Archive for the ‘Sri Lanka’ Category



May 14, 2008

Tom –

The past five months have provided incredible professional and personal experiences.  We were in Sri Lanka for four months working, touring and immersing ourselves in the culture.   In addition, we have been able to fulfill some lifetime goals, travel to Egypt (e.g. pyramids), India (e.g. Taj Mahal), China (e.g. Great Wall), and fly around the world!


Last Day Sri Lanka

April 27, 2008

Tom – We went to 8:30 mass at St Theresa.  Look at the pictures and note how the figures look Sri Lankan. 

Nativity scene

I then went to the car rental company to close out my account, but on the way, dropped Ruki and Helen off at House of Fashion for one last shopping spree.  They allowed me to keep the car for today and then a driver will come to our guesthouse at 10:30pm to drive us, in our car, to the airport.  They have treated us very well.


Helen – Ranjan brought me another small painting of two Sri Lankan women which I had admired in his store.  About 1pm when we were ready to drive to the warehouse, we called to be sure someone would be there, and guess what???   They were closed on Sundays…there is always a snag!!!   We will have to call Chandra (the man from the antique store) to pick up two more small boxes of our things and take them to the warehouse on Monday, which he said he would do.


So now we are packed, and have 8 hours before leaving for the airport.  I think that we are going to the Galle Face Hotel for ice café and to use their internet.  Afterwards we will be back at the guesthouse where Ruki will make us a farewell dinner.


It’s really hard to believe this will be our last entry from Sri Lanka.  We have loved our time here and had a few adventures.  China should have a few highlights with the wall and terracotta soldiers (another planned tour trip – to Xian) but home is looking pretty good.   I can’t wait to see and smother the kids with hugs and kisses.  I have really missed them and am looking forward to talking to all my friends as well.  As they say “THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME!”



Loose Ends and Shipping Day

April 26, 2008

Tom – Tried a new fruit this morning, it is called a mango steen.  The white part, surrounding the seed, is what you eat.  It is sweet and delicious.  The outer fruit and seed are bitter. 

Wrote the diary for the blog this morning and then took Helen to exchange our Fibretec picture for some Fibretec shell serving dishes.  We then went to the bookstore to pick up the Sri Lankan cookbook that I had ordered for her.  Ranjan took us out to an Indian restaurant in the Taj Sumara Hotel for a farewell dinner and also presented Helen with a silver ring and two pendants.


Helen – Is it REALLY worth the effort??  Tom makes the day sound calm, when in reality it was nerve wracking!!!  The furniture logistics were a nightmare!!  On Friday, Chandra the son of the Antique store owner, called and said that he was not able to get the bookcase into his van (only the two chests and the bottom and doors of the bookcase) so the bookcase would be going to the shipper tomorrow.  They couldn’t use a truck (lorry) for everything because trucks are not allowed to go through the city due to security (another bus was bombed Friday – 24 killed).  He said he would be at the house to show me the pieces he had and also to pick up the extra weight we wanted to ship back home.  As expected, he came late and therefore I was not able to go to the shippers with him to check on things there and get our paperwork done.  He told me not to worry that he was going to take the bookcase to the shipping warehouse on Saturday, call us when he was outside of Colombo, and we could follow him to the warehouse.  We paid him with our Visa so if anything happened, we could stop payment.  The next day we waited for his call, knowing that the warehouse closed at 3 and it would take from 1-1.5 hrs to get to the warehouse, we thought that he would be here at the latest by noon. 


About 1 o’clock, we began calling his cell phone and it said that the phone was turned off.  Then we tried the store and that phone was also turned off.  Panic set in, Ruki raised the anxiety level with talk about how we should not have paid him until we were at the shippers, he probably took all our stuff and we would never see it again.  I kept calling for at least two hours and nothing.  About then I called the tourist police to ask someone to go to the store to have them call us (the store is almost two hours away!!).  I had some problems talking with the police on the phone and they said that they would call us back.  Meanwhile I found Chandra’s residence number and finally contacted him at home.  He became upset with me for asking why he didn’t contact me and said that the truck was on its way and they would call me around 2:30.  


Feeling better about his honesty, we ran our errands to Fibertec, bookstore, and  had lunch at the Commons.  We returned early and waited for his call.  At 3:30, I called again, now he was upset with me for doubting him, said that we could cancel the transaction and he would return our belongings on Sunday.  I put Ruki on the phone and she got the information about the shipping company, people and phone numbers, she was informed that we could still go to the warehouse because they were waiting for the truck and would remain open until it got there.  Ruki then called the warehouse and spoke to a man who reassured her that our belongings were there and he named most of the things there.  Since it was late, we decided to go the next day, Sunday. This would give us a chance to repack our suitcases again to get them into the weight requirements for our flight to China.  



Final Presentation in Sri Lanka

April 25, 2008

Tom – Pat left this morning taking the Airport Express van at 6am.  Helen and I went to Hatton National Bank to close our account with the Fulbright driver.  It took over an hour to close the account and then convert the rupees to dollars.  Helen worked on the Fulbright computer and then took a Tuk-Tuk home while I headed for the Ministry of Education.  In a semi-formal exchange, I passed on the FITNESSGRAM/ACTIVITYGRAM software and the five books related to the Physical Best program ($500 value) that Human Kinetics publishers had donated to the Minister. 

He seemed genuinely impressed and in turn passed the material on to his Director of Physical Education. 

Dr. Rajaratne from Peradeniya University also attended the meeting.  It appears the Director of PE may just sit on the materials – if that happens, Raj will go to the Minister and request the materials so he can start using them in Kandy.


I prepared for my presentation in the afternoon and got to the Fulbright office at 4pm to set up my computer and the projector for my “Fitness for Life” presentation.  Fulbright had light snacks and tea at 5:30 which was followed by my presentation.  I didn’t bring my power cord and about 45 minutes into the presentation the computer battery was depleted (it started fully charged!).  So, I used the flip chart for the rest of the program – I believe it went well.  There were about 30 people there and they had some good questions – even the owner of the car company where I rented my car attended!  The Fulbright director suggested that I apply for a Fulbright Specialist grant to return to Sri Lanka for 6-8 weeks to follow-up on the projects that I started – we’ll see.


After answering questions and wrapping things up, Helen, Ruki and I went to the Gallery Café for dinner.  Ruki paid for the drinks and I paid for dinner – her bill was higher than mine!        



Car Wash and Galle Face Hotel

April 24, 2008

Helen – On the way back to Colombo we stopped to have the car washed.  On earlier trips we had noticed the water hoses spraying skyward wherever there was a small waterfall.  At first we couldn’t figure out what they were advertising but soon discovered that they were carwashes.  So today we decided it would be our last chance to experience this novelty.  We chose the very best one because it took him about 45 minutes to do it and Tom said he did it as well as he would have done it himself…that young man was meticulous and only charged about $2. 

It had not rained the entire trip and you know what carwashes mean…yes, it poured not long after the task was completed.  On the way into Colombo we stopped for some bananas and pineapple.


Tom – I took care of business in the afternoon while Pat went off for another massage.  It was Pat’s last night in town, so we took him to the Galle Face Hotel for dinner.  It was built in 1864 and sits right on the ocean near downtown.  It had been raining but we still choose a table outside right next to the ocean.  There were green lights playing on the breakers, a heavy mist, salt spray, and lightening all around – it was surrealistic!  We had our initial wine there and then, with the coaxing of the maitre de moved inside under the tent.  It proved to be a good decision because it did rain.  Our only option for eating was the buffet but it proved to be marvelous.  




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!