A travel blog of a journey that I started in 2010 and I don't know when it will end ...

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Sri Lanka

--- Versió Catalana ---

In November 2017 I visited Sri Lanka, the tear of India .... And this has been my experience.


Itinerary 
Day 1. Arrival at Colombo and meet Laura
Day 2. Train to Kandy (මහනුවර) and visit to the Royal Palace
Day 3. Bus to Dambulla, visit of the Temple of the Caves of Dambulla (දඹුලු ලෙන් විහාරය), bus to Sigiriya. Climb to Pidurangala Rock (පිදුරංගල පර්වතය)
Day 4. Tuk tuk to Polonnaruwa (පොළොන්නරු) and Kaudulla National Park
Day 5. Sigiriya Rock, Dambulla and Kandy
Day 6. Kandy
Day 7. Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya and tuk tuk to Dickoya
Day 8. Adam's Peak and relax
Day 9. Train Hutton - Ella
Day 10. Little's Adam's Peak and Ella's Rock
Day 11. Tuk tuk safari to Kataragama
Day 12. Safari at Yala National Park and tuk tuk to Hiriketiya Beach
Day 13. Hiriketiya and tuk tuk to Midigama Beach
Day 14. Surf and Galle with Laura
Day 15. Beach and taxi to Negombo
Day 16. Breakfast and flight back home

Some Photos

What would I do if would return (Recommended Route)

Map of the route
Day 1. Arrival at Colombo and meet Laura

After 17 hours of plane from Barcelona with a stopover at Doha, I arrive at Colombo. I decide not to buy a local SIM to have data on my phone, but I recommend buy one ... From the airport, I take a local bus that goes from the front of the airport to the Fort railway station.



I ask about how to to take the train to Kandy for the next morning. I didn’t booked ticket, but I recommend to book a 1st class ticket, where you have assigned seat. At the information point next to the station I get a personalized Sri Lanka route, and I got asked if I want to hire a driver service. It is a good option if you want to make a route and you are 2 or more. To rent a car without a driver is more expensive than with driver.
If you want to rent a Tuk-tuk and drive around Sri Lanka by yourself, you have to validate the driver's license. It is a procedure that can take 2 or 3 days of paperwork. There are companies that can handle you before you arrive.
Afterwards, I ask how to go with public bus arroundl where I have the accommodation, which I have booked near the one Laura has reserved (a friend who comes also the same dates to surf) I go to the local bus checking where I'm with the Maps.Me app (offline map with lots of information) This app or similars has changed the way of traveling ...
I arrive at the Cool Colombo 7 Accommodation (http://www.booking.com/Share-w0PpZn) and I rest a bit .... It is a quiet neighborhood, full of embassies and residences of ambassadors.
I meet Laura and we walk around ... We see the park Vihara Malhadevi Park, and continue until the Seema Malaka Temple of the Beira Lake to end up on the beach next to the Galle Face Green Park. It's Sunday and the parks are full of families playing and spending the afternoon.



 We go to have dinner at Vasanta Bhavan Pure Veg Restaurant near our lodgings and we say goodbye ... until 10 days later we have different plans.

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Day 2. Train to Kandy (මහනුවර) and visit to the Royal Palace

The next morning, I go to take the train, where at the end I can only buy 2a (unassigned seats and cars full of people). Nice train ride to Kandy.



I arrive at noon at Kandy ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kandy ) at its beautiful train station.

It's an important city, it was the last capital of the era of the ancient kings of Sri Lanka. The city is in the mountainous area of the Kandy plateau, with an area of tropical plantations, mainly of tea. It is an administrative and religious city. The Temple of Dandy Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), one of the most sacred places of adoration in the Buddhist world.

I stayed at the Kandy City Hotel ( https://www.booking.com /hotel/lk/kandy-city.en.html ) .... I still have jet lag of the plane's journey and I have looked for "correct" accommodation in the center of Kandy.

I visit the Royal Palace and I walk around the Bogambara Lake. While I'm taking the walk, a giant shower of rain happen and I have to shelter myself in a bus stop for some time.


I go to the train station to see if you can book a ticket for the journey Kandy to Ella in 1 a week (I’ve been told it’s difficult to book), and yes, there is no place.
At the evening it rains and at night dilutes. So I rest.

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Day 3. Bus to Dambulla, visit of the Temple of the Caves of Dambulla (දඹුලු ලෙන් විහාරය), bus to Sigiriya. Climb to Pidurangala Rock (පිදුරංගල පර්වතය)

Next morning I take a bus ("premium") to Dambulla to visit the Temple of the Caves of Dambulla ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dambulla_cave_temple). It's about a few temples that were made taking advantage of the caves that were there in the mountain. Very spectacular. Entrance fee 1500 Rupies.

