This mornings dive

This morning went back to the wreck of the harmony, we saw our old friend the grouper( see posting over Xmas) a nice lionfish and two of these. Porcupine fish ( in the puffer / box fish family). About 3 ft long and with a nasty sting when it expands itself. A good dive.


A flying visit to the south

Off to unawatuna again, just for a weekend, friends going to the Galle literary festival, I'm goin divin :-)


My dream Classroom

My dream Classroom is pretty much the one I already have, with a few more added peripherals such as ActivTablets and ActiVote devices on each table, this would allow instant feedback or boarding of learners work and answers, it would also allow the learners to interact with the IWB and to display items that they have on their screens. The classroom has a nice sound system and other audio / visual equipment.


A pictorial voyage of Tamil Nadu.

We started in Chennai (state capital of Tamil Nadu) and went south by bus to Mahabalipuram (Mamalipuram( which is quite backpackerish)), but was nice and relaxing, we bought 'stuff', clothes and henna tattoo blocks etc. The room had the largest collection of mosquitoes I'd ever seen and no nets. We had to spray;  oh boy! they just rained out of the air covering the floor, bed and everything in tiny black bodies. Some nice ruins and old sculptures dotted about the small coastal town, like this; called 'Arjuna's Penance' i.e. one of the heroes from the Mahabarata and Bhagavad Gita. too give you some kind of scale, it's about 30 ft high and about 100ft long.

Follow the link above to read more about this 14C old carving.

We then headed down to Pondicherry about another 2hrs south along the coast, we did this in an ambassador as a treat, great old cars (still being built, I think, in India), much comfier than your modern pokey little taxis.

 Pondicherry has a French history as can still be seen from both the architecture, street layout and the roadsigns which are in both Tamil (the official language of Tamil Nadu) and French. It was lovely and wide and open, but...with a crazily wide, mind bogglingly long, stupidly dirty beach, so don't take your trunks.  I can, however, heartily recommend a little place called Kasha Ki Aasha where we went for breakfast before heading off to Trichy. Trichy has very little to offer, so here's a pic of a typical Indian scene, top bicycle loading and balancing skills, and this is just an amateur! 
We caught a bus to Madurai the next day, top Tamil script reading skills by Laura, my fellow traveller in the pics, made the whole finding the right bus scenario much easier. Good journey inland and south to Madurai and the famous Meenakshi-Sundareswar_Temple. An impressive Hindu temple with four towers, each highly detailed and bearing thousands of figurine sculptures, gods and incarnations of gods. 
Whilst circumnavigating the temple we stumbled upon a place, which I later read about in the guide book. A bustling little market in an ancient and intricately decorated piece of stunning building. (See pic at bottom of this post) Sadly, like a lot of things in this part of the world, it was being allowed to decay and fall apart, but it's things like this that make India wonderful, the mix of contradictions and opposites, ancient and modern, ridiculously poor and disgustingly rich, healthy and diseased. Amazing to experince.  

We then headed up to Kodaikanal in the western ghats for a spot of RnR for a few days. We had originally intended to go to Ooty instead but had forgotten just how big India is, so opted for somewhere more sensible. We were both mighty glad we changed out minds. We tried one guest-house at first which sounded reasonable in the book, the guy in the hotel had little time and a mobile phone stuck to the side of his face, he showed us a recently vacated, but not yet cleaned or tidied room in a casual "here's my best room" take it or leave it kind of way whilst carrying on his convo via aforementioned mobi. We left it; thanks. We ended up at the slightly more expensive, but worth every rupee, place called 'Villa Retreat". This was our view:

 Yes, those are clouds beneath us! The plain being 1.5km down, this to be fair, was shortly after sunrise the next morning, the time we arrived we were in the clouds and the scale was still impressive but not like this.
Talking of the sunrise, the picture below shows what woke us up, we left the curtains open so that it would. There aren't adjectives enough to describe sunrises or sunsets like this one.  The flat calm sea of clouds beneath a blanket of deepest blue with a large fusion explosion going off in the distance.

We then headed back to Madurai after a great couple of days in Kodai, to catch a train the next day for an 8hr journey back up to Chennai. Indian trains are superb, but we ended up in A/C cars and they were freezing and I was feeling quite ill by the time we got off, but that's another story. 
So I'll leave you with an assortment of images, all images were taken by me on my iPhone btw, so forgive the quality or goggle at the quality as you wish, the first one is a very common sight in India, but not one you're ever likely to see in the west :-) and yes he was driving down the road as I took this out of the window of a car, and yes again that's the baby sat on the tank it's not the other little girls doll. The last pic is also a little crazy but very common, wife on back of motorbike, dressed impeccably in Saree balancing sidesaddle and holding the baby, not a helmet in sight; Hari Ram!


A return to work

Just back from India, will post pics very soon and write about my whistle stop tour of Tamil Nadu.
Good to be home tomorrow :~(


A change of scene

My time in Unawatuna is over and I'm back in Colombo for a few days before heading to Chennai, India.
Just wanted to post a last couple of beach shots before moving on.

This is Maria and Teun who were my diving companions for 3 or 4 of my dives, a lovely couple who were very nice to me. Thanks.

And this is the boat that took us out to dive, I wanted a picture of Shirly (centre owner) and Vishni (dive master) but never got my ass in gear and then it was too late.