Friday, September 1, 2017

Expat News, Articles of Interest and Diary Events #13

It feels like it's been yet another tough month for the teardrop island with plenty of challenges and not much respite. From monsoon woes to the persistent drought, bond scam, tax issues, ongoing dengue scare, cricket nightmares, plastic woes, and all round dramas. Personally, things have been pretty good though a little hectic. It's good to be too busy to worry about all the noise around you. Plus, I'm looking forward to some close friends coming to stay next month, which will be lovely. It's always nice to share your home with others and to help them explore the island as well. There's one or two places on their itinerary that I'm keen to tag-a-long.

September is looking like a super crazy month for me with plenty of movement for work and play. I guess it helps that there will never be a dull moment. Though, it makes blog updates a little more challenging. If only all the blog posts that I have stored in my head could auto-translate onto the web with words and pictures, formatting and the whole kit-and-kaboodle. Alsas, it's not to be (yet). But I'll try my best to fit a few blog posts in amidst the busyness that is my life next month.

Wishing you a safe and happy September...

Monday, August 7, 2017

Travel Monday: Day tripping to Budugala and Kurugala

Who doesn't love a little road trip? Well I certainly do. You'd think I'd have run out of places to visit after a decade of tripping across this island. But, this just isn't the case. I still have a TBR list, which funnily enough stands for "To Be Roadtripped" . Budugala has been on my TBR list for something like three to four years.A friend had mentioned visiting the place and I'd also seen a description of the area in an obscure local publication.

A couple of months ago I got together a group of friends to take a day trip out to visit the archaelogical site of the ancient monastery ruins of Budugala and Kuragala. We set off very early from Colombo and took our time road tripping towards Budugala and passing through Ratnapura then to Balangoda and Kalthota. It's a scenic drive going inland in a southern direction with plenty of winding roads and glimpses of mountains and plains.

It had been very hot and humid during this time and the southern monsoon was still a little late in arriving, so conditions were still dry. I was a little thankful because in all honesty I wouldn't have been looking forward to hiking through areas that had a lot of leeches. Though having said that, I've trekked and trailed through many places in Sri Lanka when there have been leeches, snakes, and other creepy crawlies. Even when the weather is fine, I still carry citronella oil and dettol when I go on my adventures. It just pays to be prepared.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Expat News, Articles of Interest and Diary Events #12

It's been another crazy month in Sri Lanka. I've been fielding questions left-right-and-center (here and from abroad) about what is going on in Sri Lanka and, whether I think the country is going to implode under all the political, economic and environmental pressures and the general unrest across the population. I have plenty of personal opinions, which I won't share publicly, but what I will say is that Sri Lanka is facing a crucial historical juncture while experiencing a tremendous amount of pressure to bend and bow to external pressures. Truth be told, nothing is ever what it seems.

It makes for difficult, but interesting times to be living on the island. Difficult in the sense that, if you have your finger on the pulse of the nation, it's not a prosperous time for the population at large and many are facing hardship. The endless number of strikes across the different sectors gives testimony to this. People are unhappy about so many things that it's probably easier to list the things they are happy about than what they're unhappy about.

As an expat one of the main concerns is always the value of the Sri Lankan rupee and the ongoing saga of monetary policy. It doesn't matter as much while you're living and working in the country, but it's a different story when you're traveling, investing or planning to repatriate. The other things on the radar relate to changes to taxation, dengue epidemic, power cuts, fuel distribution challenges, water cuts, ongoing garbage debacle, proposals regarding residence visas and so on.

In the meantime, check out the month that was and some of the upcoming events for your diary... All the best for August!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Capturing nature and birdlife

One of the aspects of life in Sri Lanka that has not changed in the time I have lived on the island has been beauty and proximity of nature. If you follow my social media feeds then you'll have noted my love of all things nature. Proximity plays a key part in all of this. Whether it's around home, along a walking track, or venturing out of the city - it's very much part of everyday life.

Each day I remind myself to take in the sounds around me. There's usually dogs barking, birds chirping, squirrels squeaking and the rustling of branches or leaves. Tropical life is vibrant and thriving all day round. And not a day goes by that I don't see butterflies, birds and some unusual sight. Just the other day I was walking to the train station and I saw a pig or boar foraging through a mound of rubbish on one of the neighborhood side streets. Sure you see cows roaming the Lankan streets like they're part of the everyday scene, but pigs, not so much.

Anyway, I've been thoroughly enjoying this ongoing fascination with native birds, flora and natural settings around Colombo recently and so I thought I'd post some of my photo captures...

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Expat News, Articles of Interest and Diary Events #11

This has been a tough kind of a month for me personally. I fell ill earlier in the month in what turned into a dengue scare. I had some of the symptoms for dengue such as high fever, muscle and joint pains, pains behind my eyes, nausea, headaches and lack of energy. Given the seriousness of the dengue epidemic in Sri Lanka, I went directly to get the dengue antigen and full blood count tests at a local medical center. Thankfully, two hours later my tests confirmed a negative result for dengue. If you do happen to fall ill and you're worried that it might be dengue, don't hesitate to get a blood test. Better safe than sorry.

In my case, it turned out I had contracted some sort of viral fever that seemed to be doing the rounds around Colombo. I'm not usually prone to illness, but when I do fall sick I'm not a very good patient. And this viral fever really tested me physically, emotionally and mentally. It's at these times that homesickness can be triggered and the inner child's voice that cries "I want my mummy". Yeah, yeah, I know... it does sound rather pathetic, but when you're feeling low, all the ugly hangs out too.

My mother, who I didn't tell I was sick until after I recovered, demanded that I return "home" for medical tests and also for a bit of r&r. Bless her, she's a dear, and I love that she still looks out for me from afar. As much as it's sometimes not-so-easy being away from family, it's also hard for family to be away from me. It's easy to forget this when we have social media, messaging and video calls. I interact with my closest family members on a daily basis, so it often doesn't feel like they're that far away. But this recent bout of illness reminded me of the oceans and time zones that separate me from them. Luckily, I have a good support network in Sri Lanka and there were people to take me to the doctor's, organize my medicine, feed me and check that I was recovering slowly, but surely.

So, all-in-all, June has been a bit of write-off for me. What has helped me to get back to my usual self has been consuming more fresh fruit and vegetables, keeping hydrated and being more with nature.

I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to turning the page into July 2017... Bring it!