Edit Blog Post
Published: September 22nd 2011
The day started early with me waking up at 3:30AM to get ready for my second trip to Sri Lanka. Dad dropped me off at Sandeep's place and we took the cab to the airport. After a hot cup of chai outside the airport and the emigration formalities, we finally boarded the flight at 7:00AM. We were 5 people, Myself, Sathish, Sandeep, Nazeer and Krishnan, friends since school. We were joined by Kiran, Swamy, Vamsy, Baskar and Das, all friends of Sandeep. So it was a pretty big party.
At 11:00AM we landed in Colombo. It was fine weather, a bit sultry, just like Chennai. We proceeded to the immigration counter, finished the formalities and headed right to the forex counter. I had assumed that forex people would exchange any currency to the local currency and had not bothered to do it beforehand. WRONG. Turns out that it would take sometime for the Indian Rupee to be a universal currency. So yes, we were left in the lurch and had to withdraw money from the ATM.
We then proceeded to the exit and hailed a taxi out of curiosity. The guy quoted Rs. 1000/person to get to the city.
Since I had been to SL before, and time in our favor, I took charge and got the free airport shuttle to Katunayake bus stand and from there, the bus #183 to Colombo fort railway station/bus stand. The ride was in a A/C bus and cost Rs. 80/person, a considerable saving! and a great way to be like a local. We then found a so-so restaurant near the station and had brunch which was quite good for my taste. We had rice and curry, the local fare. A note of caution, the rice used in SL is parboiled rice and hard to digest, so I would recommend keeping this experiment at a later time for first-time travelers, unless you are particularly fond of Delhi-belly. For cost comparison, it cost Rs. 1200 for 6 people. A 300ml coke bottle costs Rs. 100 (around 40 Indian rupee or $1). After the lunch, we took the local bus from the bus stand (walkable ~ 0.5km from Colombo fort railway station and proceeded to Galle and from there to Unawatuna in the local bus (Rs. 12/person).
Our visit coincided with the Duruthu perehera full moon festival and we saw hundreds of people clustered
all the way from the bus stand to the beach. There were dancers, men and women and people gathered to cheer them up. It took us a whole half hour to get to the resort located half a kilometer away from the bus stand (walkable). We checked in and immediately left to the beach to grab some cold beer and relax. After food and beer, we took our clothes off, took a dip in the cold water. The food and beer cost Rs. 7000 for six people. As it dawned, the water got a bit rough, probably because of the full moon and very dirty. We came back, had more food, played cards the night and took a walk by the beach and the road. I finally crashed at about 10, with my friends still locked in a hand of cards. The festival is celebrated the entire week and devotees sang songs (devotional) all through the night. unexpectedly the songs were a bit mesmerizing, the same incantations sung repeatedly in praise of the Buddha. The temple was situated opposite to the resort, accenting the experience.
The next day was spent in a similar fashion. We had morning tea at
an obscure cafe with a great view of the coast. After getting ready we had brunch at Jina's. The menu includes exotic food from allover the world like for example Spanish omlette, cheese spinach sandwich, passionfruit and banana walnut cakes. He had worked as a chef in London and takes immense pride in cooking food in a peaceful state of mind and enjoying the process of making food to serve others instead of for money alone. This he says translates to the food being wholesome and caters to both the mind and body of the customer. He is interestingly also a yoga master, currency exchanger and travels to India frequently. So here we exchanged our Indian Rupee for Sri Lankan rupee for the rest of the trip. Since it was afternoon and we had decided to reach Tissamaharama (Tissa for short), we decided to skip the detour to Galle and spend some more time by the beach. It got late and to not ruin the trip by taking public transport, we decided to play it easy by taking a chartered van. We decided on Rs, 42000 for taking us to Tissa, overnight stay at Tissa, Yala safari and the ride
back to Colombo (That's Rs. 7000/person; quite reasonable due to sharing). We reached Tissa by 11:00 PM and hit the sack.
The next day morning we woke up at 4:00 AM, got ready and took the jeep to Yala National park with the hope of catching sight of the leopard, which the park is famous for. The park, the ride and the animals were fantastic, but the cruelty is that, what we saw, I have seen in my native village. Examples include, wild buffalo, wild rabbit, wild chicken or so I thought (turned out to be the Srilankan jungle fowl), wild cats, wild dogs (OK enough), squirrels, wild boar, flamingo, mongoose, eagle, swan, owl and monkey. The only 'wild' animals we sighted were peacocks, crocodiles, monitor lizard and deer. The folly with the safari is that one party sights an animal and pretty soon all other jeeps clamor around. The sound emanating from the jeep is enough to drive a wild animal up the tree or mountain. We were a bit disappointed, but that's how safaris are - you cannot expect to sight an animal when you want, where you want. "For 100% success of sighting an animal, we
should have gone to the zoos" I told my friends. We came back to the hotel by 9:00, had breakfast consisting of toasted bread with butter and jam, egg omlette, banana and tea. Cost Rs. 3000 but we did not complain.
The cab took us back to Colombo through the Ratnapura route. The road was a single lane highway and recently constructed. The ride was smooth and we even stopped by the Uda walawa national park to sight some elephants. The scenery of the Srilankan hill country was out of this world (I had been to Nuwara Eliya in the heart of the hill country and the Horton plains national park in my previous trip). We reached Colombo by night, finished dinner, did some shopping and headed to the airport to catch the flight back home.
Tot: 1.501s; Tpl: 0.065s; cc: 12; qc: 53; dbt: 0.0373s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb