Very Random Sri Lanka!

Finally, it’s warm and sunny here! Hooray!

So here are a few random pictures I took in Sri Lanka some while ago. So what relevance is there in that? None, really…

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I just like the randomness of them.

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Lurking Kingfisher…

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That, incidentally, is a Cannon Ball Tree.

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And that’s why.

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And I have no idea what that tree is called, but the strange roots are little more than a hand-breadth wide, and as tall as I am.

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Annapurna Circuit, Nepal – 5: A Life Less Lived?

It could have happened.

Everybody needs a challenge.

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Sunset on Everest and Nuptse from Tengboche, Nepal.

Well, most do. I guess there are a few people who are so content with their lot they have no wish to stray out of the round of their day to day life, but I think they must make up a tiny minority.

And while it is a great achievement to be satisfied with your life, and not to constantly want a more expensive car, or clothes or jewellery, we all need something to strive for, otherwise we tend to stagnate.

Even the most altruistic, who might strive to eradicate poverty, or bring justice where there is none, need a more personal challenge sometimes.

For some it might be speed – the need to have a go on a fast motor cycle or racing car somewhere. Maybe to try a bungee jump. To feel the adrenaline surge that comes with the mixture of excitement and fear.

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On Lake Dal, Srinagar, Kashmir, India.

For others it might be the very opposite. Many of us need the opportunity to spend time away from the 21st century. Those of us who do not like the noise and speed and intensity of our modern life, need to find respite in places like the mountains, or deserts, or somewhere else remote from modern life. Woodlands at night, perhaps, or a windswept beach on an island. The challenge is frequently to find these places or to access them. Perhaps even to make the time to do so.

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Monks on their way to morning Puja, Bodhgaya, India.

Those are the sort of places I need, and where I often feel I can do my best creative work. The only places I feel I can really relax.

And the reason I had to walk the Annapurna Circuit.

Just while putting together this set of posts, at times I have looked around the room at the photographs of the Annapurnas, the maps, then at my rucksack in the corner, and felt an almost irresistible urge to just…go.

This sense of adventure is frequently in conflict with the other strands of my life, though, because (like most people) my lack of money and the demands of work and family, and other commitments, prevent me just scooting off for a week or month away whenever I feel like it.

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A track through fields and woods a mile or so from where I live.

But I have always tried to take the opportunity to go off to these places when I could, as I reasoned that I couldn’t know how long I would still be able to.

What made me determined to do this was a missed opportunity when I was working temporarily in Peru. I knew that when I finished my six week stint and returned to UK, I might no longer have a job. So when I was offered the chance to stay on for a week to visit Cuzco and Machu Pichu with friends I declined, even though it would only have cost about a hundred dollars for the whole trip. And I regretted it ever afterwards.

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Little Adam’s Peak, Ella, Sri Lanka.

I have no intention of looking back on my life later and wishing I had done these things when I had the opportunity.

By Train in Sri Lanka

I’m stuck at home still with a foot in bandages, only now I’ve been told that I won’t be back on my feet properly until the middle of August. So, nothing for it but to indulge myself with a bit of a train journey.

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On Colombo station – the madding crowd at a typically busy time.

 

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At Kandy station, the departures board is refreshingly low-tech!

 

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At Kandy station.

 

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Leaving Kandy and travelling up into the hills, the traveller passes tea gardens…

 

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…and small farms carved out of the jungle…

 

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…and plenty of jungle.

 

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Ella station, our destination. far from the madding crowd, indeed!

 

 

Another Creative Art Post

I’ve had a go at woodcarving, too. Would you like to see a few? You would? That’s marvellous.

As if I ever needed an excuse to blow my own trumpet!

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The first one is my version of a Sri Lankan carving. This piece consists of two panels; the first one depicting a garuda (a mythical bird who carried the god Vishnu) and the second depicting a lion. It is 10 in x 20 in, and carved in sycamore wood.

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The second one is also a copy of a Sri Lankan carving, this time an elephant attacked by an eagle. My version is in Ash, and measures roughly 6 in x 3 in.

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The third piece is a totally different subject; my interpretation of a painting by the American artist Georgia O’Keeffe of oak leaves. I have carved it in -appropriately enough – oak wood, and it measures 7 in by 3 in.

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Finally, this is my interpretation of a medieval piece from a church in England – I forget which one – depicting the crucifixion of Christ, with Christ flanked by Saint John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary. Again, it is carved in oak wood and measures approximately 8 ins x 13 ins.

Every now and again I think that I would like to work on another carving (possibly one of those two or three unfinished ones I still have hanging around the house!), but we are rather short on space. If I ever manage to get hold of a studio again, I promise myself that I will.

