The good things in life

It’s that time of the week again!

Erika hosts the Gratitude 101 linkup, and I get to put up a post celebrating some of the highlights of the past week 🙂

GRAD-ITUDE 101: A Linkup By Chimerikal

 

There have been plenty of blissful moments, but it’s also been a week of testing my ability to be thankful for even the things that don’t exactly go the way I want them to.

I’ve been sick, but not sick enough to go to the doctor or stay in bed, which I think we can all agree is the worst kind of sick. It means doing all your chores, going to school/work, being social when you’re expected to… but no exercise, no good night’s sleep, no yoga, no energy. I don’t like feeling unproductive and I go stir-crazy without my morning runs, so I’m not feeling my best right at the moment.

You know that voice in your head, that little gremlin, that tends to be really annoyed in times like that? This is when it’s crucial for me that I transform that voice into my best friend and remember to be kind to myself, above all else.

I focus on the simple things I can do to make a difference: prepare nourishing meals for myself, lots of herbal tea and vitamin C, morning meditations, sleep in even though it’s a Tuesday. These are all little joys too.

Being grateful isn’t something you save only for the good days. It’s a practice that you need to bring into every living moment.

This week reminded me that no matter what state – sick or healthy – I wake up in…

…begin each day with a grateful heart.

Here are some happy moments of the week:

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Surprise birthday decorations

+ Putting a smile on someone’s face

This Sunday was my roommate’s birthday. While he had lots of plans with his friends and things going on that day, I’m a firm believer that you can never get too much attention on your birthday. So surprise decorations were in order, and seeing his face when he came out of his room on Sunday morning was priceless. It’s the little things that count!

Warning: Hypothetically speaking; if you’ve gone to the liquor store and asked for the “cheapest vodka you have” earlier in the day, and then had a vodka-drinking party with your friends until the wee hours of the morning… it’s a really stupid idea to start blowing up 40 balloons by yourself when you get home.

Don’t do it. Just don’t. But rest assured, if you do pass out, you’ve got 40 balloons to break the fall.

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Hearty salad and white wine, Mooloolaba

+ The little moments that make you feel like today is special

Everyday life is to be celebrated, and the simple pleasure of a chilled glass of wine to go with our lunch on the Mooloolaba esplanade made it feel like we were on vacation all of a sudden. Brainstorming actual plans for an upcoming vacation made it all even more perfect. Good food, great company, the coast bathed in sunshine… What more could a girl ask for?

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New Girl 'BOOM!' GIF

+ Skipping winter

I can’t believe I actually pulled it off, but I’m officially skipping winter this year.

I left Norway in the middle of summer and arrived in Australian winter in July. Here in Queensland, winters aren’t too bad at all, but this one flew by so fast I barely noticed it. Sure, there were some rainy days for the first few weeks, but August has just been glorious…! This week you could really tell that the weather was warming up as well, and I’m just gonna go ahead and say it: Spring. You’re here. We welcome you.

Looking forward to lots and lots of days like these in the near future….

Mooloolaba Beach, Sunshine Coast, Australia

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roasted chickpea and broccoli burrito

+ Thug Kitchen

*if you have a problem with the f-word, best not click on the link 

An amazing thing happened: I just recently discovered Thug Kitchen, which is probably best described as a gangsta vegan food blog.

This blog is hilarious…. and the recipes look amazing! Some of my favorites: this, this and this. A book deal has been signed, so by fall next year you can buy the Thug Kitchen cookbook. I definitely plan to! 😉

The first recipe I’ve tasted is this little guy in the picture above, and it was AWESOME. In fact, I’m eating leftovers of this for lunch today once I’ve finished writing this post.

(Recipe found here).

— also, who am I kidding: food in general. I made my favorite healthy blueberry muffins this week and a crapload of vegan burritos that totally blew my mind… might share the recipe for those in the near future 😉

Healthy blueberry muffins; Vegan burritos

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That’s it for this week’s spotlight on gratitude!

A million little things happen during the week that deserves our appreciation, and don’t forget to acknowledge all those moments. Nothing is too big or too small to deserve some gratitude vibes  😉 

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Am I becoming a health food snob?

