Friday, April 27, 2018

Day 21 in Sri Lanka – 26 April 2018

A land I'd never imagined visiting before :)

I’d never thought or imagined that I would stay this long – three weeks now - here in Sri Lanka, a country where the majority of its population was Buddhist (70.2%).  It started from months ago when a good friend of mine, Tashi, introducing me her good friend, Sonam, who was studying Medical faculty here at a University in Ragama. She told him that I was a passionate traveler who loved visiting places especially the Buddhist pilgrimage sites, and fortunately, he was willing to receive me at his rented place, and even bring me around places in Sri Lanka.

 First time taking Srilankan Air

I bought the air ticket after he had his schedule confirmation. Earlier, he said he would have holiday on the first two week of April, followed by exam on the third week, then normal class at the last. Sinhalese New Year fell on 14th April and Vesak Day on 29th April. Both days were very important in the country and I thought of experiencing it. That was why I planned of staying here this long (total of 25 days).

From the top of Adam's Peak or Sripada in Srilanka

Until today, we have visited almost all the places that I had wanted to visit, starting from the famous Sri Pada (sacred footprint) or also known as Adam’s Peak – thousands steps of stairs climbing experience in the middle of the night for 3-4 hours and waited there until the sun rose; the ancient city of Anuradhapura – to visit many pilgrimage sites including dagobas, temples, stupa, Bodhi tree that sapling was brought over from Bodhgaya after Buddha reached enlightenment; the ancient cave in Dambulla; the Sigiriya rock fortress; the Temple of the Tooth (Buddha’s tooth relic) in Kandy; the Peradeniya Botanical Garden; the cool mountains with lots of tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya and Ella; the nostalgic Old Town in Galle filled with buildings built during Portugal, Dutch, and England’s time; the beautiful Unawatuna beach; and many other places in Colombo city. We have wrapped almost all by now and only left with very few places plus the Vesak celebration by end of this month.

 Celebrating Sinhalese New Year 

On the Sinhalese New Year, Sonam had last minute requested his ex-tenant to let me and juniors experiencing their culture at their home (what they usually did on New Year), plus we were invited for dinner the day after that. There, I experienced on how they usually received guest, what types of food and drink they served, the ambience, and so on.

Srilankan New Year's dinner party at aunty and uncle house 

 From this trip, I had never thought too that at this age, I had the opportunity to experience the real life of Bhutanese students who had to study for a long period of time (at least five years for Medical faculty), so far away from home, and felt their struggle in adapting their new life (with the weather that similar with Singapore – only hot and rain, the language that they had to learn from zero – Sinhalese and Tamil, the air pollution – many were missing the fresh Bhutan air, the water quality, the public transport facilities, the taste and cleanliness of the local food – many were prefer cooking Bhutanese food each and every day, plus the infamous and uncertain ‘strike’ that delayed their course of study).

My 'nest' during my stay in Sri Lanka. Thank you Sonam!!! :)

As temporary visitor, I too had my time adapting to the new environment here in Sri Lanka. On my first night, I had a difficult time to sleep as the mosquito loved sucking my sweet blood. Luckily the next day Sonam and Sangay managed getting the mosquito net for me and they immediately installed it. I had good sleep each and every night now. While taking a bath, sometimes I had to dance to avoid the passing by cockroaches, lizards, and sometimes the skinny worms. Lol.

Momo making in Sri Lanka - 13th April 2018

For food wise, I was lucky that Sonam and his friends were such good cooks!!! They had prepared and cooked many different types of Bhutanese dishes, and every time they cooked different ones. I must have tasted most Bhutanese dishes ever available over here including the experience of making the veg Momo (Bhutanese dumpling) from the scratch!!! We had it on the Sinhalese New Year’s Eve. Usually I only saw it from photos or heard the story from others. So I was very grateful that I could be part of it in real life.

Alfresco dining at Somnath and Oli's place :)

Not forgetting the alfresco dining prepared by Oli and Somnath at their humble place :) Thank you guys!!!

