The day had been a bit mixed, weather wise, and once again we’d seen precious little of the winter sun that we’d flown all those miles to see. In fairness it is exceptionally warm and we’ve been able to sit out on the sun loungers for part of each day that we’ve been here.
Today, Independence Day, it started to rain about two o’clock so my wife and I decided to take a short siesta and then wander in the local area. So by 3.15pm we were leaving "Tangerine Beach", armed with an umbrella (just in case) and heading towards a Buddhist Temple that we’d walked past the other day. We were both suitably dressed (i.e. my wife had her shoulders covered and I had three-quarter length shorts on) so we felt comfortable about entering the grounds. We’d not made it far before we acquired a "guide". He’d been sweeping up the leaves but as soon as he spotted us he headed towards our side and escorted us to the Temple. Shoes duly removed we were taken past the large enclosed Buddha who looked towards us on entry and walked quietly around the tree of life that was the centre of worship for this temple. At one point our "Guide" disappeared and then returned with a large vessel filled with water. We were both invited to throw the water towards the tree, but my wife was much more reserved and she gently poured some of the contents into the surrounding soil. Next point of call was a Stupa that I’d spotted in the corner of the grounds.
After a reasonable length of time we bid our farewells and despite being ready with a small donation the "guide" returned to his sweeping up duties and made no demands on my wallet. Surprising but true!
We next headed off alongside the rail way line and having past a number of cows wandering unattended on the track side we "hit a small village". Everyone was real friendly smiling at us, giving us a cheery wave or muttering something that sounded close to "hello". Our initial thoughts that we might be heading to far off the beaten track soon diminished as young children ran from houses just to wave at us. The houses in this area were, it’s true to say, fairly basic and I was a little reluctant to take photographs for fear of alienating myself to what otherwise was a very friendly community. Suddenly a flash of vivid green caught my attention but by the time I’d reached for my camera the parakeet had flown off at a rate of knots. We kept our eyes open just in case it would return to view but sadly it never came back.
I did ask a local how far we were to Kalatura station, because my friend and I intended to take a train journey down to Galle later in the holiday. The man explained that the next station was Kalatura North and the train from there was really slow. He recommended that we take a Tuk-Tuk to Kalatura South to get the Express train. I thanked him for his advice (although I already had that information from the hotel reception) and we carried on walking. Instinct is a marvellous thing and we felt that the next left would take us over the rail crossing and back towards the main road. In the centre of the road was another effigy to Buddha and the turn to the left did indeed take us just past the rail station and over the crossing. A short stroll and we had the main road in our sights with the remnants of the daily market on our right. All that remained were a couple of fish stalls but I suspect it’s a hive of activity earlier in a day. Must try and check that out if the weather doesn’t get too hot.
Then we take a right on the main road before stopping to admire another Temple. A woman stops to tell us that it’s a Buddhist temple and confirms that we can indeed visit it. Momentarily we consider the risk of crossing this busy road and spotting a lull in the traffic we both decide to cross the road. Our crossing is trouble free but we both sigh that sigh of relief when we get to the other side. We’re straight into the temple complex and enjoy a hassle free time just looking whilst keeping our distance from the main area of prayer. There’s a teaching session in progress for young novices and it would have been clearly inappropriate to get too close to this group.
Next we’re back at the side of the main road and the need to risk life and limb again as we cross on the pedestrian crossing. Not that this holds any significance for drivers who continue on at a pace despite seeing us waiting patiently at the road side. The fact that I’m now recording our excursion confirms that we successfully made the crossing and returned in one piece back to our hotel. Indeed close to the crossing was the road that we’d taken earlier in the week (our second day) when we’d walked past the local primary school just as parents were collecting their children for lunch. The children all seemed immaculately dressed in crisp white uniforms. It’s a colour that would not work too well back in the UK but seems to be the preferred attire in India and Sri Lanka. Indeed even after a morning at school all the youngsters seem to be still wearing white and unmarked clothing. Wat an achievement that is!
Our circular walk had taken us around an hour and a half and we were gratified that everywhere we looked there were smiling faces. We were only accosted once by a guy on a motor cycle who claimed to be responsible for our room service. What baloney that was so he got fairly short shrift and disappeared fairly rapidly "with a flea in his ear"!