UOWD students experience a memorable week in Sri Lanka
Tuesday, 11 February, 2014
Following a hectic autumn semester, the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) Student Representative Council (SRC) organised an exciting voyage of discovery for 17 undergraduate and postgraduate students to Sri Lanka. The 8 day tour was packed with fun-filled activities, including lodging and dining at some of the finest hotels across Western, Central and Southern parts of the Island.The students received a traditional welcome at Colombo International Airport with purple orchid garlands, before setting out on their tour of an elephant orphanage, where they watched calves being fed and got the opportunity to feed the elephants themselves. Following a drive to Habarana, the day ended with an elephant ride on a jungle trek and a night in a beautiful countryside hotel in Sigiriya.The rest of the week was filled with exciting and thrilling activities, including showering at the foot of a 190ft high waterfall and taking in a 7km stretch of white-water rafting on the second largest river in the country. The group took scenic drives through rain forests and tea plantations into Nuwara Eliya, aptly named ‘Little England’, and sampled the flavourful Sri Lankan tea during their visit to a tea factory.While touring the Island, the students took the opportunity to learn about its religious identity, with Buddhism as well as Hinduism, Islam and Christianity all practiced within the country. They visited religious sites including the Buddhist Temple of The Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, the Hindu Hanuman and Sita Devi Temples in Nuwara Eliya, and a 17th century Dutch Church in Colombo. Kandy, the hill capital and last stronghold of Sinhala kings, gave them a glimpse of the historical beauty and cultural diversity of Sri Lanka, which they then saw in action at a colourful cultural show of heavy drum beats and acrobatic acts.There were plenty of opportunities for water sports as the group moved on to a two-night stay at a beach resort in the south of the Island. After a peaceful trip on a glass bottom boat - taking in views of the coral reefs, fish and turtles - a banana boat ride, jet skiing and water skiing provided an exciting adrenaline rush. The water-based adventure concluded with a relaxing boat ride through the mangroves and a return to the beach to watch the sunset.Throughout the tour the group experienced the sights and sounds of the Islands, tasted authentic cuisine and got a chance to meet the friendly locals, as well as taking the opportunity to indulge in some shopping in the Capital’s famous malls.Sandunie Wijesekara, one of the students who took part in the once in a lifetime trip said, “It was a wonderful experience and a successful trip, which left us with beautiful long-lasting memories of Sri Lanka. The organisers took personal care throughout the tour and ensured that everything went smoothly and the group appreciated their efforts.”The SRC are now looking forward to planning the next adventure, to discover more of this unique and beautiful Island.