Category: Travel

Shop, Sup and Spa Stylishly in Colombo – CFW 2012

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CFW2012
By Malayna Dawn, Compere and Communications Consultant to Colombo Fashion Week since 2008

If you’re coming to Sri Lanka to be part of Colombo Fashion Week, you’ll want to make sure your entire trip is one of style and beauty. Luckily, that won’t be too difficult to do in the vibrant, diverse city of Colombo!  Let me tell you about some of the best places to be and sights to see. 

The host hotel is The Hilton Colombo Hotel once again, overlooking the Indian Ocean and Beira Lake. While you may be tempted not to leave the hotel grounds, I say you must. Within walking distance you can use the hotel’s direct access to the World Trade Center and then wander out the front entrance of either building to be introduced to the FORT District where modern day business takes place amidst old world architecture.

Millersphoto credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Millers.jpg

Before tasting the modern shops of Colombo, you might want to take a morning three-wheeler ride ‘round the clock tower to visit the nearby PETTAH.

Here you'll go back in time to when narrow roads filled with hand-cart traffic were enough to keep the tiny shops busy with the hustle and bustle of enterprise.

Dutch names and buildings are juxtaposed with candy striped mosques and colorful Hindu kovils. It’s not just a shopping trip…it’s an adventure!

You’ll probably want air-conditioned comfort in the afternoon, so tell the tuk-tuk driver to take you to these…

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Art and Fashion Enchant an English Palace

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Enchanted_palace_kensington Before embarking upon my recent trip to London with one of my best girlfriends, she told me she really wanted to visit a palace. Though Buckingham Palace does offer tours, it’s only during certain months, and it wasn’t available to us during our 3 days there, so I checked out what Kensington Palace had to offer.  I was so excited with what I found!

Not only do they offer tours through the State Apartments, but a theatre group called Wildworks  has been brought in to bring the rooms to life, not as it was, but an enchante d version that lets you get a *feel* for the lives of the seven princesses that once lived there. The Enchanted Palace is what Kensington Palace has become, through the fashion and art installation that tells their stories. 

(Image from http://ireallylikedaisies.blogspot.com/2010/10/enchanted-palace-seven-princesses-in.html)

042-5-21-Orangery-cu

 

We started our visit with afternoon tea on the terrace of The Orangery, an 18th century building commissioned by Queen Anne (reign: 1702-14)  with French floor to ceiling windows overlooking a manicured garden.  “The building was supposed to serve as greenhouse for over-wintering exotic plant and citrus trees that ornamented the gardens in summer. Its accomplished interior decoration reflects the Orangery’s other uses as a ‘summer supper house’ and a place for entertainment.” 

The only hints toward the Enchanted Nature of what awaited were: 1) the design printed atop a chocolate tea cake and 2) the whimsical archway at the garden entrance.

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AlternaWeddings Go Global

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I have had the honor of marrying people to each other—close friends and friends of friends—in a handful of weddings that have taken place in various settings, states and countries*. But I think everyone deserves a chance to be the center of attention and the object of adoration for a day, even if they’re not getting married.

Reuters picked up a story from China about a woman who decided to throw herself a wedding. She didn’t have a groom, but she had the money to get herself a wedding dress, rent a venue, hire a wedding planner and photographer, and invite 30 friends. She even had enough for a honeymoon in Australia! Chen Wei-yih, I salute you!

 

Photo credit: Zimbio.com

Plus I love this quote: "I was just hoping that more people would love themselves."

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Falling in Love with Angkor Thom

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No, Angkor Thom is not the name of a guy who hangs around Angkor Wat. It's not the Cambodian equivalent of Indiana Jones. It means "Big City" and it's part of the Angkor Wat temple complex.

Being raised on Indiana Jones, I have a thing for temple ruins. If I weren't so lazy and squeamish about creepy-crawlies, I might have gone into archaeology or some such thing. But due to my love of comfort, this is the closest I'll probably come to Indiana Jones-esque adventure–being driven to temple ruins in an air conditioned car. Good enough for me! 

I'm glad we went to Angkor Wat first, because this way I got to enjoy Angkor Thom's Bayon and Ta Prohm in the beautiful late afternoon sun. The entrance was entrancing, with it's greenery and welcoming committee. (Click on any photo to enlarge it.)

P1010044 On each side of the road is a line of statues, very close together.  

