Sri Lanka: Feb.2016

The interior - hill country and ancient cities.

There's a large government-run elephant orphanage a few kilometers away. They have a herd of over 40 elephants, half with mahouts and half just a general herd. It's pricey to go see the orphanage (CAN$25/person) but amazing to see a herd up close.

Elephants on parade! The elephants at the orphanage have a big river to wander freely around, but their main grazing area and their night beds are on the other side of a busy 2-lane road. A few times a day the elephants head up from the river and up a 100 meter shop-lined lane. Traffic police then stop all the traffic and the elephants amble across.

Elephant shoppers.

Besides throwing poop and washing elephants, all the volunteers here work on little projects. Here is our recycling bin that we made out of used water bottles. Pam the recycling lady is shown being recycled.

Ananda is Ranmenika's mahout and our boss when we're around her. One of the coordinators told us that Ananda's mahout knife was falling apart. There is a special village that makes mahout's knives so with the other mahouts' help we arranged to get Ananda a new one.

As we came near to the end of our stay with the elephants, five of us took a jungle walk with Ranmenika - Amanda the mahout, Roxanne, John, the dog Sneaks, and a white egret (name unknown - seen in the middle left of this photo) who hopped and flew along with us through almost the entire walk.

One last bath for Ranmenika, then we're off to Kandy. Brooke from Utah was another volunteer who helped with her.

We're into the mountains now, with lots of monkeys! Kandy is the second biggest town in Sri Lanka (about 110,000 people) and also the most beautiful with a pretty man-made lake in the middle of town.

Kandy Lake is about a kilometer long and about 200 m wide at the fat end and 100 m wide at the narrow end. An astonishing number of creatures call the lake and the surrounding banks their home. We've seen dozens of different water birds (ducks, diving birds, giant kingfishers), lots of fish, turtles, monkeys, a couple of trees full of giant fruit bats, and at least 4 big monitor lizards - this fat one is about 1.5 m long.

The 60 hectare Peradeniya Botanical Gardens is just outside of Kandy. It houses an amazing collection of giant trees and bamboo groves.

The orchid house is packed full of a hundred different varieties.

For those who have always wondered where sausages came from, we are pleased to report that we found a few sausage trees.

We found an out-of-the-way temple built into a cave with an 18-ft tall reclining Buddha.

Here’s our monk buddy from the cave temple. We couldn’t understand a thing he said and he couldn’t understand us, but he was so happy to visit and gave us a big tour of the cave and lots of explanations in Sinhala (Sri Lankan).

Jungle Roxanne - Udawattekele Sanctuary (a big walking park in Kandy).

Passing through...

Big Buddha.

Lizard crossing.

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