Sri Lanka-Day 2- Kandy to Ambalangoda- Turtle Project Day 1

View of Kandy from the Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue 

We woke early this morning, 3:30am exactly, to be able to catch the train from Kandy to Ambalangoda, where the turtle conservation project is based. The 5 of us woke, myself, a Canadian, 2 Kiwi girls and one Chinese girl, all packed up and set off for Kandy train station at 4am. We arrived in the dark, paid for our tickets, found our train on platform 3, hauled our luggage onboard and onto the overhead baggage stores and got ourselves comfortable for the long journey ahead. 

The trains are so much more exciting than the trains at home. These ones are rickety old things where the doors are left open for people to be able to hop on and off at any moment. At one point, the train was so full that everyone was beginning to get a little too squished, so in order to fit more on two guys decided to stand on the steps outside of the door and cling onto the window where I was sitting. These guys were clinging on for a good 15/20 minutes, They passed their briefcases through the windows for us to hold so they could hold on properly, but they loved it, laughing the whole way, even when trains stormed past just a few feet away.

The Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue 

The crowds eventually died down as the men and women found their stops, running across tracks to make it to the other side of the platform. The scenery on the journey was breathtaking. At one point, just as the sun was rising, I looked out of the train’s window to my left and saw the grey clouds settling above the rainforests’ canopy layer. It was beautiful! The lush green of the rainforest cascaded passed as the train trundled on its rickety track.

We also passed Colombo and coastal towns that had been hit by the tsunami. Many homes that had survived still stood with their cement blocks rooted in the ground, but their roofs and doors were missing. In their place stood new wooden huts strewn all along the shore, families live right on the beach just meters away from the shore. 

Our scenic train journey eventually came to an end in Ambalangoda a whole 5 hours later. From Ambalangoda station we cruised through the hectic town in tuk tuks, pulling off the main road, down to a quieter road, then pulling off again down an even quieter road; the beach road, and eventually to our accommodation at the turtle project. 

We soon settled in, ate some breakfast, played withe the resident puppy Milo, a girl, then made our way to the turtle hatchery where all the other volunteers already were! It was amazing to see all these turtles that I’ve been wanting to see for so long. The hatchery has mainly Green turtles, but there are also some rare baby Hawksbill turtles, a few leatherbacks and maybe a loggerhead somewhere. There are two turtles with distinct injuries; one has a fin that is nearly falling off, another has lost one of its fins and another has air in its shell. From what I can make out so far, it seems like a really interesting project with an incredibly good cause. Most turtles are ares for until they are deemed able to be released back into the wild. 

Today we had the opportunity to clean the turtles’ shells, de-lice and de-leech them, followed by a much needed swim in the sea to wipe off the sweat, sand and in some cases turtle poop! We ended the afternoon by filling up one of the tanks with sand to prepare it for the hatchlings.

All in all a pretty good day so far, I’m knackered, but can't wait for tomorrow already!