These small images link to photographs found in my currently-active Flickr album.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Disparate Hobbies Collide

Day 82 - I like it when present and future hobbies collide. Really, PCs and smartphones bridge all sorts of technologies. For example, when GPS is added to Internet phone apps and they provide access to payment platforms suddenly whole new categories of businesses become possible. Rideshare comes to mind. And, of course, photography is no different. Once images became digital then image modification became software manipulation.

I've been keen on learning all about personal drones over the last couple of months. The biggest useful product category for the amazing new devices is photography, both still and video. Being able to carry a lens up 120 meters and a few kilometers away provides a whole new world of photographic possibilities.

I've been avidly following a Facebook group about the DJI Mavic Mini. This is the drone I shall order just before we head back to Canada. I'm going to try to time its arrival to match up with ours. I find the global contributions by members fascinating. If you are interested even slightly in drone photography at a fairly affordable price, do take a look.

The picture capabilities of my future mini-drone are somewhat hampered by its weight and price. I noticed quite a few folks on FB were stitching photos together to create panoramas. I only played with that technology decades ago. In order to help catch up, I downloaded Microsoft's free Image Composite Editor. The original may be old but they've kept it up to date for Windows 10.

I made a couple of trials today. The photo below was originally six, overlapping images shot with my regular camera. Even though this is a simple application, the program seems to offer plenty of options. I'm happy that I still use a computer in a way that broadens my horizons.

Still Stitchin'


Monday, January 20, 2020

Daytime Temps Stick at 31°C

New Bananas Always

Day 81 - We're realizing how limited our remaining time is here. Today, Jay's elder sister went home to Nugegoda by bus. She will visit the travel agent and pick up all the paperwork. We'll go to stay several nights mid-week. Jay and I wanted to revisit parts of Colombo we haven't yet seen this trip. I like the center of the old city.

Jay is also planning one more long road-trip. To stay overnight in Kataragama, we'll need to go south on the new expressway next Sunday. We'll return the following day. We will need a couple of days back in Minuwangoda so get ready for our flight to Kuala Lumpur, It leaves in the early hours of the morning on the last day of January. Three months will have passed too quickly!


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Negombo for an Evening Walk

Day 80 - Jay figured it would be a good day to visit the Negombo beach just to see the crowds. Being late on a Sunday afternoon, we knew it'd be crowded with people and sellers catering to the crowd. Lots of inland people come with rented buses and on their own to see the sea. Unfortunately, a few frequently drown being unaware of the strong currents of the ocean.

Sunday Night in Negombo

Sunday Night in Negombo

We called a tuk-tuk driver via the PickMe app. He was a young boy from Veyangoda with a new tiny Suzuki. So it was a squeeze in the back. I always ride the front suicide seat, of course, found on the left side here. We asked to get dropped off at the St. Sebastian Church on Sea Street. The former fishing villages along the coast typically have a strong Catholic demographic. We happened right at a raising of the flagpole ceremony which typically precedes the church feast by a week.

We walked a few kilometers along Sea Street towards the public beach area. Hotels on this stretch of road have always been a feature. Some of the original 70's songs Jay knows came from musical groups that were founded to play in these venues. Of course, new hotels are coming along. Negombo is something like the fifth largest city in Sri Lanka. It is around 15 kilometers from the Minuwangoda house.

Negombo Beach

Sunday Night in Negombo

Sunday Night in Negombo

We had a nice stroll on the busy beach. We later used PickMe and got our very same driver! He'd done several rides during our stay. We asked him to take us to Sameeha Family Restaurant for takeaway and wait to bring us all the way home. After we got here, we found about three times as much food as we could eat for dinner. So we'll be eating tomorrow too from the bounty. It is a staggering amount of food for around $US 3.50 each!

The only question remaining is whether I should look into making tonight's adventure a little more permanent.

Should I Buy?


Saturday, January 18, 2020

Unhusked Coconuts for Sale

Day 79 - These are the coconuts harvested from the 17 trees around the house. Yesterday, a rather wild-looking picker came to scale the trees and chop down the ones which were ready. He has a schedule and comes every two months.

First, each sister set aside a few month's supply for themselves. (A whole LOT of coconuts are used in cooking here.) Neighbours lend and borrow coconuts too, so many were given away. This pile is the remainder.

Coconuts Havest

The going price of an ordinary coconut is around SR 55 to 65 (US$ 0.30 to 36). However, there's not a lot of markup for retail. In fact, a buyer should give us SR 45 (US$ 0.24) each for these. Any takers? Just contact me at my Sri Lankan cell 94-70-197-2464. I'll throw in some sort of bonus.

Over the next couple of weeks, remind me to do an entry on the larger, orange, king coconuts.


Friday, January 17, 2020

Four Things from Today

Katu Lovi
Jay found some more favourite fruits. He calls these Katu Lovi. The latin name is Flacourtia inermis. I call them the little plums with a lot of seeds that one can eat.


Day 78 - Four things that happened today.

