26th March, 2006  Volume 12, Issue 37

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                                    


Horton Plains and World's End


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Take A Trip gives you cool tips
on how to spend your weekend

By  Shezna Shums

From Nuwara Eliya there  are several places to visit, one being Hakgala Gardens, located about 10 km south east of Nuwara Eliya. 

The garden which is sometimes called 'Jaw Rock' was established in 1861 to grow cinchona, a source of the anti malarial drug quinine, and later expanded to include several other species of flora. Presently the gardens are also famous for its roses which usually bloom during April and August.

Within the gardens are majestic Monterey cypresses, old cedars, magnificent fern trees, stands of Japanese camphor, pines and eucalyptus.

Another attraction at the garden is its bird life, where even endemic species can be seen. Some of the bird life includes spot endemic montane bird species, dull-blue flycatcher while Sri Lanka's bear monkeys also live here.

Close to Nuwara Eliya town is the small village of Shantipura, either you can hire a vehicle and go there or walk there with a guide. Shantipura is known for its beautiful and un-spoilt landscape. The surrounding areas of this small town are of small hills covered in carpets of green tea bushes.

Further from this small town is another  picturesque place to visit, Uda Radella with views south to Adams Peak and on the other side of the hills around Kandy.

Also while up country another must visit is Horton Plains and World's End. The Horton Plains National Park covers wild stretches of bleak, high altitude moorland while the edges of this area are of plunging cliffs, which mark the edge of the hill country, including the popular World's End.

World's End is one of the best parts of this journey, set in an elevation of over 2,000 meters. Horton Plains offers a misty and rain-swept landscape which is dotted with beautiful patches of pristine forests.

This place which is blessed with a cool and wet climate is also blessed with wonderful flora, which is distinctive to the place. The flora includes various rhododendrons, bamboos, tree ferns, and other endemic plants.

If you are lucky when visiting this place you may be able to see some of the deer who visit this park, while purple faced moneys may also be seen.

This place is one of the best places for bird lovers, because of the immense variety of bird life available. Some of the birds are the dull-blue flycatcher, Sri Lanka's bush warbler, whistling thrush, yellow-eared bulbul and striking orange minivets. Reptiles such as lizards, which boast outlandish fluorescent green skin, are also present here.

From the entrance it is a nine kilometre circular track that leads around to Horton Plains.  After a few kilometers you will come to the Small World's End, after which you will arrive at World's End.

From here the cliffs plunge almost vertically, and the views from this destination are breathless, especially on a clear day, where you will be able to see several mountain peaks.

Ashanthi's Sandawathuren

It's an exciting time for  Ashanthi de Alwis who is  to release her debut solo  album Sandawathuren in April 2006. With a tour schedule and workload that allows for very little wriggle-room, the diva's long-awaited album has been a steep learning curve and a labour of love.

"The album is a fresh perspective on life and love" says the sultry RnB singer.

Production-wise Ashanthi says the album is a fusion of the newest sounds - a blend of ethnic melodies and radio-friendly hip hop/rnb and pop ballads.

With production powerhouses such as Bathiya Jayakody, Mahesh Denipitiyiya and the Ranganathan brothers (Sryamalangan and Sarangan) behind the mixing desk, future prospects for the album certainly look promising.

Ashanthi's intentions for her album are hardly fame-driven. At the moment, she is the first and only Sri Lankan female artist signed to an international record label - Sony Music.

She feels this achievement is testament to the potential of female musicians in Sri Lanka. "I want the album to be an inspiration to other artists such as myself. There is so much untapped talent out there."

The challenges of producing her album have been plentiful claims Ashanthi. She confesses that the creative process behind an album has been one of the biggest journeys she's had to take.

"Composing lyrics that are memorable, forming a concept for a song and basically creating the right chemistry has honestly been the biggest but most enjoyable hurdle for me."

Maintaining mass-market appeal has also been a learning experience for the young diva. "My main aim is to cater to fans from all backgrounds," says Ashanthi.

