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Nov 11th, 2011, 11:37 AM
  #41
 
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In less than 2 hours, the decision will be made on the host city for the 2018 Commenwealth Games.

It has come down to a 2 horse race between Queenslands Gold Coast, and the coastal village of Hambantota.

If you added up ALL the beds in Hambantota's hotels, you could sleep 1000. The Gold Coast would have single Hotels that house that many.

Hambantota lost nearly 3000 people in the 2004 Tsunami.

Is there a great story abourt to unfold? I certainly hope so.
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Nov 11th, 2011, 02:34 PM
  #42
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Ohhhhh shanek. I was so excited when I read your post.

Now....no great story is unfolding.

Why didnt they ask you and me where to hold the games?
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Nov 11th, 2011, 02:36 PM
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Sadly, this morning we knew our time at Galkadawala was coming to an end as our itinerary had us heading to Kandy.

Breakfast was a sad affair as I thought how I would miss the place, the people… I waved a tiny gnat away and the caring staff immediately hooked up a fan and directed a gentle in our direction (so attentive). The other couple joined us and showed us pictures the man had taken. That morning he had gotten up early to photograph the sunrise. He scrolled along on his ipad through some really amazing pictures-it was clear he was very, very talented. He said that at the moment it was only a hobby but that perhaps in the future it would become something more. As he scrolled along, selecting ones he deemed worthwhile to discuss, I considered what was so different about his photographs than mine. And I considered this because I, too, wanted to be able to so beautifully memorialize my experiences. I concluded that, whereas his pictures evoked emotion from anyone who viewed them, mine evoked emotion only from me-and that they were largely empty when viewed by others. He had a way of capturing moments such that even if you werent there you felt that you were. That, I think, is truly a gift. My wishes of wanting even a fraction of his talent were interrupted when I saw the most beautiful photograph ever. There they were: the elephant footprints (that I was so sure would be washed away by the harsh rains), one after another, pooled with rainwater, glistening in the morning sun. It was one of the prettiest things I had ever seen. And I missed it.

Disappointed, I headed upstairs to pack.

Hours later, in Kandy, my heart absolutely sank. Why did I think I had missed the opportunity to view those amazing footprints? He had taken those photos just that morning before breakfast. They wouldve still been there. I couldve walked down to see them. By that time of course (in Kandy) I really had missed them. No chance to go back now. Earlier when I had expressed my fondness of the photo he took he offered to send it to me. Very kind, indeed. But you know it is just not the same. Being there is what mattered. Frustrated with myself I sank into my seat in sadness. That is my only regret from Sri Lanka.
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Nov 11th, 2011, 04:28 PM
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Yes...Gold Coast won. Crap descision!!!! Where is the romance?
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Nov 12th, 2011, 09:40 PM
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Waiting to hear your impressions on Kandy. I was born in a Nursing Home across the street from the lake a stones throw away from the "Temple of the Tooth".

Dont sweat about the missed photo opportunity. You will just have to go back.

Here is a link for the Food series that I mentioned.

http://www.sbs.com.au/shows/mysrilanka
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Nov 13th, 2011, 08:10 AM
  #46
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Thanks for the link shanek!

"This video is not available in your (my) region."

Hopefully they will be released on DVD and we can purchase them to view!

Temple of the Tooth-you dont say? I have an interesting story about that coming up!
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Nov 13th, 2011, 08:23 AM
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I will try and post what I have recorded to You Tube and send you a link.

I will just need to get my 9 year old to show me how to do it.

Can't wait for your Temple story. I remember on our first trip waiting 2 hours in a queue with various ceremonies going on around us to try and view the "relic". After the wait, we were a bit underwhelmed by what we actually saw, from the distance that we were allowed to view it from.

What did I expect from a Tooth at ten paces?
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Nov 13th, 2011, 08:53 AM
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"I will just need to get my 9 year old to show me how to do it." Heheh.

Tooth story not in this installment-you will be waiting in anticipation until next time!

But glad someone will be-I think we are the only two left on this thread!
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Nov 13th, 2011, 09:23 AM
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Day 7 continued…

Enroute to Kandy we make two interesting stops. The first is to a Spice Garden. This is right off the roadway and I imagine a stop for many tourists. It goes like this: they show you around the garden, show you the products made from the plants, then shuttle you into the gift shop offering keepsakes at inflated prices. From the getgo I figured this and had resigned that Id go ahead and plan to buy something at the end-this way I didn’t have to stress about it and could enjoy the “tour.”