Sri Lanka – The Hill Country

I thought I’d bring you a third helping of Sri Lanka today, so to speak. These are a few of the photographs that we took when we went up into the hill country for a few days.

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First up, a view of Ella Rock taken across the tea gardens.

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Next, a view of the charming Lizzie Villa, our home for a few days. It is set in beautiful gardens, and run by our equally charming hostess, Mrs Lizzie. For the first day or so, we had good weather – rather humid and a little cloudy, but pleasant enough. But then the heavy rain arrived, and our walk from the road to the villa became an adventure in trying to avoid the leeches that magically appeared from every leaf and twig.

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During one of the breaks in the weather, we walked to Little Adam’s Peak which is approximately an hour and a half’s walk from Ella to the top. On the way back, we stopped in this lovely flower-covered cafe for some late refreshments.

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Tamil tea pickers in a tea garden near Nuwara Eliya. Most tea pickers in Sri lanka are still Tamils, descendants of those brought from India by the British over a hundred years ago to work in the tea gardens.

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A farmstead in the jungle near Haputale.

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Hillside jungle near Ella.

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Finally, the rather quaint railway station at Ella, which was unfortunately closed due to landslips on the line when we wanted to get the train back down to Kandy. We had left the cottage early, and a taxi had dropped us off here. But when it was apparent that the line was closed, the taxi driver very kindly loaded us back into his taxi, drove us to a bus stop and explained which bus we should get, where we should go, and what bus to take from there to Kandy. And would he let us pay him? No, he wouldn’t. Small, unexpected, kindnesses again.

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Sra Lanka – Ancient Cities

Today, a return to Sri Lanka, and a few of the photographs that I took at some of the ancient sites.

Dambula – Rock Temple – reclining Buddha. There are 5 caves in all, each one more splendid than the last (assuming, of course, that you visit them in the correct order!), containing some 150 Buddha images.

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Dambula – Rock Temple -feet of reclining Buddha statue.

BELOW: A further selection of images from the caves at Dambulla.

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Anuradhapura – Red brick Jetavanarama Dagoba.

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Anuradhapura – moonstone. Moonstones were not merely designed to be decorative, the patterns and figures are all relevant to Buddhist cosmic symbology.

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Anuradhapura. The Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba.

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Anuradhapura. Elephant carvings at the Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba.

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Buffaloes at Anuradhapura doing what they do best!

Kandy and Environs

A few pictures from Sri Lanka, today. I have only had the pleasure of one visit there so far, but it is another place that I should like an opportunity of returning to at some point. These ones are all from the time that we spent around Kandy, Sri Lanka’s second city up in the hills of the Central Province, and which enjoys a much cooler climate than that down in Colombo.

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On the bus to Lankatilake. Like most of the rest of the Indian subcontinent, the cabs and interiors of buses, taxis and lorries in Sri Lanka tend to be dedicated to placating whichever deities preside over traffic accidents and mishaps. The majority in Sri lanka, like this one, are Buddhist.

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Lankatilake Buddhist temple, some 10km SW of Kandy. The temple also has a Hindu shrine incorporated in it.

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Inside the Buddhist shrine.

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Bodhi tree at Lankatilake temple. Bodhi trees are to be found at all Buddhist temples, and are all descendants of the tree that the Buddha achieved enlightenment beneath, 2500 years ago at Bodhgaya, Northern India. Properly, they are Sal or Neem trees. Only the ones descended from the original Bodhi tree are called Bodhi trees.

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Lotus flower in the tank at Lankatilake. As in India, ‘tank’ refers to any artificially created body of water, from temple pools all the way up to reservoirs.This tank is a small, circular construction, and can be seen on the left in the photo of Lankatilake above. With its roots in the mud, its stem growing through the water and its beautiful flower in the air, The lotus has special significance to Buddhists – it represents the true nature of beings, who rise through samsara (the suffering of this world) into the beauty and clarity of enlightenment.

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Hindu temple entrance at Lankatilake.

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Dagoba at Lankatilake. ‘Dagoba’ is the name used in Sri Lanka for the structures known elsewhere as pagodas. They are usually built around a holy relic of some sort.

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Here in this shop in Kandy, you can get postcards and masks, false teeth and gramophone needles, shoes and Buddhas, elephants and exhortations to love Jesus. Something for everyone, really.

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The Departure Board at Kandy station. We were waiting for the 3pm train to Colombo, departing from platform 3.

 

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Beautifully carved and painted ceilings in the Temple of the Tooth, Kandy.

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Entrance to the shrine room, Temple of the Tooth.

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Moonstone, Temple of the Tooth. A moonstone is a richly carved stone, frequently placed at the bottom of a flight of steps. It is semi-circular in shape.

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Door, Temple of the Tooth.