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Exploring the Angkor Wat Temples

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For my 40th birthday, I wanted to do something BIG. Something from my Life List, something that came from my dreams.  Since I was in Sri Lanka for the big event, it made sense to take advantage of being on this side of the world. But having just traveled from L.A., I didn't want to fly too far. So I came up with Cambodia and Angkor Wat.  I'll admit that this was partly inspired by Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which I dig because of my deep love of Indiana Jones. (I also like The Mummy movies, if you must know.)

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Shop, Sup, and Spa Stylishly in Colombo

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CFW2012

By Malayna Dawn, Compere and Communications Consultant to Colombo Fashion Week since 2008

If you’re coming to Sri Lanka to be part of Colombo Fashion Week, you’ll want to make sure your entire trip is one of style and beauty. Luckily, that won’t be too difficult to do in the vibrant, diverse city of Colombo!  Let me tell you about some of the best places to be and sights to see. 

The host hotel is The Hilton Colombo Hotel once again, overlooking the Indian Ocean and Beira Lake. While you may be tempted not to leave the hotel grounds, I say you must. Within walking distance you can use the hotel’s direct access to the World Trade Center and then wander out the front entrance of either building to be introduced to the FORT District where modern day business takes place amidst old world architecture.

Millersphoto credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Millers.jpg

Before tasting the modern shops of Colombo, you might want to take a morning three-wheeler ride ‘round the clock tower to visit the nearby PETTAH.

Here you'll go back in time to when narrow roads filled with hand-cart traffic were enough to keep the tiny shops busy with the hustle and bustle of enterprise.

Dutch names and buildings are juxtaposed with candy striped mosques and colorful Hindu kovils. It’s not just a shopping trip…it’s an adventure!

You’ll probably want air-conditioned comfort in the afternoon, so tell the tuk-tuk driver to take you to these…

Stylish Shopping Musts:

THE DUTCH HOSPITALFacing the World Trade Center just next to the Hilton, is the newly renovated former Dutch Hospital. The beautiful old buildings are alive again with shopping, food and nightlife! You'll find that many of our CFW sponsors and partners are represented here, too.

ODEL – Near Town Hall, it’s a lovely and lively place for fashion, fun gifts and food. Their departments include a bookshop (my novel is available there!), home décor, jewelry, and makeup and perfume, and now you can even get a massage at Footrub before heading to their outdoor food court. They also feature a section with locally-made items to take the feel of Sri Lanka with you wherever you go.

PARADISE ROAD has locations all around Colombo (and the island), each with it’s own distinct feel.

  • PARADISE ROAD PROMENADE, near Town Hall is in a large, lovely, converted colonial house and offers a great selection of stylish souvenirs and gifts, as well as home décor. You’ll want to linger and explore every corner.
  • PARADISE ROAD STUDIO on Alfred House Gardens, off of Duplication Road – is a place where I’ve often thought of hiding until all the employees to go home, so I could live there for the night. Beautiful music and luxury surround you as you search for just the right addition to your home.
  • PARADISE ROAD GALLERIES – Just around the corner from Studio, you’ll find the Gallery and Gallery Café. This complex was once the office of internationally renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa, and is therefore a work of art in itself, with a variety of artists whose work adorns the space. Combined with beautifully delicious food, drinks and decadent desserts, you will want to keep coming back for more sensory delights.
  • BAREFOOTwhere colorful handloom cloth is the main attraction. The fact that their products promote the work of local craftspeople makes them even more fabulous as souvenirs and fashion statements. Spend some time perusing books, works of art, and then sit a while at their outdoor café.
  • CRESCAT BOULEVARD is a shopping mall located next to the Cinnamon Grand Hotel on the Galle Road where three levels of shops, services and restaurants are all in one upscale location. Books, videos, music, perfume, jewelry, accessories, shoes, clothing, massages, and food. What more could you want?

Stylish Supping:

Dutch HospitalHarpo's, The Ministry of Crab and the Brewery by O can be found here, as well as a restaurant from Sri Lankan Airlines catering! 

Paradise Road – To leave Colombo without eating at either of Paradise Road’s restaurant locations would be a crime. Their delectable fare features fusion food and a twist on Sri Lankan favorites. The atmosphere adds to the feast of the senses, topped of by the best desserts on the island, bar none. Both offer a bit of Sri Lankan history too, so be sure to ask, and indulge your mind as well as your senses.

