SL is not really a big country: the distance between points A and B is never huge, but that’s deceptive because in most cases it’s not the number of miles that matters, but the time taken to make the journey. I spent last night poring over the Rough Guide and came to the conclusion that the Thursday to Monday timespan was insufficient to allow for my planned itinerary. As an example, the distance from Kandy to Ella is roughly 100 miles, but the journey takes about 6 or 7 hours. Even ScotRail – or whatever it’s called – only take 2 ½ hours to go from Inverness to Aberdeen, very much the same distance.
I could just about do the trip if I didn’t really stop anywhere to look at anything, let alone have a day wandering round Kandy and admiring Buddha’s tooth, visiting the nearby Botanical Gardens, walking in Horton Plains to see World’s End, admiring Ella – the so-called typical English village – or any of the other reasons for the trip in the first place.
It’s probably been obvious to you guys all along, but it’s slowly dawned on me that I should use the gap between end of term and flying home for the Kandy road trip (actually mostly a rail trip) and do something else this long weekend. That would give me an extra few days to allow me to enjoy the trip and it would provide a “big bang” to end my sojourn out here.
So instead, I think this weekend I’ll go down towards Tangalle (about 40 miles, 2½ hours). In that general area there’s the chance to go whale watching, to see turtles laying eggs (if I’m lucky and willing to stay up most of the night), Kalametiya bird sanctuary and Mulkirigala rock temples. The best time for turtles starts in March, the best time for birds in the sanctuary ends in March, so I’ll either get the best of both or the worst!
Apart from that, I’ve made no concrete plans: something I’ll need to get down to later this evening.
I mentioned the school term ends on 24th March. This year that happens to virtually coincide with SL New Year (25th March) which TGS will celebrate a day early. Today I was shown an educational poster that depicts various of the customary activities. Apart from dancing, music and general jollification there are rituals and traditional games, many of the latter remarkably similar to UK ones, though I’m assured these aren’t imports and have been practised for centuries. I’ll post some of the photos I took: I particularly liked the one where blindfolded kids have to break pots – one of which contains water – with a stick. Then there’s pin the eye on the elephant. I kid you not. One of the pictures shows women playing a large traditional drum*, often with a small fire under it to keep the skin taut. There’s also milk rice, a sort of pudding / sweetmeat. Another desirable practice is children honouring their parents – the picture should give the general idea – and then there’s getting your hair oiled by granddad, if I understood correctly. Small presents, wrapped in betel leaves, are also exchanged. The game that looks a bit like Ludo seems to involve shaking small shells in a coconut, tipping them out and moving your counter according to the number that fall open side up.
I must admit to being knackered today: Sera has been keen to get some more of the apartments finished and the workmen did actually work through the night. In the room next to my bedhead they were mixing plaster with an electric drill, then applying it to the walls. To be fair, they did turn their radio off but it was a noisy night. I’d stayed up late planning the now-postponed Kandy trip and hoping the guys would give up at 11pm, midnight, 1am…, but eventually it was I who gave up and had a rather fitful night’s sleep, waking as usual to the strains of Furry Lees not long after 5am.
*Note to Sonia: I promise not to bring home another drum!