Morning walk; Afternoon walk.

Our days here seem to start early.

We wake up with the light and the sounds of the birds. And the occasional bark of the dogs. And sometimes the deep growl of monkeys.

There is one dissonant sound, though. The tune of “its a small world after all” or  “santa claus is coming to town” are the tunes of choice of the little bread tuk tuk truck that makes the rounds most mornings delivering fresh bread, samosas and lentil cookies. There is no way, to sleep through that annoying jingle.

So we are awake. It’s not yet 6 a.m. Understand, we are both night owls by nature and by choice, but so far in Sri Lanka, we are early to rise.

Let’s go for a morning walk and see what we discover in our immediate neighborhood….

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The sun has not been up long. It casts a soft peachy glow over the newly sowed rice paddies around the corner from our house.

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The area around us has a distinctly rural feel. Most of the ‘traffic’ consists of mopeds, tuk tuks, bicycles, people walking, and the occasional car.

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All the bicycles look like this one…. remnants from days gone by…

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The tropical vegetation is rich and lush. The air is crisp this early in the morning.

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A rather strange looking tree catches the morning sun rays.

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A little boy on his too big rather antiquated bicycle riding past the banana plants.

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The dried banana tree leaves create interesting sculptural forms, remindful of those of bamboo.

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One of the many houses tucked away behind the lush foliage, along our walk.

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This might look like purely decorative street art to the uninitiated, but it is in fact Sinhalese language signage.

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Behind the scooter on the left, is a small typical road side shop selling vegetables and or other basics.

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The day starts slowly, at least in our tucked away rural enclave. Five minutes away is a busy main road of constant traffic where local buses dominate in their haste to get to the next stop along their Southern route.

After a morning walk where we discover the ‘world’ to our left, the next time we head out in the afternoon, we turn to explore the world to our right…

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This vista is directly across the road from our house. A lot of jungle has been cleared and we are hoping that there will not be any building activity. The open space has become a great place for kids to play cricket (the national sport here.)

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A neighbor’s house.. If you zoom in, you can spot a monkey on the roof on the left hand side. We watched as a group of monkeys swing through the trees and scamper over the roof .

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There are a few dilapidated small older structures such as this one. For some reason they captivate me visually. They seem deserted for the most part and are a throw back in time. This might make a good juice bar spot though….

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Our nearby neighbors ~ Amicable and colorful in their polka dots.

On our walk, we stumble upon a beautiful Buddhist temple close to our house and this explains the chanting we often hear at random times.

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A picturesque scene of whitewashed walls, ceramic red tiles, emerald green palm trees and a blue blue sky.

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The white domed roof of the stupa punctuates the blue sky with its central spire. We are discovering through our readings that it is not just that Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist country. Sri Lanka was in fact a major platform in the dissemination of Theravada Buddhism throughout the region, playing a critical role as a result of the erudite monks whose teachings emanated throughout.

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The white building with blue doors is a one roomed school house for boys and girls to learn the principles of Buddhism.

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Students sit very silently working, in their crisp white cotton outfits and in the girls case, ribboned pigtails.

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In the silence, this student hears the sound of my footsteps and looks up from her studies for a few seconds.

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Three very shy little girls in the temple courtyard enjoy posing for their photograph to be taken.

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Two young monks welcome us as we walk around the interior of the temple, answering questions and showing us with great pride their 300 year old temple which they are honored to be studying at.

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The temple is an oasis of calm and the interior is completely covered with 300 year old murals which are in amazingly good shape. (Some have been restored and there are some in their original state)

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A ceiling of white, pink and peach lotus flowers adorn the ceiling. Not only beautiful, in Buddhist symbolism, the lotus is symbolic of purity of the body, speed and mind. While rooted in mud “its flowers blossom on long stalks as if floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire. Thus it is a symbol of detachment as drops of water slide of its petals.”

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One of the unique features of Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka is the combination of murals on the walls and 3D sculptures which seem to emerge out of the paintings.