 

After visiting the caves, I go to the simple room that I have booked to Sigiriya
I leave the bag and I go to eat something in one of the four places to eat that there are in town. There I met Roberto (Vitoria) and Carmen (Madrid) who have also eaten something.
They have rented a Tuk Tuk for 15 days to go around Sri Lanka.
I accompany them to leave their bags in their accommodation and we go to Rock Pidurangala Rock to see the views of the Sigiriya Rock. We pay 500 rupees and we make the easy but demanding climb to the top. On the way up there is a Buddha lying under a cave. The views from the top of the area are worth it.



We went to dinner together, we come along with Roberto and Carmen very well... I still do not know what I'll do next day but we talk about the options that could be made ...

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  Day 4. Tuk tuk to Polonnaruwa (පොළොන්නරු) and Kaudulla National Park

In the morning I receive a message from Roberto saying that they want to go to Polonnaruwa and that if I want to join ... I'm in! Here starts my Tuk-tuk adventure around Sri Lanka!



So, we take direction to Polonnaruwa, we pass through the entrance of the Kadula National park to get information of how to make a Safari... We hire a jeep and a guide at 3 in the afternoon (the time of entering the park in this time of the year).
And we continue our way towards Polonnaruwa.
Polonnaruwa ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polonnaruwa ), is preserved as Old royal city of the kingdom of Polonnaruwa (entrance fee 25US$). A lot of history and remains of temples and rooms very well preserved. It reminds me a lot about the Khmer style (Ankor Wat)



 We visit the area faster than we would like to be able to get to the Safari on time. Some light rain has fallen.
So, as we have seen the most relevant highlights, we take the Tuk-Tuk and go to the entrance to the park.
The Kaudulla National Park ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaudulla_National_Park ) A recommendation of Colombo information office for this time of year.
Our jeep and guide are waiting for us, we pay the entrance and taxes. 3500 rupees per person (6888 Rupees of fees and 3500 Jeep + guide between 3)



We go back to Sigiriya for dinner and plan the next day ... more or less we have the same route in the head ...

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Day 5. Sigiriya Rock, Dambulla and Kandy

In the early morning we visit the Sigiriya Rock (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigiriya) after going through the entrance office ... 30 $US.
We start to climb as soon as we get there, they have warned us that it is full of chineese tourists that we would like to avoid.
During the climb, we can see some paintings on the rock with girls showing the breasts (one of them with four!)
On the way up, we find a stone sculpture of giant lion's feet that protected access to the top.



At the top, we see the views and we walk the entire perimeter, before starting to get down. During the descent, we met Diego, an Asturian living in Madrid. We visit the museum together and we get along.
 


We collected our bags from the accommodation with the Tuk-tuk and take direction to Kandy, we went through Dambulla (Roberto and Carmen had not visited it yet) and we continued the journey to Kandy.

We have booked an Airbnb in a family home that lives on the outskirts (Primrose Hill Residence https://www.airbnb.cat/rooms/20333911). A luxury ... a very nice family with an apartment with a washing machine included ...

We end up having dinner with the family and helping them cook ... an improvised show cooking ...




We would have stayed more nights in this place ... but they had already booked ... :(

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Day 6. Kandy


Breakfast and we packed to change the accommodation (a house on the other side of the city in the middle of a forest, Kandy Holiday Residence https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/4586821) and we have a look around the royal palace and its surroundings, we do it with Diego, who we've come across again.

We do the protocol visit to the royal palace (I stayed around visiting small temples because I had already visited it).


We buy tickets for a traditional dance show at dusk and take a walk through the streets of the center, and we arrive at the central market of Kandy that pleasantly surprises us ...

We buy tickets for a dance show in the evening.
We continue the walk to the Kandy Garrison Cemetery, lining the Bogambara lake.
The show we've chosen liked us a lot. Touristic, but it allows you to see the different types of traditional dances from Sri Lanka. Kandyan dance mallawa arachchi to the auditorium of Y.M.B.A. for 1000 rupees.


Afterwards we look a place for dinner, we end up at SAM chinese restaurant, near the Royal Palace.

Diego sleeps next to our accommodation, and we return him with the tuk-tuk.


Day 7. Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya and tuk tuk to Dickoya

After breakfast and pack up a little, we visit the royal Botanical Gardens of Peradenyina (1500 Rupies).


Afterwards, road to Dick Oya, taking a very attractive road that lets us see rice fields, immense tea plantations and villages spread across the road.