  • The Gallery CaféWith its eclectic musical selections and artwork you might forget you’ve just entered a café, restaurant and bar. In fact, it was rated one of Asia’s Top 10 Lounge Bars in 2007. So it shouldn’t be surprising that you are joining the ranks of Sting, Kenzo, and Donna Karan, among many others, as you walk through the gates to be immersed in tantalizing beauty for all of your senses.
  • Tintagel is a unique private hotel, and like King Arthur’s castle in Cornwall for which it is named, it instantly offers a royal welcome. It even offers a connection to some of Sri Lanka’s most illustrious names– the Bandaranaike family—who made it their home, are best known for having produced three of the country's leaders. Now this home-turned-private-hotel can be yours for the span of a meal…or for several days. No matter how much time you spend there, you can be certain you’ll leave feeling thoroughly enchanted.

The Mango Tree – Where Flower Road and Dharmapala Mawatha meet is a hidden oasis of delectable Indian cuisine. Be adventurous and try everything. You won’t be disappointed, and you’ll leave feeling full…and satisfied!

Raja Bojun – For authentic Sri Lankan food with an unobstructed view of the sea while in air-conditioned comfort, Raja Bojun on the Galle Road is the place. Decorated in local style with coconut monkeys peering at you from palm trees and thatched roofs covering the buffet, you can enjoy the best of the traditional and the modern. Don’t forget to pat the pachyderm on the way out!

Cricket Club Café – When you’re in the mood for something more Westernized, or a beer and some tasty pub food, Cricket Club Café is the place. Decorated with cricket memorabilia from around the world with matches playing perpetually on the TV screens, its menu also pays homage to the sport’s best known and loved players. But even if you know nothing about Cricket, (like me) the colonial atmosphere and food are worth the visit.

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf – Yes, the international chain is here in Sri Lanka! This is one of the nicest I've seen–lion head fountains and coi ponds direct you to the entrance, where you order your beverage of choice. Snacks and meals are also available to be enjoyed out on the patio, in the main room, or in a big comfy leather chair or couch upstairs.

A Stylish Spa Treamtent …or quick massage:

Angsana Spa – Next to Cinnamon Grand Hotel and Crescat Shopping Center you’ll find a day spa to wash away the stresses of sightseeing, shopping and the demands of fashion.

Waters Edge Spa – to enjoy a sense of space, take a drive out to where the new Parliament Building sits in the middle of a lake and then to The Waters Edge resort. Their spa overlooks the golf-course-turned-garden and offers a lovely atmosphere and wonderful treatments.

Footrub – With locations all around Colombo, where some of the most tired of feet are to be found, (Crescat, Odel, the Airport) take a few minutes to re-fluff those flattened soles and perhaps also rejuvenate your soul. Despite the name, they also offer head, neck, shoulder and back massages, and Scholl products to make your next steps more comfortable.

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Geography of a Woman

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My friend Nancy e-mailed this to me, and I thought it was interesting and lovely, so I'm sharing. It almost makes me eager to grow old!

Between 18 and 22, a woman is like Africa : half discovered,  half wild, fertile and naturally beautiful.
 
Between 23 and 30, a woman is like Europe : well developed and open to trade, especially for someone of real value.
 
Between 31 and 35, a woman is like Spain : very hot, relaxed, and convinced of her own beauty.
 
Between 36 and 40, a woman is like Greece : gently aging but still a warm and desirable place to visit.
 
Between 41 and 50, a woman is like Great Britain : with a glorious and all conquering past.
 
Between 51 and 60, a woman is like Israel : has been through war, doesn't make the same mistakes twice, takes care of business.
 
Between 61 and 70, a woman is like Canada : self-preserving, but open to meeting new people.
 
After 70, she becomes Tibet : wildly beautiful, with a mysterious past and the wisdom of the ages, an adventurous spirit and a thirst for spiritual knowledge.

Even Fashion Needs Words!

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CMBpageThis year I'm even more involved with the Colombo Fashion Week.

Last year I was a script consultant and compère (a fancy word for MC–mistress of ceremonies!) and this year I'm involved in the website as well.

Check out this page, which promotes Colombo for those visiting just for fashion week. There are actually three (3) pages with my personal choices to "Shop, Sup and Spa Stylishly" while in Colombo.

I originally had called myself the "Consulting Wordsmith", because it seems more appropriate, but "Communications Consultant" sounds more like a real job. Check out the full Colombo Fashion Week website too, for info on the designers from Sri Lanka and abroad who will be participating, as well as images from last year's amazing shows. It's gonna be so cool!

