RAGSN Asia 2004


In July 2004, my family phoned to tell me my brother was getting hitched. And I mean hitched in the marital fashion, not hitched to a cart and being dragged away. Though admittedly that is what went through my mind at the thought of the word “wedding”. The wedding was slated for December 2004 and strangely (according to custom I understand now) I was to be best man. Given my past history with my parents attempting to marry me off in incalculably strange ways, I was a bit hesitant. Was I the unwitting pawn in another one of my mum’s crazy schemes of marrying me off to a Sri Lankan girl? My brother assured me that it was him getting married and not me. I was grateful.

I had initially planned on doing some small, much cheaper, trip in November, maybe to South America, but now I was set to go to Asia. To heck with it, I thought, if I’m going that far a distance, I was definitely going to do some exploring this time. So I contacted my friends Mike Mannion (Montreal), Chris Myrick (Singapore), Keli Ryan (Singapore) and Andrew Draskoy (Newfoundland). The first three names should be familiar to those who have followed my exploits over the last 2 years. Mike, Chris and Keli were my companions to Kilimanjaro in 2003. We were to be reunited.

Our plan was simple. Mike and I had to do a mountain. What better mountain than Mt. Kinabalu, the tallest mountain in South East Asia at 4092m in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. I had last done it when I was 15. I would be 30 during this attempt. How fitting. I also wanted to relax, so southern Thailand and the white beaches surrounding Phuket seemed to be the ticket. Andrew went on ahead and was to spend 2 months travelling South East Asia, we would meet up with him at Mt. Kinabalu Park. So with minimal preparation (we were pros now after all — wink, wink) our plan was to fly to Singapore and take a budget airline, AirAsia, all over. Each flight cost us between CDN $35 and $50. Hardly breaking the bank.

On November 19, 2004, a cold day in Edmonton at the start of Winter, I boarded a flight bound for Vancouver with further stops in Los Angeles and Taipei. Final destination: Singapore. The next two weeks saw us crisscross Asia: Johore Baru, Malaysia to Kota Kinabalu to Bangkok, Thailand to Phuket and finally back to Singapore and my brother’s wedding in Sri Lanka.

This is the story of the journey, from start to finish. From hoisting a flag on Mt. Kinabalu, to snorkeling in Phuket, to being driven batty by Asian taxi drivers and to weird get-ups for Sri Lankan weddings. I hope you have fun. My thanks to my travelling companions yet again. Oh what fun it is to travel with you.

As a note, we did this trip in late November, early December. On December 26, 2004 a Tsunami hit killing and injuring over 100,000 people. While my immediate family in Sri Lanka escaped injury, my new sister-in-law’s relatives were not that lucky. As these countries look to rebuild and even get a measure of the photos you will see within, we ask that you give to the Canadian Red Cross, Oxfam, CARE International or a host of other relief agencies working in the region.

Thank you for visiting my site, thanks for the well wishers and concerns from friends after the disaster. My thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost loved ones and with the survivors who now face the grim task of living through the tragedy.

Peace.

Duleepa “Dups” Wijayawardhana
December 28, 2004, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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