Gulf of Aqaba, Egypt, and Jordan

You'll be pleased to know that I am safely back from my trip to the Middle East. For the record, putting "writer" on your registration card can help get you a room upgrade! I had an amazing time scorching in 40°c temperatures, and I'm looking and feeling much happier and healthier... albeit I'm now very cold experiencing the UK's "summer" temps!

I've been out in the Gulf of Aqaba region, based at the Marriott in Taba Heights, which is a great area to explore Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia from - or you can merely melt on the beach and by the pool. (Watch out for the sand fleas if you plump for the beach!)

There are great views across to Jordan and Saudi Arabia from the beach (with military planes often flying over to Israel... plus there were lots of bomb searches because of the Hilton bombing back in 2004, and we were tested for swine flu twice!), but Taba Heights is a purpose-built resort and not a place to go to if you're after the full Egyptian experience (Nile cruises are best for that).

Looking in-land towards Mount Sinai, it's actually quite dramatic:

Or, if you're into snorkelling or diving, the Gulf is part of the Red Sea so the water is crystal clear and perfect for exploring under the sea.

The Red Sea doesn't compare to Jordan however. I absolutely fell in love with Jordan the moment I stepped into the Marina at Aqaba. Look at how pretty it looks! Aqaba is the only port Jordan has - gained by swapping some desert with Saudi Arabia - so that's why it's so lovely, I suspect.

Jordan is quite a Westernised country, but like all of the Middle East it has very dramatic scenery. I could have stared out into the Wadi Rum desert for hours, a popular filming location as it looks so alien. It's mesmerising, though when I was flying back over the UK's green picture-perfect countryside, I was equally amazed at how lush the countryside is after being exposed to never-ending rocky desert landscapes!

Another strange thing, compared to the UK anyway, is that they don't have deer warning triangles like we do. Oh no, they have camel signs and, sure enough, I spotted camels on the road to Petra, as well as mountain goats and Bedouin tents.

Petra is definitely worth seeing, but by mid-afternoon the heat makes it less enjoyable, not to mention being a Western tourist seems to suggest it's OK for you to be persistently hassled for money. I know at some point though, I will definitely head back to Jordan to go to Amman and see more of the country.

All in all, I had a wonderful trip. I've not shared a fraction of my tales (or photos), so if anyone has any questions/wants to see any more photos, let me know... but I'm sure I'll post more anyway! Hope you're all well, and hi to my new followers/subscribers!

I am not a cookie-cutter

If to get published I have to churn out a cookie-cutter book and sacrifice my integrity in the process, it looks like I won't ever get published because I refuse to be a sheep. Not that I am a sheep. For the record, I am a Taurus. If you tell me I can't do something, I will do it. Eventually. And when I do, I will do it superbly.

For all you writers out there, you need to believe in yourself and your book. This is especially important if you're going to be unique. Being unique means you will have a tough journey ahead. You will be told to "convert" to get published; you will be told you cannot succeed. But, if you keep your belief and your determination, you WILL achieve your dream.

Never sacrifice. Never compromise. Never be someone you are not.

If a reader is too precious to allow rough sex in a fictional relationship because it's not considered "romantic"... well, I take that over supposed a "real life" romantic fake cookie-cutter swooning Edwardian vom-fest any day.

Needless to say, not only did the Geli submission get absoultely trashed, I did too! And I found this out on my birthday!

Sarcasm aside, that promise still stands. This is not failure; this is my new motivator.

My will shall shape the future. Whether I fail or succeed shall be no man's doing but my own. I am the force; I can clear any obstacle before me or I can be lost in the maze. My choice; my responsibility; win or lose, only I hold the key to my destiny - Elaine Maxwell


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