Shelly Duncan

Virahita

Shelly Duncan

Virahita - "Free Spirit" in Sanskrit

Part time adventurer. Part time traveler. Full time student of life

"Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins

"Life is filled with so many exciting twists and turns. Hop off the straight and narrow whenever you can and take the winding paths. Experience the exhilaration of the view from the edge. Because the moments spent there, that take your breath away, are what make you feel truly alive." - Stacey Charter”


Planned Travel

2012 - March to August
Bali, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia.

2013 - February
USA

2013 - August
Bali



Africa » Egypt » Upper Egypt » Abu Simbel May 4th 2012

IN Egypt's sandy silence, all alone, Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws The only shadow that the Desert knows:— "I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone, "The King of Kings; this mighty City shows "The wonders of my hand."— The City's gone,— Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose The site of this forgotten Babylon - Horace Smith 1818 (Inspired by the Statue of Ramesses II) 3.30am wake up call...what the? I thought we were on holidays? Apparently that was also the later wake up call, a favour from Ahmed because we'd been good "habibis". This Abu Simbel gig had better be good! There is in fact a very good reason for the early morning start. Two convoys leave Aswan a day to take tourists to Abu Simbel, one at 4 am and one ... read more
Early morning convoy
Lake Nasser
Abu Simbel

Africa » Egypt » Upper Egypt » Aswan May 2nd 2012

Whenever you were on the Nile, whatever you saw along the banks, the ever-present ridge of the desert loomed beyond the greenery, walling the floodplain on either side, a long chain of hills both east and west, often with pale chutes of sand spilling down them, blown in from the desert beyond. - Rosemary Mahoney Down The Nile 2007 Alas - blogging for the last couple of weeks has fallen victim to illness, poor to non-existent internet and general laziness. As I sit in a cafe in Istanbul, I'm shocked to discover that blog-wise I am all the way back in Egypt! Time to get serious! Two countries have flown by since then! When last I wrote, we were headed far from the maddening crowds of Cairo, following the Nile south on our way to Aswan. ... read more
Aswan
Aswan Dam
Hallelujah! Singing on the Nile

Africa » Egypt » Lower Egypt » Cairo April 27th 2012

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain Cairo is a city that wants to make a good first impression on tourists. Exiting the shiny new airport, the first suburb you come to is where the "rich" live. Palaces, converted to museums, sprawling well lit gardens, home to many government employees, ex-home to ex-president Mubarak. Impressive and modern. Not the city of antiquities that most come to see. Driving through Cairo at night is overwhelming. Next to its shining brightness, the cities and monuments of the last two weeks in Morocco appear a poor cousin (though not without ... read more
Night view
Traffic
Egyptian Museum

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Marrakech April 25th 2012

“I believe that Marrakech ought to be earned as a destination. The journey is the preparation for the experience. Reaching it too fast derides it, makes it a little less easy to understand.” ― Tahir Shah, In Arabian Nights Marrakech. Just the name solicits a rush, a place I have longed to see for as long as I can remember. Bright colours, crowded squares, snake charmers, street food. I was keen to rush in to it, immerse myself in the whole experience. But of course you can't leave the scene of all those movies without a bit of drama first. Flash back to Ait Ben Haddou and 8am in the morning. Vanessa sits on the wall, peacefully taking in the view, as the small town with its tourist stalls and street vendors starts to slowly come ... read more
Souks in Marrakech
Street Food stalls
Saadian Tombs

Africa » Morocco April 22nd 2012

Of the gladdest moments in human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of Habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares and the slavery of Home, one feels once more happy. The blood flows with the fast circulation of childhood …. A journey, in fact, appeals to Imagination, to Memory, to Hope – the three sister graces of our moral being. - Sir Richard Burton One benefit of driving cross country in the everpresent tourist mini-bus is the ability to see more of the landscape. In a country like Morocco, the landscape, both natural and man made, is incredibly diverse. We had already seen rolling green fields along the coast and north eastern part of the country, high alpine ... read more
Todra Valley
Todra Gorge
Throne Room in Cinematic Museum

