blogging, Community, Photography, Travel

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge – Mountain Top

Kakani 1988

It was a perfect afternoon on a perfect mountain top, 30 km west of Kathmandu in Nepal.

We’d travelled in the back seat of an ageing and dusty Black Toyota sedan to Kakani. The lack of seat belts in the car might have given an inkling of the car’s advanced age, but it was mainly the dark exterior that prompted our Nepalese guide to label it, “the Mafia car” suggesting with a hearty laugh, that our driver looked “criminal!”

nepal guide
A young Amanda at 6500 Feet at Nagarkot with Nepalese Guide Madhav

Thirty odd years ago, the road to Nagarkot Mountain Top and Lookout was narrow, winding and precipitous. Dirt tracks, barely one car width wide, that would be better suited to goats, twisted their way sharply around steep hillsides with never a guardrail to be seen.

Despite this, I was focused less on my safety than on the countryside itself. It looked alive and thriving. Almost every hill no matter how steep, had been heavily terraced and cultivated with crops. Quaint mud-brick farm cottages clung to 80 degree slopes and the mountainous backdrop grew ever more spectacular with each and every bend. I pinched myself.

Was I really here at the top of the world? I marveled at how the puffy white clouds perched high up in the sky were not actually clouds at all, but the Himalayan mountain tops tinged with snow!

Every few kilometres, or so, smiling school children appeared on the roadside, waving enthusiastically at our car, as we passed by. Our Guide informed us that many of the chuldren walk several hours just to reach the nearest school. No School of the Air exists in Nepal. A very different life to Australia, where schools are located in every suburb and in remote areas, lessons with a teacher are given over radio communication, (now, presumably skype), each day.

nepal mountain road

Nagarkot Lookout

On reaching Nagarkot Lookout, we were invited to sit on a deck chair at the cliff’s edge. I actually couldn’t stop smiling. I have never seen anything so extraordinary. It is a cliché, but the air was palpably clean and pure. Hauntingly beautiful flute music played in the air adding to the mystical atmosphere.

Sitting and looking out upon the highest mountain tops of the world brought me feelings of tranquility and material needlessness to my head. In those moments, any yearning for material objects and acquisitions completely vanished. Even my materialistic other half, the Moth, agreed that afternoon. We struck up a conversation with another traveler. He was from – wait for it: the Australian Gold Coast. Thousands of miles from home and I meet a stranger who lives less than 60 minutes from my home!

Meanwhile Mudhav, our smartly dressed guide, complete with pristine, ‘Mrs-March” bleached shirt, stated he never gets bored with the mountains. He reads Wordsworth, Keats and other romantic English poetry. He says his presentation as a guide, is different with ‘good people,’ like us.

Again, I smile!

We didn’t anticipate the final surprise that was yet to come.

Nepalese Women Carry the Load

As we sat on that small area of level ground surrounded by precipitous cliffs, enjoying the view at 2200 metres above sea level, two women appeared from below the cliff face, casually climbing up and over the rock incline directly in front of us.

Such was their physical strength they were able to scale an almost, I guess, 80 degree vertical slope, as if they were taking a light stroll.

There is no photo of them, but to our shock we noted they carried large straw baskets down their back, laden to the brim, with potatoes. The basket was held by a narrow rope tied around their forehead. You can imagine our astonishment and our incredulity at the strength of their necks under such a load!

Amazing Women!

Nagarkot and Kakani can get very cold as night draws near, but the view of  Mt. Annapurna, as well as the other mountains that make up this part of the Himalayas: Machhapuchhare, Ganesh Himal and Langtang, are in a word stupendous Mountain Tops. It is very easy to sit and watch those mountains for hours, so mesmerizing is this special part of the world.

My photographs are showing their age and the quality is not so good so I have included two videos to enhance your impression of the area.

Join in the Friendly Friday Blog Challenge

Every other week we post a topic to inspire a post on a particular theme. This week the theme is Mountain Top. Your challenge is to feature a story, photo/s, a recipe or anything else that captures your imagination.  

You can post once, twice or as many times as you’re inspired by the topic.