Tomato, feta, pumpkin seed salad

The Brown, Mushy Lunch Option

A little while ago I was at the cafeteria at my university standing in line for the 5$ lunch, trying to see if they might have some sort of veggie option that I could get my hands on. On the handwritten board with today’s specials, it said “Vegetarian: Chickpea & Vegetable Casserole”.

Awesome! It’s no secret I’m quite fond of chickpeas… Smiling, I went up to the lady who worked behind the buffet and asked for the vegetarian option. She smiled back and reached for a large pot of brown, gushy, unrecognizable something.

“Oh God, no! No, no, no, no”

… is what I blurted out, as I hurriedly backed away from the buffet, and went home to make myself lunch.

Feel free to scoff (I cringe while typing this), but I was initially quite satisfied with myself for that immediate reaction. Because it was proof that eating fresh and just real food, basically, is now such a huge part of me that I wouldn’t even consider eating a lunch cafeteria’s brown mush. It’s instinct. If I’m going to eat something that’s the color brown, it’s going to be something I made in my own kitchen from scratch so I at least know what’s in it.

But later that week, I kept picturing that poor cafeteria lady’s puzzled look.

Was I incredibly rude to blurt out an expression of being horrified at the vegetarian dish? 

YES. Oh boy. Yes, I was.

Collage - Health Food

I don’t want to be a food snob

I don’t want to come across as though I think I know better than you do because I’ve chosen to eat a certain way.

I don’t want anyone ever to feel like I’m peeking at their lunch/dinner from the corner of my eye and making judgements.

I don’t want to be that person who sits on their high horse and looks down on all those other people who just don’t get it like I do.

I fear that sometimes, however well-meaning my intentions are, I risk coming across as that person. Not because I consciously judge other people or think that I’m “better” somehow for choosing this route – I really don’t. But because it’s really freakin’ hard to have experienced a major wake-up call, and to learn about things I believe every person deserves to know, and not want to share that message with everyone around me.

Being passionate about something, as I have become about and nutrition and eating real food, means having an urge to express that passion and to spread the seed, so to speak. But there’s a very fine line to thread, there… And sometimes I lose my balance.

To the lady in the cafeteria – I’m so sorry I behaved like a brat…! If I’m that picky about the things I eat, I really have no business being in a cafeteria buffet in the first place. Point taken.

organic health food

Always be humble, always be kind

We’re at that stage now where my male roommates are starting to catch on to the fact that I eat differently than they do. My American roommate, who I’ve been living with for 7 weeks and cook side-by-side with daily, glanced over at my green salad the other day. He stopped for a second, and then he turned to me:

“Are you a vegetarian or something?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“Ohhhhhh…… That makes so much sense now. I thought it was a little weird that there’s always 3 tons of vegetables in the fridge.”

He chuckled and turned to the stove again where he was frying up thick slices of ham in 5 tablespoons of butter. Cue awkward moment as he looked over at my dinner, and then back at his dinner, and the separation of the two diet-worlds we live in just became uncomfortably clear.

The truth is that, Yes. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of my roommate eating white bread with cake sprinkles, or bacon fried in butter, and I think, “Oh dear lord… He’s committing the slowest form of suicide right before my eyes. Please, someone throw that guy a carrot stick before it’s too late.”

But at the end of the day, it’s not my place to pass any judgements at all. Not with food, not in any areas of life. It’s not about how other people eat or don’t eat. It’s about being the healthiest I can be, while keeping myself in check to make sure that I don’t ever become that person who makes someone else feel bad about their eating habits.

Picture quote - don't have to attend every argument invited to

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A love letter to the temples in Bangkok

Park, Bangkok

A couple of weeks ago I posted a little somethin’ somethin’ about being stranded Hong Kong, and I mentioned that I never really felt the urge to visit humongous Asian cities.

Well, I’ve now visited two humongous Asian cities: Hong Kong and Bangkok, back in 2011, and I was taken aback both times at how cool I thought it was. So I might need to reconsider at some point and actually think about possibly adding places like Tokyo and Singapore to the never-ending list.

My most strict criteria is that there has to be some color there, and some form of sanctuaries. Hong Kong did okay because of the bright, green hills and the beautiful turquoise water. Bangkok was filled to the brim with temples, parks, and statues. Cities that are famous for tall buildings and shopping malls (Kuala Lumpur – I’m looking at you) don’t exactly tempt me… though I’d love to be proven wrong, here!

