The Dusty Road To Mandalay…

890A1365Sunrise, Bagan, Myanmar

I’m back! At least my body is…

My mind, I’m not so sure…it might arrive later this week. It’s still spinning with the imagery, sounds and scents of distant lands.

 I’ve lost some sense of time & space, but how lovely to come home to Spring and the clocks being turned back, er forward, or…whatever…

 It’s staying lighter much longer than when I left and that makes me very happy :-)

Oh and look at that-Wordpress got new smiley face icons while I was away.

Boy, did we do a lot of traveling in 3 weeks. If it didn’t involve a plane, van, truck, boat, bike, a hike or a climb and a 5:30am wake-up call it was a slow day.

Lake Inle, Myanmar, slimpaley.comCruising along on Lake Inle, Burma

Why all the early starts? It gets hot in *Burma quickly at this time of year. Very, very HOT.  100+ degrees  on many days with nary a suggestion of a breeze. The fine, chalky dust from the red earth rises to meet the omnipresent smoke of the open cooking fires blanketing the atmosphere with a gauzy filter from sunrise to sunset.

Woman smoking, Burma, slimpaley.comA woman in a street market in Mandalay

Yet, despite the heat, many destinations and points of interest require keeping your arms & legs covered, as well as closed toed shoes (because of dust & dirt) yet easily removable (because of the shrines)

Shwedagon Pagoda , slimpaley.comMy shoeless friend and me at the famous Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Burma. The light coloured marble here was lovely underfoot, but some darker hued stone floors at other shrines, not so much…

We took sooo many photos. There was SO MUCH to photograph! Besides, I wasn’t about to lug my Canon 5D (AKA Big Daddy) 1/2 way across the world for naught. In its travel case it’s the size and weight of a small baby. I attached a big hot pink name tag to the strap (Travel Tip #1 learned after leaving my husband’s headphones in a plane seat pocket) in case I left the baby on a plane, or pagoda steps…Did I mention there are a LOT of pagodas in Burma?!

And that I now know the difference between a stupa, a shrine and a pagoda?

 What is a “Stupa”? for $500 Alex.

I also shot in ‘RAW’  format for the first time-FYI that’s a camera setting not a sartorial choice ( I only just learned about this, hangs head in shame. Thanks Mr. Sammy’s Camera Man!) So I’m busy downloading, sorting and trying to figure out how to transfer all these huge files without taking 5 minutes per pic. It’s hard being an empty-nester and not having in-house tech support anymore, but wowzer-zooming in has taken on a whole new meaning. If the photos take a little longer to load than usual, please bear with me.

Breakfast, slimpaley.comBreakfast. NOT every day.

I’m learning, always learning as I go, and we saw and learned so many wonderful things on this trip.

From the mind-blowing wealth and staggering architecture of Dubai, the chic decors and gorgeous people of Sri Lanka to the endless stupas, golden light and dusty chaotic roads of Burma it was a wild, wild ride.

The Tintagel hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka, slimpaley.com

And always, the beautiful children all over the world

IMG_9632A couple of heart-melters at a monastery in Inle Lake, Myanmar

video (might take a few seconds to load)

 I usually cave to self-inflicted Virgo-ian pressure to blog in chronological fashion, but as my last post was March 6th and inspired by my trip, I’m going to go ‘off road’  and let all these places and photos just spill out willy nilly over the course of the next few weeks.

IMG_9536Much like an intricate mosaic, they might not appear to make complete sense viewed too closely but trust me-they’ll be cohesive when viewed from a distance.

I think.

Stand back a bit farther.

I’m starting with the travel tips I promised you but rather than spew them all out at once (that could be pretty boring) I’ll give you just a few at a time.

Starting with the Most Important; MEDS.

1) NEVER pack them in your suitcase. Always in your carry-on.

2) BRING ANTIBIOTICS. Absolutely mandatory on overseas trips!

