Sri Lanka

Photo credit

February 2-9, 2019


(I just need to let you know that as I was typing up this blog WordPress was being very fickle and my formatting is all messed up because of it. At this point I’m letting it go and posting the blog anyway. The spell check function was also not working, I’m sorry in advance).

You know a trip was good when you continue to think about it after you get home. It’s been a month and half since my trip to Sri Lanka and I still find myself day dreaming of rolling green hills, elephants, and endless cups of tea. If Sri Lanka is not on your list of countries to visits I recommend you add it.

We arrived very late at night into Colombo do to a delayed flight. (Three out of our four flights during this trip were delayed). I recommend not spending more than a day in Colombo. It’s a big city with not a whole lot to do. We were there during Sri Lanka’s independence day and because of this some areas of town were closed off to get ready for a parade. There was also a heavy, and I mean heavy military presences. It made me a bit uncomfortable when I first started noticing it. We learned from one of the tuk-tuk drivers that it was all for the parade the next day. Don’t worry, Sri Lanka is a very safe country. Aside from consistently being stared at and asked if we needed a tuk-tuk ride we didn’t have any issues.

View from our hotel balcony. Not super nice, but you can see the ocean!

 

Off on our first Tuk-Tuk ride of the trip
We stumbled upon a street fair which we went back and visited later that night

 

This tree reminded me of the trees in Cambodia

 

The Buddha in Viharamahadevi Park

 

Town Hall

 

That tower looked like a lotus flower and would light up at night

 

Gangaramaya (Vihara) Buddhist temple which is famous for having so many artifacts.

 

Not a real elephant

 

So many buddhas! (Sorry the lighting in this picture is so poor)

Again, not a real elephant

 

Offerings

 

The outside of the temple

 

The outside of the temple

 

Seema Malaka lake temple on Lake Beira

 

Street art

This was an old Dutch hospital converted in to stores. The internet made it sound really neat. It was a total let down!

 

Inside the Dutch hospital

 

Colombo had a lot of really neat architecture

Old Parliament

 

Old Pettah. Again, another place the internet made sound cool and it wasn’t. It was loud and really busy.

 

Market in Old Pettah. We noticed all the stall owners were men. In Vietnam they are mostly women

 

The National Museum. This came highly recommend. Sadly, we were so tired, hungry, and hot by the time we got here we didn’t want to go in. It’s a beautiful building though!

 

If I remember correctly this is a statue of Queen Victoria

 

Independence Memorial Hall. This was built when Sri Lanka gained it’s independence from Britain in 1948.

I was trying to take sneaky photos of all the military stuff set up for the parade. I probably didn’t need to be sneaky about it.

At time laps video of a tuk-tuk ride in Colombo

Day Two: We left Colombo and headed to Kandy.
We hired a driver/guide for the week (which I highly recommend doing) and this was supposed to be the day he picked us up. This day started with a huge hiccup! Our driver’s car got hit by a motorbike on his way to pick us up and he ended up at the police station. We ended up taking a “pick me” (their equivalent of Uber) to Kandy, which was about 3.5 hours away. I know that sounds expensive but it was only around $40. When we got to the hotel we had another hiccup. They didn’t have our reservation and tried to say we booked it that day (it had been book in November). Then they magically had a room for us. It was not a room we were willing to stay in. Thankfully, our driver knew of a nice hotel, which ended up being amazing! Before going to our hotel we spent some time in Kandy visiting the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. They have a tooth from when Buddha was cremated, however it is in a case and you can not see it. Because it was a holiday is was very busy and we chose to walk around the grounds instead of paying to go in the temple.

Man-made lake in Kandy
Happy Sri Lanka Day!

The next few pictures are from around the grounds of Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

Our guide said, on more then one occasion, how much he hated monkeys. I have to agree with him. Wild monkeys are awful little things.

He’s hard to see, because he blends in so well, but there’s a giant lizard in this photo

This used to be the Ambassador to Britian’s house. Now it’s a fancy hotel.

Store fronts

 

Our hotel was amazing!

Day Three: The worlds most beautiful train ride.
We did not do the whole train ride which is Kandy to Ella. We only went half way to Nuwara Ellya (which took 3 hours).
Oh man, did it live up to the hype! We initially didn’t have seats and were willing to ride third class and stand. Thankfully, another driver approached our driver and offered to sell us seats that he had bought as long as we were willing to be on a ticket with another couple. It was cheap so we agreed. It was worth every penny! I spent the better half of the last two hours sitting on the floor of the door way with my feet hanging out watching the country side zoom by. Breath taking! Pictures do not do it justice. If we would have been in third class this would not have been possible do to the amount of people in those cabins.

 

Waiting for our train, which was delayed

 After the train ride we went to a tea plantation for lunch and well, tea! It was during this tea break I mentioned I wanted to some day buy a nice tea-pot. Our driver heard this and recommend we visit the Noritake outlet (the only one outside of Japan) just outside Kandy the next morning. I had no idea what Noritake china was. Turns out is fancy!

