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Asia » Sri Lanka » Eastern Province » Arugam Bay August 8th 2019

We actually left! I write this now (This is now out of date. We are in Arugam bay but wifi has been shocking at all places we have stayed so far!) sitting in our first airbnb here in Negombo, Sri Lanka. It still doesn’t feel quite real being here knowing we have such a long time overseas ahead of us. Going for 6 months (and having a child) really changes the dynamic of going on holiday. There wouldn’t be so many good-byes and preparation if you were only travelling for a couple of weeks. Cairo interestingly seems more settled despite the very different environment. I think now we have arrived he is better able to understand what we are doing even if we haven’t quite figured it out! We flew out of Auckland at midnight and ... read more
Cairo also loving it
Not all bad
First home

Asia » Sri Lanka May 8th 2019

After our drive through Scandinavia last August, we came to Seattle for a long weekend for my nephew’s wedding celebration at Sunset Hill Park in September. It was a beautiful celebration, and we were able to get in a quick visit to catch up with friends and family. We returned to Switzerland, then went almost immediately to Sri Lanka. It’s one of Pete’s favorite places; he’s been there about 11 times, and this was my fourth visit (first in 1994). On Pete’s first visit, he stayed at a bed and breakfast place run by Punchi and Wansa (Gala). Over the last 37 years, Pete has kept returning there. When we were in Australia last year, Punchi and Wansa were visiting one of their sons and his family (and a cousin) in Melbourne, so we stayed with ... read more
Bruce
The ceremony
Ben

Asia » Sri Lanka » Southern Province » Tissamaharama April 25th 2019

We left Ella for our next destination, Tissamaharama, early the next morning. Saman stopped at Rawana Ella Waterfall, 19 meters high and only 6 kilometres from Ella. We were driving along a winding road through Ella Gap and the scenery was stunning. We stopped briefly at the waterfall and joined a large group of orange clad monks on the bridge overlooking the falls. We left the hill country and were passing through flat farmlands before we arrived in the busy crossroads town of Wellawaya. A short detour here from the highway out of the town took us to Buduruwagala, an ancient Buddhist site dating from the 10th century. At this spot stands a 1000 year old standing Buddha statue (at 15 meters high it is the tallest on the island) which is carved into the rock ... read more
Buddha statues at Buduruwagala
The largest Buddha statue with tracings of orange stucco
Shrine on roundabout in Tissamaharama

Asia » Sri Lanka » Western Province » Colombo March 25th 2019

yes, 2 days ago i was in colombo, sri lanka touring in a tuk tuk. tomorrow, the 26th of march we will be in mumbai. dubai on the 29th and 30th. muscat, oman on the 31st. transiting through the suez canal on april the 6th. then 2 days in haifa, israel on the 7th and 8th. seville, spain on the 13th, then disembarking in southampton on the 16th of april. i can't believe how quick this cruise has gone. the days have just sailed by! on march 17th we arrived in singapore for 2 days. very hot and humid. it was 34 degrees by noon. i was booked on a tour and was pleased to see tony from my dining table was on the same tour. the majority of the population in singapore are chinese (76%), ... read more
in singapore

Asia » Sri Lanka » Central Province » Ella March 12th 2019

The train arrived in Ella, and we pushed our way through the disembarking passengers to the entrance of the station. The platform was very busy, all tourists, and it certainly gave us an idea of what Ella would be like. I’m sure the train would have been nearly empty when it left the station to continue it’s journey. With no sign of Saman and the car we walked into town, passing only tourist cafes and guest houses. Ella is surrounded by tea plantations and now is a town that has been taken over by tourism. Tourists come here to walk amidst the tea plantations, hike the surrounding hills and admire the pretty scenery. Saman rang to say he would see us shortly and we waited outside a cafe in the Main Street, which was also the ... read more
The top of Little Adam's Peak
Hilly countryside near Ella
Nine Arch bridge

