Saturday, August 31, 2013

Second instalment of "My Sri Lankan Food Diary": Just another average week of eating

My first installment of "My Sri Lankan Food Diary: Just an average week of eating" proved to be a very popular read. It seems there are a lot of foodies out there... wink

I seem to be experiencing some interesting moments when it comes to food, so I thought I'd share (yet again) some of my food discoveries, delights and also some of the ordinary bits too! If you're lucky, I might even share one of my stellar recipes that never fails to impress visitors to my humble home.

If I were the "stay-at-home" type of person, I don't think I would come across even half of the stuff I come across on my wee adventures. The fact I explore is often part of the process of opening my eyes, ears, taste buds (and my heart and mind) to new and wonderful things. For this, I feel truly blessed. I would rather dislike something after trying it, than not have had the gumption to try it at all. It gives me better odds at discovering things I like, possibly even love and then some!

So, here we go again... same rules apply: this is another average week where I'm traveling for a few days of the week.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Travel Monday: Blessings from Kandy Esala Perahera August 2013 - Part 2

This is Part 2 of my Travel Monday blog on the Kandy Perahera. In this second part, I focus on the actual Kandy Perahera, my thoughts and some of the things I learnt from people speaking with various people. I have both photos AND videos to share! biggrin

Part 1 can be found at Travel Monday: Blessings from Kandy Esala Perahera August 2013 - Part 1. It sets out my overall travel experience, including the journey, logistics, preparation, and observations.

As you will have read from my first post, I had a pretty fair idea of what to expect from my research and reading. However, nothing really prepares you for nightfall, the twinkling lights around Sri Dalada Maligawa, and the sound of the cannon being fired to signal the departure of the procession from the Temple. The start usually coincides with the auspicious time.

What was astounding by the end of the Kandy Esala Perahera, was the sheer size of the procession. This year more than 1,200 performers (including dancers, drummers, whip crackers and more) and over 50 elephants took part.

Travel Monday: Blessings from Kandy Esala Perahera August 2013 - Part 1

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Kandy Esala Perahera, which was held between 11 to 21 August 2013. I received many blessings and I return from Kandy to share these with you.

I've divided the Travel Monday blog into two parts as I have a lot to share with you biggrin

The first part will give an overview of my travel experience attending the Kandy Esala Perahera, including the journey (to-and-from Kandy), logistics and what I did to prepare (yes, I really did prepare for this one, which is not like me. I'm usually more "fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants"). I'll also provide a bit of background to the history, meaning and significance of the Kandy Esala Perahera.

The second part, which I will publish alongside part one, will focus on the actual Kandy Esala Perahera, my thoughts and some of the things I learnt from speaking with various people. I have both photos AND videos to share!

I hadn't anticipated going to the Kandy Esala Perahera this year. A few weeks back, I had a number of people ask me directly, as well as via the blog and social media if I'd be going. It got me thinking, and I was trying to figure out the logistics of the trip and whether to make the drive up to Kandy. And then, as fate would have it, I received an invitation from a friend of Indaka's to attend the event with their group of family and friends. They had received special tickets with seating within the Sri Dalada Maligawa compound, and there was one seat left if I wanted it. Naturally, the decision was made for me and I gratefully accepted.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What are Sri Lankans scared of... an expat perspective

A few weeks ago I was enjoying a funny debate with a few expat friends on Sri Lankan culture, modern society and then some. One of the topics that popped up was "what are Sri Lankans scared of". The list we came up with was a little peculiar. Admittedly, this is an expat view of things, though I do wonder how close we are to the actual truth of it all.

Seeing as our group of expats debated this for some time and also came up with supporting arguments to our list, I thought it'd be a cool idea to blog about it and see what people have to say on the matter.

So, let's get right into it with the list:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Travel Mondays: An impromptu visit to "Little New Zealand"

I discovered a really special part of the island a few weeks ago. As you may have noted by now (after reading my blog), I love those impromptu weekend road trips that take you by surprise... the fork in the road where you have to decide to go left, or go right. One road leads you to a known destination, and one road takes you to destinations unknown. 

I'm in tea country and supposed to be driving leisurely back to Colombo. But, I come to a turn off for Ambewela and I figure... why not? I've never visited before and I've heard wonderful things about the area. And so, I find myself taking the turn, and drive up the road toward a new destination cool (Note - if you aren't driving, you can also reach Ambewela by train via Nuwara Eliya)

Ambewela is a small hill station, located in the Nuwara Eliya region en route to the Horton Plains National Park. It is sometimes referred to as "Little New Zealand" owing to its scenic landscapes, cooler climate, cow herds and dairy farms. Ambewela is situated at one of the higher altitudes in Sri Lanka -  6,064 ft (1,848 m).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Colombo Dating Confidential: Online Dating, Affairs and Other Disasters

 "Dating is like smoking. When you quit, you can't understand why you started. And when you start again, you can't understand why you quit" ~ Anonymous

Dating is one of those activities that never fails to amuse me. It's that combination of energy and expectation directed at another human being in an effort to connect, that we call "dating". It is also sometimes referred to as courtship, which is kind of sweet, though I wonder whether this is truly an applicable reference to dating these days.