Sonam cut Jigme's hair

I too experienced watching Sonam cutting Jigme’s hair with only using comb and scissor, plus mirror. I heard a lot about Bhutanese students cutting each other’s hair to save cost and to have the hair style they desired, but my first time watching it with my own eyes.

Watching them playing football at basketball court :D

Yesterday I too had my first time watching them playing football at the basketball court. Football had been the most favorite sport by many, especially Bhutanese boys. They could spare their time everyday just to play it or go all the way to other city to catch the football match. I had never been fans of it but yes, I heard about it a lot, and grateful for the opportunity to watch them playing.

During my stay it was not all going smoothly though. One night I felt the sole of my feet itchy. I thought I was bitten by mosquitoes. After that, the palms of my hand turned itchy. Hmm… I thought, what a coincidence to have the itch at those funny places. So I slept. The next morning, the itch got worst. I could not sleep because of that. This time, it attacked both feet and both hands. It must be something wrong, I thought. True enough. Soon, the red patched appeared on my legs, but it was not itchy though. Still, it required some attention.

Skin allergy attack!!! :(

Sonam brought me to clinic, but it was closed (still New Year’s holiday). We went to hospital ward to see doctor and got prescription. The next day the condition got worst. The patches got more and spread to hips now. We visited skin specialist at the hospital this time and the doctor was very good. He knew my condition well and opened the right prescription. The cream was special mixed ingredients and able to counter the allergic fast. The medicine that I took was helping me too. Woah, lucky I was able to recover fast!!! Thank you!!!

Thank you Sonam!!! ^^

And another incident happened on my way back from Galle to Colombo. Three toes skin were torn off while riding the train. I had to endure for a duration of 3 hours until reaching home. After taking bath, Sonam had voluntarily cleaned the wound up, applied the Betadine, and wrapped each toes with bandage and gauze to make sure it was cleaned and dried. I was very grateful that he was around and always there when I needed it the most. Most importantly, he knew what to do. He was calm and always ensured me that I would be fine in no time. Hahaha… I was very grateful to stay with doctor-to-be this time round!!!

Relaxing day at home - eat and watch movie ^^

Coincidentally he and his friends started schooling this week. As they did not have time to go out, I too had a good resting and recuperating time at home. I slept, ate, did laundry, cooked sometimes, watched movies from Sangay’s laptop, and decided to write this post. This trip was really memorable one, the one I would never forget in my life.

One of the feelings I got here :(

There were lots of mix emotions that I got here in Sri Lanka. From the country, the people, their living conditions, their terrains, their environment, places, and so on. I have learned many things in life as well. Thank you SB for making this journey smooth and well so far. May I reach home safe and sound very soon. Thank you once again for everyone, especially Sonam, who has treated me very well throughout my stay here in Sri Lanka. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!!!

Monday, April 02, 2018

Happiness is in a journey

How time flies! Three months had passed since the beginning of the year 2018 and I had visited few places and spent valuable time with dear friends and my loved ones. Spring had started in the four-season countries, while in Singapore, it had been raining at any time of the day for the past one week.

Perfect time for reading and sipping tea with biscuits :)

It was rather a perfect time to read a book, to sip a cup of hot tea or coffee accompanied with delicious biscuits, and to snuggle under my Doraemon blanket. However, the rain had deterred me from catching my favorite physical activities, such as: morning walk and cycling. Since I had difficult time to wake up early in the morning lately, I could only go for cycling in evening time, and only when the weather permitted, just like yesterday.

After ensuring the sky was bright enough and no rain, I took the bicycle out from home. Glasses were worn to protect my eyes from the wind, sand, and dust. Hair was clipped and tied to a pony tail. Waist pouch was clipped to secure my mobile phone. A string bag was packed behind my back filled with water bottle and a small wallet made of clothes. Both ears were plugged and English songs were played continuously on my ears. Geared well, I started cycling once I reached the lift downstairs - to my usual destination.

My reflections from the mirror :D

The sky was half bright and half cloudy, the color was just like the inverted kueh talam ubi. Therefore, no expectation to see the sunset. The air was very cooling though, very pleasant. It was good that not many people took the same route as mine. Usually it was very crowded during weekend, but I saw many had preferred sitting down, picnic-ing, and chit chatting with their friends and/ or families along the seaside while catching fish.

