onsdag 29 januari 2020

Sri Lanka - part 7

Kandy turned out to be a busy and quite modern town, partly set on a very steep hill. And high up on the hill was where we found Le leopard d 'argent.




A number of buildings surrounded by, or rather in the midst of, the jungle. Sometimes visited by silver leopards, and more oftenly, like today, by monkeys.




The proprietor turned out to be a French expat with culinary ambitions. It suited us quite well since we didn't really feel like driving all the way down the hill for thirty minutes to get some dinner. It was actually the first non-Sri Lankan food we'd had since coming here (apart from the odd pizza). The Sri Lankan food is fantastic, but this was a nice change nonetheless.

After a good nights sleep and a morning spider scare we set out on a day full of excursions on the long road to Negombo.

We started with Kandy's famous Royal Botanical Garden. Their renowned collection of orchids left lots to be desired, but there were plenty of other things to like.






Before we left the Kandy area, we stopped at a wood craft shop. Exquisite work, but a bit bulky for  light travellers. They showed off theor magical skills in making different dyes from nothing but sawdust, fruit juice and electrolytes.







Next stop - the gem store. We learned that Sri Lanka is the only place in the world where there are blue sapphires. And everything else about traditional mining methods.



It was all very interesting but we refrained from buying anything.

We could not help ourselves at the next stopt hough - the ayurvedic spice garden. Super interesting tour topped off with buying an assortment of remedies to cure almost anything.






Final stop before hitting the tarmac was an elephant sanctuary. We learned about elephants, we rode elephants, we washed elephants.




And then we hit the road.

We arrived in Negombo just in time for the goilden hour on the beach.




Early next morning, it was time to say good bye to Sri Lanka for now.

A truly wonderful country, well worth a second visit.

söndag 26 januari 2020

Sri Lanka - part 6

The next morning we got on the train from Ella to Nanu Oya.





It seemed that everyone felt an urge to hang out from the open doors of the train while it was running. And I mean everyone.



The train ride was quite spectacular with breathtaking views of lush hills and gorges. None of the images captured from the train do it justice.

We got off in Nanu Oya.



Close to Nanu Oya is Nuwara Eliya, or little England as it has been called for at least 100 years. It was easy to understand why it had earned it's nickname,





Not too far from Nuwara Eliya, we stopped at one of the largest tea factories to learn a bit about one of Sri Lanka's traditional export industries. Johanna was interested to discuss their plans for automation, since it seemed to be hard labour producing tea the traditional way, but they would have none of it.



After a refreshig cup of tea it was time to hit the road again, to get to Kandy before sunset. We had a reservation at Le leopard d 'argent and we wouldn't want to miss that.

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lördag 25 januari 2020

Sri Lanka - part 5

After the Yala experience, it was time to start heading west again to get back to Colombo in time. We decided to head for Ella, with a short stop on the way.

Buduruwagala
The short stop was at Buduruwagala, an ancient rock temple, more than 1000 years old, with seven Buddhist figures carved into the face of a large cliff. The largest one is actually the tallest Buddha statue in Sri Lanka, almost 16 metres high.


Ella
A couple of hours later we arrived in Ella, a small town in the hill country of Sri Lanka, very popular with backpackers and tourists in general. Lots of European style bars and restaurants, but not much of a local flair.

It was a beautiful day so we went for an afternoon hike to see some of the most famous local tourist attractions.

Rawana Ella Falls






Little Adams Peak







The Nine Arches bridge



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Sri Lanka - part 4

The next day we discovered that the camp site was a maze-like compound with huts, tents and tree houses.


Though otherwise primitive, the tree houses surprisingly enough had running water in the toilet. They also had large holes in the walls and lots of insects and bats nearby. Very cool place nonetheless.

Yala national park was where we spent the entire day, from dawn till dusk.








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Sri Lanka - part 3

There's quite a long drive from Mirissa to Yala, our next hotel so we decided to make a few stops on the way.

Dondra head


Dondra head is the southernmost tip of Sri Lanka. The famous lighthouse was closed, unfortunately, but there was a clear sky with free view towards Antarctica.








There were some fishermen hanging about, preparing their gear.  They use longlines to catch tuna weighing 2-300 kilograms.




Talalla

Not too far from Dondra head is Talalla, a beautiful beach skirted by small cafes and restaurants. Less frequented than the more known Tangalle a bit further along the road, it is a nice place to stop if you prefer peace and quiet over crowds and jetskis.



























Yala
We had some trouble finding our way to The Campers Lodge Yala Luxury Camping, which was our next stop. It turned out to be impossible to reach by car. After a brief conversation with the staff, we had to wait for half an hour at a junction in the dark jungle foliage. People were standing outside a nearby hut, ready to light fireworks in case the wild elephants in the area were to aproach their crop.
Suddenly a medium sized jungle cat crossed the road twenty meters in front of our car and it all felt somewhat unreal.

A large jeep appeared from the jungle, and brought us the last few kilometers to the camp. It was too dark to distinguish much detail, but it was pretty clear that we were in the middle of nowhere. After a quick dinner we went straight to bed. Or climbed actually...

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Sri Lanka - part 2

Travelling along the coastline eastwards, we made brief stops at Unawatuna, another surfer's hotspot, and Galle, with marks from the Dutch colonial period, before we reached our base for the next few days, Mirissa.

We stayed at a hotel called Ocean Moon, which had seen better days long ago. Or had better days to come, since it seemed to be under somekind of rebuild. It was close to the beach though, which is probably why the owner in their marketing campaign seems very happy.


One of hte main features of Mirissa is whale watching. We decided to give it a go. After a little more than an hour on the boat,  we did actually encounter some blue whales. I could not get any decent photos though, they were too far away, but on two or three occasions we could see the easily recognizable tail fins of the gigantic creatures. On top of that we spotted several kinds of dolphins and even a big sea turtle. The view from the whale watching boat was pretty nice too.






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