Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Snippets of my Sri Lankan Diary

In keeping with my vow to write more this year, I wrote a diary every day in Sri Lanka but as is often the case life took over on arrival in Australia. Only now we are in the throes of a heat-wave and avoiding the outdoors today have I had time to select a snippet from each day’s writing and blog it.

11-1-17 - one day in Colombo
To be honest I was beginning to doubt that Sri Lanka was a good idea at this point in time. It sounded like the thing to do and then leaving Bhutan proved to be more heart wrenching than I thought possible and going home to a comfort zone to lick my wounds seemed a very attractive option. But flights had been purchased and bookings had been made and some research had been conducted so this morning it was time to bite the bullet and see if we would rise to the challenge.

12-1-17 – train to the tea plantations
The train was a treat and our fellow passengers in third class reserved were a group of lively uni students on an outing to a hill station similar to the one we were headed for. They sang, laughed, and slept their way to Kandy, at which point a huge group of Chinese tourists boarded and engaged them in more singing dancing and frivolity.


The tea factory was his (the driver that is) highest priority and not really ours but it proved to be informative and interesting. We stopped along the way when we spotted tea pickers on the slopes and were able to walk up to see them close up and personal. It's a bit disconcerting that every photo taken is followed by a request for money, but I guess wages are low and picking a minimum of 20kgs a day of small light leaves is an arduous task.

By mid afternoon the heat was on and ocean views appeared. The coastal strip is largely guesthouses and eateries with only glimpses of the ocean through the development. Pretty little seaside towns gave way to much bigger cities and then settled back into a linear strip of beaches and basic tourist facilities.

Early evening we returned to the beach to stroll along the sand at the water's edge in the cool twilight. Ending with diner and beers on the beach made it a totally relaxing day and something you could certainly get used to. It had me thinking if we could set ourselves up in Cambodia in a sustainable way, what a luxury it would be to only volunteer and work when and where we wanted to. As Lisa pointed out this should be the year of firsts according to numerology and literally for us!! 2016 was a 9 for endings and completions while 2017 is a 1 and a year of new beginnings. Positive new outlooks and beginnings and doing it our way will keep us happy and focused. "The year of firsts" is the new mantra for me.

The sun rose a red ball and hovered over the harbour and by 7am we were motoring out to sea through gentle lapping waves. I sighted peacocks and peahens high on the ridge above the bay as we departed. Within half an hour I was desperately ill and wanted nothing more than for the boat to stop rolling and thumping over waves. Along with half the passengers I spent the rest of the time eyes closed and head down trying to overcome the nausea of the motion. Ian did see backs, tails and spouts of water from the blowholes of several blue whales albeit from a distance. I however could not look up for even a few seconds without regretting it and eventually accepted one of the boatmen's offer of lying down and that is where I remained until land was mere seconds away, some three hours later.

We have been really impressed with the variety of bird life we have seen here and especially at the beach. It started with pelicans in Colombo and bulbuls in Nuwara Eliya but since we have been at Mirissa we have spotted peahens and peacocks just roaming around, a white throated kingfisher and sea eagles as well as several of the birds that appear on the notes. The environment seems clean and the air must be too to support such diversity. Certainly the beach is tended and cleared of trash but in actual fact most people seem to dispose of rubbish responsibly so even in the early morning there is very little to rake up or collect.

We enjoyed the early morning swim and walk on the beach this morning and were happy to taste the bread offerings of the little van than drives around tempting people with its "short eats". Filo triangles and bread jam at less than 50 cents each were our selections and they turned out to be an excellent addition to the morning coffee.

Our final day and an early morning dip in the ocean and final walk along the beach before packing up to leave was definitely required even though it ensured damp bathers and cloths needed to be transported. We had our usual brew of Ambient coffee and a few selections from the roaming bread tuk tuk for breakfast and then returned to the beach one final time to admire the tree and its unique blooms, we spotted a couple of days ago. Some research since then has revealed it is a Barringtonia Asiaitica. We took last longing looks at the surf and were happy to have spent so long at the beach.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

oNe PhOtO a DaY jAnUaRy 2017


SUNDAY 1st MY FAVE COLOUR: is orange and now that we are on the road again my luggage and clothing choices leaves little doubt that that is the case

MONDAY 2nd DELICIOUS: A thoroughly delicious start to the day with our picnic style breakfast in the guesthouse today

TUESDAY 3rd CIRCLE: The rainbow coloured circles on this old, well-used target for traditional Bhutanese darts or 'kuru' caught my attention in the Heritage Farmhouse Museum today

WEDNESDAY 4th ANIMAL: This mythical white lion known locally as Singye is one of the four animals associated with Bhutanese Buddhist beliefs and frequently carved and painted in both secular and religious building

THURSDAY 5th A FAVE THING: about Bhutan has always been the towering, fluttering prayer flags and standing beneath them contemplating the world

FRIDAY 6th ME: Just being me and visiting favourite haunts in the last few days in Bhutan. Paro Dzong is always a place of quiet contemplation

SATURDAY 7th TIME: seems to stand still in these mountains. This is Chelela and we went there today to fly prayer flags for one last time in the kingdom. Leaving is bittersweet but we still hope to return

