Sunday, March 27, 2016

March 20, 2016

I am still a whole week behind!  We had the best week ever with the kids here!  The time went by so fast!  But we were able to get a lot of things in during the short week they were here.  I am grateful for all those who tended kids and filled in at work so that they could be here.  We missed Curt but will look forward to him coming in July!  Our week began early Monday morning where we had a nice van pick us up at the apartment!  We had a great van driver named Gamini...who was also our guide!  He knew the best places to eat and the right things to see!  The kids did really good on the jet lag.  I guess because they are so much younger than us!  Rob and Sallys suitcase was never delivered to our house so we stopped at the airport on the way out.  There were so many forms to fill out which made it frustrating for them....but we got it!  And we were off to the Elephant Orphanage!  We bought our "non resident" tickets which cost so much more than the local cost!  But we had a fun time there! We walked down to the river where all the elephants were bathing and enjoying the water.  It is pretty fascinating!  We enjoyed that!  We came back up and toured the little factory where they take the elephant dung and turn it into paper!  So crazy!  We then walked into the orphanage where we saw some baby elephants and then watched all the elephants return from the river so they could eat and roam out in the open.  There were some huge elephants there and some small ones!  I think the kids enjoyed that!  We continued north where we stopped at a nice resort for lunch.  There was a guy outside, a snake charmer, who played his flute and got the cobra to come out!  Really freaky for me because I do not like snakes much!  The guy had a boa constrictor that Matt wound all around him!  EEkkkkk!!!  We came to Dambulla where we went to the Buddhist cave temples and saw the big golden Buddha.  You have to go up a lot of stairs to get there!  There were tons of monkeys all around too!  There is a beautiful view when you get to the temple.  Lots of history up there!  We made it down and loaded into van to go to the hotel in Habarana....Amaara hotel.  And it was fabulous!  When you arrive, they bring you out a welcome drink.  Then you light the big oil lamp as you get there!  They we headed to our rooms.  The rooms were huge and in a beautiful setting.  We went down and had dinner at the hotel.  The kids didn't like this place very well.  Then everyone went swimming!  The water was very warm in the pool but it was clean and so fun!  Everyone was pretty exhausted and we all went to bed right after!  I woke up in the night, and there was a fire fly fluttering around in our room.  It was actually pretty cool!!  The breakfast at the hotel was so much better than dinner and we ate by quite a bit!  We then headed to a place nearby to ride an elephant!  The kids really liked that!  We rode in a big cage thing but then the guy let us all take turns riding on the front!  We also got to feed the elephant bananas as we rode.  So interesting!  They are massive animals and we heard they kill lots of people in the villages!  We headed out to see more of the historical places in Sri Lanka.  As we got to one of the places, they wanted a lot of money for the foreigners so we decided not to do it.  Our driver took us to a big wood carving factory.  It was pretty cool.  Steve decided to buy a big elephant!  He has always wanted one to take home!  They will ship it to California and then Kim will have to pick it up at the port.  It is like the rug I bought in Turkey.  They did the same thing!  Steve was pretty excited!  They ended up giving us 3 smaller elephants for each of the kids and a bowl for me!  We then found another Sri Lanka buffet....but this one was really good!  Everyone really ate up here!  We then found our way to a place where we boarded jeeps for our safari excursion to see the wild elephants.  We saw many of them!  At the end when we were leaving, we saw a whole herd on the side of the road with a tiny (well, tiny for an elephant) was in the middle of them.  The bigger elephants looked like they were keeping the little one between protect them.  It was very interesting!  As we were heading to the hotel, there was a lot of rice harvesting being done.  It was fun for Steve to see!  We also saw a bullock cart in front of someones humble home.  We were taking a picture from the road and they motioned for us to come on over.  Those oxen that drive the carts are big!  We had some candy so we gave the kids some of that!  They enjoyed that!  We had dinner in Dambulla at Mango Mango.  it was ok!  But another great day with the kids.  The girls all had massages that did Rob and Clint.  It was pretty cheap.  Kind of fun!!  Wednesday brought another big breakfast before checking out of that wonderful hotel!  President Nishan wanted us to stop by a school and see about doing a service project there.  We all got out and walked up between all the buildings.  The kids loved us!  They wanted to give us high fives, play clapping games with them, etc!  There are no doors or windows in these schools.  And there are so many kids!  In fact, one of the girls was the one we saw when we had our pictures taken with the bullock cart and that family!  Can't believe that!  It was good for the kids to see that.  Wow, we are so blessed!  We then headed to Sigiriya...the big Lion rock!  It is quite the hike up lots of stairs and sometimes scaling the edge of the rocks!  And it was incredibly so hot!  