged or how clean the place was, I felt like this place was perhaps a restaurant that the owner opened up a while ago. He/She probably got it up and running and haven’t really been around to look at it much. While these thoughts were flowing through my head, I did hear the telephone ring and the lady picks up to talk to the “Boss.” I hear her reply that the flow of customers was steady and mention something about noodles. I wonder if they are brought fresh here from somewhere.

Other than the decor, this ramen place was also quite amusing. The staff were trained to be very japanese-like. Whenever the head chef said out the order, all the other staff would reply and say “ka” in a very japanese style. They sounded japanese while working, and when customers left you would here the customary “thank you” in japanese. It all sounds japanese until they start relaxing and then I start hearing the North-eastern dialect. It’s funny.

Where is this place? It’s right next to Emporium Department Store on Sukhumvit Soi 24. It’s on the same side as the department store, and if you exit the department store from the perfume section its on your left. Okay in conclusion, food at Ra-men Restaurant is top quality, price range on the high side,.. (270thb for a Hiyashi Ramen, 230thb for the Pork Ramen), but ambiance is….hmm… you read it. If you aren’t too picky about smell and ambiance, but love good ramen then this is the place for you.

For me, this is one of the places that Alex calls “A place where you love the food, but can’t stand the ambiance.” Do you know any other places like this? Please share 🙂

The Egyptian Museum: The Final Resting Place

Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂  Today, most families in the US will probably have Turkey for dinner together with family and friends.  The start of the festive season, it also marks the end of yet another busy year full of developments and happenings.   What better day to mark the end of my posts on Egypt.  Today, I end my journey to Egypt with the final resting place for most of Egypt’s great treasures: The Egyptian Museum.

After thousands of years of history, the final resting place for most of the Egyptian treasures is not located in the Valley of the Kings, nor inside Great Pyramids.  Instead, their final resting place is inside the Egyptian Museum or somewhere in a box in its basement.  First opened in 1863 my guidebook tells me that the museum had to move twice before settling at its current building in which it has been housed since 1902.  Even then, it is still not large enough to accomodate all the treasures.

Upon entering the Egyptian Museum you immediately understand the need for a larger museum.  Having been to many museums around the world, you see beautiful and significant treasures in large spaces of their own.  They become the centrepiece occupying a single wall or perhaps the focus of a large room. 

Spotlights shine on the Mona Lisa at the Louvre which is encased in glass and visitors are stopped by a wooden railing that prevents one from getting too close.  The Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire sits in a glass case on a beautiful velvet cushion at Vienna’s Schatzkammer (Treasury Museum).  The exquisite Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian is in a glass case of it’s own surrounded by security cameras.  At the Egyptian Museum, however, there are so many priceless objects and too little space that everything looks like it has just been placed there for storage.

