Archive for the ‘Sri Lanka’ Category

Back In Sri Lanka

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

At time of writing I’m back in Sri Lanka. And it has been almost two years since I was here last. I can’t believe it has been so long!! I don’t wait to leave it that long again.

This place is in my heart and my soul and I am always struck by how much at home I feel when I come back here. 🙂

I absolutely adore it.

And I have some wonderful friends here too who I haven’t seen enough of. And I miss them when I’m not here.

And the gentleness of Sri Lanka (at least compared with India) has been wonderful.

Two days in Colombo by myself to wander the city and go to coffee shops and eat rice and curry and soak up the sun and walk beneath the trees and talk to old friends and meet up with old friends all did wonders to undo a lot of the ravages of India.

I’ve been giggling at all the people sweeping (there is always someone sweeping in Sri Lanka). I’ve eaten kotthu and egg rotti and pol rotti and pol sambol and dhal curry and polis (young jak fruit) and beetroot curry. I’ve had iced chocolates and mango smoothies and green tea (with mint). I’ve spoken Sinhala. I’ve pushed my way onto and off of buses. I’ve not had to go to Immigration! I’ve slept on buses. I’ve got on and off buses in the right places. I’ve queued (for some definition of queueing – sharpen your elbows, take a deep breath and push) for train tickets.

So all in all, it has been a wonderful rebirth coming back here again. I feel so much better for it. I’m happy, I’m at peace, I’m loving it.

And I must continually remember that this is what this country does to me and that this means I must make it a point to come back regularly.

Mama kameti!!!

It’s a Good Day

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Travelling and volunteering spits out some good days and some bad days and some days that are both very good and very bad (sometimes at the same time).

There is no foolproof way of guaranteeing a good day. It can, in fact, be quite difficult sometimes to work out if the day you are having (or have just had) is a good day!

Here is a handy guide for some indicators that hint at having a good day. Of course, the more of these you have in one day the better, but don’t be under the illusion that all of these are required for a good day: we’d probably have no good days if that were the case!

You know it’s a good day when:

  • You don’t have to wash ants off your toothbrush before using it
  • You remember to apply talcum powder in the morning (no chafing = good)
  • You don’t get bitten by an ant on the inside of your lip
  • You don’t get bitten by a dog
  • You don’t get bitten by a leech
  • You don’t discover unidentifiable spots / lumps / bumps / rashes / bites / marks on your body
  • You get rained on and yet manage to avoid getting a fever
  • The clothes you wash are dry before you leave to go to the next place
  • The clothes you wash are dry (or moved inside) before the monsoonal rains hit
  • Your shoes don’t break
  • You don’t see a child being hit
  • Your bus doesn’t crash into anything
  • You get on the right bus and you get off the bus at the right stop and don’t have to walk half a kilometre to make up for your ineptitude
  • You get a seat on the bus (at least for half the journey)
  • You get to eat pol sambol
  • No men on buses/trains declare their undying love for you
  • You don’t accidentally get your host sister/mother into trouble for something they said/did that you should have kept a secret (but no-one told you it was meant to be a secret)
  • You don’t create a riot in a classroom by giving out (or not giving out) stickers or sweets
  • You go for a walk on a beach and don’t step in something unmentionable
  • Religious services do not broadcast at crazy volumes at 5am
  • The loudspeakers from the local house of worship / wedding / residence association / election / festival do not point into your house
  • You get through an entire lesson without having to rescue a rat from being beaten to death by your students
  • Duck, duck, goose does not involve any injuries
  • None of your students cry
  • You don’t cry
  • No one tells you that you are fat
  • No one asks if you are a boy or a girl
  • You don’t fall over on a bus, or in the middle of the street, or in the middle of a race with your students during class
  • You get through an entire auto ride without it crashing, breaking down, being threatened by a bull and without you having to get out and push
  • The number of people in the vehicle is less than or equal to the number of seats in the vehicle
  • The power doesn’t go out just as your phone battery is about to die
  • There is enough running water in the bathroom for you to be able to complete all relevant ablutions to an appropriately high standard
  • You get tea with no sugar (unless of course you want sugar, in which case a good day is one where you get tea with sugar)
  • You don’t eat a piece of green chili thinking that it is a piece of green bean
  • You order food and the food is exactly as you expect it will be
  • The number of eggs you have eaten this week is less than or equal to the number of eggs you like to eat in a week
  • You don’t get pork in your vegetarian soup (oh, you don’t eat meat or pork!).
  • People don’t treat you like a rock star just because you have less melanin in your skin than they do
  • The clothing you are wearing is appropriate and garners no comments whatsoever
  • You don’t have to give a speech to an entire school (on no notice)
  • No one asks you to sing the Titanic song
  • You don’t have a sari moment (anyone who has ever got home from a long and sweaty day at school and who is in a hurry to get out of their sari so they can go to the toilet and have a wash and who realises part way through disrobing that there is a pin in the middle of their shoulder blade that they forgot about and that they can’t now reach will know exactly what a sari moment is – cue petulant stamping of feet, swearing in multiple languages, tearing of fabric, etc.)
  • The food doesn’t bring tears to your eyes (unless they are tears of joy because it is cheese)
  • You engage in a conversation with someone else and there is no miscommunication whatsoever
  • You don’t get get in the way of a bird excreting (either while standing outside waiting for a bus or while sitting inside at a restaurant)
  • You don’t get ripped off by an auto driver or shopkeeper
  • You ask someone for directions and they tell you the truth or tell you that they don’t know
  • You don’t need an umbrella to go to the toilet
  • You successfully negotiate a squat toilet without mishap
  • You have a hot shower
  • You have a conversation with a priest that doesn’t involve lying (either by him or by you)
  • No teachers tell you that they cane students because they love them
  • You go to Immigration and actually get the visas that you wanted for the price that you wanted (i.e. free) for the dates that you wanted
  • You eat icecream and don’t get sick
  • The plates in the place you’re in are clean enough to eat off (it’s best not to look too closely at the table, and whatever you do – don’t look at the floor!!)
  • You see a woman in a tourist place wearing next to nothing and you don’t feel simultaneously ashamed on her behalf and angry at her
  • You haven’t had to defend your culture against attacks of lack of respect

