Chilling in Afghanistan with Arnaud – the Swiss YUMM who lives in Tehran. Random, I know.
As those of you who follow me on twitter, facebook or tumblr may know – I just got back from attending the Afghan Ski Challenge in Afghanistan. And by just got back, I mean I literally still smell like the plane, despite two showers. [Ed Note: WTF is up with me and skiing this year? you'd think I'd actually know how to strap on a pair of skis by myself now and get down a green slope without biting it like 15 times... which I don't... or, you know, be super sporty... which, for a woman who's life motto has always been the Lemonheads song, "I Lied About Being the Outdoor Type," is mildly hilarious].
But despite the altitude, the three foot snow drifts and the mandated physical activity, I managed to find the bright side. After the jump, I present to you the YUMMs (Young Urban Mountain Men) who thank fully congregated in Bamiyan for your viewing pleasure:
I’m not even sure I can express how much I love Udaipur, India. the first time i went in 1996, I was mesmerized – I mean, how many cities have lake palaces that you have to take a boat to and you can stay in (it’s a Taj Hotel) – also known as Octopussy’s harem home in the Bond flick. Theres the main City Palace (above) and the Monsoon Palace (Khan’s home in Octopussy) which is on top of a mountain and has the most incredible views out into the mountains and over the valley. The women walk around in brightly colored saris and there are even elephants wandering the streets.
Chichi is cool for so many reasons – chief amongst which is: it has the largest indigenous market in Central America. Clearly, I had to go. And I was not disappointed. Mayans, for miles around, come in ever Thursday and Sunday to sell intricately sewn textiles, death masks, chickens, dolls, sweaters, chotchkes, you name it. all at the foot of the 400-year old church of Santo Tomás – which is built atop a Pre-Columbian temple platform, and the steps originally leading to a temple of the pre-Hispanic Maya civilization are still there. K’iche’ Maya priests still use the church for their rituals, burning incense and candles and in really special cases, they burn a chicken for the gods. Each of the 18 stairs that lead up to the church stands for one month of the Maya calendar year. It’s kind of amazing – especially as I’d assumed all the Mayans died out years ago. I was wrong. Thank God. [Ed note: Mayan rituals are a lot like voodoo rituals - involving chickens, blood, candles, booze, cocaine, leaves and fire. I think it must a universal fact that pluralist gods liked to party. A lot]. There was also a sick restaurant area in the middle of the market which served the best fried chicken I’ve ever had, hands down. Don’t tell Aunt Dee I said that. She’ll be pissed.
Anyone who knows me knows I love glamour. And nothing says decadent fabulous like Spa Castle in Queens, New York. I mean, come on - who doesn’t love a good, old fashioned, Korean scrub n soak in a Persian palace? Spa Castle offers things like “Chocolate Mud Wraps” (the mind boggles); Private “royal” body scrubs; and in “Sauna Valley” you’ll find Ice rooms and infrared saunas where “Each room, equally ornate in structure and design, offers specific healing affects through the combination of the infrared rays converted to heat with the natural essence of the room itself. The lining of each room is made from natural and authentic components, each organically beneficial to the body.
One day you may find yourself in Bamako, the capital of Mali. I know – crazy, right? But never say never! And if you ever want to see Timbuktu (which I suggest you do), you will have to go through Mali. Besides, as I learned the hard way, YOU JUST DON’T KNOW! And, as some of you may be aware by now, one of my (many) mottos is: Poor Planning Pisses Me Off.
So, After the jump I present you with a list of fun filled, fabulously odd things to do in Bamako that may just change your life:
Throughout history, women have always had things done to them to make them “beautiful.” Nowadays, we pluck, wax, shave, inject, and silicon bag ourselves all so we can be pretty. But the saddest part is, due to globalisation, everyone kind of looks the same.
When traveling and visiting historical sites or archaeological digs, you quickly start to realize that that chick to the left in the Santa suit would’ve been passed over by pretty much every guy on the planet a few hundred years ago. Back in the day, before airplanes and all that, beauty was pretty subjective and every region had it’s own idea of what was hot. Most of which we’d find pretty hideously fascinating today.
Take for example the Mayans. Now they used to think women with flat foreheads, crossed eyes and razor sharp, piranha like teeth were the shizznit. So, according to my guide in Chichicastenanga (Guatemala), when Mayan girls were very young, boards would be tied to their heads with a bead hanging from it (so the eyes would be trained to cross) and their teeth were filed to sharp points to look like Jaws. Don’t even get me started on what their talent would be… I have no clue. But the imagination boggles – biting through trees? Severing chicken heads? Pillaging neighboring Incan villages?