Posts tagged travel

(More) Messages from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Mcleod Ganj – 5th March 2015

Holed up in cosy cafe in Mcleod Ganj, decorated with prayer flags and embroideries of the Potala palace, monks slap tables and play with their mobile phones, the mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ is played quietly from a giant, flashing speaker.  I’m sipping a special teas, Tibetan in origin it has dried lychees, plums, goji berries and some unknown foreign fruits floating around in it.  More of a fruity soup than a tea really.  As the rain lashes down in the narrow streets and freshly snow capped peaks are cloaked by by a swirling silver mist, I am left a window from which to reflect on my times so far up here in the heart of the Tibetan community in exile.  An wonderfully homely and inspiring place.  Mcleod Ganj is a place that cannot help but capture and challenge your heart equally, when the reality of the situation here sinks in,  humanities light and dark sides are finely exhibited.  This is especially true when you hear individuals tales of suffering and incredible human feats of courage, grief and resilience.  Every Tibetan citizen here has seen their lives violently uprooted and have suffered great loss and torment.  

Being in Mcleod Ganj feels a long way away from India at large, it’s like being in the centre point of the most vital page of an ancient cultures history.  History seems to move slowly at  the moment, too slowly for some of the younger Tibetans, but the Dalai Lama stands firmly within the peaceful, middle way, the way of Guatama Buddha.  The only way form him and Tibet.  Their way.  

In Mcleod Ganj we witness a displaced and gloriously elaborate community re-establishing its culture, proudly maintaining its unique identity in a melting pot of craft, cooking, music, literature, art and worship; whilst attempting to face up to incredible and almost impossible circumstances.  Dealing with the Chinese Government, a real life David versus Goliath situation, with peace and re-conciliation as their only weapon.  An awesome feat, led by an awesome human being….

Today I watched the Dalai Lama teaching from the eight verses of mind control.  The discourse related directly to esoteric Tibetan teachings but His Holiness always kept (and keeps) things contemporary and relevant to the audience, mainly the Tibetan lay community.  The Dalai Lama embodies ancient Tibetan ritual, ceremony and scripture and yet remains focused on moving Tibet forward, assimilating Western practices and technology.  

Witnessing the veneration of H.H. by Tibetans is a deeply moving and humbling experience.  The Dalai Lama speaks like an empassioned father, amazingly forceful and yet tender at the same time, the audience is utterly rapt to his every word, you could hear a pin drop, if you could find an empty scrap of floor space to drop one.  The large courtyard is a sea of shaven heads, wide eyes, craned necks and the occasional cluster of hairy Western travelers, highly incongruous and yet warmly very welcomed.  A little FM radio was offered up by a friendly nun sitting on my foot and I was able to catch bits and pieces of the English translation.  The Dalai Lama is irrepressible, radiant and a wonderfully pleasant person.  Being in his presence brings a sense of peace and always a chuckle or two.  This goes for the Tibetan community at large, when they weep and angst fills their faces, it seems like the world is filled with the deepest woe, all hearts lie broken and bereft; but when they smile, its as if sunshine and joy were never ending.  Gladly, in Mcleod Ganj, you will mainly see Tibet’s lighting up the streets with the broadest grins and much hearty laughter.   

After yesterdays post, I started to read more of H.H.’s quotes  and couldn’t help but share more.  The Dalai Lama is 80 years old, but is still the worlds most outspoken advocate of peace, tolerance and compassion.  Our only options for a better world.  

Spending time in the presence of His Holiness and so many softly spoken and devote Tibetan Monks and Nuns emphasises the importance of not only kind words, but practice, discipline and action infused with good intention.  I am a great one for talking about peace and spirituality, but in practice; the actual daily experience of living, well lets just say that things can be a very different matter!

The Dalai Lama brings sometimes complex philosophy and metaphors into such simple and profound phrases.  He speaks to us from a universal space of love and a sense of deep rooted humanity.  He shares his own life experiences and subsequent revelations.  He claims to be a simple monk, but we all know that he is much, much more……  

The words we need for dramatic evolution and end to the travails of existence  and  harmonious new dawns are all below.  They are simple and yet profound.  The big challenge is can we put them into action?  Can we stick to them?  Do we really want to make the sacrifice, change, give it a try?  We are at a point in human history where something needs to give, we either destroy ourselves, our planet and everything that we share it with, or, we wake up to our current situation.  Ignorance rules.  Money and material gains do not bring peace or happiness of oneself or ones society.  Can we individually break down cultural, religious and all mind based delusions of separateness?  Can we realise true happiness?  Can we embrace our precious human life?  Can we see the light and potential that shines within us all?  The Dalai Lama would smile an indefatigable yes.  Then he’d concisely show you how…….Be loving, be fearless, be free.

