Friday, November 29, 2013

Sri Lanka: Final Post

For a small country, Sri Lanka sure had a lot to do and see in a week!
Just a FEW photos...

typical street scenes

After school…kids in uniforms

A Buddhist Temple

Around back and underneath the Buddha,
was an amazing display of artistic symbolism and story-telling

The 2004 Tsunami

I'd tell you more if I could read and understand the language,
but I can only appreciate how beautiful the writing is.

In the museum across from the temple

River Safari
our captain

Off we go...

one of many lake front homes

a cool-looking bird

one of several lake front hotels

reptile thing
 I've completely lost track of what's an iguana and what's a lizard or something else,
but I DO know a reptile when I see one!

a man fishing…from a cool looking boat

view towards the Indian Ocean…
you can see the waves breaking at the mouth of the river

another reptile thing

men putting out their fishing net

another man fishing from a cool-looking boat
 Haha! I just noticed…I got that exact shirt, but blue! It has an elephant on the front and says Sri Lanka, and it has an elephant butt on the back!

another reptile thing
 What, you want a better view of him?
Haha…I was freaking Elise out at this point! The boat driver was just laughing and telling us that after they eat they just lay there. When Elise asked what they eat, he replied, "bird, fish, dog…"
Shocked, Elise said, "DOG?"
Recognizing her alarm, he quickly added, "SMALL dog."

weekly farmers' market

"Sri Lankan umbrella," says our captain as I take the picture.

 really pretty birds…and they actually held still in plain view for me!

yep, another reptile...
 a little closer...
"Hi guy!"
size comparison: those are coconuts shells he's walking on

pretty palm trees...

pretty willowy trees...

colorful boats & flags

Baby Crocs
Nope, I'm not talking about the shoes!
I'm holding a freakin' crocodile!

 …and you thought a puppy had gnarly baby teeth!

 Aaaww…isn't he cute!

ok, NOW we're having fun!
Darn, they wouldn't let me bring one home for a pet.

Heading to the mangroves...

Hangin' Out In the Mangroves

 Yep, more reptiles…no, it's not a croc

I had to do it! These trees were just begging me to climb them!

 Heading back out into the sunlight...

 Looking back…it all just disappears into the trees

Sri Lankan flags a flyin'!

A retired boat...

Our boat landing...

Fun trip with a great boat guide!
He was friendly, spoke decent English, showed us a lot of cool stuff,
and had a good sense of humor to top it off!

 Colorful boat lineup

One of the guides decided to cool off...

 what you DON'T see in these photos is the back flip he does off the palm tree…SPLASH!

Jet Skiing
Yep, in the same river where we just saw all of these reptiles,
including the baby crocs and their mommies & daddies. I think they tend to steer clear of motors...

 Learning how this floating motorcycle works…it's a bit different!

Fun times!

 Feeling like hot stuff now…oh wait, how do you make it stop?!

Spice & Herb Garden
Elise & our garden guide starting down the path

 one of the many smell samples

rubber tree

beautiful pathways - lined with coconut shells

he tells us this is an illegal plant - coca
I didn't ask why they are allowed to grow it

end of tour massage! - Elise doesn't care if she looks like a Wild Thing!

the array of tonics and balms they make at this small garden
all for sale in the little shop near the front
Interesting sales technique…they give you an intense 5-10 minute shoulder/head or 
lower leg/foot massage at the end of your tour using some of the massage oil they sell. 
They also give you a list of and show you each and every product they make and answer any questions you have about any of it.

Technique:  immerse & inform - pamper& relax - sell!

Entrance o the rock cave temple…we were running short on time, having a MUCH longer drive than anticipated (about 8 hours - not 3), so we just did the drive-by photo and called it good

They are going to widen the road (a MUCH needed improvement), so they just went along and shaved off the front of all of these shops and buildings! Isuru says the the ones that are cut off were built illegally (too close to the road), and owners were given a chance to get  building fronts emptied.

...and everyone just kept driving! Who needs vision? 
It's just a free-for-all on the roads here anyhow!

Almost to Kandy - finally!

Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens

 This for our family lawn expert…Drew!

many of the same plants as the ole Pacific Northwest…can you think of a common factor here?

Using Elise for scale…this is a VERY big palm tree!

a scavenging monkey...
 "Ah-ha! Is that a Cheetos I see?"

I sooooo want to climb this tree! It took every ounce of my being not to!

a suspension bridge
 Do they have building codes here?
 view from the bridge - wanna go for a swim?

big bamboo

a couple families having picnics at the base of a really cool tree

Palm Avenue

* If you're thinking my photo quality has gotten poor, you're right. My camera and I might have slipped into a big ditch and got a bit banged up a couple nights ago.
Lesson learned: it's not a good idea to walk around Sri Lanka at night.

Cultural Dance Show
We ran through one of those classic downpours to get to this pavilion.  
These dances show a series of interconnected stories and a wide array of talents...

 The plates on top of these sticks being held in their mouths are still spinning…
started them spinning down on the stage and then got them up there!
Yep, these are all spinning too!

 I think these guys are symbolizing peacocks

a sampling of several of the dances come back on stage together at the end

Wait! There's more?
 blowing the shell and asking a blessing...

He's rolling a stick with a fireball at the end of it along his arm!

 …and NOW he's rolling along it his tongue

a big tray of for burning coals is brought in…now what could THAT be for?
Doesn't look hot? Let's try turning off the flash. OK, this is what is ACTUALLY looked like!

NOW I know why they were asking for blessings!
 back and forth…a few times ONCE isn't enough?

Whew! After taking almost 2 hours to drive about 5 miles (stop & go post-show traffic that was mostly STOP, plus the windiest, steepest road going up a to a hotel that a car could possibly drive on) and we arrived at our final hotel room for our final night in Sri Lanka.
Well, Elise's last night anyhow. This was before I knew I'd be spending the next night on the airport floor trying to get on a flight back to the UAE since Etihad Airways overbooked the flight and had no plans of helping me or the other 15 or so people with this predicament solve the problem.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Enroute to the airport, we had one more fantastic stop! Unfortunately the photos aren't showing up anywhere in my library. Check back another time to see if I've added them. We got to watch a bunch of elephants of various ages (some quite young and playful) taking their daily bath. Then, while were were taking one last gander at some Sri Lankan crafts on our way out, a whistle sounded and, led by a few men, the entire herd of 30 or more came walking right up through the narrow road that goes through the middle of all of the craft stands. They were an arms length from us and we could have reached out and touched them if we'd wanted to risk getting smooshed…it was both amazing and humbling!