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Sri Lanka Trip - Continued
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Buddha

Since we visited a number of Buddhas, I thought I'd review it's background. 
 
Buddha was born Gautama Buddha over 2,500 years ago and is also known by the family name of Siddhartha, the "enlightened one".  He was revered as a teacher and his teachings continue today.  Of the Sri Lankans, 70 percent are adherents to his teachings.  (The remaining are either Hindu, Muslim, or Christian).  Thus, there are many Buddha statues and Buddhist temples, both ancient and new.  As the photos reveal, we saw many statues, both in temples and erected right along the road.  I'm only giving you a sampling of all we saw.  When visiting Buddha, one must remove both shoes and hats, and have shoulders and knees covered, even men.  Socks may be worn to protect your feet from the searing heat of the ground.  Photos are not to be taken of people standing in front of Buddha; to the side is OK.  

GOLDEN BUDDHA TEMPLE
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ANCIENT RUINS
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OTHER ANCIENT CARVINGS
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THIS SIGN REFERS TO THE 3 BUDDHAS BELOW
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ALL CARVED IN THE SAME STONE HILL

MEDITATING BUDDHA
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SLEEPING BUDDHA
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STANDING BUDDHA
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Heading out of Colombo 

After Colombo, the coastal capital city, we headed toward the north and the interior of the island.  We stayed at three different beautiful resorts but our days were so filled with activities, we only spent time there having breakfast, dinner, beers, and sleeping.  We were always exhausted.  The heat and humidity sapped our energy.  In this area we visited the ruins of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, went on a couple of safaris, visited a gorgeous botanical garden (felt like home), a spice garden, and a tea manufacturer. 

The UNESCO sites were ruins of ancient capitals, the Lion Rock, and the Golden temple of Dambulla.  All of these hold historical and archeological significance.  The Lion Rock was amazing.  It is 600 foot high, 1250 step climb (I only went a third of the way).  Several people did go to the top but it was late afternoon at the peak of the heat and I was just wiped out.  The pictures people took showed the remnants of a truly amazing ancient palace.  I was a bit disappointed this old body couldn't make it. 

Another site was the Golden Temple of Dambulla, where you are greeted by a giant golden Buddha and walk up a hill to a series of five caves which contain carved Buddhas and paintings of Buddha all over the walls and ceilings.  At another site we climbed up to a series of 3 massive Buddhas carved right out of the stone hill side.  There was a meditating Buddha, one standing, and one reclining (sleeping).  These were impressive.  Here the guards yelled at you if you tried to take a photo in front of the Buddhas.  Which reminds me that at one of the museums I took a photo of beads and I was immediately ordered to delete the photo from my camera (oops).  

We did a few jeep safaris in national parks, which had more birds than any other type of animals.  One park did have a herd of elephants and we saw land monitors (big lizards) and spotted deer.  Not quite as dramatic in those parks as elsewhere in the country. 

The Royal Botanical Gardens were gorgeous.  It covers 147 acres with over 4,000 species growing, including greenhouses of cacti and orchids, tall palms, and very odd coconuts. And the natural flowers of jasmine, rose, lotus, and frangipani smelled absolutely soothing.  In addition to the beautiful plants, there are trees in which fruit bats live and they had plenty of them (bats).  

We also visited a spice garden, where the species growing there are picked from bushes, trees, and even the bark of a tree (cinnamon).  There were vanilla beans, cloves, and cardoman just to name a few.  All these spices are picked by hand (that's a lot of work).  Everything smelled so wonderful and fresh. 

After the spice garden, we visited a tea manufacturing plant.  All tea leaves are picked by hand and the more delicate inner leaves go into making the better tea, with the more mature leaves being less tasty.  We watched it being picked, dried, sorted, and the associated machines, some dating back to the beginning of the tea plant, around the mid-1800's.  The best tea is the Pekoe.  The bins (below) show the various types of tea, all the way from the finest "gold tea" on the left to the "Refused" on the right.

Finally, what about the food?  We ate quite a well balanced diet while on our trip.  Most places had buffets and they were absolutely delicious, which included curries, fresh fruit, salads, rice, and lots of desserts.  There even was an Italian buffet at one of the restaurants ... all the dishes were miniature, appetizer size.  But, the main food of Sri Lanka is curry, of all varieties, and rice.  They even had red rice as a common everyday rice.  As we traveled, our bus would stop at roadside fruit stands.  We tried jack fruit, drank coconut milk straight from the coconut, ate cashews and red bananas.    We all ate a variety of foods and none of us got sick.  And the beer of choice was Lion's Head.  Tasted great after a hot sweaty day.

DOUBLE COCONUT - INEDIBLE
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CATALINA ORCHID
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TREES FULL OF BATS
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BATS
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LION'S ROCK - 600 FEET - 1250 STEPS
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ON SAFARI
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GREEN BEE EATER BIRD
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MACAQUES GIVING US THE EYE
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DIFFERENT TEAS FROM THE HARVEST
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Expensive Golden Tea on the left; Refused on the right.

RED BANANAS
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Tasted like yellow bananas

COCONUT & WATERMELON
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Our trip is drawing to a close and we will be leaving for the airport in a few hours.  For dinner, the ladies were gifted sarees to don (as best we could) and wear to dinner.  The sarees are long swaths of material and need to be wrapped and folded.  They came with instructions but they weren't very good.  Elyse got creative and found a demonstration on YouTube.  Hers pretty much resembles the real folds.   Thanks to all who made this an enjoyable trip, including our fearless Smithsonian leader, Loretta (in blue).

ELYSE & MOM
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LORETTA
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PART OF OUR GROUP AT GEM DEALER'S JEWELRY STORE
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Questions or Commnets?   E-mail:  Coralyn@CWWhitneyDesign.com   or, call 425-890-3586