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7th August, 2005  Volume 12, Issue 4

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    

Review

A salute to Staff Sergeant
Lucky Herath of the US Army

By Ranee Mohamed

In the army camp in Missouri, U.S.A. are hun-dreds of soldiers and officers. But there is one woman who will interest us......

More......


Review more articles

> The other side of university education

> Waking up to  Sleeping Beauty

> Ramzi a man in fashion for all seasons

> The lighter side of life The dance of life

> Winds of change... (....Balder dash)

> Ten readers reach out to nine pups and abandoned mother

> Turkey - a secret diamond


A salute to Staff Sergeant Lucky Herath of the US Army

Home in Sri Lanka with daughter Ceylon

By Ranee Mohamed

In the army camp in Missouri, U.S.A. are hun-dreds of soldiers and officers. But there is one woman who will interest us all. She is a Sri Lankan woman on a gunner  `Humvee'(hmmwv) bearing the logo of the US Army.  She is Lucky Herath, also called Staff Seargeant Lucky Sands of the US Army. From the corridors of Ladies College and Visakha Vidyalaya, this Sri Lankan woman stepped into an arena hitherto unexplored by women of our land - the United States Army.

"I miss Sri Lanka, but I have such a good life in America. However I miss Sri Lankan food very much," she said talking of crab  and kos (jackfruit) curry.

Speaking of her life in the army, "The hardest part of it all was being away from my eight year old daughter, Ceylon when I was away in Iraq for 14 months," said Staff Seargeant Sands. But she went on to speak of experiences that are not usual to everyday life, especially the lives of Sri Lankan women. 

 "The training includes surviving the gas chamber, running the fastest two miles, road marches, endurance strengths, push ups, sit ups, weapons training, hand grenade training, landmine installing and detonating training," said Sands who asked 'if a man can do it why can't a woman do it? She said that in the US Army there is no difference between men and women, the training, she said, is the same for all.

SS Lucky Sands E6 speaks of a challenging life in the United States of America. "There is hard fitness training and fitness  plays a great role in the job. We are prepared for combat - hard combat," she said. And this is exactly what S.S. Sands was doing in Iraq - in the frontline. "There was no time for fear, I had a mission to accomplish, we all had," she pointed out. She spoke of the mass graveyards of Iraq that they saw when they entered,  and the blood splattered walls. In the army camp in Missouri, U.S.A. are hun-dreds of soldiers and officers. But there is one woman who will interest us all. She is a Sri Lankan woman on a gunner  `Humvee'(hmmwv) bearing the logo of the US Army.  She is Lucky Herath, also called Staff Seargeant Lucky Sands of the US Army. From the corridors of Ladies College and Visakha Vidyalaya, this Sri Lankan woman stepped into an arena hitherto unexplored by women of our land - the United States Army.

"I miss Sri Lanka, but I have such a good life in America. However I miss Sri Lankan food very much," she said talking of crab  and kos (jackfruit) curry.

Speaking of her life in the army, "The hardest part of it all was being away from my eight year old daughter, Ceylon when I was away in Iraq for 14 months," said Staff Seargeant Sands. But she went on to speak of experiences that are not usual to everyday life, especially the lives of Sri Lankan women.

 "The training includes surviving the gas chamber, running the fastest two miles, road marches, endurance strengths, push ups, sit ups, weapons training, hand grenade training, landmine installing and detonating training," said Sands who asked 'if a man can do it why can't a woman do it? She said that in the US Army there is no difference between men and women, the training, she said, is the same for all.

SS Lucky Sands E6 speaks of a challenging life in the United States of America. "There is hard fitness training and fitness  plays a great role in the job. We are prepared for combat - hard combat," she said. And this is exactly what S.S. Sands was doing in Iraq - in the frontline. "There was no time for fear, I had a mission to accomplish, we all had," she pointed out. She spoke of the mass graveyards of Iraq that they saw when they entered,  and the blood splattered walls.