Upon entering, you are greeted by a hall that is immediately surrounded by all these wonderful treasures of Egypt.  There is so much to see you feel like there is a slight overload of information.  I also somehow feel like I’ve travelled back in time.  Objects are displayed for all to see, but there are few spotlights and hardly enough space for any one piece to shine out.   The guide takes us to see valuable objects that are in glass encasings, but there is no special spotlight and the description is on a typed piece of paper.  Amazing, the description themselves must have been written before the time of computers.
The most exquisite part of the collection though is the collection of objects found inside King Tutankhamun’s Tomb upon excavation at the Valley of the Kings.  The fact that the tomb escaped looting was attributed to the fact that it lay beneath another tomb and looters did not expect to find another tomb.  Lucky for us for now we can see the wonderful tresures of King Tut.  Although King Tutankhamun reigned for only ten years before his untimely death I have to say the treasures are just breathtaking. 
Inside a specially secure room, the most valuable item of King Tut’s Tomb is on display: the Golden Mask.  This mask is not like the ones we wear on halloween or to parties, it is mask made of solid gold.  This golden mask covered the mummy of King Tut and was discovered under layers of bandages.  11kgs (24.5 lbs) it is probably one of the most expensive and valuable treasures in this world. ( Especially at today’s soaring gold prices where it costs over a thousand dollars for an ounce of gold!)  Wow…  I walk around the mask and take a deep breath. It’s beautiful and without blemish.  Semi-precious stones decorate the golden mask and the eyes look out at you as if it were alive.  I look at it and take it all in.  The craftmanship is amazing. How skilled these ancient egyptians were. I also note that this supposedly is how the 19year old King Tut looked like thousands of years ago.  Eerie.
Lining the walls of this room are equally beautiful pieces of golden jewelry and precious stones that were discovered in the tomb.  The bracelets have beautiful scarabs and pendants are designed with the magical Eye of Horus which supposedly has protective powers.  I love the colours and the shape of the jewelry.  I wish I could own a piece, but I can only grab onto the glass case and drool.  Girls can never have enough accessories.
Outside, the display is equally breathtaking.  There are golden chariots, golden box encasings that covered the tomb, and a number of other objects that were totally unexpected.  There was a wooden bed with woven rattan like material that look extremely modern.  It wasn’t only the fact that it had a woven weave to it, but the fact that it had a portable bed and had hinges! Now can you imagine that thousands of years ago?
There was the headrest that looked like modern day Japanese pillows that lifted your neck off the floor so that your hair would not lose its shape.  There were the jewelry boxes that had sections and even a nice cylinder for storing bracelets.  There were portable bathrooms.

There were even wine bottles.  Of course they weren’t made of glass like today’s ones, but they were made of pottery shaped in such a cone-line way so that the wine would not have sediments.  On the bottle, were engraved the names of the vineyards, the year in which the grapes were harvested and the owner.  Amazing.  Now there are no longer any vineyards in Egypt, the climate and religion has changed.

I go into the special section for the Royal Mummies and peer at the remains of Egypt’s great pharaohs.  Their mummification process is still a mystery.  I see hair, nails and skin of those who lived thousands of years ago.  They bare their teeth out at me.  I see one whose face looks like she was in pain.  I am told perhaps this is Hatsheptsut.  This takes me back to my younger days in Belgium where the museum there too had a mummy.  I remember looking at the toenails sticking out from under the bandages and being awed by it.  Now decades later, I am still in awe.

If I have the opportunity I would of course go back to Egypt.  I would go back to once again wander amidst the treasures at the Egyptian Museum and explore the streets of off smaller villages along the nile.  I would spend a night out in the Sinai desert with the camels and visit the Bedoin people.  Egypt was a place that once everyone wanted to go in its days of glory.  The Greeks came to Alexandria and the Romans too had their say.  Egypt was the centre and symbol of civilization thousands of years before our time.  Salam Malakum.

Jordi at the Khan al-Khalili Bazaar


After digressing from my travels to my micro marathon, today I write about an activity almost every girl cannot resist: shopping.  This time though, it’s about shopping in Cairo.  If you are anything like me, whenever I travel abroad I always want to take a piece of it back with me for “memories” sake.   So where do people go to shop in Cairo?  You go to the Khan al-Khalili Bazaar which also happens to be one of the oldest and biggest bazaars in the middle east.

This bazaar is not only a place for tourists to go shopping, but it is itself a great place to get lost in and discover a part of ancient life in Egypt.  Since 1382, this had been a place where merchants from afar came to sell their goods, have coffee, smoke a sheesha and perhaps spend a night in one of the travel lodges.  It’s filled with small alleyways and crammed with shops selling anything they can.

As you walk by, merchants call out to grab your attention in a number of international languages.  To my surprise a lot of them speak Thai.  You squeeze pass strangers in small alleyways and then suddenly find yourself standing before huge medieval gates carved in beautiful stone.  They are breath taking.  I walk around some more, peer into a dark shop and upon entering discover how beautiful its ancient ceilings are.  The owners quickly turn on the lights and show us the beauty of their shop.  They have exquisite but expensive Egyptian decorations. I like it.

