I can’t leave Japan tomorrow without pulling together some of the visual highlights of the past five weeks. There is so much more to see and experience here, I hope we can return sometime soon.
Last night after dinner in the company of a Canadian woman, we watched, from our “fresh beer” drinking vantage point, young couples participating in the Pot Breaking Game. Blindfolded and armed with a stick to smash a small clay pot, they competed for prizes of lanterns and purses amidst much hilarity when the target was missed. The position of the pot was adjusted to match the height of the contestant.
This place has a way of slowing down your pace when you stay for more than a few days. The rainy season also dictates whether a stroll is in or out of the question. This morning we ate breakfast at Rosie’s Cafe, a business venture started by two young Vietnamese women. They specialise in coffee, cold-pressed juices and all-day (until 3 pm) breakfasts.
Here are some of the highlights from this morning’s walk in the weather break, which included a wander through the food markets.
About half of the galleries in the National Museum of Colombo are under restoration. There were still impressive objects to see as well as a good selection of ancient Sri Lankan paintings.
It was another hot and humid day, so the few standing fans were welcome stopping points to cool and dry down.
At one stage, groups of primary school children entered the Stone Antiquities gallery in single file, and then left, just as quietly and quickly as they had arrived. I’ve been wondering what impressions they took away.
We moved digs on Sunday. A little further south on the lake at Polonnaruwa. Closer to the birdlife.
On Monday before breakfast, I spent an hour watching all of the activity and attempting to capture some of it from a distance with a 200mm lens. The bird images have had some serious after cropping and pushing to bring them to you – storks and herons, egrets and plovers, and a kingfisher.
Behind the Sri Dalada Maligawa (the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic) is a tiny pocket of colonial history in the form of the Kandy Garrison Cemetery. Its caretaker, Charles Carmichael is the most eloquent man whose knowledge and welcome greatly enhanced our visit. It is clear that both Charles and his young offsider love the work of looking after this place and its stories.
Not only are very young soldiers who served in the early 19th century interred here, but those public servants involved in constructing railways and other infrastructure in the region. Accidents and malaria accounted for many young men. Wives and children were also lost on these periods of service in the colonies.
The most frequently told story in Charles Carmichael’s repertoire is of John Spottiswoode Robertson, one of three siblings who, in 1856, went out looking for elephants with what can only be called cavalier stupidity. When a charge happened, his two brothers managed to run and scramble up a tree until the local people came to the rescue. John was not so lucky.
We enjoyed a cup of Broken Orange Pekoe Tea at the Tea Museum and learned a little about James Taylor, the instigator of the tea industry in Ceylon.
Here’s a view of the lake from the hill where a great white Buddha sits; some of the beautiful flower gifts available to people visiting the Sacred Tooth Relic Temple; and students in their pristine white uniforms heading home from school.