Our trip on the catamaran was succeeded the day after by visits to several different Buddhist temples in and around Polonnaruwa, which was the 2nd capital city of Sri Lanka and a World Heritage site.
In addition to some pesky and hungry monkeys that by now we were more than used to, these chaps were wandering around. Now the picture does not do their size justice, they were HUGE and we genuinely felt like we were in Jurassic Park for a moment.
In-between flocking to the tourist sites, our guide stopped off every so often to pick up his everyday essentials. He stopped off at this stall to buy some fruit to take home to his family, but gave us a chance to try the mangoes. They were definitely not the juiciest mangoes of the honeymoon though... (oh behave).
Another trip offered, that wasn't originally included in our tour (are you noticing a theme yet?) was a little tea-stop at a tea plantation/factory. Being told that the tour was free I reluctantly spoke on behalf of me and my wife and agreed to give it a whirl. [Mrs. Worldwide; 'I tried to get us out of it by saying I had been to one in Malaysia but you just sat there panicking going "oh go on then" so quite frankly you had it coming.']
Having been shown round for approximately 10-15 minutes I thought it only fair to buy some tea in the gift shop. Thirty pounds later (!!!) and I had enough tea to make brews for a lifetime. Our tea lady then showed us round a random museum that had typewriters from England from it and told me to take pictures of random pieces of metal from Leicester. (This album is available on request for any interested parties.) She then somehow managed to separate me from my wife and told me to give her a tip ("Like tour, give tip") just in case I was under any impression we were leaving her empty handed.
Here is me, mid rip-off. If blogs had sound, you'd hear my wife tutting in the background. To make matters worse I asked if the tea I was buying was in bags. "Yes Sir, it's in bags". Once back in the UK, I opened the tea and it was all loose tea leaves... NOT IN BAGS. So now I'm the ponce who serves brews with a strainer...
Next up, and possibly the highlight of our trip, was our visit to the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala. We started by visiting this motley crew at the river. The elephants are taken to the river in small groups throughout the day to wash and play before the whole group excursion later in the afternoon. We had a beautiful lunch watching them play and my wife was just pleased not to have the biggest ears in the photograph.
After lunch, we walked over to the main site of the orphanage and stopped for a short browse at some harems. However, what I didn't realise was that we were aiming for feeding time... and it was quickly ending while I was engaged in a bartering battle worthy of the souks. Cue strop from Mrs Worldwide; 'you're making me walk fast in thirty four degree heat because you had to haggle for some **** harems and now we're going to miss the exact thing we flew all the way here for'. She was not happy... But I have some beautiful harems purchased for a bargain price so swings and roundabouts eh?
She soon cheered up when we entered the orphanage though. We were lucky enough to see some babies being fed with the world's biggest bottles. The guide explained that these babies were not born in the orphanage otherwise they would be fed by their mothers, but rather they had been rescued from the wild after their mothers had been killed. It's tragic that in today's day and age we still have such little respect for our wildlife, but places like this do invaluable work to protect them. You could really tell the elephants were treated with respect and were happy. Many of the elephants go on to live long happy lives at the orphanage that they would otherwise may have not had.
At around 4pm, the group all make their way to the river for an evening dip. The troupe all parade through the orphanage, make light work of crossing the road and meander through tiny streets to get there, led by one guide who is desperately trying to get over enthusiastic tourists out of the way.
And just like that, our Sri Lankan experience was over when we were dropped off at the Ramada in Colombo. The hotel had a spectacular array of Christmas decor, including this fabulous Christmas cone bouquet which took my wife's fancy. Easily pleased...
We spent our last evening sipping cocktails under the Sri Lankan sun. Oh wait, no. There was a torrential thunderstorm and we were stuck outside under a parasol as we had ordered shisha which we weren't allowed to take indoors. However, being sat there in the rain, with our cocktails and shisha feeling like we were the only two people for miles was one of the best memories of the honeymoon.