Sri Lanka – Ziua 4 – Pinnawala

RO: Ei uite ca la fixul fixului, taman in ziua in care vrem sa plecam spre centru, apare triumfator soarele si vremea buna ca sa ne faca-n ciuda c-am vorbit de rau Unawatuna. Un ultim roti picant si-o ultima omleta piperata si “chilli-iata”de te ia cu transpiratie, si-apoi suntem gata de drum. Ne pregatim psihic pentru un drum de cinci ore pana in Kandy. Pentru 200 si-un pic de kilometri! Asa ca nu-i de mirare ca ne-am trezit cu noaptea-n cap, nu de alta, dar vrem sa prindem si o vizita scurta la elefantii din Pinnawala. Ora 9, bagajele doldora claie peste gramada in spatele microbuzului si toata gradinita raspunde la apel. Poate ca in mod normal varianta de a aranja un transfer privat din sud pana in Kandy nu e tocmai cea mai convenabila optiune, insa atunci cand vorbim de un grup mare, devine un chilipir. Asa ca pentru 195 USD ajungem toti 14 in Kandy, cu ghid cu tot. Varianta cu trenul este in mod cert mai ieftina, insa si mai putin comoda. Desi daca stai sa te gandesti la ce privelisti poti sa ai, mai ales in centrul tarii… te cam face sa te gandesti de doua ori 😀 Apropo, sa nu uitam sa mentionam. Daca e ceva ce regretam in excursia in Sri Lanka, e faptul ca nu am avut suficient timp in centru. Doua zile sunt mult prea putine pentru cate minunatii de locuri sunt de vazut. Iar una dintre ele, pe care o trecem pe lista in caz ca mai ajungem prin zona, e calatoria cu trenul in zona Ella, la podul Nine Arches de la Demodara. Ei dar nu incepem cu regretele, ca abia ce-a inceput adevarata aventura singaleza!

EN: And what do you know, precisely in the same day when we want to go in the center of the country, the sun is shining and the good weather seems to spite us because we did not like Unawatuna so far. A last spicy roti bread and such a peppery omelette that we instantaneously start sweating, then we’re good to go. We prepare mentally for a five hours drive till we get to Kandy. For only 200 and so kilometers! There’s no wonder we woke up at first hour in the morning so that we can also have a short stopover at the elephants from Pinawalla. 9 o’clock, tons of luggage in the back of our van and everybody ready to go. Maybe the private transfers are not the most cost effective option to get from south to center, but if we’re talking about a big group, this becomes a bargain. So for all of 14 of us, the price to get to Kandy was only 195 USD, including the guide. The train option is definitely more cheaper, but also less comfortable. Although if you think about those stunning views that you can see in the center of the country… it really makes you think twice 😀 By the way, let’s not forget to mention. If there’s something that we regret about our trip to Sri Lanka, it’s the fact that we did not have enough time in the center. Two days are definitely not enough to see all those natural wonders. And one of them (which we’ll put on the list just in case we’ll get there some other time) is the train ride to Ella, to the Nine Arches bridge from Demodara. But let’s not start with regrets, as we just started our true Sinhalese adventure!
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RO: O autostrada laudata si ras-laudata, ca doar de, e principalul drum din Sri Lanka, care duce turistii entuziasti la prajeala in sud, plantatii de scortisoara, arbori de cauciuc, nuci de cocos, pasari king fisher la tot pasul si lilieci dementi atarnati de orice copac din zare. Slava cerului, singalezii nu mananca liliecii in curry, cum fac cei din Seychelles. Pfiu. Bun, si daca tot ne povesteste Sandamal de exporturile sri lankeze de ceai, scortisoara, nuca de cocos, cauciuc, ghimbir, nucsoara, cacao, orez si ananas (si gaaaaaata, ca parca nu se mai termina lista), parca ni se face subit pofta de un ananas ca la mama lui acasa . Oprim pe marginea drumului, intr-un Paradis Ananas-tiac si luam cat sa ne ajunga pentru-o viata. Si inca jumatate.

