We only got to watch him for about a minute, but seeing this fellow (I named him Leroy the Leopard) in Yala National Park on New Year's Day was one the highlights of our entire time in Sri Lanka. It made all my hair stand up - even the nose ones. Kudos to Trina who was manning the camera and took this great shot.

It’s been almost three weeks since I’ve had regular use of a computer and a lot has happened. It’s tough to know where to start.

In the middle of December, we left the island to start a 10-day tour of India, a place so unbelievably bizarre and unreal that it makes Sri Lanka seem normal and boring.

For people who wonder if there’s life on other planets, go to India and you’ll see that you don’t have to leave Earth to find people living on another planet. It’s a truly fascinating place, and one that I will only ever be able to take in small doses.

Everything is extreme – the number of people, the poverty, the smells, the sounds, the heat (although it’s cold and eerily foggy right now in Delhi).

In a word, India is nuts.

Included in our tour of India was my personal tour of some of the best and worst toilets in the country. Even though we stayed in some very nice places, I still wasn’t able to avoid a couple cases of food poisoning and spending plenty of time clenching my cheeks and fighting off nausea. In one my finest travel moments ever, I just about passed out at the dinner table of our 4-star hotel, only barely making it to the room on wobbly legs with the help of Trina’s uncle – not even an ounce of alcohol in me, just a small piece of food that was well beyond its best before date.

But thankfully, I was able to find relief in the bathrooms of all the tourist destinations we visited, including (but in no particular order): Humayan’s tomb, Gandhi’s tomb (my colon was particularly active at grave sites), the Akshardham Hindu Temple and (my favourite) an Indian train (twice). You won’t believe the balance and agility it takes to take a deuce on an Indian train. I can only assume it’s similar to dancing around a pommel horse with Vaseline covering your body.

All the toilets had their own charm and fragrance, however it was BYOTP at all of them. Good times.

After successfully battling the runs and searching for tigers (only finding paw prints) on Christmas Day in Jim Corbett National Park, we made our triumphant return to the island on December 26 to meet up with Trina’s parents. Since then we’ve been traipsing across the island from beaches to jungles to mountains to cloud forests with the grand finale coming up this weekend as we summit 5,500 steps to the top of Adam’s Peak – the most important pilgrimage sight for all faiths in Sri Lanka. The hike starts at 2 a.m. and ends at 6 a.m., when you reach the top and watch the sunrise. It better be worth it.

Check back for all the pics of our trip – and some funny tales of Randall (Trina’s dad) in Sri Lanka – in the near future. In the meantime, enjoy the new year and one more leopard picture from Yala.

Shaun

This big guy has had enough of the tourists. He's getting off of this rock. Likely going to eat some rice and curry.
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