Rehydration and Leopard Spotting

Trip Start Jan 19, 2012
Trip End Jul 08, 2012

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Flag of Sri Lanka  , Central Province,
Friday, February 17, 2012

As I was barely conscious throughout the second day of our trip, Triney is going to write a guest entry to tell you what she did. Here goes...

Hi people, we thought it would be nice to keep you filled in on the Sri Lankan adventures while Cath was barely conscious (seriously, she must have been asleep for a good 48 hours over 3 days! After a while I was starting to worry that it was something more serious, and we'd end up seeing a dodgy doctor, whose accent we didn’t understand and I’d have to make scary decisions while she was snoozing away! Luckily that was just a thought I’d got carried away with while occupying myself with my own thoughts during this 'quiet time’).
So while Cath got on with her Olympic class sleeping to get over the dreaded Deli Belly, I continued with the tour, taking photos, and pretending to really enjoy the food they kept giving me, which often included Cath’s portions too. I felt rude not eating it, so it’s lucky I am a pig!

The second morning of our tour started with me having breakfast (for two) in the sunshine on the balcony overlooking the city of Kandy. It was a beautiful city, and I felt at the time that although poor Cath was not well and couldn’t experience it, there really wasn’t anywhere else I wanted to be at that moment. Plus I had just worked out that everyone at home had just had their Sunday evenings and I was giddy that I didn’t need to be mentally preparing myself for another five days of work!

Jude then took us in the car to visit some Kandyan sights, which included a tour of the Batik factory, where they have ladies working all day everyday in a workshop creating Batik’s. They are basically patterned cloths created after a long process of manually adding different wax resistant coloured dyes. They make them to sell as wall art, table cloths, sarongs etc. I was impressed by the quality and what they managed to make (all by hand) so decided to buy one for myself for a souvenir. Next was a stop at a woodcarving factory which was also impressive as they had a huge variety of types of wood, and though I would‘ve liked to buy something from there too I refrained, mostly as I couldn’t face carrying one in my rucksack for two weeks!

Later in the morning was a visit to the Royal Perennial Botannical Gardens, where I spent two boiling hot hours wandering around looking at a multitude of beautiful plants and wildlife (and also spotting quite a few young couples cosying up in the shrubs! Lol). Since Cath couldn’t make it as she was asleep recovering, she lent me her good camera, and I tried to take some decent photos of everything she was unlucky to be missing. Cath’s camera is amazing, and I felt like a right tourist wandering around with a proper camera around my neck.

After the Gardens, Jude (tour guide) was called back to Negombo to sort out some business, so we met his replacement, and our new guide for the rest of the tour Upali. Uplali wasn’t as forceful as Jude in buying us random ‘Sri Lankan’ things like corn on the cob from a street seller which we felt obliged to eat, but like Jude was also very friendly, with an affinity for Coconut Arrack!

He drove us through Nuwara Eliya, where there were some more beautiful sights and impressive waterfalls, and where apparently lots of people go on honeymoon... it definitely was peaceful and picturesque enough. Then we drove through the Hill Country, which funnily enough was very hilly! Along the way we often got stuck behind tuk tuks pathetically struggling to drive through the hills, and ancient buses that looked and sounded like they were about to conk out (in fact I saw two that actually had conked out!). I couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of them, with the poor buggers sitting inside probably hoping and praying that their journeys would soon be over. And after seeing the bus with my own eyes I was so glad we had opted to have our own driver, rather than touring around Sri Lanka on a variety of different buses, which was an idea at one point. We’d have probably spent our whole holiday being thrown around the bus waiting angrily to be delivered to our next destination! Haha. Plus Cath would not have been able to sleep through it!

In the heart of the Hill Country was an up and running Victorian tea plantation. When we arrived, my tour guide showed me around the factory (Cath had to stay in the car) and how they go about making different types of tea from the multitude of tea leaves grown around the Hill Country. The people working in the factory, and especially the tea ladies who were outside in the heat all day picking tea leaves really did work so hard and I felt bad for what they had to do for a day’s pay. ‘Poor ladies’ as our tour guide Upali said. Despite feeling bad for them it was interesting to see how they actually make tea, and especially that they still use the old Victorian machines to do so. When we got to the end of the tour they explained that apparently they make tea for a wide array of ‘well-known’ tea companies, who apparently buy the goods and then add their own branding. So it’s likely that most of the ‘different’ types of tea we have in England actually come from the same place and therefore tastes the same.

