Vesak Poya

Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at 10:26 (UTC+0530)

This year the Vesak Poya holiday was subdued.  There were lots of beautiful, creative kudu paper lanterns and other constructions of tissue paper and sticks.  But there were no roadside stands giving away free ice cream and roasted corn to the happy crowds like last year.

Karen and I took the train up to the high tea country to escape the heat and to explore the famous Horton Plains.  We stayed in a rather pathetic cabin with uncomfortable homemade furniture.  But the owner was very friendly, and at dawn he drove us in a stalling tuk tuk up the rough road through beautiful forest lit by the first sunbeams.  We passed grazing sambur elk in misty fields.  Thanks to our residency visas the park entrance fee was reduced for us.  From an old inn converted into a museum we set off on a three hour circular walk that took us through damp forest to World's End, rocky cliffs that offered a view across the expanses of jungled lowlands far below.  Coils of barbed wire protected the edge: tourists have fallen off recently.

Proceeding into the Plains large red rhododendrons were in bloom.  We followed a stream up to Baker's Falls.  It was good to see clean water in this country of abused waterways.  Most of the walk was relatively flat, a bit muddy, and quite enjoyable.  Few visitors were around, and most of them were Sri Lankans.

Our driver was late to pick us up.  We fretted that we would miss Karen's onward train to Haputale.  But luck was on our side: her eastbound train was sidelined at the station waiting for a westbound train (mine) on the single track.  Karen crossed the tracks and hauled herself aboard her train.  When mine rolled in I jumped in and was able to wave to Karen from my window as we headed off in separate directions.  I was simply returning home: she was off to the coast near Bentota for a week of "work".