Ayuboman! (Greeting in Sinhalese meaning "may you live long", said with hands in prayer position and head nodded at the end, graciously.)
Due to fluctuating internet connectivity, this blog post is in a few pieces
Photos will be up when I head back!
The fella and I are in Nuwara Eliya, one of the only places in Sri L where it is possible to be cold- it's at an altitude of just under 2000 metres. Which means walking uphill seems slightly more strenuous than at sea level.
The fella and I have just awoken from afternoon naps. We were off at 0530 this morning, to get to the Horton Plains national park, for a hike through the high country through to Worlds End, where the mountains suddenly drop off into a 1km high precipice.
The terrain was variously grassland, with frequent streams and ponds, and high country jungle. The path was rolling hills mainly, interspersed with steep inclines and declines, and very uneven surfaces. Words can't really do justice to its beauty. The fella was the official photographer for the trip so I shall have pics up at a later date! We heard lots of wildlife, but only saw a very brave and bossy jungle fowl, a magnificent specimen indeed!
This little town is perched among the famous tea plantations in the central district. There is a big British colonial influence- the Brits probably found the weather more to their taste here! Walking into the township from the hotel, I am reminded of Halls Gap, with the mountain range in the background and towering trees, many of them eucalypts.
The town is less crowded than the bigger cities, but still pulsing; SL has the same population as Australia so crowds are inevitable. We went to the market, seeing exotic spices and some less exotic fruits- being cool, apples and strawberries and other cool climate produce is abundant. The pong of the fish and meat. Fresh yoghurt in terracotta pots. In the west, we have a very sanitised view of food!
After Nuwara Eliya, we headed to Yala national park for a jeep/ wildlife watching safari. SL has a lot of biodiversity. We had already been to an elephant orphanage, and cooed over the playful baby elephants, and saw them guzzle milk from bottles (nnnnnnawwwwwww).
On our drives around the country, we had seen many birds- our driver often stopped to point them out!
Yala was a great place to see animals in their natural habitats, from the safety of an open- topped 4WD.
- birds- green tailed bee eater, herons (grey, white and purple), egrets, hornbills, pelicans and many others
- water buffalo
- wild boar
- spotted deer, sambal deer
- elephants- mums and babies in a herd, 2 young males fighting, a male with tusks (rare- only 7 percent have tusks, only males)
Ahungalla, beach resort.
A bit of argy- Bargy when we arrived here- the hotel had overbooked. And we had to stay elsewhere for 1 of the 3 nights we had booked! So not impressed! We managed to get some upgrades/ free meals as recompense, after a few stern words were had. The tranquility had descended, with the aid of some soothing drinkies....
The drive along the coast was nothing short of stunning. The term palm fringed beach sounds like a cliche but here they are aplenty. We first stopped at Galle, to check out the fort, built in the Portuguese period, then taken over by the Dutch merchants. The driver very proudly pointed out the Galle cricket stadium, which was rebuilt after the 2004 Tsunami, with funds from Shane Warne, who had played his first test match there.
That tsunami wreaked havoc at many of the towns on this beautiful south coast. While the views of the fishing villages and the coastline were spectacular, it all felt a bit sombre.
Generally, I have rediscovered my childhood love of the beach, while being slapped around by waves and watching the big ones roll in from a safe distance.
The food at this resort is brilliant-many of the chefs here have won international awards. There are both western and Sri Lankan cuisines.
We are off to Colombo tomorrow- it will be sad to leave the beach.
Will post now, before my battery dies. More soon xx