That evening, Upali took us to a guest house that was in the centre of what they call ‘Little England’. Little England really did what it said on the tin; looked like England! It was strange seeing the houses, gardens, garages etc in the small town looking as though they belonged back home. Even more apt was that in Little England the weather was a lot cooler than the rest of Sri Lanka, as it’s positioned in the hills closer to the clouds, and therefore was much wetter and greener than what we had seen of the country so far. When we got into our room I even had to change into a hoodie and socks!

That night was a little weird as Cath couldn't get out of bed, so I had to pass the time with the guesthouse owners and Upali on my own. Firstly, I had to sit through a very awkward dinner, in a very silent/echoey and old-fashioned room that looked like it belonged in 1950’s England... doilies, gingham tablecloths, patterned rugs, net curtains the lot! Everyone’s nans would have felt right at home haha! The guest house family served up no fewer than 8 plates of food for me, which was a proper Sri Lankan curry (plus Cath’s portions of course). It included poppadoms, a couple of vegetable curries, sardine curry, chicken curry, biriani with a random fried boiled egg and chicken leg buried in the middle, and also a gravy and daal. Whilst I bravely soldiered through it, making sure I looked like I was really enjoying it, all of the boys from the family (at least 5 of them I reckon) stood by the kitchen door watching me eat in silence.... was very weird!

After dinner Upali kept badgering me to join him for a drink of the ruddy Coconut Arrack he and Jude were so obsessed with, as ‘it is your holiday and you should enjoy it even though your friend is ill’! Groan. So for some reason the two of us went and sat in one of the empty guestrooms that was really sparse and cold. I was very good and endured 2 whole glasses of the horrible stuff while he told me various stories about himself and his farm. As soon as I could I excused myself from the ‘party’ and went to bed dying to fill Cath in on the evening she had sadly missed!

The next morning Cath had far more colour in her cheeks and started being herself again, so was able to enjoy the rest of the things we had planned, so that's it from me :-).

On the final day of our tour of the island we made our way to Yala National Park in the south of the Island. Leopards roam the National Park and we were hoping to be lucky enough to spot on on a half day safari. First we checked into our accomodation which was a homestay on the banks of Lake Tissa. It was a basic, but very sweet place. Once the owner heard of my sickness she was eager to give me her homemade cure. This time the concoction was cold instand coffee and lemon. Sadly it didn't work, but worth a try I suppose. 

On safari we spotted a lot of colourful wildlike as well as lots of elephants and buffalo. Of course everyone was desperate to spot a leopard, but sadly it wasn't to be. We were always just a step behind, despite our guide's best efforts. Part way through the tour we visited the site where the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami hit the Sri Lankan coast. Many lives were lost that day, though surprisingly enough no animals died. We trundled off home in the safari jeep and had dinner before heading off to bed. Despite feeling a lot better, it had been a very busy day and I was exhausted. The next day we would be heading down to the beach for some relaxation time in Unawatuna.  
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Walker, Ian on

An amazingly vivid and descriptive penning by Natrina - perspective and depth - humour, sadness, perception, even a seed of information sown for consumption by Nick whatshisname ! Well done, well done, well done !

You should maybe consider a manuscript for writing of a book or two - you would make a good author.

Fascinating read. Thank you very much.

Ian x

catherinewalker on

Hi man, thanks for his. Just sat here giggling to myself reading it and thinking about you sitting eating with your audience!! Poor you xx

Katrina on

No problem, I was laughing when I wrote it!
Some strange people around, and I am sure you have encountered many more along your travels.

And thanks Ian - lovely compliment! :-)

Walker, Ian on

Your acknowledgment of compliments, is a good trait Katrina - TYVM also !!

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