When we landed in Hong Kong we had an hour layover so we were kinda stressed about making the connection. We went through a quick security check again and then got to the boarding gate. As we laid on the floor with our feet in the air (trying to reduce the cankles) some people took pictures of us. Little did we know how famous we'd become on our trip!! (Today we were asked to be in selfies with locals and we photobombed pics of other tourists... In case you've already forgotten, we're kind of a big deal.)
When we landed in Sri Lanka we took a taxi to Colombo and got to our hostel after midnight. We avoided sleeping on the second flight so that we could sleep at the hostel and hopefully skip some of the jet lag. So it was a quick sleep, we woke up around 8 for breaky and to catch a train to Kandy. The train took about 3 hours and we waited for the sweetest local family to come pick us up. Katie's mom has worked with a Sri Lankan for a long time, so she set us up with the sister who still lives here. Medina and her husband Marzook took us into their home, fed us and drove us around for the last couple days. They are both so positive and kind, making the start of our trip so great. Medina brings us tea many times a day and has made us all these great meals. She even bought white bread for us and peanut butter - which is placed on the table for every meal (just in case).
Yesterday we went and saw the Temple of the Tooth, and then walked around Kandy Lake. It was really neat to see all the layers and different buildings around the temple. After, Katie bought some fresh mango so we sat by the lake to eat and then practiced our Spanish and French whenever local guys tried to talk to us. After this we went with Marzook and walked around the botanical garden that covers 150 acres. Marzook told us how he likes singing and used to sing all the time - and then proceeded to sing "I just called to say I love you" while we walked through the gardens. Some passing tourists even joined in! It was a really beautiful spot but nice to have a little tour guide companion with us. We talked about karma and doing good deeds (like them welcoming us so openly) and how that is all you take to the grave with you when you go. "This is life" he said often... Whether talking about simpler things like work and raising kids, or about arranged marriages and corruption in politics/governments. It was so neat to talk to him and Medina even though they often didn't understand me. I feel like my unfortunate trait of being a good listener but not being listened to has followed me here! Most of the input I add to conversations is ignored or tossed aside - not intentionally I don't think - but still happens. Katie and I laughed today about how I understand their accents faster than her but then when I reply it isn't heard - so she's gonna continue with the whole communication role and I'll just stay quiet... a bit of give and take I guess!
Before the gardens Marzook took us to his old house which he now rents out as a school. There were just under 3000 kids there, one teacher stood in front of the class and was projected into the other rooms. All the boys sat on one side of the first (and biggest) room, and the rest were girls. It was interesting to learn that more girls attend school than boys here. Katie and I were led by an older lady through part of the school to get to the washroom and literally ALL the kids laughed at us. Even a couple of older ladies broke out in hysterics as we walked by and the lady showing us there didn't seem too impressed to have to do this. When Katie went to the bathroom two 7-8 year old girls looked and giggled at me the whole time.. I smiled and waved and they laughed even harder. Part of me wanted to walk over and sit beside them and start talking to see what they'd do but I didn't. I thought it might be better to be oblivious. Marzook said later that they've probably seen very few tourists, let alone had any walk into their school. It was weird to be seen as such a spectacle so Katie and I both felt uncomfortable there.
Today we took a private van with Medina and one of her sisters up to Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya. One thing we aren't fond of here is how pricey it is to go to the touristy spots. The locals can go and pay much less and the tourist prices get jacked up. It cost $35 Canadian to go into Polonnaruwa to see ancient ruins, a kings temple and some large Buddha statues. Sigiriya cost $45 to go through a museum and then climb what is essentially a huge rock. Don't get me wrong - it was all beautiful... It's just a shame that they charge so much. Sigiriya was incredible though. We climbed 1200 steps to get to the top and man was that hard on the knees! But when we made it and finally caught our breaths they were taken away again by the views. It's surrounded by jungle, there's a lake in sight and then mountains in the distance. Definitely worth the money and the climb. And on the drive we saw a few wild elephants which was amazing! As well as many monkeys, lizards, and birds.
So to summarize the first little bit (if you've kept reading this far) it's off to a great start! No culture shock really (although there are obvious differences between here and Canada) and it is weird to think we are actually halfway around the world. Driving is very different... I don't think there are any rules and yet we haven't seen any accidents. (Fingers crossed it stays that way!) The food has been great and I've actually eaten everything! This picky girl is getting cultured!
Tomorrow we are heading to Adam's Peak to do a quick hike and then stay the night. We're planning on waking up for a hike the next day to see the sunrise there and then we'll head to tea plantations for a day or two!
Hope everyone is doing well back home and thanks for reading! I'll post again in a few days! (To all you Winnipeggers: it is +30 here everyday so........) 😘