And really, I did enjoy it. My husband wasn’t interested but I thought it was cool to see where so many familiar spices originate. You follow a pathway flanked with spice trees/bushes as it winds through the garden. The trees are labeled and along the side of many are tiny dishes which contain the corresponding spice. So next to the nutmeg tree is a container of nutmeg, etc. Hed have you smell the spice, show you what part of the plant is used for the spice, explain how it is processed, etc (I liked this) and went on to describe how each spice cured this and that (I didn’t like this). “Remedies” included: arthritis, gastro problems, acne, liver conditions, wrinkles, headaches, sore joints, fatigue. Most of the tour was geared towards these cures so I think I tuned out a bit during this part though still looked like I was paying attention. We tipped him a few bucks, bought an overpriced tiny jar of aloe, then continued our journey towards Kandy.

But not before we made another very important stop. Over the years of reading or in conversation or maybe books or movies have you ever heard of a fruit that smells so so so so bad that it is actually banned in some public places? That the smell is enough to make some people physically ill? Well I had. And I simply had to try it for myself. The fruit in question is called durian. Id mentioned to Oscar I really wanted to try this so when we drove by a cart he immediately pulled over to fulfill my request (Picture 45). So, this fruit is about the size of a cantaloupe and super pointy on the outside. The cart operator cut the fruit in half and handed us the quilled snack housing two pingpong ball-sized fleshy seeds. The points were pushing too hard into my soft hand so I was unable to dig the seed out. The gentleman kindly then held it for me and helped scoop out seed 1. Ok. I don’t think it smelled *that* bad, truth be told. I was expecting it to smell like those gross wafts you get every once in a while on a city street times 100. It wasn’t. The consistency of the flesh as you bit it away from the seed (and I made a specific note to remember to explain it to you just like this) was like when youd heat up velveeta cheese- that thick creamy layer of skin that formed on top? That’s what this was like. It did not taste like velveeta though. A few chews in…what is that? I know this flavor but cant place it… Hubs had since scooped and bitten and he called it: garlic. Yes, the first few chews were almost like garlic before it turned just a tad sweet in your mouth. I couldn’t quite bring myself to eat all the flesh from my seed. My husband barely finished his and looked sickened when I offered him mine (he refused). At least we did it though! Until the cart operator showed us we still had a whole other half to eat. Oh... So, this was not a juicy fruit. Not a refreshing fruit. Probably not a fruit Id reach for at the market. But it was very cool to be able to bite into a piece of infamy.

Oscar had noticed a problem with our chariot of steel so his boss, the Sri Lankan business partner of Tikalanka, Pathi, met up with us as we neared our next lodging in Kandy. Pathi had a much stronger personality than Oscar. We are a bit more laid back so felt good we were paired with Oscar who was courteous, professional, and genuinely eager to please (not that Pathi wouldnt have been these things-just a different personality, thats all).

The four of us stopped for some “short eats” (which are basically “snacks”-some sweet, some salty, some meat, some veggie-no real distinction other than they are smaller items) at what looked like a banquet hall. I am not quite sure what happened next. There was a lot of low conversation and hand shaking between Pathi and a man, or two, in suits as we entered. It reminded me of a politician shaking hands, kissing babies. Maybe he was saying “these are our guests, treat them well” because that they did.

They escorted us to their display case. As usual, Oscar kindly relayed dietary requests to the staff (no milk? no meat? no eggs? etc). Oscar was fond of fish rolls so he picked up some of those. They suggested a vegetable roll I think it was (Picture 46). Maybe a meat item or two for hubs. There were some spicy vegetable patties (not the correct term) they chose for me as well as some sweet mini muffin looking items. Plus the best thing ever-what looked like giant sugar cookies. They werent. But they were similar. Big sugar crystals on top of large cookie-ish discs that were crispy and chewy at the same time (Pictures 47).

After we made our selections we were ushered into the banquet room. Off to the side I saw (empty) buffets set up and centerpieces gathered which is why I say banquet room. They bring us tea, water, etc. The vegetable rolls were good but not my fav. Bready with only a little inside. Was only a bit spicy-esp compared to those patties which were mad spicy and immediately required a beverage cool down! The muffins were tasty-sweet, cakey, thick (Picture 48). And those cookies? Gooooood. Trust me, I tried to a. ask and b. remember all the delicious foods we had throughout our journey but without taking notes it was simply impossible. You will just have to take my word for it! And if you see baby muffins or look-alike sugar cookies: buy them!

