In praise of trains, buses, and bicycles By GEORGE BRAINE Recently, while taking a walk in my neighborhood in Sapporo, Japan, a mother and a son passed me on a bicycle. The mother was riding, and the son, about three years of age, was safely belted to a seat in the rear. They appeared to be happy, chatting about something that made them smile. Once again, I found this, a scene that I witness often, charming. Japan is a wealthy country. In my neighborhood, some households own three cars. But, many people also ride bicycles. Middle school and high school students, working men and women, housewives, the elderly. Wide pavements and bicycle lanes encourage the practice. A habit children have gained while riding with their mothers is carried onto adulthood.  Compare this to Sri Lanka, a poor country, where bicycles (till the economic crisis hit recently) were a rarity on ...

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Baththalangunduwa Island – ideal destination for beach camping – By Arundathie Abeysinghe   A tiny island of approximately five square kilometers in size, located approximately 38 kilometers (20 nautical miles) away from *Kalpitiya in the Puttalam District of the North Western Province of Sri Lanka, Baththalangunduwa is popular as a beach camping site. It is an island located in the Dutch Bay (also known as Portugal Bay).  Baththalangunduwa is one of the few inhabited islands to the north of Puttalam Lagoon. Battalangunduwa is a fishing village with a population of approximately 3000 inhabitants. The majority of them are Catholics, mostly from *Chilaw and *Negombo with a substantial population of Tamil Catholics from Jaffna. Hence, the culture in Battalangunduwa is a stimulating mix and the language is a mixture of Tamil and Sinhalese, similar to residents of Negombo. The one and only livelihood within the Island is fishing. The Island borders the ...

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Scared of hunger, Sri Lankans are willing to risk their lives on boats – By Chris Barrett Source:theage.com.au Sri Lanka/Singapore: At a fish market in Negombo, an hour’s drive north of Colombo, Mallika Fernando had a message for me via my interpreter. “Tell him to take us to Australia by boat,” said the 57-year-old fish seller, as she struggled to offload what she had at her waterfront stall last week. She was only half joking. Sri Lanka’s crippling economic collapse has seen the prices of everything – from fish to rice, to petrol – soar, triggering a food security crisis in a nation already bankrupt. Now, as people struggle to make ends meet, some are looking for a way out and the boats towards Australia have resumed. Last month, on the morning of the federal election, a small trawler was intercepted by Australian Border Force west of Christmas Island. Its 12 ...

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