I was thinking how wasted it is that i blog so much about stuff going on in KL, but i never seem to catch up with my travel posts. A backpacker i made friends with in Myanmar recently emailed me cos she was going to Sri Lanka, and i shared with her the list of places we went to cos backpackers aren’t the type to buy a Lonely Planet (like we did) seeing they’re visiting so many countries. So i thought… i should share the whole list of places Clem and i went here, seeing i may not actually get to blogging about my entire trip >.< And if you do go to Sri Lanka (which i think you should, cos it’s so darn beautiful) then you can refer to our list in case.
THANK GOD I LABELED all my photo folders upon returning… looking back at the names of places now, i don’t remember half of them.
Then we went to:
- Ramboda Falls
- Labookellie Tea Factory (can you blame me for forgetting the names!?)
- went hiking at Nuwara Eliya and stayed at Single Tree Hill at Pedro Estate
- took a train from Nuwara Eliya to Ella and Rawana Falls
- visited tempes > Wellawaya – Buduruwagala; Dikwella – Wewurukannala Vihara; Matara – Weherahena
- stayed at Mirissa beach
- stayed in Unawatuna, and pottered around the charming city of Galle
- went thru Hikkaduwa (but don’t go here, it’s terribly dirty)
For a blogpost i wrote about WHILE in Sri Lanka, you can *read this*. It was written while we were in Mirissa, and i love that place so i thought i’d post pictures up from there today!
Mirissa is an idyllic beach area that is in the South of Sri Lanka. It’s pretty under-developed, which is what makes it so beautiful, with nothing listed down to do in our trusty guidebook because that’s what you go there for – to do nothing! It was great cos we were hiking and moving around a lot since the beginning of our trip, so Mirissa was where we could take a little break and not sight see for a bit.
We were the only ones on the whole beach!
So freaking surreal and awesome.
It’s as if the world belonged to only us.
For just that little while.
The FIRST time i heard about Kandy mountain was from Marcel when we were hanging out in Dusun.
And i immediately thought of Charlie the Unicorn
My imagination ran off with how Kandy mountain must be filled with
ponies and unicorns and candy canes and all things happy and colourful.
They didn’t have any of those, but it was still very pretty *trying not to be disappointed*
“Kandy served as the capital of the last Sinhalese kingdom,
which fell to the British in 1815 after defying the Portuguese and Dutch for three centuries.
It took the British another 16 tough years to finally build a road linking Kandy with Colombo.
The locals still proudly see themselves as a little different – and perhaps a tad superior – to Sri Lankans from the island’s lower regions.” - Lonely Planet
Kandy is a pretty small town.
There’s a lake in the town,
with a hill next to it where most of the guesthouses are to be found.
Because this was our first night staying in Sri Lanka,
i didn’t know that this was going to be our nicest stay for the midrange price of RM90.
Our first choice for a guesthouse had raised their price to RM120,
so we went hunting for another one as we’d budgeted roughly 2500 rupees per night/RM90.
With the owner of Freedom Lodge, where we stayed that night.
His family has owned the house and land for decades,
and because it’s so large with so many bedrooms,
the typical practice in that area would be for the well-to-do families to rent it out and make money that way.
The temple is next to the lake,
where people who were against the labour to build the lake were ruthlessly put to death on stakes on the lake bed.
It’s said that the tooth is SO important,
the real one isn’t actually kept in the temple,
but a replica instead (they’re too afraid someone might try to steal it).
It’s such an important symbol that back in the day,
it was believed that whoever had ownership of the tooth,
also had ownership of the island!
Some drum-beating was going out inside the temple,
but i got distracted by the angles of the building overhead instead oops.
Look at all those poor elephant tusks!
This man’s wife approached me and started touching and admiring my red hair while i just grinned back at her.
After a few minutes, the couple gave us some joss sticks to pray with.
People in Sri Lanka are so nice!
They wanted to take pictures with me after that,
and jotted down their address for me to send the picture to via airmail.
It wasn’t just one address… but three!
Right next to them, another family stood close by and asked to take pictures with me too…
then they proceeded to write down ALL their addresses for us to send the pix to.
By this time, Clem was hissing to me, “KEEP THE CAMERAAAAA”
Manatau we’ll end up with dozens of addresses of strangers to send pix to.
This trend continued throughout the rest of our trip!
I had to number all the jotted down addresses i received lest i mix them all up.
After the temple, we went to the Palace Gardens of Kandy for a looksee and small stroll.
It was such a culture shock to see every bench taken up by a couple!
It was the total pak toh place man.
I tried counting how many couples i passed by,
and lost count at 30.
Reckon there were about 50 couples in that little park,
all staring curiously at us as we walked by.
They were all just sitting and talking to each other,
arms casually hung over the girls’ shoulders,
or holding hands.
Didn’t see any kissy kissy stuff.
Since i couldn’t even find ONE bench to sit on,
i settled for a swing.