Speaking of her work environment, she said that there was no harassment, no unpleasantness but hard work. "I do not let myself be harassed, I do not let myself be pushed around," pointed out Sands who went on to say that each of us must carve out our surroundings and lives, for ourselves.

She spoke of a 'great life' in America and good American men . "My husband is wonderful to me. He looks after Ceylon, when I am away," she said. Sands who spoke of her life as a single mother after her first marriage said that it was a very nice time in her life. "I got to spend a lot of time with my daughter. It was so pleasant. It made me realise that you do not have to have someone all the time," she said and went on to say that it is the attitude one takes to life that helps one form an opinion about different periods in one's life.

"My first husband and my present husband are the best of friends. In fact they are closer to each other than they are to me," she said laughingly. "We are all such good friends and in this way my daughter Ceylon has 'two fathers' who love her immensely," said Sands happily.

Speaking of American men in general, Sands said that they are the "nicest and the most genuine men" that she  had ever met. "They are so nice and so understanding and America is the best place to live," she opined.

Speaking of the Sri Lankan forces, Sands said that our soldiers and sailors need to be trained more. "I think more and more women ought to get into the forces. If I can do it, then any other Sri Lankan woman can do it," she said.

Staff Seargeant Lucky Sands is also involved in the physical training of soldiers in her Missouri Army Camp. It is customary to see Staff Sergeant Lucky Sands driving past in her army trucks with a weapon by her side.

"It is all about motivation and fear. I have told my daughter too that she can be anything that she wants to be, be it a mom or a rocket scientist - it only takes  motivation," - said Seargent Sands.

Speaking glowingly about her Commander in Chief, George W. Bush, Sands said that she admires him very much.

Life in the army is about being prepared for war, said Sands. "It is a fight for freedom.  We are free today because someone else fought for it," she said.


The other side of university education

By Shezna Shums

For those students who are for tunate to gain entrance to a local university, receiv-ing the good news is both a time to be happy and nervous, because it is most certainly an achievement to gain entrance to a university. But the knowledge that brutal  ragging, clashes and even murder occur regularly within these halls of learning will make any student shudder with fear.

Although local universities offer a number of degrees and other qualifications, some students told The Sunday Leader  that gaining an education is very time consuming because of the numerous times the universities are indefinitely closed.

At such a time both the staff as well as the students have to look at themselves closely.  The staff  should consider whether their strike action is worth halting the education of over 45,000 undergraduates islandwide and the students on the other hand should value this free education provided by the state and take maximum advantage of it.  This would stop the wastage of government funds,  especially when it comes to issues such as ragging and student affiliations.

Meanwhile speakin, a student who gained entrance to Sri Jayawardena Pura University says that the local universities are hopeless.

Instead of studying full time she had decided to have her classes externally, mainly because of the problems associated with the university and students safety.

"Because of the strikes many students I know prefer applying for foreign degrees, because studying at a local university is so time consuming," she said.

"Authorities should at least suspend the people who are causing so many problems at the universities," she added.

She pointed out that the internal undergraduates will be badly affected because they are supposed to be studying full time and the closure of a university will hinder their education.

However the universities external students are not so bad off, because if the university is closed at any time undergraduates have their work or other activities they can fall back on, she said.

"We just lose interest in our studies when so many problems arise," she pointed out.

A student from the Colombo University speaking to The Sunday Leader said that even the closure of a faculty is not good because this gives such a negative impact and uncertainty to education.

The smooth operation sector of the universities depends equally on both the staff of the universities and the students themselves.  The universities should be used for studies and not be used for other purposes.

There are presently 12 universities islandwide and over 45,000 undergraduates. Each day a university is unable to function because of staff or student problems and millions of rupees of  government funds go waste.

The Open University has over 22,000 students. They have their regional and  other study centres islandwide.