 Long life H.H. the Dalai Lama!

 

You can find the official account of yesterdays ‘Long Life Ceremony’ here.

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Messages from His Holiness the Dalai Lama – 4th March 2015

I am travelling around India at the moment and had the luck and great pleasure of spending time at the Long Life Offering today for H.H. The Dalai Lama in Mcleod Ganj, the home of the Tibetan community and government in exile. Pictures and messages from the Dalai Lama are found everywhere here and I thought I’d share a few that I read whilst having a coffee and reflecting on the wonderful ceremony.

The peaceful and compassionate attitude that the Dalai Lama embodies gives us all hope for a brighter tomorrow.  If he can forgive the Chinese government for their atrocities in Tibet, then forgiveness must be an option for all of us (at all times). 

For more on my travels in India, have a look at the ‘The Jalebi Express’.

Free Tibet!

“If you think that you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.”

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.  Without them humanity cannot survive.”

“It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come.”

“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength. Thanks to the teachings of Buddha, I have been able to take this second way.”

“I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.”

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”

“There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.”

“I think that true religion is the kind heart.”

Today the Dalai Lama finished the ceremony with these words:

In short, may all the vast prayers of aspiration
The lord Avalokiteshvara made for the land of Tibet
In the presence of the Buddhas and their bodhisattva heirs,
Swiftly come to positive fruition here and now!

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Shelter from the Storm

Rose Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey, 15/11/14

Rose Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey, 15/11/14

My heart is sung out,
But to where does honesty carry
The buoyant caste.

Metallic clouds ring the sky
With grey,
Circle my stilling mind
With a heavy halo.

Lightning strikes the village pond;
Lashing black striation
Of awesome calm and power,
Baby frogs take cover
Beneath the blades of quivering grass.

The fields sway in controlled ways,
The well rehearsed bird song unfolds;
The reason we are reaching out
Only to return to centre.

All things that flip and flow
Off centre,
Balance redressed when gaze
Turns back;
To the source of heart and soul,
The primal clicking of some things
Unseen; some more,
Without cause or measure.

Where once we rested
Naked in the dark,
Small bells tied to our ankles
In a cascading melody of calm.

Drops of storm rain cleanse
The silver mirror,
Slipping on over surfaces; snagged on
Rougher edges,
Lost in the engravings of the
Ceremonial plate.

Cappadocia, Turkey 15/11/14

Cappadocia, Turkey 15/11/14

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Bardsey Island – The Island of 20,000 Saints

Yesterday we walked around the northern coasts of the Llyn Penisula (North Wales), braving the high winds and feral seagulls.  There is something quite dramatic about  the Llyn, with the trio of mountains (known as ‘The Rivals’) forming a gateway to a landscape dotted with remnants of ancient settlements and worship.  It seems that each time I visit the Llyn I am drawn deeper into its story.

At the tip of the Llyn Penisula we find Bardsey Island and there is definitely something about Bardsey.  In English its name refers to an island of bards, in Welsh (Yns Enlli) it suggests an island in the currents.  It sits like a small jewel off the tip of the jagged coast line and has been inhabited since neolithic times.  Bardsey has been a pilgrimage site for many years, three trips to Bardsey was the equal of a trip to Rome.  A hermitage has stood here since the earliest days of Christianity in Britain, although it has been knocked down a few times along the way.  Brave and devout souls floated over from France and Ireland on rudimentary rafts to preach the words they regarded to be true and lead this wild and untamed island nation away from sin, towards redemption.  These remarkable old saints, hermits and pilgrims were very wise, putting a little ocean between themselves and their rabid flock (although that didn’t help when the vikings showed up!).

The history of this isolated retreat is fascinating, its location stunning, but as usual, the myths and legends are what sets it apart and fuels the imagination to imbued a large rock with magical properties and some intangible, mystical allure.  20,000 saints are said to be buried on the island, making the soil rich and fertile.  It has even been claimed that Prince Arthur is buried in a cave there.  To get there, you still need to call a local chap in a small fishing boat to take you there and hopefully back.  If the weather flares up, you can be stranded on the island, where there is still no electricity.  It suggested that you draw up a will before visiting Bardsey, it is said that the Llyn extends into the ocean just as life extends into the unknown emptiness and once we have reached Bardsey, we are relieved of earthly cares (meaning we are now number 20,001).