Ventured to town after that to potter about abit
and find lunch before leaving Kandy to make our way down South.
I’ve always liked observing fonts people use in diff countries.
Aren’t their trees just marvelous!?
Lots of women carried umbrellas cos it was JUST TOO HOT.
Spot the unicorn!
Guess all my wishful thinking managed a toy unicorn in Kandy after all!
Clem really wanted to get his head shaved
This random man took us to the barber…
and lured me to walk around a clothes market even though nothing there really interested me.
He was bargaining for me (things i didn’t even want…!)
and i was afraid he was going to be one of those ‘tour guides’ that would pressure us for a tip after.
We asked him a few times to make sure he wasn’t going to ask us for money,
he said he wasn’t,
and took us to a food market next door.
I guess the catch was he was trying to sell us drugs!
He was being all shady and talking to Clem quietly and i guessed it right away.
We said no, thank you bla bla bla and sent him on his way.
I bought some curry powder
which is just sitting in my kitchen cupboard
which i’d better not forget about!!
Betel leaves are larger than i imagined them to be!
Maybe cos ‘betel’ is close to ‘beetle’
so i thought they’d be small >.<
The restaurant we were looking for was closed,
so we went to another that our driver Was showed us:
It turned out to be an AWESOME MEAL.
AWESOME cos it was cheap = RM3.50
and i got so many dishes to go with my rice!
All that! For 100 rupees!
I think we were being overcharged previously…
the night before i had a menu taken out of my hands cos it wasn’t stating the ‘tourist prices’.
Most meals we had there would cost us 500-800 rupees / RM17-28 each,
which is a bit steep seeing they were just little restaurants.
Small roadside restaurants would charge us 500 rupees / RM17 for 2x people so that was alright.
Even breakfast at the guesthouses had a habit of charging 500 rupees per person.
So $ flew faster than we expected in Sri Lanka.
Still, that 100 rupees meal MADE MY DAY.
It was so good, i whacked it all!
Another great thing about Sri Lanka is their seemingly endless supply of fresh fruit juices!
After lunch, we walked to the car to continue our journey,
and i spotted some denim being sold on the roadside.
Managed to buy a denim dress that fit me to a T for RM17.
I think i could have bargained it lower,
but it was so hot,
and the guy was pleading that he’s poor and needs money.
Hard to bargain la liddat
The flight to Sri Lanka from KL took about 3 and a half hours,
and we landed in Colombo early in the morning, Sri Lanka time.
I thought we’d be traveling around Sri Lanka backpacker style via bus and train,
but Clem made sense when he said we only had 1 week there.
Travelers usually take 2-3 weeks to explore the whole country,
so we’d save time by hiring a car instead of having to follow the bus/train schedules.
We went to one of those car rental agencies in the airport,
and managed to get a car for 200 euros for 8 days.
Throw in 60 euros and the driver is included for the entire trip so that’s what we did.
First place i made our driver take us to was somewhere for breakfast!
We went to a mamak-like restaurant where we had our first authentic Sri Lankan meal – curries with noodle patties/roti.
It’s quite interesting… you simply tear up the noodles and mix it with curries on your plate.
With your hands of course.
The curry was really spicy, even for me!
And i love my spicy food…
I took one taste, looked at Clem and said, “You’re going to be in trouble here…”
We decided to travel to the Hill Country (central province) of Sri Lanka,
spend a few days in the mountain and hill areas,
make our way down South to the beaches,
and work our way up the West side and end up back in Colombo to catch our flight home.
So we didn’t even stay in Colombo at all…
really explored the other parts of the country,
which i preferred!
First thing i noticed on our road trip were how different the trees and foliage are!
The trees spread out really wide, and make me think of India (which i’ve not been to)
so it felt really exotic!
First place we decided to head to after breakfast was Sigiriya,
a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated right in the middle of the country.
It’s a huge rock that juts out of the earth’s face,
and is thought to be a former palace (on top) and gardens.
Archeologists think otherwise – that it was a long-standing Buddhist monastery.
built in 3rd century BC.
It was quite expensive to visit the area,
as, i discovered later, is common in Sri Lanka.
The entrance fee to visit Sigiriya rock is 1,500 rupees / RM52.
Comparable to the fees to the Mosque of Cordoba, which is in Spain.
One of the pools that was allegedly built in the 5th century AD by King Kassapa,
who reputedly murdered and overthew his own father off the throne.
That’s Sigiriya rock behind the dog.
Tiny dot of white is a person… so you can guess how far away we still had to walk to it.
Entrance to the start of the climb!
Oh did i fail to mention how high the climb is?
The other day i flew up 3 flights of stairs in Uptown and completely lost my breath.
The 12,000 steps in my near future was… daunting.
Not to mention i didn’t have anywhere to change at the entrance (the toilet was really filthy!)
so i was still wearing my Old Blossom Box leggings and black Jimmy Lim jersey shirt i wore in the airport.