Outside, the smaller shops sell egyptian lamps, brass, leather goods, and other hand made products.  I see beautiful boxes with inlaid mother of pearl, silverware with beautiful motifs, leather seats, copper trays, bracelets and even papyrus pictures.  There are egyptian cotton scarves and jewelry shops with beautiful exotic designs. 

Now almost all the shops require you to do a lot of haggling before finally getting the desired price, but there is this one shop that I was taken to called “Jordi.”  The owner I believe is Spanish (well he spoke spanish anyways) and its great in that everything here has a price tag.  No haggling required.  Everything is at very reasonable price and so you are able to do your souvenir shopping in peace of mind.

You have to go up a steep flight of steps before you find the place, but I think if you ask around you will find someone to direct you to it.  Up the stairs, you find yourself on a balcony with several rooms looking over a courtyard.  Jordi occupies around 3 rooms each selling different varieties of products.  One sells scarves, clothing while others sell wooden inlaid boxes, papyrus bookmarks, magnets and other souvenirs. They even have silver earrings and jewelry, but they are all piled into plastic boxes and you have to find your own pair.  It’s fun.   I buy some gifts for friends and family before once again wandering out into the chaotic bazaar.

On some cobblestoned street I spot someone with a large tray of the traditional Aish bread on their head walking around looking for customers.  It’s amazing how he can carry such a large tray like that.  As evening arrives the lights from the colourful egyptian lamps shine out and the belly dancing costumes glitter.  I love the colours that fills up this bazaar.  It’s full of colour and excitement.  As I find my way back to my ride home, I look back and wonder what it was like thousands of years ago when camels probably brought all these goods along.  What did people sell back then? 

Cheat Not, Run For Yourself.

It’s a day after the run, and although I only did 5K somehow my legs are still sore.  It must have been the way I “tiptoe” run or perhaps I’m just not used to so much running.  Funny though, even with sore legs,  the exhiliration from the run still lingers on.  I’m still very much stress free and happy.   I ran not for someone else but rather for myself.  It’s something one does to challenge oneself. 

When I signed up for 5K, I knew it wasn’t much at all if you talk to a “real” runner, but for me who a year ago was still 15kgs (32lbs) heavier it was quite something.  I had started running to lose weight.  Prior to that, the last time I remember running was during my childhood days.   I had forgotten how it was to run and be “active.”  So used was I to sitting in my office chair for 10 hours on end staring at the computer screen.  I had derived comfort from sitting, eating, and websurfing.    Sitting was comfortable.   Running was not “my” thing.

Fitter now,  I wanted to see if I could do the 5K.  The weeks running up to the run had been a bit hectic and I had not been training  as much as I should have.   I was nervous and wondered if I should instead lower myself to the 2.5K.    I’m glad it remained a passing thought and that I stayed on track with my 5K.  During the run, I was tempted to cut across the lanes and shorten my run, but then I would only be cheating myself. 

I would not be cheating anyone since this run is for “fun” with no competition.  However, if I had cut across, I would have “cheated” myself.   I would have “cheated” by telling myself that I did 5K when in reality I didn’t.  I would have meant I had taken the easy way out rather than pushing through to the end.  It was not a habit I wanted to have.  A habit that is not good for running, nor for anything else in life.  I believe that if you want to do something, do it with full intention and do it with full effort.  If not, don’t do it.

The run wasn’t really physically tiring, it was mentally challenging.  The brain kept wanting to stop when the body could go on for much more.  It’s an internal battle you just have to beat.  When on my weightloss, the battle was much more intense.  I wanted to stop at every opportunity.   Now the “enemy of lazy bones” has been losing and hopefully they will one day give up the fight. 

What once you feared, upon doing it, it often turns out to be easier than thought.   I’m actually now tempted to do the 10K next year.  If I choose to, I have a year to train.  It won’t kill me.  At worst, I’ll just end up walking.   So that is what running for me is all about.  It’s not only about keeping fit, but its about challenging yourself, challenging your mental attitude, challenging your mind to accomplish what you set out to do.  Reach for your goal and accomplish it!