Sandy and I take turns in posting challenges.  Keep notified of new themes by following both our blog’s at  Something to Ponder About  and  The Sandy Chronicles

How to join the Friendly Friday Challenge

  • Write a post titled ‘Friendly Friday – ‘Mountain Top’ and add a tag: ‘Friendly Friday’
  • Include a link to this Friendly Friendly Challenge within your own post.
  • Optionally, you can include the latest Friendly Friday Challenge logo. Download it here.
  • Comment below, on this post so that others can read your post.
  • Remember to include a url link to your own post in your comment below. This will guarantee a visit, in the event the automatic ping-back does not work.
  • Visit other Friendly Friday entries by following their links. It’s fun!
  • Follow the host blogs to see future Friendly Friday Challenges

The Benefits of Joining Blog Challenges

  • Increase your exposure in the blogging communities
  • Inspire and be inspired by diverse blog articles
  • Challenge your creativity
  • Make new friends and keep in touch with old ones

Are you joining in with this theme?

Where is your favourite Mountain Top?

How do you feel when you reach the summit? This motorcyclist loves the countryside too.

Blog challenge Friday
Australia, Environment, History & Traditions

April Fool Ghost

“So I woke up and my beautiful Schnauzer pup is laying on the back patio covered in dirt with a rabbit in his mouth. The rabbit’s not bloody, just dirty. My neighbor’s kids raise blue ribbon rabbits. I instantly knew it was one of theirs. 😢

I took the rabbit away from my dog, rushed inside, and brushed all the dirt off it before my neighbors could come home. It was stiff but I heard some animals play dead when they are afraid, but I couldn’t remember which ones.

I quickly took it and placed it back in one of the cages in their back yard then I ZOOMED back home. (Don’t judge me 😒)

Not 30 minutes later, I heard my neighbour screaming like she’s seen a ghost, so I go out and innocently ask them what’s wrong?

They tell me their rabbit died three days ago and they buried it, but now it’s back in the cage.” 😳

April Fools!

Found on social media, this was not my story. It just might be a work of fiction, or an old joke, but I wouldn’t put it past a Schnauzer to go after a rabbit!

Apparently this very thing DID happen with another Schnauzer, their owner and a guinea pig. I am giving this author, (Kathy W.), the benefit of the doubt, but it is April Fools Day, isn’t it?

Not many folks have pet rabbits in Australia. Keeping them is illegal and there are fines unless you have a special permit. Without a natural predator to control numbers, introduced Rabbits decimated Australia’s bush in the early 20th century reaching plague proportions and thus were banned.

It is legal to keep the following variety, and give them to your Schnauzer!

home made fabric easter bunny
Mental Health, Motivational

Minding our Minds through Mindfulness

The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” -John Milton

Mindfulness

We hear it all the time. Mindfulness. The advice to practise mindfulness as a way to deal with troublesome thoughts.

Why does Mindfulness help?

It’s impossible to stay strong when you’re rehashing something that happened last week or predicting that horrible things are going to happen tomorrow. Mindfulness is about staying present in the moment. And since the only time you can change your behavior is right now, it’s important to be able to focus on the here-and-now.

http://www.psychology.com

Our minds become more resilent to stress and less prone to anxiety, if we maintain focus on the here and now; meaning the present moment. The future and the past are, after all, not our reality, but only mental constructs over which we have no, or little, influence. Trying to live in two dimensions at once creates stress for ourselves.

The present moment is the only real time concept we can fully experience, with our senses.

Confucious understood this saying,

“Remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”

Buddha considered the secret of good health was not to mourn the past, or worry about the future, cautioning against anticipation and encouraging the use of each moment wisely and earnestly.

As if each moment was a priceless gift.

Because each moment is a priceless gift that will never return again.

Staying mindful removes the immediate stress for a mind that might continue to worry or dwell on what has gone before.

The present moment is a concept so very difficult to grab hold on to; for it is transient, dynamic and we might rail against letting it go. Even as we ponder its nature, it has passed us by. Gone.

Some of us keep the past, or future, alive in our minds, through repetitive thoughts. Our minds, in idle moments, stray back to past events, or happier times. If those thoughts are negative, and we think them often enough, we can do ourselves real mental damage or initiate a stress reaction in our body.

Strategies for Mindfulness

  • Stay in the moment
  • Look around you and note your environment
  • Observe
  • Notice where your focus lies and your own body’s natural breath
  • Is your breath short, sharp and shallow, or deep and long? Focusing on the breath is a way to stay mindful
  • Be Mindful and Ground yourself with the following exercise

Questions for the Self

Are you able to be mindful, keeping thoughts aligned with the present moment?

Can you break your day down and stay with those moments?

Besides Grounding, what is it that helps you to do this?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

blogging, Photography, Travel

Friendly Friday Blogging Challenge – On the Way

Even though few people are currently travelling, most of us have travel stories about our global adventures, that we can re-visit through writing and photographs.

