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October 30th 2010
Published: August 30th 2010
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Sri Lanka Trip

Colombo -> Negombo -> Anuradhapura ->Dambulla ->Polonaruwa -> Sigiriya -> Kandy ->Pinnawala -> Nuwara Eliya ->Ella-> Galle -> Unawatuna Beach -> Hikkaduwa Beach -> Colombo

There is only one word I have for Sri Lanka - astonishing.....we did not expect it at all to so fall in love with this place as we were more excited about our 'after trip' visit to India. Maybe that is why we were so positively surprised and amazed by Sri Lankan landscape, hospitality, cuisine, culture and wildlife..... I must admit we did not know much about the culture itself so it was so wonderful to learn all these fantastic stories and imagine the empire at its best.... We all learn about Egypt, Greece, Rome, Inca and China Empires but nothing about Sri Lanka - this made it new and interesting....but starting from the beginning.
We organised the trip on our own and we missed the budget by just a little bit so the information you can get online is pretty accurate...we did hire a driver/guide for 6 days of the 'tour the Sri Lanka'. His name is Sarath and he is the most amazing guide we have ever had. We heard so many horrible stories about drives over there that we feel really lucky that we had this pleasure of driving around with Sarath. So, great driver is a key, and generally if you don’t have much time to spend over there getting a driver is a key....It would be impossible for us to rent a car and do the same distances on our own - no matter what they say on car rental websites.

Day1: So we flew into Colombo and took a taxi to nearby Negombo village as the next day we were heading to Anuradhapura. The best way is probably to take an airport taxi as very comfy and reasonably prices. Again we heard stories of Tuk-Tuks charging more for the same bumpy ride (as still comparably cheap) so go with the flow and take a taxi. Negombo village is nice and cosy but it was quite empty at the time. The beach was wide and dirty in places - nothing special when compared with the more southern spots.

Day 2: Sarath picked us up from the guest house and we made a 4h drive up into the Ancient Triangle. First to visit was Anuradhapura. Endless roads of ancient city with 15 or so 'stupas' built around various Budda relicts. We made the tour in the afternoon and at the end of it we visited the temple of the Holly Tree. It was already getting dark but all around this place you could hear people chanting....made the atmosphere so spiritual and amazing that we could stay there all evening just to listen - like in a trans. From what we heard it does not happen every day but mostly in the evenings so definitely worth trying ;-)

Day 3: We continued the journey to Sigiriya - to us - the most amazing of all the ancient sites there. In the middle of a jungle stands a huge rock....looks a bit odd it is there but yet majestic and spectacular. We then discovered it was the rock and the location that made a perfect place for a fortress and palace. At the bottom was a summer palace - still can see ruins and remaining of their architecture i.e water fountains and pipes bringing water to the gardens. Up at the rock was a winter (rain season) palace with beautiful water pools and flower gardens. There were 3 entrances to the palace: Elephant, Tiger and Cobra and only 2500 steps leads you to the top with amazing view all over the jungle. From Sigiriya we moved to Polonnaruwa - another ancient city with beautiful curved temples and Budda statues. It used to be a capital of the land and most of the architecture is about the temples and Budda but there are also ruins of old roads (where they used to hold markets) and monasteries. Again, hidden in the jungle seems so unreal it is there.

Day 4: We stayed overnight in Polonnaruwa and the next morning we headed to see Dambulla Caves. The first thing you see is the majestic Golden Temple with the Budda statue rising in the skye - amazing view before you move to the caves filled with various statues of Budda in different positions. There are some amazing paintings on the ceiling of one of the caves. From Dambulla we moved to Kandy and on the way we visited some furniture and wood factories and spice gardens. To be honest all these places were great but seemed so commercially orientated on ripping you off that it put us off a bit. You can buy amazing curved masks or spices on local markets for 1/10 of a price so be aware. Spice gardens were great in terms of seeing so many plants you know of that have this healing abilities. First time in my life I saw cocaine tree ;-) So we reached Kandy and we visited the Tooth Relict Temple - really nice but so 'normal' comparing to what we have seen so far. I can only imagine how amazing it must be during the Esala Perahera festival in August so envy everybody who actually experienced it. Except for the lake and the temple there is not that much to see over there. If you are visiting during hot season good idea is to visit a shopping mall in the centre as it is air conditioned and have really nice juice bar to refresh a bit;-)