 

If you are having a day that may not be a good day, then laughing at the hilarity of what’s going on around you while repeating some proven mantras may help.

Suggested mantras include:

  • Ah well, at least it’s not raining! (Note: this one only works when it is not raining, but can be adapted e.g. At least there isn’t a power cut! At least it wasn’t our bus that crashed! At least I was sitting down when our bus crashed! etc.)
  • What to do!?!
  • Shit happens!
  • Worse things happen at sea!
  • You just can’t make this stuff up!!
  • Now this just does not happen back home!
  • Only 3 more weeks till I get decent tea and cheese on toast!
  • This will make a funny pub story … later!

Strangling Cats

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Note: this post is not about actually strangling cats.

The aesthetic sense of different cultures is interesting. Music, dance, visual arts, fashion, etc. in different cultures have different aesthetics to my own culture. And that diversity is quite amazing. It can be very enlightening, educational, interesting, enriching, etc. to discover these art forms. Some have a beauty that resonates despite (or perhaps because of) its difference to my own culture’s art forms.

But in some cases, the differences jar or grate or simply annoy. Sometimes I don’t mind them: I just don’t derive pleasure from them.

Traditional dancing in India is a good example. I find the costumes to be bewildering in their ornateness. They don’t offend my aesthetic sensibilities; I’m just overwhelmed by them. The dancing itself is fascinating (for the most part). I find some movements to be beautiful and interesting and laden with meaning. I find some movements to be cumbersome, inelegant and ugly. But overall, I quite enjoy watching it. Though, not for too long. About 5 mins per dance and about half an hour per dance form is probably enough for me for one sitting. 🙂

But the music that goes with the dancing I find much more difficult. It involves drumming (cool), singing (not so cool), and sometimes a flute (cool) or a violin (not so cool). And I find the singing and the violin sound like someone strangling a cat. Or multiple cats. Quite loudly. For long periods of time.

Now, I’m no fan of cats. However, I still don’t want them to be strangled. And if they are to be strangled (heaven forbid) then I don’t want to listen to it. So I find a music form that to me (and I understand, not to others) sounds like a tribute to cat strangulation somewhat difficult to appreciate.

And it’s not just this music. Malayalam music (and Hindi music) on the whole sound very screechy and whiny to me. This is in part because the women sing about two octaves higher than their voice or my ears can comfortably cope with. It is also an interesting aspect of Malayalam (and Sinhala too) that there are short and long vowel sounds that are identical except for the length of the sound. So if there is a word with a short vowel sound in it, you can’t hold that note while singing (it would then make it a long vowel sound which would change the word). So often singers in these languages hold a consonant (e.g. n, l). And this sounds so very strange to me. And probably contributes to the quality that I interpret as whinyness.