Dick Oya is where we will spend the night before climbing Adam's Peak, Princess of Dickoya (Princess of dickoya) a great recommendation from Olga ...

We contracted the taxi service for the next day to go to Adam's Peak, 5000 Rupies among the 3 to go and return.


Just when we finished eating, start raining, and we rest watching the views from the accommodation.

We have dinner early because are supposed to go to bed very soon. We have to get up next day at 1:30 a.m...!


Day 8. Adam's Peak and relax

After the journey to Delhouse, we begin the Rise to Adam's Peak. Many stairs ...


Before reaching the top, we stop to have a tea in a small shop. We reach the top by the sunrise.

The views are very beautiful, and we are there for quite some time.

After the descent, we return to have breakfast at the Princess of Dickoya and take the rest of the day to rest.


Day 9. Train Hutton - Ella
We have breakfast and pack all our staff to go to Hutton to take the train to Ella.



They say that this railway stretch is one of the most beautiful in the world, and for this reason, Roberto and Carmen already had the driver's service contracted that takes the tuk-tuk by road in this section.
The stretch of railway fascinates us, and we can sit around and go to the door ... we enjoy as children.

Before arriving at Ella, Roberto realizes that his small bag has disappeared. And the security of the train review the entire train to see if they could find it ... We think that somebody has been confused with their bag because there is a bag without an owner similar to Roberto's.
When we arrive at Ella, we have the Tuktuk again, and we go to the accommodation we have booked, The Bandarawela Bungalow ( https: / /www.airbnb.cat/rooms/2183776 ) a little away from the town, but very beautiful.
Nice dinner in town.
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Day 10. Little's Adam's peak and Ella's Rock
In the morning, we have breakfast before climbing Little Adam's Rock, where we are there for a long time ...

Then, from Kital Ella Railway Station, walk to Ella's Rock. We get some rain on the way, and this make more entertaining the route.

After trying to get gasoline everywhere (there is a state gasoline gas crisis for a few days) we go to see Rawana Ella Falls, and then have dinner ...

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Day 11. Tuk tuk safari to Kataragama

After breakfast, we take our way to Kataragama.

It's a journey of a few hours, and we have the problem that we do not have enough gas.

We stop around asking for spare gas bottles, but nothing ... from Wellawaya we take direction Buttala. We are rushing gasoline ....

In Buttala, after asking everywhere in town, a Tuktuk driver, after a few calls and agreed to a price, take me to his father shop for 5 liters. 40 minutes later I return with it! .... well done !!!!!

Luck that we have got gasoline, because the road from Buttala to Kataragama is a Safari highway! We see a lot of fauna in this stretch of road with our tuktuk!


The first elephant we are in the middle of the road ... we flip out!!!!!

After taking a tour of the accommodations in Kataragama, we end up at Samwill Holiday Resort ( http://www.samwillresort.com/ ) where we also book the Safari for the next day to Yala.

We rest in the pool until it begins to rain, and we soon have diner in the same accommodation before go to sleep.

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Day 12. Safari at Yala National Park and tuk tuk to Hiriketiya Beach

Well, at 5am, we're picking up the Jeep to go safari to Yala National Park.
We have taken the half-day safari.
The park is spectacular and although we do not see the Lleopart, enjoy all the flora and fauna found.

After the Safari, we pick all our staff and take the road to the beach !!!

We have nothing booked and we stop in a couple of beaches to have a look... But we have recommendations for Hiriketya Beach, so wel go there.

We have good fish for dinner and we go to sleep soon ....

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Day 13. Hiriketiya and tuk tuk to Midigama Beach

We get up without an alarm clock! ... breakfast on Hiriketiya beach and swim at the beach. Beach morning and walking around.

In the afternoon, we take direction Midigama, our next destination.

La Carmen and Roberto leave me at the accommodation that I have booked alongside Laura's place, Shehara Surfing View (https://www.booking.com/hotel/lk/shehara-surf-view.en.html) ... we will meet again the last day in Negomo!

I leave things at the hostel, and I go to see Laura in her super accommodation (Ebb and Flow Jungalows http://ebbandflowjungalows.com/) !!! She has invited me to dinner with his private ambrosio who cooks for her ...


The accommodation is luxurious! tastefully and very nice!
Laura is really excited about her surfing and relaxing vacations
The "Ambrosio" has prepared us a salad with shrimp and a Brownie with vanilla ice cream for dessert! And after dinner, relax and make the talk until the eyes are already ringing ...

