PHOTO ESSAY: Chasing Adventure in Sri Lanka

John Ginther and Annessa Kaufman are currently on assignment as MBAs Without Borders Advisors (MWB) in Sri Lanka, where, for the next 12 months, they will utilize their business skills to support enterprise and tourism development.  Here, Annessa and John share photos from their first month on the ground.

The Galle Face Green on a Friday at dusk. School was still on holiday and families were milling about the green and the beach. People had LED lights attached to their kites and flew them all night. Night market vendors opened up to sell chili pineapple and prawn cakes.

Saturday morning we grabbed a tuk tuk to the heart of Pettah’s produce market, where we saw vendors unloading all manner of fruits and vegetables. The atmosphere was buzzing, but not quite chaotic. We tracked down the last of the elusive mangosteens for John to try (delicious!), and tried to learn about all the unfamiliar products like bizarrely shaped eggplants and the mysterious hard shelled fruits.

On the other side of the road Pettah gets real! This is where chaos reigns. Trucks, tuk tuks, motorbikes, cyclists and pedestrians all swerving around each other while vendors sell anything and everything you can think of. One lane was all electrical appliances, another cooking equipment.

Then we went to Habarana in the center of Sri Lanka:

Peace and fresh air! Wetlands everywhere and en route from Colombo we saw our first wild elephant. Bands of monkeys, giant squirrels, birds (and even snakes!) greeted us daily. A  huge rock hill was begging to be climbed and was the perfect spot for watching the sunset over the lake.

We went on a jeep safari to find more elephants in Minneriya National Park.  The large tank (a man made lake/reservoir) was built centuries ago to irrigate the surrounding kingdom, and during the dry season the tank shrinks leaving wide plains of sweet grass that draw elephants from all over (the guaranteed water source is another attraction for the wildlife).

Look! A baby elephant!!


Sigiriya is an iconic landmark for Sri Lanka. A Precambrian rock formation around which a strategic palace/fort was built. The top of the rock is covered in palace ruins.

After the steady ascent up, everybody takes pause. The views are breathtaking and its hard to imagine the ingenuity and hard work needed to build an entire palace at the top.

The wind was ferocious!


After Sigiriya, it was time to take a trip down south to check out the tourism scene in Galle. Galle, one of the oldest towns in Sri Lanka, is home to a fort built by the Portuguese in the 1500’s, revamped by the Dutch in the 1600’s, and then taken over by the British in the 1800’s. Now, Galle is a UNESCO World Heritage site that swells with visitors and residents each evening to catch the sunset from its ramparts.

This coat of arms was originally carved by the Dutch (see the date 1668), but then carved over by the British in the 1800’s.

Off to Batticaloa

A new neighbor welcomes us to Batticaloa!

A big change after two weeks in Colombo, but Batti is a very picturesque and friendly seeming town. It’s almost comically quiet in the evenings, but it’s a welcome change of pace after years in DC and Toronto.

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