Our holidays are over but my memories is a month old but still fresh in my mind. Sri Lanka is very much like Penang. The best part, everybody asked Chandra if he is Sri Lankan. They spoke to him in Sri Lankan and he laughed and said, I am Tamilan.
We arrived in Colombo in the early morning and were driven by the hotel cab. I made a mistake by not booking near the airport and was driven 1 hour away. We were so sleepy and arrived at 12.30 midnight (3.00 am Malaysian time).
Site seeing in Colombo
We hired a car to take us around which was nice. I was not sure if I wanted to take the tuk tuk at that time. On the 2nd day, we said, we are going on an adventure so we hired a tuk tuk to take us around.
The driver was quite knowledgeable about sites to see. He took us around the city, places like Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, The Independence Square, National Museum Of Colombo, Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, Dehiwala Zoo and many more.
As childlike as I am, I love the Dehiwala zoo. It is such a lovely place to be in. Every kind of animals, fishes and birds can be seen. We walked for nearly 5 hours and still only seen some part of the zoo.
But then hunger and filling the stomach is calling us to eat. The lunch was just ok but the one I enjoy the most was a simple sambar fish jam called Lunu Miris. I had 5 helpings with my lunch. I keep asking for refill that they got a big plate for me on the final round.
After 3 days in Colombo, we took a train to Kandy. The train ride was stunning. Unlike all the train ride we have, this train actually climb and cross some highest peak. So we get to view hills and valleys as the train moved to Kandy.
What makes the train ride enjoyable was a big pomegranate we managed to purchased. We eat it so slow that even after reaching Kandy, we have not finished eating the pomegranate. It was so sweet and I want it to last so I pick 1 seed at a time.
We booked a home up in the hills in Kandy which I have no idea at first, until the taxi has to take us up so high. No A/C or air cond was needed. The air is so fresh and the room we stayed was so breezy.
This home owner had his helper made breakfast daily for us as coming down from the hills was too far for us. The maid, her name is Puspa made the Sri Lanka hoppers and pounded fresh coconut samba called Pol sambar. Again the little things are the one that make big impressions to me. I had 4 big helpings of Pol sambar with my hoppers. It was really delish!
This time in Kandy, we were smarter. We hired a tuk tuk to go everywhere. 1st day, I felt real uncomfortable cos they really drived so fast, zig zag thru the crowded streets. But got better and hired them for 3 days we were in Kandy.
Kandy Temple of the Sacred tooth relic
As a Buddhist, this temple is very much in my heart. I got very emotional when I got inside the temple. Seeing all the relic and surroudings, I felt real priviledged to have step on the temple grounds.
At the north side of the temple, only accessible via the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is the Audience Hall. This is from the 19th century and is a beautiful open-air pavilion with stone columns, Buddhas, and ivory.
Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha statue
Next, our tuk tuk driver took us to visit Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha statua, which is a tall Buddha statue standing majestically up in the hills. We walked many steps to reach all the way to snap some photos. All the way means we were standing at par to the sitting position.
As we stood to take some photos, the driver Jana pointed that he is driving us to the opposite side which has a grand view. There were many people standing to see the view. I love people watching and the street sellers are so creative. The carts and things they sell were so beautiful. Quite unforgetable for me.
Kandy Royal Botanical Garden
Chandra and I love greens and nature. So it was quite relaxing (but hot) to walk in the garden. We can’t help but observed lots of huge bamboo trees, massive huge bats resting on the tree. Circling us as we walked. I was so scared they shit on us, but still inquisitive enough to keep trying to spot them. They were the size of crows, believe me or not!
Surpringly I spotted a few nutmeg trees. But they grew for the spice. How a miss, as we used the nutmeg flesh to make sweet cordials. They looked at me strangely when I shared the secret with them. I am not surprised though as Sri Lankans are quite healthy people. I hardly see them taking sweet things.
Kandy Kurugama Tea Factory
We enjoyed our free tour in the tea factory. Learning for the girls from selecting, drying, preserving the different types of tea leaves was fascinationg.
