Before I lament the snail’s pace at which this school year is coming to an end, I need to begin by saying I should be at work right now. It’s 2pm on a Wednesday, and I am writing a new blog post from the comfort of my couch, nibbling on a fresh batch of pomegranate white chocolate chunk cookies (crafted by yours truly—there are a few perks living in the Middle East, one of them being that we’re situated so close to the regions where pomegranates are grown). Instead of facilitating literature circles and grading papers, school was canceled today due to a power outage. (I believe this is day #8 they’ve called off this year… and we don’t have to make any of those days up!) The day started out like any other day, and then at around 9:30am everything shut down. The school was eerily quiet, and I was thankful to be on a planning period. An hour and a half later—during which I held class in the dark—they cancelled the day and we all went home. I’m not quite sure what caused the outage, but as they say, never look a gift horse in the mouth.
I come to you today with the FINAL blog post on Sri Lanka. It’s been a long journey, but it’s gotten me through the last few weeks of school. (We’ve only got 18 school days left!) To assist in brevity, I fused the last three days of Sri Lanka together into a single post. Hold on tight, and try not to book your plane ticket! Our journey begins when we head to Hatton to climb Adam’s Peak…
We arrived in Hatton at around 4:30pm. We stayed at “Slightly Chilled” guesthouse, which was perfect for our climb. It included dinner and breakfast the next morning, and had an amazing view of the peak from the dining area. The picture above was taking as Sean and I sipped tea and played cribbage. The plan for climbing Adam’s Peak is this: You’ve got to wake up at around 2:30am and start the hike at 3am so that you can get to the top by sunrise. I forgot to mention a very important aspect of this endeavor—Adam’s Peak, known by most as “Sri Pada”, or ‘sacred footprint’ is one of the holiest sites in Buddhism, and popular for pilgrimages. It is also sacred for Christians, Muslims, and Hindus. For Muslims and Christians, it is where Adam was cast out of the Garden of Eden. For Buddhists, the ‘footprint’ on the top of the peak was left by Buddha. For Hindus, it is the footprint of Lord Shiva.
With an elevation of 7,359 feet, we wanted to be on top of it.
There are 5,200 steps to the top.
The tricky part was convincing Sean to wake up at 3am to climb it…
The evening before our trek, we walked to the beginning of the trail head. (I know, unnecessary walking, we aren’t looking any pity here.) We were touched by the translated English sign for all pilgrims and tourists trekking up Adam’s Peak.
After dinner, when the sun had set, we snapped a picture of our soon-to-be route up the peak. Just writing this can I feel my knees shaking from all the steps…
There were Buddhist shrines all the way up. We snapped a few pictures, but the chilly temperature and thrill of getting to the top for sunrise kept us going.
Once at the top, the sun began to rise around 5:45am. It was truly stunning.
Sean was saying, “Thank you, dear wife, for encouraging me to complete the hike for the sunrise. You’re right. It is completely worth it. You are so wise.”
One of the most interesting things about making it to the top for sunrise is the Brocken spectre cast on the opposite side of the sunrise. You can see the peak’s shadow on the clouds! It was incredibly difficult to capture on camera, but the affect was haunting.
True pilgrims ring a bell when they reach the top. They are supposed to ring the bell the number of times they made the pilgrimage. We saw one man ring the bell over 25 times… I didn’t know which was more inspiring; him, or the sunrise.
A new days is dawning, even for puppy dogs.
On our way down we managed to snap a few pictures, in awe of what we had accomplished.
As we took a tuk tuk back to the train station, we paused for this great photo—can you spot Adam’s Peak in the background? 🙂
Our last destination was Kandy, the largest town we would be spending our time in. It was about two and a half hours from the airport, and we had been recommended by friends to stay in the “Kandy Mansion”. Skeptical at first, when we got there I was COMPLETELY blown away. For $50 a night, we were staying in LUXURY! It was truly a mansion, built by the Sri Lankan elite in the late 1800’s. It had a colonial feel to it, even though it was built by a Sri Lankan native. Ghandi stayed there, as well as Gregory Peck when he was filming his movie, “The Purple Plain”. Located outside the city of Kandy, it was built in the rainforest with sweeping verandas, spacious, architecturally beautiful interiors, amazing meals, and, oh yeah, a pool!
Our room at the Kandy Mansion.
The inside of the Kandy Mansion.
Moth (also at the Kandy Mansion…)
Sean in the doorway of the Mansion.
The next day, we went into the town of Kandy. There is a lake, with an island in the center, which used to be the Chief’s harem!
Kandy streets. (We were in love with the tuk tuks by the end of the trip!)
Our entire trip, I was in love with how beautiful the women looked in their saris. We stumbled upon a touristy clothing store, and the two ladies who worked there were more than eager to doll me up in one!
The sad news? I looked pathetic. I had nowhere near the grace and beauty of the women I saw on the streets. I’d like to blame it on the thick fabric… had I been dressed in a lighter version instead of the heavier cloth it would have been more delicate… but I know this is a lie that I tell myself. My cultural heritage is that of lederhosen and bratwurst.
This was me before I saw the pictures—optimistic at the thought of resembling the local women… little did I know…
After we perused the town a bit, we quickly got sick of the crowds and car exhaust (we get enough of that in Kuwait), so we headed to the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens.
Sean had fun playing George of the Jungle.
He also learned that pineapples grow on bushes!
We found a bat colony. Can you spy all of the bats in the trees? There were over forty trees housing bats… I was afraid to stand too long underneath them…
We concluded our vacation with a swim in the pool and a last meal of rice and curry. Sri Lanka really is a dream come true. When all the world turns to concrete and parking lots, I will retreat to Sri Lanka, where the beauty of the natural world is only paralleled by the kindness of the people.
The final countdown until we leave Kuwait begins! We fly out on June 10… which means 33 days left in the sandbox… Don’t worry, you will be treated with at least a few more blogs of our adventures here before summer begins. Until then, keep smiling!