Monks Amok: Malayna Under Siege…by Buddhist Monks?

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Until very recently, the site of Buddhist monks and the occasional sound of chanting in the distance was only a reminder of the magic of Sri Lanka.  Here’s proof – a photo I took in May of ’06 with a caption that tells the tale (you can click on it to enlarge it):

 

Monks1

One day we came upon an unexpected and unexplained parade of monks of all sizes, ages, sexes and backgrounds.  It's one of the magical, odd things that occur here.

For more photos of this strange occurence: http://www.malaynadawn.com/May06/page2.html

 

See?  I’m a fan of the monks and Buddhism in general.  But it seems that too much of even a good thing can turn ugly.

How ugly?

I was reminded of the FBI’s strategy at Waco–trying to get people under siege to come running out by blaring loud, annoying music at them for long periods of time.  Yes, it was almost that ugly.

The loud, invasive sound assault began at about 5:30pm and lasted TWELVE HOURS, not stopping until 5:30AM.  There are a few things in common, see?

 

“The FBI brought in loudspeakers, and through the speakers came the high decibel sounds of laughter, birds squawking, sirens, rabbits being slaughtered, rock music, Tibetan chants, and recordings of "negotiation" sessions held between the Branch Davidians and the FBI (Justice Report, pgs.. 69, 73, 79).” http://www.public-action.com/SkyWriter/WacoMuseum/war/page/w_p.html

 

I’m sure you’re thinking to yourselves, “but it’s drums and flutes and Buddhist chants, wasn’t it all just blissful Zen? A chance for deep meditation?”

 

Nuh-uh.

 

For one thing, I must admit I’ve never really enjoyed the traditional music of my people. The drums’ rhythms feel random to me. And I’ve been known to be a musical girl. I was even a music major in college for a year or so after being awarded a music scholarship, but my not-so-highly trained ear can’t identify any pattern.

 

And the flutes are closer to a cross between a recorder and a bagpipe. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but I heard a lot of that irritating squeak that makes one cringe when listening to a beginner on a reed instrument. So basically, it sounds like a bunch of impish street urchins have stolen some drums and flutes and are gleefully making a racket to torture all the straights.

 

The innocent beginnings of the siege

I knew something was up when I noticed first thing in the morning that a Buddhist Flag had been strung to hang across the road just in front of our house. It wasn’t tied to anything on our property, so I had no complaint there, and there is a Buddhist temple nearby that often has events in the ‘hood, so I didn’t think much more of it. 

 

Monks2

I know that it is customary here for people to celebrate the death anniversary of a loved one with something called a Dana (proper info can be found here) .  From what I’ve seen at other neighbor’s houses, it involves the arrival of Buddhist priests announced by drumming and flute playing, and then a series of chants followed by a meal offered for the monks, family and neighbors called an almsgiving.

 

In my experience, it’s never lasted more than a few hours, when it ends as the monks leave with the same pomp and ceremony.  Or maybe they’re priests. I don’t know how to tell the difference.

 

I still don’t believe that’s what last night was about, because I noticed around 5:30 or so that the house was covered with for want of a more descriptive term–Christmas lights. White ones that blinked in varying patterns and colorful ones that remained lit continuously.

 

And then the dance music started. True, it was kind of old-fashioned Sri Lankan and Indian music that I imagine was seen in films in the 60’s and 70’s, but it was festive and upbeat. So I began to think that my cook was wrong when she said it was a death anniversary. Aren’t those more somber? Or were they just really pleased that the person was gone?

 

Timeline of Insanity

 

5:30pm – Retro South-Asian Dance Hits played over a sound system.

 

7-ish – Somewhere between 7 and 8 the drums and flutes began.  My cook’s 10-year-old daughter ran to the window to see what was happening (she’s visiting from their village during a school break).  I asked if there were any elephants, cuz if there weren’t, I wasn’t going to bother looking.  No elephants. Poo.  (Speaking of poo, it’s probably a good thing there were no elephants, since the event was basically in front of our house…coulda been messy, not to mention highly odiferous.)

 

At 10:30, while hiding out in the computer room on the opposite side of my house, I told my friend, who lives about 5 miles away, that I thought she could hear the chanting if she stepped outside. It was that loud. When I told her I was hoping they’d quit by 11pm, I was merely being tolerant.

