.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

Gangaramaya Temple: One of Colombo’s top Attractions

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Sri Lanka is a country of many traditions and faiths, but most of its residents are Sinhalese Buddhists.  As such, exploring the Buddhist temples of the country offers a gateway to understanding the culture and traditions of most of its people.  Gangaramaya Temple is one of the most important temples in Colombo and one of the city’s more interesting sites.

This Buddhist temple is encompassed by several buildings and is situated in the heart of Colombo, not far from Beira Lake.  It includes a Vihara (temple), a Bodhi tree, an Image house, and an assembly hall for monks.  The complex also has an eclectic museum, library, residential hall and an educational hall.  The beautiful Simamalaka Shrine is nearby and a satellite …

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“Pic of the Week”, December 8, 2017: Bagpipes at Sunset, Colombo

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I’ve taken more time to relax and watch the entirety of a sunset over the Indian Ocean than anywhere else; the majority of these were at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo.   And I’m not alone.  Usually 50 — at times upwards of a hundred — guests are there alongside me enjoying it as well.

During my visit to Colombo this year I discovered the hotel had added a new twist to the sunset ritual.  A Sri Lankan bag-piper playing a dirge, together with one of the hotel employees, solemnly and slowly march out to the edge of the sea at dusk.  The uniformed man methodically lowers and folds the flag as the sad tune from the pipes mixes with …

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.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

Colombo’s Historic Galle Face Hotel

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I’ve stayed at many hotels in my life,  across a broad range of countries and classes of service.  Generally I’m a ‘Courtyard by Marriott’ kind of guy — reliable, clean standardized rooms.  But the Galle Face is special and a night or two stay here should be on your itinerary when you’re visiting the capital of Sri Lanka.

I was first advised to stay at the Galle Face hotel by my friend, Wayne Houser, who connected me with Sir Arthur C. Clarke.  I recall Wayne telling me all those years ago that it was a great hotel and was one of the only places you could get Arthur to leave the comfort of his home and join you for lunch or …

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“Pic of the Week”, November 24, 2017: Dubai’s Perfume Souk

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Dubai has a number of market districts, including a perfume souk.  It’s located in the Deira neighborhood, not far from the gold and spice souks.  Arab perfumes are not the light flowery affairs you find in European shops — here the scents are spicy and quite strong, and tend to linger.  Arabian perfumes are oil based so they may leave a stain when sprayed on clothes, so be careful when using them. 

Of course perfumes from around the world are also sold in Dubai’s perfume souk and many shops will even custom craft a scent if you ask,  but the local fragrances are a specialty.  As are the decorative jars the perfumes can be stored in.   The perfumes are reasonably …

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.All Trips / Asia / India

Delhi from the Rear Window

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There’s no place quite like India and within that country, nothing quite like Delhi.  I’m fond of (most) Indian people and enjoyed my visit there, but the country is an assault on your senses.  The noise, the terrible traffic, millions of people swarming about and, of course, the unforgettable smells.

I spent a week in Delhi and to get the most out of my time hired a car with driver and a guide.  It’s not that expensive and I got a lot out of the experience and was able to see much more this way than if I had done it on my own.  I enjoyed the time to look out the passenger window and take in the many sights of …

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.All Trips / Asia / Car Culture / Sri Lanka

Great Cars Along the Highway. Colombo, Sri Lanka

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One of the rarest cars I ever countered during my travels to Sri Lanka, in fact, the only one of its type I’ve seen in the country, is this classic Cadillac coupe.  Parked in front of the Galle Face Hotel, it was decorated for one of the many weddings held here.

It’s obviously a Cadillac, and appears to be a Coupe de Ville from the mid 1950s with some post purchase customizations.  Anyone know anything more about this car?

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos)

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.All Trips / Asia / Dubai

A visit to the Al Fahidi Fort (the Dubai Museum)

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When you visit Dubai today you’ll see a landscape of shiny skyscrapers piercing the hazy desert air.  There’s a lot of history to the region, although little lingering evidence of man’s habituating it because until a few decades ago, this was the home of nomadic tribesmen.  In the mid-twentieth century the influx of petrodollars changed all that and fueled the construction boom leading to the city we see today.  If like me you like to study the history of a place, then a visit to the Dubai Museum is a must when visiting the U.A.E.

The Al Fahidi Fort, built of coral stone and mortar in 1787, is the oldest building in Dubai.  The Fort is situated on the south side of Dubai Creek in …

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“Pic of the Week”, September 22, 2017: Tufted Gray Langurs

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It was always a delight to see these wonderful monkeys on my visits to Sri Lanka. Found mostly in dry zone forests and around human habitats, they are especially common in the country’s Cultural Triangle, which includes the ancient cities of Polonnaruwa, Dambulla and Anuradhapura , but also regions further to the south.

These are gentle creatures found nibbling on leaves and some of the food people leave as offerings at the temple sites.  The are usually seen in small groups.  And they don’t mind having their photos taken.

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

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