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7
Sep

Cairo Street

As I recently looked through some travel photos, I spotted this one which captured life on a regular Cairo Street.  It made me realise that I don’t have street photos from many other places that I’ve been … which is a shame.  While we often take photos of scenic beauty and architectural or engineering marvels, we often miss taking photos of common everyday life.  The streets of any city are usually the place that we experience local culture the most – and while I highly recommend that we make the most of those opportunities, perhaps a few photos are also in order.

Ordinary life on a street in Cairo, where all manner of transport is used.

Ordinary life on a street in Cairo, where all manner of transport is used.

Dad’s Recommendation:
Simple … take some street life photos on your travels.  While you may take it all for granted at the time, it’s worth snapping a few pictures to help you remember later (or to share with others).

2
Sep

Ancient Wonders

With recent events unfolding in Egypt, I am thankful that I took the time to check out the pyramids when I was there a couple of years ago.  I guess it’s important to take the time to visit places like this when you have the opportunity, as you may not get another chance.

The last surviving member of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The last surviving member of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Pyramid of Giza.

These ancient wonders look very different in real life – not like anything you see in a book or on a screen.  While the Great Pyramid of Giza is the most famous, there are in fact three main pyramids; the Great Pyramid of Khufu, The Pyramid of Kafhre and the smaller Pyramid of Menkaura. In front of the pyramids lies the Sphinx, carved out of a single block of stone.

My favourite photo from Egypt, iconic in so many ways.

My favourite photo from Egypt, iconic in so many ways.

Most people don’t know that there are actually pyramids everywhere in Egypt.  Certainly the main ones get lots of attention, for very good reason, however, some of the earlier versions were not nearly so long lived or successful.

Saqqara (Sakkara) 'Step' pyramid in the background, an important leap forward in technology - and part of an extensive site that includes remnants of earlier tomb construction.

Saqqara (Sakkara) ‘Step’ pyramid in the background, an important leap forward in technology – and part of an extensive site that includes remnants of earlier tomb construction.

While I visited these sites by car over a couple of days, I was also able to go out into the desert and get a view from a local’s perspective.  If you want to be a ‘tourist’, there are lots of guided tours to choose from … however, if you want to be a ‘traveller’ it’s often best to take the path less travelled – and the local inside information (and help) will often yield spectacular and surprising results.

The view from a local perspective ... unfortunately you can't see the vast expanse of desert surrounding this spot.

The view from a local perspective … unfortunately you can’t see the vast expanse of desert surrounding this spot.

The difficult part of writing a blog entry about this subject, is that there are so many things to say, so many things to see, and so little time and space – it doesn’t do justice to an incredible place, which you should visit if you can.

Dad’s Recommendation:
If you ever have the chance to visit somewhere noteworthy, always go … just in case you never get the opportunity to go back.

17
Jul

Jet Boating the Rakaia Gorge

With a special thanks to my family for a great birthday present, I was given the chance to go jet-boating up the Rakaia Gorge recently with my brother.  However there is no photo that can adequately show the thrilling adventure of speeding through the beautiful scenery … although I’m very glad that we stopped several times to soak it in (and take some photos).

Looking up the Rakaia River

Looking up the Rakaia River

Although winter has just started, it was a gorgeous day for jet-boating.  The wind was very strong, enough to where I took my hat off so that it wouldn’t get blown off!  I also put my good camera in my coat pocket once I discovered that the memory card hadn’t been returned to the camera after downloading the last batch of photos.  These pictures were taken from a mobile device, so I’m thankful that new devices have such decent camera’s.

Jet boating these rivers is a blast, and the scenery isn't too bad either.

Jet boating these rivers is a blast, and the scenery isn’t too bad either.

Dad’s Recommendation:
Take a river jet boat trip if you ever have the chance. Especially when visiting the South Island of New Zealand.  However, check your camera for a memory card first!

5
May

Sailing on the River Nile

My last post got me to thinking about the last time I went sailing, and it turns out that it was a Felucca trip out on the River Nile, not too long ago.  I found that Cairo was an engaging city, with a fantastic blend of modern society and reminders of ancient civilization.  While most people want to rush off an see the pyramids, myself included, it seemed that an evening on the River Nile allowed a quite different perspective.

A typical Felucca on the River Nile, in Cairo

A typical Felucca on the River Nile, in Cairo

Stepping onto a Felucca is like stepping back in time – not stepping back 10, 50 or 100 years, but stepping back to the days of the Pharohs.  These simple wooden boats ply the river now, just as they have for centuries.  I suspect the ‘captain’ of today is no different than in times past … a wizened old man with a quick smile, who tucks his  Galabeya (tradition Egyptian male dress) around his waist, squats at the stern and steers with his  feet.  Felucca’s are usually furnished with cushions on the seats around the gunwales and feature a fixed table in the middle, perfect for bring-your-own picnic or party.

As the evening progressed, we saw quite a few others out on the river

As the evening progressed, we saw quite a few others out on the river

With the wind, we sailed downriver while the sky faded to black.  The city lights seemed somewhat distant, but a reminder of the modern age.  It seemed that many of the other boats were filled with locals who were enjoying the cool evening on the river, although I’m sure there were other travelers soaking up the experience as well.  My friends and I had bought some fresh bread, and other local fare, and were able to enjoy a lovely meal while tacking to and fro across the river.  While 2-3 hours on the river sounds like a long time, I can assure you that it seemed to go much too fast – and I wasn’t at all ready for the evening to end (but couldn’t miss my early morning flight the next day).  Multi-day trips up/down the river are possible, and if you have the time – would be an incredible experience.

Dad’s Recommendation:
When in Cairo, or elsewhere along the River Nile, take some time to go out in a Felucca.  Plan ahead so that you have all you want to eat and drink – but don’t do this the night before your flight home.

2
May

Yachting at lunch

I like yachting. I especially like watching the America’s Cup or Round-The-World races.  However, I was captivated by another class of yachts that I stumbled across at lunch time a few days ago … model yachts.

Navigating the course in Hagley Park

Navigating the course in Hagley Park

While 12-15 pilots intently walked the shore making critical adjustments to their radio controls, the ducks and swans politely observed some unofficial right-of-way rules.  I must have missed the fleet start, so couldn’t capture a photo with more than 3-4 yachts in any one frame … so just imagine the lake is bigger, and there are more yachts out racing.

From my vantage point under a weeping willow, these few yachts appear to be racing to avoid the wooden spoon

From my vantage point under a weeping willow, these few yachts appear to be racing to avoid the wooden spoon

I must admit that watching these small, sleek yachts swiftly navigating a course of small bouys, all while enjoying the autumn sun and a gentle breeze, makes for the most enjoyable lunch time break.

Dad’s Recommendation:
Take lunch out into the park instead of eating out or staying in the office lunch room … and if you have the opportunity to watch some model yachts – take some time to do just that.