1) A coconut plucker came at 6:30 am. He climbed 17 trees. His price for going up, checking, and hacking the ready ones was SR 100 per tree. The sisters collected the ones needed for the next several months, returned the number borrowed by a neighbhour, and called a buyer. He'll come, inspect, and give SR45 for each of around the 100 he takes.

2) The visiting cat came for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She seems to have forgiven us for going away for two days. It's rumoured that she also found another house that offers food.

3) Jay's sisters took a trip to Negombo. They got off at the Fashion Bug. They needed to buy clothes for when they'll be buying clothes in Malaysia.

4) With pleasure, I deleted the Chrome browser from the travel laptop. With a bit more sadness, I'll probably delete Firefox during the next several days. For, I found the new Chromium-build of Microsoft Edge. It does feel really weird having the system default set to a Microsoft browser again, after all these years.

MS Edge Chromium Build


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Back from the Second Road Trip

Hotel to Mihintale
Sometimes old guys run the place. At other times, they rest a lot.

Day 77 - We spent the day recovering from our overnight trip. When I was in bed last night, I felt as though I were still on the road.

Today, the washing machine had a really full load to deal with. Jay's younger sister can string up additional clothes drying line in a jiffy. The clothes dried really quickly in the bright sun and warm breeze. The temperature reaches a wonderful 31°C, always.

We've not had any rain for ever so long. I sort of hope for a few big, evening thunderstorms over the weekend. They are a unique show and the rain is warm and comforting. Now that my hair has grown long, I feel as though I could ride around like Lady Godiva, except, of course, I have no horse.

It's come to our attention that from tomorrow we have only two weeks left in Sri Lanka. We got here at the beginning of November! Time doesn't feel consistent enough. Sometimes it creeps along on unsteady feet; however, at others, it soars past as if sporting enormously sleek wings.

Looking towards February, it will be fun showing Jay's sisters around Kuala Lumpur during the first ten days of our stay in Malaysia. They'll return here before two weeks pass, but we head back to Canada from there at the beginning of April.


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Returning Home from Mihintale

Hotel to Mihintale

Day 76 - We slept pretty well at the Crown Grande Hotel, although the name was definitely more grandiose than the facilities. Our intention was to get up early and walk to a close restaurant for breakfast. We did walk a bit but quickly discovered maybe it'd be better to get on the road and then find a place to eat.

Our only real destination of the day was to visit Mihintale. Then, we had to travel from Anuradhapura back home, a distance of about 160 km. After packing our things into the van, we knew we only had to travel for about 14 kilometers to get to the famous, Buddhist site. We kept our eyes peeled but suddenly arrived at our destination before we spotted a roadside restaurant. Fortunately, we saw a Perera and Sons, which provided breakfast and lunches as well as the chain bakery's items. The religious site was located nearly across the street!

Hotel to Mihintale

Hotel to Mihintale

Hotel to Mihintale

The summit was quite a hike up, as I remembered. A lot of religious sites in Sri Lanka require a little exertion but this is one place I really didn't mind. We've travelled extensively in Sri Lanka and have seen much of the island. However, this is one of my favourite sites.

Hotel to Mihintale

Hotel to Mihintale

Hotel to Mihintale

Once one reaches the upper plateau, there are a number of final climbs. The main stupa, or dagaba, provides commanding views on all sides.

Hotel to Mihintale

Hotel to Mihintale

Hotel to Mihintale

I'll not forget the monkeys who made off with the lotus flowers as soon as Jay's sister placed them next to an offering table. The macaques have come to realize the center sections are good to eat.

Hotel to Mihintale

This area somehow feels like home. It is weird to explain, but I sometimes feel a certain connection to particular places on the globe. Mihintale is one of these places. Even though the path to the uppermost rock was closed for maintenance, I didn't feel slighted as I happily drank in the whole environment.

Hotel to Mihintale

Hotel to Mihintale

Hotel to Mihintale

Hotel to Mihintale

Hotel to Mihintale

By the time we headed back down the 1,840 steps to the car park, the time was after 12 o'clock. We slowly walked through the sellers stopping for both cold lime and belli fruit tea at vendor's shacks. We had to retrace our way back through Anuradapura and the way home.

Nuvara Tank (Unedited)

We briefly stopped at Nuvara Tank. In this country, what appear to be lakes were actually commissioned by ancient kings. Before the time of Christ, some of these creations helped the dry areas prosper by providing enough water for irrigation. The immensity of this work rivals modern-day schemes.

We stopped along the way home for a really late lunch. Also, we bought many agricultural products at roadside stalls. It was nice getting back from a trip before darkness had set in. We were home before 5:40 pm.


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Tanthirimale / Madhu Church / Arunadhapura

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)

Day 76 - The road trip started right at 6:30 am when we left with our familiar driver. Nazer took the front seat and kept the driver engaged during today and will tomorrow as well. Jay and I sat in one seat and his two sisters in the other. We had a lot of luggage packed in the back.

