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Published: October 18th 2010
The famous Sri Lanken stilt fishermen
- Yala National Park -
Thump, thump, thump. Haley and I quickly look up at the ceiling of our bungalow in Sri Lanka's Yala National Park. We had not planned on seeing any wildlife until our safari tomorrow morning, but the noise on our roof clearly wasn't from the White-breasted Kingfisher we saw earlier - or the wild boar that chased us unto our porch just 30 minutes ago. It was a large troop of monkeys that decided to have a party on our roof (without our consent). Haley and I eagerly ran from window to window checking out our new housemates! Once the troop moved on, we called for an escort to dinner (apparently we had to watch out for elephants roaming through the resort grounds and the hotel required escorts at night) and then filled up on local curries and tasty desserts.
The next day we went on an early morning safari (5:30am) - it was initially just the two of us and the driver we hired, but then our other driver joined us, and somewhere along the way we picked up a park ranger. So, the 5 of us went on what
We got a pretty interesting tour of a gem workshop on the road to Nuwara Eliya
everyone claimed was a “very successful” safari. We saw water buffalo, spotted deer, 2 families of jackals, monitor lizards, monkeys, huge crocodiles, mongooses, a variety of birds, a couple rare elephants, several carcasses, and then 2 separate leopards (one of which had a tiny cub)!!! The safari was very reminiscent of the one Haley and I went on in South Africa and we kept expecting to see jerries (giraffe) around every corner and were hungry for biltong and ‘wors. Yala National Park was very impressive and well-maintained!
After our safari, we had a long drive up into the hill country of Nuwara Eliya. Our driver Hasantha has continued to impress us since he picked us up in Anawatuna. He seems to know every attraction, gives us a detailed description of all the areas, trees and animals we pass, and has set us up with an incredibly comfortable passenger van that we can both stretch out in. Along the way we saw Hindu Temples, standing Buddhas, pagodas, waterfalls, and everything else you could imagine.
Nuwara Eliya (NE) is referred to as “Little England” because it was the playground of the English tea plantation pioneers. A lot of the
A Hindu temple along the road
buildings in this area (including our historic hotel) reflect English architecture, and the main crops are are imports from England, including things like cabbage, beets, onions, and carrots. NE was a lot cooler (temp) then the southern coast, as it is the highest city in Sri Lanka. After the long drive, Haley and I quickly settled into an old Tudor estate house that would be our home for the next few nights, parked ourselves next to a cozy fire, and sipped on the vegetable soup that all new guests are greeted with.
The next few days were pretty lazy for us and focused on high teas and hearty stews - quite a contrast from the palm trees and seafood of our previous spot. The weather was overcast and rainy for the most part, which was just fine with us.
Just a few quick notes:
* Our driver either loves us or hates us as we have make him stop at every roadside eatery that has something different for us to try. This includes numerous types of roti, samosas, fried dalh, fruit (including a scary looking wood apple), and even some stuff that we're apparently not supposed to
These were posted all over the southern coast of Sri Lanka
eat (some sort of Indian dip).
* I don't want to worry our parents, but remind us to tell you about the roads when we get back 😉
* Haley is very popular with the local men.
* Each evening when we return to our room, we were welcomed with hot water bottles under the covers of our bed to keep us warm & cozy.
* Haley is starting to become obsessed with gems (that are all naturally found here in Sri Lanka). Much to my distress, we've spent hours and hours at gem shops!
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