Sri Lanka, you beauty! 

Tripoto
16th Feb 2018

Whoops! It is already 2019... and I haven't published my trip from 2018 yet. Does that make me a certified procrastinator? I know it's bad on my part. So I've decided, I'm going to finish this incomplete draft tonight...or this month...or this year, whatever! Here goes...

So the journey begins! The journey to the center of the Earth! Haah! No. Not as yet.

I am just embarked on a first of a kind trip with a friend of mine. To Sri Lanka. And boy, am I anxious! Errm... No, not actually! This is my first trip outside my country. So naturally, I should have planned so much more for this trip, given I do a considerable amount of research work before my native trips. But due to some unavoidable reasons, I couldn't do much in advance. And I din't even have time to ponder much over it. Well I guess, sometimes it's bliss to go unplanned. We anyway had zeroed down the places we wanted to cover in our 5-day trip inclusive, which were Ella, Kandy, Galle and Colombo of course.

Day 1

We took a 6:20 AM flight from Bangalore to Colombo via Chennai. The flights were on time, thank God. We got enough time to have breakfast in our own Chennai as the connecting flight was scheduled to depart at 11:47 AM (we'd graduated there). It hardly took an hour and a half to land in Colombo. And it's February, perfect climate! Not too cold not too hot, most of the places would hardly need a thin jacket in the nights. A dear friend of my friend had come to pick us up and take all the way to Ella which was our first day destination. So kind of him! It's around a 6 hour drive and it's smooth, goes through small towns and surrounded by lush greens and lakes, so you would want to stop by at a place or two just to embrace the sight. Which we did, in the form of stopping to have lunch at a road side restaurant or take sips of the local coconut water (tambeli) in the middle of the highway with fields on both the sides of it and just one seller with a heap of tambelis kept in shade on one side. If you keep looking at your right, you can even see the Colombo Lotus Tower minutes after hitting the highway. It was in the making when I reveled in the view. It's now functional and the tallest building in South Asia, FYI. It was dark when we reached Ella, we went to a nearby restaurant to have dinner, which had to be the famous local dish, kottu roti, a preparation of roti/ bread and eggs, chicken/ mutton and spices. If you've lived in Chennai, you'll know it's like the Kothu parotta we get there. After stuffing ourselves, we started tracing our Airbnb abode for the night that we had prebooked. The road to the place was quite uneven and a little deserted at that time of the night. We were following Maps to locate it and to my horror, it stopped at what seemed like a steep dead end. The way was hardly broad enough to fit the car, let alone reverse it. And it was pitch dark! That moment, it seriously looked like a horror movie set. Our car stuck there with headlights on, a steep slopy rocky road ahead and covered huge sitting Buddha statues at the back which by the way had scared the hell out of me at the first glance. So our friend here suggests he goes out of the car with us two girls locked inside to check what's ahead if there's anything. It really seems funny now, but I was dead apprehensive to let him go out in that place with eerily no one around... I mean it was hardly even 9. But we had no option, so he goes out with his mobile torch lit, in a minute he disappears in the dark and we are left thinking about possibilities and ways to fight if God forbid, something happens. In about 5 minutes we heard him back, God those 5 minutes were long! He'd located it! Our cute little guesthouse was just down the way on the right after crossing the railway line. Yes! It was on the side of the tracks and it seemed like far away from habitation. He had got the bellboy with him to help us take our luggage to the homestay. Relieved we get out of the car, take our bags and walk down to the road less traversed. Our stay was a small two storied bamboo house with our room on the top floor surrounded by trees. Now our friend here is skeptical about us spending the night there, but we managed to convince each other that it should be okay and the bellboy came handy in assuring that. So he leaves asking us to keep him posted about everything. Ah! we are exhausted now, literally. Good enough adventure to start off with, I think to myself while I sleep after taking a hot shower.

Day 2

The next morning brings a pleasant surprise. I wake up to the whistle of a passing train. We like the place, we can see the hills and the passing colorful trains from our balcony. We ditch Kandy mutually and decide to stay in Ella a day longer. After having a huge fulfilling spread of breakfast, we headed out for some trekking up the Little Adam's peak. We'd taken a tuk-tuk for around 500 SLR to take us to 2-3 spots. The hills are ideal for trekking, giving you a breathtaking view from the top. We then went to see the Nine Arch bridge which is a favorite spot in Ella. Sit on the bridge hanging your legs and get dizzy looking down. I did. It's a delight to see the trains pass on the bridge and through the tunnel. The Ravana falls though were just okay. You can skip it if you are not going into the water, no guilt! Go see the Ravana caves where according to myth, Ravana hid Sita after he abducted her. It's at the top of big rocks, you have steps to go up and the cave is like any other cave...dark and cold! Since we had time left before evening, we went on to see the Demodara railway loop as well which is an interesting construction of railway line in an oval shape. Ended my day with hot coffee and conversation with my friend in the balcony of our bamboo stay.