So I find myself listening to music that I like (Pink, for example) in order to top up my musical aesthetic appreciation. And when I do listen to Indian or Sri Lankan music I try to focus on the drums or the dancing and to ignore the cats!

Physical Contact

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

Physical contact between people is something that is dealt with differently in different cultures (and within different subcultures and within different friendship groups and within different families). There are some norms that dictate what physical contact is appropriate between husbands and wives, between parents and children (fathers and sons are different from fathers and daughters and this is different again to mothers and sons and to mothers and daughters). There are also rules for siblings, extended family members, friends, partners, strangers, casual acquaintances, etc.. These norms can also be broken by some individuals just because their preference and behaviour are able to overrule standard behaviour. And collections of people from mixed backgrounds have to develop their own rules as a combination of the rules inherited from each of the individual groups. For example, I have some friends from Europe who do the air kissing thing and so when I meet them I do that (1, 2 or 3 kisses – depending on who they are), but I don’t do that with my other friends, even friends in the same friendship group.

Women in Sri Lanka have a lot of physical contact. They hold hands with each other a lot. In fact, it is incredibly difficult to get a girl to do anything on her own; she is usually attached to at least three other girls at all times. 🙂 Physical contact between men is similar. They hold hands, they put their arms around each other. But physical contact between men and women, even married couples is very, very rare. Handshakes in a formal situation but that’s about it.

In the UK things are different. There is a lot more physical contact (and yet, by European standards, we are very standoffish and isolated). Even though there is no contact between strangers or casual acquaintances (except handshakes) there is contact between friends and within families. I get hugs from each of my friends when I see them, both male and female. There are some male friends who I will walk down the street with my arm around. If I had a boyfriend, I would be able to hold hands with him or walk down the road with my arm around him. I’d be able to kiss him in public. Female friends will frequently hug, though there is usually less physical contact between men in the UK.

Dancing involves an amount of physical contact. And depending on the dance and the couple, there can be quite a bit of physical contact. And part of the point of dancing is to dance with lots of different people. And since there are often more female students than male students, we girls frequently have to dance with the female teachers. What is interesting is that I’d asked one of my teachers about the male teachers dancing with male students. And he said that some of the male students object to dancing with a male teacher. Which I find odd. Dancing can be romantic and it can be intimate and it can be sexual. But dance classes are none of these things. The physical contact is there in order that the dancing can happen. It is mechanical. And what worries me slightly, is that if some of the male students object to dancing with a male teacher then perhaps that’s because they don’t see the physical contact as mechanical. In which case I’m not sure I want to be dancing with them!

Here in India I don’t get much physical contact at all. I feel like enough of an outsider that physical contact with the women here doesn’t seem appropriate and physical contact with the men is definitely out! My Indian family get a hug when I arrive in the country and then another when I leave. But for the several months in between we just smile and wave at each other.

And since I’m someone who thrives on physical contact, I always look forward to getting back to the UK and getting lots of hugs again! 🙂

Aesthetic Sense

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

I think my aesthetic sense might be broken.

I’ve always known I’m a bit different. And my understanding of and appreciation of beauty has always been an obvious point of difference.

So I think my aesthetic sense might be broken.

It’s not completely broken. I can look at many things that other people wow over and I can wow over them too. I agree that many famous people are beautiful/handsome/attractive/whatever. I’ve seen some incredible pictures of landscapes, flowers, animals, corals, constellations, etc and thought they were beautiful. I think a frosted spider’s web early on an autumn morning is breath-takingly beautiful. And don’t even get me started on Edinburgh, or Sri Lanka, or Australia, or Luxembourg, or Tibet, or Nepal, or Cambridge, or the Peak District, etc.

But being in Sri Lanka has brought my aesthetic sense into question. The word ‘lasanai’ means beautiful. And it is one of the most used words in Sinhala. As a result, ‘beautiful’ is an English word that one hears a lot in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan’s care about aesthetics. They, as a nation, seem to have a well-developed aesthetic sense.

And the more time I spend with them, the more I realise that mine is broken.

