Well… I have half an excuse for taking forever to write a post about Sri Lanka. When we arrived in Colombo (the capital) I spent a day sorting out some travel details before a friend from Hong Kong joined us for 2 weeks. When he got there we blasted off around the country with a rented car and driver, a serious luxury for Lu and I who have been taking public transportation everywhere. Sri Lanka is a great place to rent a car though and with Jun joining us 3 people splitting the cost is pretty economical (only 40 dollars a day total including gas, mileage, driver). Also, Sri Lanka has a ton of amazing things close together so if you rent a car you can jump between them much faster than waiting for buses and trains. So basically my half excuse is that we were all going crazy for 2 weeks (a good kind of crazy) seeing amazing stuff. We barely had enough time for sleep, much less blog posting. Anyways, here’s what we did:
17 – Drove to Anuradhapura, a Unesco World Heritage site with 1500 year old ruins that we explored all day. Anuradhapura is a pretty crazy place as it’s one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. We also saw the proclaimed oldest historically authenticated tree: an 1800 year old Bodhi tree held sacred to Buddhists across the world.
18 – Continued Anuradhapura ruin exploration then drove to nearby Mihintale to see the sunset in the evening by some more Buddhist temples.
19 – Woke up in the morning and drove to then explored Sigiriya rock during the day. In 480 AD a king built a fortress on top of this huge rock that shoots out of nowhere. The ruins are still ready to be explored including some surprisingly intact structures and remarkable fresco paintings. After Sigiriya we headed to Kandy, another culture capital of Sri Lanka it’s a beautiful mountain town. We marveled at the view from our hotel room that overlooked forests and mountains and we went swimming in the outdoor pool. Value accommodation!
Here’s me jumping into a 1500 year old bathing pool on the top of Sigiriya rock
20 – 2nd night in Kandy. Explored some beautiful botanical gardens during the day and saw a cultural dance performance in the evening.
21 – Started a two day guided hike through some nearby mountains. We swam in a waterfall then spent the night camping on the side of some mountains. Our guide was fun and sung/played us music on his drum.
22 – Spent all day hiking then returned to Kandy in the evening. Swam a lot in the outdoor pool.
23 – Explored Helga’s Folly in morning. It’s an extremely artistic and eccentric hotel in Kandy. Afterwards we started driving to another mountain town, Nuwara Eliya. We ended up stopping at this place by the side of the road for local toddy, it reminded me of a speakeasy. We drank and then went on a hike and swimming in another huge waterfall. Afterwards we continued to Nuwara Eliya and took an evening walk around a lake when we got there.
Here’s Jun and I swimming in the beautiful Ramboda falls
24 – Nuwara Eliya. Went on a hike overlooking the city in the morning then another hike to a waterfall in the afternoon. Afterwards we continued to Adam’s Peak.
25 – Wake up at 2 am to hike Adam’s Peak in time for the sunrise. Adam’s Peak is a steep mountain which is said to have a footprint of Buddha (or Adam, if you are Christian) at the top. It is incredibly sacred to Sri Lankans and we were joined by hundreds of pilgrams in our ascent of the roughly 5000 steps. At the top we enjoyed the sunrise and also the peaceful site of group prayer/chanting at the top of the mountain. We descended and, exhausted, continued our drive towards Haputale, another beautiful mountain town. We slept at an amazing mountain side guesthouse.
26 – After an incredible breakfast we go on an amazingly scenic train ride from Haputale to Ella (riding a train purely for the scenery actually… our driver Elango picked us up in Ella). In Ella we enjoy a particularly nice traveler restaurant and then went on another hike for the sunrise. Left in the evening for Udawalawe National Park.
27 – Udawalawe national park all day safari starting around 6 in the morning. National Parks in Sri Lanka have so many animals they don’t let you walk around them alone for fear of animal or human danger. Saw a billion animals: Elephants, large monitor lizards, birds (tons of birds: hawks, pelicans, toucans, perakeets, kingfischers, etc), chameleon, deer, water buffalo, cobra, mongoose, peacocks, monkeys, a fox.
28 – Yala National Park all day safari. Woke up at 6 in the morning again for this. Saw a ton of animals same to Udawalawe plus leopard, alligators, wild boar, a large turtle, bunnys. Drive to Mirissa in the evening.
29 – Wake up at 6 am to go whale watching in the morning. See lots of sperm whales and groups of dolphins jumping out of water. In the afternoon we go to the beach and swim in the huge waves. We eat a seafood feast in the evening with Jun and Elango at night and then say goodbye as they drive back to Colombo so Jun can fly back to Hong Kong.
After this period of insanity Lu and I decided to relax. I needed to catch up on sleep, my pictures, Chinese studying, and some trip planning so we spent the next 10 days in different beach towns in Sri Lanka being pretty lazy. We stayed in Mirissa, Kogalla, Unawatuna, Galle, and Hikkaduwa. We ate a ton of amazing seafood, played a lot of frisbee, swam a lot, went scuba diving a few times, saw a lot of sunsets, and learned how to surf.
(Lu and I eating a crabby/shrimpy feast. This is easily the largest crab I’ve ever seen. When the waiter brought it out he let it run around on the sand for a bit so we could see just how truly DELICIOUS IT WAS)
Last night we took an overnight flight to Kunming, China where we were surprised to experience cold weather for the first time in a couple months. Excited to get out and explore some mountains as soon as possible. Anyways, now that I’m not by the beach I should be a little less lazy. We’ll seeeeeeee!