In Bangkok, I granted my travel companions exactly one night (a couple of hours before going to the movies) of strolling through shopping malls. The rest of our time was spent sightseeing and exploring Khao San Road the city.

Chang Beer, Khao San Road, Bangkok

But in all seriousness, here’s where I brought my good buddy, the world famous Chang-hangover, the next day:

Temple of the Golden Mount

Wat Saket

Golden Mount Temple, Wat Saket, Bangkok, Thailand

Golden Mount Temple, Wat Saket, Bangkok, Thailand

Golden Mount Temple, Wat Saket, Bangkok, Thailand

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Temple of the Reclining Buddha

Wat Pho

Temple of the Reclining Buddha // Wat Pho // Bangkok

Temple of the Reclining Buddha // Wat Pho // Bangkok

Temple of the Reclining Buddha // Wat Pho // Bangkok

Temple of the Reclining Buddha // Wat Pho // Bangkok

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Chao Praya River

Chao Pray river Bangkok

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Chao Praya river Bangkok

Chao Pray river Bangkok

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Bangkok, you were so much more than just a bustling big city! Thanks for showing me! In fact, I suspect that I’ll be back very, very soon…

Fellow Bangkok fans, what do you reckon is so great about it? Do you have a favorite temple (cause there are hundreds)? What is your favorite hiding place? 

 

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There is always room for gratitude

Erika is an awesome blogger I “met” this spring when we did a 3-month e-course together with the absolutely brilliant soul that is life coach Connie Chapman (you can read Erika’s awesome review of the program here, and here’s the link to the program that I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone looking for change in their lives. I’d love to tell you more about my own experiences with this coaching program, but for now it’s still very personal and dear to me. So we’ll save it for a rainy day…;)

GRAD-ITUDE 101: A Linkup By Chimerikal

Erika just started this linkup (blog lingo. literally just found out what this is one week ago) called Gratitude 101, and I knew I had to jump on the train, because getting serious about practicing gratitude changed everything for me.

picture quote gratitude

Gratitude – turns what you have,
and what you are, into enough

I take the business of practicing gratitude very seriously (⋙insert serious frown), and for months I would sit down for 10 minutes before bed and write in my gratitude journal. The idea is to acknowledge all the itty bitty things that happen during the day that made me happy or that I could be grateful for, while also reminding myself of the ‘big ones’ – my family, my friendships, my health etc.

Often my lists consisted of simple things like,
  • freshly cleaned sheets 
  • my green smoothie in the morning
  • seeing people being happy in the parks when the sun suddenly came out in Oslo
  • having time to actually talk to my sister during a 30-minute car drive
  • nailing an amazing recipe I found on Pinterest
  • Yogi tea ♥

I don’t write these lists religiously anymore like I used to, because I feel like the practice of gratitude and acknowledging all these little joys is so deeply instilled in me now that I don’t need the daily ritual. But make no mistake about it – whenever the mood strikes, I love sitting down with a cup of tea and my gratitude journal and let the love flow…

And now I’m bringing some of the action over to the blog!

Here’s what’s been thrilling me lately

+ Nature

Yup, just nature! A wave of inspiration came over me last week and I’ve not been able to stop pinning beautiful outdoors-y pictures to my new favorite Pinterest board. Hours have been wasted (though never really wasted if it makes your heart sing) looking up beautiful pictures of mountains and waterfalls and campfires online.

I think what sparked it was going through pictures from Step-Father’s trip up to Andøya in northern Norway, earlier this summer. You can see my first post about the place here, and some more pictures that I posted a few days ago here.

mist over mountains, Bleik, Andøya, Norway

+ Finally feeling like I can do this

Going back to school after a 4-5 year hiatus is a little bit daunting.

I had no idea how I would respond to the demands of university-level education, and for the first few weeks I definitely rocked a “fake it ’till you make it”-attitude. Who was I to know how much time I should spend on doing different things, or how to prepare for this and that. Panic hit after I got back from my short trip home to Norway, and I wondered how the hell I was supposed to catch up and get all my assignments done – because they tend to all fall in the same week, don’t they….