They look at pictures of Sri Lankan brides (I’m mostly talking about Sinhalese women who go for a traditional Kandyan style wedding) and go all gooey. They all say ‘lasanai’ and draw out the s-sound to really emphasize it. And I smile and usually say ‘lasanai’. Sometimes I’m more honest: ‘wow, all that jewellery must weigh a lot’, ‘zykes, doesn’t it take a long time to get their hair done like that?’, etc. To be perfectly honest, I don’t find the wedding outfits aesthetically pleasing at all. I think the make-up is over-done. The jewellery is ridiculous and completely overwhelms the poor thing underneath. I think that Kandyan style saris do nothing whatsoever to beautify women (a few friends who have seen photos have asked me if one of the purposes of the Kandyan sari is to make women look ugly – I tend to agree). The sari jackets are tight and the gap between the bottom of the sari jacket and the waist is big enough to ensure that a roll of fat is visible, in even the thinnest woman. This seems to be desirable. I don’t find it pleasing. Now, this is ok. These women are not getting dressed in order to please me. It doesn’t matter that I don’t think it looks nice. They seem to think they look beautiful and other Sri Lankans seem to and surely that’s the point. My point is simply that I don’t find it attractive, and everyone else seems to.

Jewellery generally is something I just don’t get. I have no desire to wear it (mostly from a pragmatic point of view). I find some of it pretty, usually the simple, symmetric stuff. But I look at most of it and think that it looks gaudy or ridiculous or hideous.

I don’t understand Sinhalese (and Hindi) music. The women all seem to sing about an octave higher than their voices (and my ears) can comfortably cope with. So to me it sounds very screechy.

I’ve seen Kandyan dancing. And lots of people really love Kandyan dancing. On the whole I think it is somewhat ridiculous. I don’t find the movements beautiful. I understand that some of them are technically difficult and some of the execution of these difficult manoeuvres seems to be very well done. Though, some of it seems not so. But in any case I just don’t see why people would put their bodies into those positions since they don’t seem to me to very nice. (I have the same attitude to ballet). Perhaps I just don’t understand the symbolism of the work. This isn’t to say that I find all dance unappealing. I’ve seen some amazing contemporary dance that I thought was wonderful (though some of that also looks ridiculous). I think that a lot of the dancing that Madonna and some of her dancers do is wonderful. I find some ballroom/rock and roll/swing/etc dancing to be very nice too. I like watching ice dancing during the Olympics because I find some of that really beautiful.

So I don’t think my aesthetic sense is completely broken. But I do think it is broken.

Clothing. Oh dear. Clothing. Again, a lot of what people see as beautiful, I see as hideous, impractical, asymmetrical (in an non-pleasing way), chaotic, cluttered, garish. People (other volunteers and locals and my friends who see pictures) look at saris that various teachers wear in Sri Lanka and comment on how beautiful some of them are. I find very few of them to my taste. Even fewer are things that I would like to wear. But even just considering how they look on the women wearing them, I’m not enamoured. And this is without the practicalities coming into play. The sari is a completely ridiculous item of clothing to wear in a hot country while teaching. I’ll say no more about it now, I’ve ranted enough in other places about it. 🙂

In India, I had a conversation with one of my friends about various film stars (male and female) and which ones we each thought were attractive. Our differences in opinion were quite extreme. He was very careful to point out that he doesn’t think I have bad taste, just that our tastes are extremely different. Mind you, he didn’t like ‘Lord of the Rings’ and he doesn’t like strawberries, so perhaps his aesthetic sense is equally broken, but in a different direction. 🙂

I have realised that aspects of beauty are certainly cultural. Some of the volunteers have mentioned the fatter Sri Lankan women who roll out of their saris and don’t seem to care. The underlying assumption seems to be that the fat rolls are not attractive. However, Sri Lankan women seem to cultivate at least a certain amount of fat. I had a young Sri Lankan woman complain that her skin was too dark and she was too thin to wear a sari. It is unlikely that a western woman would complain of dark skin or being too thin.

There is one area where my aesthetic sense does seem to work. And that’s the natural world. Waterfalls, landscapes, valleys, mountains, cloud formations, trees, (flowers not so much), birds and animals to a lesser extent. I think Sri Pada (in Sri Lanka) and Poon Hill (in Nepal) and almost anywhere in Tibet are amazingly beautiful. I love the rainforests in Australia. I love the British countryside. Beaches don’t really do it for me, but lakes and rivers and mountains and forests certainly do.

