Tuesday 5 September 2017

A whistle stop tour of Sri Lanka

Last week I met an old friend for a tornado trip of Sri Lanka. I flew 4 hours from Changi to Colombo and arrived just over an hour later thanks to the time difference.

We had booked a driver for the week as it seemed the easiest and most efficient way to see the island, particularly as we were doing a very peculiar route as a way to cram everything in to the trip. The first morning we were up before the sun and drove all the way to the east coast to Yala National Park. We hopped on a Jeep and drove around for hours spotting mongoose, deer, water buffalo, wild boar, elephants, black and red faced monkeys, painted storks, crocodiles and peacocks. I was gutted I didn't take my SLR as some of the things we saw were incredible. Everyone stopped to look at a leopard sitting in a tree in the distance, but to be honest it was so far away it could have been anything.

We had our first taste of Sri Lankan food that evening at Richards Cabanas. Curried beetroot, sweet potato and beans, daal, popadum, spicy onion relish and salty aubergine. It was all delicious!

The following day we were on the road again towards Nuwara Eliya. They call it Little England and I could see why. The little houses, windy streets and rolling hills really reminded me of home. It was also freezing cold which was a bit of a shock to the system after living in Singapore for so long! Along the way to NE we stopped off at a waterfall (I can't remember the name) and also Glenloch tea factory to learn about the different tea produced in the area. 

The next day we walked 19km around the Horton Plains at sunrise. Green valleys, flowing rivers, floating mist, the sound of frogs and birds waking up. It was bucolic.

One of the reasons the Horton Plains are so well known is due to the famed World's End and Cloud Forest. Essentially a cliff edge with clouds behind so you feel like everything ends right in front of you - the photo doesn't do it justice.

The next stop was Mirissa and the last place we visited together before I headed home and my pal continued on for another two weeks exploration of the island. We stayed at a hotel called Paradise Beach Club which was pretty good in comparison to the hostel we stayed in in NE. The pool backed onto the beach and we were able to sit about reading and relaxing. The initial idea was to go whale watching, I'm a bit disappointed I didn't go ahead and do it but it was lovely to relax and have no plans for a whole day.

I've spent the past year in Asia and before coming to Sri Lanka, I assumed it would look and feel different - less tropical perhaps. But driving through the country I kept forgetting where I was and thinking I was in Indo or Malaysia. Overall I did really enjoy Sri Lanka as it was good to go somewhere new and catch up with my pal but I do feel like we rushed around too much. If I was to do it again I'd pick a different route to avoid 7 hour car journeys!

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