Friday, March 30, 2012

Getting away from it all to talk about it all

Today, one of the two friends who came along with me to Sri Lanka left for Manila. He was supposed to leave last night, actually, but we were all having so much fun that we found a way for him to stay one more day. But tonight, he really had to go, as he was catching a flight out of Manila tomorrow night for another Asian city.

Yup, it's an overnight flight for him. And from the time he arrives in Manila to the time he has to take another flight out of Manila on another trip (not related to Travelife), the time constraint is 90 minutes to get his baggages, get out of immigration, find his driver, get another luggage full of new clothes from the driver, drop off his Sri Lanka baggage, and check in again at NAIA for another flight.


I so hope he's able to do this, as I've sent a large oil lamp I bought in Colombo home with him. I don't think he would like to take this heavy lamp on another trip. We'd gone to this arts and crafts shop in Colombo, you see, and I'd seen this lovely lamp that Sri Lankans and many Indians as well place at the entrance of their homes and light up to welcome guests.

It's really beautiful and I've always wanted one, after seeing how it can make a home so pretty -- both the ambassadors of India and Sri Lanka have one in their homes in Makati.

I'd seen this lamp already last year on my first trip to Sri Lanka, but I decided not to buy it then as it's made of brass and really heavy. But now, here was my friend with the empty luggages just waiting for my shopping stuff, offering to carry anything and everything home for me.

"They can dismantle it and I can stick it in my luggage. That's why I came here with an empty suitcase." he'd said. That made the issue to buy or not buy a lamp a no-brainer. Out came the credit card.


Today we're about five hours away from Colombo, however, and the three of us had lunch at the Jetwing Sigiriya resort, which is the other nice boutique hotel in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka. We eat at our very nice hotel in another location every night, but for lunch we go to one of the other fancy hotels in the area just to see what the others are like.

Jetwing Sigiriya is a luxury all-villa eco-resort. Its main building, which has a restaurant on the second floor with a nice view of Sigiriya itself, is very relaxing indeed. Over a delicious lunch of Sri Lankan curries, served family style, we had another long lunch with non-stop laughter and teasing -- and some serious talk as well.

When we weren't teasing the La Sallite, we were talking about life and work.


"What's the difference between a blog and a magazine article?" One of them asked me. Lots of people think they're the same, after all. For me, the blog is like a diary so it's very casual in style and free-for-all in terms of topics.

But a magazine article is much more formal and it requires more discipline. For example, I hardly ever edit my blog entries, but I'll look at an article I've written for the magazine maybe 20 times before considering it done.

Many words which are used liberally in a blog should also never make it to a magazine -- or at least not to Travelife Magazine. For example, I use words like "posh" here, and liberally sprinkle entries with pretty mundane words like "good" or "very." I would almost never use such words without proper reason in a Travelife Magazine article.


Of course the teasing never stopped, and especially not the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry teases. In fact, I was rather shocked that the teasing continued until the very last minute, in the middle of nowhere in Sri Lanka, when Friend A got into the car that was to take him on a 4.5 hour drive to the airport.

Friend B and I had gone to say goodbye to him, you see, and they were still teasing each other until the last minute for saying goodbye.

And perhaps the most interesting part was that our guide and main driver got into the act as well, so that effectively everyone ganged up on Friend A, the lone La Sallite.


Then tonight, the two of us had dinner at our hotel and our guide joined us. Over more Sri Lankan curry, we listened fascinatedly to his tales of life in Sri Lanka in the past decades. This country, you see, has had a pretty violent history because of fighting with the Tamils in the north until just a few years ago, and it pretty much scarred the country.

There was real fighting, lots of attacks even in Colombo, and assassinations left and right. So many top government officials were killed by the Tamils over the years. Now the war is over but the country faces another set of political challenges.

Friend B and I smiled to ourselves as the events he described sounded so much like the Philippines 30 years ago. "I'm glad to know we're not alone in our troubles," I said. Of course we aren't as all countries have their own problems and there's no perfect, problem-free one. But the recent history of Sri Lanka sounds so much like our own past.

"That's what happens to countries where the majority is an uneducated and impressionable population," my friend said.

So I began yesterday reluctantly with politics (see my previous blog entry) and ended it also with politics -- and how ironic that all these conversations were taking place in the middle of a forest on a mountain surrounded by a beautiful reservoir so far from anything that we would call civilization. I had to get away from it all to talk about it all.

Best wishes for a wonderful weekend from all of us at Travelife Magazine.



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