Photo by Trey Ratcliff

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sri Lanka in Pictures

The three properties in Resplendent Ceylon's collection reflect the variety of treasures Sri Lanka offers.

At Cape Weligama, one of the three Resplendent Ceylon properties in Sri Lanka, villas huddle in colorful gardens, and guests wake up to this scene where they can take a refreshing dip in the infinity pool and gaze at the Indian Ocean in the distance.
The architecture and design at Resplendent Ceylon's Wild Coast Tented Lodge in Sri Lanka is stellar. But what's even more impressive is how the company upskilled the local fishermen, teaching them how to construct these netted bamboo structures that are covered in recycled teak shingles. Now, when they're not fishing, they have another source of income -- there's lots of interest in these types of structures that are ultra strong and light on the environment.
When staying at either the upscale Summerville or Castlereagh bungalow that are part of Resplendent Ceylon's Tea Trails, one never tires of this view: lake, mountains and fields covered in tea plantations. The days can be spent lounging pool side or mountain biking or trekking through the plantations, perhaps stopping at one of the other three colonial-era bungalows for high tea or maybe a game of crochet.
This YouTube video slideshow provides a window into these three properties as well as excursions in the surrounding areas.


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Sunday, July 8, 2018

Zen-Like Hotel Experience in Sri Lanka

If I had to describe my ideal airport hotel it would be one that, though in close proximity to the runway, felt like I was in a botanical garden. I know that’s a tall order, but somehow I found it at The Wallawwa, a luxe boutique property in Sri Lanka. No matter where I wandered on the six-acre lush property, I never was far from blooming flowers and other foliage. Check out my recent article for Forbes on The Wallawwa.




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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Packing Light With Carry-On Luggage Only

Flying is a hassle as it is without having to deal with lost, damaged or stolen luggage. That's why I only travel with a carry-on. Even when I'm on an almost two-month trip, I have no need for a voluminous piece of luggage. How do I manage this?

1- I choose clothing that in neutral or earth tones, often black, tan or grey -- so there's a lot of mix and matching -- with tees, tanks and a scarf providing bright accent colors. I'm particularly fond of Ex Offcio clothing.

2- Almost all the clothes I pack do not wrinkle and are made of wickable fabrics, which means they don't absorb moisture easily so you stay dry as you race about town, but they also dry relatively quickly when you wash them. (I hand wash my underwear, pants, shorts, dresses and shirts and they dry in no time.)

3- I wear my bulkiest, heaviest clothing on the plane, including a Merino wool sweater, insulated vest -- it doubles as a pillow or lumbar support, long-sleeve shirt, a jacket (if it's necessary at my destination) and leggings. (I never ever travel with jeans. They're heavy, bulky and when wet, take forever to dry.)

4- No matter how many weeks I'm traveling, I never pack more than a total of three dresses, one or two skirts, one pair of leggings, one pair of pants that convert to shorts, two tee shirts, two long sleeve shirts, one rain jacket, a hoody, three pairs of Merino wool socks, and three pairs of Merino wool underwear. (I love the clothing items Smartwool sells.) I choose items that are made of thin fabrics (such as Merino wool) and roll small.

5- I pack a sarong that serves multi functions, as a beach blanket, cover-up, or shawl when I need to visit a church or other religious sight.

6- I only travel with two pairs of shoes: I wear the heaviest on the plane and then I pack a pair of Mary Janes, such as these by Astral Designs.

7- Instead of a typical hat or cap, I pack a multi-purpose buff, such as those made by Buff USA. Again, it's all about multi-purpose uses. A buff can be used as a bandana, hat, balaclava, neck gator, headband, or hair band.

8- All my toiletries are travel-size, and that includes shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and toothpaste.







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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Necessities on the Plane

I recently traveled on a 15+ hour flight and was surprised with the number of passengers who were quite uncomfortable because they neglected to pack an array of items. This is my list of in-flight necessities for health and comfort:

1. Large pashmina that functions as a blanket and, when rolled up, as a lumbar support

2. Lightweight merino wool buff that also serves several functions: eye mask, neck warmer, cap.

3. Altoids - peppermint

4. Lightweight cotton tote -- I use it as a pillow case, stuffing my down vest or jacket, or my merino wool sweater into it

5. Antacid - chewable tablets like Rolaids or Tums

6. Aleve

7. Chewable Bonine - meclizine hydrochloride - for motion sickness

8. Limoncello lip butter

9. Charmin flushable wipes

10. Ricola natural herb throat lozenges

11. Eye mask

12. Ear Peace - ear plugs - https://www.earpeace.com/

13. Hand sanitizer

14. travel-size toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, Stim-U Dents

