Friday, March 22, 2019

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU TRAVEL TO SRI LANKA

A few days ago Bob and I returned from an adventurous trip to the country of Sri Lanka. It all started when the daughter of a friend started Instagramming from her trip to Sri Lanka last year. We loved her pictures, and when she posted a photo of a sloth bear, that sealed it for Bob.

•  Location
To be honest, I wasn't exactly sure where Sri Lanka was.  I even asked, "Is it near Ceylon?" I was embarrassed to learn that Sri Lanka IS Ceylon, and has been since I was 12 years old. Ceylon was the name of this large island when it was a British Crown Colony between 1815-1948. In 1948 Ceylon became politically independent of Britain, and in 1972 it became a republic and adopted its new name of Sri Lanka
Google maps

I have seen Sri Lanka described as "the teardrop of India." Perhaps India is mourning the fact that this beautiful gem is not part of their country.
Google maps

•  Culture and Religion
While the two countries have many things in common, there are significant differences, not the least of which is the significant difference in religion.

                        SRI LANKA:                                                   INDIA
                    70.2% Buddhsm                                        79.8% Hinduism
                    12.6% Hinduism                                        14.2% Islam
                      9.7% Islam                                               2.3% Christianity
                      7.4% Christianity                                       1.7% Sikhism
                      0.1% Other/None                                      0.7% Buddhism
                                                                                      0.4% Jainism
                                                                                      0.9% Other

Buddhism shapes almost every aspect of Sri Lanka's culture, and there are Buddhist shrines everywhere.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

NEW BRUNSWICK: MALISEET TRAIL, HAYS FALLS, AND MUSHROOM ADVENTURES

After we spent the night in Moncton at the farthest end of the Bay of Fundy, it was time to head back to the United States, send our son back to NYC, and join my siblings and their spouses for Part II of the trip.

We had one final afternoon left in New Brunswick, and our son saw that as one more opportunity to forage for mushrooms. He used his phone to do some research and directed us to the Maliseet Trail, and beautiful walk that led to Hays Falls and a pot of gold(en mushrooms).


At first we thought pictures of bear prints tacked to the trees indicated bears in the vicinity, but we later figured out that they serve as trail markers:

As usual, we seemed to be the only ones on the trail, although a couple of people were leaving the Falls about the time we got there.

Friday, March 1, 2019

NEW BRUNSWICK: HOPEWELL ROCK STATE PARK

Thanks to Bob's excellent planning, we hit the next spot on our New Brunswick journey at exactly the right time: low tide.

As usual, just about every step of the way was filled with fairytale forest:

I was especially entranced by the trunks of the birch trees lining the pathway. They looked like pieces of installation art:


Monday, February 25, 2019

NEW BRUNSWICK: FUNDY TRAIL PARKWAY

On the morning of August 9, after getting a good night's sleep to make up for the previous night, we headed out into a rather gloomy day. We were hoping it would be the perfect weather for some moose, but this is as close to a REAL moose as we got:

We were just about to enter this covered bridge, when all of the sudden Bob threw on the brakes:

He's a sucker for restaurants that advertise "The World's Best (fill in the blank)" or "Award Winning (Anything)," even though he also frequently pokes fun at those monikers. The Seaside Restaurant was advertising its "Award Winning Chowder." While our son rolled his eyes, Bob went inside . . .

. . . and returned with some thin, decidedly average seafood chowder . . .

. . . and a boring lobster roll with a side of not bad poutine:

At least our view while we all sampled the morning "snacks" was incredible:

Sunday, February 17, 2019

NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA: St JOHN AND IRVING NATURE PARK


I have no idea where I took this photo, but it shows up between our whale watching trip (see last post) and the next pictures, and I love murals, so here it is, just because.

After our whale watching trip, we headed east along the Bay of Fundy towards Saint John:


We stopped at Reversing Falls, a spot where the water changes direction because of the rise of the tide in the Bay of Fundy.

However, we would have had to pay a fee just to access the viewpoint where we could see the water, and we didn't have hours to wait for the shift in the tide. We had other plans for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

CANADA: WHALE WATCHING IN NEW BRUNSWICK

In August 2018 Bob and I and my siblings and their spouses went on a cruise together from Boston to Quebec. My dear husband can never let an opportunity for additional travel go by, and I was longing for some time with our youngest son who lives in New York City, so we planned a four-day pre-trip rendezvous in Maine and New Brunswick.

Our plan was to meet at JFK airport, have a brief layover, and fly to Bangor, Maine, together. However, upon approach to JFK, Bob and I hit a terrible thunder storm with some of the most dramatic lightning I've ever seen from a plane window. We had to circle around the outside of the epicenter of the storm for an hour, and then when we finally landed, so did everyone else, making an unloading bay hard to come by. Two hours late, we finally met our son in the airport . . .
Goofy boys
. . . but of course our connecting flight to Maine was THREE hours late because of the storm. By the time we finally got to our hotel in Bangor, it was 4:00 AM, and the hotel had closed out our prepaid room at 3:00 AM because we hadn't shown up. It took another 45 minutes of haggling to get that resolved, and at 5:00 AM we collapsed, exhausted, into our beds.

Of course that meant our planned departure time of 8:30 AM didn't happen. Instead, we got on the road at 10:00 AM and headed for the Canadian border and then our whale-watching tour in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, scheduled for 1:30 PM. It was a 2.5 hour drive, so we thought we were fine.
A lovely drive with beautiful scenery
Yeah, right.

Did you know there is an Atlantic Time Zone that's an hour ahead of the Eastern Time Zone? We didn't. 10:00 was really 11:00, and now we were pushing hard to get there. Whenever we've crossed the Canadian border in the past, it's been a friendly wave through. Of course, that didn't happen this time when we were in such a hurry. Nope, we were sent to a "special inspection" area at the side of the road, where we waited and waited and WAITED until finally someone gave us the go-ahead.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

ZIMBABWE TO LOS ANGELES: THE END OF OUR GREAT SOUTHERN AFRICA ADVENTURE

Well, all good things must come to an end, and after three weeks, we were ready to go home. We met our driver at 7:00 AM and got on the road. 

It was 4℃ or about 39℉, which doesn't seem THAT cold--unless you are riding in an open air vehicle. I was lucky to sit next to our driver and benefit from the heater and windshield. I still used one of the camp's ponchos, however. Bob was on the first of the three passenger rows and wore not just the poncho, but wrapped a wool blanket around himself as well. (See his reflection in the mirror.)

We saw a few animals along the way, including a steenbok, a small antelope we had never seen before:
Photo by Bob

A little later we saw a beautiful saddle-billed stork standing on a tiny island in the middle of a pond. The water was completely still and made a perfect mirror for the stork, the grass and the tree:

Just to mess with your mind, here is a flipped version of part of the photo above:

Bob took this much closer-up photo of the stork and its fabulous mirror image twin:

http://www.bloggersentral.com/2012/11/pinterest-pin-it-button-on-image-hover.html