Welcome back to the Friendly Friday Blogging Challenge, where I challenge you to create a post and share your stories, photographs, or memories, that you experienced ‘On the Way,’ to, or from, somewhere. It may be a shop, airport, workplace, historic site, residence, or whichever place you choose.

Friendly Friday Challenge Theme

On the Way

Instructions on joining the two weekly challenge is found here.

If you prefer an abridged form, you will find that further below in this post.

Now let’s take a trip through photos and a story:

In addition to the above photographs, I’m sharing a story of Just another person from around the world from 1986 that fits with the theme.

On Our Way – to the Airport

It was steaming hot and humid, as only Thailand can be. The vacation was over, but with our well-cured suntans and fond vacation memories lingering softly in our minds, the ‘Moth,’ (ie. Man of the House), and I were ushered into the rear seat of a Mercedes, by two young men who would drive us to Bangkok International Airport.

This older model ‘Merc,’ clearly nearing its use-by date, was the Taxi Airport Transfer our Travel Agent had kindly arranged, which meant we’d avoid navigating Bangkok’s public transport system in the oppressive, pea soup-like heat that had surrounded us back at Pattaya Beach.

Thankfully, the Mercedes was air-conditioned; mind you, the cooling unit was working extra hard to reach anywhere near the back seat and in reality, a vintage metal blade fan spewing tepid air would have been more effective than this car’s cooling system and I smiled a wry smile to the Moth, now seated beside me.

Photo by tom balabaud on Pexels.com

My hand reached across the numerous cracks and wrinkles in the sweat-caressed leather upholstery and touched the Moth’s hand. He’d been a tad nervous about travelling in South-East Asia and was clearly relieved he’d soon be on a plane heading home, to Australia.

Then something happened which began to make that look a little less likely.

We’d already been stuck in not one, but two, traffic jams and to pass the time, our Thai guide and his young driver would repeatedly push the ‘eject’ button, on the 1970’s era cassette player, and laugh uproariously when the ageing cassette plopped out on the floor. Added to this it seemed that absentmindedly switching the windscreen wipers on and off, and on and off again, despite the sun blazing outside, was an additional source of mirth for these two young guys.

Was this their first city job, I wondered? They looked like they were still a bit wet behind the ears.

Glancing over at the car’s instrument panel, I noticed the temperature gauge was spiking ‘hot,’ while the petrol gauge’s needle now flickered on ‘Reserve,’ indicating the fuel tank was close to empty. I raised an eyebrow and felt a slight tightening in my chest.

Cautiously, I asked the Thai Guide how much longer it might be before we’d reach the airport? In broken English, the reply came that it would be around half an hour, more or less, depending on traffic problems around the airport. I raised my eyebrows and looked again at the Moth.

Should I say something more about potentially running out of petrol?

I hesitated for a moment and crossed my fingers, but remained silent.

traffic jam Bangkok 1986
A Bangkok Traffic Jam in 1986. After two hours, we had travelled 100 metres.

Minutes ticked by and I began to calculate whether we could still make our flight if we did get stuck in another of Bangkok’s notorious traffic jams and whether the car would run out of petrol before we reached our destination.

I decided I should speak up.

“Won’t you need a little more fuel, soon?” I finally said, in a polite, suggestive way.

Both the driver and his offsider looked at each other, befuddled. After a moment, they shook their heads firmly. It seemed I might need to clarify a little more what I meant.

“The fuel gauge,” I said, gaining confidence and pointing.“It is showing empty.”

“Ah, hah,” the young Driver said, with a gentle laugh.

Temperature,” he said smiling and tapping the petrol gauge with a knowing nod.

Umm. I don’t think so.” I offered. I was shaking my head but in those days, I had a soft voice and hadn’t developed any kind of authoritative tone, so the driver easily shrugged me off with a quick, “No problem,” and flashed that broad and innocent Thai smile, that can charm almost anyone.

I sat back in my seat thinking there was no way we’d catch our flight if we ran out of petrol. I looked at the Moth, imploring him with my eyes to say something to the driver. His eyebrows were knitted together, yet he remained silent.

Would you like something to eat?” the driver then piped up? “A bowl of rice? You have time,” he said pointing to his watch.”

I thought a detour may use up even more petrol and remembering his questionable skills in reading gauges, I wasn’t confident we had any time for food. Declining politely, I advised him we’d eat at the airport, adding under my breath – if we ever get there.

Photo by Hassan OUAJBIR on Pexels.com

Several minutes later, the frenzied finger-pointing and gesticulating towards the car’s instrument panel, accompanied by feverish Thai mutterings between driver and colleague, suggested something was amiss.

