1,500 year old Banyan tree
National flower of Sri Lanka
'Flying foxes', a very large type of fruit bat
On a field trip.....
Roadside lunch sales...
I (Leann)spent the first weekend of March visiting Colombo, Sri Lanka. The visa I'm on here in India mandates that I have to leave the country after 180 days, so in order to comply I headed east. Naively, I assumed that Colombo would look and feel pretty much like any big Indian city. I was rapidly proved wrong in this, for there were many notable differences between Sri Lanka and India. For example, the streets were wider and less congested, with sidewalks that you can actually walk on. On strolling through Colombo's largest park I was startled to see dozens of young couples holding hands, hugging and kissing (quite passionately, it seemed). India is quite conservative, and PDA's are pretty much taboo (I hasten to add, however, all the couples in Colombo were male/female - Sri Lanka isn't that liberal)! Most women I saw were wearing western clothes, many fewer saris and only a few salwars. Instead of roadside tea stalls or 'tiffin joints' that are omnipresent here in India, the fast food option of choice in Colombo seems to be 'packets'. Each day people drive into the city and then set up card tables with dozens of lunches they have made that morning at home, all individually packaged and wrapped in newspaper. The going price, 800-100 Sri Lankan rupees - or 80cents - 1 USD. The other major easy to note difference in Colombo is an eerily creepy security presence, particularly in the downtown. In a twenty minute walk along the beach promenade, I counted 67 armed military personnel (plus dozens of what I presumed to be army recruits out for their morning jog). Despite this, I enjoyed sightseeing, shopping and some delicious food. Above I have posted some photos of the Lankan flora, from the Viharmadevi park, as well as some food photos - of one of the street corner lunch sellers, and of the chefs at the wonderful Sri Lankan restaurant at the Hilton making roti - I'm posting these especially for my friends Liz and Carlene. Liz, they make their roti different in Sri Lanka - they flip the dough onto the table with both hands until it's stretched out very thin - they were happy to let me try, and it's harder than it looks!