Africa » Morocco April 21st 2012

I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams... Antoine de Saint-Exupery - The Little Prince Rose gold hills appear in the distance, looking like a mirage with the heat shimmer rising from the land between us and them. Yes...finally there were sand dunes. This is what I'd been waiting for. We were off on camel safari, into the desert, to stay overnight in Bedouin tents. The dunes of Erg Chebbi, rise majestically over the town of Mergouza, to heights of 160m. They stretch for 22 kilometres and are 5 kilometres wide. This is one of the easiest and most popular places for tourists to access the Saharan desert in Morocco. Blocking out the other camels and riders, it's ... read more
Sand dunes rise in the distance
Vibrant Sunset in the Sahara
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Africa » Morocco » Meknès-Tafilalet » Midelt April 20th 2012

Time in the wild reminds me how much of what I ordinarily do is mere dithering, how much of what I own is mere encumbrance. The opposite of simplicity, as I understand it, is not complexity but clutter. - Scott Sander Leaving Fes, we head out, swapping train for the inevitable tourist mini-bus that always makes a show on these group tours. As mini-bus standards go...this one is pretty good, comfortable, air conditioned and spacious enough to allow each person a window seat, on both the sunny and shaded side of the bus. Off the railway and on to the roads - this is starting to bode well for my search for sand dunes... at least until we start heading across the Atlas mountains and hit the alpine ski resorts! Ski fields, pitched roof houses and ... read more
Statue of the extinct white lion
Scott feeding a Barbary Ape
Berber Village

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes April 18th 2012

The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it. - Rudyard Kipling In a country that overwhelms your senses, Fes is a riot of colours, sounds and smells. To get lost in one of the almost 10,000 alleyways and streets of the medina is absurdly one of the biggest appeals of Morocco. Considered the medieval capital of Morocco, Fes has the best preserved "Old City" in the Arab world. It is a labrynth of narrow alleyways that take you further and further into the heart of a Medina that is bursting at the seams with people and produce. Interestingly it is the largest car-free urban zone in the world, transtportation of goods and people is by donkey, carts and motorbikes. We start our day in Fes somewhat removed from the chaos and madness. ... read more
Famous Moroccan Mosaics
Inside the medina
The blue gate

Africa » Morocco » Meknès-Tafilalet » Meknes April 16th 2012

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” - Jawaharial Nehru My perception of Morocco is deserts, camels and bedouin, at least til I arrived. It's the height of spring, but I'm surprised by the rolling green hills, the agriculture - citrus, olives, sheep grazing. We could be on a train in any country area in Australia. This is not at all like the photos I've seen.... where are my sand dunes? We were leaving "Casa" to explore the real Morocco. A three hour train ride sees us arrive at the Imperial city of Meknes, which was the capital of Morocco under the reign of Moulay Ismail (1672–1727), before being relocated ... read more
Streets of the medina
Place el-Hedim
Bab el-Mansour

Africa » Morocco » Grand Casablanca April 16th 2012

From far off, through circuitous corridors, came the scent of citrus-blossom and jasmine, with sometimes a bird’s song before dawn, sometimes a flute’s wail at sunset, and always the call of the muezzin..." ~ Edith Wharton In Morocco 41 hours of hellish flights and airport stopovers that were too long to be comfortable and too short to be of any use except for staring morosely at fellow travellers caught in the same unfortunate predicament. But there is a price to be exacted for all great experiences...and this was ours. Having paid our dues we finally landed in Casablanca, in more or less one piece... Scott being "the less" - not being accustomed to long haul flights or such drastic time zone changes. This meant most of our first day in bed recovering, although he did venture ... read more
The sqala - an 18th century fortified bastion
The entrance to Cafe Maure
A riot of taste sensations




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