With January upon us, and work officially back in business, routines are harder than ever to establish as we long and daydream about our holiday break. Let’s just say ours was a lot harder to say goodbye too.
We traded a traditional New Year countdown for a week of sightseeing, tea factories, and whole lot of turtles. Haven’t guessed where yet? Try 3,382 miles from our current location where people are one with nature and an elephant can possibly be your best friend. If you guessed Sri Lanka, you are correct! We started our journey in Colombo where we immediately went to the National Museum, which is the largest museum in all of Sri Lanka. It is home to many artifacts that represent ancient Sri Lanka. Once we snapped away about a good 2 thousand pictures of the National Museum it was time to make our trip from Colombo to Dambulla. But it wasn’t the destination that was fascinating it was the ride there that was just irresistibly beautiful. In between cities, just on the outskirts of Dambulla we stopped at Pinnawala Elephant orphanage. It was the first time any of us have seen the animal up close and the sight was just absolutely breathtaking. One of the highlights of our trip was witnessing the love and care people in Sri Lanka give to the animals. This orphanage provides a home for baby elephants that have been abandoned by their mother, because without a mother an elephant won’t have a purpose until he’s old enough to manage on their own.
After the elephants we continued to Dambulla where the Golden Temple awaited us. The Golden Temple is the largest and best-preserved cave temple in Sri Lanka. The temple spreads over 5 caves that consist of naturally painted statues that are linked to Lord Buddha and his life. Standing next to these beautiful pieces of art was unreal. Each statue was so historical that you could tell each piece had its own story to tell.
Our next stop was a stop a little bit west of Kandy where our destination was something close to heaven. Royal Botanical Garden is a wide-open space where you’ll find an orchid in every color imaginable. The view was truly a sight for sore eyes. The garden consisted of orchids, spices, medicinal plants and palm trees that seemed never ending. For a moment, we really did feel like Alice in Wonderland!
Lastly, we headed to Beruwala – and not to pick favorites, but the best was surely kept for last. Our first stop in Beruwala was the Turtle hatchery. As we experienced with the elephants, Sri Lankans express a remarkable love and appreciation to animals. At the turtle hatchery, their mission is to save sea turtles from their near status of extinction. Their goal is to nurture and care for these turtles until their strong enough to be released into the ocean. Since the center started they have successfully saved and released 500,000 turtles into the ocean! We couldn’t get enough of these beautiful creatures (we admit, we were almost tempted to bring one home!). Nearby the hatchery we came across the infamous Madu River in Balapitiya where at every glance there were dozens of the most beautiful colored fish we’ve seen. The river is made up of 64 islands, each with its own purpose. One island is residential for example, while another is dedicated to harvesting cinnamon.
To conclude our trip, in Beruwala there are several temples where different monks reside. We stumbled upon a Buddhist temple, and in respect to their traditions, we covered up and removed our shoes to enter. As a souvenir to take home, and hopefully good luck entering the year 2015, we were gifted with a thin bracelet made out of thread that was blessed by one of the monks. It’s supposed to give peace, happiness and good luck to whoever wears it – and we’re hoping it does!
With such beautiful memories engraved into our minds, its time to hit the ground running as we start 2015!