What can be said about the allure of Bardsey, it seems so close from the shore, we feel that we could touch it, except it is far enough away for us to fall and perish in the fierce waves of the Irish Sea.  I see Bardsey Island as a metaphor for our spiritual journey through life, as we build a bastion from rocks and earth to hide us from the endless waves and commotion, deep inside our soul is ever drawing us deeper towards harmony, as we venture out into the raging oceans of calm and set sail into the blissful unknown.  One pilgrim wrote that Bardsey is “the land of indulgences, absolution and pardon, the road to Heaven, and the gate to Paradise” and on a day like yesterday, I can see why.

I have included some photographs and poetry that I hope captures something of these sentiments:

 

Bardsey Island in the distance

Bardsey Island in the distance

Gorse and Heather

Gorse and Heather

There is an island there is no going
to but in a small boat, the way
the saints went, travelling the gallery
of the frightened faces of
the long-drowned, munching the gravel
of its beaches. So I have gone
up the salt lane to the building
with the stone altar, and the candles
gone out, and kneeled and lifted
my eyes to the furious gargoyle
of the owl that is like a god
gone small and resentful. There
is no body in the stained window
of the sky now. Am I too late?
Were they too late also, those
first pilgrims? He is such a fast
God, always before us, and
leaving as we arrive.

There are those here
not given to prayer, whose office
is the blank sea that they say daily.
What they listen to is not
hymns, but the slow chemistry of the soil,
that turns saints’ bones into dust,
dust to an irritant of the nostril.

There is no time on this island.
The swinging pendulum of the tide
has no clock; the events
are dateless. These people are not
late or soon; they are just
here, with only the one question
to ask, which life answers
by being in them. It is I
who ask. Was the pilgrimage
I made to come to my own
self, to learn that, in times
like these, and for one like me,
God will never be plain and
out there, but dark rather, and
inexplicable, as though he were in here?

“Pilgrimages” by R. S. Thomas

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And that’s why I have to go back
to so many places in the future,
there to find myself
and constantly examine myself
with no witness but the moon
and then whistle with joy.
ambling over rocks and clods of earth,
with no task but to live,
with no family but the road.

Pablo Neruda

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We passed the ice of pain,

And came to a dark ravine,

And there we sang with the sea:

The wide, the bleak abyss

Shifted with our slow kiss.

Space struggled with time;

The gong of midnight struck

The naked absolute.

Sound, silence sang as one.

All flowed: without, within;

Body met body, we

Created what’s to be.

What else to say?

We end in joy.

The Moment – Theodore Roethke

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Lazy Love

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Beach on Bohol Island, Philippines

In the clouds over the beach,

The wonders of the world.

 

In the sands, buried hands

And jewels yet to sparkle.

 

Oceans filled with pearls and promise,

A sky open to a return.

 

Shorelines of many colours and

Carved wooden Gods line the jungle trail,

 

All things envisaged

Refreshed in a beauty profound.

 

Our naked bodies in the waves,

The dark oceans carried us

In phosphorescence warmth and

Forces unknowable.

 

Our hearts warm and open,

Like buds they burst,

Free in the new world.

 

Here we passed many lives,

In a tin shack filled

With lemon trees and

Lazy love.

 

We live there still;

How do we lose such memories?

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Last Words – Theodore Roethke

Sunrise, Thar Desert, India - 26/1/14

Sunrise, Thar Desert, India – 26/1/14

Solace of kisses and cookies and cabbage,
That fine fuming stink of particular kettles,
Muttony tears falling on figured linoleum,
Frigidaires snoring the sleep of plenty,
The psyche writhing and squirming in heavy woolen,
O worm of duty! O spiral knowledge!

Kiss me, kiss me quick, mistress of lost wisdom,
Come out of a cloud, angel with several faces,
Bring me my hat, my umbrella and rubbers,
Enshroud me with Light! O Whirling! O Terrible Love!

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The Poetry of the Bauls

Bauls, the wandering mystics and minstrels of Bengal. Their branch of thought pre-dates even the Rig Vedas; for me their poetry and songs evoke all that is magical about India.

My soul cries out,
caught in the snare of beauty
of the formless one,

As I cry myself,
Night and day,
Beauty amassed before my eyes,
Surpasses moons and suns.

If I look at the clouds in the sky,
I see his beauty afloat.
And I see him walk on the stars,
Blazing within my heart.

