Travel Photo Thursday: Turkish-Egyptian Belly Dancer

The lights dimmed and she glided gracefully into the middle of floor. The music starts and we hear the sound of the drums creating a beat that was tribal. All eyes were glued to the beautiful dancer as she started to shimmy.  Her hands skillfully beckoning and her hair seductively swirling. Even the thick tobacco smoke cannot conceal the sparkle of her golden coins. We were mesmerized.

She moves to the corner of the room where she picks up a large sword. She twirls it around and unsheath it. I gasped as she places the big silver sword on top of her head. My tummy tightens as I anticipate disaster. But alas, she balances the sword on top of her head while she continues to dance. The crowd starts to clap as she moves faster. It was at that moment that I felt that I was transported into another world.

That night I was in a Turkish tent in the middle of the desert. Sipping hot mint tea as I lazily inhale from my hookah. I was part of a caravan and we were on our way to mysterious and unexplored territories. My phone buzzes on my lap and reality sets in. I realize that I need to go on a search for good deals on Turkey holidays. For now part of my bucket list is to learn belly dancing in Turkey. Perhaps Istanbul or Bodrum? Regardless, I’m going to make it happen.

This is my submission for Travel Photo Thursday. Check out Budget Travelers Sandbox to see more great shots!

The sights, sounds, spirits and flavors of Frenchmen Street in New Orleans

Twas’ the day before our flight. I sit up on my chair with a sudden bolt of panic. My beloved cousin sends me an email about a news article on Tropical Storm Lee. It read something like: The city, anxious about any possibility of a repeat of Hurricane Katrina, has already declared a state of emergency and is taking early precautions…extensive flooding, rainfall amounts of two to three inches per hour. Flashes of catastrophic Katrina footage pops inside my head and chills began to run down my spine.

Why didn’t I just plan to go somewhere sunny and swank like the Greek islands of Corfu in the Ionian Sea? I mull over this for a second- I was sure I could find a last minute vacation deal or at least cheap flights to Corfu.  So I began the process of searching online, well, almost. Because out of the blue the third world voice inside my head began to yell at the pansy gentrified person I have become.

See I grew up in a country where we ate tropical storms for breakfast. We have been through every imaginable type of storm: super typhoons, depressions, tropical cyclones, thunderstorms- and my all time favorite- monsoon storms. I remember wading through flooded streets or at times riding small rowboats just to get to school when I was very young and the city didn’t have proper storm drains (yes this happened in the metropolis and not some barrio in the boonies). But now the slightest whisper of a storm makes me almost wet my pants.

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Manila Revealed: Testimonials on Why the World’s Most Misunderstood City Rocks

Manila is a misunderstood city. Often neglected and rejected by many, even by locals, it is in need of a second chance. Years and layers of poverty and pollution has made it look derelict. But if you go beyond the surface you will find a city with a soul.

This is exactly what these adventurers and discerning travelers below have discovered. Read on as they share five different testimonials with one common message: Manila Rocks!

For Mark, it’s the passion of the people, the enthusiasm and the virus of happiness that spreads through Filipinos and carries over to those who choose to visit which makes it so special.

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