Postcard from Jaffna

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

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As part of the work we are doing here, last Thursday we traveled from near Colombo to a place called Killinochchi, to shadow a clinical psychiatrist for the day. Killinochchi is 10 hours away and is situated in the north of Sri Lanka. I can't write about it, but it was one of the most insightful days of my life and it is something I will never forget. As westerners, we really don't know how the other half live, and the problems we think that we have, are tiny in comparison.

Anyway, as we'd already traveled so far, we decided to spend the rest of the weekend in Jaffna, which is another hour north of Killinochchi. In the north of Sri Lanka, they are still recovering from the civil war and it resembles more of southern India than Sri Lanka because it is home to the Hindu and Tamil culture. There is definitely a contrast between the north and south in terms of food, colours and language, so it was great to be able to see it all.

On Saturday, we had a chill day. We we so tired from traveling, so we spent the day exploring Jaffna. The town itself doesn't actually have much there but we did see the fort, market and a Hindu temple named Nallur Kovil. We also got to eat some traditional Indian dishes which were actually really good!

Then on Sunday, we took a bus to the tip of Jaffna and got a very crammed and tightly squeezed boat onto one of Jaffna's islands. This is where the beauty of Jaffna really lies. We visited temple island, which had both a Buddhist temple and Hindu temple. I'm not religious really, but just exploring the island was amazing. The detail, hard work and colour in used in the temples are absolutely breath taking, and I'm so glad I got to visit the island.

The only downside of this little trip was the journey, but we managed to get a night bus back and I slept the whole way so it wasn't bad at all! Another amazing weekend overall.
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Post card from Hikkaduwa

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

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This weekend was a very much needed beach weekend, so we traveled only 2 hours to the beautiful Hikkaduwa beach on the west coast of Sri Lanka. It was so nice to just be at the beach - I know we get weekends off but when you are constantly on the go, and travelling around, you don't really get to relax and recover from the working week.

We started off the day just sunbathing on the beach. The ocean has to be the most beautiful ocean I have ever seen and swam in. The colour of the water is so blue and it's not cold at all. It's simply, heavenly. However, after two hours in the burning heat, I took myself off with another volunteer to wander the small town and look in the shops. We spent all afternoon doing this and stopped for food too - I had a banana and chocolate roti which was delicious!

Then, at 6pm we met the others to go to a turtle sanctuary. It was here that we got to pick up turtles, both baby and older, and then release a new batch of newly born turtles into the ocean. It was such an incredible experience, and something that I'll never forget.

On Sunday morning, we went back to the beach to go snorkeling. It was a lovely idea but as soon as I got in the water, I felt like I couldn't breathe, so immediately got out. I enjoyed the boat ride though and just being in the moment, in a tropical ocean was still a wonderful experience. I think Hikkaduwa beach is probably the best I've seen so far here, it genuinely reminds me of the adverts you see on the television back home.

There are also two quotations I want to write here that I've picked up from my working week too, which I want to remember/keep with me after this trip. Maybe they will inspire you too!

Be the change you wish to see in the world

The best way to honour life, is to live it

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Postcard from Kandy

Monday, 8 February 2016

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On a Friday lunchtime, we finish our work and are able to take the afternoon to travel wherever we want to go for that weekend, and this weekend we went to Kandy. As volunteers, the cheapest way to travel around the country is via bus because it's SO cheap but they are so long, crammed full and sweaty - it's not pleasant at all. However, we did take this anyway and spent 5 hours travelling to Kandy.

We got there on Friday night about 7:30pm to find that our hostel was over booked. We had beds but people were sleeping in tents and if we went on the Saturday morning, it wasn't guaranteed that we'd still have a bed for the night, so thankfully we found a much better one at 10pm! They arranged a tour for us all, so on Saturday we were able to see the whole of Kandy.

We started at a spice garden, and were shown all of the different herbs and spices used in herbal medicines and oils, which was followed by the most amazing massage ever with natural oil. I debated on buying some oil but I am little cynical and not convinced they can perform the miracles they claim to be able to do! After that, we went to Millennium, which is where the elephants were. I've rode on a elephant before in Thailand so know that it's an incredible experience, and it was so nice to be able to do it all again! It was a little more touristy this time, so I do think Sri Lanka has a little way to go in terms of ethical values.

After lunch, we headed to a tea plantation to see the fields and how it's all produced. Sri Lanka is extremely famous for their Ceylon tea, and I even like it, which is huge for someone who hates tea! And then finally, we were dropped back in the centre of Kandy to see the temple of the tooth and the beautiful Kandy lake. This temple is where Buddha's tooth is supposedly housed so it's definitely a cultural place to visit here. And then, finally on Sunday morning we visited the famous Kandy markets before returning back to our home stays.

Apart from the horrendous bus journey's, Kandy was absolutely stunning and so worth those 14 hours. It's such a beautiful place and it's definitely somewhere I'd love to have stayed longer at. Everywhere you go in Sri Lanka has something even more beautiful to offer, and that's what I love about being here.
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Postcards from Sri Lanka

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

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I'm currently sat in my local internet cafe, wondering on whether I really want to blog whilst I'm here and the answer is yes. I thought I'd like a break but the idea of not being able to post about what I'm up to and maintain this little space, is proving a little difficult!

So, Hello from Sri Lanka!

I've been here for almost 2 and a half weeks now and I am having an amazing experience. I think it would be wrong of me to write that every single moment is amazing because working here is tough. It's hot and tiring, and working in hospitals was never going to be easy but it is an amazing experience, and I feel incredibly lucky to be here helping other people. For confidentiality reasons, I am unable to talk about the work I am doing but I can say that the people I work with, are truly incredible people.

Work aside, Sri Lanka is beautiful. This country encourages me to smile and people in the street, be kind to others, embrace the stunning sunsets, the fruits and colours. The food is spicy and rotte tastes delicious; eating with your hands is the norm here and that's totally OK; bus and tuk tuk drivers are insanely skilled drivers, and the language is difficult but amazing when you understand someone.

I have been white water rafting, cliff jumping and trekking in the jungle. I've been fitted for my very own Saree. I can grab a fresh coconut from the side of the road and it costs roughly 20p. I've been go-karting in Colombo, seen some incredible views and survived the 30+ degree heat everyday.

I can honestly say that this country is amazing and I can't wait to see more of what it has to offer.
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