Archive for the 'Ancient Culture' Category

Mar 4th
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Please Click On Video Above.

Axum Is One Of The Holiest Christian Cities On Earth. It Is Home To The Ark Of The Covenant – The Tablets Of The Ten Commandments Held By Moses.

In Middle Ages Europe ,In The Time Of The Crusaders, there was a tale of a paradise called The Land of Prester John. A land of unimaginable riches, and home to the Holy Grail. Somewhere near Ethiopia, though the Crusaders never got beyond Jerusalem.

A Truly Ancient Land.

Egyptian emissaries erected stellae in the Fourth Century, though quite a few have fallen.

Sunrise in the Land of Prester John.

The modern Church of Maryam ( Virgin Mary ) near the Ark Of The Covenant.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church claims to possess the Ark of the Covenant, or Tabot, in Axum. The object is currently kept under guard in a treasury near the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion.( Wikipedia) Ark of the Covenant was brought to Ethiopia by Menelik I with divine assistance, while a forgery was left in the Temple in Jerusalem. ( Wikipedia.) Melenik I was the son of King Solomon and Queen Sheba.

A Peaceful Dove – An Apparition ?

An Ancient Stellae Field.

A Cantankerous Camel.

Holy Bible.

Brutal Punishments For Sinners.

Rugged Trees For the Dry Climate.Tigray only gets a few showers in the summer.

One of the best restaurants in Ethiopia – in Adrigat.

Lamb and Beef so fresh you can eat it raw.

Hot Tibs.

Hotel In Adrigat. Did not stay there.

Captured In Battle.

Ancient Scripture.

Debri Damo Monastery. Accessible only by rappelling up the cliff.

Even monks 80 or 90 years. old can do it. Once they can’t, they stay.

Two Fascinating Weeks In Ethiopia then came to an end. TotalAdventure moved on to nearby Eritrea, though it took two flights to get there. TotalAdventure would especially like to thank Awaze Tours for making our private journey possible. Also Special Thanks to our driver Engdu ! Ethiopia is not an easy country to navigate and Awaze helped make all this incredible experience possible.

Feb 25th
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TImkat Epiphany In Holy Gondar. Click Video Above.

Priests Enact The Carrying of Boxes Which Carried The Ark Of The Covenant From Jerusalem To Axum, Ethiopia.

TotalAdventure, a Catholic, went to Ethiopia to explore the origins of Christianity. Dismayed by the ever increasing commercialization of Christmas throughput the world, to the point where religion is barely mentioned ,we decided to go where Christmas is not commercial at all, but a joyous occasion celebrating the arrival of Christ on Earth. Like much of the Christian Orthodox world, Christmas is on January 7th and Epiphany 12 days later on January 19th. Because this year,2020 is a Leap Year Timkat was on January 20th. In the West Epiphany is celebrated as the arrival of the 3 Kings, one from Ethiopia. In Ethiopia Timkat celebrates the Baptism of Jesus Christ. In Gondar’s Emperor Fasilides Baths. After many hours of prayer and singing, male participants will dive in , re enacting the Baptism.

Christianity arrived in Ethiopia by the 4th Century. Traditions and mystical celebrations changed little by the time Ethiopia was effectively cut off from Europe and the Holy Land by the 12th Century. The ceremonies we see here, especially in the video above, are the closest to Original Christianity.

As darkness falls on Timkat Eve, the momentum builds, with prayer, chanting and singing.

Another palace of Gondar.

The Three Kings.

TotalAdventure returned to the Fasilides compound by 5 AM. The Faithful were fervently at prayer.

Monks Sing Around The Baths as they have all night.

Dawn Approaches.

Sahle-Work Zewde, the President of Ethiopia, Came From Addis Ababa To Take Part In The Ceremonies.

Blaine Zuver, Director of TotalAdventure, Is Interviewed For the Ethiopia Herald. Story Here.

Part of The President’s Security Unit. Many soldiers were on patrol as well.

At last , after sunrise, the clarions blow and joyful adherents of The Lord re enact The Baptism.

Timkat 2012 ! (2020) The Ethiopian Calendar is 8 Years Behind The Western Calendar.

