Delivered to my door this stormy morning were two spicy Lush Phoenix bubble bars I'd bought, smelling exactly of a Sri Lankan spice garden, which instantly set my mood for writing this post.
With the humid air here, thunder booming, the rain hissing outside and the familiar scents of cinnamon and cloves wafting though my nose, I'm taken right back to the hot, beautiful gardens of Sri Lanka during monsoon season. Today we're adventuring to an island in the river...
After a fruit plate for breakfast, we rolled up in our boat to a place made of flowers, an island where the scent of cinnamon and petals perfumed the air. It was aptly named Cinnamon Isle and was where cinnamon was grown, harvested and prepared by its select few native citizens.
I've always dreamed of a place like this out there somewhere in the world. It was honestly heavenly there, I am such a fan of cinnamon and the isle was so rich in exotic plants and natural beauty. We were shown the cinnamon plantations and how the leaf oil and bark was harvested, in an gold coloured mud hut with thatched roof. Cinnamon curls dried up above our heads.
We were also shown how they make the drying ropes from coconut hair, and how strong they were once braided together. We were even gifted bracelets made from the leftover hair! I loved how secluded it was here, that one may live completely undisturbed by the rush of modern society, peacefully living alongside, and tending and harvesting, the cinnamon.
Oh, beautiful flora of the isle! They had so many exotic, interesting varieties alongside my favourite frangipani. Look at this beautiful red number taking centre stage in the hot sun.
There was a hidden Hindu temple on the isle, decorated beautifully with brightly coloured paint and chalk, flower garlands and little animal symbols. Such a beautiful little hidden place!
Spot the water monitor lizard! They look like crocodiles in the water so are quite alarming, but are really huge lizards, cutting to and fro across the water and hiding out in the mango groves, great tunnels made entirely out of branches. We spotted about three in the water!
Back out on the river, where my lens steamed right up due to the humidity! The heat was blistering at midday but luckily our boat had a little canopy for shade. We passed many little shanties like this one, some laden down with great mounds of coconuts and bananas.
Feeding the fish in makeshift built pools in the river! This was such a weird experience as we were encouraged to let the fish swim around our feet at the same time - and got nibbled to pieces in the process. The jetty's were constructed from barrels floating on the water.
Our last stop was at a holy site, containing three beautiful temples and the famous Bodhi tree that plays its own part in much of the Buddhist teachings. After leaving an offering at one of the statues we were quickly ushered in to one of the buildings, where a robed monk sat guarding multiple precious artefacts. He showed us an ancient document made from palm leaves with carved scripture and blessed each one of us by chanting a sermon and tying a string bracelet around the wrist. I've had such a fascination with Buddhism for a while so it meant so much to go on a little pilgrimage and spend a while interpreting the symbols in my own way.
Check out the first and second parts to my adventure here and here! If you fancy experiencing a li'l bit of Sri Lanka in your bathtub I really recommend trying the Phoenix bubble bar to take you there sense wise! It's available for £3.95 in the Lush Kitchen but is sadly limited edition.