Seven months have gone by since our holiday in Sri Lanka, and here I am, still blogging about it. All of it is still fresh in my mind though, perhaps because of all the pictures.
From Colombo to Nuwara Eliya to Kandy to Dambulla to Habarana to Anuradhapura and back to Habarana and then off to our very last destination on the itinerary….Trincomalee, situated in the northeast.
Though I enjoyed getting to see so much of Sri Lanka from a car window, I do confess I was by now a tad weary of the long drives and sightseeing expeditions, and sitting in a van for hours made me simultaneously fidgety and sleepy. Unable to nap comfortably, my eyes simply grew unfocused and hence I cannot remember much about the landscape we traversed on our way from Habarana to Trincomalee, except that it felt hotter and drier and way less green. Moreover, spoilt by the hotels we had stayed in so far, the relief I felt at reaching the resort at Nilaveli beach was dampened by the very basic look of the place. I felt like I had been transported into the 80’s.
The young man who led us to our room mentioned that the entire resort had to be restored and renovated after the tsunami of 2004. That melted my heart and I looked around with a less critical eye. By the end of our stay, the old-fashioned-ness of the decor was part of its charm, and though we had been sad to leave every place we had been on this trip, Amu and I were saddest at leaving here. It had been a peaceful stay, lots of relaxation and delicious buffet breakfasts and dinners.
I befriended a lot of squirrels.
And a ginger kitty.
A strange drumming sound on the roof was discovered to be packs of monkeys bounding around, picking edible buds from the trees. There were a couple of bright-eyed frogs, quite a few geckos and at least one big brown toad outside our beach hut. No pictures, alas.
We checked out after breakfast and got back into our van. The drive back to Colombo was supposed to take seven hours, but we made it in six.
After reaching the beautiful resort at Habarana, we sipped a cool drink at the reception while being checked in. It was so peaceful and relaxing to just be there, admiring the layout as we walked to the little chalet that was assigned to us. All the hotels we stayed at in Sri Lanka had their own charm, and Chhaaya Village was perhaps the most charming, long-tailed monkey families scampering across the lawns next to a lotus lake, on the other side of which marched a row of elephants.
Funny thing about road trips and travelling together is the three of us sharing the same bathroom along the way, and it gets funnier if we all need to go at the same time 🙂
We opted to have a relaxed afternoon, freshening up with showers, a leisurely lunch followed by nap for me while Huz and Amu went for a romp.
The next day we set off for Anuradhapura after an early breakfast. It was a long drive to get there and ultimately we kicked ourselves for it.
We paid $25 each to explore this place (probably a hundred times more than the locals), Anuradhapura being one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Sri Lankan civilization….but we skedaddled from there as fast as we could. It was horribly hot!! I would have loved to roam around on a cloudy, drizzly day and the remnants were indeed fascinating and terribly historic. But Amu and I found ourselves longing to be submerged in the cool pool at the resort in Habarana
And once again, I was far more fascinated by the monkeys than the ancient Sacred Bodhi Tree
A bit damp from that tremendous cloudburst at Dambulla, we got back into our van and continued on our way to the base camp from where all exploratory expeditions in the Cultural Triangle head out.
The landscape had flattened out considerably and I noticed that these parts weren’t as lush and green as the ones we left behind that morning. Fewer people too.
(this post is dedicated to Harsha, who loves all things hibiscus)
Our 11 days in Sri Lanka were essentially a road trip. We criss-crossed the island, winding up the hills, then down the hills, and onwards to flatter landscapes. It was lush and green all the way. We clicked hundreds of pictures, the camera passing from hand to hand, silently watching the landscape unfold, exchanging awed smiles.
I got a taste of how Huz must have felt on his way up to Nuwara Eliya. Realized no matter how breathtaking the landscape, you can’t enjoy it if you’re car sick. Winding mountainous roads unfortunately go hand in hand with amazing beauty 😐
I’m so glad I have these panoramic pictures to enjoy now with none of the queasiness 🙂
Day 3 in Sri Lanka, a very wet, drizzly, early morning. A few last impressions of The Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya, (where we spent a very comfortable two nights)before leaving for Kandy.
The terrain hitherto was largely open and expansive. The wind was a consistent part of the hike, with varying intensity depending on the topography. Feeling like Frodo, I climbed a rocky, muddy incline, buffeted, until we entered a sheltered green tunnel. Soon, we reached a divergent path that led down to Bakers Falls.
It was a steep hop, skip, and several jumps for Huz and Amu, slower for trepidatious me, who proceeded with caution, for as you can see, the path was not only steep, it was quite wet and full of obstacles and puddles. As a result, they saw the Falls before I did. And Amu captured my slightly exaggerated reaction 🙂
It was considerably damper and cooler way down at the Fall level. We spent some time absorbing the scene, with the sound of gushing, splashing, roaring water filling our ears. After hours of listening to wind through trees and grass, this was a different auditory experience altogether.
Soaked and quite achy now, my poor legs quaked at the thought of climbing back up to the main trail. In the course of 9 kilometres, this part tired me out the most. So the home stretch, although it continued to be breathtaking, had us all counting the steps till we had come full circle
(Credit for half the pictures (and a lot of the best ones) on this hike go to my better half, Amu. As mentioned earlier, we fought over the camera a lot, and I (being wise and mature) allowed her to be the official photographer 😉 Some of the pictures (like closeups of foliage and the interesting roots and tree structures) have been taken using Huz’s phone camera (by me) and of course, all the pix that feature Amu mean I did sometimes manage to wrangle the Nikon from her hands)
And so began a 9 km hike.
The wind made my hair dance.
Into the strange hush we trudge…
Except for a curious knocking sound made by an unseen bird, and the rustle of the wind through the grass…not a sound.
The trail was sandy at first…
Wet and surrounded by vegetation further on..
Just the gentle sound of light rain on the overhead leaves…
When the going got rocky…
We reached World’s End, the lesser one. A misty, windswept precipice not as high as the actual World’s End, but the view was similar….if only we could have seen it. (It is a cloudforest after all.)
We walked on from there and soon….
We were halfway through our trek! Here stands a triumphant Amu, at the edge of a precipice that plunges dramatically for almost a kilometer down to the lowlands below.
This is what we saw.
An assortment of nationalities.
One of the local guides there warned us that if we had found the walk challenging thus far, it would get tougher henceforth, especially the detour to Baker’s Fall. We could turn around and go back the way we came….or continue to walk till the end.
It was a no-brainer. 🙂