November 17, 1961 – Ceylon

Galle Face Hotel, Colombo, Ceylon – Clear

     Edith and I woke up excited to see Ceylon and especially our tour destination today, Kandy.  I was glad we didn’t have to pack yet and that we were staying here one more night because it gave me more time to get ready and have breakfast.  I joined most of the rest of our tour group in the dining room to eat and talk about the day to come.  By the time we were done eating I was full and it felt good.  The food had been simple but tasted really great.

     Our transportation for the 149 mile roundtrip to Kandy was going to be on a tour bus so I hoped the roads were good this time.  Kandy, considered the last capital and cultural center of the Sinhalese, was located in the heart of Ceylon at a height of 1,600 feet.  Just like Athens was to the Greeks, what Benares was to the Hindus, Kandy was to the Sinhalese.  It was the most sacred city in Ceylon.  The road was good for awhile then we when we started into the mountains the roads got more hazardous to drive on although the scenery was beautiful.  Once we were in Kandy we found the area stunning and it even had a charming lake.  On our trip I noticed there was only an occasional beggar despite the signs of poverty we’d seen and I was surprised.

Lake at Kandy

     While in Kandy we visited several wonderful places and got a real sense of what Ceylon was like.  The city was in the midst of hills in a nice little valley where there were many tropical plantations that mainly grew tea.  Our first stop was an old world oriental building where the Holy Tooth of Buddha reposed and was worshiped by Buddhists from all over the world.  I was impressed with the detail of the structure and how starkly white it was.  I thought it appropriate for what it housed.

     We also saw the Great Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya which were striking.  I truly enjoyed seeing different spice trees and they had a very pleasurable smell of spice.  While the whole garden was breathtaking with its colorful shrubs, flowers and trees I found I loved their display of orchids the most.

Botanical Gardens at Kandy

     After leaving the gardens we went to see the University of Ceylon for a short tour before leaving to go see elephants bathing at Katugastota.  That part of the day was fascinating and my favorite.  I thought it was so fun because the elephants came up to the road where we stood watching them so we could see them.  We were all given the opportunity to pet the elephants and sit on their knee but I was the only one who really wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.  I asked Edith to take a picture of me so I could prove to my grandkids that I had actually sat on the knee of an elephant.  It was great fun and a little bit scary because the animals were so big.

Elephants Bathing at Katugastota

Elephant and Me at Katugastota

    When I settled back onto the bus I felt smug because I had been the only one to sit on the elephant’s knee.  Our drive back to Colombo was even more hazardous than before because it had started to pour down rain.  The water made the roads slick so our bus had to go much slower than before and made us get back to our hotel later than we were supposed to. 

    When we finally arrived I checked at the desk and the clerk told me I didn’t have any mail but mentioned that a lady had stopped by to visit me.  When I asked her name and if she left a message he said no.  I figured that it probably was Harry White’s friend that he said might contact me here.  I was disappointed to have missed her but couldn’t do anything about it.

    Dinner was a simple affair tonight since we had gotten back to the hotel so late.  All of us were tired as we ate our meal.  There was hardly any conversation and afterward Edith and I left the others. 

     Once we were back in our room I was so tired all I wanted to do was to go to bed but I couldn’t because I had to do some laundry and take a bath.  By the time I was able crawl into my bed it was well after midnight.

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