SOME EXAMPLE PROJECTS...
Message in a Bottle.....
Anyone who has been reading my recent posts will see what a grand time was had in Jordan.
Among all the goodness, the one negative thing that stood out: as in so, so many countries, was the prevalence of plastic pollution. Single-use bottled water dominates for both locals and tourists and empty bottles litter the landscape the length of the country from the desert wadis to the World Heritage sites of Petra.
Jordan has lower water resources than just about any country on earth so it seems really odd that a product that takes up so much resource (as well as the oil to make the plastic and the transport, more than 2 litres of water are used to make 1 litre of bottled water) and results in inordinate amounts of plastic pollution, has reached such dominance.
As travellers we have to do better; we have to say no to plastic. Drink tapwater, carry a reusable bottle or a filter bottle (and a cup for drinks to avoid takeaway cups). In the 2.5 weeks I was there, cycling in 30+ degrees, I drank tapwater and knowingly used 1 bottle of water and 1 takeaway cup. I didn't get sick. Others with me used up to 8 single use plastic items per day.
Always remember it is the bottled water industry, dominated by giant multinationals like Coke and Nestle), who willingly promote the 'don't drink the water' messages. Always remember that many studies have shown that bottled water can have higher bacterial counts than tap water (and also contains plastic particles in the water).
Drinking bottled water does nothing for your health and nothing for the health of planet earth.
The theme of UN World Environment Day on 5 June is Beat Plastic Pollution. See if you can; at home and abroad.
Best Catch Ever!
Soooo nice to be with Wendy after 2 months apart. Met up yesterday in the salubrious confines of Gatwick Airport South Terminal and now enjoying time together on Guernsey in the Channel Islands where I'm speaking at the Guernsey Literary Festival
A cancellation has opened up a couple of places on this tour I'm doing to South Africa in late September. See below
From Red to Dead......
With the Red Sea reached at the end of the Jordan Bike Trail, it was much enjoyed with a fine boat cruise and some snorkeling. Thence to the Dead Sea where of course it is impossible to dive below the surface. Last time I 'swam' in the Dead Sea was in Israel in 1983!
Here for next 2 days, my last in Jordan, for the Adventure Travel Trade Association conference
Have arrived at Aqaba on the Red Sea after 10 days along the Jordan Bike Trail, finishing today with a ride through spectacular Wadi Rum.
Swim and snorkel next....
Thanks to my fellow riders Paolo, Paul, Tracey, Sigrun, Lief, Andy, Katie and Sari for your companyand fun times and to all the crew at Experience Jordan, Visit Jordan and the Adventure Travel Trade Association for hosting my first visit to this friendly and very safe destination.
We've reached Petra on the Jordan Bike Trail - what a bloody mindblowing place! Endless tombs and temples carved into the sandstone and ingenious water management systems from a mere 2000+ years ago! Eight hours and 12km of walking and we'd still only touched upon this wonder.
Hats off to our crew at Experience Jordan - hugely knowledgable guides and ice cold beers to finish...........
Hummous and Hills.....
After some unseasonally wet weather that caused much flash flooding and damage (and the tragic death of 9 Israeli hikers) a warm sun is out in Jordan and we're 2 days into 10 days on 'The Best of The Jordan Bike Trail' hosted by Experience Jordan
A top group of tour operators and travel writers from Iceland, Italy, US and Oz of course well looked after by Experience Jordan staff from Jordan, US, Finland and the Ukraine! And not forgetting ATTAboy the camel (from Jordan, Made in China......)
Started in the far north overlooking The Sea of Galilee, Israel and Syria. Heading south to the Red Sea......
Tracey Croke Journo, Leifur Örn Svavarsson - Fjallaleiðsögumaður
With the 3rd anniversary of the finish of my Mediterranean journey just passed, it's a good time to plug my book of that journey, 'Mediterranean - A year around a charmed and troubled sea'
The very well received tome can be ordered from http://www.huwkingston.com/shop/
For anyone who happens to be(!) in Guernsey, Channel Islands on 11 May or Belfast, Northern Ireland on 10 June, I'll be speaking about the journey at the Guernsey Literary Festival and Belfast Book Festival respectively.