Tea plantation

Before having dinner our driver took us to a “jewel museum.” Sri Lanka is know for its Sapphires. We watched a video on how precious stones are found and then they took us upstairs and laid jewelry our for us to see. I felt very wealthy but also very uncomfortable as I wasn’t planning on buying anything. 

Below is a sunset from the restaurant we had dinner.

Day Four: We started the day at the Noritaki outlet. I could have spent all day and all my money there! I wish I would have taken a picture inside. But I forgot. Here’s a picture of the tea cups I bought. Sadly, I’m still on the hunt for the perfect teapot!

The lighting is awful in the pictures. Yes, I meant for them all to be different. And yes, that is a hammock in my living room!

We then drove north to Dambulla and checked into our tree house hotel before went on an elephant safari at Wasgamuwa National Park. Pictures do not do justice to how amazing the safari was. All the elephants are wild and move between three national parks. Thankfully the full herd was in the park we were visiting.

Yes, there was a bathroom in the tree house!

 

Inside the tree house

After the safari we went to get traditonal Sri Lankan massages. This was interesting. The massage was arggessive and they made us sit on chairs and face each other to begin. After the massage we were told to sit in a steam room for 20 minutes completely naked. (Make sure you go with friends your comfortable with 😉 ). At the end we were not allowed to shower. As we left they told us we had to keep the oil on for another half hour. So, we went to dinner oily. ha ha

Day Five: When your guide tells you to get up early to do a hike, be sure you listen.
There is a giant rock called Sigiriya outside Dambulla that has a bit of a scandalous history to it. Short verson: In the 3rd century BC Buddhist monks used it. In 477 BC King Dhatusena had two sons. The non-heir son killed his father and took the crown. The older son, who was rightfully the heir to the crown, feared for his life and ran away to southern India to build an Army. The new King built a fortress on top of Sigiriya. The rock was painted with frescos of naked women (from the stories, it sounds like he was a bit of a playboy), which were later removed when the Buddhist monks returned. The King reigned for 18 years until his brother returned to take back his rightful throne! Realizing he was losing to his brother the King fell on his sword to end his life. If you want a more detailed hisorical version click here.
We arrived right as the UNESCO site opened. It’s not a hard hike but there are a lot of stairs and it gets hot very quick! Who ever created the path was a genius. You went up one way and down another so you did not have to worry about dodging people the whole time. The view from the top was gorgeous!

The deep grooves in the rock were cut there to make the rain fall away from the rock, like gutters.

An older lady came up a whispered to me in a creepy tone that I was talking to loud for the bees. I was so confused!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rock is referred to as “lions rock” because all the entrances were once lions heads. You can see the paw of this one.
View from the top

The throne

One side up and one side down. So simple and efficient!

Our guide said it was lucky to take a picture under this rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock shaped like a cobra

 

 

Remnants of old alfresco paintings

After our hike we drove to Negombo beach. On the way our driver suggested we stop to do a river tour and see some more temples. We did both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not the most comfortable way to get around

Our boat guide was very proud of the hats he made us

We visited a traditional village home were we treated to coconut roti. They had us scrape coconut from the shell

Old fashion iron
At the end of the tour they had a traditional meal for us

Next we visited Dambulla rock temple. It’s a series of 5 temples carved into the side of a hill.

Day Six: We walked in and out of the little tourist stores in Negombo for most of the morning. When it got to hot, we spent the better half of the afternoon laying by the pool.

Our hotel

 

The view from our balcony

 

When I leave Asia I’m going to miss being able to afford to stay at places like this

 

Negombo

 

My store!

 

The beach

 

The best cut-up coconut I’ve seen!

 As we tried to book a cab to the airport we learned about a nasty little scam the hotels and tuk-tuk drivers are in on. If you book a driver through “pick-me” or Uber the tuk-tuk drivers will threaten them, therefore no one will pick you up in front of the hotel. The hotel then offers to drive you at an outrages prices. We ended up walking down the road from our hotel and being picked up in front of a restaurant. The Colombo airport is a zoo! Once you get through security it is fine with a few shops and places to eat. We unfortunatley were delayed. Our plans of spending a long lay over in Kuala Lumpur slowly slipped away from us. When we finally made it to KL we had enough time to leave the airport and hit up a nice grocery store (located in the airport after customs). Laugh all you want, I’ll happily wait in a customs line to by blue berries and sharp chedder cheese (things that are exteremly expensive in Vietnam).

Fun facts about Sri Lanka:
-When I asked about how Britain finally took control over the country I was told the last King was a drunk and his family sold him out to the British. The Royal family was then banished to a island.
-There are no road side rest stops or places to use the bathroom. You either hold it or go in the forest.
-They originally tried to farm coffee.
-They are early morning people so trying to find somewhere to eat dinner was tough as most places (outside of hotels) were closed. Be prepared for buffets. 
-You’ll eat a lot of curry and rice and drink a lot of tea

BLOGGING IS NOT SOMETHING I’M NECESSARILY GOOD AT AND AUTOCORRECT AND I HAVE A LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP, SO PLEASE IGNORE ANY TYPOS, MISSPELLED WORDS, OR ALL TOGETHER WRONG WORDS. 😉