Archive for April, 2008



April 23, 2008

Helen – Tom dropped off Pat at the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens this morning after first stopping briefly at a Buddhist temple.

Into the mouth of the lion – you may recall the huge lion entrance at Sigiriya (Lion Rock)

Door leads down to tunnels

Tom worked in his office and picked up Pat and me for lunch.  We went to the Senani Restaurant (overlooking Kandy Lake).  Pat went for a massage in the afternoon, then did a brief visit to the Temple of the Tooth and took in the Kandyan dancers and Fire Walkers at the Cultural Center.  Tom meanwhile did his own two hour tour of the Temple. 

Pilgrims approaching the entrance

Extensive and historical grounds and out buildings



One of many holy sites in complex

Shenani prepared a wonderful Sri Lankan dinner for us and we ate along with Anada, Andrew (minister from Scotland) and a German woman who is studying Buddhism. 



Drive to Kandy

April 22, 2008

Helen – The drive to Kandy was loooonnnngggg! 

Another boat left high and dry by tsunami

We stopped at Tangalla to see the hotel built like a ship and then stopped at Rawana Ella Falls,

Watch those monkeys – their thieves!

Friendship between Sri Lanka and Iran?

We had drinks overlooking Ella Gap

and continued through beautiful Nuwara-Eliya

Hindu temple

The drive took 11.5 hours! 

We needed to get to Kandy before dark and we just made it.  We wish that we had more time in Nuwara-Eliya because it was a beautiful and lively city in the hill country with many lovely buildings from the British times.  We went to Pizza Hut for dinner! 



April 21, 2008

Helen – Breakfast at hotel

I had a great time in Matara shopping with Nicole and slept the best two nights of our trip on the fabulous  hotel mattresses.  At lunch time, Nicole and I stopped for rotti’s at the local vender.  His weren’t ready yet so we went to the next one.  Just minutes after we left, Tom and Pat came to the first vendor, on their way to the Fort, and the man said, “Your wife was just here!!”  Tom and Pat waited for theirs and it was nice to know they remembered us.  In the evening we ate at a local restaurant across from the Matara beach.  Pat was a trooper eating with his hands, but everyone could guess that it was a new experience for him because he didn’t have it all piled on one dish with his rice.  He had each curry in a separate dish and didn’t want rice; it worked for him!!  Kanthi had seen Tom in town earlier that day and then stopped by the restaurant to see me.


Tom and Pat went snorkeling at Polhena (where we went before) in the morning, then to the Matara forts, the Weherahena Temple and on to Dondra to see the lighthouse and stand on the southern most point of Sri Lanka.  We had dinner at the “Uprising” –

Moon rise from the hotel



Bringing Home Furniture!!!

April 20, 2008

Helen – We began our round trip – traveling to Matara and Kandy and back to Colombo to show Pat the sights and where we lived.  We were having trouble, as I mentioned, getting our things home through China because of weight restrictions and overweight charges from here to Beijing on Cathay Pacific airlines.  So, on the way to Matara, we stopped at Sudath Antiques, where we had stopped three months earlier, and I bought a rice box, spice chest, and a two door bookcase!!!  They will bring them to Colombo on Friday morning where I can inspect them, pay for them, and then add all our other possessions that we want shipped before taking them for packing and to the shipping lines.  Since I will be on the road, I guess I really can’t say it is all taken care of…but it is close…and hopefully will be done without too much hassle. 

Bodhi tree and flags at Buddhist temple

Tom – We stopped in Galle to do the walk around the ramparts of the walled Fort City built by the Dutch (another UNESCO World Heritage site) that was damaged by the tsunami in 2004.

and then stopped at the Sri Gemunu Beach Resort for ice café in beautiful Unawatuna. 

We also stopped in Weligama to give Pat a close-up view of the colorful outrigger fishing boats.     

After settling into the hotel (Surf Lanka) in S.K. Town right next to the house that we had rented, Luke, the hotel manager, made us the most delicious fish dinner.




Some Colombo Sites

April 19, 2008

Helen – Upon waking, Tom suggested that I ask Ranjan if he would go with us to the Antique stores we visited before on the way to Matara.  Ranjan is also interested in perhaps sending some things to his daughter in Springfield so now we are thinking about sharing a small container. My hopes are up again but tomorrow will decide the outcome


I can hardly believe that our time here is really coming to an end.  Tom drove to the airport to pick up his brother Pat who is flying in from Denver.  He decided to drive since it is another Poya (full moon holiday) day and traffic should be minimal.  We are doing the “redo” trip with him and spent the first day in Colombo.


Shortly after Pat arrived, we took a Tuk-Tuk to the city center to see the Gangaramaya Temple

It was crowded because of the New Year holiday.

We took off our shoes, because you can not wear them on holy ground, and left them by the gate.  I decided to carry mine and someone “carried” Pat’s away.  Yes, within his first few hours in the country, his new New Balance shoes were taken.  They left his socks and Tom’s sandals. 



