Sunday, March 27, 2011

Malé, Maldives

Malé - the capital of Maldives

Sorry for my long spell of silence. After returning from Sri Lanka (3 weeks ago), there's some adjustments at work (new role, greater responsibilities, and stress). I wouldn't use the 'no time' excuse as there are always time for anything and everything, it's only whether one is lazy or not. In this case, I won't deny I am (abit of) the former heehee.

Anyway, I shall move on to my next travel posting on Maldives. SL posts will be resumed when I feel like writing them.

Every. Single. Maldivian. has a cool pair of shades. Seriously.

Let's face it - unless you and I are rich & famous, Maldives remains as a dream for a holiday destination. Bali would be the cheaper and preferred destination instead (which reminds me... I've got long overdue Bali & Bandung travels to blog about too!) However, once you've been to Maldives, you'll have a different definition of what 'paradise on earth' means.

It is jaw droppingly BEAUTIFUL.

Jumhooree Maidan - the republic square of Maldives, a popular spot for social gatherings

For the unknown, Maldives was one of the affected regions when the 2004 Tsunami hit, although said to be less badly damaged than Sri Lanka and Andaman, but bad enough to alter the map of the paradise cluster. Words have since spread that one must visit Maldives at least once in their life as some of the smaller islands could possibly sink in 50-100 years time. I am not in the position to tell whether it's true or not but with the current changing climate and natural disasters happening globally, it is better to believe than living in denial.

I'll leave the googling to you on the city of Malé (pronounced as Ma-leh) and the paradise nation of Maldives... while I bring you some images of the little city with just over 100,000 Maldivians.

People's Majlis - Maldives Parliament

The Presidential Palace of current Maldives President, Mr. Mohammed Nasheed

Hukuru Miskiiy - The oldest mosque in Maldives, it's architecture is entirely made out of coral stones

Mausoleum for the very important people, tombstones entirely made out of coral stones too

Grand Friday Mosque (Masjid-al-Sultan Mohammed Thakurufaanu-al-A "z" zam) is the biggest mosque in Maldives where majority of Maldivians are Muslims

Sultan Park

Fishing boats lining the shore of Malé, all ready to unload the day's catch at the fish market

This is a tuna fish

Maldivians filling up water in these striking yellow plastic containers at the fish market

... and of course the obligatory food picture:

The BEST Tuna Fried Rice ever (and expensive too) at Food Bank Restaurant

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), Sri Lanka

Kandy Town

Kandy is a countryside city located in the central region of Sri Lanka. Less commonly known as Maha Nuvara, its Sinhalese name, Kandy is the 2nd busiest city in Sri Lanka, with 1st being Colombo. The city lies on top of hills (unfortunately it doesn't have the cooling temperature like Nuwara Eliya) and is home to tea plantations and the world famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic or Sri Dalada Maligawa, one of the most venerable places for the Buddhist community.

Plumeria and Purple Nil Manel flowers for praying

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a very holy place rich in religion and national history. Legend has it that the Sacred Tooth (which if you have not figured out by now, it belongs to Siddharta Gautama a.k.a. Buddha) is safeguarded by the monarchs and over time it became a symbol that 'whoever has the tooth, he shall be in power' (just like TVB Chinese dramas in the emperor era). According to Wiki, the precious Tooth relic is encased in seven caskets engraved with precious gemstones making it undoubtedly a national treasure.

Sri Dalada Maligawa

The temple was partially destroyed in the 1998 bomb blast attack when Sri Lanka was still in the midst of a civil war with the LTTE (Tamil Tigers). However, the architecturals has since been restored. Legend has it again that the Tooth is so powerful that the people will take it out when they face draught and there will be rain pour soon after.

Cooling holy water

The sacred tooth is kept behind the gold doors

One can read the story of the Tooth Relic presented in the form of paintings and English and Sinhalese captions

Rajah, the world's only stuffed elephant

There is an admission fee for foreigners at Rs. 1,000 (RM28) which also comes along with a mini CD that (I have yet to check out what's in it) but I would suspect some pictures, and descriptions of the temple lah. One has to go in the temple barefooted as well. Photos are allowed. Make sure you put Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic on your visit list the next time you're in Kandy!

