Scarlett’s Letters – (Volume 2)

January 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Roving Reporter

Letters from Sri Lanka
by Guest Writer, Scarlett Bailes

Roving Reporter/Scarlett’s Letters

Roving Reporter Lauri Kinkel just returned from a trip to Sri Lanka over New Year’s where she visited friend Scarlett Bailes who formerly worked at Gayna’s Pub on Tybee. Scarlett’s been in Sri Lanka for the past four months seeing the sites and writing letters to share with our readers. The first volume was published after she arrived in Sri Lanka and appears in our December 2009 printed edition. The second volume which was printed in the January 2010 edition, was written during and after Lauri and mutual friend Will Coley visited Scarlett over Christmas break – Lauri says it was the trip of a lifetime.

The third volume will publish in February’s printed edition and also online… so stay tuned.

I finally re-acclimatized to Sri Lanka and traveling itself so I was able to leave the familiar surroundings of Hikkaduwa and actually go try some new things. I first hopped along the coast staying in the sun and then made my way north to the mountains.

Once there I decided climb Adams peak which I can firmly say that it was one of the best and worst things I have ever done in my life. Adams Peak, also called Sri Pada, is at the highest elevation in the country and every year a pilgrimage to the top is made by almost everyone in the country. Some believe that it is the first place Adam stepped foot after being cast from the Garden of Eden, others say it was Buddha that left his footprint at the peak, some simply believe it is where butterflies go to die….whichever you believe it is almost a rite of passage for Sinhalese, Tamils, Buddhist, Hindus and Christians alike.

The idea of it seemed simple enough but when I woke up at 2:30 that morning, which is when most start the climb, the cold and rainy weather almost deterred me. The path is illuminated during pilgrimage season and as I rounded the corner to the start of the trek, all I could see for miles is steep muddy stairs off all heights. I decided to give it a goanyways since eighty year old women were hobbling up the steps, singing their way to the peak; and I just continued to set small goals for myself…ten more steps and then you can take a break…but after hours of this I looked up and there…in the distance…far far away was my goal, I wanted to give up so badly but I had come too far to turn around.  Eventually I made it up that mountain and I rang the bell, said a prayer over the footprint that had been covered with white linens and decided to get a head start on the hundreds that were up there and started my descent; Bad idea.  After an hour or so I realized that still nobody had come down the mountain and at that point I looked around and noticed that nothing looked familiar. I had gone down the wrong way, nobody told me there was more than one…

I looked back at the peak and at this point my legs were jello and I was walking a bit like Elvis and knew I could not make it back up, so I came up with the clever idea to just cut across the side of the mountain by myself and eventually I would find my way, which I did, about two hours of being lost in the woods later.

I was so happy to see the hoards of people again. As a reward for climbing the mountain I received the best present ever, the following morning Will and Lauri  arrived. They had come all the way to the other side of the world just to see me and I was thrilled. I had so much I wanted to show them and in such a short amount of time. I decided the best thing to do would be going to see some of the hill country first and then end our trip on the coast. So I swept them away from the airport and into Kandy.

We first stopped along the way at Pinnewalla Elephant Orphanage and made it just in time for the babies bottle feeding followed by the bathing time at the river, they were so sweet and I think the tusker remembered me from years ago. We then dropped our bags atHelga’s Folly, the most unique hotel in the world, where the halls are filled with wax dripping candelabras, ghostly images and a gramophone that plays Edith Piaf for no one, and headed to the Temple of the Tooth.

It is said that Buddha’s tooth was brought here by being snuck into the country inside the strands of a princess’s hair. It’s a bit more like a palace than a temple but while inside you can definitely feel that it is a spiritual place.

We all received prayer bracelets that a monk blessed and tied on our wrist while chanting something in Sinhala, and I knew right then that Will and Lauri felt what I do when I am in this country, it’s almost a peace that rolls over your entire body and you know it’s special. Afterwards we returned for dinner at  and went for a heart racing spin in a tuk tuk down the mountainsides, which was much more like a rollercoaster than a taxi.

The next morning we had tea on our balcony which turned into a wild monkey show when I made the mistake of offering a simple teaspoon of sugar to one. Soon they had taken over the whole tray and were licking antique silver dishes and fighting with each other, at one point the largest of the males decided to just walk in our room and have a look. Luckily, Will was there – the monkey stared him up and down as if he was sizing him up, then exited without any real problems.

We left that day and went into Nuwara Eliya which is tea country and just full of breathtaking views – steep tea fields sweep all the way down the sides of the mountains giving it a lush tropical look, almost like theNepali coastlines of Hawaii. We had a slumber party here after going to a really bazaar karaoke bar where the hottest numbers were all Lionel Ritchie.

Eventually we made it to the beaches of Mirissa; and this is where we spent all our time relaxing under palm trees with blue waters lapping on the shore with a coconut in hand, making new friends with the warm and friendly locals. It was good to spend some time on a beach that was not Hikkaduwa …same same but different. New Years was spent here and although it was a bit quiet we had a great time.  So nice to share it with people I love. So much nicer than Christmas when I got a bit lonely, although the cards from Dick and Ruth that everyone signed have helped me so much. Thanks again for that, guys!

Well, I am off to rest as I have just arrived in Vietnam and finished a piping hot bowl of ‘goat udders,’ which were surprisingly …delicious. I will write again soon.

I miss y’all much,
Scarlett

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