There are times that you wake up on a Sunday morning and think to yourself, what do I do today? Do I take it easy and relax a little? Do I find a quiet spot and lose myself between the pages of a book? Or do I hit the road and go for a drive? It just so happens that on this particular Sunday morning, the last day of the year 2017, my wife and I decided that we should hit the road and go somewhere that we’ve never been before. Having decided to spend New Year’s Eve in Galle, our choices were somewhat limited, but, we unanimously picked Matara as the destination for the day.
They say, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” and the journey to Matara from Galle is a living testament to this statement.
After spending a majority of the previous day travelling from Kandy to Katharagama, I wasn’t pleased with the prospect of waking at 4.00 a.m.the next morning. But none the less, on this cold October morning, I woke up excited for the main activity planned for the day! I packed my camera equipment and headed off to Tissamaharama where we rendezvoused with our Guide. From Tissa we drove our Safari jeep to the main entrance of the Yala National Park.
I remember the first time I visited Yala. It was during an annual company excursion. I remember it being a lot of fun because the colleagues who were in my group were all wildlife enthusiasts and we engaged in a very interesting and informative discussion with our Guide that included many stories based on his personal experiences. I also remember Yala being very dry, warm and dusty! I spent hours cleaning my camera after we got back to the Hotel. Sadly the only animals we were able to see were Wild Boars, lot of Peacocks,a couple of herds of Elephants and Deer, Crocodiles and a variety of Birds.
Growing up in an average middle class family, the idea of camping seemed to be somewhat farfetched. To be honest, when we were growing up, we didn’t have the opportunities or facilities available today for camping. As far as I know the only people who regularly went camping those days were the scouts. The family camping trips and father-son camping trips were “cool stuff” that happened in soaps and movies.
My first taste of camping was at Interact Youth Camp at Pedro Scout Camp, Nuwara Eliya. And boy that was one heck of an experience! Trekking through the forest on treasure hunts, having to face different physical challenges like crossing a river on a rope bridge and completing obstacle courses, learning how to build a fire and make ‘roti’ for dinner, sitting around a bonfire singing songs and spinning yarns were some of my most cherished memories. I honestly feel that youth camp changed me for the better! It took me out of my comfort zone and taught me how to rough it in the great outdoors!
After a somewhat of a lame safety briefing I started to make my way along a narrow foot path towards the bank of the Kelani River. It was roughly 9 am on a gloomy Monday morning. We spent the previous two days engaging in various outbound training activities, and it was finally time to go White Water Rafting. The team bonded over the past two days; working together, having fun and getting to know the person behind the face that we see everyday at office. One could taste the excitement and tension in the air. We were looking forward to an awesome experience.
Geared up in safety vests, helmets, and paddle in hand, we continue down the winding foot path as the rain beat down on us. The closer we got to the river, the sound of the rain drops hitting our helmets and vests got muffled by the roar of the raging river. It was at this moment, that it struck me. I’m going white water rafting!!! I don’t know how to swim!!! I heard my mom’s voice in my head, telling me the dangers of rafting. I took a moment to clear my mind, a moment to think. We wouldn’t do this if it was that dangerous, would we? take such a big risk? My thought process was interrupted when my team mate, put his arm around my shoulder and started to talk to me. There was no turning back now, no one was backing down, everyone was anxious to get on the water.Continue reading →