The weekend away!

Trip Start May 18, 2008
Trip End Jun 06, 2008

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Friday was a typical school day. The kids pre-school kids were cuter than they had ever been and the after school kids were hyper as anything I have ever known. Must have been that Friday feeling!
The following Saturday though, we began our Smile Staff Field Trip to the hills! A relatively modest 6am start (once again I had been expecting a 4am start but I think that Anne beat them down to 6) saw us along the road to Kandy. Saturday was a long but a brilliant day. We stopped at a Waterfall where a nice Sri Lankan talked me into buying 5 stones for 300r which upon closed inspection I could have made myself with a rock and some hair dye. Was a beautiful waterfall though so well worth it though the view was slightly spoilt by the man having a shower underneath it.
From there we headed further into the hills and further upward where we had the most unnerving experience of my life. We were headed to a monastery and turned the bend and jerked to a halt with 3 Sri Lankan soldiers there one guiding us to a stop where the other 2 pointed there fully automatics through the windscreen at me and the driver. After my heart had removed itself from my mouth, I discovered that it was a security point similar to the ones at the airports. We got out, got searched got back in again and proceeded to what turned out to be a plantation house owned by the brits back in the early 20th century. It had a weird picture which actually followed us as we moved around the room...  Views alone were worth the hassle though! The final stop of the day was the botanic Gardens just outide Nurwa Elyia. Lovely, despite God unleashing the heavens onto us. And all the teachers wanted their photos taken with the flowers!
We stopped for the night in the town itself. The teachers cooked us dinner while Jasmine entertained herself by teaching the kids to call me Mark Auntie. Very amusing. My revenge for that one will be sweeter than sugar candy. Anyway up in the hills, it is tea country and this is because the temperature at night drops to about 15 degrees. In Hambantota the lowest it drops is around 28 degrees at night so the teachers all had their winter woolies on. We stayed the night in  a hotel which had the novelty of having not only no air conditioner ( Which to be fair was not really needed) and brown tap water. Still it was nice and much better than what the teachers had. After much searching they had found a Buddhist Monestary to sleep in, which was cold, dark and crowded. And apparently there was a mattress shortage  so people kept coming and stealing mattresses which if I spoke Singala I would have had a few words to say about!
The next day as we met the teachers in what was essentially an ice freezer that they spent the night in, stopped at a Tea factory which was interesting- especially as we were surrounded by mile upon mile of Tea trees. Turns out that the factory employs 2000 people and houses them all and pays for medical treatment and everything. Think I might ask for a transfer here.  
We then headed to Kandy down the hills again, stopping for lunch at the side of the road and eating with our hands which for us Johnny foreigners was quite the novelty, but I feel that we blened in well and any passing Sri Lankans would not have noticed the difference between us and the Sri Lankans!
Arrived in Kandy with a rather ill Paroty (appartenly windy roads don't agree with her) and went to the Gardens, where it was so hot it was unreal, but beautiful at the same time. Only downside was that the suspension bridge was closed for renovation. And there was no rain this time which was good. Then headed to Kandy and stopped to have lunch at the lake- my favorite place in Sri Lanka. It is cool and beautiful scenery. If I earn enough I am buying one of the houses on the hill overlooking the lake when I am older. Anyway, after another roadside meal, we headed to the temple. We had to remove our shoes, and I swear my feet burnt as I crossed the courtyard. The temple was very grand though (Still full of con artists who wanted money for me taking a picture). Apparently the Buddhas's tooth is there and the Sri Lankans go and worship it. Very odd if you ask me. According to the story boards, the tooth was pilfered by the british and only returned 100 years ago too.
After the temple we began the long journey home- a whole 7 hours of it. The driver also went a bit mad. In Kandy, he tried to jump the queue for roadworks, and was caught by a policeman who made us sit and wait for about 20 mins. He got off with a warning, butr this seemed to flick a switch in him and he drove like the hounds of hell were on his tail. The only respite came when we stopped for food and were served by a man with no front teeth who seemed to be quite confused by a hopper that kept being passed from our table and Milani's. In the end he just gave up trying to follow it and turned incredibly grumpy when we only ate 5 of his hoppers!
Arrived back after dropping the teachers off to a locked gate and no matter what yelling or ponking of horns there was, we could not rouse Gourie to let us in. I ended up risking my life by climbing over the fence and into the darkness where anything could have been lying- dog, chimp, lion- to open it from the other side. Ended up going to bed about 115 with Anne in a frantic search for the bank card, which appears to have gone grown legs and walked away!
Today was another typical school day. We welcomed Liz to the school who is here for 2 years with her husband and looking for something to do and has chosen smile to keep her from going barmy. The preschool kids still adorable and the bleary eyed teachers held up against the tiredness admirably.  Jasmine spent the morning annoying/getting in the way of the teachers in the kitchen to such an extent that they ended up throwing her out! Today was also the first day of teaching. I had the job of teaching the letter J to the small children which was a good experience and think that they took it in.. AND We had pumpkin today so so full! A brilliant few days all round! 
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