Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ayubowan from Sri Lanka: The Tale of Two Broke and Bored Girls

Me and my friend on our first adventure bus ride. Traversing from Colombo to Kandy, we were standing almost the entire
trip for three hours. The man behind us was kind enough to inform us of this bus going straight to Kandy. 
It all started with a postcard, when my friend, who was doing volunteer work in Sri Lanka last year til the end of March this year sent me a postcard. Three tea pickers smiled back at me with lush mountains covered with tea plants as their backdrop. Things my friend said in the letter like "for a relatively small country, there's a lot to see" got me excited. And a few months after that, I booked flights to Sri Lanka. My friend, Fara, who's traveling is a part of her MA thesis decided to go also. 

I must say, we found serendipity in Sri Lanka. In a lot of ways, we were serendipitous with the place, the people, the customs, and the general experiences we've had as our journey unfolded. Truly, it was a country with so many to offer for a lesser time. 

A bath with Rani. Pinnawala. Our mahout was communicating with Rani using signals with his stick that we didn't understand. The next thing
we knew, water was splashed at us to Rani's heart's content.

Evil masks for good. One of the performers at a traditional show in Kandy wearing an evil mask. Contrary to what you would think, this evil mask is used for driving out bad luck.

Poop power! Our guide, without any hesitation, scooped a block of elephant poop to demonstrate the difference between a dung coming from an adult elephant and from a baby elephant. Elephant dung is rich in fiber, hence, a good component for making recycled paper. He's holding the one from a baby elephant by the way. :)

World's End. Thousands of feet below, this is the first view deck of the mountain they call World's End. Trekking the grasslands and mountains of 5 kms to reach here was literally breathtaking.  
Tea farmer. Early morning in Laboukelle, Nuwara Eliya, a farmer picks tea leaves ready for the long process of making dried tea leaves. 

Where to? After the grueling bus ride from Colombo to Kandy, the Asians whom we met on the bus, gathered, us included, and invited each other for a late lunch. We were a group of two Filipinos, two Koreans, and one Malaysian. We mentioned aiming Burmese Rest temple as our place to stay, and the Koreans who didn't have any place to rest yet went with us. This is us asking for directions from the police.

Deer oh deer! On our way back to the main road after trekking World's End in Horton Plains, a wild deer which seemed fresh from its spring bath, walked leisurely on the road. Tourists went off their vehicles to take pictures of him, then our driver said we could feed him with the chips we had. I was mixed with hesitation and excitement to touch it because he was so big and the horns looked powerful. One tourist said they're tamed animals, so fighting off my fear, I reached my fingers with spicy cassava chips towards it and it licked the chips mildly and happily. It was bliss!

Field trip. Just like these kids, we were on a rainy but very educational trip in Polonnaruwa. One of the oldest cities in Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa boasts of ancient and some ruined structures of temples and Buddhas. Here is one of them, a white stupa surrounded with bricked containment, a few meters from each other, for Buddha statues. 

Change of plans. Paying a visit to a museum is always good. While in the Sigiriya museum, we passed by a shop with posters of
sights to see around Sri Lanka. One poster caught my attention, a picture of a Buddha statue so colossal in size with a person/viewer just about the height of the Buddha's feet. We asked this lady at the museum where it can be found, and it was in Polonnaruwa. We got excited and thought of changing our course from Annuradhapura to Polonnaruwa instead. Here, the lady was helping us to locate it in the map. 
Hello Colombo. Our last stop, we arrived by train at about 5 am.

Old is gold. A call was received that the next train (our train) is coming in a few minutes, while a man prepared to push a button to beacon for preparation. This train station in Polonnaruwa is a gem! the 1950's European utilities we thought were just for display actually still worked as this man suddenly hurried and used this equipment. The man on the phone then did a quick tour for us on their humble office and showed us how things work.

In trance. Wandering  the ruins of Polonnaruwa left us in trance, and in an amazing discovery that unfolded slowly. There were some things we didn't understand, and that was an essential part of it I guess as spectators. 

Don't eat our lunch! We brought bananas for lunch to Sigiriya and tied the plastic bag in my backpack. And as we were walking in the compound to the museum, I felt something heavy in my bag and a monkey suddenly pulled the plastic bag , broke it, and ran to the nearest tree with our bananas. It happened so fast that all I did was squeak and watch!

Serenity. Standing on a castle built at the top of a rock that's 200 meters above ground was worth the long walk and trek.  The sun became tolerable at the top as the wind was really fresh and you could see how vast their forest is.

Sleeping Buddha. A one of a kind, our reason why we changed our plans and went here in Polonnaruwa.  Looking at this colossal statue with it's blissful face was contagious, a worthy effort to walk kilometers in rain and mud.
I will tell the details of each town we visited soon. :) 

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