I thought i would survive the climb in that,
but OH HOW I REGRETTED IT LATER cos it was SUPER HOT CAN DIE x 10000.
The Lonely Planet book was our bible the whole week.
So useful! Think i’ll be buying Lonely Planets every country i decide to explore now!
These signs were everywhere, think Ashley might never venture in Sigiriya…
she’s got stung before and is damn paranoid.
The start of 12,000 steps.
I think we did 100 by the time i took this picture.
On the way up, there are natural cave shelters that have ancient paintings…
More formidable steps…
We took a rest and took Wilson out for a picture.
‘Twas very risky cos the wind almost blew him off the ledge and Clem caught him in time!
Didn’t put him too close to the edge after that!
We bumped into lots of schoolchildren
who shouted out greetings, asked us our names, where we’re from,
and laughed cos they thought Clem’s name was funny.
Below is the last series of flights of stairs to reach the top.
My face was as red as a lobster
and my thighs felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger had just put me through the gym.
Note the big stone claw(?) on the lower left
There was an old auntie climbing the stairs right in front me who was so painfully slow, she held up a long line of people behind her in the hot sun…
We couldn’t say anything of course, and waited as patiently as we could…
First thing i did when i reached the top was to HIDE IN THE SHADE.
The scenery was GORGEOUS.
We could spot the glimmer of faraway lakes amidst the jungle!
The gardens below
Lots more stairs and terraces to climb and explore at the top.
Must say i’ve never had a more bonding relationship with stairs.
It was really something.
And we don’t regret climbing the 12,000 steps.
In fact, i think we would have done it if it were 24,000 steps!
It ended up being our favourite spot to visit in Sri Lanka
Have spent 4 days in Sri Lanka so far but it’s felt longer cos we’ve done so much!
The moment we landed, we took off to the Hill country area in the middle of Sri Lanka.
Didn’t even bother to stay in Colombo or anything,
we just wanted to be immersed in forest and make our way down to the South, then to the West in time to return for our flight home one week later.
I can’t say we’re backpacking…
we hired a driver and car for 260 Euros for the entire week
so we won’t waste any time getting lost
nor get tired from driving long hours.
One week is simply not enough here!
We’ve just enough time to cover the middle and southern parts of Sri Lanka.
So far, the views we’ve seen are astoundingly beautiful.
I wholly understand why travelers we’ve met have raved about this country.
The only sad part is that because the nation is still getting over their civil war barely two years ago,
inflation has skyrocketed and
they’re charging more than usual for guesthouses and food.
Prices for everything are divided into two – for the people of Sri Lanka, and the tourists.
We’ve even had a menu exchanged out of our hands because it wasn’t stating the ‘right’ prices for us.
I have to say that accommodation is pricey compared to guesthouses in Indonesia, Thailand, China, Malaysia…
and lots of other things like ticket entrances to temples and world heritage sites are simply extortionate.
The experience is definitely worth it…
but i feel that if the country keeps inflating like this,
backpackers and travelers will be more inclined to try someplace else.
At times, i feel like people are just taking money money money from us.
The moment they see we’re tourists, i can just see them calculating how much to charge us.
But besides the people whom we have to pay for services/food/etc,
the public, the PEOPLE here are absolutely beautiful.
They smile and smile and smile.
I see the poor women working in the rain plucking at fresh green leaves in the tea plantation,
and they smile at me.
I see the men standing in the rain waiting for the bus,
and they smile.
I see a man selling fruit in the middle of nowhere, really,
and he smiles so wide all i see are his teeth shining in the bright sunshine.
The universal language of the world are facial expressions.
And i find it so spiritually comforting that every person i’ve smiled at,
returns a smile twice as wide as mine!
It really is a beautiful feeling.
You could never do that in a city.
You smile at someone, and more often than not they think you’re crazy/about to steal something from them.
I’d estimate that out of 50 people i smiled at here,
only 3 didn’t smile back.
Two of those were in a dusty bus while i was smiling from an air con car (so i don’t blame them)
and the third was a soldier who stared back at me flatly with beady black eyes.
I don’t blame him either cos i think my life definitely has more sunshine and colour than his.
We went to a large waterfall today where Clem was enraptured for a good half hour
and i, by a toy store next to it.
(I saw a bigger waterfall the before so i’m spoilt that way haha)
On previous days, i’ve seen really poor children playing with nothing…
I saw a little boy playing with his slipper, so sad!
So i bargained like the Chinese i am,
and bought some toy cars from the store, to give out to children if i see them playing with nothing/alone.
I think i fancy myself as some sort of Santa Claus *layan diri*
Haven’t given out any yet (i bought a box of 9 toy cars)
though i spotted one boy this afternoon.
Didn’t give one to him cos i saw him hitting at three dogs with a piece of rope.
No toy car for you!
Okay have to go have dinner.
Am exhausted from playing in massive waves all evening (we’re in Mirissa now).