Delightful Sri Lanka and it’s….Drivers, Safaris, Buddhist Monks, Vegetable buns and Arrack……Part 2
It is approx. 8am and the temperature is now very hot, we enter the Orphanage and wonder around observing the herds then watching calf’s playing and being bottle fed, which is adorable……..More buses have now arrived and there are hundreds of children all huddled around the ‘feeding pen’ once again I am observed with some interest and lots of smiles and giggles. There only a few white faces in the orphanage at this point and it feels strange being observed with such interest. After we have covered the whole of the Orphanage we wonder out onto the road and head towards a shop lined street that leads to a river.
As we walk down the street I am approached by a man who looks like he is selling life insurance, he wears a tie and is carrying a briefcase. He takes my hand and tells me that I have a good heart and a strong head and I wonder where this is going ? I glance over towards Nisha who is keeping within proximity to me and he winks and shakes his head, I take this as a warning look and politely say ‘No thank you’ and pull my hand away. The man then moves onto another female further up the street, they engage in conversation as he takes her hand and starts to trace the lines of her palm it becomes evident that he is a ‘palm reader’.
As I peruse the shops there is a loud siren that sounds behind me and I wonder if an ambulance or fire engine is about to emerge, I am delighted to realise that in fact it’s a herd of elephants making their way down the road from the Orphanage to take their morning bathe in the river, this is a wonderful sight and I climb some steps as pedestrians disburse to make way and observe the elephants in their morning routine.
As I watch the elephants in the river, a Sri Lankan wedding party arrives at a nearby restaurant and there is music and dancing which is a feast for the eyes. I have been in Sri Lanka for less than 6 hours and I can feel myself falling in love. As the elephants continue to bathe, we head back towards the car park and drive out into what can only be described as a stream of chaotic traffic.
Our next destination is Kandy and as we begin the 2 hour drive, both Nisha and I start to feel more relaxed in each other’s company. As Sri lankan LKR is a closed currency I have brought with me GBP and USD and ask Nisha if we can stop at an ATM so that I can withdraw a small amount to get me through the next day or two rather than having to seek out a money exchange straight away and as we approach Kandy we pull over in a busy street and I approach the ATM. I had worked out roughly what the exchange rate was before I left the UK, however…….. now that I am staring at the ATM screen, after very little sleep and travelling over 5000 miles to get here, this information has now left me………..I look blankly at the screen with no idea about how much I am about to withdraw.
There are 3 zeros after each option and although I do remember that there are a number of thousand LKR to 20 GBP I really cannot remember whether this is 5 or 500? I click a button and hope that I am drawing out roughly the equivalent to £70 and not £700 as I have enough cash, once changed to get me though the next 6 days. I take the cash and get back into the car with absolutely no idea how much I have just withdrawn ?
I am hungry now and Nisha recommends a restaurant for us to stop at on route towards Kandy centre, The Honey Pot which is set alongside a river and has a tranquil relaxed feel to it. After asking for a recommendation of what to eat, my first Sri Lankan meal pretty much sets the scene for the following 6 days of taste bud heaven, as I devour a platter of curries, vegetables and rice.
After paying the bill and realising that I have probably withdrawn the equivalent to approximately £15, I realise that what I have left, will not get me much further than today (even in Sri Lanka.) We leave the restaurant and continue our journey onto Kandy, find a parking space and seek out a money exchange that Nisha tells me will give me a good exchange rate. I hand over USD and receive a ridiculously high number of LKR and I am now pretty sure that 1000LKR is roughly £5-£7.