As there are no direct flights to Sri Lanka as yet, we flew Thai Airways via Bangkok, these had the best connections and very good and comfortable flights.
The first two nights we stayed in Negombo at The Villa Green. Fabulous place, a mansion turned into a hotel, the grounds are beautiful and lush and the people are wonderful.
The first day we took a tuk tuk to Negombo and spend quite a few hours wandering the local fish market. We met Raja who showed us around and explained all about the different types of fish and the process of drying and salting the fish. The beach was covered with drying fish, we were told that none of the fish were taken by the birds, because it is all salted.
That afternoon we had a wonderful time bike riding and explored the back roads of Negombo.
The following day we had our first experience with the local bus; a 2 hour bus trip north to Pinnawala the trip cost only A$1.00!
It was hilarious, everything looked so disorganised, people sitting and standing everywhere….but it just seemed to work! We were so excited because we were heading towards the elephant sanctuary.
Once again we took a tuktuk and the driver, Janake was amazing, he took us to the elephant orphanage and the herb gardens and then we drove up the mountain with the most beautiful scenic views. Right on top was a Buddhist Rock Temple where we met the local monk.
The roads were very narrow and seep….easy for a tuktuk to climb and on the way down…just switch of the engine and let go!
Next day we thought we might try the train, travelled 4 ½ hours to Anuradhapura, the train was packed and we spent most of the time standing. The highlight was watching people selling food make their way through the packed train.
The old city of Anuradhapura is well spread out, once again we had fabulous tuktuk driver, Ranganaua, who interrupted his practice of cricket to spend the day with us. Everybody loves cricket in Sri Lanka and everybody plays as well, they all love the Aussie’s too!
We visited enormous amount of temples, which are all spread out, you have to take your shoes off in each one. This was very hard for my delicate feet, because the grounds were very hot, I would advise to take a pair of old socks.
At the end of the day we went to Mihintale to see the sunset. This is a beautiful mountainous area. Ranganaua took us for a fabulous walk around and over the rocks, he was great his knowledge and his passion for the area was incredible and we were so pleased he shared it with us.
The next day we had a long day by tuktuk via Danbulla where we visited the fabulous Gold Temple and the Rock Temple to Sigiriya.
Sigiriya is beautiful. Went for a beautiful walk and a local chap showed us some beautiful spots near the lakes with all the gorgeous lotus flowers and Sri Lankan lilies, and of course we climbed the ROCK….A M A Z I N G ! It is a decent climb, but it is so fulfilling. We joined up with a couple of German girls and took a guide, who was amazing.
I would suggest to get the most out of the climb, you should start early to beat the heat and the crowd.
To top it all off, that afternoon we went on an elephant safari in a bright yellow 4WD it was absolutely wonderful. We saw so many elephants, there was a very big herd gathering around for a drink at a big lake.
It was a very satisfying day for me filled with nature and walking.
The next day we were on the go again by bus to Kandy. I must say, the Kandy Central Bus Station is crazy, it seems there is no rule and/or system….but there must be some kind of system, because it all works!
Kandy was hosting a festival, the Kandy Esala Perahera festival. It is a 10 days festival with Elephant Parades every night, it was incredibly colourful. There are about 400 elephants from all over the country participating. If you want a good view you should buy a ticket for the stand, because the parade goes for hours.
In Kandy we stayed at The Tree of Life, a beautiful resort up in the hills just outside Kandy.
I spent the morning with a guide, who was a horticulturist, walking through the jungle. He was amazing, spotted the tiniest frogs and birds etc.
I was so happy I had my hiking boots with me, especially because it had rained all night and it was slippery and ………the leaches were out. I was doing alright until I went for a little walk around the hotel and the slippery little suckers got me. My goodness it was bleeding, but all good.
We ended our stay at the hotel by joining in an engagement party, it was so much fun and everyone was dressed in beautiful coloured Sri Lankan sari’s.
There was so much more to do and see…but our trip was at an end, meaning Sri Lanka is still on my list!! I will be back for the most beautiful areas of Galle and Ella and the tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya.
See you soon Sri Lanka!