Archive for the 'Art' Category
TotalAdventure arrived in Colombo in the early morning hours of March 2,2023. It had been nearly three years since the first attempt to travel to Sri Lanka had been made, The Pandemic made travel in 2020 impossible, until late in the year when a two week quarantine was imposed – a traveller would have to spend two weeks in a government approved hotel and then be tested. Upon release, travel within the country was still restricted and many temples and other public places remained closed. In mid 2021 the quarantine was dropped and TotalAdventure booked the flights and obtained the visa. Three days before departure the quarantine was reimposed and so TotalAdventure cancelled. In early 2022 TA once again booked – only to be stopped on a false positive of a required covid test. Now – with the world once again open ( more or less) I flew from Miami to Qatar and then on to Colombo.
The Business Class upgrade was very welcome for the 5 hour DOH-CMB leg, after 15 hours in coach from Miami.
Colombo is a mix of Colonial buildings of the British Raj, modern high rises and temples dating back centuries.
The food is amazing. Go to local places like the Curry House. Stay away from tourist locations that have bland imitations and western dishes.
My lunch was very spicy, varied and delicious -everything fresh. Sri Lanka is not as vegetarian as India. The food is eaten by hand . This dish was about $ 3.
Traditional with modern – the bizarre building in the background is reminiscent of Pyongyang.
After a day and a half in Colombo, it was time to head in-country. The 4 hour train ride from Colombo to Kandy cost 350 rupees – about $ 1. On top of a country station lives a monkey family – obviously influenced by 1980s. punk fashion.
Kandy is home to the Temple of the Tooth – Lord Buddha’s Tooth !
Like The Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia, one cannot view the actual Tooth, but just have faith that they are very close to it. It sits in a gold box in a vault behind the altar.
TotalAdventure stayed at the Queen Hotel – a charming relic of the Empire. Inside, little has changed – slowly moving fans, British food like mutton chops, cool gin and tonics at the bar.
Hotel Message – keep balcony doors closed, lest mischievous monkeys come in and steal your belongings – they love cameras and jewelry.
After a long and colorful train ride – standing room only for 7 hours,TotalAdventure arrived in Ella The train goes as high as 8000 feet, 2500m – where we viewed the high, cool misty tea plantations that stretch for hundreds of kilometers. . You can see the journey in the VIDEO at the beginning of this article. The town of Ella , at about 1900m, is warmer than the mountaintops but much cooler than sea level. 75/25 in day and 61/16 at night. The countryside is exotically amazing, while the town caters to tourists and their money.
From Ella TotalAdventure hired a car for the ride to Udawalawe National Park – home to several large elephant herds. Elephants are well protected in Sri Lanka – there is very little poaching. However elephant rides are still permitted in some tourist areas – Do not engage in this cruel practice ! The magnificent creatures suffer greatly – as strong as they are ,their backs are not built for carrying heavy loads. Since they naturally refuse this activity – they are beaten into submission to force them.
At the watering hole. A great place for a swim on a hot day – which is every day of the year in Southern Sri Lanka.
Highly intelligent sentient beings. The Hindu Elephant God Ganesh is the God of Wisdom.
Besides the National Parks – elephants live in the wild in many forests throughout Sri Lanka.
From Udawalawe the driver took me to the tranquil Indian Ocean village of Talalla. Monday,March 6th was a Full Moon – and in Sri Lanka every Full Moon Day is a Holiday ! The surfing here is fairly good ,though onshore winds make for some afternoon chop. The hotel was quite nice as you will see in the VIDEO.
As wave conditions were not optimal, and not much to see while snorkeling, TotalAdventure moved on to Batticaloa on the East Coast the next day. Finally, a town with no Westerners ! Above, Nandi the Bull.
Whereas the South and West are more Buddhist , the East and North is more Hindu. There is also a large Muslim community.
Commerce and Holiness Come Together.
Batticaloa is home to the Laughing Fish, or Singing Fish who reside in Batticaloa Lagoon, seen in the VIDEO. In reality, they probably croak, which can be heard in some tropical bottom feeders.
A delicious place even for carnivores like myself. Food is flavorful and filling ,unlike Western oriented vegan food – more bland and unvaried. The hotel was very comfortable, with a beautiful pool. There were giant ballrooms, hundreds, of rooms and a huge restaurant. I was one of 5 people there.
On the way to Trincomalee there were several beautiful mosques. TotalAdventure did visit one in Batticaloa that you can see in the VIDEO. Sri Lanka is 70% Buddhist, 13 % Hindu, 10% Islamic and 7% Catholic.
TotalAdventure went further up the coast to Trincomalee – where Lord Rama sits high on the cliffs looking out into the Indian Ocean at Thirukoneswaram Kovil .