 No need for me to run through the more obvious medications (Dramamine, Imodium, Pepto-Bismol (pink bismuth caplets) etc. but you might want to also consider;

3) If you’re going somewhere tropical, always check to make sure the area you’re visiting is Malaria-free. If not, seriously consider taking Malarone tablets. I’d rather suffer through a few bad dreams (a possible side effect, and more or less a given for me) than Malaria. I’ve read too many books about Africa & India to risk it, thank you very much. I’m also always the one covered in mosquito bites so I carry

4) “Mozy” After Bites spray. Provides great relief.

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If your trip requires shots, i.e. Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Influenza, it’s always a good idea to carry your yellow International Certificate of Vaccination (approved by the World Health Organization), in case you need to show it to a foreign doctor for any reason.

5) Toothache gel.  Although I think tooth-aches are rare these days, this can be a life-saver if you aren’t near a reliable dentist. I’ve only ever suffered an adult toothache twice. Both times, away from home and excruciating. Once in San Francisco and once in Vegas, where basically you can just win a new tooth, but imagine suffering from a bad bicuspid in say, Africa??

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6) a Dental Repair kit. A friend shared this with me-how about losing a filling or a crown, especially HORROR of horrors, a visible one, right in the front? Talk about excruciating. No more holiday Selfies for you!

Dental_Cement

7) Leg cramp tablets. Long flights, not enough liquids, lots of walking, strange mattresses…I get leg cramps often when I travel and I like Hyland’s Homeopathic pills-I swear they work.

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and lastly, for this go round; my Slim Paley Special Tip that works brilliantly for me whenever I’m around ‘questionable’ tap water;

8) Fluorescent hair ties.

fluorescent hair ties

 

Don't Drink the Water! slimpaley.com

Don’t Use the Water!

The first thing I do in a hotel where I won’t risk even brushing my teeth is to wrap a fluorescent scrunchie around the faucet to serve as a reminder. Because, let’s face it, we’re all Pavlov’s dog when it comes to daily hygiene habits. Works like a charm for husbands & children too :-)

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Next up; not sure… markets & monasteries, fishing & silk weaving, shopping & eating, stupa climbing, beautiful hotels…suns setting & rising and lots of other fun stuff plus more travel tips.

Stay tuned.

Balloon over Bagan, Burma, slimpaley.com

Happy Spring to All!!

xxSP

*To dispel any confusion, Burma is now called ‘Myanmar’ but a healthy number, if not majority of Burmese including our guide and Aung San Suu Kyi still commonly refer to it as Burma, and Yangon as Rangoon. Much of the signage and newspapers still use “Burma” as well. I won’t dare attempt to get into the politics of all this, but the names appeared to be interchangeable without causing any rancour.

I’m Still Here…Just Away

travel.slimpaley.com

Believe it or not, I’m still the proprietor of this blog.

I haven’t quit, misplaced my muse, or simply done a runner…

though I did skip town  :-)

 EmiratesAirlines.slimpaley.com

Girl’s Trip!!

packing.slimpaley.com

So things around my bedroom looked like this

jewelry.slimpaley.comand this

jewelry.slimpaley.comand this

For days…

goldjewelry.slimpaley.combecause what better time to totally organize all your summer clothes and every single piece of jewelry you own than right before going away for 3 weeks?

(I’ll spare you the pics of my emptied & reorganized drawers as they won’t provide the same thrill factor for you as they did for me)

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OK, maybe just one. It’s too exciting!

My thought process being I wanted to be totally & meticulously prepared for this trip as well as come home to a beautifully  organized closet.

Everything sorted, grouped and instantly accessible.

IMG_9283.slimpaley.comMy jewelry in the hotel room this morning.

Let’s move on, shall we?

Dubai.slimpaley.comWe rendezvoused in Dubai.

A city of conundrums & contradictions.

luxurycars.slimpaley.comToys parked outside the Burj Khalifa/Armani Hotel

Dubai.slimpaley.com

These old boats, a veritable kaleidoscope of patina and charm, dock directly across a busy road from the Spice Market where baskets of cinnamon bark, cardamom pods and nuggets of indigo jostle for precious space amongst teetering stacks of rayon ‘Pashminas’ and plastic Louis Vuitton umbrellas. In the distance, barely visible here (alas, another post) staggering skyscrapers from The Future are here now and battling for supremacy.

