Weekend in Haputale Sri Lanka

In August I headed up into the hill country with two friends to beat the heat in Colombo. Our destination was the Kelbourne Tea Estate just outside of Haputale. Kelbourne Estate has three English tea bungalows set high up in the mountains in the middle of a working tea plantation. You are waited on hand and foot, and can have dinner in your own dinning room surrounded by ever present green tea bushes. Of course half the fun of getting to the hill country is driving up through the stunning scenery That is until you get stuck behind a manure truck and two bused sizing up each other’s %$##* We picked the Wildflower Cottage with three bedrooms and… …what was supposed to be a stunning view…. Getting closer to the view as the clouds pass underneath us Ah, there it is At night the temperature drops enough to rationalize a Read full article…

Development and Human Rights at Work

Considering that most of my posts are about travel and exotic locales it may be shocking to hear that I actually do have a job. Many of you may have wondered about what it is I actually do and what type of work a development/human rights/conflict resolution worker actually does. To shed a little light into my work life, and to help educate on some of the most pressing matters facing Sri Lanka, I am posting two recent publications that I wrote. The first publication was released through my former employer, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE). It deals with the High Security Zones in Sri Lanka and how they have been used to deny citizens their human rights to adequate housing, and return to their former homes and lands after displacement. The full report can be accessed here: High Security Zones and the Rights to Return and Read full article…

A Weekend at the Lighthouse

Kay won a free weekend at the Lighthouse Hotel, in Galle, Sri Lanka during a Japanese sponsored raffle over New Years. Knowing we only had a few more months left in Sri Lanka we decided to cash in the vouchers at the Geoffrey Bawa designed luxury hotel. While I was not too impressed with the view of the hotel from the street (like most places in Sri Lanka), the view of the water and the inside were fantastic. At the entrance guests are greeted to a colonial war waging its way up the spiral staircase. Feeling relaxed yet? If you need help getting up the stairs I am sure these guys will help out… Nothing to see here sir…move along. Ahhhhh, all right, all right, you caught us…good one! Once you make it past the carnage in the entrance, you can shut your door and relax in spacious rooms. I Read full article…

A Short Hike Outside of Geneva

In June I traveled to Geneva for a week of work. However, as work started on Monday I took advantage of the weekend to get some hiking in through the early summer air. I met up with two friends who live outside of Geneva and they took me out to the St. Cergue area. Just one hour on a local train and we were left out in the middle of winding forest paths, and centuries old farm houses. The view stepping off of the train. Luckily we arrived a few hours before the rush hour commute… The area is covered with paths that wind peacefully through the mountains. We came across a farm house selling cheese. Who could possibly walk buy without buying homemade cheese? We wandered into the house to find the owner in the middle of making cheese! We bought a nice big chunk of goat cheese. What Read full article…

Yes, I have been silent for four and a half months. My only defense is that my blog (well actually my life) is dependent on me wandering…and I have certainly been on the move. Since I last graced the world wide web in May, I have traveled to Geneva, planned a wedding from half-way around the world, taken numerous trips around Sri Lanka, handed in my resignation, published a long report on high security zones, packed up my house in Sri Lanka and saw my fiance move to Kosovo, was published in a journal, ended my tenure with COHRE, traveled to Japan, got married in the US, traveled back to Japan for receptions with friends and family, returned to Sri Lanka to hand over our house, and finally moved to Kosovo (actually I am still waiting for my plane in the Vienna airport as I write this). Now, with a Read full article…

On Tuesday May 19th 2009, the President of Sri Lanka announced the end of the civil war that has ravaged the small island nation for over 30 years and deprived over 70,000 people their lives and future. The military captured all remaining territory previously held by the LTTE, and the military announced the death of the LTTE’s leader, Prabhakaran. By all accounts today should be a day of celebration as the country’s young, those under 30 years of age, have never known anything but civil war. And yet as I sit here and write during a new public holiday, fire crackers booming away in the distance, I can’t help but feel unsettled by the weight of suffering still going on, the lives lost to “win” the war, and the uncertain path Sri Lanka’s leaders will take: towards reconciliation or consolidation. Since I moved to Sri Lanka over two years ago Read full article…

Journey to South Eastern Sri Lanka-Part 2

…Continued from Journey to South Eastern Sri Lanka-Part 1 In the morning we drove an hour south to Tissamaharama and checked into our new hotel that would be our base for exploring Yala National Park and diving at the Great Basses. Peacocks are everywhere Hibiscus Garden Hotel. This is a fantastic hotel and quite affordable. The staff are great and very friendly. The pool was exactly what we needed to cool down after long days under the tropical sun. After checking into the hotel we arranged for a safari tour of Yala National Park. Almost all national parks in Sri Lanka only allow visitors to enter in jeeps. The park is home to a variety of animals including elephants (which we never saw) and the elusive leopard. The park is said to have the highest concentration of leopards anywhere in the world…although finding the shy nocturnal cat is still rare. Read full article…

Journey to South Eastern Sri Lanka-Part 1

During Tamil and Sinhala New Year Kay and I took a 5 day road trip down to the southeastern corner of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is so hot this time of year most people head up into the mountains for the cool weather. We had other plans. With the monsoon shifting from the West to the East Coast a dive site called the Great Basses becomes accessible. It is only safe 4 weeks out of the year and is said to be the best diving in Sri Lanka. We planned out trip so that we spent one night in the hill country in Belihul Oya, then a night in an ecolodge in Galapita, and finally two nights in Tissamaharama where we went on a safari in Yala National Park and then finally a day of diving at the Great Basses. We hopped in the car and hit the “main” roads. Read full article…

Sri Lanka Engagement Surprise in Unawatuna

After almost 2 1/2 years I decided it was time to propose to Kay. As many who are following my wanderings are aware, I had been stuck in the United States for about 3 months as I waited for my work visa to be approved. During this time I began planning the proposal for March and relying on friends to help sort out the details as I sat halfway around the world. Kay had no idea what was being planned behind her back. Once I returned I insisted that we go away for a weekend of scuba diving and relaxing on Unawatuna Beach. Kay had planned to do some work over the weekend….thankfully the computer never made it out if its case. Diving turned out to be a disaster. The sea was rough, and we were the only people crazy enough to give it a try. Withing 5 minutes our Read full article…

The Hermit in Seclusion

Deep rumbling chants rolled out of the cedar temple, pushed by the rhythmic precision of the perfectly timed drums, as the Buddhist monk led the daily dawn service. The morning air was crisp and carried the scent of pine and earth from the remote Japanese mountaintop. Prayer beads wrapped around my left hand, 108 plastic balls reminding me of my earthly sins, I knelt Japanese style in a dimly lit temple wondering if feeling would ever return to my feet. Gold ringlets hung from the ceiling, radiating above a thousand armed statue of the Bodhisattva of Compassion sitting directly in front of me. One hour later, my prayers were answered. The monk concluded the ceremony and encouraged us to relax our legs before he spoke about the Buddha’s teachings. Sighs of restrained relief and pain filled the dim temple as seven Japanese pilgrims sitting on either side of me shifted Read full article…

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