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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Laura the Explorer

Wow, it feels like so long since I've written because I've done so much! The hospital is going well and I am enjoying it and learning a lot. Getting used to the heat so I make it through ward rounds now and also went to the outpatient clinic last week which was good.

This weekend was a long weekend in Sri Lanka (it was Independence Day yesterday) so Bianca and I planned a hectic weekend! We left on Friday straight after lunch and got buses to Dambulla. I'll keep it quite brief but:
Saturday: Off early to Sigiriya (Lion Rock, Asia's oldest garden and temple complex, supposedly 8th wonder of the world) climbed to summit, had amazing views, saw wall frescoes, mirror wall, palace gardens at summit, amazing views and lots more. We also went to the museum which was good. Travelled back to Dambulla and visited the buddhist Cave Temples (very unlike the cave temples Mum and I saw at Elephanta Island) and Golden Temple. Travelled to Kandy.
Sunday: Took a tour of Kandy in a tuktuk. First went to a Herb and Spice Garden 27km out where we saw the herb and spice trees/plants and had a talk/ demo from an Ayurevidic spa expert. We also got mini massages from his students. Ayurvidic medicine is fascinating. For every general hospital here there is an Ayurvidic one and people swear by it. I'm a little skeptical but he put a tiny bit of cream made only from jackfruit milk, aloe vera and saffron on a patch on my arm and 10 minutes and no tingling/smelling later, the hair just wipes off! Next we went to the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala where we saw all the elephants they care for, learnt about them and rode one bareback! We then went to a Sri Lankan gem shop followed by visiting the Sacred Tooth Temple. It supposedly holds one of Buddha's teeth. It was incredibly busy with lots of Buddhists going there to pray but had some good museums and I just love the amount of incense burning in there! We then sat by the lake for a little bit before heading for Delhousie (base camp of Adam's Peak) Had a nightmarish 3 bus rides, we were meant to have one. Was so squashed on the last bus winding around the mountains that I thought I would suffocate! All good fun!
Monday:Up at 1.30am to set off to climb Adam's Peak (Sri Pada). It is a pilgrimage route and is a 7km long climb and is 2243m high. The climb was tough. It is made up of very steep, rough, uneven steps in unending streams. My thighs were screaming from the outset! We were climbing with another couple from our hostel which was good fun. It was very hard and several times I was so tempted to stop and give up but we all egged each other on. Seeing elderly Sri Lankan ladies doing it, barefoot, being half carried kind of inspired us. We had been climbing non-stop over 2 hours and were under an hour away from the summit. We were sure we were going to make it now. We would push ourselves and see the sunrise from the top as we had planned. However, very suddenly we hit a queue that filled the entire pathway. We stood in it but did not move an inch for over 45 minutes. We eventually realised that there was no way we would make it to the top for many hours. We would miss the sunrise and would not get up there till about 9am. We were so upset! Seriously disappointing but we decided we would try and find a spot just below here we were to see as much of the sunrise as we could. We were absolutely freezing after standing still for so long. We climbed out of the queue, over a wall and into one of the little tea stops that lined the path. We huddled there until it was time to find our spot. We walked down and saw the sunrise. We were a little around the side of the mountain but it was still good. After the sun was up we walked down quite slowly, taking in all the breathtaking views that you do not get in the dark. The hill country in Sri Lanka is absolutely stunning. We were also stunned by the amount of steps we had apparently climbed! There are 5000+ in total and we must have done about 4000. Not the top but what an achievement! After a quick breakfast, Bianca and I headed back home to Kalutara.

It was an incredible weekend and introduced me to a whole different side of Sri Lanka. It was jampacked and hectic and just the way I like it! I am planning a beach weekend for the next one...could barely walk home from work today, my calves are agony!

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