I had the opportunity to travel to Sri Lanka for a holiday while teaching in Kuwait.
Sri Lanka was formerly called Ceylon. This island nation south of India is located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal. It has many diverse landscapes ranging from rain-forest and arid plains to highlands and sandy beaches.
I traveled with a teacher friend from Kuwait. Our trip was three years after the 2004 tsunami that many of our fellow teachers had experienced and we wanted to see this country while we were in Kuwait. The tsunami killed at least 225,000 people across a dozen countries, with Indonesia, Sri Lanks, India, Maldives and Thailand sustaining massive damage. Tens of thousands were reported dead or missing in Sri Lanka and India. Several thousand non-Asian tourists vacationing in the region also were reported dead or missing. Fortunately all the teachers from our school in Kuwait survived although many had stories to tell of their narrow escape and adventures.
We flew into Colombo and spent a couple of nights before heading inland a bit toward Kandy.
Kandy is a major city in Sri Lanka. It is located in the Central Province. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is both an administrative and religious city and is also the capital of the Central Province.
Kandy is the home of The Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), one of the most sacred places of worship in the Buddhist world. Kandy was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1988.
The Queen’s Hotel is an 80-room British Colonial style three star hotel, located in the center of the city at end of the main street. This former Governor’s residence is one of the oldest hotels in Sri Lanka with a history of over 160 years.
While staying in Kandy at a local resort [not the Queen’s Hotel :)], we enjoyed visits to a sari shop and one to a local gem store. We had the opportunity to watch stone cutters turn gems into jewelry. I ordered my birthstone – a tourmaline – and had the jeweler turn it into a charm which I wear on a gold chain necklace which I purchased at the gold souq in Kuwait.
One highlight of our trip to Sri Lanka included a visit to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.
The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is situated in the hill country near Kegalle, halfway between Colombo and Kandy. It was established in 1975 by the Sri Lanka wildlife department in a 25 acre coconut property near the Maha Oya river. The orphanage was set up to save abandoned or orphaned wild elephants. As of 2003, there were 65 elephants.
The elephants are controlled by their mahouts (keepers), who ensure they are fed at the right times and don’t endanger anyone. You can catch the elephants having their daily bath visit from 10 am to noon and from 2 to 4 PM. Meal times are at 9:15 am, 1.15 and 5 pm. Nearly all of the elephants become working elephants once they have grown up. Occasionally, one of the older female elephants produces a baby to add to the herd.
Here is the link to read more about the Elephant Orphanage. The Asian elephant is a lot smaller then the African elephant with a rounder back and smaller ears. It also has four rather than three nails on its hind feet and one ‘lip’ rather than two on the tip of its trunk. In Sri Lanka, most females and many males do not have tusks. Asian elephants congregate in family groups of up to 10 led by an adult female. Males, banished from the family group upon maturity, may form bachelor herds. Elephants retire in the heat of the day to digest the 200 kg of vegetable matter which they consume nightly.
My trip to Sri Lanka was too short. This is definitely one place that deserves a second visit. Be sure to come back next week to enjoy a visit to a country beginning with the Letter ‘T’.