The recent strike by the non academic staff halted work at the university itself as well as the other regional and study centers islandwide.

Last month finally saw the end of a one month strike by the non academic staff of all universities, which crippled  these universities.

Last week, the Colombo University Arts and Management Faculties temporarily closed because of student clashes.

Lest we forget...

In November 2002, Ovitigala Vithanage Samantha an undergraduate at the Sri Jayawardenapura University was murdered in cold blood within the university premises.

His fellow students had clubbed him with a rod that had iron nails hammered into it.

 Samantha's house is just walking distance from the university and his mother is reminded of the brutal way her son was murdered every time she passes the university.

His picture is kept in her home and everyday Samantha's mother says a prayer for the son she lost, when he was supposed to be studying in a university.

 Samantha was a third-year management student and he as well as other students had been campaigning against ragging, stating that it was a means of demeaning and intimidating new students.

Another student, Indika Attanayake was also assaulted but survived with injuries to his head, 13 other students were also injured.

Many of the student problems arise because of outsiders - in hostels, violence related to student unions, ragging and lack of proper security.

The University Lecturers Association of the Sri Jayawardanapura University (SJU) denouncing the killing of Samantha had stated "This inhumane student slaughter is the most brutal killing and the worst black mark in the history of the SJU."

The association  had called for a swift investigation and punishment for the killers regardless of their political affiliations. "It is the duty of authorities and political leaders,"  they had stated. 


Waking up to  Sleeping Beauty

By Ranee Mohamed

The Sleeping Beauty by the Deanna School of Dancing woke us to the ballet talent of  Sri Lankan youth. From the grace of the Corps De Ballet, which has the grace of a swan and clockwork precision showed the viewers that grace and technical precision, can be blended with equal grace.

Ayumi Ranakumara, The Sleeping Beauty who danced without any effort showed Deanna Jayasuriya's hawk eye at selecting the swans of ballet. In fact, every dancer in the ballet seemed carved for the role. 

The discipline among the young ballerinas was a step in the right decision.

The Sleeping Beauty - performed with grace and clockwork precision by the artistes of the Deanna School of Dancing

For Deanna Jayasuriya insists that ballet is a discipline; and this discipline they seemed to practice to the very letter.

Deanna Jayasuriya, the founder of the Deanna School of Dancing has made a record contribution to ballet in Sri Lanka by taking in the stumbling two and a half year olds and thereafter gracing and bracing them to be  ballerinas,  acclaimed the world over.

In this context, Dhehara  Senaratne springs to the limelight today as a ballerina par excellance. Her solo held the audience spellbound. Some ballerinas are born, and Dhehara who walked into the Deanna School of Dancing when she was two and ahalf years old, proved it so.

Dhehara  excelled at her Royal Academy of Dancing Examinations, London and passed Grade 8. She speaks with gratitude recalling the time when Deanna Jayasuriya took some of her students to London for lessons from the Royal Academy of Dance.

Senaratne has also excelled in ballet schools in Australia, has a diploma in a ballet in Australia and has also graduated at the Performing Arts School in Melbourne.

She is today a teacher of ballet in Melbourne. The talent of Dhehara Senaratne  stood sparkling clear amidst the colour and the grace. Some people are born to dance, but Dhehara Senaratne seemed to be born to dance and dance again.

For Deanna Jayasuriya, who has given us ballerinas of international standing as Ran Akama, Ayumi, Karin, Yasoda and Heshanthi, pouring ballerinas into graceful moulds seems to be a lifelong event.

"My task is not over," said Jayasuriya, who is to work on another show very soon. "I am amazed at the talent in Sri Lanka," said Jayasuriya who has been in the centre of the limelight for over three decades. "After 25 years of the school, when I look back I hear the patter of the two and a half year old students of my school and the applause that my senior students have earned from the Royal Academy of Dancing. Students of the Deanna School of Dancing have done much more than learn a few steps in ballet; today they are being accepted to the United Kingdom for BA honours degrees in dancing," she  said.

