Day 2 – Controversial Elephants

Firstly – I promised the truth. Here is the truth: trying to blog with shitty hotel wifi is arm-gnawingly frustrating.

Ok, that’s all I’ll say on the matter.

Except that – OMG it’s impossible. I’ve spent two days trying to write something about what happened on day 2 of our trip and now it’s day 4 and I’ve forgotten all the gags and the wordplay and the japes and all I’ve got is a photo that took the lifetime of one of the people featured in it to upload to wordpress of some of my family washing an elephant with a Sri Lankan chap.

Ok, that’s really all I’ll say on the matter.


Right, so the title gives away that this wasn’t just a straightforward elephant-washing. The Millennium Elephant Foundation, where we found ourselves on Friday, is half way from Colombo to Kandy (I think) and also half way from really appallingly bad to good. The reviews on Trip Advisor kind of give it away – roughly equal amounts ‘Excellent’ as ‘Poor/Terrible’ – but I think I gave it a fair crack of the whip (although they definitely don’t use whips, you understand… just chains… and long sticks with pointy metal things on the end, like the ones you use to open high-up windows in Victorian classrooms…) and I can confirm it’s roughly equal amounts Excellent and Poor/Terrible. ‘Excellent’ is the glee with which my kids washed Rajah the quite ugly speckly elephant with half a coconut shell. ‘Terrible’ is the sight of a young female elephant swaying from foot to foot, chained, in a clearing, which was explained away as ‘boredom’ but which looked pretty close to an archetypal elephantine psychosis. Hey ho, the kids got to see them up close. Really close in fact. To the extent that I can confirm an elephant’s tongue is unusually smooth and unblemished.

MEF 4 kids with full Ele
Joh, Ed, Alice & Jamie with hands on the hot bod of Rajah the elephant

After the CONTROVERSY of the M.E.F. we wound our way to an outdoor cafe that had ‘upmarket rest-stop on trunk road for westerners’ etched into it’s placemats (subliminally) and ate overpriced rice dishes and did wees.

And finally, several iPad-based whine-fests later, we arrive at Ulagalla and it’s a thing of beauty, many acres of what looks and feels like a game reserve with a colonial main house and individual ‘chalets’ – all Frank Lloyd Wright angles & glass – around a central basin. The even bigger basin next door, just outside the compound, has visiting herds of wild elephants. We saw some of them at a distance at dusk. It’s an ace place. Food sucks apart from the gargantuan curries so … guess what I’ve been living on? As a result I’m at least half a stone heavier than this time last week. There are also loads of monkeys and show me a decent kids entertainer and I’ll show you someone who’s not a patch on 3 monkeys fighting over a half-finished bag of crisps.


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