Tag Archives: city

Cooler Colombo, 2015

One evening, my husband, daughter, parents and I went up the hill to another opulent old colonial hotel- the Mount Lavinia Hotel. We had missed the sunset and it was dark by the time we arrived through rush hour traffic, but we could still hear the waves crashing down below and see the train weaving its way along the coastline. We sat outside near the pool where a band was playing some old favourite tunes and relished a bit of the cooler atmosphere up here.

The following day, my husband, daughter and I set off in our own tuk tuk to find the little oasis of South Biera Lake in the big city. City buildings surrounded the lake, but they seemed far away, especially when you took the footbridge to the island in the middle of the lake. It was my favourite new discovery in Colombo and I was glad that the three of us had come here together.

There was a meditation centre on the lake also that my husband visited by himself as I was wearing shorts. The centre was very interesting as it had both Hindu and Buddist statues along with the obligatory Adam’s foot. My daughter and I amused ourselves by watching the cormorant’s fish and then we all cooled down with a fresh fruit juice from a local stall on the side of the lake.

My uncle Tommy was an established businessman in Colombo and is the member of quite a few exclusive clubs. He took us to the Colombo Swimming Club as his special guests for lunch that was very traditional and very tasty. We all also enjoyed a dip in the pool of course, which overlooked the ocean and seemed to stretch out onto the horizon and beyond.

On our last night in Colombo, my aunt and uncle hosted a party with many assorted aunts, uncles and cousins. A lady came to the house to make fresh hoppers and there was lots of drinking and smoking as is the Sri Lanka party way. It was nice to see many familiar faces again- everyone was older, perhaps not wiser- but we had all seemed to multiply.

And so, it was time to leave the city, jump in the van with our driver Ravi and set off on our road trip around Sri Lanka. First stop- Galle.

Related posts: Old Colombo, 2015It’s a Sri Lankan ThingSri Lanka, 1998

Holidays are…

Preparing and researching

Booking and planning

Packing

Excitement

Waiting impatiently

Airports and QANTAS club

Arriving in your new temporary home

Unpacking

New places and new things to see

First experiences

Navigating a new city

Temples and churches

Old towns

Landmarks and lookout points

Road trips

Landscapes

Having fun

Swimming

Walking

Enjoying the sunshine

Not letting the rain stop you

Watching shows

New food to try

Markets

Bars and restaurants

Having the time to enjoy a meal

Not cooking or washing up

Meeting new people

Sitting and people watching

Quality time with the little one

Catching up with friends

Cocktail hour

Uninterrupted conversations

Laughing

Pampering

Having the time to shop

New clothes from your new favorite shop

Souvenirs to take home

Photos and memories to keep

Not worrying

Thinking

Having the time to notice rainbows

Watching old movies

Card games

Finishing a book

Sitting and doing nothing

Napping

Drifting

Not wanting it to end

Booking the next holiday.

Related posts: Happy Holidays, Random Public Holiday Ramblings,  Kid at Heart

Change is the new black

This year has been a year of changes for me. One of realisations, discoveries and learnings.

I have realised the strangeness of my past and accepted those things I cannot change. Rather than dwelling on what was not, instead I am looking towards what can be in the future and how I can change the patterns of the past.

I have discovered strength in myself that I never knew I had, as well as several professional strengths that I sort of knew were always there. Clarity of, and confidence in, these strengths is what will lead me to my next adventure in the New Year.

I have learnt how to be flexible and change my approach. A different path forged can sometimes be lonely, but prioritising what is important to you helps lead the way.

I have realised the greatness of people around me once again. Conversation, human nature and the desire of the majority to be friendly, helpful and kind.

I have discovered the joy of a little growing person who I actually get a kick out of spending time with. Going to the movies, the zoo or just being at home.

I have learnt a new appreciation of the city I live in. Drinking, dining and boating on the harbour. Date nights, work outings and hanging with friends.

The biggest change has been the discovery of exercise. That’s right, you heard it here first, this non-gym goer now has a personal trainer and loves it!