EN: An extremely cherished and appreciated highway, as this is the main road in Sri Lanka, which takes the tourists to the sun-“roasting” in the south, cinnamon plantations, rubber trees, coconuts, king fisher birds all around and crazy bats hanging on the branches of the trees. Thank God the Sinhalese people do not eat these bats in curry, as the ones from Seychelles do. Phew. Ok, and if Sandamal keeps telling us about the Sinhalese exports of tea, cinnamon, coconut, rubber, ginger, cardamom, cocoa, rice and pineapple (aaaaaand stop it for once, as this list goes on and on without stopping), we’re now craving for some authentic pineapple. We stop on the road, in a Pineapple Paradise, and we buy enough pineapples to have for a lifetime. And another half of it.
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RO: A, si pe langa toate exporturile de fructe si legume si condimente si orez, Sri Lanka mai e renumita si pentru medicina aiurvedica. Hai ca sarim de la una la alta fara noima, daaaaar trebuie sa o spunem acum, pana nu uitam si trecem la altele. Si detaliem in articolul din ziua 5, cand vom avea mai multe detalii de la gradinile de mirodenii si condimente si plante medicinale.

EN: Aaah, and besides all the fruit and vegetables and spices and rice exports, Sri Lanka is renowned for the Ayurveda medicine. Oh well, seems like we’re jumping from a subject to another without any sense buuuuut we have to say it now, before we forget and talk about others. But we’ll detail more in the article about day 5, when we’ll have more to tell about the spice gardens.
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RO: Bun, trecem mai departe printre plantatii ba de ananas, ba de papaya, ba de ghimbir si alte cele, si in final ajungem la Pinnawala, la Oferlinatul de Elefanti. Traiasca Pinterest-ul si spiritul ascutit de observatie al Corinei, ca altfel sigur n-ajungeam aici. Parca am mai zis ca nu suntem cei mai mari fani ai oferlinatelor de elefanti si dupa cele cateva vazute prin Indonezia si Malaezia, parca ni s-a cam luat. Dar spre surprinderea noastra, Pinnawala e chiar diferit, iar animalele sunt mai bine ingrijite, in spatii mai largi care incearca cat de cat sa reproduca habitatul natural. In fine, piesa de rezistenta in toata afacerea aceasta este de departe baia in rau, cand zeci de elefanti trec pe langa tine pe sosea ca sa ajunga la rau. Unde incepe o balaceala de zile mari. Ba vezi un “ditamai-piticu'” de elefant prabusit in apa mai ceva ca un motan la scarpinat, ba familii intregi de elefanti stropind in stanga si-n dreapta si tropaind in apa raului. Una peste alta, e un show de zile mari, iar elefantii chiar par fericiti. Asta spre deosebire de celelalte orfelinate unde lucrurile sunt ceva mai comerciale si mai turistice. Si da, biletul de intrare este o carca de bani pentru turisti, insa cand te gandesti ca ii folosesc pentru a imbunatati conditiile de trai ale elefantilor, parca nu-ti pare rau. A, si apropo, cica aici ar fi cel mai mare numar de elefanti in captivitate din toata lumea (sunt aproape 100 de elefanti). De ce nu ii elibereaza, am intrebat si noi la randul nostru, ca sa intelegem care e toata treaba cu orfelinatul. Pai e destul de simplu dupa spusele ingrijitorilor. Elefantii gasiti raniti in padurile sri lankeze sunt adusi aici si tinuti pana cand sunt vindecati, cand in teorie ar trebui eliberati. Nu se intampla insa asta din cauza ca nu ar mai putea fi niciodata acceptati de elefantii liberi deoarece au interactionat prea multa vreme cu oamenii. Acum… parerile sunt impartite si in continuare sunt foarte multe voci impotriva Pinnawalei, chiar daca este marketizat ca unul dintre cele mai ok orfelinate din lume.

EN: Ok, we’re passing through the pineapple plantations, then the papaya ones, and ginger and others, and in the end we’re reaching Pinnawala, at the Elephant Orphanage. Long live Pinterest and Corina’s sharp sense of observation, otherwise for sure we would not have reached this place. We already said that we are not the biggest fans of elephant orphanages and after we’ve seen the ones from Indonesia and Malaysia, we’re quite fed up with them. But to our surprise, Pinnawala seems to be different, and the animals are well cared, in large spaces which try to somehow reproduce the natural habitat. Anyway, la piece de resistance in all this deal is by far the river bath, when the elephants pass next to you on the road to get to the river. Where they start their splashing and splattering. You either see a baby elephant fallen in the river like a cat waiting for scratching, or entire families splashing all around and clattering in the river. All in all, it’s a nice “show”, and the elephants seem happy. Unlike the other orphanages that seem to be more commercial and touristic. And yup, indeed, the ticket is a whole load of money, but when you think that they use them to improve the living conditions for the elephants, you’re not sorry for them. Aaah, and by the way, they say that they have the highest number of elephants in captivity here (almost 100 elephants). Why don’t they set them free, we asked, to understand what’s the deal with the orphanage. Well it’s quite simple according to the caretakers. The wounded elephants are brought and kept here until they are cured, when in theory they should be released. This does not happen though, because they could never be accepted by the free elephants due to the fact that they interacted too much with the humans. Now… the opinions are quite different and there are still lots of people against Pinnawala, even though this is promoted as one of the best orphanages in the world.
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RO: In fine daca tot ne-au fost asa de dragi elefantii si toata balaceala lor, oprim si la un atelier care produce hartie din… balegar de elefant. Mda, ca ne vine sa credem sau nu, nimic nu se pierde, totul se transforma prin zonele astea 😀