SUNDAY 8th WALL: This lookout, which is currently being renovated after an earthquake several years ago, once housed the National Museum collection of Bhutan. It stands above the Rinpung Dzong in Paro and when lit up at night it is a spectacular reminder of the majesty of the traditional architecture of the kingdom. I have long been fascinated with its circular rammed-earth and whitewash walls

  MONDAY 9th MAIL: First thing ticked off the to do list. 15 kilos, which was the excess baggage yesterday, mailed to Australia today. We love the Thai mail service safe, secure, fast and efficient

TUESDAY 10th TWO THINGS: Today we went to the Steve McCurry "A Lifetime of Work Exhibition" and saw some of the most incredible photos I've ever seen including the famous Afghan girl with the green eyes. The two things just have to be two portraits of two unique individuals from two different continents, which hung with others equally diverse

WEDNESDAY 11th INSIDE MY FRIDGE: Well we don't actually have a fridge since we are on the road but I can't believe that I actually remembered this prompt and took this shot in Bangkok at 2:30am before we headed to the airport for our flight to Sri Lanka. Good thing I did though as the fridge in our Colombo hotel is not only empty but not even switched on!!!!

THURSDAY 12th LEAF: A single yellow leaf in the hands of Buddha. Taken at Gangaramaya Temple yesterday. Today we are travelling third class reserved on the train to Nanu Oya

FRIDAY 13th People a snapshot of a few of the local people we have encountered in Nuwara Eliya - a Sri Lankan hill station today visiting tea plantations, tea processing factory, waterfalls, the Botanical Gardens and finally a bar for a beer

SATURDAY 14th PATH: Every tea plantation has an intricate pattern of paths for the pickers to follow. I was impressed by the orderly structure of the plantations and that tall eucalypts are scattered about providing the much needed shade for the tender shoots

SUNDAY 15th WHERE I SLEEP: I've been on the move for a while now but this is where I am currently sleeping and it's simple, clean, basic and perfect for a few days of beach lifestyle

MONDAY 16th MUSIC: After three years of living in the mountains (which I dearly loved) the Aussie in me finds the sound of the ocean, music to my ears and a balm to my soul

TUESDAY 17th BAG: The only purchase I have made in Sri Lanka are these two orange cotton cloths (inspired by the blue ones provided at our hotel) and I was thrilled to see the local shop keeper put them in a simple brown paper bag .... say no to plastic!!!

WEDNESDAY 18th TODAY: After an early morning swim today breakfast came to us via this little van and friendly vendor. We selected veggie filo triangles and bread jam at less than 50 cents each to accompany our Ambient Cafe coffee brewed in the room. Oh the simple pleasures of a simple life....

THURSDAY 19th SHAPE: The place mats made from recycled magazines and the glass from the restaurant we ate lunch in today, make a perfect circle design

FRIDAY 20th SOMETHING WHITE: to save lives at the pool in the hotel in Bangkok we often frequent and where we arrived today. It seems the cycle of darma is following me 

SATURDAY 21st GROW: Even fed on carbon monoxide these plants not only grow but thrive on the footpath next to busy Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok

SUNDAY 22nd IN MY HOMETOWN: I never really feel like I’m home until I have seen and swum in the ocean. This is an archive shot from the last time we were home as we are not quite there yet .... one more sleep and we will be Adelaide bound again

MONDAY 22nd THIS IS MINE: Well ours actually. Treasures from Thimphu. It was posted on the first day in Bangkok and miraculously arrived on our first day in Australia. Great timing Thai post

TUESDAY 24th WHAT I DO: When I get home after being absent for over 18 months, is go the Adelaide Central Market and load up on Asian groceries so I can cook up a storm for the family and it's Chinese New Year in just a few days. In the market less than 3 hours after landing and only one of our purchases was available in Thimphu.

PS just realised there are actually 4 of these things available in Thimphu so I guess another thing I do is exaggerate

WEDNESDAY 25th IN THE BACKGROUND: is the Largs Bay jetty in beautiful South Australia and the beach nearest to where we are glad to be staying at my sister's house 

THURSDAY 26th YUM: Today's Australia Day brunch cooked by Matthew and consumed with relish. Yum yum yum

FRIDAY 27th I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT: fresh fruit and vegetables and regular visits to the Central Market to purchase them

SATURDAY 28th SIGN: These three characters were on the table when we served a feast for a family celebration of Chinese New Year today. A sure sign that all the food was Asian inspired and hoping to bring about prosperity

SUNDAY 29th SHADOW: Me and my shadow on the walk back from the beach in 39°C heat today

MONDAY 30th HELLO: We just arrived at this beautiful Art Deco apartment, which we have been lucky enough to stay at several times before. We have 3 weeks at the sea. Ian's first words as we walked in the door were, "Hello Jane's House"

TUESDAY 31st SOMETHING COLOURFUL: This beautiful white ceramic wall clock hanging against a white wall in a friend's house was something colourful among many strikingly beautiful and unique pieces. It caught my attention immediately and thanks for dinner too Jenny

PS I am amazed that so many pictures are about food especially since we arrived in OZ! Maybe just maybe we are food obsessed!!!!!!!