This year has also been a year of domestic travel. Back on the wine trail in Tasmania, the Barossa and the Hunter Valley with good friends and my small family of three.

Next year I look forward to more of the same, plus hopefully more international travel to destinations unknown. I can’t wait to realise my own potential, discover the value of a mentor and learn more about other people and places.

I have definitely achieved my end of year goals from 2014 of trying to appreciate the little things and dream bigger about the big things, beyond even what I had thought was possible.

Yes, change has definitely been the new black for me in 2015 and may 2016 continue this exciting trend.

Catch you in the New Year, and as always, thanks for reading.

Disclaimer: I can’t take credit for the title of this week’s blog post, but it got your attention didn’t it?!

P.S Thanks to all the website owners that have published my 2015 travel tales from Barcelona, traveling with kids, Sri Lanka and closer to home.

Related posts: Work, work, work, To Belong, Having it all?, Reinvention, Sydney vs MelbourneNew beginnings, Nostalgia, Pride vs The fallPeople vs PlaceDiscovery,  It’s a Sri Lankan Thing, Kid at Heart, Dreams vs Reality, Happy Holidays 

It’s an Asia Thing

My first foray into Asia was to India. I marvelled at the temples of Tamil Nadu, spent Christmas in KodaiKanal and saw the sunset at Cape Cormorin. There was a visit to a strange circus in Kerala, a boat trip in Cochin and lots of ice cream in Goa. We went to markets, met Mormons, climbed Cape Rama Fort and left through the gateway to India in Bombay.

Next was a school trip to Indonesia where we were educated in all the traditional arts and crafts from batik to silver making. We travelled through Lombok, Bali, Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan. The highlights were the vast Borobudur temple and the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.

On the way home we went through Sentosa Island in Singapore. There have been many trips to the land of the Merlion since then to explore the food in Chinatown, the shops on Orchard Rd and visit friends, now expats of the city.

Close by is my favourite Asian destination of Malaysia. The fabulous food halls in Malacca, the life of Penang and the beautiful islands of course. So far I have visited Pulau Kapas, Pulau Pangkor and Pulau Tioman twice. Each island is special and interesting in its own way for the monkey in a hammock, the snorkelling or the sunsets.

The first time I went to Bangkok in Thailand I thought it was a big dirty Asian city. I thought Phuket was incredibly spoilt by tourism and I was sure I would never return. How wrong I was, as the island of Koh Lanta was to become the special place where I became engaged and later married. The little town of Ban Saladan and the beach at Kaw Kwang will forever have a piece of my heart.

Vietnam was a pleasant surprise, largely untouched by the greed of making a buck when I went there. I loved Hanoi, the city built around Haan Kim Lake and was fascinated by the other side of history as the story of Ho Chi Min unfolded before me. Halong Bay was undoubtedly beautiful and the little French colonial hill village of Tam Dao was a rare treasure.

When you think of places to go in Asia, South Korea is probably not at top of mind. However, I found I very much enjoyed discovering the two sides of Seoul. One deep in the traditions of markets, gates and palaces; and the other slightly crazy side of shopping centres, theme parks and off beat fashion.

I wish I had visited Hong Kong before the English handed it back to the locals, just to see how much it had changed. The modern world could clearly be seen here, but there were still the remnants of old. Like the Star Ferry and the fact that the city still had many large green spaces that had not yet been bulldozed by development. The smog of Victoria Peak reminded me that it was still Asia, but back on the ground there was always a drink in Soho to cool you down.

Yes, Asia can be hot, dirty and tiring; but it is also exciting, enticing and an assault to the senses. Riding in tuk tuks, bargaining with the friendly locals and appreciating the simple things in life. Asia has a lot to teach us and I sincerely hope that modernisation doesn’t engulf it to the point where it can no longer be recognised for the glorious cultural explosion it is.

