Sri Lanka: the 1st week

 

I arrived in Colombo airport under heavy rain! It is the rainy season here in Sri Lanka.

After a short stop at the Airport ATM and to buy a local sim, I took a cab to my guest house in Negombo (closer to the airport than Colombo, the capital).

I arrived pretty late so, apart from some churches, I didn’t see much. Colombo is a catholic city in a mainly Buddhist country.

The next morning ; the beach which is 50 m away. Honestly nothing interesting. The beach is dirty and surrounded by hotels. Some fishermen and a few monks staking selfies in the waves. The weather wasn’t great either…

Back to the hotel where i got a pretty bad eye allergy after petting a cat…

I then take a tuk tuk to visit Negombo city, a few kilometers away. I find a pharmacy toget some drops for the eyes. Nothing particular in this city. I went to the fish market, but the smell was so horrible that didn’t stay very long. Also, since the weather was turning bad again, the fishermen were covering the fish with big plastic tarps.

At the hotel, I rested a little as my eyes was still hurting pretty much.

I had diner at the guest house. My first Rice&curry. A large plate of white rice served with 4 vegetables and some shrimps. Every house has its own recipe and this one was really tasty.

My bus to Anuradhapura is supposed to leave at 9 :15 pm from the main bus station in Negombo. But I ended up waiting for it in the middle of nowhere and it came at only 10 :30pm…Good thing I had the driver’s mobile number to put some pressure on him.

The trip lasts 3 h, and the first 2h, we watched a Bollywood movie on the central TV.

The bus drops me in Anuradhapura at 1 :40 am, there again, in the middle of nowhere… a tuk tuk arrives and drives me to my guest house. At the address, it is not the same name as my booking and everything seems closed. It got pretty scary! The tuk tuk beeped for a few minutes and finally a man arrived. He never heard of my reservation (thank you so much Expedia for letting people book and pay a guest house that doesn’t exist since at least 1 year!). Since I was pretty scared and lost, the man called his manager and they let me a room for the night. Needless to say that I didn’t sleep much !

On the Sunday, I take a tuk tuk to visit the city and the well-known temples. They are beautiful.

The entrance (included several temples and ruins) costs 25 euros.

Lucky day, it is the full moon, so a holiday here and everybody is in the temples, wearing only white. From the little kid to the old person, everyone is praying. Everyone is happy, laughing, smiling at me and accept to have they photo taken. My driver follows me everywhere and explain me what I see in a more than rough English. He finishes all his sentences by « this ok ? ».

At the end of the day, we meet a long procession with kids dancing and adults in traditional costumes. The procession ends with about 1000 monks (men and women). This is absolutely stunning!

On Monday, the same tuk tuk as the previous day, drives me to Polonnaruwa, a 110 km drive. 3h long. Roads are pretty good but people drive like crazy (especially the buses). Sceneries are beautiful and even come across a wild elephant!

I check in at the same time as a French guy, Jif. We talk a little and decide to go check the surroundings. There is a lake nearby. So great! Very green. We get lost in small paths and meet local families taking a bath in the river. Everywhere, kids wave at us laughing.

The rest of the city is not really interesting. It is basically one long road with shops.

We talk with 2 Spanish girls from Tenerife over diner and laughed quite a bit.

Tuesday morning, we rent bicycle and off we go to visit the ruins, the only touristic part of the city. They spread over 4 km and the entrance fee is 25 euros.

It’s green and there are many monkeys, dogs and cows, but this is not to die for. I understand why many tourist don’t add this to their tour.

At 2pm it started raining cats and dogs and we drove back to the hotel completely soaked wet. We met a Dutch girl who got harassed in the ruins, a guy on a moto, trying to grab her boobs. She was really scared so we stayed a little with her.

We then have dinner with another French guy who had just arrived at the guest house.

Wednesday morning, another tuk tuk to Sigirya, some 50 km away. I could have gone by bus, but I’m lazy. There will be more opportunities for me to take the bus anyway.

The Guest house is great, with an incredible view on the Lion Rock. In front of the house, there are rice fields with peacocks passing by.

Since I didn’t sleep well the previous night, I’m dead tired. I go for a 1h massage, which of course doesn’t help but feels really good.

I have diner there with an Australian couple (Teresa and Kaylan). The woman is a foot doctor so she applies a strap on my foot (I suffer from an aponevrosite since 2013) so I can climb the rock the next day.

Sigirya seems to be in the middle of the jungle. There are frogs in the bathroom and during the night, you hear wild animals. Impressive!

Thursday, I climb the Lion rock. The entrance is there again very expensive, 27 euros! I got really mad, especially when you see the local people paying close to nothing. I regret even more that price since I can’t climb up to the top because I’m afraid of height and the last portion is very sloping. The climb could have been ok, but not the way down. There is another rock across from this one and the cost to climb is 3 euros. I should have done that one…

At the hotel, the Teresa and Kaylan are about to leave for a safari in a National park nearby. They offer to joint them; I would only have to pay my entrance to the park as they paid for the jeep already. I’m so happy!

There are dozens of jeeps full of tourists so we are not very happy at first. After 30 min through the jungle, we arrived on the prairie part where we can see hundreds of elephants. Mainly females with their cubs. Of course, all the jeeps are there but at the end, it was ok, I was just so happy to be surrounded by wild elephants.

 

Back to the guest house where we have an awesome fried rice with vegetable. The best meal I had since I’m here.

Friday morning, I took the bus (at last) to Dabulla. It is a 16 km drive and it costs around 0,20 cts euros. Takes 30 min

The caves are all the way up a very long path with many stairs but the view is beautiful and there are monkeys. And dogs. In very bad shape. All eaten alive by mange. It’s horrible. I give them some of the food I had kept from breakfast. That won’t change their lives, but at least they have a little something in the stomach…

The caves are really stunning. I wasn’t excepting that much beauty. Hundreds of Buddha statues. There is a temple on the way down. Very goldy and kitsch.

Bus back to the guest house in Sigirya but this time the bus is packed !! the heat is almost unbearable. It is all moisty.

I wonder around the lake nearby. The path is great and the people really friendly as usual.

For more pictures, check my flickr account:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/polynatingtheworld/albums/72157690398211325

Second week in Sri Lanka:

http://polynatingtheworld.com/sri-lanka-week-2/

3rd and Last week in Sri Lanka:

http://polynatingtheworld.com/sri-lanka-the-last-week/

2 thoughts on “Sri Lanka: the 1st week”

  1. Hi, great post! I am travelling to Sri Lanka for a week in July, and I was just wondering, how did you get from place to place once in Sri Lanka? What is typically the best way for tourists to get around? Thanks! Dan

    1. hello

      local buses are everywhere and cheap but very dangerous (they basically drive like nuts!).
      I did local bus and private driver when I was traveling with others. a bit more expensive (need to be at least 3 in the car), but much nicer and you can stop whenever you want to take some pics. I recommend this

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