Now that I’ve handed in a couple assignments and got to do my all-time favourite (oral presentation! I’m actually not being sarcastic at all. I love it) yesterday, I feel like this is going to be okay.

I’m slowly getting into a groove. And damn, it feels good.

study desk, with inspirational quotes

+ Writing 

It feels like I currently have about 46 drafts on my blog dashboard.

Might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the point remains that I’ve been spending a lot of time jotting down ideas and feeling inspired by reading other blog posts around the ol’ internet. I really do cherish the time I spend on this blog (and this little hobby does take a lot of time…), though at the moment, I might be a little bit all over the place.

Some days all I want to do is start writing 5 different posts about travel and amazing places I’ve been that I want to share stories about. Other days (usually after reading a few chapters in whichever nutrition book is currently sitting on my nightstand), I want to stand up with a megaphone and share what I’m learning about health. And then sometimes I just want to write about nothing too specific, and try to entertain some poor old bugger who’s maybe not my Mom.

I’m kind of diggin’ it, though; writing a lot and about whatever I feel that day 🙂

+ This place

mooloolaba beach

I live roughly 20 minutes from this little slice of heaven (otherwise known as Mooloolaba Beach). In a few months’ time, I plan to live a 5-minute walk from there.

Just that, right there, is enough to remind me that I am such an incredibly lucky girl, and I must never ever forget to express gratitude for my life and the places I get to see and get to live in. I chose this path, and it’s not easy every day, all day, all of the time, being away from family and friends and trying to figure out where I could create a happy home for myself.

But oh my god it’s worth it when I look back at the places I’ve lived and the memories I’ve made so far.

My ability to adapt – that’s something I’m extremely grateful for. bloom where planted picture quote via

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Do yourself a favor and fill your days up with a little more gratitude…. ♥

Total gamechanger. I promise. 

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Basic knowledge I don’t understand – and probably never will

Happy Camper Project // scratching head accepting your limitationsLast week in one of my lectures we were talking about the old Left Brain/Right Brain debate. I’m such a classic example of a dominant right brain person that it’s a little bit embarrassing… (I curse the day math was invented). I started thinking about how terrible I am at things that require a basic understanding of math, economics, physics, chemistry – that kind of thing.

This quickly spiraled into me realizing that if I’m being honest with myself, there are some serious holes in my General Knowledge for Adults. I drop hints to my family and friends that I’m really not good with this stuff, but I don’t think anyone actually realizes the extent of the problem.

I shall now make myself completely un-employable and present you with this list of things I honestly don’t know:

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How boats can float

Obviously I understand how boats float.

Because the weight of the water is greater than… the weight of the boat…or something. And something about a Greek in a bathtub… and oxygen?….but then there are really tiny things that sink to the bottom, like my iPhone when dropped in the sink, and then there are cruise ships the size of Texas that can float. Air pockets? Dolphins carrying the ship underwater? David Copperfield involved somehow?

It’s just one of those things that if I really try to explain it to myself, it becomes clear that I don’t actually understand how it works.

imlimnoupolis, zakynthos, greece

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How electricity works

No idea.

Dad tried to explain how electrons move (electrons, schmelectrons) earlier this summer over a nice meal at his house, and his little speech is still going around in my head like a broken record that I’m trying to decipher.

I look at my TV or my computer sometimes and I genuinely wonder how the power gets transmitted (from where??? from what???) through a plastic chord and into my electronic device. And while we’re at it, where do these pictures and symbols I’m seeing come from? How is it possible that I can watch something, as it’s happening 5000 miles away, on my TV?

We’ve all heard the story of Lumiére Brothers’ Arrival at the train station in 1895, right? How when they first showed this movie the audience rushed out of the theater thinking that the train would come out of the screen and kill them all. I can totally relate to those people, even in 2013. That’s kind of what it’s like to be me sometimes.

Google how does electricity work

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Currencies

Clueless.
Not about currencies in general, but what makes currencies go up and down. And how they relate to one another. When someone says “the Euro’s gone down”, I get that it means the economy is bad over there. But how come you can tell that by the Euro going up and down…? Why can’t the currency stay the same, but because the economy is down people just don’t get enough of it? Or something?