A fusion of ethnic RnB and hip hop with traditional Sri Lankan styles, creating an explosive, energetic and futuristic sound of her own for all segments of the Sri Lankan market, defines Ashanthi's unique genre of 'ethnic music' for the new album.

Along with the album Ashanthi will also be launching her website in April 2006. A host of information on the artiste and downloads otherwise inaccessible will be available to fans from the site.

All this said, there is no doubt that her fans will wait in anticipation for the diva's (and Sri Lanka's) first ever female Ethnic RnB album. The stage is set for a renaissance in female Sri Lankan music.

The daughter of the famous Sri Lankan pop/jazz vocalist Antoinette de Alwis, Ashanthi is a past pupil of Ladies College Colombo, where she was actively involved in music from her childhood years under the supervision of Christine Perera and was choir leader in the year 2001 under the supervision of Sharmini Wettimuny.

Currently completing her degree in Marketing (CIM) UK. Ashanthi is also a student of the Wendy Whatmore Academy of Speech and Drama under the supervision of Anthea Peiris Flambert.

She is also a past pupil of Marianne David - Merry An singers where she had her formal training in Operatic and classical music. Ashanthi has also been the voice of many E/S Radio / TV jingles from the tender age of six.

Not just a mouse!

By Kumudu Amarasingham

Mickey may not be  the hottest favorite amongst cartoon lovers, but there's a lot more to him than his, er.mousey good looks!

Mickey Mouse, first created November 18, 1928, has become a symbol for The Walt Disney Company. Created in 1928 by Ub Iwerks and voiced by Walt Disney, the mouse has evolved from being simply a character in animated cartoons and comic strips to become one of the most recognisable symbols in the world.

He was introduced in Steamboat Willie (1928), the first animated cartoon with sound. Noted for his overlarge head and round black ears, he became the star of more than 100 cartoon shorts.

The Mickey Mouse Club was one of the most popular television shows for children in the US in the 1950s, and the signature black cap with mouse ears worn by the show's stars became one of the most widely distributed items in merchandising history.

Mickey Mouse may be the most recognised symbol of America, except for the flag. For some, he symbolises the country's cultural imperialism, the spread of its culture to other places in the world. For others, he represents happiness and innocence.

He is the symbol for The Walt Disney Company and, in many ways, Walt Disney himself. It was said by Lillian Disney, his wife, that over the years, Mickey and Walt grew together and were mirrors of each other's personality.

They both started off mischievous, but as they grew older preferred to step out of the spotlight and observe others work their magic. President Jimmy Carter once said; "Mickey Mouse is the symbol of goodwill, surpassing all languages and cultures. When one sees Mickey Mouse, they see happiness."

Mickey was created by Ub Iwerks as a replacement for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, an earlier star created by the Disney studio. Oswald had also been created by Ub Iwerks with limited input from Walt Disney for Charles Mintz of Universal Studios.

In fact, Mickey closely resembled Oswald in his early appearances. It has been suggested that Walt Disney was influenced by an actual mouse that he almost tamed by feeding it crumbs on his desk at the Laugh-O-Gram Studio.

On November 18, 1978, in honor of his 50th anniversary, he became the first cartoon character to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The star is located on 6925 Hollywood Blvd.

Throughout the decades, Mickey Mouse competed with Warner Bros.' Bugs Bunny for animated popularity. But in 1988, in a historic moment in motion picture history, the two rivals finally shared screen time in the Robert Zemeckis film Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Warner and Disney signed an agreement stating that each character had exactly the same amount of screen time, right down to the semi-second.

Only three people have regularly provided the voice for Mickey (not including theme park attractions and parades): Walt Disney from 1928 to 1947, James Macdonald from 1948 to 1983, and currently, Wayne Allwine, who first voiced the Mouse in Mickey's Christmas Carol in 1983.

His most recent theatrical cartoon was 1995's short Runaway Brain, while in 2004 he appeared in the made-for-video features The Three Musketeers and the computer-animated Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas. He has yet to appear in an original Disney film that wasn't based on classical works.

Many television programmes have centered around Mickey, such as the recent shows Mickey Mouse Works (1999 - 2000) and Disney's House of Mouse (2001 - 2003).

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