Satellite temple on Seema Malakaya island 

We had to return to Ruki’s to get another pair of shoes.  When we left the first time, I locked all the doors, inside and outside, because Ruki, Irene, and Ciani all went to a birthday party.   Now I could get into the hallway but had no access to Pat’s room to get his shoes.  I tried everything, e.g. different keys to access the living quarters downstairs, to no avail.  Thank heavens, they returned (with leftovers from the party for our lunch!) and we got his shoes and then returned to downtown to finish our planned trip. 

Pat was a good sport about his loss and wouldn’t let it dampen his spirits.  We finished our touring, took a Tuk-Tuk to the Fort area and had iced drinks at the Grand Oriental Hotel with a lovely view of the harbor (no pictures please – security zone).  The waiters and waitresses were dressed in sailor uniforms.



We then walked to the train station and took the local train (second class) to Mt. Lavinia Hotel for iced cafes on the terrace.  As we waited on the train platform, a man with an arm and neurological disability (e.g. had little use of his arms and hands and could not speak), sat on the concrete, opened his bag with his feet and demonstrated his skills using his legs and toes.  He could cut string, thread a needle, set the string on fire with matches, use a small wrench to unscrew and screw nuts on bolts, and put everything away into his bag.   After giving him a tip, he gave us the Big Toe up sign! 


The train ride was awesome; open windows with people hanging out, ceiling fans, and the occasional beggar.  

We were watching the stops closely but we weren’t sure the train was going to stop at Mt Lavina because we didn’t see a station…so when it slowed down, we jumped off because others were doing it too; stupid – the train stopped!  However we found ourselves in the middle of the tracks and had to make our way to the station – all’s well that ends well!


It was too early for the sunset and dinner at the hotel so we just had ice café.  Pat told the pool attendant that he was staying at the hotel and so got a bathing suit, towel, and a cool dip.   We took a cab back to the city and ate local food at the Green Cabin where Ruki had taken me for my birthday.

 Afterward we walked to the ocean crossing the railroad tracks.  We showed some teenagers how to put coins on the tracks to get them smashed by the train – something Tom used to do in Chicago!

They were delighted!

Pat and sunset across the Indian Ocean



Hot and Sticky, also Youth Soccer

April 18, 2008

Helen – it’s hot, hot, hot!!! AND sticky, sticky, sticky!!!  Ruki and I went shopping this morning for a coconut grater for me and eggs for her….we went to the manufacturing company for the Oridis Grater so I could have my choice but of course they were still closed for the holiday.  Then we went to the big general market and they didn’t have any, followed by several smaller stores and they too were sold out.  It was the same story for Ruki’s eggs but finally in the fifth store she was able to buy the 4 dozen she needed.


Tom did great driving in Colombo because it was still holiday and he went to the Fulbright and book store to exchange the cookbook I bought the first week we were here.  I found a much better one since.  After he returned and had lunch, Ranjan sent his driver to pick us up and we all went to an antique shop.  I am still looking for a rice/spice chest but didn’t find anything I liked.  On the other hand, Tom bought an old suitcase for packing some extra stuff and Ranjan bought two copper pieces (under my keen eye and influence) one a great large rice strainer and the other a large cooking pot…both looked pretty grungy but I said they would clean up; also a nine candle wrought iron holder for his garden or entryway.  He was hesitant but bought them because he got the pots for $30 and the candle holder for $5.  I went away empty handed and disappointed.


STRESSFUL EVENING – Reality has finally set in and I don’t know how I am going to get all my stuff home…then the decisions of what to take and what to leave.  The biggest snag is the flight from here to China which is only allowing us 40 lbs each (are they crazy???) and then charging $7/pound for extra weight.  At this rate, I think Tom would leave me too!!!


Tom – Our morning walk – wall built to include tree –


We came across a youth soccer team passing the national Independence Memorial and going to practice

A happy bunch of kids!




Shopping Day, Dancers and Fire Walkers

April 16, 2008

Tom – I took a picture of a speedboat on Kandy Lake

and the temple elephants as we walked to the central market. 

Helen bought eight metal necklaces from Stone ‘N’ String, some saffron and vanilla from a spice shop, and a pair of pants for Leva on the street. 

She got tired after about three hours, not because of the walking, but because of the people hassling you to buy something from their shops.  We ate lunch at our guest house; drove to a place called Kandy View (or Arthur’s seat) above the lake and then continued on to the university to work on the computer.


 We returned in time to freshen up and then walk to the Kandyan Cultural Center to see the Kandy Dancers and Fire Walkers.

Female dancers 

Male dancers

Finale with Sri Lankan flag and anthem. 

I sat in the center of the front row to get pictures while Helen sat in the front row of the balcony.  They really do walk across flaming coals – the heat even singed my eyebrows!