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Simmering Hope

Hope is the expectation that something outside of ourselves, something or someone external, is going to come to our rescue and we will live happily ever after. – Dr. Robert Anthony

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Feb 27, 2008

How to take care of a deer

About a month ago I talked to a colleague of mine about his moving from Georgia to Virginia. One of the main benefits he pointed out was a bigger house sitting on a very generous acreage including a forest. And he mentioned the presence of deer populations.
Knowing that he is a hunter as well, I asked him if he shoots any of the deers living in his forest.
He said “Oh no! They are mine, they are like my pets; they are not afraid of me anymore and come to our yard every day”. Then, he proudly showed me a picture with one of them.
Because his job involves lots of traveling he decided to try something new: a Deer Feeder to make sure that his dear new pets are well look after when he is away.

Apparently deer populations need a constant contribution of grain and protein, particularly in the cold months of winter and using automatic feeders is an inexpensive way of supplementing with quality feed their diet, and the diet of other wild forest animals.
Now that he is considering taking the responsibility, he started evaluating different models of deer feeders and not even that, he started reading literature regarding feeding wild animals.

Honestly speaking, I was impressed that he was able to see a deer as a pet, rather then a trophy.

Feb 25, 2008

About airfares and airplanes

Once in a while I dream about going on a well deserved vacation.
For a few hours I mobilize myself into finding info on a sunny spot. Sometimes it is Cancun, sometimes Malta or Tenerife, depending on the mood of the day.
Almost every time it boils down to how expensive it would be and suddenly my enthusiasm is gone.
At one point I put in balance an all-inclusive (flight included) offered by one travel agency vs. contact the hotel and book the plane ticket on your own.
Searching for a non stop flight to Cancun, I found an offer with AirTransat. Non stop flight from Vancouver to Cancun for about $970 round trip.
Nothing wrong with that, only that the listed price did not include all the other hidden costs, which when added to the original offer, brought the price up to about $1200.
As a rule, here in Canada and for that matter, in the U.S as well, advertised airfares won’t include taxes, fuel surcharges and other fees.
Other fees include: Canada Airport improvements, Canada Security charge, Canada Goods and Services Tax (GST); if you fly into the U.S. you pay U.S. Security charge, if you fly into U.K. you must add U.K.Passenger Service Charge.
Very often an advertised price of $699 ends up as being $1,100.

At this point you may think that the cheapest way around would be to choose a not very expensive airline. With that it comes other hidden dangers.
Like the following case, circulated via emails… hoax or not? it’s hard to say, but definitely it raises suspicions.
So here we are:

For anybody who is not familiar with a jet engine, a jet fan blade should be perfectly smooth.
A pilot for a Chinese carrier requested permission and landed at FRA (Frankfurt, Germany) for an unscheduled refuelling stop. The reason became soon apparent to the ground crew: The Number 3 engine had been shutdown previously because of excessive vibration, and because it didn’t look too good. It had apparently been no problem for the tough guys back in China: as they took some sturdy straps and wrapped them around two of the fan blades and the structures behind, thus stopping any unwanted wind-milling (engine spinning by itself due to airflow passing through the blades during flight) and associated uncomfortable vibration caused by the sub optimal fan.

chinese-engine2.jpg
Note that the straps are seat belts….how resourceful! After making the ‘repairs’, off they went into the wild blue yonder with another revenue-making flight on only three engines! With the increased fuel consumption, they got a bit low on fuel, and just set it down at the closest airport (FRA-Frankfurt) for a quick refill.
That’s when the problems started: The Germans, who are kind of picky about this stuff, inspected the malfunctioning engine and immediately grounded the aircraft. (Besides the seat belts, notice the appalling condition of the fan blades.) The airline operator had to send a chunk of money to get the first engine replaced (took about 10 days). The repair contractor decided to do some impromptu inspection work on the other engines, none of which looked all that great either. The result: a total of 3 engines were eventually changed on this plane before it was permitted to fly again.


Feb 6, 2008

Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple) in Nepal

One day I will go there, I know it. It’s just a matter of time.
I crave for a spiritual journey that will include Tibet and Nepal, as a must, with other destinations as optional.

Swayambhunath is among the oldest religious sites in Nepal and one of the holiest Buddhist places. According to the legend, Swayambhunath was founded by the King Vrsadeva, at the beginning of the 5th century CE.
Although the site is considered Buddhist, the place is revered by both Buddhists and Hindus. Numerous Hindu kings are known to have paid their homage to the temple including the most powerful king of Kantipur- Pratap Malla.

Monkey Temple
744a-picture-05-jan-08-monkey-temple-kathmandu.jpg
Photo courtesy of April

On each of the four sides of the main stupa there are a pair of big eyes which represent Wisdom and Compassion. Above each pair of eyes is another eye, the third eye. Saying goes that when Buddha preaches, cosmic rays emanate from the third eye which acts as message to heavenly beings, so that those interested can come down to earth to listen to the Buddha. The hellish beings and beings below the human realm cannot come to earth to listen to the Buddha’s teaching, however, the cosmic ray relieves their suffering when Buddha preaches.
Source: wiki

How can you not be impressed with these eyes?
771a-picture-06-jan-08-walking-tour-kathmandu.jpg
Photo courtesy of April

Prayer Wheel
According to Buddhism, spinning the wheel is as efficient as reciting the mantra embossed on the metal cylinder.
The most popular mantra is Om Mani Padme Hum considered a very powerful one because it contains the essence of Buddhism teachings.
736a-picture-05-jan-08-monkey-temple-kathmandu.jpg
Photo courtesy of April

Apparently there are lots of monkeys around, hence the name of the temple, pretty aggressive with tourists and probably very nasty considering their sacred status.
The tradition asks that in the morning, before dawn, to start climbing the 365 steps that led up the hill. Once there, pilgrims will start circling clockwise the stupa.