My 5K Bangkok Marathon

An event I had been looking forward to with much anticipation finally arrived today: The Bangkok Marathon.  The last time I ran (well walked most of it) was two years ago when I was still very chubby and very unfit.  This year, I registered for the 5K and being fitter I wanted to see how I would do. I wanted to see how actually running most of the 5K would turn out to be like.  It was also a fun event that Alex and I could both do together.

The day started out early.  The 5K runners or what they call “micro-marathon” were to start running at 6.20am and due to the massive amount of people, I wanted to get there early.  Roads had been blocked around the beautiful historic area of Bangkok since early morning when the marathoners started out on their 4 hour long run.  Maybe one day I’ll be crazy enough to do it, but for now I am happy with 5K. 

There is a certain feeling of anticipation and unexplicable fun that comes with participating in such a big event.  Driving out towards my destination before the sunrise, when most of the people were still dreaming away in their cosy beds,  I spotted fellow runners in their cars.  You can tell by the shirt they’re wearing and the numbers they have pinned to their shirt.  Then I drive pass roads that had been sectioned off for the runners.  Unexpectedly, I spot a very fit marathoner bicyling to the event in full gear, and another jogging off track, perhaps having a long warm-up.  It makes me feel wonderful to think that so many people can be up early for such a healthy cause.

Upon reaching the starting line, there were massive amounts of people. Everywhere I looked there were people.  People of all ages, all nationalities and all fitness levels.  There were even dogs dressed up for the run and some even had their own number! I love the owner’s sense of fun.  Everyone wanted to be there and most importantly, everyone was happy.  A stage by the starting line was filled with dancers and music.  It was entertaining and fun.  People danced along to the beat, some took photos and some just stood there smiling. The cool morning air was alive with energy. The beautiful backdrop of the Grand Palace shone out in all it’s glory.

Nearing the starting time, you could feel the level of energy increase.  Everyone was waiting for the countdown and that unique blast of the horn that would send tens of thousands of people out onto the roads. Tens of thousands of people running.  I was number 41300 of the 5K.  I think there must have been a hundred thousand people at this event.  The rush of energy that accompanied the horn was incredibly fun.  All of a sudden everyone around you was running and jogging.

I decided I would run slow and keep my pace. I wanted to run for as long as I could before starting to walk. Now in all my running sessions at the fitness, I had never reached 4k, let alone 5K.  This was going to be interesting.  I ran very slow, but the most important thing was to keep the pace going and not walk.  If you stayed constant and steady, you’d be fine.

As I ran, several thoughts kept going through my mind. Of course the lazy me, comes up instantly and starts asking me why I had to subject myself to such a ridiculous amount of running. I ignore it and push on.  Then the complaining me pops into my head and asks me why the course was so long.  I had to run from the Grand Palace to the Democracy Monument, to the United Nations and then back again.  Again I push it out.  Then the stomach aches and the feet aches start coming up.  Oh no, my body wants to stop.  Luckily Alex is besides me and he looks like this run is just a warm up.  For him, this is easy.  He’s looking around and enjoying the view of Historic Bangkok while I’m panting like a panda. He tells me to look at the cute Siberian Husky and the pair of Pugs.  I grunt along.  He pushes me along and I manage to somehow continue on with the run.

I run out of breath at around 2K and need to have a little walk before continuing on.  I’m told I’m not breathing correctly and I run like I’m tiptoeing.  No wonder I tire easily and make loud noises on the treadmill.  I try to adapt the way I run and it gets better but there is much to be improved.

I push along the last leg of the run and finally reach the finish line 40 minutes after I set out.  I’m happy.  Actually, I’m very happy I did manage to Run/Walk the 5K.  It felt extremely tiring during the run, but now it’s done, I wish I could do it again.  There was actually a part where I enjoyed the running, jumping left and right around people, some trees and some people taking pictures.  If only, I could make that part sustainable.