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Day 14. Surf and Galle with Laura

In the morning, early morning, we go with tuk-tuk and Laura's surfboard to a beach to try to surf. I rent one and we put ourselves in the water.

This morning we see that there are waves that normally make it an easy place to surf ... we do what we can ... at least I try ...

When we return to the accommodations, we take a bus to go to Galle.

Galle, a city with an old fortified World Heritage site. The city was founded by the Portuguese in the 16th century, and reached its peak in the eighteenth century, before the arrival of the British. It is the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in South and South-East Asia, where you can see the interaction of European architecture and the architectural and artistic traditions of South Asia.


We walk on the alleys of the Fort. It is full of fine restaurants, boutique hotels and fashionable clothing stores and Sri Lanka souvenirs stores. We have lunch in a very nice restaurant and then ice cream. We keep walking around the perimeter of the fortification. You still can see the effects of the Tsunami that suffered in 2004 in some abandoned buildings since then.

I would recommend that you spend the night in the old town if you have the opportunity and time.

After a quick look at the market that is outside the fort, we start to return, we see that the buses are full and we take a tuk-tuk to a bar on the beach that we had recommended halfway, the Wijaya Beach ( www.wijayabeach.com ).

We have a milkshake to see the sunset and rest.


To finish the journey, the tuk-tukeros asked us too much to go back and we stopped a bus ... it was completly bull! A good reality experience... Laura still flips out! hehe

A swim in the pool of the Laura's mansion and we have dinner at the restaurant next to our acommodations, where all the surfers goes.

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Day 15. Beach and taxi to Negombo

In the morning, I go with Laura to see her surfing in a beach next to where we sleep.
There are good waves and a few good surfers.</ div>

How are the things that the last day of surfing, at the last moment ... it breaks the insurance cable that is added to the table! Laura is lucky, and a surfer who has seen it, helps her return to the ground ...

We pick up and hope on to a taxi that will take us to Negomo. With the Surfboard is the only good option to move.

I have booked a room in the same accommodation as Carmen and Roberto (Summer Wave Guest House https://www.booking.com/hotel/lk/patrick-holiday-resort.en.html ). Laura has booked a resort a bit far from the city to take advantage of the next day, since her flight leaves in the afternoon.

I got back with Carmen and Roberto and I accompanied them to return the tuk-tuk.

In addition, we meet again with the group of 7 Spaniards that we have encountered during the trip and we have a beer with the sunset on the Negomo beach.


We all sat together and also with the Catalan friend of La Carmen, Olga, that we have been giving recommendations during the trip.



This is over ... it's time to say goodbye.
Day 16. Breakfast and return plane.

Soon, I take a dip and pick up a Tuk-tuk to the airport.

I'm waiting for a few hours of plane and stopover at Doha.

The end....

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The route I would do if I returned (Recommended Route)
Although I loved the route I ended up doing, it can always be improved. First of all you should see which parks are good to see wildlife during the trip.
At colombo, I would not come back. I did not got attracted to anything I saw. Negomo is more practical and easy.
And the route would go a bit like this ... (Changing the safaris for the relevant season)

Day 1. Arrival at Colombo and sleep in Negomo or directly travel to Sigirya. It depends on the time of arrival (night to Negomo or Sigirya.)
Day 2. (night at Sigirya.) Visit Sigirya and Safari by Kaudulla National Park
Day 3. (Night at Sigirya.) Visit to Anuradhpura / Mihintale and back to the Temple of the Caves of Dambulla (දඹුලු ලෙන් විහාරය)
Day 4. (night at Sigirya.) Visit Polonnaruwa and returning to the Pidurangala Rock at sunset.
Day 6. (Kandy) Royal Palace and Traditional dance show.
Day 7. (Night at Nuwara Eliya) Kandy Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya and direction Nuwara Eliya
Day 8. (Night at Nuwara Eliya) Visit Horton Plains National Park (end of the world's trekking), Afternoon visiting tea plantation ...
Day 9. (night to Ella) Train to Ella. Get on the Little's Adam's Peak. Nice dinner
Day 10. (night near Kataragama) Up Ella's Rock and transport to Kataragama ... Passing through the road that passes through the park (Buttala-Kataragama) ...
Day 11. (Nit Hiriketiya Beach) Safari to Yala National Park and transport to Hiriketiya Beach
Day 12. (Night to Galle) Hiriketiya and transport to Galle
Day 13. (Night to Negomo) Galle and transport to Negombo.

* You can look for Stopovers options to Maldives (to Fly Emirates, there are)
* To do much of the journey you can rent a car with a driver ... you can contract on internet.

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Some Photos



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