After all, you've not been to Kandy if you've not seen the temple!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Paradise Road and Green Path Art Gallery

Paradise Road Studio @ Alfred House Garden

Paradise Road (trademark) is the brainchild of Udashanth Fernando and is also famous because all the galleries/ cafe/ studio are located in buildings designed by famous European-Ceylonese architect Geoffrey Bawa. A google search brought me to a Wikipedia page dedicated to him and these words "among the most influential architects in southeast Asia in the last decades of the 20th century, he is the principal force behind what is today known globally as ‘tropical modernism’" says alot about his works and contribution to Sri Lanka. Unfortunately he has passed away in 2003, but there's no doubt his designs and works still lives on and I'm glad Paradise Road has brought a new lease of life to the premises.

Before I went to Sri Lanka, I had a colleague who kept insisting I have to visit Paradise Road. He told me that in a state of drunkness and I actually thought he was fooling around (Me thinking: Paradise... Road? Is it a road where drug addicts gather to 'feel' like they're on paradise? Or where magic mushrooms are available?) Of course I didn't pay much attention to him and brushed aside the drunken 'tip'.

When I touched down in Colombo, I was whisked to Cinammon Lakeside Hotel where I spent a month there. Everytime I passed by the lobby or waiting for my vehicle I could see hoards of European tourists carrying paperbags with the two words printed on it: Paradise Road. That was when I learnt, those are not magic mushrooms and neither it is a road name. Google came to the rescue again and I then found out about Gallery Cafe (own & managed by Paradise Road group), subsequently Paradise Road Galleries (Design Warehouse and Studio), and Tintagel.

I love Paradise Road. There's always so much to see, and I never get bored of it. There's always something that I want to buy and I'm looking forward to have my own house one day and decorate it with home decors from Paradise Road!

Paradise Road Studio
12, Alfred House Gardens,
Colombo 03,
Sri Lanka.
Tel: +94112506844

Paradise Road @ Dharmapala Mawatha; Unmistakable black & white

Just another 10 minutes away from my apartment, there is another Paradise Road Studio which sits in a huge white bungalow opposite the Viharamahadevi Park. While selection of goods are almost the same with the one at Alfred Garden, I find this studio has a little bit more of extra stuff like kids wooden toys and food stuff (hand bottled chutneys, jams, spices, olive oil, etc).

Paradise Road Cafe; Have a slice of cake and rest your feet

Pretty hand bottled food stuff available; The White Room- you can't go wrong with white ceramics

Gift wrapping service is also available here free of charge and wrapping papers come in a myriad of colors with thin manila ropes for ribbons.

Paradise Road
213, Dharmapala Mawatha,
Colombo 07,
Sri Lanka.
Tel: +94112686043

Paradise Road Design Warehouse @ Ward Place; Ayubowan book stopper

Paradise Road Design Warehouse opened its doors in December 2010. It is more spacious and houses more antique furnitures rather than knick knacks and ornaments. Most of the furnitures showcased are of Chinese influence and there are also modern leather furnitures on the upper level.

Prices of things in Paradise Road ranges from about Rs. 50 for the smallest little thing like tealight candle to Rs. 100,000++ for antique furniture pieces. There's always something for everyone!

Paradise Road Design Warehouse
61/3, Ward Place,
Colombo 07,
Sri Lanka.
Tel: +94112691056

Green Path Art Gallery on weekends

My colleagues knew I like arts after knowing that I bought a painting at Gandhara Crafts. They recommended me to pay a visit to Green Path where there is a painting exhibition every weekend by independent artists. Coincidentally, Green Path is just 10 mins walk away from where I stayed so it was really convenient. While not all paintings caught my fancy but there were a few good ones too...

An Aliya painting sold for Rs. 6,500 to me!

... like this water color painting on an aliya (elephant in sinhalese) which was again love at first sight just like the buddhist monk painting I bought earlier. Fortunately this costs only a fraction of the first painting!

Now.......... I need to buy a house to put my paintings!

Green Path Art Gallery
Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha,
Colombo 07,
Sri Lanka.
(within the Viharamahadevi Park)

If you like this, you may also be interested in:
Yiling - The Gallery Cafe
Yiling - Tintagel
Yiling - Gandhara Crafts
Eiling - The Gallery Cafe
Eiling - Tintagel
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