What I liked most about the Marathon though was looking at the faces of everyone around you.  You could see smiles of happiness and satisfaction.  This run made people feel good.  There were families out there running with young kids and some probably in their sixties. There were wheelchair participants, being pushed along.  Everyone here was running because they wanted to.  It was an event open to all.   It was good for your health, both body and mind.

I have to say that its definitely an event to be remembered.  Sometimes we need events like these to remind us how good life is. Happiness can be had from the simplest things.  Simple things such as running.  All you need is pair of running shoes, some socks, and an open mind. 🙂 Happy Running!

The Temple of Philae

There are so many temples, so many majestic sites in Egypt that I dare not say which ones are better than the other.  Each person has their own preferences and what some like, others may not.  I,  for some reason, often find myself liking structures near to rivers or large bodies of flowing water.  Perhaps in another lifetime I lived on the river.  Who knows.   In Egypt, I rediscovered my love for water and one moment I remember clearly is the first impression I had of the Temple of Philae.

On an island of its own, this temple is accessible only by boat.  It’s late evening and the sun reflects off the dark blue water that mirrors the sky above.  It’s been a tiring day and everyone is exhausted. We had been awake since 2am in the morning with our early morning flight to Abu Simbel then Aswan.  This temple I remember being almost our last destination for the day.  I was tired and sleepy.  I walked down the pier and got onto the boat that would take us across.  I wasn’t really expecting too much and was pleased to just be able to sit quietly on the boat, listening to the water splashing on its side as the late afternoon sun flickered through.

I observed a beautiful scenery of birds, trees and water reflecting the afternoon sun. Palm trees offered a beautiful sihoulette to the clear cloudless sky.  All was calm and peaceful until all of a sudden, beautiful structures looking somewhat mythical appeared before me.  I sat there quietly taking it all in.  Stone columns reddened by the afternoon sun rose majestically to the sky.  I felt like I too was on a pilgrimage to this great temple.  I wondered if pilgrims thousands of years felt the same way I did just then. This place must indeed be magical.   As I got closer, the towering columns grew in their splendor and size.  They belonged to the Temple of Philae.   

This temple I am told was believed to be the burial site of Osiris, the God of the Underworld,” and was inhabited by only priests.  It was a sacred place of worship for ancient Egyptians and have been mentioned in literature since ancient times.  I got off the boat and inside the temple is just as astounding.

Pillars filled with hieroglyphics lined the entrance and the main gate was still in wonderful condition.  Although most of the colours are gone now, they hieroglyphics remain just as surreal.  The complex is large and there are many buildings.  Some were built by the romans and one especially beautiful is the Kiosk of Trajan which has 14 columns and is in a classical style.  Beautiful.   I walk around looking at the lights and shadows. Light and darkness contrasting with each other.   I wish I had more time here, but we are given only 20 minutes to take photos.

I wander around and just fall in love this temple. Perhaps crossing the river in the setting sun with the clear blue sky above made it all the more magical.  Whatever it is, I can imagine this being the resting place of the Gods.

Calmed by the River Nile

Gliding down the River Nile, it is not surprising why since ancient times, it has been a source of inspiration for many.  As I sit on the sundeck looking out at the vastness of this river, I imagine that not much has changed here over the centuries.  The riverbanks are lined with palm trees and uninhabited fields.  I spy an occasional buffalo and watch birds fly in the clear blue sky.  A sense of calmness comes over me.

This River, I imagine has this effect on people.

The cruise ship quietly glides down the Nile at a steady pace, no rush, no hurry.  It is elegant and at one with the river.  I too am starting to a feel a bit of this calm rub onto me.

I lie down on the sundeck and watch the change in scenery as we pass by.  For most of the time, all I see in front of me is the vastness of this river which has been the conduit of civilization for thousands of years.  This great river had been the source of life for without it’s waters, which also proved to be an important mode of transportation, life would have been very different in the desert.

Palm trees stand out against the clear blue sky and together with the wild grass the river banks transform into a beautiful sihoullete.  I am enthralled.  I wish I had brought my watercolour set so that I could paint this view, but then I want to travel light and I’m not that much of an artist.  It’ll have to be another day.  For now, I opt instead to do a rough sketch in my little moleskine notebook. 

