Colombo, Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon)

The weather today is sunny, with some scattered thunderstorms happening. The temperature is 32C.

Colombo’s strategic harbour and rich history as an ancient and colonial trade port make this sophisticated metropolis more than just a gateway to Sri Lanka’s stunning beaches. As the financial capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo’s skyline features modern skyscrapers as well as shaded colonial streets. By far, this is our favourite city on this itinerary. The literacy rate is 94%, the highest in for an Asian country. Traditional sarees have been replaced by Western wear.

The local cuisine includes a variety of curries, particularly those with fresh-caught seafood. The national dish of Sri Lanka is rice and curry with chutney and papadum.

The curbside fish stalls, teeming with squid, snapper and mackarel, flopping in home-made reed baskets are abundant. Western health standards are non-existent.

Our early morning expedition started at 07:30 and lasted for 9 hours! Now that was a full day.

We were shuttled to the Colombo railway station and boarded the “Royal Viceroy” train for our 2-hour ride to Pinnawela.

To our surprise, we were served wonderful-tasting tea aboard our train coach.

Along the train ride, we saw many grazing water buffalo, colourful parrots and egrets. The water buffalo is used as beast of burden in rice paddies.

Located in Pinnawela is the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, which cares for baby elephants and also feeds, trains and studies about 60 acclimated elephants.

We observed these elephants bathing and jostling for position near the water sprays.

We will now enjoy two sailing days before reaching Phuket, Thailand.