views from a balloon
A Day Above Sri Lanka By Anil Jayasinghe and John J.
Nowell Reviewed by Anuradha Samarajiva
It felt like I was floating on the clouds, looking down at the breathtaking
landscape. It wasn't a dream, but just an effect of the photographs
in Anil Jayasinghe's and John J. Nowell's book, A Day Above Sri
Lanka. Do such sunsets and blue waters really exist in Sri Lanka?
Apparently they do, and this new volume captures them from a new
idea behind the book is simple: explore all that Sri Lanka has to
offer in a hot air balloon in one day. The journey starts at 6:30
a.m., with a golden sunrise seen from the Trincomalee beach. From
there the balloonists see the Aukuna Buddha statue glowing in the
early morning light, and an aerial view of Anuradhapura hidden in
the jungle. By 11:15 a.m. the balloon has reached Point Pedro in
Jaffna, the northernmost point in Sri Lanka.
midday, the readers see the Uda Walawe elephant sanctuary and its
elusive wildlife. The view from skies above Sigiriya at 3:30 p.m.
isn't much different from what visitors are rewarded with after
their tiring climb, but the close-up view of the Colombo harbour
ships at 4:30 p.m. is a new sight. At 5:15 p.m. the balloon captures
the incredible view from World's End in Horton Plains. The sunset
at 7 p.m. is an orange and blue swirl reflected in the waters of
the Kala Wewa Tank.
it really possible to travel all over Sri Lanka in just one day?
The book makes it seem so, faithfully recording the times for each
location. But the photographs were actually taken from several different
balloons, since there's no way to reach Jaffna at 11:15 a.m. and
then to fly over Colombo fifteen minutes later. That revelation
shattered my romantic fantasy that it was possible to fly leisurely
over all of Sri Lanka's attractions in less than 24 hours.
fact, since ballooning is an exotic subject for most people, it
would have been better if the authors had explained the whole process
from the beginning. Throughout the book they do give small details,
such as the fact that those seemingly fragile baskets can carry
fourteen passengers. Sir Arthur C. Clarke also mentions in the foreword
that he took a flight in his wheelchair. But the reader doesn't
find out that photographers like Dominic Sansoni are responsible
for the amazing views until the authors' acknowledgements at the
was a nice touch for Jayasinghe and Nowell to make the connection
between their collaboration and the serendipitous nature of Sri
Lanka. Both are balloonatics (hot-air balloon pilots), though Nowell
hails from Yorkshire and Jayasinghe, a product of S. Thomas' College,
from Sri Lanka.
is the force behind hot-air ballooning in Sri Lanka, and the colourful
Sri Lanka Balloon Festival is his brainchild. Nowell brings his
publishing skills to their collaboration with his 11th book - A
Day Above Sri Lanka. The duo say it was a chance meeting that brought
the photographs have a certain spontaneous nature. They are like
glimpses from the window of a train, except of course these are
snapshots from above, something most of us haven't seen. These are
interspersed with shots taken from the ground, brief descriptive
notes about people and places, and even satellite photos of Sri
Lanka. A short introduction attempts to run through the history
of the island; it's enough to give just a sample of all the variety
and beauty in Sri Lanka. It's the photographs afterwards, with their
friendly village scenes and beautiful landscapes, which offer the