“Pic of the Week”, November 30, 2018. The Old Parliament Building, Colombo

00 Old Parliament Building (4)

A building that’s impossible to miss when you visit the coastal area of downtown Colombo is the nation’s first Parliament building (a.k.a. the “Old Parliament Building”).  Facing the Galle Face Green and the sea (and now the ever-growing Marina development complex), the building is situated on reclaimed land just south of the Fort District and World Trade Center towers.  Initially the building was home to the Legislative Council of Ceylon and was witness to country’s transition from colonial state to self-rule in 1947. 

Completed in 1930, this Neo-Baroque style building was home to the country’s legislature for 53 years.  During the country’s prolonged Civil War, Parliament was moved to a a more secure complex in nearby Sri Jayawardenepura in 1983.

The building …

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.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

The British War Cemetery, Trincomalee

00 Trincomalle British Military Cemetery

Today is Veteran’s Day in the USA and Remembrance Day in most of the Commonwealth nations.  It’s a time to remember and reflect on those who paid the ultimate price to fight tyranny and preserve liberty.

During my last trip to Sri Lanka we made a 2 day stop in the east coast community of Trincomalle, a place I had not been to before because it was at the center of the Civil War.  Trincomalle is a pretty town with one of the world’s greatest natural harbors.  As such, it is a popular destination for diving.

I made a point of visiting the Trincomalee British War Cemetery (a.k.a. Trincomalee War Cemetery) situated on the north end of the …

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“Pic of the Week”, November 9, 2018: Street Art in Dubai

01 Al Fahidi Historic District (10)

As one might expect in a Kingdom with fairly tight control of its society, Dubai does not have much in the way of street art.  The one exception to this, at least that I encountered during my visit, was in the Al Fahidi Historical District.

The district is one of the older surviving neighborhoods in Dubai and was home to merchants and traders, many from Iran.  Their homes have been restored and have converted into offices, cafés, art galleries and small shops.  Interspersed was some art, mostly murals quite nicely done. But there were other interesting sights like some sculpture, a small garden growing in recycled soda bottles — even some antiques outside a café.

A pleasant and safe neighborhood in which to …

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“PIc of the Week”, November 2, 2018: Cargill’s Store, Colombo

01 Cargills

One of the most popular buildings from the British Colonial era in Colombo is the Cargills department store, located in the city’s old Fort District.  A century ago this store was busy providing British residents with a place they could purchase staples and luxury items from back home.  The journey to Cargills often required them to make the long trek to Colombo from tea plantations and other remote destinations in Sri Lanka. 

The lovely building is know for it’s red brick facade.  It was originally built as the residence of the Dutch military commander of Galle, before British occupation.  The building was acquired by Cargills in 1896 and underwent a remodel and refinishing, opening as a store in 1906.

Like many of …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 26, 2018: Jebel Hafeet

14 Trip up Jebel Hafeet (1)

Jebel Hafeet is a mountain near the desert city of Al Ain, in the United Arab Emirates. It’s an impressive peak, rising 1,249 m (4,098 ft), and is easily accessible. While many credit Jebel Hafeet as being the tallest mountain in the UAE, that honor belongs to Jabal Jais at 1,925 m (6,316 ft). The mountain straddles the border of Oman, and views of that country are easily seen from the summit (although some what hazy because of blowing dust).

Jebel Hafeet has an extensive natural cave system which has only partially been explored to a depth of about 150 m.  The caves show nicely preserved stalagmites and stalactites, but they are not open to the public.  Marine fossils (plankton, coral, crabs) are found within the …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 12, 2018: The Waterfall at the Dubai Mall

10 Dubai Mall (48)

One of the most impressive works of public art I’ve ever seen was in the world’s largest shopping mall, the Dubai Mall.  Located close to the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifi) and with views of it, are two cylindrical waterfalls that extend the full four story height (24 m) of the Mall structure. 

All that flowing water seems out of place in the desert, but the sight and sound of it is beautiful and mesmerizing.  To enhance the waterfalls are dozens of fiberglass figures giving the illusion of synchronized divers.  This art work can be viewed from each level of the mall, and the perspective changes so take the escalator up all the floors and take it all in.

The fountains are …

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.All Trips / Asia / Dubai

Across Dubai Creek

01 Dubai Creek (61)

Dubai Creek is the main geographic landmark of Dubai.  The Creek, 14 km long, divides Dubai into its two original neighborhoods – Deira Dubai and Bur Dubai.  The Creek has played a major role in the history and economic development achieved by Dubai beginning in the days when desert nomads first settled on its banks in the 19th century.  Dubai Creek has been a center for the traditional pearl trade and now for international shipping and trade.  The Creek was dredged and widened decades to ago to allow larger ships ease of entry.

Abras on Dubai Creek…

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“Pic of the Week”, September 28, 2018: Dubai’s Textile Souk

00 textile souk, Dubai (2)

Situated in the Bur Dubai, adjoining Dubai Creek, is the Textile Souk.  This is a pretty market district located within a restored traditional bazaar, its buildings and walkways shaded by a wooden roof (the shade providing welcome relief from the almost unbearable desert heat). There is a main central lane to the market, with side alleys leading to smaller shops.

Most of the shops are now operated by Indian (rather than Arab) traders and the merchandise sold varies from the colorful bolts of cloth (cotton, silk, some embroidered), dresses, blankets, slippers, and assorted Dubai souvenir items.  Bartering is expected and often lively.  Many of the shops have tailors who can sew you a dress or shirt and have it ready before you depart …

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