6 February 2018
These photos are from our hotel - they have wonderful black and white photos of Sri Lankan sites and arts and crafts all around the hotel. My apologies to the original photographer(s), since none of the photos include names.
Yesterday morning, I had an interesting conversation with one of the waiters at breakfast. Richard and I have a favorite table that we like to sit at - near a window so we can see out, not too close to the air conditioner but not near the door to the smoking area, all that. (I know, I feel like Sheldon in "Big Bang.") I came down for brekkie, but the table was occupied. So I got my watermelon and chose another table. But then the people left, and our friendly waiter cocked his head to our table. I nodded, and moved my watermelon as he cleared and reset the table for us.
So I smiled and said that I often have good karma this way. He looked startled, and said "You know about karma??" I explained that I was a child of the 60s, that the Beatles visited India and came back to the western world and shared concepts like karma and other ideas from Hinduism and Buddhism. (Seemed like the simple and quick explanation.) The guy said that in Hindu, "karma" means destiny. But that in Singhala (which is the language of the Buddhist people in Sri Lanka), "karma" means more. I said that my understanding was that karma means the intention and the actions that you put out into the world, which then comes back to you according to what you put out there. That there is a balance to how you act and what you receive. That that balance is karma. He looked even more surprised, and said that yes, that is karma in the Singhala perception. I said that I thought that dharma is more like one's destiny, which is influenced by one's karma. And he agreed again. Then commented that he was just very surprised to have me talking about karma and dharma, and understanding the Singhalese point of view.
Well, I'm not sure my karma is holding.
We were supposed to fly to the Maldives today. We had our plane tickets booked and organized, we booked a hotel for four days in the capital, Malé, and we identified several places on other islands that we thought we might book once we were there.
I don't know how much info the US has re the political situation in
the Maldives. It's all rather confusing and hard to follow. For some reason, the President had some twelve or so Members of Parliament of the opposition majority thrown in jail on charges that were basically either fake or immaterial. The Supreme Court ruled
against this and said these MPs should be freed. The Attorney General backed
the President and wouldn't let them out. The Supreme Court ordered the police to free
these people, but the President has fired two police chiefs in three days. On Monday morning, the President called back all military to the capital,
suspended Parliament, and by Tuesday morning the military had taken over Parliament building.
The nice hotel we
innocently booked turns out to be 1 km from the government house, and 3/4 of a km
(less than half a mile) from the Parliament.
And people are
demonstrating against both sides, calling for impeachments, fighting the
police or each other, all over the capital.
You can just picture how we were feeling, right?
spent Monday morning cancelling our flights and getting a refund. Then
cancelling the hotel and getting a refund. Booking a flight to where
we've been talking about going to next, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Finding
out our fave hotel there was all booked up, but their slightly more
posh sister hotel half a block away has room, and booking that for 11
days. mThen booking our cheaper, less posh, but homier hotel for the
following 10 days. Getting all the paperwork organized, and booking one
more night here in Sri Lanka - except I booked the wrong night and had
to Skype the toll-free number of the online booking agent to straighten
that out. (Only because I explained the political situation to the guy
who answered, and he could tell that I was a bit frazzled at that point.
It was a nonrefundable rate, but he cancelled and refunded it, and
re-booked the correct dates for me. Such a nice guy!)
and hotel reservations printed and packed away. Itinerary and contact
info sent to all of our brothers. Clothes all packed. We will leave on
Wed., and arrive in KL. And look for another dr for Richard who can
prescribe physical therapy while we're there. Also, he can see his dentist there. (He has
favorite dentists in a few spots.) I can also go do some batiks in the
central market. We'll be happy, and our hotels are incredibly
That was our crazy Monday morning. Today, Tuesday, the situation in the Maldives has gotten worse. Some of the Supreme Court justices have been arrested and jailed. The previous president, who was in exile, and is a member of the opposition to the current president, returned and was arrested. And get this - he is the half-brother of the current president!
The current president has called for a 15-day state of emergency, ostensibly to investigate the situation with all of these jailed politicians and what he is now calling an attempted coup. (Which is quite confusing, since he's the one who had these politicians thrown in jail, as well as called for all the military to return to the capital.)
So while we both were looking forward to the
Maldives, we're happy to avoid what is rapidly turning into political
turmoil. We'd rather avoid martial law and curfews, which I'm sure will
be the next step.
I never paid so much attention to the political situation in small nations until we started travelling!
So off to Kuala Lumpur in the early morning! I hope to check on my little buddy Comel (pronounced chah-MELL in Malay), the little tiny lost kitten I helped care for the last time we were in KL.
I also wanted to include some information about our hotels in Sri Lanka, since they really were great places. We booked through hotels.com since we get a free night for every ten nights stayed anywhere - but these are the names and links directly to the hotel's websites.
In Colombo, the Fair View Hotel has been great - comfortable, clean, reasonable prices, friendly staff, and a great breakfast. They have other hotels on the coast, but we never got there. I'd probably like them too. Anyway, the Fair View: www.tangerinehotels.com/fairview/
In Godakawale, we stayed at the OwinRich Resort - again, comfortable, affordable, clean, and helpful staff. They organized my trips for the safari through the national park as well as the visit to the Elephant Transit Home. Totally recommend them, and in hindsight, it would have been a good place to stay and take day trips throughout the area. Their website seems to be acting up, but here is their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/owinrich/ and the hotels.com link: www.uk.hotels.com/ho620103/owinrich-resort-godakewela-sri-lanka/
In Kandy, we stayed at the Residence Rivora. It's a truly lovely place, a bit outside the city but I like the quiet of not being right in the middle of downtown. Nice staff, comfortable room, and really great decor - very Italianate! www.rivoraresidence.com/
Okay, packing to finish and an early wake up. Tomorrow, Kuala Lumpur!!