Sri Lanka, Day 1: Sigiriya

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.

sigiriya

It’s quite interesting… you simply tear up the noodles and mix it with curries on your plate.
With your hands of course.

sigiriya

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!

sigiriya

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.

sigiriya

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.

sigiriya

sigiriya

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.
Vicious!

Sigiriya

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.

Sigiriya

Entrance to the start of the climb!

Oh did i fail to mention how high the climb is?

12,000 steps.

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.

Sigiriya

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!

Sigiriya

These signs were everywhere, think Ashley might never venture in Sigiriya…
she’s got stung before and is damn paranoid.

Sigiriya

The start of 12,000 steps.
I think we did 100 by the time i took this picture.

 

Sigiriya

On the way up, there are natural cave shelters that have ancient paintings…

Sigiriya

Sigiriya

Sigiriya

More formidable steps…

Sigiriya

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!

Sigiriya

The colour of the rock and my Blue Hat reminds me of my pix in Elba

Sigiriya

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.

Sigiriya

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.

Sigiriya

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…

Sigiriya

First thing i did when i reached the top was to HIDE IN THE SHADE.

Sigiriya

Sigiriya

Sigiriya

Sigiriya

The scenery was GORGEOUS.
We could spot the glimmer of faraway lakes amidst the jungle!

Sigiriya

The gardens below

Sigiriya

Sigiriya

Sigiriya

Lots more stairs and terraces to climb and explore at the top.
Must say i’ve never had a more bonding relationship with stairs.

Sigiriya

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!

(cough, maybe)

It ended up being our favourite spot to visit in Sri Lanka   :xhappy:

Playing in the waves 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.
Kinda sad.

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).
TA!!!

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