High in the Himalayas I clamber through a dark cavern deep into the mountains heart in search of the Guru Rinpoche’s path to enlightenment in the Yarlung Valley the cradle of Tibetan civilization. The cave opening is barely wide enough for me to squeeze through. A weathered old leather rope was placed here hundreds of years ago by pilgrims to help assist in pulling yourself to the other side, this is not for those who are claustrophobic. Finally, I reach the heart of the mountain. Wafts of juniper incense and the heat from the butter lamps make the air heavy. In the distance you can see Tibetans gathered around a large gold statue murmuring mantras.
For Tibetans a pilgrimage should be a difficult and dangerous event, this way when you finally complete the journey the sense of reward is there. In Tibet’s Yarlung Valley there are many of these karma boosting journeys taking place. Those who make it to the Yarlung Valley will find one of Tibet’s oldest and culturally rewarding experiences. Read More
In the middle of it all, I pause. The hypnotic, rhythmic tribal war calls, the impossibly vibrant tribal warriors adorned in paint and birds of paradise feathers, and the incessant heat of the midday sun. In this moment of calm, you realize where you are, amidst this dazzling spectacle unfolding around you. I am so happy in this very moment. I spend my life in search of moments like this. As I begin to smirk, the pause ends and I am brought back to the present. Maybe you understand this, maybe you don’t, but all I can tell you is that at that very moment, in the middle of the tribal Mt Hagen show, I have never felt so happy to find such a raw example of human nature and being, here in Papua New Guinea.
When your mind finally clears, you feel it. It’s a feeling deep inside. It’s a feeling of excitement, nervousness, and a strong desire to delve deeper into the unknown. Here Jacob and I were, experiencing this very feeling, riding atop an old, rusty bus, crossing the remote Shandur pass In North East Pakistan. Our destination is Chitral, a series of mysterious valleys located deep in the Hindu Kush. As the warm apricot scented wind blew across our faces, and we marveled at the impossibly beautiful mountains, the feeling only intensified. “This is exactly where I want to be.” It’s not often I say this to myself but, being in such an incredible moment, it seems plausible. This is Chitral, in North Pakistan. Read More
For almost my entire life Iraq has meant war. From the so-called threat of weapons of mass destruction to the media constantly reporting about Bush senior’s gulf war grudge against Saddam. What the media and all those with preconceived notions of the country tend to leave out is the history, Iraq’s incredibly diverse people, some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Middle East. As I looked down a snow capped mountain valley from a medieval castle, it’s hard to believe everything I have heard and seen about this stunning nation. This is Iraq!