.All Trips / Asia / Dubai

Visiting the Al Ain Zoo

02 Al Ain Zoo (1)

I never expected to find a pretty and interesting family-oriented zoo in the middle of the desert, and was pleasantly surprised by my visit to this fine zoo in the city of Al Ain, about an hour inland from Dubai. 

The Al Ain Zoo is home to over 4,000 animals, 30% of its 180 species considered endangered.  The zoo is spacious (990 acres) and like most modern zoos has enclosures designed to resemble the animal’s natural habitat.  Special demonstrations are held at certain times and activities like a petting zoo, giraffe feeding and camel riding let people interact with some of the animals.

The zoo has a large African animal section and offers “safaris” to explore wildlife like lions, giraffes, zebras and …

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.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

Seema Malaka Temple, Colombo

01 Seema Malaka Temple, Colombo (4)

One of the most beautiful temples in Colombo — even all of Sri Lanka — is Seema Malaka.  It’s a Buddhist temple situated on calm and peaceful Beira Lake, not far from Gangaramaya Temple Seema Malaka was designed to be a place for meditation and rest, rather than worship.  It’s a quiet spot from which to retreat from the hustle and bustle of Colombo.  

The temple you see today is a replacement for one constructed in the late 19th century which sank into the lake in the 1970s.  In 1976, famed Sri Lankan architect, Geoffrey Bawa (the father of “tropical modernism” style), was hired to redesign and construct the temple.  Bawa’s design was said to be influenced …

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California / North America / Southwestern USA

“Pic of the Week”, July 6, 2018: Flying A Service Station, Truckee

04 Truckee Ca (36)

I’ve previously discussed my visit to the small town of Truckee, which rests on California’s eastern Sierra Nevada slopes and which you can read about at this link.  The town has a nicely preserved historic core, with lots of buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

My favorite building in Truckee was this old Flying A Service Station, which brought back memories of many like it I’d see when I was much younger, under a variety of banners like Texaco and Sinclair’s.  Most of these old buildings have been torn down and replaced by large self-serve fueling outlets, each with an attached convenience store.  These new structures may be efficient but they lack the intimacy …

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.All Trips / Eastern Canada / North America / Nova Scotia

Lunenberg, Nova Scotia: A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Lunenberg, NS (9)

While I am not a fan of the provincial capitol of Halifax, I really enjoyed the rural landscapes of Nova Scotia, especially the many colorful and picturesque fishing villages along the coast.  The most interesting coastal community we visited was Lunenberg, situated about 90 km from Halifax.  It has rows of tidy well-kept homes, nice churches and shops, and a lovely waterfront.  Canadians best know Lunenberg as the birthplace of the Bluenose, a racing ship which graces the Canadian dime.

Lunenburg’s history has long been entertwined with the sea.   The first mention of an European settlement around here was in the early 1600s, which was a simple Acadian village.  The British saw the value of the …

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

Truckee, California

01 Truckee Ca (17)

Situated slightly north of Lake Tahoe and a little west of Reno, I’d driven past this small city on route I-80 many times.  But it was not until this past summer that I actually stopped and explored it.  The day of our visit was dry and hot and the sun intense as it can only be at high altitude, the heat draining our energy; still, we took our time, stayed hydrated and enjoyed visiting Truckee.

The town’s original name was Coburn Station, after one of its saloon keepers.  It was renamed ‘Truckee’ after a Paiute chief named Tru-ki-zo. This friendly chief greeted the first Europeans migrating to California and legend has it that he rode toward them yelling, “Tro-kay”,  Paiute for …

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.All Trips / Asia / Food / Sri Lanka

Exploring the Pettah Market, Colombo

00 Pettah Neighborhood Colombo Market 04-2017 (56)

I love to explore markets and walked a few miles to see this one — the Pettah Market in Colombo.  Situated in an older portion of the city, the market extends over several blocks in the Pettah neighborhood and caters to local residents, not tourists. In fact, I think mine was the only white face in the market.  The market was lively, filled with colorful produce and interesting smells, and full of conversation and bartering — as any good market should be.

The fresh produce was beautiful, featuring what was in season, notably pineapples, wood apples, papayas, watermelon and lots of different types of bananas.  A huge assortment of vegetables were piled on the ground or on low tables and a …

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.All Trips / Asia / Dubai / Food

A Visit to Dubai’s Spice Souk

13 Spice Souk

When you disembark from the abra (water taxi) that takes you across brackish Dubai Creek and begin strolling the streets of the older Deira neighborhood, you’ll soon enter the market district. A favorite stop here is the spice souk, which you’ll smell at a distance of several blocks before you even enter it. It’s a pleasant aroma, associated with beautiful and colorful displays. The spice souk adjoins the popular gold souk and, like it, is shaded by a high roof.

There are large piles of spices in front of the many shops in the souk, including cooking spices, frankincense, cinnamon, rose (and other flower) petals. You’ll find an assortment of dried fruit as well. One of the most popular spices sold …

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.All Trips / Asia / Dubai

Signs of Dubai

Signs of Dubai (39)

Dubai is surreal in many ways — an extravagant oasis in the desert that most logically shouldn’t be, at least were it were not for the influx of billions of dollars of petrodollars.  Opulent, overdone, but still fascinating.

As many of you know, I collect photos of signs.  The signage of Dubai proved an interesting hybrid.  While mostly targeting Emirati citizens, it also needs to appeal to the large population of expats living and working here and to the city’s extensive tourist traffic.  As such, many of the signs are both in Arabic and in English.  As it is a mostly newly built country, the signs are generally clean and modern, and many reflect a luxurious lifestyle.

Some of the signs were …

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