Ravanna prays from atop the cliffs.
All Powerful Kali – Goddess of War.
TotalAdventure Becomes Holi.
A clifftop treat of healthy refreshing juice. About 75 cents.
Many world times – none of them right. Sri Lanka i in a half hour time zone.
In A Seaside Temple.
The final destination before returning to Colombo was Sirigiya Rock Fortress. According to TripAdvisor :
There’s a reason UNESCO ranks Sigiriya as the 8th Wonder of the World.. Sigiriya is a stunning ruins of a castle build atop a tall rock mountain. An engineering marvel, water was piped from the pools at the base of the rock mountain, all the way up to the castle.
200 Meters or 625 feet doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s half an Empire State Building at a 60 degree angle.
Ancient City high above the jungled plains.
It’s lunchtime above the pond on the fortress top.
Some similarities with Mexico and Central America.
An ancient swimming pool ?
200 Meters Below. The climb up was great practice for climbing the stairs of the Himalayas in Nepal , right after Sri Lanka. What I thought would take hours only took about 45 minutes.
The dry (relatively ) jungles spread out below.
TotalAdventure had hoped for one last train ride – to Colombo. Alas , the train engineer for the Trincomalee to Colombo run was sick that Sunday, so once again I had to hire a car – $ 80 as opposed to $ 2.
A Final Night In Colombo – And It Was Off To Nepal In The Morning ! Mini – Shanghai Tower.
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The First Art Basel was scheduled for 2001. It was cancelled due to 9/11. When I my journalistic career took me to Miami in 2002 , I was privileged to attend the first one. Admission was $ 5 and we went in our bathing suits. Fast forward to 20 years later, including in the video above. It’s a very different scene now.
Back in 2002 some Argentine friends had picked up a couple Picassos and had them propped up on the floor of their Venetian Island house. Now there don’t seem to be many Picassos.
Angel Of Anger.
Big and Beautiful !
Devil In Disguise.
A Deathly Dig.
A Wall Streeter On Vacation.
Since 2002 – only one shaw did not happen – in the COVID lockdowns of 2020.
All Hail To The Great Helmsman !
We wished I picked up a Warhol for $2000 back in 1987 ,just before he died.
Terror Or Tyranny ?
Imperial Irony. The Forerunner of the NFT Craze. Will NFTs continue by 2023 ?,
Axum Is One Of The Holiest Christian Cities On Earth. It Is Home To The Ark Of The Covenant – The Tablets Of The Ten Commandments Held By Moses.
In Middle Ages Europe ,In The Time Of The Crusaders, there was a tale of a paradise called The Land of Prester John. A land of unimaginable riches, and home to the Holy Grail. Somewhere near Ethiopia, though the Crusaders never got beyond Jerusalem.
A Truly Ancient Land.
Egyptian emissaries erected stellae in the Fourth Century, though quite a few have fallen.
Sunrise in the Land of Prester John.
The modern Church of Maryam ( Virgin Mary ) near the Ark Of The Covenant.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church claims to possess the Ark of the Covenant, or Tabot, in Axum. The object is currently kept under guard in a treasury near the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion.( Wikipedia) Ark of the Covenant was brought to Ethiopia by Menelik I with divine assistance, while a forgery was left in the Temple in Jerusalem. ( Wikipedia.) Melenik I was the son of King Solomon and Queen Sheba.
A Peaceful Dove – An Apparition ?
An Ancient Stellae Field.
A Cantankerous Camel.
Brutal Punishments For Sinners.
Rugged Trees For the Dry Climate.Tigray only gets a few showers in the summer.
One of the best restaurants in Ethiopia – in Adrigat.
Lamb and Beef so fresh you can eat it raw.
Hotel In Adrigat. Did not stay there.
Captured In Battle.
Debri Damo Monastery. Accessible only by rappelling up the cliff.
Even monks 80 or 90 years. old can do it. Once they can’t, they stay.
Two Fascinating Weeks In Ethiopia then came to an end. TotalAdventure moved on to nearby Eritrea, though it took two flights to get there. TotalAdventure would especially like to thank Awaze Tours for making our private journey possible. Also Special Thanks to our driver Engdu ! Ethiopia is not an easy country to navigate and Awaze helped make all this incredible experience possible.
In The Twelfth Century King Lalibela Decreed A Holy City Known As New Jerusalem – To Be Built From Solid Rock. Above Is Beti Gyorgis – St.George ,One Of Eleven Churches Carved From The Earth.
The Light of Jesus Shines Upon A Monk.
Days Spent In Prayer Unchanged From The Fourth Century.
Very Little Restoration Has Taken Place. Due To The Arid Climate And Solid Rock Construction, Lalibela Remains Much Intact.