Deanna also went on to say that her greatest assets were her daughters. Natalie who was a student of the Elmhurst Ballet School, is today a qualified teacher of ballet among her other professional achievements. Her  other daughter Natasha , a teacher of Hip Hop has performed in China, Hong Kong and the UK with a dance troupe.

Success comes in many ways, but when it comes in the form of  dance, then the cause is for celebration.


Ramzi a man in fashion for all seasons

By Ranee Mohamed

Georgio Armani  and  Yves Saint Laurent have made their impact in the international fashion scene. We in Sri Lanka too take our hats off to them.

But closer home, right before our very eyes, is a man who has traversed the arena of beauty since he was in his teens. He began by doing 'free' make up for friends. And today, after three decades of rubbing shoulders and rouge on the high and mighty, Ramzi remains the simple man who has made no money, but accumulated experience, fame and awe.

Some people know him as Ramzi, but the name Ramzi Rahaman is on the lips of the  cream of society in Sri Lanka. All this fame however has not made an impact on Rahaman.   Rahaman is simple, soft and wears his heart on his sleeve. His fame has not taken away the simplicity and human touch that seems so inherent to him.

As he smiles, his tired eyes speak of sleepless nights before the honeymoons of others.

Dreams come true

 "There are no nights and days, when I take on a bride, I make all her dreams come true. A wedding may be a once in a lifetime event, but in these modern times,  I have dressed women more than twice for their wedding days," said Ramzi who has dressed generations of brides and is a 'family name' when it comes to beauty and fashion.

"Times have changed. Not only is the bride worried about being beautiful on her special day, but bridegrooms too come to me for their facials and their total good looks, today," said Rahaman.

Rahaman has the magical ability to decide on the spur of the moment  on what makes a woman look her best. So, given time, Rahaman dwells on his brides, on what is best for them - for with Rahaman, it is the total look. "Women ought to concentrate on what suits them most, not simply want something they see on a magazine. Fashion is what suits you," said Ramzi. "Sometimes brides want to wear western clothes on their wedding day, when the saree may suit them much better. Sri Lankan women ought to concentrate on wearing the saree, it is a graceful attire and one ought to learn to 'carry it' and by wearing the saree more often a woman will come to realise that it is not difficult as they imagine it to be," pointed out Rahaman.

'The saree is the ideal form of attire for Sri Lankan women and there are many ways of wearing the saree - the blouse can be made in different ways - and this ensemble is the height of fashion," pointed out Rahaman.

Blend of old and new

Speaking of fashion, Rahaman went on to say that the  glass nylons and the tissues have made a come back. "Fashion is a blend of the old and the new. This is true of hairstyles too - it is the old and the new that go to make the more modern hairstyles," said Rahaman who says he is at his happiest when he has finished a new creation that is being admired by all.

Rahaman said that we are in times when many people are budget conscious. "And one does not have to be rich to be beautiful," pointed out Rahaman, who is able to make simple creations, to look great.

Speaking of his inspiration - his mother - Rahaman says that she has not only encouraged him but has played a great role in his successful life.   Rahaman is perhaps the only son who is able to give professional beauty advise to his mother and tell her what exactly she ought to wear.

 Rahaman who began his work from  his home, today has three plush salons - in Borella, Duplication Road and at a leading hotel in Colombo. "People are talking to me about teaching and I am thinking about having short beauty courses," revealed Rahaman

"I love nature and natural, quiet surroundings - the beaches and the trees," said  this 'king of make up' who is surrounded by glitz and glamour every day and night. "I want to take time off, but work keeps me engaged day and night," said Rahaman who looked as if he needed to visit the spa.

But he is in the business of beauty, and everyone wants to be beautiful, so for  Rahaman, there is no way out of this beautiful business.