Ok onto our next stop-our lodging for the next two nights as we explore Kandy! Remember early-on I mentioned how Id found a place online I loved? And wanted to Tikalanka to find others like it? This was the place Id found online.

Like our previous lodging, the road grew bumpier and more desolate. After a sharp turn here, going up a hill there, we arrived at Kandy Samadhi Center: http://www.thekandysamadhicentre.com/.

Our welcome was not like what we received at Galkadawala. I should point out though that perhaps this is because we had Pathi with us. He immediately hopped out and began walking and talking with who we later learned was the owner. Discussing business we guessed? Not really sure. We sat in the car, kind of waiting to see what was next. We were eventually given a signal from others to exit the van. We were told to follow Pathi and the owner, who were a ways ahead of us now, to our room. We started off-then oh called back for a cool towel and a refreshing drink of juice. So, I mean, I think the welcome had the potential to be nice but it was just very disjointed. Again, I think b/c maybe the host had pulled away and the others weren’t sure how to proceed. I will admit I was a bit disappointed though-I mean, Id been waiting for months, literally months, to experience this place. And I set my expectations high. And coming from Galkadawala, the bar also was set high. Nonetheless I stayed positive and tried to give the benefit of the doubt.

So I will take a moment and explain the layout of this property. The eating area is the building which is also the main entrance-but it is on the second level so you cant really see into it from street level. All other rooms are up in the surrounding hills reached by steep winding stone paths (more on that later). All rooms except ours. We walk a ways down the road to a small, tight cluster of buildings. We can see through various opening this is storage: equipment, etc, piled up. Also, there are some various items lying around which, if I am going to be honest, should probably be picked up before guests arrive. What looked like a large overturned bashed in oil drum, random piles of rocks and cinderblocks. And at the moment it looks like this guestroom, due to the location and the surroundings, was more of an afterthought than a planned lodge offering. I point this out for a few reasons which I suppose I will spell out here: you are removed from the rest of the property (the rest of the lodgings are back near the main house). Good or bad, that is a fact. Also, see below re staff….

We go down a flight of steep steps and arrive at a massive bright blue wooden door with a giant, willy wonka type key in the hole-I loved it (Picture 49)! Also thought the little lantern sitting nearby was very cute. We open the door and the room is perfect! Large open-air design (Picture 50), the river rushing by right below (Picture 51), great rustic yet stylish décor, concrete bathroom-it is really just great. “And no mosquitoes!!” our host excitedly proclaims! “You know-we haven’t seen a single mosquito since weve been in Sri Lanka,” I respond with equal excitement-starting to think all our preparation at home (sprays, creams, pills, etc) was unnecessary.

We are asked to return to the main house after we are settled for a tour of the grounds. We are left with two umbrellas. As we tour our awesome room we notice what we guess are staff milling about the neighboring buildings. One down to the left, one up to the right, one walking shirtless down the bank to the river. We didnt feel unsafe or anything at all like that but they were there and they were looking-probably just curious about the new guests I suppose. I mention this because you are kind of secluded and kind of not. On one hand you are secluded from the main property and the other guests and on the other hand you are staying near the staff.

We walk up the road back to the main part of the grounds for our tour. It begins to rain pretty steadily as a host guides us through the hills showing us flora and fauna, the other rooms offered by the resort, the laundry area, the house pets (more on these furry friends later), the yoga and meditation area. I see what reminds me of the lone cypress on a neighboring hill (Picture 52) and ask if hes climbed to it-no, he says-though he admits he has tried, and failed! He asks us about America, Area 54, films, music. The rain is harder now. Remember I told you about the flips with the nubbies on the inner sole? This is where I learned that. It was impossible to walk in my flips-they were soaking wet and my feet were slipping out with every step. I noticed our host had no probs whatsoever in his flips: note, the nubbies.

By now the sun has set and gas lamps have begun to light our path. We end the tour as our host hands us flashlights and shouts over the rain Dinner is at 7:30. But…there is a resort jeep right there. We arent the Sakaros but it would have been cool if wed gotten a ride back down the road to our place. Not a huge deal, just saying. So we make our way down the rainy potholed road to our room to a very unpleasant surprise. Mosquitoes. Lots and lots and lots of mosquitoes.