Day 5: We stayed in Kandy for 2 nights and the next trip was to the near by Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala. Experience of a lifetime to see so many elephants in one place, to be able to feed them and feel them and then watch them taking bath in the river. Again very commercially run, quite expensive entrance fee of Rs 2K and then to have a photo or feed the baby elephant another 200-250Rs. Yet worth it!!!. The village is actually great shopping spot where we purchased mentioned before masks and other souvenirs for a really nice price. I also bought handmade leather bag that broke the same day hahah Got it repaired on the street and it is beautiful anyway;-)

Day 6: We just had a stopover in Nuwara Eliya as our driver advised we should stay in Ella overnight and he was 200%!r(MISSING)ight. There is nothing special about NE and Ella offers amazing views and jungle feel. We stayed in the Warerfall Homestay run by Karen, Australian lady and must say the best place we ever stayed in!!! Beautiful location, amazing view on the waterfall and the house....the house you can only fell in love with no matter if you are in or not into the interior designs ;-) The house is located on the hill but we managed to climb a bit higher and the view was magnificent. It started to rain for 30 min as usually in the afternoon and even that could not spoil the moment. I wish we could stay longer in Ella and we will definitely come back there for min of a week one day ;-) And there in Ella we finished our adventures-sightseeing part of a trip and we headed to the Beach !!!!

Day 7/8: Unawatuna Beach - the nicest of all we have seen in Sri Lanka. Small, almost intimate and beautiful ;-) Loads of young people, parties and activities. We stayed in the Surfcity hostel at the beach and as simple as it was it was very clean, comfy, wifi/PC for free to use and just few steps from the beach. Worth visiting is the Rotty Shop recommended also by LP. Good lunch option ;-) From there we took a train to the nearby Hikkaduwa village. Surprisingly going by train was so easy. I read different stories about them being late and difficulty with finding seats etc. Well definitely take a 1st class if you can (as we could not get any tickets for 1st class for our trains) as people just jump through the windows to secure place hahah

Day 9/10: Hikkaduwa Beach - big and empty with big waves. Ideal for surfers but I did not enjoy it as much as Unawatuna. We stayed in Cinnamon Gardens - very nice place with its own garden square before you enter the beach. 15 min walk approx to the town but on the way we enjoyed eating in local restaurants for half of what you would normally paid in a touristy place ;-) Again we took a train to Colombo - very easy and comfy for almost no price ;-)

Day11: Final day we spent in Colombo just to explore a bit and see whatever The Lonely Planet recommends. I guess the most boring place of all but we did manage to chill out in the Viharamahadevi Park and then visit the Gangaramaya Temple and Meditation Centre. Overall nice and relaxing day;-) The next day we decided not to take a taxi to the airport; as we had not used public buses at this point; so we took the bus 817 (I think, as per LP) and again for 1/10 of a price we manage to get to the airport in exactly the same time as taxi quoted us;-) Very easy again so perfect for travellers on budget ;-)

We went to India after this trip and on the way back we stayed in Negombo again in Browns Beach Hotel - really recommend it as it has this colonial feel and look. Loved it;-)

Additional photos below
Photos: 45, Displayed: 28


pinnawala elephant orphanagepinnawala elephant orphanage
pinnawala elephant orphanage

for an extra 250Rs you can actually feed the baby elephant ;-) great moment but lasts maybe few seconds

28th September 2010

mate for travel
I looking for friend for travel to Sri Lanka in term from 29.12.2010 to 13.01.2011.
29th September 2010

hi - sorry we will be there only for 11 days 29th October to 10th Nov;-) good luck
14th July 2011

wow..nice photo, its amazing place..
14th July 2011

thank you
Loved every bit of it;-)

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