A Very Unfortunate Incident Occurred At Timkat. Bamboo bleachers are constructed each year so the crowds can get a view above the walls surrounding the Holy Pool. They are built to accommodate perhaps 200 or 300 people.

Just before sunrise the overloaded structure collapsed. Ten people were killed. More than 200 went to the hospital, some paralyzed for life. The ceremony was disrupted for about an hour, then went on.

Feb 24th
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In The Holy City of Lalibela. Click Above To Watch.

In The Twelfth Century King Lalibela Decreed A Holy City Known As New Jerusalem – To Be Built From Solid Rock. Above Is Beti Gyorgis – St.George ,One Of Eleven Churches Carved From The Earth.

The Light of Jesus Shines Upon A Monk.

Days Spent In Prayer Unchanged From The Fourth Century.

Very Little Restoration Has Taken Place. Due To The Arid Climate And Solid Rock Construction, Lalibela Remains Much Intact.

Envy Of The Crusaders Who Sought Ethiopia, But Couldn’t Find It.

There Are 2 Masses Per Day, At Dawn And At Noon,Each For Two Hours. No Eating Or Drinking Is Permitted Beforehand ,Not Even Water.

While Ethiopia is being “Discovered ” there are few crowds.

Rock Church From Above.

An Approach To Church.

Circular Compound.

Exterior of Compound.

Light Of Jesus.

Outside Lalibela- A Church Built In A Cave.

Guard’s Rifle.

St.George From Below.

Holy Waters – A Bit Stagnant.

No Assembly – Just Carving !

Church Exterior.

Lalibela Houses. Only Recently Did The Town Receive Electricity.

Sep 7th
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Kyrgyzstan was the final and most adventurous country on TotalAdventure’s Central Asia Expedition. Through membership in the Adventure Travel Trade Association we were introduced to Visit Kyrgyzstan. Visit Kyrgyzstan took us to amazing places impossible to get to on one’s own. Please view the video above to experience our amazing voyage.

We drove from Almaty, Kazakhstan to Karakol. We visited a Uighur inspired mosque, as Xinjiang is only about 150 km distant.

Also, a Siberian style wooden Orthodox Church. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, most Russians have left independent Kyrgyzstan.

Our first overnight stop was in a yurt village on the shores of Lake Issy Kul, a Mile HIgh ( 1607 m) and 182 km in length, ( 114 mi) .

Issy Kuul is an alpine lake in the Tien Shan Mountains, which lead into the Himalayas. Those mountains are 40 miles away.

We also explored an abandoned heavy water nuclear processing plant built in Soviet times.

The next day we went to watch Eagle Hunters. Traditional in the highlands of Central Asia, including Mongolia, young eagles are adopted and trained to hunt in a way to bring the prey to their masters, and they are given large amounts of meat in return. The prey is often rabbit or fox. Rabbit is valuable for its’ delicious, nutritious meat and fur good for making gloves. Fox skin also is prized..

The Eagles stay with their families until they are about 15 and are then returned to the wild. Eagle and master bond closely, much like people and dogs. An Eagle lives to 65 to almost 100 years of age.

The Real Adventure Begins. Four Days Journey In The Tien Shan Mountains To Lake Song Kul.

Visit Kyrgyzstan designed a trip to meet the needs of TotalAdventure. We tend to move quickly, with little time for rest. However, it would make a great trip for adventurous travelers in reasonably good physical shape. Our first day was from outside a town to small rugged yurt camp. The second and third nights were at camps with more comfortable yurts and even hot water showers heated by gas. Visit Kyrgyzstan is the exclusive provider for TotalAdventure in Kyrgyzstan.

Meals are hearty and tasty.

Hot meat dumpling soup . High in the mountains the weather is cold even in summer. Daytime temperatures were in the 50s ( 12 -14 C ) and close to freezing at night. 0 c Warm clothing is essential, but extreme winter gear is not required in summer.

Comfortable Yurts with woodburning stoves.

Kumis – Fermented horse milk with a small amount of alcohol.

Lake Song Kul. Elevation about 10,000 feet, ( 3076 m) Mountains still snow covered on July 1. Snow falls from October to May, year round in higher elevations.