15. Dark chocolate

16. Unsalted shelled pistachios

17. Low-fat string cheese


18. Whole wheat crackers








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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sneak Peek: My New Line of Handbags

This is a sneak peak of my new handbag line. Not only will they be sold at a lower price point compared with my first micro travel bag, but they will be manufactured in a soft canvas fabric that initially will come in two different colors/patterns: camo pattern and solid burgundy. (Other colors/patterns will follow, down the line.) The bag, of course, will have multiple zippered pockets -- none visible to the casual observe -- and will have a minimalist look. Unlike my first bag, each pocket will accommodate an array of large-sized items, including sunglasses, large iPhones or Androids,  even small tubes of sunscreen. The atta-BAG label (below) will appear on the front of each bag. I expect these bags to be on the market by early Fall.




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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Luxe Sri Lankan Hotels That Are Socially Responsible

Staying at the innovative Wild Coast Tented Lodge property in Sri Lanka, you have the opportunity to be enwrapped with nature -- it's adjacent to Yala National Park -- while also indulging in ultra contemporary architecture and design. These two organic, bamboo-clad structures house the restaurant, bar and den. This is one of three Sri Lanka-based properties owned by Resplendent Ceylon, a company that revolves around doing the right thing, whether it's protecting the environment or giving back to the local community. (The other two properties are Ceylon Tea Trails and Cape Weligama. Check out my recent article for Forbes where I interviewed the Managing Director Resplendent Ceylon.



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Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Curious Doll For Curious Times

Everything I create is a little bit different from the tried-and-true. And my AngryJ doll is no exception. AngryJ is an especially timely plush doll for the times we live in now. The media is rife with angry goings-on, whether it's news stories that are far afield or on our home turf. Every day, we may be inundated with frustrations that push our anger button. So, I created AngryJ as a way to you to realize that she looks like how you feel as you stew in your own angry ruminations. Just look at her and perhaps, even for a moment, she'll make you laugh and you'll get pulled out of your negative emotions.

AngryJ has a curious history, since I created a sketch of her when I was an angry 10-year-old kid. And many decades later, she became a doll. (I'm very persistent and I continued drawing her my whole life.) Now I'm including her backstory on a tag (below) that's attached to one of her skinny little arms. (She's looking to be adopted.)

Interestingly, I've found that more adults love AngryJ than kids. But anyone can buy AngryJ here. Each is a little different because they are handmade in the U.S. But, though all different, they are all very angry!







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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Gear Review: Collapsible Water Bottle

On my recent trip to Sri Lanka, I decided to pack even lighter than usual. Of course, I never check luggage -- even when traveling internationally for 6+ weeks. But, this time, I wanted to minimize the number of bulky items I packed because I planned to stow my soft luggage under my seat rather than in the overhead compartment. Aside from one extra pair of shoes, the bulkiest item was my special water bottle that is a water filter. So, instead of traveling with the Lifestraw Go bottle, I purchased the Katadyn BeFree which is a soft, collapsible, BPA-free flask. It comes in three sizes: a little over half a liter, as well as one liter and three liter models. (I picked the half liter model for my travels.) Weighing in at just two ounces and packing relatively small, this was ideal for my journey. You simply suck from the spout and the filter removes 99.9% of protozoa and 99.9999% of bacteria from the water (It doesn't remove viruses.) And, when you unscrew the spout, the wide mouth of the flask makes it easy to fill from the faucet.



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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Book Review: Inspired by Nature

As I travel the world, from bustling urban centers to placid rural expanses, I seek intimate connections with nature. In fact, seeing a tree is like meeting a new friend with a distinctive personality and one that I cherish. Allowing myself to become enwrapped with flora is always rejuvenating experience. So I delighted in receiving a slim tome entitled The Nature Lover’s Quotation Book: An Inspired Collection for Hiking, Camping and the Great Outdoors by Hatherleigh.

This book, divided into five sections, brims with inspiring quotes and observations engendered by strolling through or sitting quietly in fields, woodlands, and other natural landscapes. The author collected a variety of poems and prose written by scientists, philosophers, naturalists, artists and others who embraced everything from the magic of a mist-coated pine forest to the beauty of a mountain summit at dusk.

Below are some of my favorite quotes, one from each of the five sections:

Quieting the Mind
“Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.” Karle Wilson Baker

Nature’s Beauty and Bounty
“Art is a harmony parallel with nature.” Paul Cezanne

Spirit of Adventure
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” Edward Abbey

Putting Things in Perspective
“A blade of grass is always a blade of grass, whether in one country or another.” Samuel Johnson

Nature’s Power and Longevity
“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” John Muir

Next time you prepare for a foray into the great outdoors, whether for a short jaunt or a multi-day trek, slip this wee book into your backpack. It’s sure to help you treasure nature even more than you do now.



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