Onlooking Little Adam's Peak, Ella

Photo of Ella, Sri Lanka by Irfana Anjum

The epic train moment on Nine Arch bridge

Photo of Ella, Sri Lanka by Irfana Anjum
Day 3

Third day! We took a bus to Galle early morning. There are frequent buses to Galle from the bus stop where you can reach by a tuk-tuk for max 200 SLR even from the place that I stayed in. It's a 6 hour journey from Ella to Galle in the Wellawaya- Kadu Oya- Matara- Unawatuna route. Our bus which was jam-packed by the way had a lot of tourists most of them standing including us. You could really socialize during the journey. Around 3 in the afternoon we entered our palatial Kingfisher Bamboo Garden where we were greeted by a friendly lab called Floyd. We were tired. But I had to see the Fort both in the night and daytime. So after relaxing a bit we started out. The fort does look pleasing in the evening with those tiny yellow lights on the narrow streets brimming with restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops on both the sides. I can picture it as I'm writing this. I can feel the gentle breeze. And the seashore! O my! I have an old connection with oceans and beaches. I can get lost in the sound of the waves for an immeasurable time. And this was no different. Though it felt absolutely exhilarating as I sat on the top of the Fort walls with the waves crushing against them deep below. I was witnessing this for the first time I guess. I did roam around the streets later, trying whatever I could to please my palate. Ice-cream lovers, do stop by at the Pedlar's Inn Gelateria. It serves lip smacking ice-creams. :)

Gongoozling from the Fort.

Photo of Galle, Sri Lanka by Irfana Anjum
Photo of Galle, Sri Lanka by Irfana Anjum

Night scenes at the Fort

Photo of Galle, Sri Lanka by Irfana Anjum
Day 4

Day 4. Started off the day with a good breakfast beach side. Ah, what would happen to life if it's not for food! And varied delicacies from different countries to try. In Sri Lanka, they make banana pancakes with banana slices rolled up inside the thin pancakes. Good enough! Anyway, I din't have much to see today. Played in the waves for some time after breakfast. Went back to the fort to explore the places in broad daylight and get tanned. Also saw the famous stilt fishing on the roadside. Yes, the shore is just a few meters away from the road and I was mesmerized to see those fishermen catching fish sitting on a bar on a vertical pole. Still a mystery! We had our bus back to Colombo at 5 in the evening. On the way, even took a peek at the Galle International Cricket stadium which was there on my list.

Unawatuna Beach

Photo of Galle, Sri Lanka by Irfana Anjum

Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct

Photo of Galle, Sri Lanka by Irfana Anjum

Light House

Photo of Galle, Sri Lanka by Irfana Anjum
Photo of Galle, Sri Lanka by Irfana Anjum
Day 5

Last day of the trip! We were in Colombo the previous night. And what a welcome it was! Authentic Srilankan home made food to savour and such hospitality of our Srilankan friends who by the way did not let us stay in a hotel there. They invited us home where we met their lovely families missing them a bit though, since they themselves weren't in the city that time. Well now we had to go visit a few notable places before we catch our flight from Colombo to Bangalore in the evening. Since we did not have much time and had to buy some souvenirs as well for our friends back home, we could spend time only in the Gangaramaya Buddhist temple. It's a calm place with a lot to see in architecture. The statues and paintings inside the temple narrate some historical events too. It is full of beautiful and intricate artifacts which give you a totally different and sophisticated view. I recommend you visit the lake temple too. The tickets are not very expensive as I remember. And it is nearby, just on the other side of the road. As the name suggests it is a temple built on a lake. It has a small prayer room in the center surrounded by cool balconies on all sides. The golden Buddha statues are something that'll take your attention. It gives good vibes more so because of the lake around it. It is also surrounded by a few gigantic and unconventional architectural buildings to gape at. There is one that caught my attention. You'll know when you go there. Other than that I walked on the roads in Colombo and I liked the familiarity there with same traffic and peak hours and people taking measures to avoid them like they do back in our country. So with this my short trip comes to an end and I fly back tired but blessed.

Photo of Colombo, Sri Lanka by Irfana Anjum
Photo of Colombo, Sri Lanka by Irfana Anjum

Tilted Monastery and tilted me!

Photo of Colombo, Sri Lanka by Irfana Anjum
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