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One of the murals is of Siddhartha and his mother having survived a shipwreck. Siddhartha gets assistance from the goddess on the left. Ben asks the monks “Who is this goddess?”. The monk answers “An Indian goddess of course.” In one simple exchange, here it was, Buddhism in Sri Lanka is Theravada Buddhism i.e. from Indian lineage.

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And as we walk along… lo and behold… here comes the ubiquitous tuk tuk. And off we go, for 75c we have a “taxi” ride to the nearby Wijaya beach.

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And in a tuk tuk flash, we are transported from the jungle to the beach. We live after all at the Southern tip of a pearl shaped tropical island, itself perched at the tip of the Indian subcontinent.

 

 

55 thoughts on “Morning walk; Afternoon walk.

  1. Sharon Bonin-Pratt

    I’m breathless at your photos and story. What a magical land you live in. Everything so beautiful and lush, the children adorable and sweet. I want to tell you the parts I like the best, so here it is: all of it. Thanks for inviting me on your walk

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Sharon for your enthusiastic response to the story and photos of our walks. It is pretty magical in that we feel as though we have been transported back in time. This is reminiscent for us of when we first moved to Nicaragua years back. It may be geographic travel but it also feels like time travel.

      The children we stop to talk to in our neighborhood, seem very shy at first. Unused to being in conversation with any foreigners, but curious and happy to be engaging. There is an innate sweetness to them, which you have observed and I hoped to capture with my camera.

      Peta

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Now we just have to get used to the reality that with getting up really early, we are pretty tired by 9 at night. Our “normal” would be to go to sleep around 1.00 a.m or later.

      Peta

  2. Liesbet

    Beautiful and revealing walks, just outside your home, what a joy! Have you figured out yet what the Sinhalese writings mean? People in Sri Lanka don’t seem to mind getting their photos taken. Is that your general impression? Except for the monks, maybe? Great shots, by the way! 🙂

    1. Green Global Trek

      Thanks Liesbet. It IS amazing to step out onto the little street outside and be immediately surrounded by lush greenery and fresh air just for starters.

      We are right at the beginning of exposure to Sinhalese ~ with no understanding of the meaning of the symbols. But we do love their curvy flowy forms. Our experience has definitely been that people enjoy having their photo taken, even if they are initially a bit shy and stiff. One of the reasons I like using an iPad for photography is that the camera is no longer intimidating. It also is an easy way to interact with people, by showing them the images I have taken, on a screen much bigger than a normal camera. Glad you enjoyed the photos of our walks. As a painter I am really enjoying the creative expression I get from taking photographs without having the mess of oil paint in my hair!

      Peta

  3. restlessjo

    Such beauty, whichever way you look, Peta. I can’t imagine living alongside a banana plantation and a Buddhist temple. The serenity is very appealing. 🙂

    I’ll include this in my Monday walks, if you like? A touch of the exotic is always good.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Jo. I could not have imagined it either ~ so many dimensions in such close proximity, it is very unusual in that regard.

      We would love to be included in your Monday walks, thank you!

      Peta

  4. Mabel Kwong

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading about one of your days, Peta. Night owls by nature, but early risers – I hope your body copes well with that. If we are happy and living a contented life, I am sure our bodies will be intune with that 🙂 I’m personally a night owl myself and it is a struggle to wake up early in the morning!

    It sounds very convenient where you live, what with the banana plantations, Buddhist temple and beach so near to each other. Also the locals seem very friendly and they look so happy posing for you. I do note in your earlier comment that you said they are shy, but I think that is a lot of us when we meet new people. Living the simple life can bring out the best in us, not only teaching us what we have but also to be more observant – which is probably why the school kids and those at the temple acknowledge your visit 🙂

    Looking forward to seeing more photography from you. The simple life certainly looks very serene, and make the most of it 🙂

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Hi Mabel, glad you are enjoying the blog and my photography.

