Who knew how much Mike enjoyed feeding animals? First there were giant tortoises in the Seychelles, now elephants in Sri Lanka.
The first Asian stop on our around-the-world adventure was to the island nation formerly known as Ceylon.
It’s had many other names during its history. According to the epic poem Mahavamsa, Prince Vijaya called the land Tambapanni, or “copper red hands,” since the clay soil stained the skin. Persians and Arabs referred to it as Sarandīb, which translates to serendipity.
Meaning “a discovery or a fortunate and unexpected finding that occurs when you are looking for something else,” serendipity is just what we found on our way to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kandy.
We were searching for a place to have lunch, and we found hungry elephants instead.
After giving the elephants their lunch and finding a meal of our own, we stopped next door to tour a nursery growing edible and medicinal plants.
The workers got a kick out of testing various products on Mike, including herbal teas and an all-natural hair removal that worked surprisingly well on a patch of leg.
After I rescued him from a massage therapist-in-training, we finally made it to the botanical gardens. With more than 4,000 species, including a renowned collection of orchids, the gardens rivaled London’s Kew Gardens.
Perhaps that’s why Lord Louis Mountbatten, supreme commander of the allied forces in South Asia during World War II, chose the site as his headquarters. He must’ve felt right at home.
Heading back to our hotel in downtown Colombo, Mike suddenly asked the driver to pull the car over.
He’d noticed a striking row of statues at the Sri Suvishuddharamaya temple representing the many incarnations of Buddha.
Another serendipitous discovery.