Up at the crack of dawn to board our big pink bus and say goodbye to Colombo as we set off on a 3 hour drive to Kegalle to film elephant poo being turned into paper. After 7 years of working on this show it didn’t even seem that strange a mission.
Our drive there confirmed the impression I was already starting to pick up about Sri Lanka – that it’s like a cleaner and less hectic version of India. The roads are in better nick, there’s less rubbish about, and people seem to take a bit more pride in their homes. It was a bit more tropical looking than I was expecting too, with a lot of coconut trees about.
After meeting a couple of elephants (smaller and more chilled out than the African variety) we shovelled up some poo into a wheelbarrow and then gave the viewers a tour of the process of turning it into paper… in the style of ‘The Great British Bake Off’, complete with our own bunting we’d brought along. It’ll make sense when you see it (I hope!). It’s a very sweet little factory, basically run from two barns, and seems to employ a lot of local people. Who would have thought elephant poo paper would be such a money spinner?
With another few hours of driving ahead of us we carried on along the twisting country road, with the occasion wave from locals in fields or school kids in their neatly pressed uniforms. Arrived at our next hotel in the middle of a coconut plantation and was greeted by the staff bearing a coconut with a straw sticking out for us each. Never had a welcome like that before!