Sri Lanka, Anyone?

How I ended up in a meeting about Sri Lanka’s wildlife and the all of the things I learned…

If you want to read the story about how I accidentally ended up in this meeting, continue reading here. If you’re just interested in Sri Lankas wildlife and don’t care to have a laugh at my expense, skip this section and start at “Part 2”..

Part 1

OK, for those of you who want to read my story. Let me tell you a little about WTM London. First of all, it’s MASSIVE. Two huge halls filled with industry leaders, marketing professionals and executives from around the world, mostly wearing suits. Then there’s me, travel blogger from Florida. Big pond, little baby fish.

WTM, for the first time, can be completely overwhelming. There are so many booths to see, people to meet and conferences to attend. My first day strategy was to attend some of the conferences, and just get generally familiar with the place. Then I’d have the remaining two days for meetings. Easy, right? Well things don’t always go as planned.

My first conference of the day was over, so I was taking some time to stretch my legs and have a look around. I was walking past the Sri Lanka booth, which was always brimming with excitement, dancing and music…

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and I saw someone I remembered meeting in the press room that morning. He had told me earlier about an exciting event at this booth today. SriLankan Airlines was highlighting their work with Whale and Dolphin Conservation and the main guest was an author who recently wrote a book on wildlife in Sri Lanka.. I thought, “Perfect! I’ll go to that next.”

I go up to the gentleman that I had met that morning and ask about the conference. He goes upstairs to check on something, and I’m thinking, “Great, it’s so full he’s making sure there’s still room. I can just slip in the back. Easy.” I was so wrong. He comes back and ushers me upstairs into this room with 3 other people. THREE! Everyone there was either associated with the Airline or the book. In total, it ended up being a marketing person and the chairman (the chairman!) of the airline, two people associated with the book and the author…

The room felt like it was 100 degrees, and it seemed like I couldn’t think of a single articulate thing to say. Everyone was perfectly nice, though, and I’m really glad I went. I learned quite a bit by sitting back while they exchanged dialogue about the future of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry and I now have a strong desire to visit. Something a friend of mine said afterwards was, “you may be a little fish in a big pond, but at least you’re in the pond.” Wise words, I think. At least they made me feel better.

Anyway, moving onto Sri Lanka…

Part 2…

Just like that, I’ve added Sri Lanka to my list of “must-see places.” The author was Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne.

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He wrote this book about the diversity of Sri Lankan wildlife. Most people know about Sri Lanka’s elephants and some might also know about their leopards, but did you also know that it is also a fantastic whale and marine life observation destination? Nearly 25 cetacean (whales, dolphins, porpoises etc.) can be found off the Sri Lankan shores. There aren’t many countries that could offer to take you on an elephant safari in the morning and whale watching tour in the evening.

SriLanka Airlines has launched project BLUEprint in conjunction with Whale and Dolphin Conservation, to ensure this newly budding tourism industry develops in a way that is both good for the local economy and the wildlife. They’ll be selling these plush toys on their flights to raise money for the cause…

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Each box has the name and markings of a blue whale that has been known to frequent the area. This post isn’t sponsored by SriLankan Airlines in any way, I just think it’s great when businesses get involved in their local communities.

So, who’s coming with me to Sri Lanka?

International Goodbyes

Saying “goodbye” can be awkward, because it’s hard to choose what the appropriate form of farewell is. In the US, you have three different options and that’s already too many.

Type 1 – If it’s family or good friends, you probably hug.

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Type 2 – If it’s a more professional relationship or someone you just met, you might shake hands.

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Type 3 – If it’s somewhere in between those, you might bring out the awkward wave (my personal favorite).

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Travelers tend to meet a lot of people. They could be your roommates, people you met out in the common area of a hostel or at some social event. You could have been with them as little as one breakfast sitting, or maybe they’ve been your “explore the city buddy” for the past few days. You’ve exchanged emails or are now Facebook BFFs and are about to head your separate ways. As I said previously, I already have three possible goodbye options, but I’m really in trouble when traveling internationally. For instance, Dutch people kiss three times alternating cheeks. Hispanic people often do the same, but only twice. It has also become trendy, in some places, to say hello and goodbye with one cheek kiss. Other cultures value their personal space and don’t want touching to be involved at all.