They are flitting around our lights sure but they are really in full force in the inner corner of the hallway leading to the bathroom and then also inside the bathroom. We used an entire full can of our Bens spray. There were mosquito bodies everywhere. I want to make sure I make this clear because while I want to be fair to Samadhi I have to be forthright because the reality is these mosquitoes can carry disease and could potentially cause harm to guests: there were a lot of mosquitoes. Now, I do not believe the kind people at Samadhi intentionally mislead, or trick their guests, etc. I am thinking that perhaps this particular room is not often used since it is further from the property thus they simply arent aware? Or because this room is the only one located by the river that somehow makes it a haven for mosquitoes? And since the other rooms are not by the river they dont get mosquitoes and so the resort in their heart of hearts believes there are no mosquitoes? Or perhaps because rainy season had just begun mosquitoes are out but then die down after a few days? I dont know the reason and I guess the reason doesnt matter. There is no netting. There are no fans. These are typically offered to aid in keeping the mosquitoes at bay. But since Samadhi doesn’t think they have mosquitoes they do not offer these items. Just be prepared-I guess that is my bottom line.

Now onto more fun and positive things: dinner! When we arrived at the dining area on that second level of the entrance building it was like the inside of a castle! Huge wooden tables-each adorned with a giant gas candelabra (Picture 53). That open-air room lit only by candles in the dark night was gorgeous, really. It was breathtaking I will even say. And because we were the only ones present to dine at that time it was as if that beautiful ambiance was created just for us.

I cant recall what was served that first night. The food wasnt “bad” it just wasnt “memorable.” Remember-we were coming off days at Galkadawala with what I will claim was the best food on the planet so wed been a bit spoiled. Nonetheless it was a pleasant enough event and afterwards we said goodbye to a little friend whod joined us (Picture 54) and we returned to our room where we were warmly welcomed by a blazing lantern by our doorway which had thoughtfully been lit by our hosts (Picture 55). I will say here that while some mosquitoes remained the bulk of them, without a doubt, were gone (gone = dead, repelled, whathaveyou). That was a very nice relief.

But we had a new concern. Bats. Now, we have bats at home. They dont bother us, we dont bother them. And in our room at Samadhi bats, in couplets and side by side like ponch and john from chips, would fly in one window and out a small opening of another window. And when I say window you should really be thinking “wall” because nearly the entire space is open. And in this type of room we are prepared and expect to share it with the wild. So, again, those bats are fine. We arent concerned. But what happens next does concern us a bit. A bat flies in solo and not only does he not fly out he hangs around for quite some time flying this way and that in the room with no real direction-almost as if he is struggling to keep himself in the air, if that makes sense. And he was foaming at the mouth. Ok not so not so. We can laugh about it now but his actions were enough to cause us concern and a sleepless night given the what I said sounded like strange and random medical advice we were given before we left which kept running through our minds (“immediately medivac home. immediately medivac home. immediately medivac home."). Plus that awful story the night before about the girl who died on her honeymoon after being bitten by a bat. We figured: rare or not, it happens and we don’t want it to happen to us.

As early as possible the next morning (literally, sunrise) we approached our hosts. We have “complained” maybe three times ever at a hotel in our lives. And while this wasnt intended to be a “complaint” we felt bad and weird addressing this. We said how beautiful the room was and the river view and the décor and then nervously asked if it would be possible at all to perhaps, maybe, if it wasnt too much trouble, to be moved to a new room…..(holding breath, waiting for them to kick us out for being ungrateful guests). Of course, he says! No problem at all! Leave your luggage in your room before you head out for the day and we will have it moved to room 4 (or 14, I forget). Us to each other on our way back to the room: wow, that went well. Certainly a strange bat was not the fault of Samadhi or within their control such that they should be in anyway obligated to appease us yet they kindly agreed without any hesitation to accommodate our request. All is right with the world and so happy I chose Samadhi!

We return to our room and get ready for the days activities which included what I was certain was going to be the lamest excursion in all of Sri Lanka….Temple of the Tooth.
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Nov 13th, 2011, 11:03 AM
  #50
 
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wonderful adventures. I have to admit, more interesting than lewes del. Although there were a lot of horseshoe crabs on the beach this summer. No big bugs or bats.
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Nov 13th, 2011, 04:19 PM
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Shanek-Thanks for the link to the clip for Peter Kuruvita's show. My mouth is watering, and I swear I could smell what he was cooking!

I thought my trip to Sri Lanka was fabulous, but now I feel that I've barely scratched the surface - makes me even more eager for a return visit.

