Page 2 of Kuan Yin Travel Blog Posts

Middle East » Jordan » South » Petra May 3rd 2013

My main reason for visiting Jordan - other than living out my “Lawrence of Arabia” fantasy – was to visit Petra. Petra is an incredible Nabatean city carved out of the cliffs, dating back to the first century BCE. There are still Bedouin who live in the caves of Petra, making this a city that has been inhabited for at least 2,500 years. To that end, I had arranged with my hotel to hire a taxi for the day to take me the 128 kilometers from Aqaba to Petra. The hotel manager assured me that this was a driver he trusted; the driver would wait for me while I explored Petra and drive me back. The fee was JD85 (about US $120) which was steep, but it was certain, unlike the buses. My driver, Naef, spoke ... read more
baby camel
camel love
Naef and Bedouin

Middle East » Jordan » South » Aqaba May 1st 2013

I was a young teenager when I first saw the movie “Lawrence of Arabia,” and fell immediately in love with Peter O’Toole as only a teenage girl can. In fact, if you mention “Lawrence of Arabia” to any woman of a certain age, she will get a spark in her eye and sigh, “Yes, Peter O’Toole.” Here was a man, handsome, courageous and strong; you just knew his swash wouldn’t buckle even under the harshest conditions. There is a moment in the movie when Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) and Sherif Ali (Omar Sherif) peer over the edge of a cliff and Lawrence proclaims “Aqaba!” I vowed that someday I, too, would see Aqaba. Aqaba today is a dusty, flyblown, rather dirty town. It’s a shame, really. Aqaba is on the Red Sea, and scuba divers come from ... read more
double parked
al-Sharif Hussein bin Ali Mosque
Queen Noor center

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem April 30th 2013

The walls of the old city absolutely fascinated me, and when I found I could walk the ramparts from the Jaffa Gate on the west wall (not to be confused with the Western Wall) to the Dung Gate on the south wall, I was in. Entrance to the ramparts costs NIS 16 about US $4.70, but if you are looking for history and some fantastic views, it’s worth it. Jerusalem has been fought over for millennia. As each invader entered the city, they knocked down the city walls, or at least part of them. Once the conquerors were comfortably ensconced, they rebuilt the walls to repel the next round of invaders. Quarrying stone is hard and heavy work. So, instead of quarrying new stone, the conquerors would re-use the stones they had previously knocked down, or ... read more
recycled paving stone
a view of the ramparts from the south
ancient crenellations

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem April 28th 2013

I really enjoy local farmers’ markets and wet markets. (I also like grocery stores, but that’s another story.) These are some of my favorite places to visit when I travel, and since the Mehane Yehuda Market is not too far from where I am staying, I decide to visit. First of all, the place is huge; covering several blocks. The market dates back to the Ottoman Empire and offers just about anything you can want. Fresh fruits, sure, but also nuts, and dried fruits, household goods, prepared foods, juices, fresh flowers, and mounds of delectable pastries, a never ending parade of color and smell. Vendors call to you from their stalls singing the praises – and I literally mean singing – of their wares. And of course their stuff is ever so much better than the ... read more
Halvah King
more halvah

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem April 26th 2013

The Temple Mount is one of the holiest sites in the Abrahamic religions. This was the site of the First Temple, built by King Solomon around the tenth century BCE. This temple was built on top of the location of the Foundation Stone, believed by Jews and Moslems to be the spiritual junction of heaven and earth. The temple stood for 410 years before being destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar II. The First Temple contained the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. Today, the Dome of the Rock stands on top of the Foundation Stone. This is also considered to be the place where Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice before being stopped by an Angel of the Lord. This story is mentioned in the Koran, as well ... read more
wall plaza
From the woman's side
southern end of the wall

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem April 25th 2013

My first day in Jerusalem I walked to the Old City. Jerusalem is divided into the Old City, which has existed for at least 4,000 years, and the New City, which dates to 1860. That was the point at which Sir Moses Montefiore, a wealthy Jewish stockbroker from England, built the first neighborhood outside the walls of the Old City, complete with a windmill for grinding grain. Since living outside the city walls was considered to be risky business at the time, he offered financial incentives – which sounds much nicer than “bribes” – along with employment to anyone who would move to the new neighborhood. I entered the Old City through the Jaffa Gate, which is an actual gate that used to be closed at night. Immediately inside the gate is the Citadel, which dates ... read more
City Wall
Old City Wall
Inscription Jaffa Gate

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem April 24th 2013

I had heard many stories about the added security screening people face when going to Israel. El Al’s pre-flight security checks are legendary, and I had read horror stories about getting though (or not getting through) Israeli Immigration. There is good reason for these precautions, and I certainly understand the Israeli’s caution. I wasn’t particularly concerned. My point of departure was a small regional airport in California, where getting through security took all of three minutes. I wasn’t flying El Al, I am a near-sighted, middle-aged, reasonably pleasant woman with a US passport, and I am registered with the US Global Entry and Trusted Traveler programs. I connected in Newark to my flight to Tel Aviv. Even though I had already gone through security at my departure airport, I had to go through security again in ... read more
morning walk

Central America Caribbean » Barbados » Bridgetown December 29th 2012

Well, actually it was a blue ticket, but I was just as excited to get it. The father of a lady I know in Barbados owns race horses, and one of his colts, a two year old maiden named Stratford’s Lad was scheduled to race at the Garrison on Boxing Day. (By the way, in the context of horse racing, “maiden” refers to a horse that has yet to win a race. It has nothing to do with the animal’s gender.) A couple of days before the race, my friend pulls me aside and asks if I am still planning on going to the races. “You bet” I replied, “wouldn’t miss it.” She then hands me an Owners’ Guest pass which not only allows me entry into the grandstand, but also into the Owners and Trainers ... read more
Rahy Stormello
Lady Quill

Central America Caribbean » Barbados » Bridgetown December 24th 2012

Normally I put group tours in the same category as whiny children and bad hangovers: things to be avoided at all cost. Fortunately, the Garrison Heritage Tour was a happy exception. I’m interested in military history, and for a long time I had wanted to see some parts of Garrison that are not normally open to the public, like the armoury and the inside of the Main Guard building. So, when I saw the small ad in the local newspaper pitching “Historic Garrison” tours to residents, my interest was definitely piqued. We started the our visit at the George Washington House, a place I have visited before. (See my blog George Washington Slept Here) However, since my previous visit, several miles of tunnels underneath the area have been discovered, some leading to St. Ann’s Fort, some ... read more
George Washington House
George Washington slept here
Barbados Museum

On July 12, 2012, The Garrison in Barbados was named an UNESCO World Heritage Site. That’s pretty cool in and of itself, but this World Heritage Site has the added attraction of horse racing. History lessons would have been a lotmore fun if they had taken place at the track. And make no mistake; there is some interesting history here at The Garrison, including the George Washington House, home to the first president of the United States in his only foray outside the US. See George Washington Slept Here But today I have come for the racing. I try to make the Diamonds International Races on Boxing Day every year, but this year I arrived on the island early enough to make the Christmas Season Race Day. The Christmas Season Race Day is a much calmer ... read more
Ready to race
Barbados Finest
Blue diamonds jockey

Tot: 0.237s; Tpl: 0.023s; cc: 12; qc: 55; dbt: 0.0469s; 55; m:apollo w:www (; sld: 2; ; mem: 6.6mb