The boys were grateful for the mid sized towels we bought them.....Steve just knew they would need them!!  It is pretty incredible when you get to the top!  So beautiful....but so very hot!  But everyone enjoyed it!  We then headed to Kandy.  We got to the hotel and it was raining really hard!  The hotel was way up on the hill overlooking Kandy.  It was really nice too!  We decided to go into the city and see the temple of the tooth.  The guys were wearing shorts so they would not let us in.  Your knees have to be covered.  So we went to Pizza Hut!  They loved that!  It was really good!  The girls did a little shopping and then we headed back to the hotel.  Steve did some swimming before we all headed to bed!  Thursday was breakfast in the hotel.  We then headed to town again to go to the Temple of the Tooth!  We went when the ceremony was going on.  So we got to see the place where the tooth is kept.  You have to look very fast and it is back kind of far....but we saw it!  We went around the temple for a little bit and then headed out to do some shopping!  The girls loved that of course.  Got some things in town and then drove down to the Gamage store where the Bedkes and us went awhile ago!  And we found more wonderful things!!!  We also drove to an overlook of the city to take pictures!  We then headed towards Nuwara Eliya!  And we were really excited because we have never been there.....and it is supposed to be cold there!!!  Well, cooler anyway!  The drive was spectacular.  There were beautiful tea plantations everywhere.  Mountains and mountains of beautiful green!  There were waterfalls all around as well.  We stopped and toured a little tea factory...everyone had gone home because it was after 5 but it was still interesting.  We then kept going until we came to Nuwara Eliya!  We went through the town and around Gregorys Lake.  They call it Little England.  And it was just as great as we heard it would be! The buildings were different.  There was a beautiful golf course.  And the hotels were very nice!  We came to ours....St Andrews.  It was so nice!  And the weather was cooler!  It felt so good.  There wasn't much humidity either!  We had the buffet dinner there at the hotel.  We played some cards but of course...everyone was pretty tired after our long days!  We tried to call Mom and Dad but the connection wasn't very good!  Friday brought a yummy breakfast at the hotel and then out to Hortons plains!  We were going to hike the Worlds End.   It was a 9 km hike but it was cool!  I was the only one who wore a jacket for a little bit.  The hike wasn't bad and it was so worth it!  We came to Little World End first.  Now, I have gotten fearful in my old age about heights.  And this was incredibly high!  You come to the edge of this mountain...there are no railings...nothing to keep you from falling off the edge!  The clouds are below you and it is such an incredible sight to see.  But get to the regular Worlds End!  It was even higher and more crazy beautiful!  Now the clouds are really below you and still no railings to keep you in.  So enjoyed it...even though I didn't get too close to the edge!!  It was amazing!  On the way back, we passed by Baker Falls.  That was really pretty too.  Such a beautiful place!  But then....we started the long journey to Unawatuna.  And it was so extremely far.....and had the worst windy roads ever!  In fact poor Jamie got car sick on the way down.  She couldn't believe it because it never happens to her!  I felt so bad for her!  But we finally made it down....after about 6 hours!  We found our hotel....another beautiful place right on the beach. Aqua Cantaloupe!  It was so fun!  We had a nice dinner poolside and even took a little swim in the pool before bed!  We woke up in the morning to the waves crashing....and it was so amazing!  We got up before everyone and took a stroll on the beach.  The sand was amazing!  And the Indian ocean was very warm.  It was so beautiful!  We met the rest of the kids for breakfast before heading out to the beach to play!  Also....Russ Wilding was in Sri Lanka for business!  CRAZY!  So we had him meet us down there at the hotel before he had to fly out of the country.  It was such a nice, relaxing day!  We went swimming too in the pool before leaving!  We stopped at Steve and Lauri restaurant!  Naveen was so excited for us to be there!  We tried a little of the food and then headed to Colombo.  The branch was having a big party for us!  Can you believe it?  It was a potluck and there were so many people there!  It was such fun!  The boys learned how to play Cricket and then we ate and visited.  Everyone loved our family!  Many thought Sally was my daughter and not Kim!  But they loved them!  And the kids loved them back!  They were all very impressed with our branch members and all the people they met!  They loved them just like we did!  We are so glad that everyone got to meet them!  So wonderful!  The week went by way too fast though.  We took Rob and Sally and Matt and Jamie to the airport about 11 pm.  It was tough to say good bye.  Sunday brought another great Sunday and Kim got to come again!  We had a nice dinner with them before we had to take them to the airport....(after a mean card game of hand and foot....which I won....which is very very rare)!!!  It was tough saying good bye to her as well!  But it has rejuvenated me and I want to finish strong!  We are so blessed.  So blessed to have the greatest kids and grandkids in the world!  And to have strong testimonies of the Gospel.  So many blessings!
Shop at the Elephant Orphanage

