The Road to Maskeliya

In November my sister visited Sri Lanka, so we grabbed some friends, packed up the car and headed back to our favorite lakeside cabin, the Castlereigh Family Cottages in the hill country. You can see our previous adventures here. This time we decided to go on a hike rather than spend our time on the porch the whole time. Rather than go on an established hike, we decided to pick a mountain and climb it ourselves. We chose this mountain across lake where we could use the tea trails to reach the top. We drove around the lake and parked in front of a Hindu temple. I guess this is the way. This would not be the only time we asked the locals for help. The tea trails. Two tea pickers on their way to work. The long sticks are laid across the tea bushes. Only the leaves above the Read full article…

River House and the Galle Art Trail

It has been a busy few months and I have not posted to Todd’s Wanderings in some time. The following few posts will help close out my experiences in 2008 before I turn my attention to the new year. In September, Kay and I took a weekend trip down to the secluded boutique hotel the River House just south of Bentota. In October, we headed down to Galle for the city’s annual Art Festival in the old Portuguese and Dutch era fort section of town. The common room of the main house overlooks the river and invites nature inside. The hotel has only five bedrooms for seven acres of tropical gardens. There was only one other couple staying there so we felt like we had the place to ourselves. A view of the main house from the garden near the river. The garden below. We stayed in the bungalow by Read full article…

Three weeks in Phenom Penh, Cambodia

In September I spent 3 weeks in Phenom Penh, Cambodia on an extended work trip. Flying into the country I was amazed at the transformation that has happened over just the last 3 years since I had visited last, and especially since my first trip in 2001. When I was last in Phenom, Penh in 2005 the buildings were still below 3 stories and a lot of roads were still dirt. I visited most of the typical tourist spots in 2005, here are a few pictures from that trip. Just 40 minutes outside of the city and you feel a world away. The Killing Fields museum. The stupa in the distance is a glass filled shrine housing 8,000 human skulls. The stilts help protect from floods Inside the royal place When I visited Angkor Wat in 2000 I traveled overland from Thailand and spent 14 hours from the Thai border Read full article…

Back to Japan

I have been very busy these past few months, with work, travel, and updating Todd’s Wanderings. As I am sure you have noticed, I have redesigned the layout of the blog and I will be adding new features in the coming months. More importantly I bought a new Sony camera, the evidence of which you will find in all of my latest posts, starting with where I bought the camera…Japan. In late August I met Kay (during her home leave) in Japan for a 10 day vacation. I lived in Japan for 5 years but have not been back in over 2 years. Despite traveling during the hottest and most humid time of the summer we had a great time. We spent some time in Tokyo, in Kamakura, and up north in Gunma Prefecture to escape the heat and the traffic. Just outside of Shinjuku Station. Coming from Sri Lanka Read full article…

Hill Country Get Away

In the end of July, Kay and I and some friends packed up the car and wound our way up into the hill country for some cool weather, mountain views and a porch on the lake. We returned to Dikoya, just outside of small hill country town Hatton, where we spent the night after climbing Adam’s peak earlier in the year. Driving through Hatton we pass a statue of Ganesha. A common view from the road making the drive up and back a vacation to itself. All of the tea pickers tend to be older women working long hours and carrying heavy loads. Don’t ask me why she has a fishing pole… A Hindu shrine clings to the side of the road, and the edge of a mountain. Kay and I with Angles Falls behind us. We stopped here for some tea and the view at a small tea house Read full article…

Galle: Old Fort City by the Beach

In early July I took a trip down to the southern cost of Sri Lanka to the old fort city Galle and the surrounding beach areas. It is easy to forget how beautiful the Sri Lankan coast line is when you live in Colombo and are surrounded by endless cars all fighting to impose their own individual traffic rules on you. Just a 3 hour drive south of the city and you are greeted by empty tropical beaches, cocktails at sunset, and windy walks along the old fort walls of Galle. During the monsoon season the sea is predictable only in is inconsistency and dangerous rip tides. However, it is always nice to have a beach all to yourself. This area is a calm, swimming area from October-May. Locals sit on the wooden sticks and fish off of them during set times of the day. The fishing spots have been Read full article…

A Short Trip Around the World

In May I traveled outside of Sri Lanka for work and headed back to the West, at least for the first part of my trip. In the course of one month I visited England, the US, Switzerland and Thailand. My first stop was England to give a workshop on housing and security in Sri Lanka. It was my first time in England, so after visiting the University of Essex I took a few days to wander around London and soak up the Spring air. Piccadilly Circus Hyde Park was a great place to relax and see the black swans Westminster Abby Big Ben. By now you are probably realizing that all I did was walk around and see the landmarks from the outside. I wish I had enough time to look inside but I found just walking around and soaking up the atmosphere had its own rewards. Of course I Read full article…

Where Butterflies Go to Die

In March I escaped the crowded city of Colombo and set out with three friends to climb the most famous religious mountain in Sri Lanka. Called by many different names, Adam’s Peak, “the place where butterflies die,” and Sri Pada (“sacred footprint”), the mountain is the second highest in Sri Lanka and is a center of religious pilgrimage for Buddhist, Hindus, and to a lesser extent Christians and Muslims. Adam’s Peak The conical peak looms 2,243 metres (7,359 ft) above the surrounding mountains and is one of Sri Lanka’s most celebrated backdrops. Near the summit a 1.8 meter rock formation in the shape of a footprint is celebrated by Buddists as Buddha’s footprint, by Muslims as Adam’s (of garden of eden fame), and by Hindu’s as the Godess Shiva’s footprint. We decided to join the crowds and make the long climb up in the dead of night in order to Read full article…

Glimps of a free Batticaloa

In mid-March I traveled the 314 km (198 miles) road to the eastern district of Batticaloa. The trip took over 9 hours by car and while bumpy and long passed through some of the most beautiful areas of Sri Lanka I have ever seen. Lush jungle, sweeping plains, soaked marshes, and jagged mountains rolled by as we traversed from west to east coast. Through a stretch of national park peacocks ran unashamed along the side of the road, foxes scurried for cover as we approached, and an elephant stood uncompromising beside a rural store. In 2007 the Sri Lankan government militarily liberated sections of Batticaloa (and the rest of the East) that used to be controlled by the LTTE (the Tigers). The resulting mass displacement of people fleeing the constant mortar attacks and heavy ground fighting created a wave of internally displaced persons (IDP) throughout Batticaloa. Over 300,000 people fled Read full article…

Wedding in Kochi, India

In early March I hopped on a plane for the hour long flight to Kochi. I have now been to India two times. Both times to the southern city of Kochi, in Kerala, and both times for a wedding. My friends Sheila and Luv really outdid themselves and the 3 day event was filled with nonstop eating, drinking, dancing and picturesque sunsets over the bay. Their wedding truly lived up to every image I ever had for a grand Indian wedding. With its beautiful tropical weather, old world colonial footprint, bustling port and picturesque bay, amazing sunsets, and laid back locals, Kochi offered the perfect backdrop for the wedding. Here is a glimpse of what was a perfect weekend. The crafty marketing for the “Bar” almost lured me away from the pre-wedding luncheon in the historic district of Kochi. Having resisted the bar, I arrived at Menorah to eat wonderful Read full article…

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