Sri Lanka

14 June – 21 June

Time to escape India for a week and head to Sri Lanka.


Japanese Peace Pagoda
First night on the south coast in the very scenic resort of Unawatuna and headed up hill to the Japanese peace pagoda.
A huge monument next to one of many Buddhist temples with amazing views over to Galle Fort.
Built to inspire peace, designed to provide a focus for people of all races and creeds to help unite them in their search for world peace, it certainly was a lovely spot to spend an hour.
Views from the top.  Best time of day, I think.

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A UNESCO world heritage site in the Bay of Galle on the South west coast. First built in 1588 by the Portuguese, then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century from 1649 onward, before falling to the British in 1815 until Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948.

It is however still known as the ‘Dutch Fort’

Amazingly it withstood the boxing day tsunami which caused extensive damage to many other areas of Galle.  Walking around there today you would never know that this part of the island was even affected.



It really made me chuckle to learn that it was the British that built that pretty ugly clock tower because of their obsession with time keeping!

Dutch buildings and views from the fort walls

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Street Art

Some people might just call this graffiti but I thought they were pretty cool, bit of modern mixed in with the old

View from the fort walls

Now I have my camera back working fully I took the opportunity to mess around with the settings.  The bottom photo I took by accident but its actually worked out pretty well

One of the famous ‘fort jumpers’.
I paid $8 to watch this guy jump from the bastion into the sea between the fort walls and the rocks.
A 13m drop.
It was only afterwards they told me the water was only about 5ft deep!
Felt a bit guilty at this point at having negotiated him down from $11.
For me it was a bargain, luckily managed to capture it on camera too, but for him, well I think I’d have put a higher price tag than $8 on my life!!??

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Sri Lanka wouldn’t be Sri Lanka without someone playing cricket.  This is actually just off the edge of the fort walls, not sure what they do if someone scores a 6!!!!



Not massively impressive photos, 2 from the 30km cycle I did, which I really enjoyed, made me realise how much I miss cycling.  And the third one of the beach.  About 5.30pm and the heavens opened and it absolutely lashed it down.
Thankfully I was in a bar under cover enjoying a beer!
So in a week that saw me negotiate a lot of buses & tuktuks, learn to surf – yes I managed to stand and stay standing on the board a good few times, cycled 20 miles through really lovely countryside, taking a million photos in Galle and having a bit of time on the beach I pondered whether I was really sold on ‘solo travel’.
There’s definitely pro’s and cons to it, as there are when you’re traveling with someone else.  The compromise of having the freedom to do what you want, how you want, when you want against having someone else make a few decisions for you so you just don’t have to think and of course share the experience.
I definitely can’t quibble though, how many people can say, “oh yeah I just popped over to Sri Lanka for a week to have some time out because I needed somewhere to have a clear head to think about things”? Not many.  And there aren’t many more beautiful places to be, its certainly an island where you can do everything from extreme sport, to wildlife watching, to musuems and culture, to relaxing on the beach.
So for me as I made some pretty important decisions about what next over the coming months there was no better place to be!




Good things come to those who wait……..

“Good things come to those who wait…….”

In October 2013 Sport Wales kindly agreed to donate a bag of sports equipment to Silo India to support their community activities.  Its an impressive bit of kit, colourful fun equipment and hundreds of resource cards designed by educational specialist to deliver engaging activities.  There was never any doubt that this was going to have a huge impact on the local community, but just as this very famous advert (click on photo) depicts below, good things come to those who wait………….


The resource cards arrived early November, then it was a case of waiting;



November: Waiting…tick

December: followed…tock

January: followed…..tick

February: followed….tock

March: followed….tick

April: followed…..tock


We waited, that’s what we did………………………………….


23 May 2014

sports equip
After 7 months of phone calls, emails, my passport being sent to Mumbai, a lot of money being paid for various ‘fines’ the equipment arrived!
I think all of us were a little bewildered when it arrived.

7 months of waiting and it was here, but what the heck we were going to do with it?????

24 May 2014

A trial run of the equipment with about 8 of the local kids, is what we were going to do!

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These kids had never seen anything like this before, they took part in bare feet, in everyday clothes, on a small piece of concrete outside the volunteer accommodation at Silo India.  But you couldn’t fault their enthusiasm. It was supposed to be a 10 minute session which turned into a an hour and half!  We only stopped the session because it was getting dark and there was no light.
In Wales the government invests millions of pounds every year into sport, every school receives equipment, training, resources and support, community clubs can apply for grants and have numerous professional staff on hand to support them. Sadly the sporting infrastructure here is nowhere near as sophisticated.
Schools deliver PE but with increasing demands on schools to deliver academic achievement sport is just not a priority.  Its a familiar battle we have in Wales but when you consider that most schools have no facilities, no equipment, no coaches or expertise, with kids lucky to experience 40  minutes of sport a week it makes the challenges in the UK and Europe seem miniscule.
Potential impact
“Sport has the power to change the world…it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.” Nelson Mandela
It might seem a bit far fetched to say that’s what this equipment will do that here but it’ll certainly have an impact. The kids speak little English, I speak even less Tamil.  But through demonstration, gestures and sign language we managed to get the kids taking part in some really fun games. I certainly enjoyed it and at the end when the kids said ‘thank you mam’ with big smiles it certainly made me feel that the 7 months wait had been worthwhile.

