Author Archives: Karl

.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

A Visit to the Old Dutch Fort in Batticaloa

06 Old Dutch Fort Batticaloa (15)

My visit to Sri Lanka this past year provided my first opportunity to explore the east and southeastern coasts of the island.  During prior visits, the area was “off limits” because of the decades-long Civil War disrupting the country (which fortunately has been resolved).  The region around Batticaloa was a Tamil stronghold in their fight with the Sinhalese government.  The region is decidedly more Hindu and Christian than other parts of the island I’ve visited.

Sri Lanka, because of it’s strategic location, has been in the cross-hairs of many colonial nations over the centuries.  In modern recorded history this includes the Portuguese, Dutch and English, all of whom left their mark on the country.  There were several dozen such old forts …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 23, 2018: Forrey and Galland Chocolatier, Dubai

01 Dubai Mall (33)

Like many people, I enjoy chocolate.  Especially goooood chocolate!  Not only is it delicious, when done right it’s beautiful.

An example of what I mean, I encountered this chocolatier while wandering around the Dubai Mall, the world’s largest mall.   The window displays were absolutely lovely — the chocolates were beautifully packaged and wonderfully displayed, as was an Easter-egg styled display of macaroons.  I picked up a few pieces which I enjoyed while exploring this vast Mall — an affordable luxury.

Forrey & Galland is a Parisian company, founded in 1912.  While the Parisian shops have disappeared, this shop in the Dubai Mall opened in 2008.  All chocolate is crafted right here by a staff of 50 artisans. 

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, …

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.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

Colombo’s Independence Memorial Hall

10 Independence Monument

One of the required stops when touring Colombo is this rather impressive building, situated in Independence Square within the trendy Cinnamon Gardens neighborhood.  The monument commemorates Sri Lanka gaining its independence from Great Britain on February 4, 1948.  The location is the precise site where Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester, opened Sri Lanka’s first parliament, in so doing ending almost five centuries of colonial rule (the last 140 years under Britain).

The building, while mostly made of concrete instead of quarried rock, is styled after the ancient structures in Sri Lanka,  The main feature of the monument, the assembly (audience) hall, was modeled after the royal court of the King of Kandy, the last kingdom in the island nation to fall to …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 16, 2018: Descent into Las Vegas

00 Las Vegas Descent

One of my favorite places to enjoy the views from a window seat is when flying over the beautiful desert scenery of Utah and Nevada.  Recently while on approach and descending into Las Vegas McCarran Airport, just before sunset, I enjoyed some beautiful scenes of the Mojave Desert.  Colorful shades of red, tan and brown, ending with the now filled reservoir that is Lake Mead.  And ending with views of the Las Vegas Strip as our plane was about to land.

The last few minutes of I flight I found most memorable.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance)

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.All Trips / Chile / South America

Visiting the Otway Penguins, Chile

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It’s hard not to like penguins.  Flightless, of course, their comical waddling gait on land belies their great agility and speed in the water.  A chance to see them up close and in the wild is always something I’ll jump at, so I was glad for the opportunity to visit this penguin colony at Otway.  Otway “feels” inland but is connected to the sea and the Fitzroy Channel.

Situated off the road connecting Torres del Paine and Punta Arenas in Patagonian Chile, Seno Otway is home to a large but seasonal colony of penguins.  During the peak season, from October through March, there are up to 150,00 Magellanic penguins that mate and reside in the area.  They nest, lay eggs in October, and …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 9, 2018: A Rajasthani Potter and his Wife

03 Potter

It was most helpful having a good guide while in India because we got to see and experience a variety of things we otherwise wouldn’t have.  An example was a stop at one of our guide’s friend’s homes while in a small village in Rajasthan. 

As part of our education about the Caste system of India, wherein people are born into certain groups or Castes, our guide explained this man was born into the lower Sudra (labor) cast.  He was a potter, just like generations of his ancestors before had been.

The potter adeptly demonstrated his ability to mold wet clay into usable vessels, like drinking cups and small bowls.  The drinking cups we were especially familiar with as we had a …

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.All Trips / Alberta / Car Culture / Central Canada / North America

Great Cars Along the Highway: 1959 Meteor Montcalm

00-Show and Shine Car Show (110)

A lovely 2 door hardtop beauty that is approaching 60 years of age! The Meteor  was a Ford model that was built and sold only in Canada.  

In the mid-1950s, Ford thought that to compete with General Motors (eg. with its Buick and Oldsmobile brands), it had to develop similar unique products. The plan affected Mercury by calling for the marque’s completely new platform and body design to differentiate it from Fords, beginning with the 1957 model year.

Eventually a 1960s trade agreement brought the US and Canadian auto manufacturing industry into alignment for cross-border production and trade. These unique Canadian models were axed.

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.All Trips / Hawaii / North America

Diamond Head State Monument, Oahu

Waikiki and Honolulu viewed from Diamond Head

Framing the skyscrapers of Honolulu, the outline of Diamond Head is a readily identifiable landmark, recognized as a U.S. National Natural Monument in 1968.  It’s a volcanic tuft cone know to the locals as Le’ahi; the name “Diamond Head” was bestowed by 19th century British sailors who thought the calcite crystals on the adjoining beach were diamonds.  

Diamond Head State Monument encompasses over 475 acres, including the interior and outer slopes of the crater.  An average of 3,000 people visit the crater every day, making it one of the most visited sites in Hawaii.

The Hawaiian Islands were formed by volcanic eruptions and on all of the islands you’ll find cones, vents, and eruption flows within the lava rock.  These are all …

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