Lake from a high vantage. Our highest point was around 12,500 feet, going over a ridge. Some areas were so steep the horses had to be walked.

My Horse enjoying a well deserved lunch.

Our Leader, Ernist. Also featured – the Go Pro that shoots the videos.

Our last . day was spent in the capital city of Bishkek. before returning to the USA via Istanbul.

Kyrgyzstan is a country that has overcome tremendous challenges posed by the Superpowers that surround it and adaptation to a market economy. Sustainable adventure travel and ecotourism as a big part of the economy. TotalAdventure and Visit Kyrgyzstan look forward to working together to bring travelers to this amazingly beautiful part of the world.

Jun 10th
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A Journey Up The Mekong, Into The Golden Triangle.
Rat ! It’s What’s For Dinner !

TotalAdventure Presents “Long Lost Laos” A Video Narrative Of Last Summer’s Voyage.

Sep 11th
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The TotalAdventure Team flew Qatar Airways from Miami to Saigon (HCM) Vietnam .On the way we had an 8 hour layover in Doha. On the way back we stopped over for two days. The above video is a compilation of the two visits.

Qatar is the wealthiest nation in the world, per capita. But tradition prevails in the desert lands outside of Doha.

It’s a 13 hour flight from Miami. 15 hours going back.

Right off the plane from Bangkok , we went riding the high sand dunes south of Doha. You can experience the adventure in the video above.

We went right dawn to the waterway that separates Qatar from Saudi Arabia, other than the narrow land bridge. The border between the two US Allies is currently closed. That’s a Saudi Army post about 3 km in the distance.

 

Back in the city , we went to Souk Al Waqif.

A delicious lunch of Sheep’s Head.

And Foul – a delicious Fava Bean stew.

Modest, yet colorful fashions.

Saffron and other exotic, expensive spices for sale.

The Architecture is Amazing.

Qatar Grand Mosque .

Al Zubara Fort.

It’s hot outside in July. That’s 117 F !

TotalAdventure would like to Thank Mr.Ahmed Nasser Al Rayes , Chairman of the Al Rayes Group for making our excursion in Qatar so flawless, exploring the majority of the country in a very short time. The Al Rayes Group owns 83 companies ,and is a leader in tourism investment.

Jun 14th

Hue

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While Hue remains a warlike image in the minds of many Americans, due to the 1968 Tet offensive, it is a city at peace .

Sampans glide the river.

Evil spirits are kept at bay.

Street Food is incredible !

The Pagoda.

Water Buffalo on their way home for the evening. 

Making honey at the Pagoda.

Dinner by the Pearl River.

Jun 14th
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Like everywhere else in Vietnam , Da Nang has changed immensely since TotalAdventure’s first trip in 1993. 50 story buildings, many of them luxury hotels, dot the skyline in a city known as a large US Army base in a major combat zone, especially  in the late 60s.

We climbed to the top of the Marble Mountains ,where we took in the view of China Beach , an R&R spot for the US Troops, and the South China Sea.

While the Marble Mountains were surrounded by US Troops, the caves within them were major operating bases for the Viet Cong. This large cave was a hospital for the wounded. The Americans could not penetrate. Instead, they bombed the mountain from above, finally opening these holes after months of round the clock raids. By that time it had been vacated. The cave is now a Holy Shrine.

Da Nang restaurants have excellent seafood. This is apparently stonefish, which if stepped on means immediate death or loss of a leg.

 

Jun 11th
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On Sunday, June 10th, 12 hours ahead of US East coast time TotalAdventure explored the streets of Saigon. Above, is my langoustine lunch fighting, before being grilled.

Historical Museum.

US Army bulldozers, War Crimes Museum.

Utilized Often By France.

At Jade Emperor Temple.

Peaceful and Holy.

Mother and Baby.

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This is a very quick post as TotalAdventure has been on the road for two days, spending last night in a mountain refuge with not much sleep. On the road at 6AM tomorrow,

A 21,000 foot mountain. Name to be updated later. We went as high as 17,200.

Mate de coca is legal everywhere in the Andean Republics and is used to treat altitude sickness.

 

La Paz from 14,000 feet.

Lake Titicaca Duck.

Shaman Graveyard,

Hauri.

Solar Uyuni Sunset,