We order a few types of tea leaves together with some cakes. Really freshly brewed tea is beautifully rounded and fragrant.
I can’t helped but admire the girls wearing sari the Singahalese way. Very different how I would be dressed in sari at home in Malaysia.
I think the best part for me is always the market place. Kandy has a market which I want to come back again. There were alot of vegetables and roots the Sri Lankan which I am not familiar. Really a unique flavor as I got for my host to cook for me. The fresh vegetables, tea time cakes and fruits are a happy sight.
But the cut meat is not something I love seeing. I think refrigeration is important. Maybe they have a real strong stomach.
3 days of site seeing in Kandy were quite memorable. I left Kandy with many cooking tips and I in turn cooked a dinner for my host. Read about it here.
We were getting really adventurous. We took an air con van to Dambulla which is a few hours drive away.
Dambulla Cave Temple
The Cave temple was one of its kind in the world. Chandra and I climbed slowly as much as I love walking, climbing is tiring. But the views was spectacular. My appreciations goes to the people who did it. Colorful hand-drawn murals of Buddha on ceiling. Huge statues of Buddha standing and sitting in many poses. And to the people who looked after it, it is simply amazing. I bowed my heads many times as I quietly took all in.
I really loved Dambulla. The sunset behind our little hostel is another site we cannot forget. In the evening, the host got his staff to take us to view the sunset. Well, you know you are on holiday and time in your hands so just flow with the tide.
We actually were climbing the end part of the Dambulla Cave temple hill. It took us 20 good mins to walk up slowly. We reached the top and again must have seen the length and breath of Dambulla. The sunset was captivating. We sat and absorbed the breeze and winds passing us by. I learned to relax, take it easy. Took in many breath of fresh airs as I can.
As we were travelling from West of Sri Lanka that is Colombo to the east is our last stop, Trincomalee, we decided to stopped at Anuradhapura. But I must share with you our time driving to Sirigiya. I did not have an opportunity to climb. As it is Chandra has done too much climbing but was told it is a must visit site not to miss. So we took a drive there before leaving Dambulla.
We saw peacocks, elephants, monkeys and lovely unspoilt country side. It was worth the ride to see Sirigiri even in a distance.
We stayed a day because I wanted to see the place where Buddha received his Enlightment. I am not sure if it is true or not but the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree is so sacred.
Anuradhapura and Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi
It was good to step onto the ground and have some great emotions. But for whatever reason, the place is now out of bound to everyone. They built it, covered up so well that nothing can be seen from looking from the outside. I was quite disappointed but am sure there must be very good reasons for doing so.
Well, our journey so far has been so eventful, lots of stories from the local drivers, travel lodge host and tuk tuk driver too. We are now getting too excited to be driven to Trincomalee as it means we are going up the HAL cruise in a few days time.
We hired a private car to take us to Trincomalee and nothings was so surprising as the drivers took us off the beaten track. So far, Sri Lanka is indeed a spiritual country. Coming and stepping on some olden day retreat is even more then I could bargain for.
There was a site used to be a spiritual retreat. Skeletons still hanging in the maze where some walked to understand their journey as a human. A mystical lake at Kaludiya Pokuna forest where we were told Lord Ravana hid Sita from Lord Rama. One can sense some reverence about this place.
We arrived in Trincomalee, safe and in sound mind. Ready to enjoy more of Sri Lanka. Down here, we find familiarity as many Tamilans lived here. Chandra could speak his language and people do not doubt he is a Singhali. It was fun though.
We love the sea, the food and people. It was a quite different as we are now at the coastal side. We ate some of the best food in Trincomalee. The locals gave us a chance to pull the fishing nets with them. So much skills is need let alone strength.
We attended the host daughter (who lived next door), coming of age ceremony. What a great time we had in Trincomalee. We got a ride on a tuk tuk to the jetty where the cruise were. Hope you will read our time on the cruise.