So many apologies for not keeping this up to date. All good intentions and all that.
So here is a very quick run through of the last few months. The holiday to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore was great. Not a place I would have necessarily chosen if I'd been travelling from the UK but from Sri Lanka it was a welcome break. Strangely, one of the highlights was a fish spa, where you put your feet in a large tank and let several fish nibble away the hard skin! Honestly, it was quite nice. After a few days in KL we took a sleeper train to Singapore and enjoyed a Singapore Sling at Raffles of course.
In November I went up to the hill country and climbed Adam's Peak. This is an important pilgrimage site. We set off at 2.30am in order to reach the top in time to watch the sunrise and it was worth it, quite spectacular. There are over five thousand steps to the top (and back down again), which is fairly hard going but is helped by several tea stalls along the way.
I spent Christmas at a friend's swanky apartment in Colombo with several other friends. It was lovely and probably the most traditional Christmas I've had in years with Christmas dinner, party games, singing and the like. The only difference was the Christmas morning walk was in 30 degrees. We all headed for the beach for New Years Eve, which was great fun and I had my first go at surfing. I've discovered I'm not a natural but when it comes to boogie boarding, that's more like it.
Mum and Dad came out on holiday in the middle of January and we travelled up through the hill country and down to the south coast. We had the presidential elections while there were here and VSO had advised us to go into 'hibernation' for a couple of days to avoid any difficulties. Fortunately, we were at the beach during this time and so it wasn't too difficult hibernating.
In February, I went on a work trip to the south coast to visit a group working in the community who support people with mental health problems and raise awareness about mental health issues. The area was badly hit by the Tsunami and it was moving to hear the stories of people who were affected by it. We were made very welcome and the volunteers had converted one of the offices into a bedroom for me and a couple of women slept outside my door on the floor to make sure no harm would come to me.
Unfortunately, the work has continued to be very slow and the hope of work elsewhere in the country has not materialised. I do not think I am making the most of my career break and so I have decided to leave early and go travelling over the next few months and try my hand at wwoofing (volunteering on organic farms). So my house is all packed up and I leave Kurunegala tomorrow to spend the final few days in Colombo and a last trip to the beach before flying early next week.
It has been a wonderful experience. I have learnt a lot about the Sri Lankan culture, seen many sights on this beautiful country and met and made friendships with so many special people.