Asia » Sri Lanka » Central Province » Nuwara Eliya March 10th 2019

We left Kandy on Sunday morning and the traffic wasn’t too bad thankfully. We were driving to Nuwara Eliya (set at an altitude of 1900 meters) which is in the centre of Sri Lank’s renowned tea plantations. Once referred to as ‘Little England’ it was the favoured cool weather destination of the early British settlers. The road twisted and turned through very pretty countryside and we were soon surrounded by vibrant green tea plantations rising above us. Through the plantations were narrow stone steps used by the tea pickers. Lots of stops to admire the view and a great tour of the Blue Leaf Tea Factory. We’ve visited tea plantations in other parts of the world but the young man we had as guide on this tour was great - very enthusiastic and informative. Unfortunately there ... read more
Cooking hopper in the women’s kitchen
Egg hoppers
Eggs, cinnamon and coconut for sale at local market in Nuwara Eliya

Asia » Sri Lanka » Western Province » Colombo March 9th 2019

After about 420 kms of riding our last full day was a 150 km drive to Colombo initially along a new toll road to the outskirts of Colombo where traffic slowed to a crawl. Brief stops made at Independence Square & Parliament as well a brief orientation drive around the old town before lunch & browsing at the Barefoot Fairtrade store, a showcase of handicrafts from around the country. After lunch we took a walk through the bustling Pettah Bazaar. Colombo is now a big modern city set on a huge natural harbour where office blocks stand shoulder to sholder with Colonial-era buildings reflecting the different eras of the Portuguese, Dutch & British empires. China is now the new empire, building huge new towers plus a massive sand reclamation of prime land around the port so ... read more
Busy speed sign
Moving goods in compact Colombo market
End of ride group with celebratory beer.

Asia » Sri Lanka » Central Province » Kandy March 8th 2019

We had a very stressful journey to Kandy from Sigiriya - the road was very busy and we came close to having a couple of accidents. In Dambulla there is a very large wholesale produce market and the road to Kandy was clogged with trucks overloaded with sacks of vegetables, plus the usual tuk tuks heedlessly weaving around the traffic and the buses which had absolutely no regard for fellow road users. We were very thankful when Saman stopped at a big Hindu temple in Matale, halfway to Kandy. We needed a coffee desperately.... The Sri Muthumariamman Thevasthanam (try pronouncing that.. ) was a very colourful Hindu temple. The large interior had a central altar and the area surrounding the altar was full of ceremonial objects and small chariots used in an annual festival. As with ... read more
Ceiling art, Arulmihu Sri Muthumariamman Thevasthanram (Hindu temple, Matale)
The colourful exterior of Arulmihu Sri Muthumariamman Thevasthanan
Drummers at the cultural show

Asia » Sri Lanka » Southern Province » Galle March 7th 2019

After a beautiful red sunset last night we had a 2 hour electrical storm with heavy rain overnight, the first for the tour. Fortunately our riding finished yesterday as traffic conditions are now too chaotic. Mirissa was a lovely beach break to wander around despite the overcast but humid conditions. Like all the coastal towns in the south Mirissa is now undergoing rapid tourist development but some traditional beach shacks remain . Mid afternoon we had a short drive to Galle exploring the impressive World Heritage listed Dutch colonial town ending with a group dinner & return to Mirissa. The towns Dutch fort still has extensive walls and ramparts and many old buildings that survived the 2004 tsunami. We walked around the ramparts & fort late in the afternoon to avoid the baking midday sun and ... read more
Mirissa Sunset
Dutch East India Co Warehouse
Galle ramparts

Asia » Sri Lanka » Southern Province » Weligama March 5th 2019

Our quads & calves were even more tender today for the start of our last riding day but our muscle memory soon kicked in for a relaxing morning ride. The ride was a flat 47 km ride via the Bundala National Park finishing on the golden sands at Hambantota. Most of the park was scrubby elephant country but nearer Hambantota we passed some dunes, wetlands, lagoons & salt pans but did not see any sign of the pink flamingos the park is known for. Hambantota is also infamous for its vast wasted investment projects including a brand new but idle international airport & a massive port both now leased back to the Chinese. After lunch we followed the coastal road to our two night stop at the Esprit Hotel, Mirissa for some free R & R ... read more




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