You're probably going to think this blog post is about me.

I mean why wouldn't you. This is my blog, right?

Well, I hate to disappoint you, but this one isn't necessarily about me (*cheeky wink*), but it does contain stories about some of the people in my life. I hope I haven't revealed too many closet secrets and confidential tidbits about their voracious dating lives... I may just have gone all "Sex and the City" on my Colombo buddies. As it goes, it's easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Travel Mondays: Is this the most stunning waterfall in Sri Lanka?

Dunhinda Falls is often regarded as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Sri Lanka for its natural beauty. It derives it's name from the mist or vapor that comes off the spray of the waterfall. "Dun" in sinhala means smoke or mist, and "Hinda" in sinhala means evaporate.

It is located five kilometres from Badulla town, along the Badulla-Mahiyangana road. It is 210 feet or 64 metres high. The source of the waterfall is the river known as Badulu Oya which goes through the Badulla town. The Dunhinda Falls has the characteristics of both a plunge and punch bowl type waterfall. Plunge refers when the water drops over the waterfall it loses contact with the bedrock. Punch bowl refers to how the water coming off the waterfall widens as it drops from top to bottom.

Getting to Dunhinda Falls is pretty straightforward as it is easily accessible to visitors. You can't miss the entrance as it's perched on a nice bend in the road and surrounded by little stalls or shops, a small parking area (tickets cost ~ Rs 40 to park your car or van) and a lovely view of the mountains and surrounding area.

We visited on a quiet Sunday afternoon in July. In fact, it was well-past mid-afternoon when we arrived there. The good thing about arriving so late in the afternoon was the fact there were less people starting the trek at that time, especially for a Sunday; and we could easily enjoy the sunset on our trek back from the waterfall. However, bear in mind, we also had to bear with the fear of potentially having to trek back in the dark if we wanted to linger at the waterfall, due to our later arrival.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Retail therapy for intrepid travelers to Sri Lanka - Part 2

This is the second part of an earlier blog post published on 23 May 2013.
Retail therapy for intrepid travelers to Sri Lanka - Part 1 
Part 1 set out items to buy that Sri Lanka is well-known for, which includes Ceylon Tea, Gems, Spices and Traditional Handicrafts.

In Part 2 we look at other items to buy in Sri Lanka i.e. things that are made here and/or reasonably priced.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Travel Mondays: Tea Estates, Waterfalls and a stopover in "Little England"

I could easily wax poetic about how Nuwara Eliya reminds me of home, hence it's nickname of "Little England", but it is more than just the end destination. For me it is has a lot to with "the journey"... the ways and means, the to-and-from Nuwara Eliya, that really lights me up. I've visited the Nuwara Eliya region many times over the past few years and I never fail to enjoy everything to do with exploring, immersing, photographing, observing, and taking time for random layovers along the way...

On this particular road trip, we started our journey from Kandy. We had spent the previous day at the ODI cricket match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at Pallekele. I don't know whether you find the same, but after a day/night match at the cricket I often need to re-connect with nature. It helps me to let go of the intensity of watching a cricket match.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

My ode to stray dogs in Sri Lanka

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that globally the dog population is a tenth of the human population, of which 75% are regarded as “strays”. I read somewhere recently there are approximately three million free-roaming or stray dogs in Sri Lanka. 

With a population on the island of around 20.3 million (2012 Census), this equates to almost 1 free-roaming dog for every 7 humans, aligning with the WHO's estimates.

So, it is not surprising when I peruse my photo albums to find many stray dogs featuring in my life and travels around Sri Lanka!

I thought I'd dedicate this blog post to some of these special dogs (and sometimes puppies) who have inspired, protected, irritated, saddened and cheered me up over the past few years on the island... If anything, these dogs often surprise me in ways I least expect. By the time you come to the end of reading this post you'll get a glimpse of why they've been part of my experiences all along the way.

Living in Colombo you see stray dogs everywhere. There are a few near my home, packs of dogs that seem to live on or around the beach and also in and around religious places. When you leave Colombo, it's more of the same. You'll notice them sharing the road with you; using pedestrian crossings (yes, I always look twice when I witness this oddly human behavior!); sleeping in the most picturesque of places or the quietest; playing with each other; often scrounging for food; and sometimes just making you laugh.