Dec 26, 2007

A Spiritual Journey through Tibet

I was watching a documentary on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. At some point you could see the interior of a room, where a few Tibetan monks started the ritual following the death of a young Tibetan. The room did not have windows, only openings in the stoned wall. But the openings were covered by very small curtains.

As always, I was overwhelmed by the austerity of the Tibetan life, and again I promised myself that one day I will go there. Maybe I am not spiritual enough for this type of journey but I am pretty sure that I would have a life transforming experience.

What do you feel watching this picture?
tibet-young-and-old.jpg
Photo courtesy of Konstantin

First glimpse brought me a huge emotional pain; my soul hurt. I could almost hear the eerie sound of the wind. The wind that burnt the faces of the old and young Tibetans for centuries.

The most popular image people would refer to while thinking of Tibet, beside the Chomolangma naturally, it’s the artifact found on top of Jokhang (The House of Lord) Temple.
Deers are a direct reference to the Buddha’s first teaching in the Deer Park, Sarnath, also called Dharmachakra Parivartan. The suggestion is that his presence was so peaceful that even the animals came to listen.
In the Tibetan tradition, a monastery which holds the Kangyur and Tengyur collections of texts would have this symbol of deers on both sides of the Dharma-wheel on the roof.
tibet-roof-jokhang-temple-500.jpg

The Jokhang Temple is the most celebrated temple in Tibet. Because the temple is not controlled by any sect of the Tibetan Buddhism, it attracts followers of all the sects, along with the followers of Bon Po, Tibet’s indigenous religion.
The Temple houses the most sacred artifact of the Buddhism: the statue of Jowo Sakyamuni or Gautama Buddha, the founder of the Buddhism.
tn_tibet-jawobuddha.jpg
The statue is 1.5 meters tall, cast from precious metals and decorated with jewels and it represents Sakyamuni when he was twelve-year old.

The Tibetans continue to be violently repressed by the Chinese. Hundreds of Tibetan monks are still imprisoned, vast areas of the country, which are off limits to foreign visitors or journalists, are stripped of natural resources and most monasteries in desperate need of reconstruction are left without any financial support by the Chinese government.
Some monasteries, part of the tourist circuit, have been more or less given reconstruction assistance.
Not Tashilhunpo.
But Tibetan pilgrims still visit this ancient holy site to access the spiritual presence and to pray for the spirit- health of the monastery, spirit to be said to return only after the departure of the Chinese.
The ritual asks to follow clockwise the sacred path, outside the walls.
pilgrimcircuit.jpg
Photo courtesy of Konstantin

Tashilhunpo remains one of the poorer monasteries, but one that is still trying to look after the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of all the monks, throughout their lives.

I found this very interesting site, that promises a meaningful trip to Tibet.


Nov 17, 2007

Ten reasons for moving to Malta

Some months ago I read an article about the best places to retire.
I live in British Columbia, very close to Vancouver. Now, lots of people would like to move or retire here. Why? Because of the surroundings: mountains and ocean. Yes, in theory you can ski in the morning and go to the beach in the afternoon. Only that it’s raining like crazy. People don’t know or want to understand that we are in Pacific Northwest and it rains, it’s humid, and overcast more often than not. Not to mention the cost of living. We crave for sunlight more than anything else.
I digress; let’s go back to retirement places.

What captured my attention was Malta.
I have been searching the net like crazy trying to find more information about this small state, tucked into the Mediterranean Sea.
Suddenly, I’ve fallen in love with Malta and decided to give it a try. First we will have to go there

These are my 10 reasons for voting for Malta:
1. Near perfect climate year-round… hey, I’ve been living closer to Vancouver for the past 14 years and the rain and the almost steady overcast started driving me nuts
2. The cost of living is low and no property taxes… yupee!! We pay a whooping $3500 per year on our propriety and the cost of leaving here is absolutely ridiculously high
3. Crime is practically non-existent and the locals are friendly
4. Everyone speaks English
5. According to the World Health Organization, Malta ranks 10th in the world for its medical standards
6. The University of Malta, founded in 1592 is one of the oldest ones in the world… I listed this point because we have to take into account our son’s need for education
7. House prices are decent
8. Leisure time includes sailing and horse riding… we love boating so leaving there will suit us perfectly well
9. A chance to return to our European roots
10.The last reason is mostly subjective: my wandering soul is longing for sunshine, sea breeze and a more laid back life

I will like to finish my post with some info found on … CIA site. Weird. I did not even know that you can access their site.
If you go there this is what you find:
“Great Britain formally acquired possession of Malta in 1814. The island staunchly supported the UK through both World Wars and remained in the Commonwealth when it became independent in 1964. A decade later Malta became a republic. Since about the mid-1980s, the island has transformed itself into a freight transshipment point, a financial center, and a tourist destination. Malta became an EU member in May 2004.”
“The country comprises an archipelago, with only the three largest islands (Malta, Ghawdex or Gozo, and Kemmuna or Comino) being inhabited; numerous bays provide good harbors; Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration”
Economy:
“Major resources are limestone, a favorable geographic location, and a productive labor force. Malta produces only about 20% of its food needs, has limited fresh water supplies, and has few domestic energy sources. The economy is dependent on foreign trade, manufacturing (especially electronics and pharmaceuticals), and tourism. Continued sluggishness in the European economy is holding back exports, tourism, and overall growth. “

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