EN: Anyway, now that we enjoyed the elephants and their bath so much, we stop to a workshop that produces paper from… elephant dung. Yup, believe it or not, nothing is lost, everything is transformed in these areas 😀
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RO: Si gata, ajungem in nebunia din Kandy, cu traficul infernal, tuk tuk-urile nebune si galagioase, aglomeratie, poluare, tot haosul si agitatia asta de zici c-am aterizat intr-un film de Bollywood. Pai doar nu degeaba i s-o zice Sri Lankai Paradisul Haosului. Ne trec toate transpiratiile cand Google Maps ne-arata ca am ajuns la hotel si ne aflam in mijlocul unor darapanaturi de case si-o strada suspecta. Plina de maimute care-si etaleaza dantura ori de cate ori indraznim sa le privim. Din fericire nu stam in vreo cocioaba darapanata si desi afara nu-i deloc vopsit gardu’, slava cerului ca nici inauntru nu-i leopardu’ 😀 Intrunire de grup in lobby-ul hotelului, facem planu’ pentru a doua zi: Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa si Dambulla, astea-s primele pe lista. Si daca tot e tara pusa la cale, parca ar merge la fix un curry picant pe undeva prin centru. Luam alaiul de tuk tuk-uri si oprim taman la Queen’s Hotel, sa vedem si noi cladirea emblematica din centrul Kandy-ului. Arhitectura britanica, stil colonial si o istorie de mai bine de 160 de ani. Cum o fi sa stai cazat aici in timpul festivalului Perahera, hmmmmm, o nebunie! Bun, dar lasa hotelul Queens, noi avem drum catre restaurantul Devon, o dubiosenie de local cu mancaruri indiene picante de o iei razna. Ne luptam cu n (luate cate n) portii de curry aromat si nu ne dam batuti nici cand ne dau lacrimile de la iuteala. O dregem cu un pic de bere Lion si suntem good to go. E-aproape 1 noaptea iar pe strada ticsita mai devrene de tuk tuk-uri colorate abia ce gasesti vreun Gigel cu chef de condus pana la SunrayTu di hotel, ma friend, 300 rupees.

EN: And we’re finaaaaaally reaching all the madness in Kandy, with the infernal traffic, the noisy tuk tuks, jam ups, all the chaos and hustle and bustle as if we’ve landed in a Bollywood movie. Well that’s exactly why Sri Lanka is called the Paradise of Chaos.  Our hearts jumped when Google Maps showed us that we already arrived at the hotel but we were still in the middle of some dumps and a dodgy streets. Full of monkey ostentatiously showing us their teeth each time we dare to take a look at them. Luckily, we’re not staying in a moldering shack and even though the exterior does not look well at all, the interior is not that bad 🙂 Group meeting in the lobby, we’re making plans for the next day: Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Dambulla, these are the first ones on the list. And if we settled all these things, a spicy curry somewhere in the city center would be just perfect! We take the cortege of tuk tuks and we stop right at the Queen’s Hotel, to see the iconic building in the center of Kandy. British architecture, colonial style and a history of over 160 years. How would it be to stay here during the Perahera festival, hmmmm, a total madness! Ok, but let’s leave the Queens hotel, we need to get to Devon restaurant, a local place with spicy Indian food. We “fight” with tons of portions of flavored curry and we’re not giving in even when we start crying due to the spiciness. A bit of Lion beer will do it and we’re good to go. It’s almost 1 o’clock in the morning and the street that was bustling with tuk tuks two hours ago is now empty. We barely find a driver to take us back to Sunray. Too dee hotel, ma friend, 300 rupees.

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