PS also available from my Publisher at
https://www.whittlespublishing.com/Mediterranean as well as usual outlets
Za'atari Refugee Camp, Jordan
I spent today visiting this sprawling refugee camp 15km from the Syrian border and, as always on such a visit, learned so much.
Firstly a massive thanks to all at Save the Children Jordan for hosting my visit and all the amazing staff working at the camp.
Za'atari is home to 80,000 Syrian refugees and for many has been their home for up to 6 years now. My last visit to a refugee camp was two years ago on the Greek island of Lesvos. There many refugees had been processed and moved onto other countries after a long, dangerous journey from Syria and elsewhere. At Za'atari the journey may have been shorter but, closer to home, many may have hoped to return sooner rather than later. But who knows how long this crisis will continue?
Amazingly Jordan has taken in 1.3 million refugees from Syria, a neighbourly generosity we should all be grateful for.
At Za'atari I watched as Save the Children staff handed out the daily bread, 16 tonnes of it per day, as part of the World Food Programme. We drove down the 'Shams Elysee' , the main bazaar of Zaa'tari, humourously named given Sham is a word for Syria. But there's no arch of triumph at the end of that track, muddy after unseasonal rain that peters out into the desert.
In one of the Early Learning Centres run by Save the Children, kids did what they do everywhere - learned, drew pictures, danced and smiled. But there are 4000 3-4 year olds in the camp and only 1500 places available in the centres.
Nearby I was welcomed into the house of Seri* and her 5 children. Now, as the war has dragged on, all tents in the camp have been replaced by huts, some now with the dignity of a small kitchen and bathroom. Seri left Syria, left their farm, 6 years ago when the bombing started. Then she and her husband had only one child, Mari*, now 6, a gorgeous girl with a level of autism. Seri was preparing for the wedding of her cousin in the camp that night. All the girls showed off their henna'd hands in preparation. Before we left Seri showed off the photos of her own wedding when she was 16.
Salim, the jovial Principal of the Secondary school in Za'atari, showered us with baklava and coffee, as he spoke of the importance of the Save the Children Helpdesk in the school - assisting kids and their parents with problems at school whether bullying, learning or issues at home. The school, with 1250 pupils, is the largest in Jordan but has very little electricity and no science laboratories. I turned teacher for 10 minutes to an English class of 13 year olds who told me about kangaroos.
As the rain began to fall again, as we drove out down the Sham Elysee and back to Amman, I was grateful for the work Save the Children does and indeed that of all the many NGO's working in the camps.
If you'd like to donate to Save the Children you can do so via my fundraising page https://www.savethechildren.org.au/donate/huwkingston
Save the Children Australia
T'was 3 years ago today that I arrived back at Gallipoli in Turkey to finish my year around the Mediterranean. And most importantly to be back with my gorgeous wife. Can't wait for her to get to this side of the world in a couple of weeks.
Down in London now after a week of post-Tajikistan fattening up at mum and dad's. Tomorrow I'll fly across the Mediterranean for a first visit to Jordan. Very much looking forward to it.
Actually of course most time was spent going uphill, sometimes very, very slowly.......
Going downhill with the Devil.......
Most of the time when we went downhill we were forced to load the Devil's Sled* and it's contents into/onto the packs on our backs, adding a further 8-10kg to our loads. But on one occasion, on an easier angled slope, we let it run with us. We were in stitches - it was like having a playful puppy following you down the hill: rolling over, running past you, pulling at you on the lead and, at one point, sliding between my legs as I went!
*So named as it weighed a mere 666g empty
More fun in the Fann.......
Bluebird day, powder and a mountain range to ourselves.....
(Best seen in full screen)
Here's a gallery of images to give but a small flavour of our ski tour in the Fann Mountains of Tajikistan.
Weighting for Powder.........
Busy ploughing through all the Tajikistan images. Meanwhile here's Dave Cowell and Richard Emerson showing it is possible to ski Central Asian powder with 25+kg on your back