I am Lion, Hear Me Roar!

Sigiriya – Lion’s Rock. Epic. Towering. The tiny white statue is actuallya huge Buddha up-close! Early in the morning, we had breakfast in preparation for our trek up Sigiriya, Sri Lanka’s famed UNESCO site and a stop on the Amazing Race, Season 6. We loaded up on water, lightened our packs, and set out for…

A Ride on the Somewhat Wild Side

The van ride out of Colombo was an adventure in part off-roading and part traffic-dodging. There was a load of tile factories on the north side of town (which, come to find out, while Sri Lanka is mostly Buddhist with some Hindu, Negembo is almost entirely Roman Catholic) with tons of clay tiles drying in…

What is This Fruit?!

Our night (and consequently, our sleep) was quite short. We couldn’t leave straightaway for our destination in the middle of the night because – elephants. Yes, elephants might be wandering across the road under the cover of darkness. I love the “elephant crossing” signs. They were even more interesting than the “moose crossing” signs on…

Oh, the Humidity!

Arrival in Colombo at about 1:30 AM is a rough start to a vacation. The airport has that air of chaos even that early in the morning, especially when we waited in immigration for above an hour. Colombo is definitely an up and coming city, an Asian city that hasn’t yet been mega-developed like other…

How to Kill Time (In an Airport)

At the KL airport, we lucked out because there is plenty to keep you busy. Not so at the Manila Airport, Colombo Airport, or Pudong Airport. Those are not fun airports to spend hours in. But KL? Fabulous. Our first order of business was to get a massage. Airport massages – perhaps not the best,…

Expecto Petronas

View of downtown KL Luckily for us, the hotel did have a day long tour we could sign up for. We did so, and then embarked on a van tour of the city. I was ready to do something, especially since I’d been up since 5 AM, listening to the Muslim call to prayer from…

Stuck in the Middle

Well, we did finally take off, about sevenish hours after we were supposed to. I got a window seat next to a very chatty Malaysian woman, but because of her, I got a huge bag of peanuts, some kind of traditional Malaysian sweet tea concoction, and also extra snacks. Pretty sweet. I think at some…

Revenge of the Smofog

Only a few days after the bone-numbing cold of Harbin, we left for our Chinese New Year holiday. My epic adventure this year consisted of a trip to Sri Lanka with two others. Back it up – Sri Lanka? How’d I even think of that? Well, in September, as my students were studying Asian geography,…

The Perils of Winter Clothing

I arrived at Harbin Airport all decked out in my winter finest. I have to change, but the airport bathrooms are…well, not as nice as the ones in Shanghai. Certainly wouldn’t want to pull off all your winter gear in there. So, I do the next best thing – find our gate and then pull…

A Giant Glass Bulb is Suction-Cupped to My Foot

Before foot-cupping … It’s as awful as it sounds. Because we had so much time to kill, we opted for a foot massage in Harbin. Our tour guide located a local place for us to get massages, and we were processed by the front desk and walked upstairs to a huge room full of reclining…

A Little Orthodox

Harbin has the largest Eastern Orthodox church outside of Russia. St. Sophia is a beautiful building. Imposing, Russian, and Orthodox. Since it’s not a functioning church any longer, it’s now a museum documenting the history of Harbin. The captions were in Chinese, but the photographs were so telling. I hadn’t imagined Harbin to be much…

On the Rocks

¬†Since ice abounds in Harbin, you must go to a legit ice bar. The only one we knew of was at the Shangri-La Hotel. After a filling meal at a Russian caf√© (they were closing and got the food out lightning fast to us), we walked around main street for while before finding a cab…