Friday, 13 August 2010

DAY Eleven (11th August)

Journey to Galle

Today we were back on the road, a little later start to the day we were picked up at 9am by our driver Mahesh, with Dr Nirmali and Dr Lakdas.

We headed south down the Galle Road which is one straight coastal road all the way to Galle. With a few planned stops on the way.

First stop the Blue Water Hotel, a Geoffrey Bawa (a famous Sri Lankan architect) masterpiece. One of his latest works, a traditionally designed building with his trade mark use of water features and his modern take on Sri Lankan roof design. A truly tranquil place, that we are for sure planning on returning to, probably for Kate's Birthday on the 22nd August.

In amongst our hotel extravaganza we had the great opportunity to visit yet another factory, this time another one of Sri Lankas accredited green factories, Hirdramani.

Hirdaramani has a similar ethos to the MAS green factory, however it has only met a Gold standard and MAS has reached a Platinum standard by the US Green Building Council. Hirdaramani's lower rating is apparently due to their air cooling system, which according to the council does not meet a comfortable working environment, 25 degrees or less. We were given a detailed presentation explaining all their sustainable elements that aid their 'green status'. They illustrated their energy saving achievements, by comparing their consumption to an equivalent factory. Savings where: Electricity use down by 48%, Water use down 60%, Carbon Footprint down by 48%, and they use 22.000 kwh/annum, and they send no waste to land fill. On average they use 50% less energy than a conventional factory.

A dome shaped ceiling with sky lights allow natural light to flow into the factory reducing bulb use, the dome shape increases light and are coated in a translucent film to filter UV rays and they use low energy lighting for the factory and sewing machines.

They use an air conditioning unit which runs off a variable speed motor rather than a fix speed, saving energy usage. The outside lighting is light sensitive, and 7% of their energy comes from solar power.

To encourage bio diversity they have created a conservation area around the factory. They have recorded 146 species in this marsh and woodland area. 29 indigenous, 12 endemic, 129 exotic.

An interesting way they decided to use their food waste rather than it just been composted they send it to a piggery which is then used as food for the livestock. Piggery waste is a really highly nutritious fertilizer and bio fuel (for domestic gas). This correlates to their ethos, reduce reuse and recycle.

They recycle 35,000 litres of water a day, using treatment tanks. The process has different filters, Starting off with a anaerobic filter, an aerobic filter, a reed bed filter, a sand and carbon filter and finally it's chlorinated. The water is technically safe enough for drinking but they only use it for sewage and their cultivation areas.

After a lovely lunch provided by the factory we set off on our way. A quick right off the Galle Road onto the long stretched west coast beach, we arrived to a small family run Viktor Hssselblad Turtle Sanctuary. The owner was related to Dr Nirmali, and proudly showed us around. The area held 5 to six tanks, three holding hundreds of tiny baby turtles all frantically swimming around waiting to be released into the ocean. the others contained older turtles, one an albino which had an amazing coloured patterned shell, one that was blind since birth and one that had been injured by a boat and was missing one flipper. We had the privilege to see three tiny baby turtles hatching from their sand nests that the sanctuary made. They instantly scrambled towards the sea, we were allowed to pick them up and transport them to the safety of their holding tank with their brothers and sisters for observation.We named them Zoe, Beth and Dr, they were released into the ocean the next day, we think of them now swimming out in the big wide world adventuring and surviving for the next hundred years or so, and believing they will not be one of the 75% who don't survive.

Satisfied with our turtle experience we continued down the coast and arrived at another Geoffrey Bawa masterpiece, The Light House Hotel. A grand building with views towards Galle Fort and its light house (hence the name) and out toward the stunning views of the Indian Ocean. We talked Dr Nirmali and Dr Lakdas in staying for a drink which in fact they were keen for. Lakdas introduced us to the local drink Arrack! A liquor made from the from Coconut Palm, distilled from the the coconut toddy, strange and strong! We sat for an hour listening to Dr Lakdas' travel stories from the 70's, whilst the sun set over the long west coast. We were also lucky enough to be entertained by a traditional Kandian dance, by male and female dancers dressed in ornate costumes.

We then had to get back on the road to find our hotel in the famous Old Fort within Galle, we found our home for the night The New Old Dutch House. A clean and fresh hotel two minutes from the sea front. Happy with our rooms, we then found a recommended sea food restaurant. A friend of the Doctors joined us, who worked in the shipping industry as a Chandler. He had fascinating stories of the troubles in sea territory, concerning Somalian pirates.

This was a satisfying day, we were happy to retire to our lovely room ready for the next day of Galle exploration.

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