Watching Sri Lanka from the window of an A/C vehicle is a mix of the expected and unusual. I've been here so many times over so many decades that I know a lot of what to expect. However, things change as we do too. A new visitor might be amazed by the vegetation and watching the relatively quick changes in the landscape. Undoubtedly, first-timers would spend a lot of time comparing villages and houses to ones with which they're familiar. Intently watching to see wildlife such as a peacock or, on this trip, even an elephant makes one keep one's eyes peeled. I'm still amazed by how domestic dogs manage to sleep at the edge, or sometimes in the middle of a road without being mashed. Well, actually a fair number do walk with limps. The short distances in kilometers are lengthened by how full each scene is.


TANTHIRIMALE

The first eight pictures were in a sacred place of rolling rock hills. It is said to be historical because this was one of the places where Sanghamitta and her assistants rested when they were bringing a cutting of the Bodhi Tree from India. So the tree at this location is especially important. The reclining Buddha carved into a cliff is around a thousand years old. Another, hundreds of years older, bears the physical scars from the Sri Lankan civil war conflict in the form of gunshot marks. The scenery is interesting because of the small ponds where water collects in the low-lying rock. The area itself is unique and older. We walked a trail to see four-thousand-year-old cave paintings too.

We returned to the van and headed to another famous location.

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)


MADHU CHURCH

It turned out perfectly. We couldn't find any restaurants in which to eat lunch along the road but heard there was a canteen right at the Madhu Church. There was. We ate our lunch there but because the location is pretty desolate, only a few others were visiting the grounds. The Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu is a Catholic church with over 400 years of history. If you have an interest you may see some background information on Wikipedia. Pope Francis delivered a prayer at the church on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015.

At Madhu Church

At Madhu Church

Madhu Church

Madhu Church


THE SACRED CITY OF ANURADHAPURA

The church was quite far from the city of Anuradhapura. We had a lot of time to drive and talk. Jay had looked online and picked out a few hotels to check. We used Google Maps to drive directly to the Crown Grande Hotel. It didn't prove to be as posh as it sounds. However, because we found rooms early enough, we were able to wash up, rest, and then head out again.

This city is famous for being one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka. In fact, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is somewhere between 2500 and 3000 years old. However, it is still a vibrant place today. Our hotel was in the new town, but we drove to the still sacred center, a UNSECO designated world heritage site. So many devotees were visiting on a weekday evening! I imagine the heat would be a bit unbearable at midday.

The enormous Ruwanwelisaya dagaba (sometimes called a stupa) was built a few hundred years before Christ. This groundbreaking architectural form created by the ancient Sinhalese, to this day, contains relics of the Buddha. It is over 330 ft tall, meaning about as high as a 30-storey building. This was a calm but busy religious place tonight.

Anuradhapura Night Visit (Unedited)

Anuradhapura Night Visit (Unedited)

Anuradhapura Night Visit (Unedited)

Anuradhapura Night Visit (Unedited)

The plan is to get up at about seven o'clock tomorrow to head to one last location on this trip. Coordinating people in three different hotel rooms may delay that departure.


Monday, January 13, 2020

Let's Try Again!

Day 74 - We're planning another overnight trip. Just as last week, we'll all pile into a van and head off tomorrow morning. We'll again find a hotel for one night. This time, however, we'll head north and east. There are a bunch of things we can see with the sisters in the area around Anuradhapura. We'll visit some important Buddhist and ancient historical sites.

Turn to Madhu Church

One pilgrimage spot I missed in the past was the Madhu Church, a Roman Catholic Marian shrine in Mannar district. The only time Jay and I tried going to that area we couldn't get through. It was 2004 and the LTTE rebels controlled the area. The picture above is the same one used on October 3, 2004. We should definitely have better luck tomorrow morning.


Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Flickr Album for Our Winter

Day 73 - I probably take more photos than most people. Although there was nothing much added today, you will find over 750 photos from the last two and a half months alone. They are in the album I created for our winter away. At this point, it contains a few pictures of our stopover in Kuala Lumpur and all the photos taken in Sri Lanka.

When we head to Kuala Lumpur at the end of this month, I'll continue to add more during our two-month stay there. Eventually, as soon as we're back in Canada at the beginning of April, I'll create a new album.

Flickr Albums

Some of these photos find their way onto my blog; however, the actual files are embedded. This means the photos you see in 'my eJournal and images' are physically residing on the Flickr site.

If you click on the image above, you will be taken to the album. Of course, you could continue your exploration by checking my many other albums holding a present total of 29,400 images.


Saturday, January 11, 2020

Neighbours

Neighbours

Day 72 - At home in Canada, we own an apartment in a complex with 150 units. We know a few people. We recognize more. We are really close friends with none. With so many apartments, people are always moving in or leaving.

At the house here, one's neighbours are more important. The area has grown substantially over the years, so now there are literally more neighbours than in the past. Jay's younger sister is in contact with people from the surrounding houses. They watch out for the house when she's away. When stopping in for visit, a Sri Lankan never comes empty-handed. Inevitably, gifts of food are involved. As well as cooked food, sharing fruits are common. Sometimes several bunches of bananas get ripe at the same time, or a huge, spare jackfruit is ready. These are often shared. Lastly, a local women's group organizes trips and she often goes. Knowing one's neighbours is more important.

Here are a few folks who stopped by the house yesterday and today.

Other Neighbours


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