Our first weekend away

Trip Start Jan 06, 2006
Trip End Mar 28, 2006

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Thursday, February 16, 2006

Our first weekend away was to Uda Walawe National Park and then onto Ratnapura. The park is 76,000 acres with around 300 wild elephants. It took all morning to drive there and it was a relief to climb higher up into the hills away from the city and to see the beautiful mountains and countryside. We could just about see Adam's Peak from Ratnapura through the haze. It's slowly getting hotter here and unlike India, it's very humid. The afternoons are particularly hot where you feel like you are melting. Although it was still hot in the Uda Walawe, the edge was taken off it. We went on an open top jeep safari one afternoon and were lucky enough to see round 40 elephants (including babies!) and alot of different birds. Another stroke of luck was the hotel having HOT water! I took advantage of this and had my first long, hot shower in a month and a half. Another girl, who has been away for the same amount of time as me, noted that we should have brought all our washing! The next day we went to Ratnapura, the Gem City, with intentions of spending money, but was disappointed! Managed to visit a gem mine which was interesting if a bit like stepping back in time.
We followed on from there to Bopath Ella waterfall. The waterfall is meant to split and then rejoin forming the shape of a bodhi tree leaf. In reality, although impressive, it didn't look like that! It was also Poya.
In Sri Lanka, due to the Buddhist influence, there is a bank holiday (or 'Poya day') for every full moon. On these days you can't buy any alcohol either. This month it fell on that sunday so there was every Sri Lankan and their extended family bathing in the waterfall. Alot of them had even brought soap and shampoo! The volume of people put us off swimming so we went back for a Pizza Hut dinner - what a treat!
As for the project work, this week was spent painting murals onto boards. Here they don't paint murals directly onto the walls. Marios has decided, because of the Indian Aidcamp, that i am an artist and has given me the job of being in charge of the painting. He also diagrees with what i suggest too...I think 5 weeks of working together is a little too long! Anyway, we have been on schedule so far. Next week we start the decorating.
On our afternoons off, we have been going to the beach at Mount Lavinia, which is a short bus ride away. The sea breeze is the only thing that cools us down. The bus ride is another experience. Usually there are religious pictures above the driver and not for just one faith but all four:buddhist, christian, muslim and hindu! Very loud music is also popular along with driving very fast and using the horn at every possible minute!
We are having a 3 day weekend to Kandy and Sigiria tomorrow. Going to see Buddha's tooth at the Temple of the Tooth. I doubt if i'll actually see it because there are so many tourists...
lots of love
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