Many thoughts were played on my head when cycling. Like just now, I was thinking how people chose to spend their evening on weekend and how I spent mine. It was completely two different things. They had accompany, sat down, and relaxed while I would rather cycling, moving my both legs ups and downs, filling my lungs with fresh cooling air, and sweating my body up - alone.

Cycling made me feeling free like a bird (Instagram: Rimareyka.writes)

Cycling had never failed in giving me a sense of freedom - especially when cycling alone. I could cycle as fast as I wanted, sing loudly the song that I played on my phone, shout out loud at the descended road, express my hearts out, smile and laugh while recollecting beautiful memories from the past and feeling grateful for all things happened in my life, collect inspiration to be written into my blog, and I could even cry when remembering the sad and awful incidents in my life. People might think that I was crazy doing all that at one journey, ha-ha... But with my speed, people would hardly notice it though! ;)

The sky was getting very dark at the road ahead but it did not deter me from cycling. It even started drizzling but I kept going. I refused to take the U-turn or to avoid the storm. It was just like the life that I went through. Despite knowing clearly that the road ahead might not be smooth, full of obstacles and challenges, I would not go back to the past or give up on moving on. Because by facing the difficulties ahead - the life challenges - only then I had the opportunity to get and learn something new, and even - God knew it well - find my happiness ahead. Just like people said, rainbow came only after the rain.

Let it rain, baby! You are not alone (Instagram: Rimareyka.writes)

True enough, after some time, it was raining. Slowly, it got heavier and I had no choice but to stop when the splatter got fuller and painful. I saw a shelter and decided to stay under it for a while. Soon after, many cyclists took the same shelter standing up together. Despite feeling shattered with wet and coldness under the heavy rain, I was feeling good. Good because I was not alone. Good because it only showed that many were facing the same challenges in their life journey and together we could wait until the storm had over, or braced ourselves to get wetter and sick if we chose to keep going. Nevertheless, we were sure not alone.

Beautiful night view after the rain - Punggol Sunrise Bridge

In a while, rain stopped. One by one, people left the shelter, and so did I. To my surprise, in just less than 100 meters away from where I stood before, the ground was dry and showed no sign of rain. I felt that the incident was clearly a sign for me to learn from the nature and life itself. I continued cycling, going another one big round while collecting a source of inspiration - a sign for me to update this barren blog - to share with others what I went through and learned that evening, which were: not to take the bad things too hard and good things for granted. To brave yourself and keep walking forward. No one said it was easy, but it would be worth it.

I kept cycling and suddenly my favorite song below was tuned on my playlist:

"Underneath the Sky" 
by Cameron Ernst

Like a low sitting fog at the break of day
Let it fade, let it fade
Like a hold of a frost on a window pane
Let it all melt away
I see it now so clearly where I couldn't see before
Finally now it was worth the wait

I hear my heartbeat
Feel my wings take flight
Everything is golden underneath this sky
Underneath this sky (2x)

I can jump, I can soar, and I'm not afraid
Let the wind hit my face
I can take on the clouds, they're no longer gray
Take 'em on any day

I see it now so clearly where I couldn't see before
Finally now it was worth the wait

I hear my heartbeat
Feel my wings take flight
Everything is golden underneath this sky
Underneath this sky (4x)

Look beyond at the horizon
And remember the day
This was the day yeah
Keep your eyes there
There's nothing like it
I was born to be brave
Forever brave

I hear my heartbeat
Feel my wings take flight
Everything is golden underneath this sky
I hear my heartbeat
Feel my wings take flight
Everything is golden underneath this sky
Underneath this sky (4x)

Beautiful full moon on 15th Feb lunar calendar - 31st March 2018

"Wooohoooooo......." I shouted again on the descended road. Thank SB for everything!!! You never failed in supporting and encouraging me facing the challenges in life. You even pampered me with the beautiful moon that I found before exiting the park. Thank you, thank you, and thank you for everything!!! :)
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