The lighter side of life The dance of life

Two men, sentenced to die on the electric chair on the same day, were led down to the room in which they would meet their maker. The priest had given them the last rites, the formal speech had been given by the warden, and a final prayer had been said among the participants. The warden, turning to the first man, solemnly asked, 'Son, do you have a last request?' To which the man replied, 'Yes sir, I do. I love dance music. Could you please play the Macarena for me one last time?' 'Certainly,' replied the warden. He turned to the other man and asked, 'Well, what about you, son? What is your final request?' 'Please,' said the condemned man, 'kill me first.'  

Engineer's choice

 Two engineering students meet on campus one day. The first engineer calls out to the other, 'Hey Nice bike! Where did you get it?' 'Well,' replies the other, 'I was walking to class the other day when this pretty, young girl rides up on this bike. She jumps off, takes off all of her clothes, and says 'You can have anything you want!' 'Good choice,' says the first, 'her clothes wouldn't have fitted you anyway.'  

Colours of life

A young 'punker' gets on the cross-town bus. He's got spiked, multicoloured hair that's green, purple, and orange. His clothes are a tattered mix of leather rags. His legs are bare and he's without shoes. His entire face and body are riddled with pierced jewellery and his earrings are big, bright feathers. He sits down in the only vacant seat, directly across an old man who just glares at him for the next 10 miles. Finally, the punk gets self conscious and barks at the old man: 'What are you looking at, you old man. Didn't you ever do anything wild when you were young?' Without missing a beat, the old man replies: 'Yeah. Back when I was young and in the navy, I got really drunk one night in Singapore, and had sex with a peacock. I thought may be you were  my son.'  

Passenger's care

The seating arrangements on a flight put a timid little guy in a window seat next to a big Texan who's in the aisle seat. After the plane takes off, the Texan quickly falls asleep. Pretty soon the little guy starts to get air-sick but is afraid to wake up the Texan so he can get to the rest-room.  Before he gets a chance to make up his mind, his stomach makes it up for him and he suddenly barfs all over the Texan. He is horrified and immediately begins to worry about what the Texan will do to him when he wakes up. The Texan finally awakens, looks down at the mess on himself, looks over at the little guy and starts to frown.  The little guy, , with deep concern showing in his voice, quickly asks 'Sir, are you feeling better now ?'  

Paternal problems

A man goes into his son's room to wish him goodnight. His son is having a nightmare - the man wakes him and asks his son if he is OK? The son replies he is scared because he dreamt that Auntie Susie had died. The father assures the son that Auntie Susie is fine and sends him to bed. The next day, Auntie Susie dies. One week later, the man again goes into his son's room to wish him goodnight. His son is having another nightmare - the man again wakes his son.  The son this time says that he had dreamt that grand dad had died. The father assures the son that grand dad is fine and sends him to bed. The next day, grand dad dies.

One week later, the man again goes into his son's room to wish him goodnight. His son is having another nightmare - the man again wakes his son. The son this time says that he had dreamt that daddy had died. The father assures the son that he is OK and sends the boy to bed. The man goes to bed but cannot sleep because he is so terrified.

The next day, the man is scared for his life - he is sure he is going to die. After dressing he drives very cautiously to work fearful of a collision.  He doesn't eat lunch because he is scared of food poisoning. He avoids everyone for he is sure he will somehow be killed.  He jumps at every noise, starts at every movement and hides under his desk for safety. Upon walking in his front door, he finds his wife. 'Good God, dear,' he proclaims, 'I've just had the worst day of my entire life!' She responds, 'You think your day was bad, the milkman dropped dead on the doorstep this morning.' 

Reasoning with the wife

The angry wife met her husband at the door. There was alcohol in his breath and lipstick on his cheek. 'I assume,' she snarled, 'that there is a very good reason for you to come waltzing in at six o'clock in the morning?' 'There is,' he replied, 'Breakfast.'


Winds of change...

