“You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.”
Assalam Wa Alaikum!
Situated in the Indian Ocean, southeast of the sub-continent of India, Sri Lanka is a beautiful peninsula filled with vast tea, rubber, and rice plantations. These among other agricultural products sustain the people of Sri Lanka and assist in their economic development as an island-nation. Sri Lanka is one of the largest exporters of tea in the world. It is also one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited.
In July 2014, I was blessed to have the opportunity to travel to this beautiful island, however short my time there. My coworker/friend, Aisha and I decided to visit Sri Lanka at the last-minute as we weren’t sure if we would have gotten some extra days off from work. Luckily, we did and everything worked itself out. LOOK AT GAWD!
Now, it was time to plan! After speaking to a few people who’d visited Sri Lanka previously, we decided against spending time in Colombo and started our adventure in Kandy. We landed at the Colombo Airport bright and early on the morning of the 4th and was greeted by Mr. Hasantha, the organizer of our trip. I had contacted Mr. Hasantha one day prior to arriving in Sri Lanka and he was able to organize a driver and an itinerary for our 5 days there. Shortly after meeting and chatting with Mr. Hasantha, we were met by our driver, Mr. Lasantha who retrieved our bags. His eyes were gentle, his smile was bright and his spirit was humble and welcoming. Mr. Lasantha was great throughout the trip and I would definitely recommend him to anyone in need of a driver while visiting Sri Lanka. One thing I would need to echo though is that you are CLEAR in what you want to do and you ask clarification questions to avoid linguistic miscommunication. 😀
NEED A DRIVER?
If you are ever in need of a driver in Sri Lanka, email Mr. Hasantha at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 0094723427049.
Moving right along…
Introductions complete and bags tucked away, we finally departed the airport and were on our way to Kandy. In Kandy, we would visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage to feed the elephants and watch them as they enjoyed their baths in the Maaoya River.
Views on our way to Kandy
After driving for some time, we finally arrived at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphange. According to our guide, there were two elephant orphanages in Kandy, one private and another government-operated. I do not remember our justification for choosing Pinnawala, but we did. We paid our entrance fee (2500 Rupees) as well as an extra fee for milk to be able to feed the elephants. The orphanage was not very big or anything to write home about, but we made the best of our experience. As we entered, we saw some elephants in enclosures where handlers helped tourists with feeding them. Near the back, you could see a group of elephants eating while their handlers took pictures for tourists (If you decide to have these handlers take your picture, just know that they will expect a tip). In another enclosure, there was a disabled elephant who had gotten hurt by stepping on a land mine. He was separated from the other elephants and he just looked unhappy.
On the way down to the river, you’ll find a shop where they sell “Poo Paper.” So, if you just happen to run out of Poo Paper, look no more…There’s poo paper, galore!
Feeding the elephants, watching them as they walked down to the river and as they enjoyed their baths was rather enjoyable for me. They were so happy being in the river and it was an incredible sight to see. However, I was a bit taken aback from seeing them in chains and handlers walking around with long spear-like objects. The guide informed us that the elephants were chained for their “own protection” and to ensure that they did not wander off. I’ve been to the Elephant Orphanage in Kenya and none of the elephants were in chains, but I digress. In addition to the chainatrocity (Yup, I made that word up), I also thought it terrible that tourists were allowed to ride these elephants. I’m trying to be a more conscientious traveler and I would hope other people employ similar discernment or at least make the attempt to do so.
The Pinnawala Orphange can and must do better in the way they care for the animals. Our visit didn’t last very long, so if you decide to visit, don’t expect too much. We left the orphanage and were on our way to our next destination.
Oh, before I forget…We also observed a wedding procession while by the Maaoya River. Can you say awesomesauce?!!!
NEXT STOP…Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
One of the main attractions in Kandy is The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Many followers and tourists alike visit this temple to see and/or pay homage to the Buddha. The temple is located on palace grounds and the main attraction is the sacred tooth of the Buddha. Next to the temple is a beautiful and serene lake. There were many tourists and vendors outside of the temple, so keep in mind that it may be busy when you visit.
Although this was one of the major things to do in Sri Lanka, I personally did not buy flowers, pay homage to the Buddha and/or enter the temple. At that moment in time, I felt it went against my own belief system and I was torn. So, I cannot give a personal account regarding the inside of the temple. You have to visit on your own!!! 😀
Our guide followed the principles of Buddhism, so Aisha and I waited outside and admired the palace grounds and people-watched as we waited for him to return from paying his respects.
The next thing on the agenda was to see a cultural show before checking in to our hotel, Earl’s Regent Hotel.
Care for a spot of tea anyone?
Our first day in Sri Lanka was eventful to say the least. Day 2 was sure to be filled with even more excitement. Lasantha was trying to bring us everywhere and we certainly weren’t complaining. We decided against going to the Botanical Gardens in Kandy because ummm…we didn’t want to, hehe :D. However, we did end up visiting a herbal garden and a tea plantation. At the herbal garden, a very nice man showed us around and described the healthful properties of the various plants, herbs, and vegetation at the garden.
After visiting the herbal garden, we mozied on over to a tea plantation. We received a brief history on the types of tea Sri Lanka had, what they exported and learned that the dried up left over tea was what they placed in tea-bags. lol.
Aisha and I got to sample the teas they offered, we patronized the business and then we were off to the next destination.
Sometimes Mi Head Tek Mi
Okay…So, sometimes “mi head tek mi” as my mother would say and I engage in ‘dangerous’ activity. LOL. Alright, let me tell you. So, after a good night’s rest, we were now heading South to Galle/Unawatuna! As Aisha and I were being driven around di people dem country (Yes, I’m Jamaican :D), she randomly asked me if I wanted to go WHITE WATER RAFTING!!! I said something like…HECK YEAH of course, because like I said, MI HEAD TEK MI sometimes. Let me tell you something…It was an awesome experience and I would sooooo do it again! Don’t ask me how much it cost because…The way my memory is set up… Just enjoy the pics below:
Thank you Black Jesus, WE MADE IT!!!
All limbs accounted for, we dried off and continued on our journey to Galle/Unawatuna. It took approximately 3 hours to get to Unawatuma and Galle was about a 10 minute drive or 15 minute Tuk Tuk from our hotel, Hotel Flower Garden in Unawatuna. After checking in to our hotel, we went to explore for a bit. We visited Galle Fort, explored Galle city, visited the Amarasena’s Turtle Hatchery.
Hotel Flower Garden, Unawatuna On our 3rd and 4th day in Unawatuna, we ate, relaxed on the beach, did yoga, watched the sunset, ate and relaxed some more. The fifth and final day of our vacation was spent driving to Hikkaduwa where we went to a Buddhist Temple and visited Cinnamon Island along the Madugaga River.
You have finally come to the end of this everlastingly long blog entry. MY BAD! Mi luv yuh long time! 😀 I appreciate you for reading all the way through. It took me over a year to write this blog, so I was trying to remember the bits and pieces. Leave a comment, follow and check out my older posts!
Before I let you go, I will leave you with this: DON’T forget to LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE! You only have one, so make it count!