Sunday, December 21, 2014

Kandy (Teas & Elephants)

After sitting cross legged on the floor at the edge of a jam-packed rustic train for 3 hours, you expect nothing less from a famous city like Kandy to deliver.

And delivered she did.

Kandy, one of the more famous city in Sri Lanka surged in popularity after AirAsia connected most parts of South East Asia to Colombo. Sri Lanka has been popular for decades on its elephant conservation and tourism, but for the longest of time too, Sri Lanka had suffered from various tensions which have caused a lot of religious and political unrest.

But beautiful things do not need to fight for attention.

Over the years, the conservation efforts and wildlife tourism of Sri Lanka, or everything for that matter, which include its vibrant economy, people and culture crept through the ears and sights of traveler of all kinds, westerners largely who then slowly but surely put the word out there that Sri Lanka, IS the next big thing in Asia.

To be honest, I had no idea why we chose to visit Sri Lanka other than the fact that both our ancestors are from Sri Lanka, so it felt just right that we visit this beautiful country just once before we die.

But the more I read about Sri Lanka, Kandy, Colombo, the more I fell in love with it.

Did you know that Sri Lanka is an entire island itself? Imagine their ancestors which some have recorded may have found Sri Lanka as early as 125,000 years ago is just simply unimaginable. With its international maritime relationship with India, and rich in resources, Sri Lanka developed through various monarchs and then reached to its modern period through explorers from Portugal, Holland, France and then the Great Britain. Among its colonisers' legacy were the now the world's famous, tea plantations which have honoured them as one of the world's best tea producers.

And Kandy, was the capital city of the world's top tea producer. It is believed to have the highest form of tea quality, with the best of technology. Now, Kandy enjoys brewing from its tea tourism as well which includes classes, visitations and partnerships.

Myself and Daren were privileged to go on a 30 minutes tour at one of the finest tea workshop in Kandy, and even tried their world famous teas!

And then there were the real reasons we came to Kandy for.

Lo and behold, the Sri Lankan elephants! At Pinnawalla Elephant Orphanage.

I was SOO HAPPY I get to see these giant elephants at their "natural habitat" because they're still being monitored as this effort was to multiply them and keep their generations. The conditions are a lot more natural than zoos, because they're free to roam around these huge area which are acres of plantations, but are trained to come back to their respective homes. Like the Orang Utans in Sandakan, sometimes, the animals have a bigger chance of surviving and multiplying if they're in the watch as opposed to being completely in the wild, some die from poisons, some through lack of food.

One part of the visit was the allowance of watching the elephant bathe in the river, seeing almost a hundred of them walking towards the river was a DREAM. Seeing them bathe at their own will and just seeing them interacting with one another IS THE ULTIMATE DREAM.

We visited two orphanage, one the government owned orphanage which allowed us to ride on the elephants and have real interactions, like bathing them and hugging them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was an AMAZING privilege. 

I was so happy, I cried :')

You can steal all my money, but you can't take away that memory of me. HAPPY

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Counting Days

This year I volunteered myself to sing for carols and do my rounds of charity in a local hospital. While I expected lots of fun, and some kind of sadness because we're seeing kids who will be "stuck" more like in the hospital this festive season - I wasn't expected to be completely touched by the visit the way that I was.

The rounds in the hospital was already tough on me, and after the carols - each of us connected the kids the way we wanted to. Some spoke to them and their families, some played games, while others continued the rhymes.

I didn't speak to any because I was already depressingly affected by the whole visit of the wards and seeing these heroes through the hands and eyes of Doctors, Nurses and Medical assistants were the creme de la creme.

During my last round of the ward visit, I decided to speak to a boy (presumably around 7 - 9) who stood by the corner of his ward looking out for the group dressed adoringly in red and glitters. His mum came from behind and started chatting up with me, asking me where we were from, and what the prizes were.


I asked the mum what his sickness was and when will he be discharged. It really were the most natural questions to ask someone who are in the ward, I figured. Until the mum told me, that he's had heart and liver infection for the longest time, and that he is to be discharged now. Halfway through while talking to the mum, I realised that the boy was dressed in the fanciest Chelsea jersey, blue jeans in what seemed like a brand new pair of sports shoes.

I gleefully asked the mum, "wow, these are all new??"

Mum smiled at me and said, yes, we are to be discharged today because we cannot afford operations and we have to go back home and "stay positive". Living with a doctor for the past 6 years taught me to understand these terms more than ever - this means, the family and the kid are counting days.

I lost it that moment, and ran out to the hallway and cried so hard that I didn't want to stop. But I did, I had to.

I realised God or anyone up there has given me SO much of time and love around me, that there is ABSOLUTELY no reason for me for one second to be sad. Or pessimist. Or depressed.

Of anything.

Also, I should never speak to anyone in hospitals anymore. I just shouldn't. I'm not cut for the hospitals - I will leave that to my brother.

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.