PLEASE post if you find a way the rest of us can watch the show.




Naturegirl - I'm just getting caught up on your report. The shower incident with the beatles was hilarious.

I've also experienced what you describe about the impact that photographs have on others. The pictures of mine that draw positive reactions are not the ones that are near and dear to me, but rather the ones that fit the formula for 'good' pictures. My 'good' pictures hardly ever appeal to me on a sentimental level.
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Nov 13th, 2011, 04:35 PM
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Can't wait to see how things turn out in the new room...
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Nov 13th, 2011, 04:59 PM
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Hi Naturegirl,

I am glad that you have more followers now joining in. This is certainly in my TOP 10 alltime favorite trip reports (several of the others in my TOP 10 are actually mine), even though it is still in its infancy.

I am sure many more are reading and others will join in. Some of the regulars here are absorbed by all the tragic events in Thailand. They seem to be coming to a favorable turning point so I am certain more of them will find this report soon. They can be a tough audience to crack but once they jump on board they can be very encouraging.

I can't beleive that you didn't change rooms as soon as you saw the bats. They are RATS WITH WINGS. I couldn't share a room with them and I don't consider myself all that fussy. I must give you props for the courteous and diplomatic way you dealt with it. I have seen so many tourists being prissy and rude over ants and bugs. One of my travelling partners on my first trip to Sri Lanka made a huge scene over a Gecko in our room. Needless to say I am no longer with her.

Femi, If I can get my head around transferring the TV shows from my hard-drive recorder to You-Tube, I will send them all to you. I believe there are 10 episodes but only 2 have gone to air so it may become a weekly ritual. I am off to the Asian grocer to see if I can get some of the exotic ingredients he uses. Maybe they may have some Durian?
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Nov 14th, 2011, 02:56 AM
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Loving your report! I, like you, tried the durian with fear and trepidation. And like you, I found it not so bad but not so good.
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Nov 14th, 2011, 05:54 AM
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Sorry to interrupt your Kandy saga, but I just realized I didn't hear about the Dambulla Cave temples or Sigirya. DId you opt not to visit those places while you were in the cultural triangle or did I miss your account?
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Nov 14th, 2011, 12:21 PM
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Scroll up to day 6, posted on Nov 5th.
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Nov 14th, 2011, 12:34 PM
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Thanks, Shanek, I had missed that whole section.
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Nov 14th, 2011, 01:28 PM
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You are welcome. It was a good read as it brought back great memmories.

NG,
I also had a similar experience at the Spice Garden, Once I resigned myself to paying too much for something I didn't want, I enjoyed the tour. I ended up with a 6 pack of tiger balm at double the going market rate and a package of ground cloves to settle my "Colombo Belly".
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Nov 14th, 2011, 06:13 PM
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Thanks for your post
It makes me miss my ex-loved one. We had wondeful time in Srilanka together
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Nov 15th, 2011, 05:15 AM
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shanek thanks for your encouragement to press on with my trip report even when I wasnt sure anyone was interested!

"Rats with wings," I like it. I think they have usually kept their distance so werent ever a concern for me. Here though-even the "nice" bats were pretty close given my previous experience. And then when the strange bat was in the room it pushed us over the edge.

Geckos are so cute! Aw! I think you made the right decision sending her to the curb!

So funny you went to the spice garden and had the exact experience! I love that you bought stuff b/c you felt the same way! "Tiger balm and ground cloves" cracking up at that. Did you ever use either? Reminds me of a time in Jamaica. A guy comes by and asks us if we want "authentic Jamaican aloe." "Fresh from the plant," he says. Um...not really but ok. I think we agree on $10.00 then he disappears to "make" it. Returns a short time later with a liquor bottle and some gross consistency inside he calls "aloe." And all of a sudden the price is $15.00.

santamonica welcome back =) Even though Im not writing about Delaware.

Femi right-its like friends and family gloss over the pictures that hold the most meaning for us. Like, how I oohed and aahed over the elephant footrpint photo that guy took-he mightve been thinking "really? hmm, that one meant nothing to me," heh.

I guess in the end its most important that we, the taker of the photo, enjoy.

JaneB "not so bad but not so good." Perfect way to describe!

Kathie it was easy to miss my actual and factual trip report portion because I have it hidden among my touchy feely experiences along the way.

michelangelos1210 thanks for joining-I hope it elicits positive and fond memories.

**************

I hope to post more re Kandy and TOTT tonight (and the new room Femi!)!
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