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A clear cool morning in the valley, everywhere eyes cansee, lush, green, vegetation, birds singing their heart out --- perhapsTchaikovsky spent a night here before writing his famous symphony. In Sri Lanka wehave a special branch of poetry, "pal kavi" (poems of a cottage),inspired by scenes like these. These poems keep the farmers, who spend thenight at temporary huts like these to protect the crop from marauding animals,awake and entertained. It is not uncommon to hear "poetry contests" thatsometimes run all night, between farmers in adjoining farms.
These huts have a bamboo frame, covered with wovencoconut fronds. This allows for good air circulation to beat the mid day heat,yet provide ample protection from the monsoon rain that keep the vegetationlush and green. These huts also are used during the growing season, for restingbetween bouts of work, and serve as a convenient place to enjoy the mealsbrought to the field by the women folk of the village.
Frangipani or Pansal Mal(temple flowers) trees can be seen just about anywhere in Sri Lanka. Theyflower all year round and come in a variety of shades, from pure white to deepred, to dark purple. The fragrant flowers, fresh picked in bunches, are afavorite offering at Buddhist temples, thus the name "pansal mal."The color of the more abundant variety, yellow, resembles the color of therobes worn by the Buddhist monks, again making it the favorite color of thedevotees. The flowers are used in making modern day fragrances, and when dried,can be used in a potpourri with other flowers and spices. In Sri Lanka and India, garlandsmade with fresh frangipani flowers are favorites when welcoming dignitaries tovarious functions. Anybody who has been to Hawaii as part of a tourist group will alsorecognize this as the flower used in making the Ôlei's" that welcome thevisitor to that island paradise.
If you ever tasted a cup ofgood High Grown Ceylon Tea, preferably in the unblended form, you have tastedthe BEST TEA there is. Of course, to experience that pleasure, you must go tothe central hill country of Sri Lanka. And once you are there, take Route 5from Maha Nuwara (Kandy)to Nuwara Eliya. This take you through some of the best scenery of the HillCountry. The road takes you by the shores of Mahaweli Riverfrom Peradeniya ( don't forget to visit the famous botanical gardens - remember"Bridge on the River Kwai?") to Gampola, long ago a capital of Sri Lanka. FromGampola it is a steep climb with many hairpin curves for some sixty kilometers,through spectacular scenery like this, until you get to Nuwara Eliya, the oldBritish hill resort. To taste that heavenly cup of tea, on the way to NuwaraEliya, look out for tea factories that advertise tea tasting. You won't forgetthat unique experience.
If you like to do some scuba diving, or do some quietswimming, go past Matara to the four-mile-wide bay at Tangalla. The calm andclear water of Tangalla bay is a swimmers paradise. Perhaps you like somerougher water, to do some surfing--- not to worry, The small towns ofHikkaduwa, Totagamuwa, and Dodanduwa, in the south- west corner of the islandare blessed with the ideal beaches for that sport.
Sri Lankahas 1,340 km of sea shore, and most of it is spectacular and full of contrasts.A serene, white sandy cove, next to a craggy promontory with thundering wavesbeating against the granite boulders. Few miles up or down the beach, perhaps aquaint fishing village, with rugged sea going "oru," a craft akin toan oversized canoe with a history going back to Inca times, drying on thebeach. If you happen to be in the area of Ahangama, or Weligama, near Matara,the southernmost city in Sri Lanka, exactly 100 miles (161 km), from Colombo,you might be in for a unique sight - the stilt fishermen of Weligama -. Haveyour cameras ready and with a full roll of film, because you won't find thisanywhere else in the world.
The year-round hot and humid climate of southwestern Sri Lanka,makes the ideal climate for growing some varieties of orchids, while the dryand cool climates of the central highlands make other varieties thrive, thusmaking the whole island, except perhaps the dry north eastern sector, one largenursery for many varieties of this exotic bloom. Originally started as a hobbyby the "idle rich," growing orchids, now is a money making hobby foranybody with a green thumb. As the world demand for exotic flowers gets moreintense, Sri Lankaseems to be in an enviable position to supply that demand, and earn some badlyneeded foreign exchange too. Shown here are some of the more common "everyday" varieties of orchid. Since many orchid varieties lack alluring scents toattract life-giving bees and other insects to aid in pollination, they dependon their profusion of colors to lure these insects. Thus, in good nursery onecan find orchids of just about any color of the rainbow.