 

11pm– When I left voicemail messages for several people in the U.S. over the next hour, I was laughing in disbelief. But I couldn’t get anyone on the line to share the madness with me, so I called my husband in London. He was shocked about the noise level, but was also under the impression that they’d stop soon. He thought it might have been a house blessing ceremony for the guy who has returned from overseas to finish the eyesore of brick and cement that for the last few years has been attracting stray dogs, mosquitoes and people who have no place to put their trash. That guy is troublesome anyway. One more thing to add to the list when I tell my hubby to go beat him up.

My growing madness

 

At 2AM, I considered my options. I couldn’t call the police because they don’t know of such a thing as noise pollution. Besides, if I complained, I would be setting us up for future complaints every time we watch loud movies with explosions and gunfights until 2AM on a weeknight because of my pilot hubby’s weird flight schedule. Plus it’s a religious thing, and they’re monks. We’ve had louder non-religious parties that lasted that long, and no one has said a word to us. And maybe it would be worse if it were rude partiers and rock music. Maybe just the human voice alone isn’t so bad….

  

At 3AM, when I was sure they were finished, I shut down the computer, turned out the lights, and went downstairs to get a drink of water. That’s when the drums started up again.

 

I had thoughts of setting off the bottle rockets stored in the spare room.

 

I went to the bedroom, which seemed to be directly in front of one of the two speakers, and I called my friend Rhonda in Maryland. She, finally, could confirm how loud it was. She wanted to know who those two men were in the bedroom with me and why they were so loud.  One sounded like a cross between Barry White and Abe Vigoda—low but throaty. The other was more of a tenor and sounded more nasal. They tossed it back and forth with occasional explosions of drums and flute. A very strange version of the dueling banjos.

3:35AM – All I could think was regardless of what they were blessing, couldn’t all of their good intentions be undone from the amount of hatred that I and surely everyone within a 5 mile radius were beaming at them? Why couldn’t they chant WITHOUT the sound system? Seriously.

 

At 4AM – I set aside the book I was reading (but having trouble concentrating upon) and turned off my bedside lamp. I was sure they were finally done. As I slipped into the blissful silence of sleep, they started again.

 

Too tired to turn on the light again, I just lay there drifting from disturbed waking dreams to conscious and back again. This went on until…

 

5:30AM –  I breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed into sleep.

 

The Day After

 

11am I woke up feeling guilty about sleeping so late on a weekday, even though it was with good reason. I went downstairs to see how the rest of the household was doing.

 

Selliah, our houseman whose room is even closer to the event, was suffering from red eyes and a headache. Our cook, Parmeswary, and her daughter, Sagilah, had the benefit of being at the back of the house with a loud fan, so they seemed to have fared better.

 

We all laughed, AND THEN THE DRUMS STARTED AGAIN!!!!! ARE THEY SERIOUS?!?!?!? And then I went insane.

 

Luckily, it was short, and the rest of the day was silent, as the entire neighborhood caught up on sleep. I can’t tell if I’m recovered yet, because I don’t think the insane know that they are insane. That’s why they’re insane, right?

 

Yet still, insane or not, I remain a fan of the Buddhist monks and Buddhism in general. I'm just sayin' let's look into the need for all-night chants over massive sound systems, shall we?

 

Dancing With the Universe! Celebrate life!

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You thought “Dancing with the Stars” was fun–this video has simultaneoulsy made me laugh, cry and restored my faith in humanity! 


If you haven’t already gotten my e-mail, or responded to my Facebook posts, here’s my review:


“Inspiring, Joyous Silliness!  A MUST SEE!


How could a guy doing a silly dance bring me to tears? When he invited others, all around the world to join him, and put it to music with words from a Tagore poem. It is beautiful in its simplicity and light-heartedness….”


The images alone are heartwarming, but then this post from Minnesota fills in any blanks. 


The song playing in the background is sung in another language, but somehow the meaning comes through:


Stream of Life
by Rabindranath Tagore

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth
and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

This response to the same Minnesota Post article helped explain why it made me cry (and some of my friends!)


(1)


There is a book by historian Barbara Ehrenreich called “Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy” that may explain, at least in part, why we are so moved by this video.


We’re hardwired, deep in our reptilian brain, so respond positively to collective dancing. It helps us understand why grown men ( and women) weep when they see Matt’s work.


For more info on Matt and his escapades, or to see the video if YouTube or the Minnesota Post are acting up, go to www.wherethehellismatt.com.  


Many thanks to my friend Jayantha (in Melbourne, Australia) for sending me this link!