Page 5 of New Travel Blog Posts

Asia » Sri Lanka » Western Province » Negombo April 29th 2012

Last day in Sri Lanka ... not even a day come to think of it ... we caught an early flight out to Doha ... we stayed in Negambo at an interesting guest house ... can't remember the name, but the owner is Swiss and has some interesting ideas on decor. Staying in Negambo was a better option than staying in Colombo and fighting the morning traffic to get to the airport which is close to Negambo. So how has Sri Lanka changed? Many things for the better. The military check points in and around Colombo are gone, except for the area around Beira Lake at the start of duplication road. Since that is now the Army HQ, the check points there are understandable. Didn't head out to the East or North to check out the ... read more
Devil Dancers as Room Decoration

Asia » Sri Lanka » North Central Province » Anuradhapura April 28th 2012

We hadn't planned on visiting Anuradhapura, thinking it was too much to cover in this short trip. But, since we had a good day before when we climbed Sigiriya at sunset, and not sun-up on the 28th as originally planned, Anuradhapura came onto our plans. Anuradhapura was the first capital of Lanka. Most of the structures are around 2000 or so years old, give or take a few hundred years. Since it lies in the flat open fields, it turned out to be hard to defend. The invading Chola armies from South India made regular forays and sacked Anuradhapura a few times. The next set of dynasties moved the capital to Polonnaruwa, because it was easier to defend. We arrived in Anuradhapura the weekend before Vesak ceremonies. On the road we saw a perahara (procession) that ... read more
Budhist Flag Procession from Kandy to Anuradhapura before vesak
Ruwanveli Saya Dagaba wrapped with flag
Ruwanveli Saya white washing crew

Asia » Sri Lanka » Central Province » Sigiriya April 27th 2012

There aren't enough superlatives to describe Sigiriya. So let's not try to repeat what every guide book has said at one time or another. It is a "must see" sight ... Because it a good hike up, has some breathtaking views from the top, has some interesting history, and new things are still being found out about Sigiriya. For example, the "Cobra Hood" entrance and cave was a recent "discovery" by some visiting archaeologists. People had walked by that "entrance" for eons, but didn't know it's significance till recently. The remaining frescoes that are thought to have adorned the inside and outside of the rock are in fairly good condition, and people are respecting the "no flash" and "no touching" rules. Same for the "mirror wall" where you can read 1500 year old graffiti. We climbed ... read more
Sigiriya Rock
Lions Paw Entrance

Asia » Sri Lanka » Central Province » Dambulla April 27th 2012

The rock temple at the top of Dumbulla rock has been around for at least 1500 years or more. It was an ideal sanctuary as it's quite a climb to get up to the temple complex and it's relatively easy to defend. Just roll a few rocks down, and you can bowl down many marauders. A perfect hermitage. The new structures at the base of the rock are very recent. Probably less than 10 years old. There's a new temple and a dagaba at the base, and now all foot traffic must go by those structures to get to the stone steps. Didn't take pictures inside the temple of the large reclining Buddha or of the numerous seated Buddhas. It was very dark, but it didn't seem proper to use a flash in that surrounding. So ... read more
New Budha Statute
Budhist Temple
Dumbulla Rock Temple

Asia » Sri Lanka » Sabaragamuwa Province » Pinnawala April 27th 2012

Yes, it's a tourist trap. But, from the view point of a 11 year old, it's not everyday you get to stand next to an elephant herd, feed a plantains to a baby elephant, get to touch a baby elephant and it's mother and watch the herd go down to the river for their twice a day bath time. There is some valid criticism of the "orphanage" ... everything from, "they are allowing breeding to take place" to "there's too much contact with humans" ... Indeed, though many of those criticisms are valid, the elephants are well treated, and it is a good foreign exchange earner for the country. Locals get in for free, while foreigners pay a decent entrance fee. Discriminatory yes, but fair when you consider the income distribution between locals and foreigners. We ... read more
Tusker posing
Feeding baby
She didn't even peel the plantain before eating

Asia » Sri Lanka » Western Province » Colombo April 26th 2012

Colombo is your typical Asian city. Hot and crazy busy with traffic, especially motorbikes and buses, coming at you from all directions. This was a rushed trip, so we tried to make the best of it and planned on covering a lot of ground in a very short time. Things are way more efficient than they used to be in the bad old days. Clearing customs took only 15 minutes, getting a SIM card at the airport took about 10 minutes and cost under $2, and the rental van with the driver took less than 20 minutes for the paper work. Wow! Since the plane from Doha landed 45 minutes early, we cleared the airport before the flights' officially scheduled arrival time. Too efficient in fact. Since we'd taken the red-eye and the flight from Doha ... read more
Galle Face Hotel decal
Van and driver
Railway station

Africa » Morocco » Grand Casablanca » Casablanca January 1st 2012

Dropped the rental car in Marrakech - it was relatively hassle free, after we found the car rental place hidden inside a petrol shop inside a back alley inside a hidden area of the new town ... but hey! That's what travel is about eh? We would never have found the place based on the map point given to us by the rental guy in Fez. We should have used a GPS ... but we used the higher tech method of asking knowledgeable locals. The trick is to find the one person with the right knowledge and ignore the 15 other very helpful locals who point you in the wrong direction because they don't want to offend you by saying they don't know what you're asking about! Not much different than a GPS that wants to ... read more
Train to Casa
Henna Art
Arrive at Casa

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Marrakech December 30th 2011

Marrakech has the feel of a city stuck in another age with a very vibrant feel. At the centre of the Medina at Djemma al-Fna, you'll find everything from snake charmers to monkey handlers to fresh squeezed orange juice to hawkers sellings pretty well anything you can dream of, and maybe somethings you never even imagined. And beggars, scammers, pick pockets and other interesting types too. kind of like the Internet, with all the Nigerian Princes who write letters to you, about how you can help recover their lost fortune for them, are all in one place. Yes, it's helpful to be a bit on the guard, but, don't forget to have fun too. We stayed at a Riyad near the centre of the Medina, and surprisingly neither the Riyad owner nor his assistant did not ... read more
Tuareg Colours
Paints on display
Carpet shop

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Marrakech December 29th 2011

The road from the Atlantic coast inland to Marrakech goes through some spectacular scenery including passing near the snow capped Jebel Toubkal, the highest point in North Africa in the high Atlas. The road is a modern dual carriageway in excellent condition. So, driving was easy. At Marrakech we planned on returning the 4WD we rented in Fez and getting back to exploring the medina on foot.... read more
Roadside Mosque
Low clouds
Saharan dust storm in the mountains

Africa » Morocco » Guelmim » Sidi Ifni December 28th 2011

Sidi Ifni was the "gateway to the Sahara" ... at least for the Spanish, who tried to hold onto this tiny piece of Morocco after Moroccan independence. Nowadays it's a laid back surfer's village more than anything else. We would have been better off basing ourselves here, than in Agadir, but, since this was our first time in Morocco, we didn't know any better. Next time eh! The original reason for coming here was because of a single stamp from the country of "Ifni". After some searches, we determined that Ifni refered to this part of the African coast ... and that meant we had to get here sometime. Legzira Plage is an even more isolated community than Sidi Ifni, a few km north of Ifni. The Saharan people lead a hard life in these parts ... read more
Moroccan Architecture
Tiznit Fort
Approach to Sidi Ifni

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