Sri Lanka 11: Colombo Daze

This was the city I almost forgot to photograph, the city of friends we’d vowed to visit, the city of whining motorbikes, scrambling tuk-tuks, and rainbows of fresh fruit swarming round busloads of elbows and shoulders hanging out windows barreling through intersections and coughing fog behind.   Colombo: city of such welcoming homes and such… Continue reading Sri Lanka 11: Colombo Daze

Sri Lanka 10: Notes on the South Coast

Sri Lanka 10: Notes on the South Coast TANGALLE BLOWHOLE “This is ridiculous,” I hissed. “This is the most—” “Smile and say, ‘Rupees!’” Andy snapped the photo of the feeble jet of water squirting from the rocks. “Relax. At least it’s not the gouging we got at Sigirya.” “Wait,” said the park ranger. “Another is… Continue reading Sri Lanka 10: Notes on the South Coast

Sri Lanka 9: A Drive on the Wild Side

Craziest New Year’s ever? Well, how about the crashing surf roaring through the midnight black, and mosquitoes hounding your haggard face? How about volcano-spicy shrimp peeled apart in ratty lawn furniture and a glassy-eyed chef staring at you over his motorcycle? How about a dingy backpacker dive with lizards and spiders crawling the walls, a… Continue reading Sri Lanka 9: A Drive on the Wild Side

Sri Lanka 8: Road Trips

We started late—always late.  This was as common a feature on our trips as Jaliya’s stops for single cigarettes and cups of coffee that looked like they just crawled through the apocalypse. The culprit was the Sri Lankan breakfast. In the West, we’re used to cereal and milk, or maybe a bagel, probably a coffee… Continue reading Sri Lanka 8: Road Trips

Sri Lanka 7: Kandy Botanical Gardens

I’ve witnessed a million bats tear-drop from limbs of a hundred ancient trees, and I’ve heard their godless squawking ringing through mid-morning’s breeze, and I’ve turned to my wife and said I thought these crazy guys belonged to the night.  Why won’t they shut up? I’ve strolled beneath the zig-limbs’-zag of squat trees growing themselves… Continue reading Sri Lanka 7: Kandy Botanical Gardens

Sri Lanka 6: Nuraw Eliya Road

“I am a silly father,” he tells me from the blackness of the driver’s seat.  And then he whips the wheel around another loop of a hairpin curve.  It’s grave dark outside, and our headlights feebly crawl down the mountain passes from the heights of Nuraw Eliya. The others are asleep, and he tells me… Continue reading Sri Lanka 6: Nuraw Eliya Road

Sri Lanka 5: Kaudulla Crazy Right

Crazy Right My first safari, and we hit the trail in the family car. Crazy, right? Right. Here’s what I remember: Late afternoon, sun washing over Ceylon plains and golden light spilling through humid treetops and I rush to buy park passes. A driveway loaded with jeeps and one family’s compact SUV because we thought… Continue reading Sri Lanka 5: Kaudulla Crazy Right

Sri Lanka 4: The Sigiriya Report

Crumpled, stained with footprints, and pockmarked with red slashes, this document lay wounded in a back corner of the Sigiriya Museum. I don’t know why I did it.  Maybe because I was sweaty and thirsty and more than a little sunburned. Maybe because I was still tingling with the thrill of stomping through one of… Continue reading Sri Lanka 4: The Sigiriya Report

Sri Lanka 3: Baby Elephants

“It’s an elephant orphanage!” Andy was giddy with excitement.  “Will we get to pet them?”  She was bouncing in her seat. “Yes, yes, why not?” our friend Jaliya assured us. We were on our way to Pinnawala, a definite checkmark on the unofficial Tour de Sri Lanka, and like Andy’s already told you, an orphanage… Continue reading Sri Lanka 3: Baby Elephants

Sri Lanka 1: Thinking Deep in the Kandy Temple

“This has got to be a sick joke,” I muttered, “Buddha’s tooth in the Candy Temple?” “It’s Kandy, with a K,” Andy said from behind the Canon’s lens.  “But good point.” Normally, such corny jokes plumb the full extent of my deep thinking, but finally stepping foot onto the fabled Ceylon soil, onto the emerald… Continue reading Sri Lanka 1: Thinking Deep in the Kandy Temple

Maldives: Gems on a Shoestring?

“I have a problem.” Those were the first words the owner spoke to us.  Fresh from ninety minutes of sapphire oceans lapping sweetly at the lazy hull of our ferry, fresh from a sea-breezed nap on the sun-drenched top deck, fresh off cruising the palm-studded isles draped in royal luxury, through the ancient spice isles,… Continue reading Maldives: Gems on a Shoestring?

Jogja Part 3: Planned Anthem

The gamelan will ping and gently gong under a million piercing Java stars; the torchlight will flicker and glow on a thousand anxious faces; and, like a dew slowly soaking Papaya leaves in the still-shadowy dawn, a man draped in the crazy vines and tattoo lines of a royal batik will glide to the mic. … Continue reading Jogja Part 3: Planned Anthem

Jogja Part 2: Zombie Zen

We were the walking undead—moaning, grunting, shuffling lifelessly off the panting train and onto Jogjakarta’s storied soil. “Uuuuggghhhhh.” It was 4 AM.  This overnight train was not ideal for sleeping—too much clacking, too much sideways jerking around the curves, too much light in the aisles, and too cold, much too cold, air blasting from the… Continue reading Jogja Part 2: Zombie Zen

When I’m Mayor: Ban the Bajaj

Elections are around the corner, and as Indonesia’s president nears the completion of his second term, the race will go to a newcomer, a presidential rookie, an executive greenhorn, a leader wet behind the ears, a—well, you get the picture. But what interests me more is that, from what I’m told, one of the frontrunners… Continue reading When I’m Mayor: Ban the Bajaj

Singapore: The Merlion Gurgles and Roars

I’ve seen Singapore lifted to a golden pedestal, settled atop a gilded column glowing in fanciful sunset light, ever since I arrived in Jakarta.  That’s right: Jakarta fawns over Singapore. You’ll never see trash on the ground, I was told.  The subway’s clean enough to eat off the floor.  They’ve tamed the heat and roaches… Continue reading Singapore: The Merlion Gurgles and Roars