{I am making absolutely no sense here, but can you see how this whole concept is just beyond my comprehension?}

Another thing: who decides the relationship between two currencies? For example, 1 US dollar is generally around 6 Norwegian Kroners. But that doesn’t mean that the US is richer than Norway…. In fact, Norway is about one million times richer than the US (actual figure. not.)

It makes no sense…! Who makes the rules?

graph norway vs us

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Where babies come from

No, I’m not gonna get all technical on you. That’s what Youtube is for.

Dad is a chemist, but somehow I got all of his Right Brain genes and none of his Left Brain. I really don’t get how you take X (an egg) and Y (the other thing) and BAM! you have a living cell.  I also don’t understand what constitutes a living thing, scientifically. As in the whole concept of how both me and plants are living things (or how something like the greenhouse effect works, for that matter).

The funny things is that I can totally go off on the longest rant explaining all of this in a philosophical sense. I can go on and on (don’t tempt me) about how all living things on Earth are connected and how it all works together with the universal laws of nature. How we really are no different than a straw of grass or a turtle except for our ego, our consciousness, our ability to separate our two minds.  How we are born into this world by choice, from an eternal Source of Energy and yadda yadda yadda – you get the picture. I’m one of those people.

What I don’t get is how a living cell or organism works from a scientific point of view.

A little help?

But for the love of god – do not bring atoms and ions into the discussion…!! Do I seem like the kind of person who knows what those are? I think I just had a stress-induced stroke.

Stork with baby

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Signals/radiowaves/satellites

To me these are interconnected and equally intimidating, because they seem to circle back to one thing:

I haven’t got a clue what radio waves are.

In fact, if you asked me how any ol’ radio works, I’d just distract you with some weird dance moves and then run away.

There, I said it.

What are radio waves

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WiFi

Don’t get me started on WiFi….

I do not understand how the internet works. Let’s just put that in bold letters and get that clear right off the bat.

I do not understand how the internet works + I do not understand how electricity works + I do not understand how the concept of ‘signals’ works.

= when I think about WiFi, my head hurts.

Anytime I think I come close to grasping the general works of it, they do things like put WiFi on planes and buses. I give up.

Jack Sparrow confused - run away, gif

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Now, come on people! 

I know I’m not the only one who pretends she understands things that actually make no sense to me. What are some of life’s basic things that you just do not comprehend? 

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A love letter to Luxor

In the winter of 2010/2011 I lived and worked in Hurghada in Egypt as a tour guide. I had the most amazing experience working there, with the privilege of getting to know the country and its history – and to be the presenter of that history to hundreds of wide-eyed tourists.

My time in Egypt was sadly cut short because, as some of you might remember, January 2011 was the month the revolution began and president Hosni Mobarak was overthrown by the military. Obviously, the situation in Egypt and the horrible events of last week are all over the news, and a lot of attention is being focused on the chaos and the negative state of it all. 

That’s not what we do over here at the Happy Camper Project!

I study International Politics, so I get to dip my toes into the “discuss, critique and analyse!” pool enough as it is. This blog and the love letters I write is about positivity and joy. So I’d like to take a moment and celebrate some of the amazing things I, personally, associate with Egypt.

What better way to do that than to take you all with me to the magical city of Luxor… 

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Map of Egypt, Luxor

Luxor is a city in southern Egypt and is often referred to as “the world’s largest open-air museum”. In ancient Egypt, the city was called Thebes and it was the seat of the king of Upper Egypt. Ancient Egypt consisted of two kingdoms; Upper Egypt (south) and Lower Egypt (north), until king Narmer united the kingdoms and claimed the thrown to the whole shebang around 3000 B.C.

A fascinating thing about  ancient Egypt is that they believed that the Nile separated life from death. Once you died, you would have to cross the Nile in a boat from the East Bank to the West Bank, to your final resting place. That’s why everything to do with life is located on the East Bank (as in worship temples), and everything associated with death is located on the West bank (graves, temples of death etc). The 3 great pyramids, which of course are graves, are located on the Giza plateau in Cairo – on the West Bank of the Nile. The city itself – which represents life – is on the East Bank.