It’s quiet up here on the sundeck and the engines are so quiet I don’t hear much other than the splashing of the water as we glide by.  Occasionally we pass by another cruise ship and then to the delight of all those on the sundeck, we’d start waving at those on board the other cruiseline.  It’s friendly.  It’s fun.  I’m feeling chilly with the wind, and have wrapped myself up in my scarves but on the other sundeck people are sunbathing.   I gather they must come from somewhere very cold.

Cruising down the River Nile, we have no space for stress, for anger, or for all those emotions that make us humans insufferable beings.  Here, we are back to nature and at peace.  I feel like I am reliving a bit of history.   I feel like time has slowed down and that I have found a part of me that had been lost in all this crazy, hectic world.  It’s effect is so unlike any other that just writing about it, I can once again feel myself sitting there on the sundeck with the breeze through my hair, sitting, watching the scenes roll by.  I am at peace, I am calm.  If only I could feel like this everyday……. 

The thought remains as the sunsets and I am reminded that another day has ended.  Another end brings with it another beginning and another chance for me to once more find myself at “peace” with the river.

The Journey Begins at Abu Simbel

Having climbed through the Great Pyramid, stood by the Sun boat, and sat on a camel;  I have to say that the ‘real’ journey to Egypt has only just begun.  There is much more than just pyramids and sand.  The real journey to ancient Egypt begins when you take the magical and unforgettable cruise down the River Nile.  

One sees so many temples, all noteworthy and each second to none.  I, of course, will not be able to write about all of them for it will take up more than a month’s worth of blogs and have the unfortunate consequence of boring my readers.  I shall therefore write about the ones that captured my imagination the most.

This cruise down the River Nile is the part of the journey that I’ll never forget.  Before we get to actually board the Cruise, we are are taken on a flight down to Abu Simbel and later flown to Aswan.  Some tours don’t include Abu Simbel, but I think if you have the opportunity, you should definitely see it.  It’s what movies and dreams are made of.

Abu Simbel is a temple literally carved out of a solid cliff to honour Ramses II.   At first, as you are walking behind the structure everything seems just ordinary, that is until you start catching glimpses of the colossal statues of Ramses II looking out towards the river.  It’s undescribable.  Ramses II here is 33 meters (108ft) high and he undoubtedly has the effect of putting all those before him in awe. 

You feel like a grain of sand standing next to this awesome structure.  I suppose that is what you are supposed to feel like.  Here the King assumes a godlike status and is wearing the crowns of both upper and lower Egypt.  Here he has been immortalized next to his wife Nefertari, who has another smaller temple of her own next to his. Amazing what love can do.

I enter this temple and am greeted by an impressive hall lined with statues of Ramses as Osiris, the God of the Afterlife.  Towards the back of the temple in the Inner Sanctury you find Ramses sitting next to the Gold of Amun-Ra (the King of Gods),  Ptah (God of Regeneration and Underworld) and Ra-Harakhty or Horus (God of Protection, the Sky and War).  

Now, imagine this being built in 13th century BC.   Imagine how well they had to calculate the position of the temple so that on only two days a year on October 21 and February 21 (61 days before and 61 days after the Winter Solstice) light enters the temple and shines on the gods sitting in the inner sanctuary.

The sun shines into the Inner Sanctury and lights up three Gods.  One is left in darkness: the God of the Underworld, the God Ptah.   Its breathtaking.  All this calculation, all this done thousands of years ago.  Millions of lives before be have stood in awe in front of this great structure.

It’s no wonder that it is a UNESCO Heritage Site and even more fortunate that the world realized its significance and actually relocated this entire temple structure before it was submerged under Lake Nasser, formed by the building of the Aswan High Dam.  I thank you all those who helped in the relocation of this temple.  Without them, it would have been lost underwater and instead serve as an incredibly beautiful home for the fish.