Wow, I'm actually doing a blog (as if I don't already write enough already).

Doug's be bugging me for a while to do one though and as anyone with as

wonderful of a boss as Doug knows, it's always nice to make the big cheese

happy, so here goes...

After a long winter of tirelessly traveling the globe doing my very

best to keep all of you up to speed on the goings on of the ski world,

I needed a bit of a breather, so the boys hooked me up with two and a

half weeks vacation time. So after only being home for a total of three

weeks between December and May, what did I do? ...I went traveling.

After spending a month in China last May I fell in love with the

country and culture and really wanted to return to the area, so around

last Christmas I began planning a month long trip (with my good friends and NS contributing photographer extradoinaire Josh Anderson and Comor

Sports’ illustrious Nolan Blackie) to Tibet & Nepal complete with a

trek to Everest Base Camp. But after beginning to deal with the

bureaucratic hassle of actually going to Tibet and Everest via permits,

visas and other protocols of the Chinese government, as most everyone

knows, a series of protests and violence broke out in the region in March, and

the Chinese government expelled all foreigners and was refusing to let

more in, so the guide we had hired emailed us saying that 'it

would be extremely unfavorable of us to come.' We read between the

lines...no Tibet for us.

This left me with a substantial chunk of money set aside and approved

time off, with nowhere to go. I considered my options. Team Trennon was

going to an all-inclusive resort to Mexico to surf for two weeks. Blackie, who's

adventurous travel nature makes me look like a paranoid senior citizen

who wont leave their home by comparison (I mean the guy went to war

torn Uganda last summer for six weeks to do volunteer work and traveled

from village-to-village teaching kids how to properly brush their

teeth) was planning on heading off to Thailand and Cambodia where he

would wait to see how the elections went in Burma before heading there

for 10 days (and after the cyclone, no Burma for him, which makes me

think that traveling with him isn't all that great of an

idea...everywhere he intends to go goes to hell as he's about to get on

a plane, haha). And my sister was off to Costa Rica for two weeks,

which tempted me to embark on a kick-ass brother/sister adventure

through the jungles of Central America. All this considered though, I

knew I wanted to go to Africa or preferably, the Middle East. I'd seen

lots of Asia and Europe, and wanted to learn more about the Muslim

culture and go somewhere that would make me feel a bit out of my

comfort zone. I thought about it for about 30 seconds before realizing

I could have the best of both the Middle East and Africa in one package

while seeing remnants of an ancient civilization that had fascinated me

since I was very young...I booked a ticket to Egypt.

Cairo

I landed in Cairo and was instantly overwhelmed by the beauty,

insanity, congestion, and disorganization of the city. 27 million

people, no traffic lights and no rules. I spent the first few days

there walking the streets on my own, and although many people were

quite friendly (in particular a Muslim who ran a Mosque in the city who

I took a long walk with while having an unforgettable conversation), I

was very taken back by the anti-Westernism that was so present.

Anti-American signs littered the streets, and as I walked into clothing

stores and food markets I was greeted with hateful stares and little

discussion...that is until I informed them I was Canadian. Although I

never once felt threatened it was undoubtedly the most intense and

uncomfortable few days of my life and in the end, an amazing learning

experience. As I always understood, Muslims are some of the most

beautiful, giving and devout people you can ever meet, but since the tragedy

of 911 and the unfortunate generalization they've received as

'terrorists' since then (arguably at the hands of the American

government and media), they really have been dealt a raw deal over the

past few years, and are understandably quite upset about it. After

experiencing this first hand I couldn't help but feel a strong sense of

empathy for them (plus an added respect), as opposed to being upset by

the discomfort I was caused because of it. Needless to say, it was an experience I'll

never forget.

Following this, I went to the highlight of Egypt, what everyone comes

to see...the Pyramids. Even as a writer, I can still find no words to

describe my day there (which I will vividly remember for the rest of my

life), so as they say, a picture is worth a thousand of them...

They're absolutely stunning. To stand at the base of them and know that

they've been there for 5000 years and are ever so perfect was indescribably awe-inspiring.

Following the Pyramids I checked out the Sphinx and ended my day at the

Egyptian Museum before boarding a train to Aswan, the southern most

city in Egypt, where I spent long hours haggling in the markets for spices,

trinkets and artwork.

Aswan

Following that I checked out Abu Simbel, the great temple built for Ramses II (aka the most badass Pharaoh of them all).

I then traveled near the Sudan border to visit a Nubian village where I

got my first true taste of Africa, where I interacted with some of the

poorest, simplest, happiest and most wonderful people I've ever met,

despite having little to nothing to their name, which as one can imagine,

was an extremely humbling experience.

sunrise near Sudan

I then boarded a very basic sailboat with some hilarious Nubian fellows

and embarked on a two-day cruise down the Nile towards Luxor.

swimmin in the Nile

Each night the Nubians cooked amazing dinners, danced and sang songs

under the stars, and I took the opportunity to have many a long talks

until the wee hours of the morning with them about their life,

religion, politics and the problems in the Middle East and Sudan that

each and every single one of them have been directly affected by in one

way or another.

Captain Jack and his first mate 'Smile'

sunset on the Nile

I then arrived in Luxor where I think I saw more temples in two days

than I've seen ski hills in my whole life, with the best highlight

being my lengthy donkey ride to the Valley of the Kings, and the worst

being that it was 52 degrees Celsius that day.

Edfu Temple

Queen Hatshepsut's Temple

my whip

Valley of the Kings

I then went back to Cairo before continuing further north to

Alexandria, which I was really looking forward to because I'm a huge

fan of the history of Alexander the Great.

The Man

fisherman on the Mediterranean

forbidden love on the Mediterranean (Egyptians aren't allowed to display affection in public)

After a few days sightseeing there and hanging out on the south shore

of the Mediterranean while eating good seafood I headed to the far East

of Sinai, where after visiting one of the heartlands of Muslim culture

I shifted gears to see the foundation of Christianity at Saint

Katerine's Monastery and Mount Sinai, the sites of the Burning Bush and

where Moses received the Ten Commandments.

the Burning Bush

base of Mt Sinai

chapel at the summit of Mt Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments

And finally, after all the moving around it was time

for a break, so I went further East to hang out at a ballin beach

resort for a few days in Dahab on the coastline of the Red Sea with the

mountains of Saudi Arabia in the distance.

Dahab

Saudi Arabia

I capped off my trip there by doing some diving and watched camels

freely run around the beach while enjoying some quality time at the

swim up bar considering it was only $22 a day for the all you can eat

and drink option :)

da hotel

da beach

da swim-up bar

After that, it was back to Cairo to board my ten millionth airplane in the

last six months and then home to the normalcy of Canada, home of food that doesn't make you shit eight times a day, street lights, and clean washrooms that you don't have to pay to

use.

In all my travels, I can confidently say it was the most amazing place

I’ve been thus far. To be deeply inundated in three completely

different cultures (Muslim, Christian and Nubian) plus seeing intact

remnants of the oldest and most advanced civilization in history

(Ancient Egypt) was again, an experience I will never forget, and I highly recommend it to anyone.


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