The wind is blowing at high speed these days. Recently, my daughter's hairdresser gave her a 'new look' which he called 'natural and messed up.' If she just stood outside in the garden these days, it would have just come naturally all right ! My hair sticks out where it's not supposed to, very indisciplined, and so if I go out in the wind I look quite like my daughter's Troll doll. Just imagine if you were a Very Important Person and if you were giving an outdoor speech and a strand of hair blew into your mouth in mid sentence ! You would either have to blow it out, which would result in a whooshing sound on the microphone, or pause daintily and pull it out, or else continue speaking which will distort your speech and give the impression that you are under the influence!

Then again if you are Royalty and have to wear a hat, imagine if it went twirling off in the wind and your hair started doing its own dance! The carefully written speech you were going to deliver also could blow away, and you would have to carry on impromptu ! So thank your lucky stars and just carry a brush with you wherever you go.

During our school days, we dreaded windy days, as our uniforms which were knife-pleated would show an alarming tendency to rise up and display our underwear to all and sundry. It was compulsory to wear petticoats  (it wasn't considered ladylike for your underwear to be visible) but still it was extremely disconcerting! It was no mean feat to juggle with books and your rising skirt . Of course this would happen when the boys from the neighbouring school were in the vicinity. Most often we wore dresses to parties too, but this was in the late evening and so not so bad.

The nuns and teachers had taught us to be very modest young ladies, you see ! Even if we did a dance for a concert which involved kicking our feet high into the air, they made us wear bloomers ! For those of you who don't know, these were horrible long underwear with elastic at the ends of the legs. They rather made us look like as if we were in fancy dress, dressed up as overgrown babies. Then for sports, we had divided skirts, which were like loose shorts. They were pleated too and looked like skirts, but we weren't allowed to wear them very short. So you could pole vault, high jump and leapfrog very modestly!

If you carry an umbrella on a rainy and windy day, sometimes it has a tendency to turn inside out. This leaves you totally drenched and you feel like throwing it on the ground and jumping on it. Or else you feel like Mary Poppins, waiting to be lifted up high into the air. You just finish sweeping up some leaves off your lawn, and in a trice, they return once more in a whirling dance ! Also in my house, the curtains fly up and sometimes get entangled in the blades of the ceiling fan. So many fan blades have been bent out of shape and the person who is repairing it looks in a puzzled way at it, wondering how on earth we managed to mangle it ?

Writers of books, plays and screenwriters use the wind frequently for effect. The howling wind in a storm, a sand storm in a desert, typhoons or even leaves rustling in the breeze make us picture a scene  more vividly. And there's nothing quite like the rippling of a field in the breeze, the gentle lapping of waves on the shore and fields of flowers moving in a colourful dance.

But it feels so good to have a cool breeze blowing on your face, isn't it? Some countries use wind power to generate electricity. Some sports too, rely on the wind. Wind surfing, sky diving, yatching and hot air ballooning are some of these adventurous activities. One mustn't forget that some seeds are also wind dispersed, and this assists in the continuation of the species. On the more practical side of things, clothes dry much quicker on a windy day, only make sure you peg them firmly or else all your unmentionables will be scattered all over the neighbourhood ! Airily yours,

Honky Tonk Woman


Ten readers reach out to nine pups and abandoned mother

By  Ranee Mohamed

Where  have all the animal lovers gone?" we asked last Sunday.  And on  that same Sabbath day they came to see the abandoned dog and her pups. Some of them brought rice and meat, others brought milk, buns, and chicken necks.

"What's this sudden outpouring of concern?" Browny seemed to ask, struggling up to receive meal after meal, enjoying the various foods with relish. 

But not for long, for a serious dog lover was not content on merely given her food. The senior citizen from Moratuwa wanted to take Browny and her nine pups home. "Thank you The Sunday Leader, for highlighting the plight of an innocent animal," he said. 

