Trip Start Sep 26, 2006
Trip End ??? ??, 2007

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Thursday, May 10, 2007

From what I understand, in Thailand, the full mood is celebrated with festive beach parties. In Sri Lanka, they celebrate full moons by shutting everything down (including liquor stores) and making offerings at temples.
The May full moon (called "Vessak") is a special one, celebrating the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha. Sri Lankans celebrate this full moon over two days (though they prohibit liquor sales for seven???) by hanging lanterns and Christmas lights outside their homes and offering free food!
I took advantage of the few days off and visited Sinharaja rain forest. This UNESCO preserved site is yet another example of the diversity in Sri Lankan fauna and flora. [You may recall I had visited Kaneliya forest a few months ago - it is an extension of Sinharaja Forest.]
We saw snakes, lizards, interesting mushrooms and went for a swim in a beautiful waterfall. I was a little disappointed that the trail we hiked was well traveled as it was the main access to a town on the ridge of the forest; some people were even on motorbikes. Needless to say, there was little wildlife to be seen. I would have liked to get a little bit 'deeper' into the forest... But - what to do? The highlight for me was seeing enormous butterflies that were at least the size of my hand. It was also incredible to see the enormity of the trees growing. Some started way below in the valley and extended far, far above - unreal!
On the drive back home (maybe a 3 hour drive) we were invited to stop in and eat probably 30 times. In celebration of Vessak, community members make donations to their temple and the temple then offers food to every passer-by. The first place we stopped served us lunch and the second a nice refreshing cool drink. Men serve the food (I guess because the women are busy preparing it) and the children spill onto the street with Buddhist flags stopping each and every car and inviting (accosting?) them to come in and eat or drink. The are so happy and eager for you to come, it is difficult to refuse!

On an entirely different note, my plane ticket home has been booked! I'll be in Winnipeg (supposedly) the evening of June 23rd. I'm looking forward to seeing all of you!!
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