“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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.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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“Pic of the Week”, May 11, 2018: Wild Peacocks, Yala National Park

01 peacock yala

Yala is Sri Lanka’s largest National Park and is best known as a good place to spot leopards (although we didn’t see any).  We did, however, come across lots of wild peacocks — both male and female– including this male who was putting on quite a show for the ladies.  Feather erect and fanned out, he slowly moved in a circle and strutted his stuff!

Peacocks are a type of pheasant, but with distinctive iridescent tail feathers.  As you can see from the bottom photos, the feathers make up over half of the male bird’s body length.  It is believed females choose their partners according to the size and colors of these feather trains.  These birds are blue peacocks, native to …

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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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“Pic of the Week”, March 30, 2018: Good Friday in Trincomalee

‘s Cathedral, Trincomale (6)

Last year I had the pleasant experience of being in eastern Sri Lanka on Good Friday.  I was traveling with a friend who is a devout Christian and Roman Catholic.  As such we visited several of the Christian churches on the east coast of the country.  

Christianity is one of the smaller religions in Sri Lanka, the most common being Buddhism.  But there is a strong Christian community especially in the eastern part of the country.  On Good Friday (the day of Jesus’ crucifixion and death) we visited St. Mary’s Cathedral in Trincomalee.  The church was very crowded and busy, with a large line of people waiting to get to the front of the church.  Their goal was to see …

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.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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