Great food and the Gem

Trip Start Jan 31, 1996
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Sri Lanka  , Uva Province,
Thursday, February 20, 2014

In all of multi-cultural Toronto is there a Sri Lankan restaurant? Elenka doesn't know and neither do I. If there aren't any back home there should be. Each and every - very spicy - curry has been tops, only to be beaten by the next one, in the next town we visit.     
The beaches along the south coast have a distinct, Varadero or Punta Cana, all-inclusive feel to them. You're sitting at a table on the beach chowing down on your be-all, end-all meal and the people next to you are eating club-house sandwiches. Turn your head to the left and it's hamburgers and fries. These, "I love to travel, but really don't like to leave home" folks are everywhere in Sri Lanka.
A couple days ago we left the coast and started heading for the hills, stopping on the way at a place called Gem River Edge, so we could go on safari at Yala National Park. On the first night of our arrival we went into the town of Kataragama. It's one of three holy sites in Sri Lanka, where Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and even Christians congregate on pilgrimages to give offerings to the God, Kataragama - like cats and dogs and foxes and chickens, gathering in harmony. The ceremony is called Puja. It's held in a massive temple area and takes place every day of the year at 6:30 p.m. People stand in line and make offerings of anything from baskets of fruit to car keys. Once the offerings have been blessed they are returned to the pilgrims. 
Before we left for the Puja, Carla, from Portugal, who owns Gem River Edge along with her Sri Lankan husband Muna, gave us a slip of paper with their address to show the rickshaw driver how to get us back. When it was time to leave the ceremony, we went through three rickshaw drivers. None had ever heard of the place. After 30 minutes and several phone calls we were off into the night - our driver and another one who had left his rickshaw behind to act as our guide. Twenty minutes later, and after a wrong turn or three, we arrived back at the Edge. The trip, along with all the work that went into it cost us the equivalent of $1.60, in rupees. 
The Gem River flows right through the Edge. Hence the name, Gem River Edge. They have a little swimming hole with rapids and somewhat slippery, dangerous rocks. This is good though, because crocodiles also inhabit the river, but don't fancy rapids ... at least this is what we have been told. Still, as I bask in the flow I keep my eyes peeled downstream in search of brown logs travelling against the current.
Gem River Edge has been the hi-light of Sri Lanka. The food - all vegetarian - is great. The location is peaceful and relaxing; even their of dog pack is calm and quiet. Watch out for their child Janith though, he'll think nothing of calmly walking up to you and picking up your Ipad, or some other valuable, just to see how far he can throw the device.    
The attached photos are a mixed bag of all of the places we have been so far. Fast Internet has been difficult to find so we do the photos when we can. And with Ipad they are unsortable.           

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dpbaril on

A whale of a tale AND the tail of a whale! Terrific! Even the buffalo turd looked delicious - when in Sri Lanka do as the lizards do I suppose.

Matus on

Again great reading of your adventures! Enjoy it as much as you can Elenka, Jack and we are looking forward to read the next blogs and to see your photos. Have a fun :) M+V+N

Jeanne and JP on

Love reading your blogs. Can't wait for the next. Safe travels.

Renate from Germany on

I was waiting for your report and pictures. So I have a little bit feeling to be with you. It reminds me on our last trip. Simone is now standing in Madagaskar, also a high temperature.

Maureen Gilroy on

Great blog and pics

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