So perhaps my aesthetic sense is just wired up in a different way. Or perhaps my attitude to make-up, clothing, jewellery etc just gets in the way of me being able to appreciate the beauty that may be there.

In any case, there are lots of things around me that I find beautiful. The fact that these things are not the same things as the things that other people find beautiful isn’t a problem. It’s just an interesting difference. 🙂 And interesting differences are things that I most certainly do find beautiful! 🙂

Getting to Poonthura – Part 1 – Pre-Travel

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

I was in Sri Lanka. I wanted to be in Poonthura (in Trivandrum district, Kerala, India). Not a problem. With the plethora of transportation options on offer, this should be easy. And it was. Sort of.

The journey turned out to be fantastic (just to give away the ending). But it was something of an adventure. 🙂

The first not so great decision was deciding to travel on the 20th of December. This is quite close to Christmas which causes transport to get booked up earlier than it would otherwise. But not a problem.

The second not so great decision was not actually making my final decision on dates until quite late (November I think). This meant trains were booked up. Trains in India tend to book up a week or two before travel under normal circumstances, for travel dates just before Christmas this is even worse.

The first interesting decision was to run with the Chennai plan. I could fly from Colombo to Trivandrum (the airport is only a few kilometres from Poonthura), or I could fly to Chennai and then get from there to Trivandrum and then to Poonthura. I decided to go with the Chennai option since that would save me about 100GBP. Which is a lot of mangoes! (As it turns out, it was also good fun, so definitely the right decision.)

The first brilliant decision was arranging with Johny to come to Chennai to meet me. He would bring a couple of his friends. We would have a couple of days in Chennai and then get the train back to Trivandrum. No problem.

Except for the lack of train tickets.

Ah well, it’s India, anything is possible in India.

Johny assured me that getting on the train would be ok and that we didn’t need to book in advance. I trusted him. (Ok, so I did buy a cancellable flight from Chennai to Trivandrum for the 23rd, just in case the boys couldn’t get to Chennai and I couldn’t get back to Trivandrum any other way. Shhhh. Don’t tell Johny. 🙂 I do trust him, honest! 🙂

Before I left Colombo, Johny told me that he and his friend had train tickets to get to Chennai. So that was good. We would then have an interesting adventure in Chennai and getting back but at least there would be three of us. Roll on my Chennai adventure!

The Verb “To Ride”

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

In English we use the verb ‘to ride’ in a couple of different ways. It can be a passive thing, like riding in car or on a train. It can be an active thing, like riding a horse or riding a bike.

In Sri Lanka, riding a bus is not of the former category, it is of the latter.

Riding a bus in Sri Lanka involves every muscle group – whether you are standing or sitting. It involves paying attention to what the road and traffic are doing in an attempt (usually a vain attempt) to predict the next movement of the vehicle and adjust your centre of mass and anchor points appropriately.

It is good fun though and cheaper than a roller coaster or a gym membership!

Sri Lankan Tragedy

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

A 7 year old student in a school where one of our volunteers worked died. It was in the newspapers.

The story is that the mother (32 years old) had accidentally given some medicine to her 4 year old son some months ago. The 4 year old had died. It was an accident. The mother had meant no harm. The family blamed the mother. (In Sri Lanka ‘blame’ is a stronger word than in the UK, it means to scold, to accuse, to argue with.) The mother in law in particular, it seems, was quite unpleasant towards the mother. The mother couldn’t cope. And Sri Lanka doesn’t really have a social welfare system so she didn’t have many choices. She decided to kill herself. The shame, the pressure, the grief. Who knows all the emotions she was subject to. She locked herself and the 7 year old in the bedroom. It seems she’d taken some pills and had tried to suffocate herself and the boy. She set fire to the bed. Both died. I have heard that there were scratch marks on the door where the boy had tried to escape.

It saddens me and it angers me that one accidental act resulted in the deaths of 3 people. Surely one death was tragedy enough.

Grade Six at Central College

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

I was teaching primary in Eheliyagoda. The manager of the local RESC (Regional English Support Centre) asked if I (and the other volunteers) could help run a programme one afternoon for grade 6 students from a nearby secondary school. Sure. That would be great! I said I’d ask the others but that I’d certainly do it. Jean said she’d love to help out so that was nice, so I knew there would be two of us. I wasn’t sure if we’d have any other help or not. So I tried to plan a 2 hour session for 150 students that I could deliver on my own (with Jean helping) but that would also work if there were teachers from the school to help out. This turned out to be easier than I’d imagined.

