Sunday, 15 August 2010

Another green factory and some turtles

11th August 2010

We left at about 9 (only an hour late). We were picked up by Mahesh (our driver from the Kandy trip) and Dr. Lakdas – a head professor at Morotuwa university. Our first stop in the packed itinerary was the Blue Water hotel, designed by the Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa – an amazing resort only really to be enjoyed by honeymooners or the very rich.

Next was Hirdiramani green factory just off the main Galle road, about an hour’s drive south of Colombo. It was similar to the MAS green factory although not quite the same standard only gaining a gold certificate where MAS gained platinum from the US Green building council. They seemed to have focused very locally looking at the bio-diversity around the plant and local initiatives to get rid of their waste. The whole set up did not seem as slick as the others that we have experienced as a cohort of male (of course) middle management milled about whilst giving us a slightly disjointed presentation. When I asked about any extra benefits that the workers receive we got the usual spiel about subsidized lunch and transport. I asked specifically about loans for the workers and a slightly dopey man started giving me details about the perks that the (male) middle management get; car allowances, access to personal loans etc – these of course are not available to the factory workers.
If you would like more detail about the environmental aspects of the factory such as waste water filtration and cooling systems feel free to check out the group connect sri lanka blog.

Next was a real treat, we got to visit the Viktor Hassleblad (as in the camera) Turtle Sanctuary, further south down the Galle road. Inside were three tanks filled with little baby turtles trying to get out and make it for the sea. Each tank held a different age. One day olds, two day old and three day olds – they are released into the ocean on the night of their third day to minimize the risk of them being picked off by crows. Even so over 75% will perish in the cold, cruel ocean filled with big, nasty baby turtle predators. We were allowed to pick up the babies so we of course all posed with them by our faces – I secretly called mine Bobeena. The other tanks also housed two turtles injured by speed boats who had had their flippers chopped off so they swam in circles (yes, really) and an albino turtle which had a very pretty shell.

After dragging ourselves away from the turtles we went to the next Geoffrey Bawa hotel down the coast called the Lighthouse hotel, which looks out towards Galle Fort and the actual light house. The most amazing thing about the hotel is the staircase which curves around the walls and the banisters are steel sculptures of invading Portuguese soldiers. We managed to persuade Nirmali and Lakdas to stay for a drink and watch the sunset behind the palm trees. Lakdas regailed us with stories of his youth which involved scrapes with the Afgan police during Russian occupation and footpath massages in Bombay.

When we finally arrived at our hotel, the New Old Dutch Guesthouse, which was situated within the walls of the old fort, it was already past 8pm, so we quickly left our things and found the recommended seafood restaurant near by where we met yet another of Nirmali’s friends who is a Chandler for a shipping company who is currently having a headache with Somali pirates. He left in a rush to attend to some more pirate business and we enjoyed our fish dinners.

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