Hanging out With Elephants in Sri Lanka

Jun 10, 2010

It had been nearly a week since my last flight, and I was starting to get quite anxious for an escape from Dubai. Had it not been for Ryan's visit, I would have already been far past insanity. On the roster for the evening was a lovely standby shift... 10:00 pm to 6:00 am the next morning. As I hadn't had much sleep that day, I was almost certain that I'd receive a call for a flight. At 11 pm, the phone rang, waking me from my evening nap. "Hello Krysta, you are going to Colombo!", said the voice on the other end. I groggily acknowledged my duty and reluctantly rolled out of my bed. The good news was that I had a 24 hour layover. On the other hand, I knew absolutely nothing about the Sri Lankan city. I threw a few things into my suitcase, changed into my uniform, fixed my hair and makeup, and headed out the door. Fortunately I'd caught a couple of hours of sleep before they'd called, but my energy level was still quite low. I was surprised and relieved to learn that the flight was only 4 short hours. It was a breezy service and as we approached Sri Lanka, a few crew members began making plans for the layover. I eagerly agreed to join in since I've been lacking layover adventures over the past couple of weeks. We reached our hotel early in the morning and instead of sleeping, met up to venture out. 6 of us decided to hire a driver and a van to drive us to an elephant orphanage recommended by the concierge. We piled into the van and set off for the 2 hour journey. Along the way our driver pointed out pineapple plants, and pulled the van over to show us a rubber tree. I dozed in and out of sleep, waking to find that we were surrounded by beautiful, lush green mountains. I hadn't expected that, but then again, I knew nothing about the country until I'd arrived. We eventually made it to the elephant orphanage, where we handed over half of our meal allowance for admission. We watched as they bottle fed cute baby elephants and then trekked to a huge open area with elephants galore. The scenery was stunning and the elephants a few meters away from us made it all seem very surreal. I went camera happy, thinking of my elephant-obsessed mother and how she'd hang such photos throughout her home. If only I'd brought my big DSLR camera, as it takes far better quality photos. After we'd all taken a multitude of photos and the crew successfully convinced me to touch actually get close enough and touch an elephant, we proceeded towards the exit. Two police men blocked traffic as a herd of elephants was led down the street towards the river. Every single day they lead them to the river to bathe for a couple of hours. We laughed at the sight of elephants roaming the streets... definitely not something you'd see anywhere else. As they walked into the river we happily watched them roll around in the water and play, once again pulling out our cameras. The lingering clouds finally closed in on us and it began raining. I stood under the shade of a building, happy to have brought my waterproof camera. The rain was warm and a welcome relief from the intense afternoon heat. Had I known that I was going to spend the day following elephants, perhaps I would have packed more wisely. Instead, I was breaking a sweat wearing jeans. Once we'd finally had our fill of elephant watching, we browsed the nearby shops, politely declining to buy "elephant poo paper", which is exactly what it sounds like. Elephants poo, and they turn it into notebooks and photo frames. What better way to show your love for somebody than to frame their photo in poo. We'd all been awake since around 11 pm the night before, so by the time afternoon rolled around, everyone was feeling fatigue set in. We agreed to head back to the hotel. I turned on my iPod and escaped to nap-land for a good hour, until our driver pulled over at a fruit stand on the side of the road and hopped out. He came back offering fresh slices of pineapple that he'd bought for us. It was perhaps the most delicious, sweetest pineapple that I've ever tasted. I didn't hesitate to take seconds. After a long day, we made it back to the hotel. I stopped in a shop downstairs to browse the collection of cheap DVD's, picking up 3 for the bargain price of 15 dirhams, or less than $5 Canadian. They are all brand new, still in theaters. One of the many joys of visiting Asian cities. It could be another week until my next flight, so I need some good chick flicks to get me through the boredom. I was very excited with my new purchases as I headed up to my hotel room and flicked on the TV. I watched the Discovery Channel for awhile, happy to find a hotel TV that showed more than just CNN. I called up room service, breaking the poor man who delivered it to my room's heart by answering "Yes" when he asked if I was married. I'm not, in case you were wondering... but as far as foreign hotel employees need to know, the ring on my finger is from Ryan (but actually, it's from my mom). It was about 7:30 pm and I could barely keep my eyes open, so I flicked off the lights, snuggled into my bed, and slept until it was time to get ready for my flight back to Dubai in the morning. My verdict for Colombo: Despite the fact that the hotel had no internet and the food wasn't much better than what we serve onboard, you can manage to have a great time if you are lucky enough to be with a decent crew willing to leave the hotel. Back home to Dubai we went. Now I must wait again, hoping to land another decent flight out of standby!

In completely unrelated but equally exciting news... I've finally booked the Dubai-Toronto segment of my flight back home next month! I still need to find a flight from Toronto to Calgary, but the main part is out of the way. Yay! I'm going home in 28 days! Hellooooo Tim Horton's.


Tleppihs Nayr said...

27.973 days!

Sarah Simpson said...

I was flipping through your Ryan visit pictures the other day and did notice a ring on your finger (married women always see that first. It's a weird skill that kicks in on your wedding day) and wanted to ask about it. Then I read this blog and you explained it. You must be able to read my mind.

This was a pointless comment, but I just wanted to tell ya I read your blogs and check out your pictures.

/ends creepy comment. :)

Krysta said...

Haha.. aww you aren't creepy Sarah!

Ryan and I actually wondered if anyone would mention that... a lot of people here ask about my ring. I wear it on my right hand, but apparently in a lot of countries that's where they wear wedding rings. So I use this to my advantage to fend off creepy men. :)

Thanks for reading and commenting on my blogs, I feel special!

Tleppihs Nayr said...

You need to add China to your pins on the map, AND put your places you've gone in June on your where is krysta list :)

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