Without warning, the Driver stepped hard on the Merc’s gas pedal. We sped off at high speed through the traffic. I suspected it wasn’t the pressures of time that had prompted his change of heart. He must have realised his mistake in reading the gauges and surmised fuel was now perilously low.

Falsely thinking that accelerating and reaching the airport faster would prevent the car from running out of petrol, meant we were now overtaking every car on the highway, at breakneck speed. I gripped the armrest tightly with one hand and the Moth’s hand with the other.

Just hold on! the Moth mouthed at me silently.

After what seemed like an eternity, I saw the terminal of Bangkok International Airport loom ahead of us through the windscreen. If anyone had been listening in at that moment, they would have heard four very audible and loud signs of relief from both the front and the back seat of the old Merc.

We had arrived.

Join in with the Friendly Friday Challenge

Do you have a story or photograph or two to share?

Compose a post, be that photograph/s, story or recipe, with the theme, ‘On the way,’ somewhere – and include both the tag, ‘Friendly Friday’ and a url linking back to this post.

After publishing your post, return here and leave a comment with your post’s url. That way other visitors can find your post and visit.

Do Follow the Friendly Friday Challenge blogs: The Sandy Chronicles, and StPA for future prompts.

Remember this challenge runs for two weeks and you are encouraged to post once, twice or as many times as you like.

Sandy will be back on Friday 26th February with a new challenge.

surf beach with waves australia
Environment

The Future – the Facts

Photo by Trace Hudson on Pexels.com

What the future will be like is a contentious issue, as it is not about what has been, but what might happen.

There are those who choose to deny it, who find it overwhelming or depressing, who stick their heads in the sand and conversely, those who are moved to agitate about it. Which ever side of the Climate Change debate you sit upon, certain things cannot be denied and are fact.

Facts on Climate Change

  • Rising global temperatures due to Industrialization are destabilizing weather systems
  • Ice shields in Greenland and Antartica are melting and destabilizing weather systems
  • Sea levels are rising and threatening coastal and island communities
  • Extreme weather events of all varieties are rapidly increasing
  • Deforestation and habitat loss is causing a mass extinction of animal and plant species at an unprecedented level since the Dinosaur era.

Before any climate change denier or sceptic raises the point that climate change isn’t real and it’s nature doing what it normally does, global climate does, without doubt vary from year to year, decade to decade; global warming and cooling does occur naturally, but it is the UNPRECEDENTED INCREASE IN RATE of CLIMATE CHANGE that is directly attributed to ADVERSE human activity and is not sustainable.

The world as we know it could not and will not sustain more than a 2 degree rise in global temperature without dire climatic consequences.

But there is hope.

Not the faint-hearted ostrich like mentality that technology will inevitably safe us from ourselves and our environmental problems if only we wait and recycle our goods more, but hope that we can come together in an effective and collaborative global response to this human-caused threat.

Hope based on Action.

Once we act, hope is everywhere.

Greta Thunberg

Because it is a problem, caused by humans. By us. So we can fix this.

Communicating Climate Facts to the Public

The Hollywood Mad Max type future portrayed in some apocalyptic movies generates only fear, guilt, anger despair, is not at all helpful and can result in many turning a deaf ear to conversations on action or acknowledgement of climate change.

Instead, as Rebecca Huntley believes, it is inspiring to read and to see stories of hope, of action, of people overcoming odds and succeeding in small ways to making changes at a local level changing their lifestyle and damaging habits. Renewal of ecosystems, caring and nurturing animal and plant species and systems, environmentally friendly options and products, less emphasis on fossil fuels and their products.

According to Per Espen Stoknes educating people is a good first step, but it may never be enough. Presenting facts on global warming has so far not sufficiently convinced policymakers and journalists of the scale of the problem, nor the sense of urgency around it.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

Climate Science

Part of the problem is that this issue is conceptually complex and the descriptions reflect a potential and somewhat vague future, not a tangible, direct event that people can see and identify.

Climate Scientists have known about these predictions since 1979 and lament that the physics and conversations have not changed, that they are simply updating the data. Yet nothing was done by Governments.

University Science students, like me, were lectured on global warming back in the 1980’s and yet, no one in the community or Government was interested in listening.

it no longer seems rational to assume that humanity, encountering an existential threat, will behave rationally.”

Nat Rich (Journalist)

To me that is a concern. A grave concern.

Are you concerned?

Do you tune out on the issue of Climate change?

Do you have hope?

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