25 May 2014

With the trial run a success it was time to get ready for the official launch of the new community sports club.  Silabam classes have been going well, numbers slowly increasing every week but Silo India have big plans to set up a community sports club which will become the hub of the community.  Initially it will provide sport sessions but overtime the facility will be used to address social issues such as unemployment, womens empowerment, environmental awareness and much more.

The launch included a couple of speeches but more importantly some sports demonstrations.

The kids from Saturdays session were here and ready to go, they even got some of the equipment out and start practising between themselves.  It really made me laugh when one of the kids noticed me watching, decided to start teaching her friend what they had ‘learnt’ the day before.

So everyone in place, on time, we were ready to start.  Word had spread as over 40 local people turned up to watch.

First, a Taekwondo demonstration from a local club.  Really impressive I have to say.

Really good to see girls taking part too, there’s no doubt that engaging girls and women in sport is going to be Silo India’s greatest challenge.  Particularly in rural areas like this where women really do have little choice and freedom to express themselves.

Then on to the Dragon Sport demonstration.  Thankfully the kids had remembered a lot of what we had done the day before so I didn’t have to do too much explaining.

The event was a real success.  Silo India now has Silabam and Taekwondo sessions running and the sports ground should be finalised in a few weeks.

Everything is slowly starting to come together here now and I can certainly see the huge potential and role that sport can play in this community.

Maybe the kids in these photo’s will become the next commonwealth athletes representing India?

PobLwc2014 Tim Cymru Good Luck 2014 Team Wales

7 months of frustration and we can finally look forward.

I’d like to say a huge personal thanks to Sport Wales for donating this equipment and an equally heart felt thanks to all the people that worked tirelessly to get the equipment here. I certainly won’t forget your efforts.

So just as the surfer in the advert waited for that perfect wave, so did we.

The wave has certainly arrived and its moving with some momentum.
Little over a week after the equipment arrived we received confirmation that Vi-Ability’s application for funding to send volunteers from the UK to here has also been approved – follow the news here @Vi_Ability

And yesterday Vi-Ability won another award 

Finally its all happening!

Being one of the most impatient people I have to admit that actually, sometimes………..

“Good things come to those that WAIT

Something a bit different

“Something a bit different” 

I realised as I was doing the very familiar bus journey from Tirunelveli to Madurai that I seem to have become pretty de-sensitised to the chaos going on around me.
Near misses with on-coming traffic, animals, people in the middle of the road are now just a way of life here.  And despite the pretty extensive time I spend in Madurai I did start to question how much of the city I actually see, how much do I actually take in.  Not much is the answer.
So a quiet afternoon in Madurai provided a good opportunity to take some pictures.
Its a short collection as I was very aware of being stared at by people and the photos that I really wanted to take just felt wholly inappropriate or at least very insensitive to the the people in them!


This is only a small sample of the transport you see in and around any Indian city or town. What I couldn’t quite capture was a decent video of how the buses, lorries, cars, mopeds, bicycles, cycle rickshaws, autorickshaws, animals and people all share the same road space with what seems to be little or no order. Its the one thing that every visitor is sure to talk about as it takes some practice navigating your way across from one side to the other.
Sure, they drive on the left here……………..apparently! But I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been looking to the right for on-coming traffic to have a rickshaw or worse come whistling past from the left!
The funny thing is it works!!
Most of the time.
Chaotic or organised?  Its worth the 3 minutes to watch this clip, click on green text below.

So are Indians the best drivers in the world?


This has to be the number one thing that everyone loves about India?
There’s definitely no short supply of choice, literally every street is scattered with options. From a lady selling bananas in the middle of a very busy bus station, to a street side stall selling snacks, to some of the nice rooftop restaurants, there’s certainly plenty to whet the appetite.
Admittedly in my ignorance I hadn’t quite realised the huge variety on offer here.  Yep, its largely vegetarian in this part of India, definintely spicy and rice is the main component to most meals, but look beyond that and you get much more than rice, dhal and a popadom.


I’ve become quite accustomed to waking up to the sounds of chickens and geese in Manur which live right next door.  Its never any great surprise to me to see a goat, a cow, chickens, geese and turkeys whilst walking around here, but this is a rural village.  Even this morning I looked up from my laptop to see a guy walking down the main road with a bull.  Perfectly normal!
Madurai in some ways still has the feel of a village but its a pretty big place, the 3rd largest city in Tamil Nadu (which is approx half the size of the UK) with a population of 1 million.  Its chaotic, noisy and at the moment incredibly hot.  With 1 million residents plus visitors and tourists milling about trying to go about their business the last thing you’d expect to see is cows, goats and bulls thrown into the mix.  This is only a very small sample of what you might see.


Last but my no means least.
Madurai is no exception.
Home to the Meenakshi Amman Temple, one of the largest in Tamil Nadu.
Its an impressive site.
Four separate towers, one at each point of the compass in the centre of the city.  Its one of very few temples to have 4 different entrances.
Situated in the centre of the city, constantly busy with shoppers, tourists and touts its nice to be able to walk all the way around away from the traffic.  Its definitely a must see for any tourist but even now as a relative ‘local’ I have to say I enjoy walking around there, nosing at whats going on, looking at the different shops, going into the tailors market and laughing at the touts as they try their best lines to try and get me to buy things, which I now smugly reply, urm well I’ve been here 4 months so no I don’t want anything!
Of course this is only a tiny snapshot of everything that you can see on a daily basis and probably only a fraction of a typical day here but just goes to show when you really look at a place you start to really see it, good and bad – maybe, Something a bit different!