Sri Lanka, Part II

Since we shared the basic story of our trip to Sri Lanka in Pre-Vacation, this post is a way for us to share some photographs that we are fond of.  Each one has a story of some kind that goes with it, of course, but not all stories need to be written, for they can be guessed at, and sometimes guessing is as rewarding as knowing the actuality of a thing.

Burj, Beach, and Birthday

Shon celebrated his birthday on Sunday with the traditional carrot cake, a new book by J.K. Rowling, and a bunch of friends.  On Saturday, however, we went to Dubai, so that he could receive the first part of his present: a tour to the tallest building in the world – Burj Khalifa.

If you have seen “Mission Impossible 4,” you know this building.  If you haven’t you should.

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The Burj (it means “tower”) is 852 meters tall. The observation deck is almost half-way up, and is, you guessed it, the highest observation deck in the world!

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Us on the deck

The view is great if you ignore the ever-present haze:

ImageDubai Mall, yes, exactly, the largest shopping center in the world (by total territory) is the huge building from the road to the water.

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See the haze I keep talking about?

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us looking all cute

ImageAnd then we went to the beach! I have to say, the beach itself is not as beautiful as the Gulf of Mexico beaches, but the water… the water is simply phenomenal here! It is turquoise even when you are in it, it is very, very clear, and delightfully warm. We should invest in some goggles, though, because it is very salty (which makes it quite a bit easier to swim.)

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Shon loves it!

It was only at the end of the day that I truly realized I was in Dubai: the sun just set into the Arabian Gulf, we could see Burj Khalifa in the distance, and Burj Al Arab (the sail-looking building) right next to us. And then, the evening call to prayer came from several of the nearby mosques. It was simply beautiful.

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The Corniche

I haven’t explored much so far, which makes me feel silly–how come I would travel here and not do any sight-seeing?  I’m tired of seeing malls and furniture stores.  I suck at shopping, I guess.  I began my exploring today, going it solo.  The Corniche is the miles-long beach-front walkway that is nearby.  I caught a cab from the Intercontinental down to it, finding the magnificent Emirates Palace hotel off to my left, and miles of blue-tile-paved walkway stretching away in the opposite direction.   It was ten o’clock, and the beach was mostly empty, despite the temperature not being scorching just yet.  A work crew of Indians were just quitting and exiting a building project on the beach as I arrived.  They loaded into several big buses without air conditioning.

The Corniche stretching into the horizon.

My initial walk wasn’t too bad–I stopped to take photos periodically, admiring the white sand and the interesting structures here and there.  The city, across the road flanking the Corniche, is growing taller day by day.  Across the bay, the Marina Mall’s burj juts into the air.  I’d guess I covered well over a mile before deciding that it was getting too hot and my sunscreen might not endure.

The return walk was an exercise in endurance.  I’d go from one patch of shade to another. The few tourists I encountered were either looking for a suitable beach or else Japanese and busy taking photos of each other.  I stopped at one of the underpasses and stuck my hands in the fountain to cool off.  As I squeezed my digits into a fist, I noticed that my hands were swollen.

These awnings provide much needed shade along the boardwalk.

Instead of taking a cab this time, I decided to just walk back to the hotel, since it wasn’t far.  I found a pretty little park where birds were singing.  I’m going to have to learn what the local birds are.  There are some that I’ve never seen before, in addition to common pigeons and doves.  I christened one, out of sheer ignorance, of course, the Red Butt Bird because of a red spot beneath his tail, and another, similar in size to a robin, the Awe Bird, because he and his compatriots walk around with their mouths wide open, as if they’re exclaiming, “Awe, man, that is pure awesome!”  My walk concluded with a crossing of the four-lane highway in front of the hotel.  This is easier said than done because it’s a construction zone, like a great deal of the city.

Across the bay, the Marina Mall is visible with it’s tower protruding into the sky.

One of my colleagues snapped this photo from the hotel. The patch of trees is the park I enjoyed stopping in.

Crossing a construction zone to get back to the Intercontinental. At the end of the highway the lovely Emirates Palace hotel draws the eye.

When I got back into the air conditioning, I ran into my dining companions from last night, and enjoyed sitting in the lobby for a while before heading back to my room to rehydrate.  Tonight I may head down to the Emirates Palace to walk around and explore the place.  We shall see what the day holds!