      As far as the shyness of people go, we have really found that different cultures and people in different countries respond differently, especially to having their photo taken. For example, in Viet Nam, people are generally not shy, even if it is the very first time they meet you. On the contrary. In Haiti, people are very sensitive about having their photos taken as many of them sense that Westerners seek to “profit” somehow from the images of post earthquake trauma.

      I generally ask people if I can take their photos especially if it’s for a portrait. I try to use the photo as a starting point to initiate some conversation or just friendly interaction even without language. The photo is a great way to connect with people.

      You might enjoy some earlier photography we posted on the blog such as these 100 images of 100 days in Central Viet Nam:

      http://www.greenglobaltrek.com/2013/11/images-of-our-life-in-hoi-an-100-days-100-photographs.html

      Peta

  5. lexklein

    I am 100% not an early morning person either, but once you are up, don’t you find it a wonderful time of day? Your very first photo of the peachy glow over the rice paddies is a great example of the treasure to be found in the early hours – really beautiful shot!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Lex, it takes me a while to get going in the morning, but it is true there is beauty and stillness to be found in the start of the day. That said, my very favorite time of the day is dusk. Ben on the other hand has been known to wake me up in the middle of the night to go for a walk when we are in a new city… I recall doing this in Paris at 3 a.m. and Pushkar India at 4 a.m. Definitely worth it, but then the tiredness for the rest of the day.

      The rice paddies change so much with the different light at different times of the day that each time we see them it feels like a new experience.

      Peta

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Nicole. For Ben it is instant love, for me it is a more gradual process of adjustment to a new environment. We both are enjoying the lush surroundings and the general tranquility of living in the midst of nature.

      Peta

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Ezra thanks for stopping by to read the blog.

      Frescoes are not a material specifically, but refer to the practice of painting on walls or caves and are usually done with natural pigments from nearby plants and rocks. In Europe many ancient frescoes are found in palaces and temples of the ancient Greeks and Romans ~ the most famous fresco paintings found in Europe stem from the Renaissance era.

      In contrast in the Indian subcontinent, one can find frescoes that date back from the 1st Century before common era to the 6th and 7th century. The paintings are from the Buddhist period and in Sri Lanka the most famous are the rock paintings at Sigiriya. Hope you come and visit and we can go there together to see those.

      In the meantime in case you did not see our post from a prior visit to Sri Lanka, with the most MAGNIFICENT Buddhist frescoes, here is the link to that:

      http://www.greenglobaltrek.com/2016/03/ancient-buddhist-art-in-cave-temples.html

      Re the color pigment used in Sri Lankan frescoes, white was prepared using hydrous magnesite found in a particular cave, red was prepared using sadilingam or cinnabar (a cousin of cinnamon), yellow was extracted from gokatu and blue from the leaves of indigo plant. But the most interesting were the tools: the brushes used to color small spaces were made of cats or squirrels hair because they are small in size and delicate, whereas large brushes were made of roots of a particular tree the Vatakeyaya.

      Peta & Ben

  6. Johnny Oh

    What a lovely neighborhood to walk in, morning and afternoon. Looking at your photos and reading your words, I could sense you falling in love with your new home. And who wouldn’t:)

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Johnny….Ben was instantly in love, he falls easily. For me it is more of a slow process. But there is no doubt we have found ourselves a fascinating tropical island that we look forward to exploring even more. After living in the city of Chicago in the midst of the urban jungle, this is certainly a fantastic infusion of green and nature.

      Peta

  7. Sue Slaght

    Peta that was such a lovely post. The feeling of walking beside you, seeing your day to day world. The lush green and the beautiful beach and the pristine white of the temple and the students uniforms, all amazing. It seems that you are settling in beautifully to your new home.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Sue. Yes, we are settling in nicely to our external environment, though in terms of our interior space, it is still a work in progress.

      Recently we met a British woman who has lived in this area for 18 years and told us it is known as “Happy Valley”, because everyone who lives here is so happy. Well, there you have it!

