“Pic of the Week”, April 19, 2019: Easter Week in Batticaloa

01 St. Mary’s Cathedral, Batticaloa (5)

During my last trip to Sri Lanka, I spent some time visiting with my friend, Dottie, Sir Arthur C Clarke’s personal secretary.  I got to know Dottie during my travels to Sri Lanka decades ago and we have kept up our friendship and correspondence over the years; it was nice to reconnect in person for a few days.

Dottie is a devout Roman Catholic and wanted to visit the Catholic churches in eastern Sri Lanka, which gave me the opportunity to see places and observe religious customs I otherwise might not have.  One of these places was the Cathedral of St. Mary in the small city of Batticaloa, an old church dating to 1808.

The church is simple but nicely maintained.  I …

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.All Trips / Asia / Dubai

A visit to the Top of the World — Dubai’s Burj Khalif

04 At the Top (11)

It seems fitting that the last major post in my series on visiting Dubai should highlight what I thought was its most spectacular attraction, namely the lovely Burj Khalif.  It is the world’s tallest building, with the world’s highest observation decks.  How could any traveler resist adding checkmarks to those bullet points on their bucketlist?

The Burj Khalifi has 1.85 million sq ft of residential space and 300,000 sq ft of office space, in addition to the Armani designed hotel and residences.   Here are some additional interesting facts about the building and its construction:
– It contains 11.6 million sq ft of concrete
– It took 22 million man hours to build over 6 years.  There were 12,000 people working on the building …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 22, 2019: Sambodhi Chaithya, Colombo

00 Stupa

Stupas, or dagobas, are very commonly found throughout southeastern Asia.  I’d never seen one with legs before my visit to Sambodhi Chaithya, located on Marine Drive adjacent to the Harbor in Colombo’s Fort district.

Sambodhi Chaithya was built in 1956 on a platform supported by two massive interlocking concrete arches.  No one is sure why it was designed in this manner, but likely so that it can be seen at a distance by ships as they approach the harbor.  The stupa can be entered by climbing 11 sets of stairs (barefoot — no shoes allowed in a stupa — beware of burning your feet on a hot day!), and then crossing a steel bridge as you can see from the photo …

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.All Trips / Asia / Food / India

Delhi’s fascinating Spice Market (Khari Baoli)

01 Delhi Spice Market

My favorite market in Delhi was its spice market, which happens to be Asia’s largest spice market.  The market straddles Khari Baoli, a street near the Red Fort.  The street’s name is derived from ‘Baoli’, meaning step well, and ‘Khari’, meaning salty. 

The market dates to the 17th century.  Many of the shops have been in the families for a long time, some even run by the ninth- or tenth generations.

Like all good spice markets, Delhi’s is fragrant, colorful and tempting.  Besides a large variety of spices and herbs, you can buy other food items like nuts, tea, pasta and rice.  Everything is beautifully displayed.  

Delhi's Spice Market (Khari Baoli)

Delhi’s Spice Market (Khari Baoli)

Khari Baoli is extremely busy — lots of shoppers, traffic, and workers carrying heavy sacs of spices to …

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.All Trips / Asia / Dubai

Exploring Dubai’s Al Fahidi Historical District

02 Al Fahidi Historic District (1)

Dubai is known for its beautiful modern architecture.  Yet permanent structures are relatively new to the region. Historically most of the Arabs who lived here were nomadic and did not leave behind physical monuments or buildings.  As such, older regions of Dubai are hard to find.

There’s a neighborhood in Bur Dubai which was built in the mid -19th century, at a time when the city was beginning to take root.  This is the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, adjacent to Dubai Creek.  The neighborhood is characterized by buildings with tall wind towers (Barajeel) that capture evening breezes to cool the interior of a home (not unlike a fan in a window).  Built with traditional materials like stone and gypsum, the Al-Fahidi neighborhood was home to businessmen and …

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.All Trips / Asia / India

Amazing and Unforgettable — the Wiring of Old Delhi

07 Chandi Chowk Market (26)

Even though I’d heard about it, I wasn’t prepared for how chaotic the street wiring in Old Delhi is. There are many places in the old city where you’ll see spaghetti-like masses of live wiring that seem to be incapable of being untangled or understood, yet somehow Delhi electricians figure it out and keep the power flowing.  There seems no plan, no logic, no reason to it.  It just seems to have evolved like some hideous beast.

By far the worst that I experienced was the Chandi Chowk Market area.   It is one of the oldest and busiest markets in Delhi and is not far from the Red Fort.  These photos were taken while walking those streets.

I think the photos are self-explanatory.  …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 1, 2019: James Bond’s Aston Martin

00 Bond car

Sitting adjacent to the Burj Khalifa gift shop in Dubai was a most beautiful car.  If it looks familiar it’s because it was used in the Bond movie, Spectre.  The car is an Aston Martin DB10, a 2 door concept car created especially for the movie by the British Car manufacturer.  A total of 10 cars was made — 8 used in the movie, 2 used for promotional purposes.  I assume this is one of the latter.

Some of the car’s technical specifics:  4.7 liter AJ37 V8 engine producing 430 bhp.  Accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.3 seconds.  6 speed manual transmission.  Top speed 310 km/h (193/h).

A rare and very beautiful machine.  And …

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“Pic of the Week”, February 22. 2019: Celebrating a Newborn, Rajasthan

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Enjoying a nice lunch in a restaurant that offered escape from the mid-day heat, we were attracted by the sound of music and a crowd gathering outside.   Everyone in our Rajasthan travel group headed out and had the opportunity to see this celebration.

Our guide explained that a child had been born in the village and this was a way of making a public announcement to that effect.  Notice in some of the photos a woman is carrying a baby’s crib on her head.  Mostly it’s a chance for people to dance and celebrate.

Any could join in the festivities and several from our group were soon taking part.  I did what I always do — watched and documented the experience with my …

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