Kandy to Colombo



What do you mean by formal dress??

Breakfast is served on our private terrace.  We eat quickly, as we agreed to an early start with our driver.  Today we complete our circle route, driving from Kandy back to Colombo.  Our first stop, however, is at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.  We arrive on time for the morning feeding and bathing of the elephants.  The orphanage is home to about 80 elephants, but our research on this facility is mixed…some speak highly of the orphanage and its mandate to protect abandoned and orphaned elephants, while others feel it has become nothing more than a zoo that allows the public to have too much contact with the elephants.  Post visit we can see both side to the argument, and agree that we enjoyed the Safari more than the orphanage visit.


Get in touch with one of the giants

We watch as the elephants eat the leafy branches provided.  They continue eating as park guides show tourists how to touch the elephants (the skin is warm, wrinkled and (surprisingly) covered in sparse/course hairs… we equate it to the skin of a 90 year old grandma.  Further into the orphanage, younger elephants are being bottle fed.  They are able to guzzle the contents of a bottle with remarkable speed, finishing one and eagerly looking for another.  The highlight of the orphanage comes next…we walk to a nearby river and wait until a huge group of elephants are lead to the water and allowed to roam freely in the river.  We watch, along with many other tourists, as the elephants drink and enjoy the water, the younger ones taking the opportunity to play with together.  While the path to the river is lined with stalls selling every possible elephant souvenir possible, the viewing area is free from people wanting to sell us things…except for one “expert” palm reader we hear give the same “reading” to two female tourists.   We spend about an hour taking pictures and observing the elephant pack before heading back to the car and continuing our day’s journey to Colombo.  



With only a quick tea break, it still takes until midafternoon for us to reach the Hilton Colombo, our final hotel in Sri Lanka.  Here we say goodbye to our driver and check into the hotel.  Happy to be on our own we hit the streets to explore the city – first a late lunch at a spot popular with locals.  Unfortunately, we are late for lunch, but the buffet food (do I have to mention it was rice and curry??) is still good, just more warm than hot, but super inexpensive (at first MG is skeptical, but agrees to try AVP restaurant and is surprised when he enjoys the food…not sure why, I rarely pick a bad restaurant J).  Next we wander along the Galle Face Green (a long stretch of lawn facing a narrow beach and the sea on one side and the tall buildings and busy streets of Colombo on the other side).  When the heat becomes too much we hop in a three-wheeler and go back to the Hilton hotel. 

It is New Year’s Eve… when I enquire at the entertainment desk of the hotel, all of the 6 restaurants are fully booked for the evening, with the main event being a gala dinner in the ballroom.  I call a nearby restaurant recommended in our guidebook, and it has space, but is also hosting a gala diner…with formal dress (we have packed nothing that would be considered even close to formal dress and MG doesn’t even have anything with a collar).  We both agree that we should have come more prepared for diner, but also agree that we weren’t sure what new year festivities would exist. 


The Gall Face Green

In the absence of formal clothes, we have a quick dinner in the hotel bar and head out to wander the Galle Face Green again.  Now it is packed with locals – couples, families and groups of friends waiting to celebrate the new year together.  At one end a tent has been set up waiting for a band to take the stage.  We wander and people watch together, enjoying the experience of new year celebrations in another country.  We head back to the hotel around 22:00.  I head back downstairs to get treats from the Hilton lobby bakery , which has been constantly busy since we arrived.  As I get off the elevator, the lobby is packed with people dressed in ball gowns and cocktail dresses to people in shorts and flip-flops (apparently also without formal attire). 

We ring in the new year together, from our 12th floor hotel room we see dozens of firework displays all over the city and hear the pop of firecrackers going off everywhere (no matter how many times I see them, fireworks always make me smile).  Welcome to 2013! We are fast asleep when our family and friends celebrate the new year in Canada and Switzerland.