Monday, April 20, 2015

Travel Monday: Profound Lessons from Sri Pada

For many people climbing a mountain is all about getting to the top and back down again as swiftly and efficiently as possible (and taking a few snaps along the way and posting them to social media). Travelers, the world over, love to conquer mountains and it's an understandable thing. You want to challenge yourself physically and emotionally. But there are only a few sacred mountains around the world that will challenge your faith and beliefs and possibly teach you something more profound. Sri Pada is one such sacred mountain.

A Sri Lankan pilgrim in her sixties told me local pilgrims a few hundred years ago would transfer title deeds to their land or property to family members before attempting the Sri Pada pilgrimage. They expected a lot of obstructions and difficulties and the real possibility of not returning from their journey! But this was long before before the construction of the winding concrete paths and metal railings aiding the trek up and down the sacred mountain.

I recently made my second pilgrimage to Sri Pada with a group of close friends. It had been on my "must-redo" list for a couple of years now, but timing and circumstances hadn't worked in my favor till now. Unlike my first visit, I was really inspired by my friends to put more into this pilgrimage. And I have to say it paid off in spades... some things were realized during my time on the mountain, while other things are to be realized further down the track.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

An expat in Sri Lanka: the Good, Bad and Ugly - Part 13

Eva Stone photo, Sri Pada, Adam's Peak, holy mountain, pilgrimage, April 2015
If you're wondering what this expat has been up to lately, I can share that I've literally just come down the mountain a few days ago - I climbed Sri Pada (a.k.a. Adam's Peak) with a group of friends and we also organized a dansel offering free food and drinks to pilgrims making the climb to the peak. Presently, my legs are aching and I guess it's obvious I've worked muscles in my legs that haven't been worked hard in quite awhile. Notwithstanding the physical fatigue and body aches, there is a deep sense of grace and joy from making this pilgrimage. It was heartwarming to ring the bell twice at the top of Sri Pada to acknowledge my two visits.

I'll be writing a more detailed post on this second visit to Sri Pada in one of my upcoming "Travel Monday" blog posts! I have so much to share from spending a few days around Sri Pada. If you're interested in reading about my first visit to Sri Pada in the blog post "Travel Monday: Sri Pada - Pilgrimage, Faith and Spectacular Sunrises".

It does seem strange that this will be my first "An expat in Sri Lanka" blog post for 2015. It feels like 2015 has raced along! Can you believe it's April already with Avurudu in a few days? If we were having a drink together, I'd ask what you've been up to these past few months. I hope it's been filled with opportunity and happy times. Aside from work and everyday life, I've been quite busy hosting family and friends and exploring old and new places around the island. I'll be sharing more of these adventures over the next little while on the blog.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Travel Monday: Visiting Minneriya National Park during the Off-Season

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, entrance, jeep safari, wildlife
As many of my regular readers will know, Minneriya National Park is one of my favorite places to visit. I wrote about one of my visits during the dry season in a blog post titled "Travel Monday: Jeep Safari of Minneriya National Park". The dry season is from June to September, though the period between May to October is considered open season for visiting Minneriya.  The dry season is a particularly good time to visit as it's when water is scarce around the park so the Minneriya Tank becomes the prime vantage point for seeing all the wildlife!

It's not always easy to plan your visits around the best time of the year, particularly if you take holidays during the earlier part of the year. But, this has never been a barrier for me to visit Minneriya during the off-season. In fact, it's quite a peaceful time to go and enjoy the Minneriya Tank and I glimpse some of the wildlife, without the throng of lots of tourists and jeeps, and the pressure of seeking out a lot of wildlife.

This year I visited in January with a few relatives who had flown over for a visit. They had never been on a jeep safari before so they were pleased as punch to be experiencing this for the first time.