Related posts: It’s a Sri Lankan Thing, Destination Thailand, 2010, Thailand, 2009, South Korea, 2008, Malaysia, 2006, Vietnam, 2003, Thailand, 2002, Sri Lanka, 1998, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, 1994, Indonesia and Singapore, 1994, England, Singapore and Malaysia, 1988, India, 1987- 1998, Part 2: The Journey North, India 1987- 1988, Part 1: The Road South

Traveller vs Tourist

I really don’t like the debate between traveller vs tourist. Unless you live in a country, you are a tourist. And what’s so wrong with being a tourist anyway?

I love being a tourist in my own city. Exploring the places I love, seeing them through new eyes and discovering unknown places. It’s all in good fun. Especially if you are showing some other tourists around your city and get to feel that pride at living in such a beautiful and/or interesting place.

I guess the perceived difference between a traveller and a tourist is that a tourist just goes to see the main sites, take a few photos and tick it off their bucket list. I think we have all been a little guilty of that at some point.

What I have realised is that the more you build up a particular tourist attraction in your mind, the more disappointed you are likely to be; and the real thing that you love or remember about a trip are the off the radar places or the little details like the great sandwich you ate when you got there.

And, oh- the bucket list- another hated term. Life is not a list of things to do, it’s about experiences; and P.S if it is about lists, you will never finish them. The number of places I want to see just gets longer every year, so I know I won’t get to them all, but I’m ok with that.

In the naiveity of youth, I once told an older and wiser man than I that I wanted to visit every country in the world. He told me that he was 50 and hadn’t even seen a quarter of them and he travelled a lot!

I also can’t stand people who count countries. I could tell you my number, and really it’s pretty high, but it’s not a competition. And it’s really not about the quantity, but the quality.

I have been to a hotel near the airport in Finland for 8 hours between connecting flights, but do I count that as seeing the country- definitely not. I’ve been to most of the capitals in Italy, but does that mean I know anything about what it’s like to live in the Tuscan countryside- no way.

I feel like I’m a bit opinionated with this post today, but sometimes you need to be. It doesn’t matter where you travel, or how far from home you venture; it doesn’t even matter if you call yourself a traveller or a tourist- as long as you do it. But only if you want to.

I am the first person to say, I love to travel, but that’s my priority. Everyone has different priorities of what they want to spend their money on and there is nothing wrong with that- it’s your choice.

So wether you’re a traveller, or a tourist, or neither, it really doesn’t matter. It’s a moot point.

Related posts: Sydney vs Melbourne, Australia vs New Zealand, Memory, Universal vs Personal, People vs Place

It’s a Spanish thing

I love Spain.

I love the colour, the life and the fact that people mistake me for being Spanish.

Flamenco dancing spectaculars, drinking Sangria and late night starts.

Tasty tapas, seafood paella and crème Catalan.

Nobody worries too much about owning property- why buy when you can rent right in the middle of the city where you want to live.

Parc de la Citadella where the cool kids hang out, Otto Zutz nightclub where the tourists go to party and Zara for all your fashionable needs.

The iconic La Rambla, the smells and sounds of La Boqueria and the friendly waitress in our local bar.

I love Barcelona, especially Parc Guell, and every time I go back I discover a new side to the city.

The brilliance of Gaudi, the deck chairs on the curving beaches and the famous 4 Cats bar.

The Moorish delights of the Alhambra, so many fountains and gypsies living in cave houses.

I am fortunate enough to have some Spanish friends who have shown me parts of Spain that I would not have otherwise explored.

The views from Mount Tibidabo, the sad story of Punta De Sau and the tradition of Plaza de Torres de la Maestanza.

Busy Madrid, beautiful Granada and cultural Seville.

I like the streets and alleyways of the cities and the gothic architecture of the churches.

A summer retreat in Xabia, white washed Spanish style villa’s and tall cliffs crashing into deep blue sea.

The lovely language, the good looking ladies and the passionate people.

It’s not just a country, it’s a way of life.

Endless fun, long summers in the cold climate of Europe and a no worries attitude that suits my Australian ethos.

I look forward to returning to Espana and discovering more about this wonderful country.

Related posts: It’s a water thing, People vs Place, It’s a French thing, Europe, 2003, Spain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond Barcelona, Spain, 1997, Part 1: Barcelona