Elephants going home to eat!

Elephant Orphanage where they are coming to take a bath!

The factory where they turn elephant droppings into paper things!

Gamini, our driver and guide

Going to the elephants "home" where they feed them and let them roam.

Here they come after their baths!

This was the biggest elephant I have ever seen

Cleaning and feeding the giant elephant!

Stopping for lunch...Sri Lanka style!

The snake charmer!  I could not get close to that!

It is a cobra!

Matt having fun with a boa constrictor!

Rice harvester!

Another ugly dog!

Dambulla cave temple!

View from the top!

Amaara hotel in Habarana!  Beautiful!

Lighting the customary candle thing!!

We had extra friends join us for the night!

Time to ride an elephant!

Why don't we change drivers???!!

Ride 'em Rob!

Clint is driving the other guy!

Sally's turn!

Feeding him bananas!

My turn!

Sri Lanka Lake

Wood carving factory

Steve made a deal!

Our new friend...being shipped slow boat to the USA!! We named him Gamini after our van driver!

This was everyone's favorite Sri Lanka meal!  Trip advisor stop!

Giant water monitor!

Elephant safari!

More rice harvesting!

Found a family with their bullock cart!

Lets give them some candy!

New friends!

Night watch for elephants!  Don't want them to eat the rice!

Beautiful room!

Beautiful hotel!

Breakfast was the best!!

Off to the next destination!

Sigiriya...except the guy taking the picture didn't get the view of it behind us!!

Nice, hot climb!

Cobra rock!

Lots of monkey friends!

Notice the small towels the guys are carrying!

Lions rock!  Here is the foot!

The way up a few years ago!!

The railings are much better!

We made it to the top...but it is sure hot!!!!

We are happy to be there!!

Lets try that again!

Monks having a drink??!!!

They asked if we had any food!

Hotel in Kandy...Ranholee...beautiful view of the city!

And then it rained!

Temple of the tooth in Kandy

All the flower offerings.

Trying to get our shoes back.

So Rob helped!!

Little Buddhist baby!

Look off to the city of Kandy!

School is out!

Steve found red bananas!  YUMMY!

Traveling through the tea plantations towards Nuwara Eliya!

Tea factory!

Proud of their sign that looks like the Hollywood sign in America!

All the homes have huge gardens as their yards.

Hotels in Nuwara Eliya

Gregorys Lake

Another beautiful room in Nuwara Eliya.

Buffet dinner at the hotel!

Our hotel...St Andrews

Off to the Worlds End

The scenery was amazing!

Ready for the 9 km walk...but it was cool in Nuwara Eliya!

Little Worlds End!  Amazing!

I was trying to look over the edge while trying to hold onto something!  There were no railings at all!!  So freaky for me!

Worlds End...the big one!  Way above the clouds!

Lots of school kids coming the Baker Falls

Sambol deer!

Feeding him banana peels!

Another friend

Now down...down...down the mountain.

Until we finally made it to the beach!!

Night view of the ocean outside our room

Morning view!

Our nice hotel room in Unawatuna!

A guy was fishing during the night on that pole!

Morning stroll on the one was there but us!!

The sand was incredible and the water so warm

Steve loved the pool!

Breakfast poolside!

Rob found the fishing pole!!

Russ came on business and we got to see him for a few hours!!

Such great friends!

Playing in the beautiful beach!

Shopping for Sri Lankan blue sapphires!

Tsunami museum.

Party at the church..boys learning to play Cricket!

Pot luck just to honor our family!

We all have wonderful husbands!!

Saying good bye is never easy!

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