Exploring Sri Lanka’s western Province Part III
“The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes “sight-seeing.” –
Daniel J. Boorstin
Cathy, Katja and I headed out by Tuk Tuk (of course) and went the opposite direction to Panadura, we headed to a large town and had a wander around various shops and market areas before ending up in a large temple by the river. What we both loved about the various temples we visited is how peaceful they feel. You are made to take your shoes off before entering and you wander about barefoot everywhere
Tuesday was a big day for us as it was the day we had agreed to go to visit the elephants etc, etc. It was an early start as we were being picked up at 05:30 am for the cross province drive to Kandy. I mentioned to the hotel that we wouldn’t be in for breakfast; they immediately said they would get people in earlier for us so we could have breakfast before going out! After a beautiful and interesting (yet longer than expected) drive we arrived at the Elephant place. I would like to say it was the sanctuary we had in mind but later we discovered that this was a totally different place! I must admit I wasn’t enamoured by the place or the way the elephants were looked after. We took a short ride on one and upon returning were asked for money (having paid a considerable amount for the ride). What I offered him wasn’t enough so I gave him nothing! This was a good instance in which some prior research and directions would have come in handy, my overall comment for this place would have to be that we were disappointed by it! We left the elephant place and headed off to what we thought was the temple of the Sacred Tooth but made an unexpected stop.
The spice plantationt was interesting enough and we weren’t asked for money! So we bought some very nice spicy tea which we brought home!
This was also an unexpected stop. I must admit it was very interesting and we were grateful to the guide for stopping here. Sri Lanka was a British Colony until 1948 and was formerly known as Ceylon (in 1972 it became the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka). Ceylon tea is famous world wide! The tour was very interesting and ended up of course with a cup of tea. It wasn’t a plantation as such but a mixture of a factory where they process the tea leaves and a plantation.
After a bit of a rocky start things were looking up, even though the weather looked pretty dodgy and by the time we had arrived at the tea plantation it was raining. Fortunately, it had stopped by the time we arrived at the temple. The Temple is located in Kandy which is a bustling city. Today the city was busier that any other day as it was a religious festival and a holiday. Our guide showed us to the area we had to go and get our tickets and then where to leave our shoes. We joined (literally) several thousand other people in a queue to enter the temple. Katja was amazing in the queue as it wasn’t the most comfortable experience. We reached what we thought was the main area only to be faced with a further long queue. We decided to concentrate in this area instead of queuing further. The temple is stunning and once again, there’s a real sense of peace, even if you are surrounded by several thousand other people! Katja was also fascinated by the monkeys running around all over the place.
As we left the temple it had started to rain again. We arrived at the Botanical Gardens and the rain was starting to intensify….considerably! We started having a walk but the rain was getting worse; so we headed off to a restaurant on site and had some lunch. Sadly, the rain never subsided so we had to call it a day; the gardens look ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! We headed back to the mini bus and then back home. I think the driver may have either been in a hurry to get home or a death wish as he drove back like a scalded cat. Oh, except to make a couple of totally random stops to say hello to friends! We arrived back at the hotel tired after a long day. It hadn’t been as planned or expected as such, however, it was an enjoyable day exploring other parts of this magnificent country.
“Some people are so poor that all they have is just money”
This was to be our last day in Waduwa, we decided to have a quiet day by playing in the pool and the beach. I had a stinking cold so decided to have a bit of a sleep in the morning. In the afternoon after playing in the pool a bit more, we headed to the beach to watch the sun go down. We met a lovely local family and got chatting as Katja played with the kids. Cathy taught the kids some English songs and we all had a lovely time. I took a couple of pictures and the girls kept asking me to take more and more. They were amazed when I was showing them the ones I took. it turns out that they had never had a photo taken! I am sure we have all heard of things like this on TV or documentaries, etc, etc but when you hear it first hand it is a different story all together. These kids were happy with what they had. I am sure they weren’t fussed about Facebook, Twitter or whether they have the latest phone. They were happy with what they had. The mother and the girls had a fab time building sand castles and chasing each other around the beach. it was so humbling to see people who have so little were so happy. Our final day had ended on a high. We headed off to the restaurant for our final evening meal with several beers. we really didn’t want to leave this place. Every breakfast (several lunches) and every evening we sat and ate by the river watching the most amazing birds and wild life as well as monkeys fighting in nearby trees. However, tomorrow was set to be a totally different experience and adventure as we were off to Colombo for two days before flying back to Qatar.
Part VI – Colombo