I am returning to India in early January and ‘Riding effortlessly……’ will switch from a mainly poetry based blog to being a mainly travelling poetry blog.

Wishing you all a peaceful Christmas time and prosperous New OneX

 

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Walking the White Cliffs with Jose – 29th January 2013

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Shepherds House – Aguillas, Murica

Jose is kind and peaceful man, a friend who lives over in Spain.  He walks everyday around the hills and ramblas (dried river beds) of Mazarron in the region of Murcia.  He always walks with his two dogs Amy and Robbie and lives closely with nature, seeing things most others miss.  Sometimes he takes us with him on these walks and on each occasion adventure never seems far and nature much closer.  Here is an account of one such walk:   

Walking the White Cliffs with Jose

Out with Jose, in nature, finding heart shaped rocks and stooping to taste herbs straight from the bush;

painting symbols with purple minerals in ancient mines, taking long legged strides towards the

sky; opening nature like the pages of a children’s book, well thumbed and cherished, yet lonely on the

school shelf.  Fantasy translates and the fascination of unfettered, child-like innocence blows down

the Spanish valleys.

With Jose dried up river beds spring back to life and blossom returns as old friends from great travels,

together we scramble on mountainsides through fresh seams of black crumble earth seeking white

crystals of calcite.  Rare gales have cleared the sky, pushed clouds to never never and we are left with

blue, hanging uncluttered and serene.  Bathing in its stillness.

Acacias stir as we pass, dropping yellow flowers landing in the shadow of my arm.  These

great winds are blowing pine cones towards Africa.  The fragrance of wild herbs fills our lungs with a

new mornings hope and gladly we surrender ourselves to the day.  Without purpose or cause, only

breathes and beats and moments stretching out in a line.

The fine red dust enriches the skin, cloaks us in the landscape, clings to our sweat; a familiar smell of

fresh blood, of raw iron and earth.  An old air raid siren kicks up a mournful wail that hangs around, our

minds jolt back to fascist bombs falling like poisoned metal rains, rebels hid in caves and times of

mechanised war, but it’s just the lunch bell for the tomato plantation workers below.

Jose knows no ordinariness within living, no normal route to meander, his trails lead ever up

and each one has it’s own legend; taking in derelict mines and cottages, fossil beds, Roman hideouts and

beaches made of bullets and coves where smugglers still hide.  He takes us to the points where the

bravest fishermen will not venture, crevasses where even mountain goats don’t tread.  His small

backpack is filled with ancient nails and hand-made ropes, alien carved stones, sandals

woven from dried palm and a mad old shepherds treasure tin filled with owl feathers and gold teeth.

He still shivers for the ghosts of dead carcasses drying in the sun, their white bones picked clean by small

jackals and hooded vultures.

We rest for water in a donkey cave, shaded and fresh, the nearby well has retreated as the desert creeps

closer to the sea.  Jose tells us that as a child he cared for animals more than people and still does.  He

lived in the old country and never knew of Surinam, Turkey or differences between people.  Each year

he watched the crops grow, the seasons change; swimming in the ocean each day and not returning to

shore unless threatened by his mother.

Jose raised cattle and took care of many Alsatians and Mastiffs from the Canary Islands, which he picked

up whilst on national service.  A reluctant soldier who would not swat a fly.  Although inhabiting the

archetypal warriors frame, from mythical Trojans he surely descends, his jaw alone could fell an ox; his

army days only led to a greater interest in cards games and laying under trees.  He became accustom to

the sound of different guns and now sits on his porch sipping strong coffee, commenting on the calibre

of rifle used in the nearby valleys, as the Sunday hunters shot everything in sight and drag the local

families of wild boars towards oblivion.

Jose spends most weekdays seeking semi-petrified woods for his log fire and always takes a flask of tea.

He sits on the bends of dried rivers over smoothed ripple rocks where come the November rains

white water will flow again.  For a short time only, things will be greener and

clover will carpet his land.  He explores the thousands of caves cut from limestone and hides rocks

shaped like animals to know he has visited each one.  He seeks treasures in the ruins of old shepherd

houses and when the tides are just right, extracts the purest of sea water to dry as salt on the copper

plates above his fire.  He takes tea with his loving dogs, listening for the bells of the local goat herd,

fearing their feral packs of shepherd dogs.  He kept a pet owl for a time that only left him when a suitor

took over a nearby tree.  He is as generous and caring as the nature that surrounds his life and that is

more than enough.

Over dried stones we climb, disturbed for a while by the wild goats that roam.