I have an outstanding ability to be clumsy and awkward whenever possible, so that’s just too easy of a set up for something embarrassing to happen. When someone steps towards you to say bye, are they coming in for a hug or a predetermined set of cheek kisses? How many cheek kisses? On what side do you start the cheek kissing process? You know the awkward dance people do when they’re passing in a hallway and they keep trying to let the other one pass? Then it turns into some sort of really klutzy waltz. Now imagine that in even closer range, but with only your faces as you try to kiss the other persons cheek. It’s the stuff of nightmares.

Can someone with more authority than I possess please come up with some sort of internationally accepted, general goodbye?? I suppose it couldn’t hurt to just ask, “How do they typically say goodbye where you’re from?” but that’s just too sensible.

Am I the only one who’s felt this way before?? Tell me your stories!

Dome Top Steamer Trunk Repair

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First, let me start by saying, “What a lot of work!” Especially compared to the first trunk I refinished. Secondly, I am so excited to write this post. I’ve had this thing for months and I’ve only been able to work on it a little bit at a time. Let’s go back to the beginning, shall we? You can see the original in the before and after picture. Apparently someone thought they would try their hand at refinishing it by painting those awful green stripes and white accents. First I tried to see if I could get the paint off by sanding, scraping and paint thinner…

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After a good hour of that nonsense, I gave up and decided that painting over it would be the next best option. In the picture above, you can see I’d already given up on getting the green off and started filling in holes and taping off the wood areas. That pretty much covers the next step in the refinishing. I used regular spackling past to fill the holes and larger dents. I left the old leather on the trunk until after I painted it and covered the areas where it had already crumbled off with newspaper and tape. This part was the most tedious. Not only does it take a long time, but it doesn’t get any prettier while you’re doing it…

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Things started looking up after the first coat of spray paint, though…

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Finally, no more ugly green…

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Few things are more satisfying than peeling back clean paint lines. Look at that, what an improvement already. The paper peeled off really easily, but I had to use a box cutter and screw driver to get the leather off. There was also some glue residue left, but a little sanding and scrubbing with a wire brush took it off pretty easily.

Next came the stain. Minwax, Colonial Maple…

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Even better, but it needed more shine. I found a gallon of polyurethane for floors at the Home Depot in the secret little scratch and dent section in the back for $9. I googled as much as I could about it, and I couldn’t find anything about using floor polyurethane on projects other than floors. I figured, “What’s the worst that could happen?” It could look absolutely fantastic, that’s what!

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After the first coat, some of the edges and knots soaked up the shine, but the second coat took care of that. The last thing that needed to be fixed on the exterior was the feet. I got a 50 cent piece of wood from the scrap section in Home depot and some furniture sliders.

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I also used more power tools on this project than I ever have before. First it was my miter saw to cut the scrap wood down to the right size, then electric drills to attach the wood and sliders to the bottom of the trunk. I was pretty proud of myself…

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The reason I had to make a new base was because one of the metal feet was missing and I have no clue at this point about how to replace it…

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Also, I can’t imagine the trunk sliding around on those metal knobs would be good for anyone’s floors. I thought about adding wheels instead of sliders, but they were all ugly. It seemed like it would just look awkward. This covers everything that I did to the outside. I have some ideas for the inside that I’m really excited about, but that’s for another post…

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What project isn’t complete without some help from the cat…

Ready for a ride in the C-A-R

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Having a dog around is a lot like being around a little kid, you end up doing a lot of spelling. C-a-r.  B-o-n-e.  C-a-t.  W-a-l-k.  B-a-t-h.  Those are words that can only be said, instead of spelled, if you are trying to elicit some response from the dog. Almost all of those words are met with jubilant responses, apart from b-a-t-h and c-a-t. “Bath” makes him run to the farthest corner of our backyard and bark awkwardly. He never barks so it sounds very silly and unnatural.

Rides in the c-a-r are normally his favorite thing, so if you are wondering why he is making such a ridiculous face… There is a perfectly good explanation..

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If he only knew getting in the c-a-r is the last thing the c-a-t wants to do…