Monthly Archives: January 2012

Worlds’s Smallest Buddha

Our travel style,in case you are a new reader, is to hire a private guide with a comfortable car who is ours for they duration. We do not just show up and say “whatcha got.” We do our own research with every book we can find, and do not forget my wife is a university librarian. We also peruse all the social media sites, the usual suspects and a few that are truly suspect.

Then we start contacting guides using again every source we can find. If we send someone an email and get no response within 48 hours, that person goes on the dung heap never to be recycled.

That is pretty brutal, but pity the ones who get right back to us. We let them make a proposal in the form of an itinerary. Then we hack at it. They come back with changes. What we are really looking for is a bit of creativity and daring on their part. This consumes a lot of their time. Mary Ann leaves it up to me because I have nothing but time. This puts us in a distinct advantage. We may be playing on their field, but I’m Sandy Koufax and I don’t care where I am pitching.

The person who I ended up choosing was a guy named Johan at Noramix Travels available through www.Srilanka.com. I threw him a few curve balls, and he had a great turn at bat.

All that brings me around to this trip to Sri Lanka.

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Sun rise over Sri lanka from our Air Arabia flight, taken with my new IPAD

Our first hotel, The Mt Livinia, was chosen for us by the previously mentioned tour agency because one of the things I said I wanted was a taste of the colonial lifestyle. You can't get much more colonial than having this guy run your bags to your room. I ruined the colonial experince by tipping him.

Now that we were settled into a wonderful room our driver, Farzan, or as he put it “not Tarzan”, started taking us around Colombo. It is pretty port town dating back to the days of spice and tea trade. The Portuguese and English in turn ran the trading businesses through this town. Sri Lnka has been independent since shortly after WWII.

The country suffered through a civil war that just ended a few years ago. The tourism industry is recovering nicely in the south west quarter of the country and a bit slower elsewhere. Colombo shows no signs of the war.

Another thing we saw in Colombo, and everywhere else in Sri Lanka,  is a comfortable co-existence of Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian religions. You see it in the temples, mosques and churches and the cultural dress. I wish that were worldwide, alas.

We drove around and saw the city. Nice, but not much to blog about. However we did find one thing I have always wanted to see, a snake charmer.

I can scratch another item from my bucket list!

Then we went to a place that was a combination museum and temple.  This museum is more like a warehouse, but it’s full of valuable and beautiful treasures. Some of the shrines and buddhas were actually made of gold or completely covered in diamonds.  I was busy taking photos of this cute little Buddhist monk…

I just thought it was so cool, but really the monks in the buddhist religion are just normal young men who traditionally become a monk for a few months,or a couple of years, then go back to whatever career is their calling. This guy probably became a surfer.

…when my wife called out, “You gotta see this”. On my bucket list is the worlds largest Buddha statue, which I quess I will need to go to China to see. I had never considered the worlds smallest Buddha but here he was right in front of me .

My photo did not come out so well, so I stole this one from another blogger. This lttle Buddha is in a glass case (This picture makes the case look larger than it is) with a magnifying glass built in (on the right of the photo). If you put one eye up to it and look like a mad scientist into the glass jar you can see a very intricate carving, in gold, of the Buddha. The carving is about the size of a grain of rice, and absolutely beautiful. I do not know where it came from or any other details, but the curator of the museum was proud to tell me it was the world's smallest.

We had been travelling across the coconut all night and day, so we went back to the hotel,  had  our first of many wonderful Sri Lankan meals. We had to get up early in the morning for the trin to Kandeeland!

We were treated to this sunrise while we waited at the train station.

It was worth waiting for! Such a cute train!

Next post, Kandee! A wonderful city in the hill country, gateway to the tea plantations of old Ceylon!

Thanks for reading, tell a friend, pass it along, and remember, I get paid by the comment!

On The Way to Colombo

Here I am on an Air Arabia flight over the middle of the Indian Ocean on my way to a city I had never even heard of a year ago, Colombo. (I am wondering if I should be wearing a crumpled trench coat and smoking a cheap cigar, but I digress) Colombo is the capital city of a country I had only heard of because I am a news junkie, Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is only a few years past a civil war that pitted the Tamil Tigers (never to be confused with the team from Detroit) against the establishment who never adopted a catchy name. Altogether both sides managed to kill about seventy thousand people until the the Tigers were, well, relegated to the minor leagues. That is the only reason I ever heard of Sri Lanka until my wife the travel junkie (god bless her) declared it was our next destination.

The flight is only half full but of course the only screaming baby is sitting behind me and kicking my seat. So I pulled out my new toy (no no no, not a toy, a valuable tool) my IPAD. For those of you living in the same cave I was living in before I bought this, it is a combination of everything Steve Jobs deserves sainthood for. I am currently listening to Bodhisattva at full volume on my ear plugs, while typing away on a more than adequate note taking app. In the old days we called this multitasking. Lucky youngsters today call it…hmm…I wonder if they even have a word for it. Anyway I am not bothered by the young Cossack behind me any more.

Cossack you say? Yup, this plane is full of Ruskies escaping the wonderful climate of Moscow. Air Arabia flies out of Moscow to Sharjah and onto many warm places with nice beaches. And they do it cheaper than Air Ruskie and you do not have to fly in a Tupolov. I am sure Vodka is available on those warm beaches, so they’ll be happy as tsars. So I just went into the song list and I am now rocking out to Back in the USSR. I only wish I could stick the ear plugs up the arskie of the Ruskie.

Due to the absolutely ludicrous belief that my IPad could mess with an A320’s navigation system and we could all end up back in Moscow, I am going to have to shut this off while we land. Meanwhile I am staring out the window at a marvelous sunrise over the Indian Ocean while listening to George Harrison perform Here Comes the Sun from the concert for Bangladesh. HMMMM, Bangladesh next month??? Nah.

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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