Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sri Lankan Holiday

I am bit late on this entry, but for Chinese New Year this year, which just so happened to coincide with my Birthday, me and some friends (and some friends of friends that I had not met before) decided to go to Sri Lanka for a 3 day vacation.

Unfortunately, time did not allow for us to see all that Sri Lanka had to offer, but we did manage to get to see some pretty interesting things.  For the first night we flew in very late to Sri Lanka's capital city, Colombo.  The next morning we headed for Unawatuna in the south part of the island. Here we spent must of our time just lounging on the beach, tossing the rugby ball around (this was short lived as on the first day some wild beach dogs came and bit right through it and carried it off), and dinning on some good Sri Lankan food.

We also visited a couple cool sites while there.  One day, we headed to the nearby town of Galle, which has the remnants of an old colonial Portuguese/Dutch fort and still has many colonial style buildings.  It was pretty cool getting to walk the ramparts and be surrounded by the Indian Ocean.  While walking around we stumbled upon a cricket match and spent sometime taking that in, which is much more interesting now that I actually know the basics of the rules.  Another site we visited was a local tea plantation that was known for it's Virgin White Tea.  This Virgin White Tea is so meticulously harvested in order to assure its utmost quality.  First, it can only be harvested by virgin women, wearing gloves, using golden scissors, and collected in a golden bowl (these golden tools are no longer a requirement, but this used to be the custom).  In the end we got to sample different teas grown on the plantation, including the revered White Tea, which, in my opinion, tasted not too dissimilar from water.  The last and coolest thing I did was to visit a sea turtle sanctuary.  From every October to March, sea turtles come to the beaches of Sri Lanka almost every night to lay eggs.  Unfortunately, there are many poachers who come steal these eggs and sell them to people who eat them.  As the sea turtle is becoming increasingly endangered, places like this sea turtle sanctuary are becoming more and more important.  This sanctuary actually purchases the eggs from the poachers (as poaching them themselves would be illegal) and then raises them in the sanctuary.  When they hatch they then release them to the wild.  However, as part of a fund raiser for their mission, they always keep a few hatchlings behind for visitors, after making a small donation  to get to actually release the turtle into the ocean themselves!  Me and my friend Paul (the only ones interested in visiting the sea turtles) jumped on this opportunity and we both got to release a turtle.  Very cool!

The next day it was back to Singapore with another stamp in my passport, another journey to a new country, and a whole lot of new memories to take with me.

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