      Peta

  8. carolinehelbig

    Oh my, I wouldn’t mind getting up early for the scenery along your walk. You really have it all…those beautiful rice fields, lovely and colourful neighbours, exotic temples..and you have a beach nearby, WOW!

    Your photos are great. I especially like the three little girls, the one looking up from her studies and the brightly dressed family. You just keep fuelling my desire to get to Sri Lanka.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Yes we selected our location carefully so that we could benefit from both lush greenery and as well, the beach.

      Caroline thanks for the kind words re my photos. Glad that you like the portraits, I really like those too. I noticed the little girl sitting by herself in the classroom and was pleased with capturing her image and the mood of that studious moment. The three little girls were very giggly and seemed to enjoy the attention that I was giving them.

      Sri Lanka is a great destination on the cusp of being a major tourist destination, but currently mostly unspoiled by hordes of tourists. And hey, if you really like this Southern Coastal area, our house will be on Air B&B at some point 🙂

      Peta

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Annabel you hit the nail on the head! So much variety in such a small area and that pretty much sums up Sri Lanka ~ it is a small island chockfull of visual treats which range from jungle to beach to elephants and whales and temples. We are looking forward to heading up North over the holidays to a region where the civil war raged for 29 years.

      Peta

  9. Sharon Rosenzweig

    I’m reading this at 5 am. There’s a couple inches of snow on the ground and another 6 to 8 on the way. It’s beautiful here, but magical to read about your morning, a world away in an alternate reality.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Oh I have to say I love snow, especially fresh snowfalls. But I surely do not miss the cold! Wondering if you are taking any early a.m. walks in the snow before the world wakes up around you?

      xoxo
      P

  10. My Inner Chick

    **And sometimes the deep growl of monkeys.**

    Coooooooooooome on, that is just too much loveliness to take in! ( SMILING )

    The sun must and the sound of bicycles’. What a wonderful sound to hear in the morning, darling, rather than motors and ugly noise.

    Heavenly. x

  11. Robyn Quint

    I continue to live vicariously through you guys. Love your posts – please keep them coming. I would love to see updated pictures of your home.

    1. Green Global Trek

      Thank you Dahlia.

      Next week we are heading up North to Tamil country, which from what we have read is even more reminiscent of India (than Southern Sri Lanka where we currently are), as it is mostly Hindu. Looking forward to it.

      Peta

  12. nomad, interrupted

    What a fabulous walk. How I miss Asia and its amazing Buddhist temples. Though I haven’t been to Sri Lanka, I’ve taken many walks in Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Nepal and China. Thanks so much for inviting me along. 🙂

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      So glad you enjoyed our walk. Since you have not been to Sri Lanka yet, hope you get a chance to take a look at our archives from previous visits to Sri Lanka. Lots of fun posts about this culturally rich and diverse tropical island.

      Peta

  13. Jet Eliot

    Positively delightful walk, Peta, thank you. I found your photographs entrancing, taking us deep into another world. How funny it must be to wake up to the “Small World” and Santa songs. I really enjoyed this adventure, and the photos of the young girls are especially poignant.

  14. Green Global Trek

    Thanks Jet for such lovely comments. So glad you enjoyed this post so much.
    The little girls are just the sweetest…I love interacting with them and they seem to enjoy the attention.

    Lucky the bread truck is not every morning, but more sporadic. Not my favorite haha….

    Peta

  15. Kirt D Tisdale

    Thanks for sharing…love it…you do it in such a way, that the reader feels like they are there with you…awesome pictures…can’t get over the lush foliage!! I even heard the monkeys as they scampered across the roof….:)

    1. Green Global Trek

      Thanks Kirt, those are terrific compliments!

      It IS incredible to see ferns, elephant ears and all other kinds of tropical plants one might buy at a nursery, growing wild on the sides of the little streets.

      We are really enjoying watching monkey antics from our bedroom!!