Here are some of the must-sees in today’s Luxor:

Karnak Temple

Karnak is the largest temple complex in the whole world. It’s a beautiful and awe-inspiring collection of temples, statues, pillars, obelisks, chapels, and other buildings, and I’ve spent a lot of time over-enthusiastically guiding tourists through this place.

+ True story: when French excavators came to the Karnak temple in the early 1900s, they wondered, “Hmm. This has been covered by desert for the past thousands of years. How do we get rid of the sand? It’s going to take us decades.” One smart-ass came up with an idea: they would break the barriers of the Nile and let the flooding water do the job. Uh….. really? That was your genius plan? The water did rush in (you can still see the marks in the entrance from how far up the water reached), cleaned out the sand – and also cleaned off all the ancient colouring used in the unique, intricate hieroglyphs…. Noooooo! Lost forever!

I hope that smart-ass got fired.

Karnak Temple, walking in, Egypt

Karnak Temple, Egypt

Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Egypt Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Egypt

Great Hypostyle HallRamses II statue, Karnak Temple, Egypt

Ramses II 

Hatshepsut's Obelisk, Karnak Temple, Egypt

Hatshepsut’s obelisk, the second largest in the world (after the Washington Monument)Karnak Temple, Egypt

Luxor Temple

This is another huge temple on the east bank of Luxor; an absolutely gorgeous temple of worship.

*Crap, I forgot all of my funny anecdotes about Luxor Temple… Skip to pictures.

Luxor Temple, Egypt, seen from the Nile

luxor temple

Mortuary temple of Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut was one of the most fierce and fascinating queens of ancient Egypt. She is in fact one of the most successful pharaohs overall, and her reign longer than any another woman in an Egyptian dynasty. Hatshepsut is thought to be the world’s first botanic, and the first ever to travel the seas to just explore rather than conquer or fight wars.

Over at the West Bank where the dead lie, we find her mortuary temple which is dedicated to the god Amon-Ra and is one of the most magnificent remaining monuments of  Ancient Egypt.

Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, Egypt

temple of hat 3

Valley of the Kings

I still get chills thinking about this place…
Just to give you the basics: in the Old Kingdom the pharaohs liked to build pyramids as their final resting place, thinking “the closer to the sun (Amon-Ra), the better.”

Turns out pyramids are really easy to spot for tomb robbers. You can’t expect to live happily in the afterlife if someone has stolen all the gold in your tomb, now can you? So in the New Kingdom, the pharaohs figured out that it was best to hide their burial chambers a little better. And so the Valley of the Kings was built, one grave at a time. They dug waaaayyy down into the ground and decorated the walls with stunning hieroglyphs, and filled the whole thing up with gold. It was believed that everything that you were buried with, you would take with you on the boat over to the afterlife, and kings needed to bring all their gold, of course…. Way more practical than clothes and shoes.

Can you imagine the period of time at the turn of the 20th century when European archeologists starting discovering these graves? We’re talking more gold in one single grave than a small country can ever hope to spend in a lifetime. The most famous grave in the Valley of the Kings is the one most recently excavated: Tutankhamon, which was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter. They’re still digging around in the area, though, and new chambers in the valley was discovered in 2005 and in 2008.

People – this place is so majestic and so goose-bump inducing. Going down into these graves with the most amazing hieroglyphs and paintings, and finding a sarcophagus… knowing that a mummy has been in there for thousands of years… and here we are studying it. It is the weirdest feeling. I’m in awe of this place.

Cameras are prohibited in the Valley of the Kings, so I don’t have any pictures myself. But here are a couple I found laying around on the Internet for you to take a look 😉

Valley of the Kings, Egypt

burial chamber

Seti Tomb valley of the kings, Egypt

The Nile 

…and of course, lastly, the Nile.

View of the west bank from the Nile, Luxor, Egypt

egyptian children bathing

hotel agatha christie

The Winter Palace Hotel, where Agatha Christie stayed when she wrote 1937’s Death on the Nile.Sunset on the Nile, Luxor, Egypt

Sunset on the Nile, Luxor, Egyptfelucca sunset 2

sunset, boat with people

What’s your favorite photo from Luxor? Have you ever been there, and if so, what monument did you enjoy the most? 

 

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Photo credit valley of the kings
Photo credit Seti tomb illustration
Photo credit burial chamber