First, some hellos!
Hello Olfa! Hello to all the bloggers who responded so enthusiastically to the language learning blog. Do you know why I gave it the title of Back up blog? Well, I had a sneaky suspicion that at some point during this month there might be a time when I felt I should blog but just wouldn’t be able to so I got one ready in advance – sort of ‘here’s one I wrote earlier’. Anyway, a special hello to Sherry and Leslie from China – yes, Leslie, Kandy certainly does have a charm that will take me back there. Welcome too to Doni from Albania – I am not sure if you are the first Albanian blogger but it’s good to hear from you anyway.
Olfa, you have really whetted our appetite now and I don’t know what went wrong, but can you try again to send the pictures of Paris? We’d all so like to see you in your beautiful city. I do like your description of the many ‘goods’ and how it takes time to understand which one to use when. I sometimes feel a little sad that I didn’t continue with my French after ‘O’ level. It would have been such a useful language to learn. Maybe I will still learn one day. You’re right Olfa, exercise and team sports really do help you unwind. I will, I must, I am going to start some regular exercise again soon!
Yes, Paulraj, I work for the British Council and my trip to Kandy was a work trip. The training I did was to British Council teachers at the Kandy teaching centre. The other work was organised by the Kandy centre and I went along to see the kind of work they are doing.
Dusan, I hope you found what you were looking for on the map. If not, here are a few geographical facts about Kandy to help orientate you. Kandy is in the hill country and 115km inland from Colombo. It has a population of about 112 000. Kandy used to be the capital of the last Singhalese Kingdom, which fell to the British in 1815. The town is quite small and compact and has a large lake in the centre which is surrounded by lush green hills.
Well, our journey must have been blessed by all my well wishing bloggers as the trip took less time than expected – 4 hours, and that was with a bit of a detour due to the traffic we hit on arrival. Apparently the Sri Lankan president was visiting Kandy on the eve of his 63rd birthday. Our detour, which the taxi driver described as a short cut, took us up into the back lanes of one of the most desirable residential areas of Kandy so we didn’t mind that it didn’t seem particularly ‘short’! I would describe it more as the scenic route, which is often used as a euphemism to say actually we are taking the long way round. Our hotel was lovely and we received a warm welcome on arrival. We were given hot towels to freshen up as we sat at the reception desk waiting to check in. That night we didn’t do much as we were tired so we just chilled out in our room.
The next day I went to the office and had a pretty hectic day which started with a visit to Kandy Girls’ High school. It was a scorching morning and we had to address an audience of about 300 teenage girls.
Afterwards we were invited into the Principal’s office where we were treated to some true Sri Lankan hospitality of tea, snacks and cake. Back at the office I had a series of meetings with the staff in the Kandy Branch – all really nice people and we had a productive day. By the end of it however, I was quite ready for my sundowner back at the hotel overlooking the Mahaweli Ganga. In the pictures below you can see the amazing setting of the hotel and its vista of the river. That guy you can see in the river was dredging sand to sell to the building industry – back breaking work I imagine!
Well, my second day in the office was a little less hectic but equally enjoyable. There is something really nice about a small office where everybody can see each other and communicate with each other on a daily, if not hourly, basis. There’s nothing better than being able to walk across to someone and say what you have to say rather than starting a chain of emails which can often lead to misunderstandings or just take too long to achieve the desired outcome. That evening we all went out to one of the two bars in town called ‘The Pub’. We sat on the balcony overlooking the main street below and drank arrack (Sri Lankan rum made from coconut) and listened to jazz. It was a lovely end to a good trip.
I am conscious of the fact that I haven't said that much about the town but I really didn't get chance to explore. Pankaj and Isabel did a bit though and went to Kandy Lake and walked around the town. The impression I got was good but it might be a little sleepy for me to live there all the time.
The journey back passed without event except to say that there was a heavy downpour which slowed us down a little.
Tiasha, yes I would love to visit Kandy in August during the festival you speak of. I would also like to go to Trincomale too. We have some teacher trainers working in Trincomale. The coast is supposed to be very beautiful there. Unfortunately I didn’t get to visit the botanical gardens, the tea estates or the other famous sites but never mind – it just means I shall have to return with more time to spare for sightseeing. :)
Cheikh Vall – a recommended reading list next time.
Wahib, yes, what I meant by regurgitate was to try out what you’ve learnt in spoken and written contexts to check whether you are using the language appropriately – in the context you have chosen. Learning to use a particular word/phrase is not always easy and unless we try it out a few times in different contexts we won’t know whether we are using it naturally or not. And yes, you sure do need determination! I am finding that at the moment with my Sinhala classes. I have reached a bit of a plateau and I really need to review and regurgitate more if I am to make a breakthrough with it.
Hyoshil, I loved your anecdote – very funny. In fact it demonstrates perfectly the need for the 4th ‘R’ – if you don’t use the language and test it you will never know whether you have cracked it or not.
Phrases you might have noticed to help you talk about your language learning:
Plowing (US) through/ploughing (GB) through
Satisfied with your fluency
Get you by
Widening your vocabulary
Increasing your exposure to
Hope you enjoyed the pics and the post and sorry didn’t have any sightseeing to speak of. Got to get ready to go to a birthday party now. Pankaj is waiting and we have a baby sitter for Isabel so I want to make the most of it!
Bye for now,
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