      Peta

  16. dave ply

    Seems like a peaceful, bucolic place to be. I must have missed it; how did you choose to live there? Is this a temporary stop, or are you planning to stay awhile?

  17. Green Global Trek

    It is definitely peaceful and bucolic Dave. (Until you get on the main road that connects Fort Galle and other towns, and that is anything but peaceful! It is quite a contrast. )

    Is anything in life permanent?

    Here are a few (of many) prior reflections about our decision making process of where to live in Asia:

    http://retirementandgoodliving.com/empty-nesters-on-a-green-global-trek-selecting-a-new-home-town-in-asia/

    http://www.greenglobaltrek.com/2016/07/shaping-our-future-a-new-adventure-begins.html

    Help that answers the question. Thanks for your comments.

    Peta

  18. healingpilgrim

    Oh, I do love seeing your photos of a corner of a country that I’ve not yet explored. The slow pace of life in your neck of the woods, the easy access to a (*clean*!) beach, the lush greenery, smiles and Buddhist temples.. has that “same same but different” feel to it, a little like Bali but not quite. Thank you, Peta, for sharing reflections and images from walks in your neighborhood.. a real delight!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks, Amit for your lovely comments.

      We have heard others compare Sri Lanka to Bali and to Fiji! Certainly the rice paddies amd tropical lushness are similar and the rich cultural environment,

      Glad you enjoyed this post so much.

      Peta

  19. Green Global Trek

    Thanks, Amit for your lovely comments.

    We have heard others compare Sri Lanka to Bali and to Fiji! Certainly the rice paddies amd tropical lushness are similar and the rich cultural environment,

    Glad you enjoyed this post so much.

    Peta

  20. Anita and Richard @ No Particular Place To Go

    What a great intro to your neighborhood, Petra. I feel as though I was along for your walks, “to the left and then the right.” Your photos are great, especially of the people and I was very taken with the photo of your neighbors, 4 young girls dressed in polka-dots. You’ve found some lovely surrounding although, as a slow riser myself, I’m kind of shuddering thinking about the tuk-tuk blaring “It’s a small world…” or “Santa Clause is coming…” Makes me think about an all-day ear-worm! 😀 Anita

  21. Green Global Trek

    Thanks Anita and especially for the compliment on the photos!

    Luckily the tuk tuk is sporadic and not a daily occurrence and is defintely not the kind of blaring noise we lived with in Granada, Nicaragua where people love noise for noise sake. Here it is more that the surroundings are so quiet, that the tunes seem out of place. And of course if they played jazz or Beethoven I would probably enjoy that a whole bunch more…

    Peta

  22. Joanne Sisco

    I’m a morning person and I can’t think of a better way to start a day than a discovery walk through such beautiful surrounding countryside. I loved the photos of the young girls. The one girl in the polka dot dress on the far right with the coordinating shoulder bag made me smile. She has the stance of a natural catwalk model 🙂

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Joanne for these astute observations and lovely feedback. The early morning here has unique qualities beyond the calm and serenity that one finds anywhere before things get started. The fact that we are in Buddhist country means that between 4 and 6 a.m. there is a constant distant hum of Buddhist prayers from anyone of the 3 or 4 Buddhist temples that are within hearing distance.

      Ben.

  23. Trish and Steve Hunt

    Hello Peta and Ben, our good friend Caroline Helbig introduced us on email to you. What a stellar blog. These photos and descriptions of your new life in Sri Lanka are exquisite, thank you for writing about it. It has certainly whet our appetite, as we are travelling to Sri Lanka, (sadly for about 10 days only), May 5-14, but I can see that we are in for a real treat.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Hi Trish and Steve,
      Welcome to Green Global Trek and so glad you found us and are reading about our new home base, Sri Lanka. If you check our archives you will find a host of posts on Sri Lanka from former trips when we travelled here twice before. If you have any questions or would like specific suggestions, please feel free to email me (petakaplan@hotmail.com) and I will do my best to answer them and help you out.

      You are in for a treat…
      Peta

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