We did have some teachers from the school plus a couple of the teachers from our primary school came along too to see what we were up to and to help out.

We had a hall and there was a white board. I had some small balls (Jean had brought several over from England). What more does one need! 🙂

We had about 100 students, I think.

I started off by introducing myself and Jean.

We split the kids into 4 groups. There was a teacher supervising each group. The teachers didn’t know what the plan was since I hadn’t met them until just before the session started.

Each group was given a ball. The first person in the group said their name and two things about themselves and then threw the ball to another student who had to repeat the information and then give their own information.

We did several activities during the session. We played 20 questions (where a pair of students were told the identity of a famous person and the rest of the group had to ask questions to work out who they were). We had a debate (each group divided into two smaller groups, the first group had the topic “TV is bad” the second “Technology is good”. Each person in the group had to say one thing either for or against the topic. Then the group did the other topic.

Between activities, I got everyone together again. We did tongue twisters and talked about the shape of the mouth for the different sounds. ‘I want a proper cup of coffee from a proper copper coffee pot.’ ‘If two witches were watching two watches, which witch would watch which watch.’ We did a song, Chester.

All in all, it was a great day. The students were eager and enthusiastic and their confidence grew throughout the afternoon. The teachers helping out were great (and I think some of them learnt something too). Jean was amazing! I had so much fun and I learnt a lot too.

This is what language teaching should be all about!

Uda Walewe

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

We visited a national park called Uda Walewe. We stayed in a nice little hotel not too far from the park. The guy at the hotel arranged a jeep safari for us.

We got picked up at 6am. In the morning. 6. In the morning. Before breakfast (actually, that was good, I really didn’t want to have to get up early enough to be able to have breakfast in the morning before leaving at 6).

There were four of us. The jeep was pretty funky. We drove to the park. There were some very nice views on the way to the park of the sun over the hills and the mist beginning to rise off the trees. Beautiful!

We got to the park and got our tickets and our guide.

Off we went. I was standing on the seats (as was the guide) in order to be able to get a good view. Plus I could hold on to the bars on the roof (the canvass had been rolled back). It was a bit like being on a Sri Lankan bus. 🙂

We didn’t get far into the park before we started to see interesting things.

We saw peacocks in trees. They fly you know. Not far, only about a 100 meters. But they don’t like the rain (their feathers get wet and heavy) so just before the rain comes they fly up into a tree (not entirely sure how that helps them, to be honest, but I applaud them for having a plan – it might be that when wet they can’t get into the tree – (but they can get out) so maybe getting into the tree first just opens up their options).

We saw land monitors.
We saw hawks of varying types.
We saw spotted deer.
We saw a golden jackal.
We saw a wild dog (more about the dog shortly).
We saw painted storks.
We saw pelicans.
We saw parakeets.
We saw black robins.
We saw a couple of different types of bee eaters.
And we saw elephants!!!!!

Lots of elephants. Baby elephants (one that was probably only a week or two old). Some young males and females. Some bulls. Some older females. We saw some bulls on their own (and in pairs). We saw the herd of adult females and babies.

We also saw other tourists and a BBC camera crew.

But they were less interesting than the elephants. 🙂

There was also a dog. As many of you know, I’m not a big fan of dogs. It turns out elephants aren’t either. It seems that dogs hunt the baby elephants (“do di do do do do do do do do, do do”). The adults are (understandably) a bit miffed by this and seem to respond by chasing dogs when they see them (or smell or hear them – their hearing and sense of smell are much better than their eyesight). If the elephants catch the dog, they will kill it.

There were two elephants from the herd who had noticed the dog so they were chasing it. At one stage the dog was on the right hand side of the road and the elephants were on the left. We were on the road coming up to this point. Fortunately, our guide signalled for the driver to stop. None of us fancied being in between a charging elephant and the object of its dissatisfaction.

The elephants didn’t catch the dog on this occasion.

It turns out elephants are quite nimble things! They can run quite fast. They are agile. Watching them use trunk, teeth and feet to strip bark off tree branches is fascinating!

After watching lots of the birds and animals in search of food, we went back to the hotel for an awesome breakfast for us (pol roti, pol sambol, seeni sambol, butter, jam)!