The Billy, all squared pride and flamboyance in spiralled horns, flares its arrogance through it’s nose and

trots off in a cloud of dust and battered Rosemary.  The dogs run wilder up here, far off we see them

galloping like race horses, in their element and ever curious with endless enthusiasm; both bearded,

kind and bitches.

At the summit of the white cliffs over Mazarron the views are rich and vast.  We stand in customary

awe of such a sight, for a time in silent reflection, just taking it all in.  The sparkling ocean with forested

peninsulas spilling into the waves and vast swathes of barren ochre land, only interrupted by areas of

green rolling hills, like giant sleeping lizards reclining in the plains and the occasional distant cobalt

mountain range, all jagged and mighty.  One diamond snowy peak reigns the rough horizon, the Sierra

Nevada, off south towards Granada.

White washed windmills punctuate the arid flatness below, for many years sat just watching the wind,

sail-less monuments.  Tomato fields, fincas of olive trees and lemons, whole swathes of almond trees in

blossom, all sit in man-made geometric patches; some grace old terraced orchards and haciendas built

with white wattle and daub and red tiles.  Rampant Bougainvillea almost eclipsing  their roofs.

We see the ancient port of Cartagena, where the Phoenicians traded salt and Hannibal battled the

Romans for supremacy and pages of history.  We make out the shadows of a battery of hill top guns

built by Franco, pointing out to sea and only fired in vain; the old monasteries and prisons that dot the

northern hills, inhabiting crests and bluffs.  We also see our tiny dot of our a car by the snake-like

road that cuts and winds through these remote parts where the ramblas are stretched

out like networks of veins.

There are birds up here living in the crags and caves, blackbirds with orange beaks, they never venture

below and play all day in the thermals diverted by the vast wall of chalk and limestone.  They rise and

dive, graceful and carelessly involved in unbridled play, occasionally venturing our way, flying low to

see what we are.  It’s a joyful sight to see them take on the open skies.  We wonder where they have

come from and where they are going?  How far they migrate?  And why they would leave such a place?

Jose points out El Dorado, hidden in the setting sun and the tremors of the Mediterranean, its treasures

now surely exposed.  The first star drops out, our sign to head for home, to find a small rock cottage,

sheltered from the wind and laugh around a candle and carve our names in the rafters; spill wine on the

stony ground, dried out thyme clinging to our socks; our skin alive with experience.

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Jose with Amy (black) and Robbie (brown)

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Fresh Meat – Hampi

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Hampi houses

‘Fresh meat’.

‘Worlds no.1 moulded chocolate chip cookie’.

The signs are all around, but what are they saying. White mongrels howl and an infant throws rocks at calves. Another kid lies in the road, eyes closed to the skies and looking for answers to death, all enacted below a plateau punctuated with wild bush ruby boulder hills. Temples pour out of caves like pious lava flow, heavily decorated with menacing idols and acts of cruelty. Far from beauty or heaven. No strangers to the glorious Greeks, pantheons erected on high hill tops, tall pillars left with no ceilings to support. All built by hands of slaves of Kings, for the Gods who need and all that human greed.

A buffalo with down turned horns eats plastic sheets. Women crash laundry on black rocks in shallow, rapid frenzy. Red clay water holds splashing children afloat in the current. All talking is touched by the glow of a glimmering amber late light show. We are living in the ruins of an ancient empire. Hampi.

Little girl in Hampi

Little girl in Hampi

This corner of India, this slice of pantomime unfolding outside the green and yellows of a rickshaw chariot. A psychedelic theatre, enlightenment burning slowly in a palm shack on timeless plains, where those blue Gods make their moves and suffering burns out cold to the light of dead stars. Impossible to feel the mediocre here. It is banished to the hills like a soulless heretic. The average is fed to Agni and ravaged, engulfed in the dancing flames of destruction and creation, to be re-born in Surrey with a Fiesta. How did we get here? To this point of living?

I hold my breath and India speaks. Telling me at each stage of the mortal coil, death in rage and filth, everlasting joy, odour of decay, visions of cosmic, orgasmic timeless union. Mother India spells out the truth to those with the heart and tunes. The tingle sensation of past lives waltzing over future incarnations.

Hampi streetside

Hampi streetside

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Images of beautiful earth from space

Every time I look out the window and see our beautiful planet, my soul sings! I see blue skies, white clouds and bright blessed day.”  
NASA astronaut Douglas Wheelock who is currently aboard the International Space Station shares pictures of the Earth he snaps with the world through Twitter.
Known to his nearly 68,000 Twitter followers as Astro_Wheels, Wheelock has been posting impressive photos of the Earth and some of his thoughts ever since he moved into the space station in June, five months after it got Internet access. 
What a beautiful rock we live on.