Rescue mission -- mother and pups being taken away

And to us at The Sunday Leader, suffering is suffering, injustice is injustice, be they animal or human, it does not matter.

This is the way Browny found a home. And not just one, for on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, people were telephoning from all over Colombo. They wanted to take Browny and her  pups and give her a good life. "I have a friend who has a large garden. He is willing to keep them all," said another caller. Browny however was settled in her new home in Moratuwa by then.

Housewives, professionals, working women - everyone wanted to know how Browny was doing. And to this innocent animal who was just recovering after a splash of boiling water, all this attention was heart warming indeed.  As she went in the van with her pups, she never stopped wagging her tail. Animals have feelings too, for she was also crying out loud, for having to leave her familiar surroundings - surroundings where nobody wanted her.


Turkey - a secret diamond

Autumn 2002. In my former home Switzerland, I was trying to decide on where to go for my holidays - I love travelling - but where to? If my travel agent had not mentioned Turkey, I would never have thought of it.

    Several people told me how beautiful it was and after being sceptical for a while, I decided to take the risk and go there. It was the first holiday of Samuel, my fianc‚, and me and by mistake we got booked into a fully booked hotel. To make up for their mistake, the travel agency arranged for us to stay in a five star hotel for 900 Swiss Francs (about Rs. 50,000)  including the flight - a bargain! When we got there another surprise was waiting for us, instead of having just an 'ordinary' double room we had a bungalow all to ourselves. What can I say -  great value for money - Lady Luck had flown over with us!

On our first evening we got lost looking for the restaurant where the evening meal was to be served and walked right into a wedding celebration on the private beach. It looked beautifully decorated and all the waiters were standing in line to greet the guests. Quite embarrassing really, when we found out that we were in the wrong place! When we finally found the restaurant, we were astonished! It was open air - right out on the beach - there is no better way to watch a spectacular sunset. The choice of food was exquisitely displayed buffet style, offering a mouth-watering choice. There were many well-looked-after cats around discreetly mewing at the guests, hoping for a few delicious scraps.

The hotel had its own private beach as I mentioned earlier, an open-air disco, three restaurants, a bar, a swimming pool, some shops and a jeweller. If you stay in the bungalows you may be disturbed by the constant music played outside and if you go in the colder months the swiming pool will be too cold to swim. The staff was very friendly and fulfil every wish you may have. It is well worth to take a trip to the Antalya waterfalls, the market and a jeweller. The jeweller you will visit is much cheaper than the one in the hotel, the waterfalls are breathtaking, however not the Niagara-falls, and the market is a bustling hive of activity. You can buy clothes, seasonings, perfumes, tea,  and just remember that Turkey is one of the leading countries producing fake imitation articles carrying the names of top designers. You won't see a difference and the quality is good. A good place to wheel and deal but be careful not to buy anything illegal.

For up-to-date prices of hotels in Turkey go to www.istanbullife.org. Turkey hotels.

Our second visit to Turkey in 2003 came as a surprise as we won it in a competition! Once again it was during one of the colder months but we stayed in a different hotel in Antalya. It was great fun re-visiting places we had been to before. The market, the jeweller (a different one this time) and the waterfalls. I even treated myself to a necklace that I still have.

The most enjoyable trip was the one to Pamukkale, Turkey's famous thermal spring. The sight of the chalk deposits looking like overlapping lakes is breathtaking. I would recommend using the scenic route there, which takes you over the Taurus Mountains. On the way you will be able to sample a vast variety of the finest Turkish food. If you've seen the film Not Without My Daughter or read the book, you can imagine just exactly how the mother running away over the Taurus Mountains with her daughter must have felt. The rough mountains can give you goose bumps, especially on one part of the journey, where the way is steep and narrow.

The people there are friendly. You can easily enjoy the luxury of a four or five star hotel without spending too much money.

Tip: Don't forget to bargain at the market, even at the jewellers where the prices are clearly marked!

- Sarah Aeschbach


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