Water filled street

Happy Songkran!

Songkran, the Thai water festival, just finished. Two years ago I celebrated Songkran in Bangkok where they celebrate for three days. This year I celebrated Songkran in Chiang Mai, where the festival is celebrated with exceptional zeal. The festival starts early and ends late—five days of throwing water! Songkran is not specifically a Thai festival, though the Thai take it to a whole other level. The festival celebrates the lunar New Year. Originally based on the Buddhist calendar, the dates have changed over the years. The Thai now align their New Year with January 1st of the Christian calendar, though ...

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Security & Limitations While Traveling

Censored

One of the most inconvenient and least helpful things about traveling is the “security” and regional issues you encounter. Credit cards block you from using your card (even if you warned them up front), accounts are blocks because of “suspicious activity,” and a host of other annoyances. Want to watch Netflix or listen to Songza? Sorry, your region is not supported. What is so frustrating about this is that these issues have nothing to do with protecting you or your security at all. Credit cards are just trying to protect themselves. U.S. law makes you liable for only $50 in ...

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Galle Fort & Unawatuna Beach

Pole fisherman in Galle

I wrapped up my trip to Sri Lanka with a visit to Galle, pronounced “gawl” in English. I chose to stay in Galle Fort, which in retrospect was a mistake. I am sure I would have enjoyed staying at nearby Unawatuna much more, despite it being overrun by tourists. I hadn’t even planned on visiting the South or the beaches of Sri Lanka, but my rigorous schedule that nearly killed me made it possible. I was so exhausted by everything I had done in such a short amount of time, that I needed the break the South offered. Galle Fort ...

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Yala National Park [Photo Gallery]

Yala National Park is the most famous national park in Sri Lanka. Located in the Southeast corner, it isn’t necessarily the easiest to get to, but the wildlife is worth the effor. I saw pretty much everything you could see with the one major exception of leopards. Yala is sort of famous for leopards, however none of them were out when I was there. In fact, I was surprised any animals were out. The number of jeeps was really high and they can get a bit aggressive in trying to find animals for you to see. I paid 6500Rs (about ...

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How Ceylon Tea is Made

Ceylon tea

I had never been to a tea plantation before or visited a tea factory. Tea is everywhere in Sri Lanka because, well, they are super famous for it. Ever since the British colonized Sri Lanka and re-named it Ceylon for who-knows-why, they have been growing tea. Coffee might have been the main product if it were not for James Taylor in the 1860s. The humidity, cool temperatures, and rainfall in the country’s central highlands around Nuwara Eliya provide a climate that particularly favors the production of high quality tea. Tea is about 2% of Sri Lanka’s economy—about $700 million annually—and ...

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