April 17, 2004

On the way to Kandy

Day 2: April 13, 2004

7:00 We woke up early to prepare ourselves for the journey.

8:30The Indian team had an early flight and came directly to the hotel. We took our breakfast. The buffet breakfast is as exquisite as ever. We have introduced ourselves and checked out. My Sri Lankan counterpart has also joined us. We are a team of 10 people.

9:00 Started our journey in the air-conditioned minibus of the tour company with a guide. The guide was narrating Sri Lankan demographics and telling about our routes and landmarks. Meanwhile we took the time to get to know each other well. Being a part of same company we communicated with each other via email, but have never met.

10:00 All the shops are closed. It was hard to find water bottles for the team. Luckily I had one with me. The roads are well paved and the roadside looks like any other south Asian country with lots of greeneries. The difference here is that the houses have tiles (usually red) in the roofs and remarkably clean & neat surroundings. As our guide told, after every 30 kms, the surroundings have a different outset, because there is a different complexion of ethnic peoples.

11:00 We have reached the Pinnawala Elephant sanctuary. They call it orphanage because it rehabilitates almost 60 orphan & sick Elephants (50 are baby elephants) found in the wild. The guide was babbling all about Elephants, but I guess lack of oxygen has made me dizzy in the bus. When called, I was happy to go out and have a walk towards the Elephants bathing place. The elephants looked happy when we took their pictures. After a short while we were back in the bus towards Kandy.

12:00 Now we are going up. We are entering the mountain range driving on the spiral roads towards Kandy. You can see mountains all around you. The scenic beauty engrossed our attentions. Everybody was quiet. The Indian team could not sleep in the night. So they were exhausted and napping at ease. The roadside view is becoming more beautiful as we are approaching towards Kandy. It is a world heritage site. Many of the legends, traditions and folklore are still lovingly kept alive.

1:00 We took a right turn from the Kandy city roads and went uphill at almost 2000 feet above see level towards our hotel, which claims to be �a palace on the hills�. The beautiful and grand hotel resort is literally hanging from a hill with a panoramic scenic view of the mountain range and a part of the city. We were welcomed with a drink, herbal tee with strong smell. Outside the lobby you can see the wonderful view of its swimming pool and the mountain range. Pawan and me are also sharing the room here. It looks quiet adequate with all the facilities and a verandah with leaning chairs to engross into the wonderful mountain views.

1:30 We were called for the grand buffet lunch. We all sat in a table but the atmosphere is a bit formal as we have bosses around. One of us has got his stomach upset. We finished quickly and went for a nap.

4:30 We assembled in the lobby to go to the Kandy town. The ride to the town was good because of almost non-existent traffic. The houses and shops on the hill roads minus people were picture perfect. We went for a boat ride in the Kandy Lake. The artificial lake was built by the last Sinhala King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1806.The temple of the tooth relic was busy decorating because of the new year prayer programs. There was not even a street-side restaurant open to have the evening tea. We had to let go of our thoughts of shopping in the arts & crafts center and seeing the gem museum. We had to came back to the hotel to have the evening tea.

6:30 We sat about half an hour in the lobby beside the restaurant gossiping and having tea. There were bosses around and they were merry enough to discuss lighter topics, like interesting characters at office. At 7:47 there were crackers exploding everywhere. It is the Sri Lankan tradition to welcome the new year. We could see the firecrackers blinking in the city sky down below. They looked like blinking stars. We went back to the room.

8:30 We had our dinner. Today there is an Italian night with live music. The foods were exquisite. I had much including deserts. I am eating a lot since I have come to Sri Lanka. I can�t help it, the food these hotels are good!

Went to the business center of the hotel to email home. But the only dialup modem is out of order. They charge heavily for the ISD calls, so I thought I would rather have a chance tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning we are living at 7.00 sharp to Nuwara Eliya, another hilly region around 70 kms from here. We should wake up early and prepare ourselves, as we will be starting the conference upon arriving at that place. So I am going to bed now.


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