.All Trips / Asia / Dubai

Visiting the Mall of the Emirates

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Where does one go on a hot summer day in Dubai when the temperature is up around 40oC?  It seems everyone goes to the mall!

Dubai has many beautiful (and wonderfully air-conditioned!) shopping malls, most filled with the kind of shops you find on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.  Among the first of these built was the Mall of the Emirates which has more than 560 shops selling most everything you could possibly need or want.  There is a large theater complex, a massive food court and many restaurants scattered around the mall as well.  There are two adjoining five-star hotels — Kempinski Mall of the Emirates and Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates Hotel — very convenient if you’re a …

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.All Trips / Asia / India

Visiting the Khajuraho Group of Monuments, India

Khajuraho temples and town (97)

Khajuraho is a co-mingled grouping of Hindu and Jain temples in Madhya Pradesh, India.  The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the temple collection is especially well-known for its erotic sculptures and architecture.

Most of the temples in Khajuraho were built between 950 and 1050 AD during the Chandela dynasty.  It’s thought that the grouping consisted of 85 temples when the region reached its peak of activity in the 12th century; currently only 25 temples remain.   These temples vary tremendously in size from tiny to enormous!    The most visited temple, Kandariya Mahadev, has an area of about 6,500 square feet and a spire that rises 116 feet.  The temples all face the rising sun and are built near water.

India …

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.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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“Pic of the Week”, July 13, 2018: The Galle Face Hotel Library and Museum

07bGalle Face Hotel tour (48)

I’ve previously shared a post about one of my favorite hotels, namely Colombo’s Galle Face Hotel.  Today I’d like to highlight two areas hotel guests can explore which were new to the hotel since I’d last stayed here.  These were added during the hotels recent upgrades and renovations.

The hotel now has a very fine Library.  A multi-room quiet place with very comfortable arm chairs and sofas, I spent some time here looking around and taking in the framed historic documents, illustrations and maps, and coffee-table books.  I love libraries and had never been to one so sumptuous and inviting in a hotel before.

It was in the library that I discovered where the bust of Sir Arthur C. …

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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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“Pic of the Week”, June 29, 2018: Al Ain Hot Springs and Lake

00 Al Ain hot springs and Lake (2)

An oasis in any desert is viewed as a Godsend by people who live in such arid climates.  The oases at Al Ain are important to the United Arab Emirates as they contribute significantly to the fresh water supply of the region (still, over 90% of Dubai’s water comes from desalination).  Because of its sources of fresh water, the area has been inhabited for over 4,000 years.  

Al Ain is known as the “Garden City of the Gulf” due to its greenery.  It is home to extensive date palm groves which area irrigated by water from the oases. 

Al Ain is one of the only areas in this desert where you can find public places with grass and greenery.  People can enjoy …

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“Pic of the Week”, June 8, 2018: Burj Al Arabia

00 Burj Al Arabia, Dubai (8)

In a country of spectacular modern buildings and architecture, the Burj Al Arab more than holds its own.  A beautiful white structure, it was built to resemble a dhow sailing into the blue waters of the Persian Gulf.  The Burj Al Arab was one of the first big constructions in modern Dubai and like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Statue of Liberty in New York, it has come to symbolize today’s Dubai.  

Some of the Particulars:
The Burj Al Arab is considered one of the world’s great luxury hotels and is the third tallest hotel in the world.  It’s built on an artificial island 280 m (920 ft) from Jumeirah Beach and is connected to it …

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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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