Diving in the Maldives…for “cheap”

“You’re going to Maldives? I’m so jealous!” Pride radiated from my blessed face as I was fawned over by hundreds (OK a few) friends as I discussed my plans. “Which resort are you staying at? Or are you going on a safari boat again?” I was untouchable as rapture and envy captivated my audience. The crowed hushed and shushed as it was clear I was about to speak. “I’m staying at the Holiday Inn.” Silence. Brains worked hard to grasp the shift in reality. I love shocking people with my travel plans, usually to war torn countries, but the Holiday Inn has so far received the greatest reaction…or maybe disappointment. Most people would rather stay in one of the lavish resorts or even use Maldives timeshare resorts, but I wanted to try something different. After a fresh dose of explanation and cajoling everyone finally agreed that a) it’s one of Read full article…

Skiing the Four Passes in the Italian Dolomites

Fifty US dollars doesn’t get you much these days, but in the Italian Dolomites it buys 650 miles of downhill trails, and 464 modern ski lifts leading to and from about 40 facilities and through eight charming mountain villages. All this and one of the most spectacular mountain settings in the world. Don’t trust me? Well, UNESCO agrees, and it was named a World Heritage Site in 2009. Set in Italy’s Southern Tyrol region, where German is heard more often than Italian, the Dolomites’ charm bursts into colorful splendor when the twisting rocky peaks turn soft pink during sunrise and burning red at sunset. The ideal setting during any season, winter time sees some of the best skiing in Europe. After a trip to Venice, we drove up into the Dolomites and made the quaint village of San Cassiano our base to ski the region. And I do mean ski Read full article…

An Underwater Tour of Venice, Italy

I faced my dive buddy for a final check as our boat approached the Renaissance city of Venice. Weight belt on, air open, B.C.D. working….we gave each other the final OK symbol, not the thumbs up of course. We weren’t amateurs, this wasn’t our first trip after all, we were ready. We even checked the news that morning before we left, which of course was our downfall. “Venice is underwater” the swanky Italian host informed us. “Dress appropriately,” he advised with a wink. I was taken in by his professional nature and shinny suit.  We stepped off the water taxi, not onto the worn cobble stone streets of lore, but raised platforms sagging with tourists from far flung reaches of the globe. Underwater indeed! We were over dressed! Without the benefit of galoshes the fancier hotels supply, we were left to battle our way through the crowded back alleyways and 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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

2007 in Retrospect

Before we move any deeper into 2008 I want to take a moment to reflect on everything that happened in 2007. As we get older time can seem to slip by without us noticing. Each year gets progressively faster and the refrain “where did the time go?” wets our dry lips ever more frequently. Some psychologists think that time appears to move faster as we age because we stop creating as many new experiences. Our memory skips over details that we have become accustomed to: driving, eating, sleeping, playing. Even new experiences are built upon previously ones and the brain doesn’t record the full depth of each moment. We used to have summers that lasted forever when we were kids, and now full years fly by and blur into each other. I can safely say that 2007 was full of new experiences and as rich as any other year of Read full article…

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