Indigo.Slimpaley.com

Indigo & rose hips

The Dubai Mall slimpaley.com

Lady hips & more modern shopping

IMG_8995As I said, conundrums & contradictions…

Burjkhalifa.jpgslimpaley.com

The Burj Khalifa-Armani Hotel  (also in another post)

Travel.slimpaley.com

Next port of call; Colombo, Sri Lanka.

We flew right over Thiruvananthapuram.

I just wanted to say that  :-)

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Lots more coming, including good travel & packing tips!

Internet & phone service is sporadic so please bear with me if your comments don’t post right away.

Namaste

xxSP

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Header image via Flickr

It was my birthday

white rose bouquet

I tip-toed away and had a quiet little birthday this week. Not a momentous one, nothing ending in a “0″ or marking another decade. Just one of those that glide by with the swiftness of a bird’s wing, a gentle whoosh,silent … Continue reading

Whimsical Gardens (Part I)

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OK, first things first.

 I’ve made it into The Finals of “The Homies”! (YAY!!)  Thanks to you!

Now  I need your help just once more to win.

I’ve already fallen behind (BOO) but voting is even simpler this time.

Just click HERE

and you’ll see this:

Screen Shot 2013-02-09 at 1.30.12 PM

Easy peasy.

omg-can you tell I never got picked for any sports teams??

And now, without further pestering, the post;

editorials-garden-of-delights-carolineTim Walker

I don’t know about yours, but my garden looks like a dog’s breakfast right now.

Other than a few wildly optimistic blossoms on my pear tree that never grow pears (the eager date who shows up way too early-sweet, but it’s like never going to happen)

 I’ve got nada. Zilch. Strike out.

Not only that…but more of this happened …

IMG_2876My last big willow bit the dust.

@$^&*(*%$#

Willow trees in Southern California are undoubtedly beautiful but let me tell you-they need a lot of supervision and attention.

They grow super fast, uproot easily, turn your back and they attract pests, and don’t look so great for a few months every year.

Basically, they’re the teen-age boys of the tree world.

So now I have about 10 of these wonderful stumps sitting around and I’m trying to decide what to do with them.

The Silver Lining is a dead tree turns into a beautiful ______ (Fill in the blank-don’t worry, this isn’t another contest :) )

I’ll put a few back in the garden as stools but I’d love to hear your suggestions on what to do with the rest.

I  love pretty much everything with a touch of whimsy, but particularly in the garden.

Nothing more boring than spaces that take themselves too seriously. Life’s too short.

Screen Shot 2012-11-04 at 10.03.20 AMAnna Williams

Screen Shot 2012-11-04 at 10.03.30 AM

253890497712617403_oqWaQPyR_f

Screen shot 2011-06-24 at 12.54.17 PMboth images via Pinterest

One of the reasons why I love gardens that incorporate “rooms”, no matter how small, is that they allow you to come upon hidden surprises, which is often the best way to add a sense of whimsy to your outdoor spaces.

l1090996One magnificent example of this is the incomparable Ninfa Gardens in Italy, which contains several ‘rooms’ as well as the pristine Ninfa river running through it.

l1090989Ninfa

L1040414Another is the garden created by Japanese silent film star Denjiro Okochi, located in the Sagano district of Kyoto, open to the public yet not wildly busy.

A stroll through the small, stunning gardens ends with a steaming cup of Macha in the tea house.

L1040410Speaking of teen-age boys…my younger son kicking it at the Okochi gardens.

Screen Shot 2012-11-04 at 9.59.57 AMMoss gardens or simply allowing any ground covering to rule also add a lovely sense of whimsy.

IMG_2849a fuzzy pic of my ground cover

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Manolo Blahnik

I wish these were in my garden

 One of the most effective ways to create a whimsical effect is to place items normally found indoors, outdoors…

L1100410This “room” at “Lunuganga” in Sri Lanka (more of this garden and house in an upcoming post-It’s truly beyond)

L1100422Some of the arches are mirrored, some are not. How flipping genius is that?!

L1100418See me??

Screen shot 2011-06-27 at 6.01.47 PMChanel

Garden-MirrorOf course outdoor mirrors can be applied in much smaller gardens and apartment terraces

120119515032177572_Nijg0ekB_bboth pics via Pinterest

I’ve used mirrors outside in many outdoor scenarios.