Envy Of The Crusaders Who Sought Ethiopia, But Couldn’t Find It.
There Are 2 Masses Per Day, At Dawn And At Noon,Each For Two Hours. No Eating Or Drinking Is Permitted Beforehand ,Not Even Water.
While Ethiopia is being “Discovered ” there are few crowds.
Rock Church From Above.
An Approach To Church.
Exterior of Compound.
Light Of Jesus.
Outside Lalibela- A Church Built In A Cave.
St.George From Below.
Holy Waters – A Bit Stagnant.
No Assembly – Just Carving !
Lalibela Houses. Only Recently Did The Town Receive Electricity.
On the morning of July 3rd TotalAdventure arrived in Paris. While Paris does not conjure adventures other than those of gastronomy ,art and retail , it is home to adventure companies that lead trips into former French West African colonies – the safer ones being Cameroon,Gabon,Mauritania and Burkina Faso. Niger,Chad and parts od Algeria are inadvisable at this time due to murderous incursions by Boko Harem.
It’s about 10 hours from Miami to Paris. It would be great if Air France would have WiFi on their flight. They don’t.
The Tour de Eiffel on a Glorious Summer Evening. In Early July It Stays Light Past Ten.
The Tower From Underneath.
In 4 Hours It Is Possible To See About Ten Percent Of The Louvre.
Always Real Escargot, Not Canned Like In The States.
While 70% of US Citizens favor dropping all restrictions for traveling to Cuba, President Trump , delivering on a campaign promise to a vocal minority in Miami, has reimposed restrictions on most individual travel to Cuba. These will likely take effect in the coming months. The purpose of the restrictions is to help individual Cubans in the tourism sector. Thankfully, TotalAdventure trips fall into that category. We have amazing trips that see the real Cuba, working and visiting with local people.
There are 3 places left on Cuba Explorer – 9 Days in August for $ 2199.
Also in August Cuba Rhythms – Only $ 944 !
The Cuba Colonial trip is also in August. 6 Places left at $ 2499.
TotalAdventure finally had some time to relax after a whirlwind journey. We stayed int eh luxurious resort town of Bodrum, on the Aegean Sea Our gracious host was Nezih Çavuşoğlu,the well known Turkish artist we met in Istanbul in 2012. Read the November,2012 article here. You can review , and perhaps buy his paintings here on Artsy.
Balcony at the house of the Artist.
Crystal clear Aegean waters. The atmosphere was peaceful in the days after the attack at Ataturk, hundreds of kilometers to the north.
A newly constructed Mosque.
The peaceful Mosque interior.
Bodrum by night.
Delicious fresh seafood every night.
INDIA INCOGNITO is a behind the scenes documentary shot by backpackers. This is the real India- not the tourist India -showing how people really live. To view it is experience India Incognito- noticing, but not being noticed.
Religious ceremonies, street life, music, and the every day bizarre bazaars are ongoing. The last part of the program explores the little known tribal areas of Eastern Orissa, including the murderous Bonda.
India Incognito was shot and produced in 1990. This is timeless India, however. Though upper caste society has modernized since then – these are scenes that have not changed for millennia and will continue the cycle for eternity.
Check out amazing India Adventure trips at http://bit.ly/1PkhMdH
There is no better way to explore the glorious metropolis of Istanbul than with a citizen of the city. ArcticTropic was very fortunate to be hosted by Nezih Çavuşoğlu – a renowned artist in Turkey and increasingly throughout Europe. He descends from an old Ottoman family and was educated in Switzerland and the United States.
On the day I arrived Nezih sent his driver to pick me up at my hotel. As it turned out, his work was being auctioned that evening at Istanbul’s top gallery.
More works by The Artist.
The next day I arrived at Nezih’s beautiful apartment overlooking the Bosporus, with a view from Europe to Asia. His work graced the walls. From there we left for a cruise up and down the Bosporus – featured earlier on ArcticTropic Blog.
With Artist Nezih Çavuşoğlu before Yachting in the Bosporus.
With his wife Gulsen.
Istanbul by night is incredible. We feasted in the top restaurants.
Partied in the most exclusive clubs.
Then aperitifs at other artists houses.
ArcticTropic thanks our gracious host Nezih,who showed Istanbul in an incredible way that no one else could.
FOR ADVENTURES IN TURKEY, CLICK HERE
Today ArcticTropic was invited on a private yacht tour by a renowned Istanbul artist who will later be featured in the Blog.Time and bandwidth constraints in the hotel make posting difficult at this time. Today was an incredible fall day with temperatures in the 70s – in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
From Asia looking to Europe.
Turkey is extremely patriotic – the nation controls a good portion of this part of the world.
The entrance the Black Sea.
Saudi Prince Abdul Aziz pops in for a visit.