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Greek islands on a clear night during our flight over Europe .. Athens shine brightly along the Mediterranean Sea .

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” Mystery Island ” – located in the Indian Ocean close to Madagascar .. Interesting features on the island and the unusual shape should be enough to help you discover this beautiful place.

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Northern lights in the distance in one of the finest nights over Europe … The photo clearly shows the Strait of Dover. Paris is dazzling with the city lights.
A little fog over the western part of England , particularly over London ..

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The moon is breathtaking.


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Of all the places of our beautiful planet few can rival the beauty and richness of colors in the Bahamas .. In this photo, our ship is seen against the backdrop
of the Bahamas.

 
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At a speed of 28,163 kilometres per hour (8 kilometres per second), we rotate the Earth’s orbit, making one revolution every 90 minutes, and watch sunsets
and sunrises every 45 minutes. So half of our journey is in darkness. For the work we use lights on our helmets.

 
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Every time I look out the window and see our beautiful planet, my soul sings! I see blue skies, white clouds and bright blessed day.

 
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Another spectacular sunset. We see 16 such sunsets
each day, and each of them is really valuable.


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Beautiful atoll in the Pacific Ocean , photographed using 400mm lens. Approximately 1930 km south of Honolulu ….

 
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Perfect reflection of sun over the island of Cyprus.


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Above the centre of the Atlantic Ocean , before another stunning sunset. Downstairs in the setting sun visible spiral Hurricane Earl.


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A little farther east, we saw the sacred monolith Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. I have never had the opportunity to visit Australia , but someday I hope
that I will stand by this miracle of nature.


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Morning over the Andes in South America . I do not know for sure the title of this peak, but was simply amazed by her magic, stretching to the sun and
wind tops.


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Over the Sahara desert, approaching the ancient lands and thousand-year history. River Nile flows through Egypt by the Pyramids of Giza near Cairo ..
Further, the Red Sea, Sinai Peninsula, Dead Sea , Jordan River, as well as the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea and Greece on the horizon.


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Night view of the River Nile, stretching like a snake through Egypt to the Mediterranean, and Cairo, located in the Delta. Far away in this picture, one
can see the Mediterranean Sea …


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Our unmanned ‘Progress 39P’ approaches the ISS for refuelling. It is full of food, fuel, spare parts and all necessities for our station. Inside was a real gift –
fresh fruit and vegetables. What a miracle after three months of food from a tube!


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I wanted to share with you this view from the Dome.  We said goodbye to the members of our group Sasha, Misha and Tracy this weekend, and they returned
safely back to Earth. In this photo, Tracy quietly dreams of returning home.


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Module Union 23C Olympus docked with the ISS .  When our work ends here, we go back home to Earth. We fly over the snow-capped peaks of the
Caucasus . The rising sun is reflected from the Caspian Sea.

 
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The flash of colour, movement and life on the canvas of our amazing world. This is part of the Great Barrier Reef off the east coast of Australia , photographed through the lens of 1200 mm.


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All the beauty of Italy , a clear winter night. You can see many beautiful islands that adorn the coast – Capri , Sicily and Malta . Naples and
Mount Vesuvius are allocated along the coast. 


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At the southern end of South America lies the pearl of Patagonia …. The amazing beauty of rugged mountains, massive glaciers, fjords and seas
combined in perfect harmony.


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“Dome” on the side of nadir station gives a panoramic view of our beautiful planet. Fedor made the picture from the window of the Russian docking compartment.  In this photo I’m sitting in the dome, preparing the
camera for our evening flight over Hurricane Earl.


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Florida and southeastern U.S. in the evening. A clear autumn evening, the moonlight over the water and sky, dotted with millions of stars.

 
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Clear starry night over the eastern Mediterranean .. The ancient land with a thousand years of history stretching from Athens to Cairo . Historical land of
fabulous and alluring island … Athens – Crete – Rhodes – Izmir – Ankara – Cyprus – Damascus – Beirut – Haifa – Amman – Tel Aviv – Jerusalem –
Cairo – all of them turned into tiny lights in this cool November night. 
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In this time of year you can enjoy the beauty of the polar mesospheric clouds. With our high-angle illumination, we were able to capture a thin layer
of noctilucent clouds at sunset.


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Astronaut Douglas Wheelock

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