Which I can’t show here.

Because  I’ve got “Save It For A Book” Fever now.

Screen Shot 2012-07-07 at 2.15.00 PMGiambattista Valli 2012

L1100455Another glimpse of “Lunuganga”

heligan-2Tumblr

The very best thing about applying whimsy to the garden is that it’s utterly boundless.

And almost inevitably, you’ll get a helping hand from Mother Nature.

Whether you wanted it,IMG_2876or not.

Happy Grammies, Downton Abbey (almost over :() and to those of you on the East Coast-stay cozy!

xx

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#1 Address in the Indian Ocean

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With only one or two days left in January I’ve just realised it’s been a year since my  Sri Lankan sojourn and I never did get around to writing the posts I promised about all the incredible places and things we experienced there.

Perhaps a teeny, weeny part of my resistance was self-serving-I don’t want toooo many people going there-just you guys :)

(Oh oh. Was I being a Holiday Destination Hoarder?!)

img-index Taprobane.com

But I think the main reason was I’m just so damn in love with the place that I wanted every post to be perfect.

Then I remembered my old resolution that “DONE is a whole lot better than perfect” (Was that it?? Something to that effect anyway)

So, with no further time to waste, let’s take a quick visit back to Taprobane Island.

L1090993Located in the Indian Ocean, just a stone’s throw off the southern tip of Sri Lanka in Weligama Bay.

Sri Lanka - from Galle Fort to 30km south.The famous stick fishermen of Weligama Bay

L1080726and yours truly, also in Weligama, waaay too many years ago to admit to.

Taprobane Island mimics the shape of Sri Lanka but measures a mere 2 1/2 acres. It was built in 1922 by the Count de Maunay-Talvande who grandly presided over this last, tiny tear-drop of land before the South Pole, for almost 30 years. After Maunay’s death in the late 40′s, the house fell into a state of neglect until the American writer Paul Bowles came upon it. It was love at first sight and it was here that he wrote “The Spider House”.

In reading a biography about Bowles and his wife Jane several years ago I learned that as enchanted as he was with his tiny slice of Sri Lankan heaven, Jane simply abhorred it. She was a woman blessed with neither good health nor disposition at this stage of her life and deeply feared the swarms of huge bats that routinely descended upon the island each dusk. While Paul enjoyed the peace and inspiration Taprobane offered him, Jane would be plotting her escapes.

Not to mention her girlfriend was back in Morocco waiting for her, but that’s another story.

jane-y-paul-bowlesI want to go back to Morocco now

L1090994The octagonal open air design allows the tropical breezes to flow through the house. The black doors you see flanking the terrace lead to bedrooms

L1100013This was Paul Bowle’s bedroom. Much of the original furnishings and paintings are still there. Don’t you just love the doors?!

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 8.40.00 AMMoi, in one of the other bedrooms enjoying a dreamy, sultry breeze on a very hot & humid day.

L1100017One of the things we loved about much of the architecture we encountered in Sri Lanka were the wonderful ways in which seating areas are incorporated into walls and floors.

L1100030Like this.

Note the gorgeous patina on the cool, smooth concrete floors- something we also saw a lot of and such a great choice in a hot climate.

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 8.36.34 AMTaking late afternoon tea at Taprobane.Uh… no bats ’til dusk right???

(ps. I told you it was humid!)

L1100015The steps leading down to the ocean where the house staff told us the present owner and his mother had been swimming when the Tsunami struck.

Miraculously, they both survived but much of the lower part of the house was damaged and the swimming pool was completely swept away.

L1100018A new infinity pool has been built in a higher location on the property. Here you can see how close the beach of Weligama is to the island.

L1100044The tropical gardens surrounding the house are brimming with eye-popping bouganvilla

Yes, I did post this pic of us leaving the island last year…

L1000537Remember that the tide does rise in the afternoon in Weligama Bay!

For More information about  Taprobane read HERE

L1100012A photo hanging in the house.

(Please note, we did not stay on the island, we just visited and took tea and the tour one unforgettable afternoon)

Happy Travels!

xx

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