Jerry and I love travelling together - one of the pleasures of semi retirement!

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 » 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 » 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 » Central Province » Sigiriya March 5th 2019

Our short visit to Jaffna over, we headed back down south. Saman relaxed immediately, but continued to stay well under the speed limit. We stopped for a buffet lunch at a resort hotel. It was relatively cheap, with a great range of food, and a pleasant break beside the resort pool. We were to spend the next three nights in the area around Sigiriya, one of the prime tourism destinations in Sri Lanka. After lunch we stopped in Habarana and booked a safari into one of the parks, hoping to see some elephants in the wild. We enjoyed the safari but wouldn’t do it again as there were too many jeeps. We did see elephants, four or five groups of them, including cute baby elephants. The jeeps must stress the animals and one elephant did charge ... read more
Jerry and I on the top of Pidurangula
Unplastered reclining Buddha on Pidurangula
Buddha feet, Pidurangula (Little Lion Rock)

Asia » Sri Lanka » Northern Province » Jaffna March 3rd 2019

As we drove towards the northern tip of Sri Lanka we realised our driver Saman was nervous. We knew he wasn’t happy about going to Jaffna, but we had told the company we wished to visit the area prior to booking with them. Jaffna is the capitol city of the northern province, a peninsula which bears the same name. The majority of the city’s population are Sri Lankan Tamils and most are Hindus. It was also the region that, until 2002, was involved in a long running civil war between Sri Lankan government troops and Tamil guerrillas. It was effectively a no go area for many years and has only recently has welcomed tourism and the dollars it brings. It is still not on the established tourist route, probably because of it’s distance from the rest ... read more
Mayalsian Cafe, an old traditional cafe in the market area, Jaffna city
Street scene,  Jaffna city
The golden-ochre coloured Nullur Kandaswamy Kovil, an enormous Hindu temple

The drive to Anuradhapura took three hours passing through countryside which was quite pretty, covered in palms and banana plants. and dotted with small brick houses with unpainted wooden window frames and multi paned windows. As well as agriculture there was a thriving terracotta industry as we passed many small factories producing clay roof tiles, cooking and garden pots. The roadside was also lined with people selling cheap T shirts and trousers, all hanging on clothes lines strung between the palm trees. And many stalls selling coconuts - they are everywhere - coconuts seem to be widely used here. The traffic was pretty chaotic too - we were passed by express buses which barely stopped to let people off - they jumped off at a run. The speed limit in Sri Lanka is a maximum of ... read more
Door knob at Isurumuniya Rock Temple
Repainting the frescos inside the cave temple at
Shop selling Colourful temple offering at Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba.

Asia » Sri Lanka » Western Province » Negombo March 1st 2019

We spent the night at Tunes hotel at KLIA2. We stayed at the same hotel in 2009 prior to going to India. How the airport has changed in that time.... The hotel is four times the size and a massive shopping mall is now between it and the main terminal area. However it was only a two minute walk in the early morning gloom to the airport transit bus which took us to the international terminal. Our flight from Kuala Lumpur on Sri Lankan airlines was comfortable and the three and half hours passed quickly, helped again by Netflix and in flight movie. We had prebooked a taxi but it did not meet us so we had to negotiate with another company to take us to the hotel, hoping the hotel would pay the bill as ... read more
A boisterous games of cricket on the beach at sunset in Negombo
Selling coconuts on the footpath near our hotel.
Sunset drinks in Negombo

Asia » Malaysia » Penang » George Town February 26th 2019

We spent a quiet night in the hotel, escaping a bad electrical storm and some very heavy rain. Hopefully the humidity would ease but that was too much to expect as it was just as steamy when we went out to Yin’s for breakfast next morning. We spent some time later in the day wandering the shops - they all seemed to open at odd times. We were looking for some more of the street art but it was either hard to find or painted over. A large cat, featured on many of the postcards, had actually been painted over. You could see the shadow of the painting and it had a painted condolence note written on the wall beside it. I think Toowoomba in Australia, where I live, has much more vibrant street art than ... read more
Shoes on the footpath out side tiny shop front mosque
Linny and one of the murals at the HIN Bustop art market
Candied fruits at Chowrasta Market

Asia » Malaysia » Penang » George Town February 22nd 2019

The next few days in George Town were much less hectic as we paced ourselves in the heat. The gorgeous Peranakan Mansion was first on the sightseeing list. I saw it last trip but as a couple we visited the Blue Mansion then but I felt that this was much more elaborate and wanted Jerry to see it. The mansion is typical of an affluent Baba a century ago and offers the visitor a glimpse of the opulent lifestyle, customs and traditions of that time. The furniture was heavily gilded or inlaid with mother of pearl. The houses were full of imported European china and glassware, English floor tiles and Scottish carvings. The house included some beautiful stained glass windows and minutely detailed wooden Chinese screens. We were particularly interested in the large collection of life ... read more
Evening sky over Kapitan Keling Mosque
More street art
Baba Nyonya portraits and furniture inlaid with mother of pearl in Peranakan Mansion

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