Sri Lanka Trip
At 3pm on a cold and drizzly Sunday afternoon in the school Easter holidays, 44 students and staff left Vandyke for a once in a lifetime trip to Sri Lanka. After 14 hours of travelling we arrived to what can only be described as a riot of sights, sounds, smells and colours. The temperature was 37 degrees and rising!
We were met by our guide, who proved to be the most knowledgeable person I think the students had ever met. During our 10 day tour we stayed in 5 hotels and managed to travel from one end of this amazing country to the other. We visited so many places it’s hard to pick out just a few.
Some of the highlights included visiting 5 world heritage sites, including a very hot and steep climb up Sigiriya Rock (or the lion rock), a visit to a primate conservation project where we had the opportunity to just sit and be with 3 different species of monkeys; watching them interact with each other and us was fascinating. We also spent time with some of Sri Lanka’s amazing elephants with some students getting the opportunity to feed them, followed by lunch watching them in the river being bathed, an experience that all of us will remember for ever.
The group also visited a tea plantation, went early morning whale watching in Marissa, took a train ride through the mountains of Bandarawella and spent a very wet afternoon and evening on a very bumpy but amazing Jeep Safari in the Yala National Park!
Perhaps the most memorable part of the trip for us all was a visit to a small village Buddhist Temple in the high hills. During the visit, the staff and students took part in a traditional ceremonial welcome blessing which involved a parade of all of us carrying offerings to the temple followed by a blessing from the simple monk where all of us practised meditation and had a personal blessing and the receiving of a holy cord to bring us luck. This was a really moving experience for all concerned and was followed by a simple tea put on for us by the monk in his home.
After the excitement of 8 days’ travelling we spent the last two days in an amazing 4* hotel on the beach where all involved got a chance to relax, swim and recharge our batteries in temperatures topping 40 degrees before our long journey home.
Sri Lanka is truly one of the most amazing, friendly and beautiful countries any of us has ever visited and we are already planning our next Vandyke trip to this magical country!