Joined August 2022
  • Day12

    Negombo

    December 22, 2021 in Sri Lanka ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    Negombo, 7:15am

    I failed in my attempt to overlap my future jet lag by waking up late. After having dinner -a nice grilled meat- at the hotel I spent some time in my air conditioned room but eventually fell asleep around 10:30pm.

    I'm not sleepy anymore, so I am having a terrible coffee waiting for my breakfast. Yesterday I asked for a Sri Lankan one, so they ordered hoppers for me. There is a nice cool breeze and the Sun is not high yet si I think I'll go explore Negombo downtown.

    Negombo, 9:30pm

    I'm spending my last hours in Sri Lanka trying to stay awake for my flight at 3am. Today it's been a very relaxing day yet I've enjoyed it a lot. Food wise the day couldn't have started better: string hoppers with dhal and 'sambol'. With some energy in my body I went to see the fish market of Negombo. It was an impressive sight: many stalls of vendors selling all kind of fresh fish with no hygienical condition whatsoever. The vivid colors of the morning matched the strong smell of fish and the noise of the busy, loud fihermen.

    Immediately next to the fresh fish market, the beach served as a dry fish area. The wooden canoes and catamarans lined in the shore, were the background of dozen of nets laying on the sand with multiple varieties of fish drying up. I delighted the moment but eventually the smell was so strong that I decided to keep exploring Negombo.

    I went to Saint Mary's church, a neoclassical building from the late 19th Century fully decorated for the upcoming Christmas festivities. Negombo is mainly a catholic town, so many christian shrines and Nativity sets were everywhere, creating a very odd Christmas-themed subtropical place.

    After that the Sun was high enough to seek confort in the swimming pool of my hotel, where I spent the afternoon reading. I had my last rice&curry: a prawns one. Terrific! I will miss a lot Sri Lankan cuisine.

    I didn't want to miss the opportunity to enjoy my guilty pleasure: grilled lobster! So I went for dinner at Magrove Sea View in Negombo's lagoon. I can't tell if it was better than the one I had in Bali or the one in Belize, but for sure is a tradition I want to keep.
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  • Day11

    Anuradhapura to Negombo

    December 21, 2021 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Anuradhapura, 8:30am

    I comfortably slept for ten hours just before waking up wioth a terrible nightmare.I dreamed I tested positive of Covid and I had to miss Christmas at home. Once awake it even took me a while to realize everything was just a dream.

    I 've had a poor breakfast at Andorra. I've had though an interesting chat with the manager about Sri Lankan policies towards China. He was quite pessimistic. I'm gonna pack everything and head to Negombo, where I plan to chill out until my flight departs tomorrow night,

    Negombo, 5:20pm

    The bus ride to Negombo was arduous. The local bus to Colombo was quite full but I was lucky to seat again in the first row. Just before starting the journey I hurried to buy some deep-fried snacks. I met a couple of helpful people, but the 5 hours-long trip was a real experience. I suffered for my life trully. Instead of a driver and a conductor there was a group of four youngsters that kept changing their roles. The main driver was in his twenties and was an absolute dickhead. His agressive way of driving was far beyond Sri Lankan standards. Even the locals complained, both passengers of our bus and other drivers. I think he literally spent more time on the other way lane of the road than on ours. He seemed not to care at all about other drivers ans behaved as he was in a highway instead of a road.

    After that long, hot nightmare I hopped off in Negombo and took a tuk-tuk to Palms Villa. This little boutique hotel has a beautiful garden with a swimming pool with a hammock where I plan to spend the rest of the afternoon reading my book. By the way, Jasmine (the Swiss girl I met in the cooking class in Ella) is also staying here.
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  • Day10

    Mihintale

    December 20, 2021 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    In the late afternoon I convinced Div to go to Mihintale, a holly hill 20 minutes away from Anuradhapura. It was a very peaceful and inspirational visit as the Sun was setting, the views were great and there was a lot of monks and devotees.

    I was very hungry, so after that we went to an early dinner to an Indian restaurant where I learnt about Div's country cuisine. He turned out to be as passionate about food as me. We parted ways, said good bye and I'm now chilling at Andorra's.
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  • Day10

    Sigiriya to Anuradhapura

    December 20, 2021 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Anuradhapura, 8pm

    The tuk-tuk drive was enjoyable. Slow but steady we made our way through the plains of Sri Lanka. A combination of junlge and rice fields was the main landscape around. And once again an elephant was sharing the road with colorful buses and tuk-tuks. Div and I had some interesting conversations about politics and about India, the place he's originally from. Despite living in London he is very fond of the place he was born: Bengalore.

    I checked-in in a little hotel called Andorra, in the outskirts of this sparse settlement called Anuradhapura. I put on my trousers so my knees were covered to visit the temples and I met Div in the ticket office of the site. I considered getting a guide to explore the place but I was scared of ending up paying a lot to a person who wouldn't really know about it. So I changed my mind and thought it would be better to wander around with the help of Wikipedia. We even decided not to pay the $25 ticket fee and skip the five temples that it included, and to just visit the ones for free. Best idea, as the ones we were more interested in were close-by. This included the big white 'dagoba' and the holly Sri Maha Bodi. Sri Maha Bodi is the tree planted 2300 years ago out of the 'bo tree' were the Buddha got enlightened.
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  • Day10

    Sigiriya

    December 20, 2021 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Sigiriya, 10:15am

    Today we all woke up very early to go see the sunrise from Pidurangala rock. From up there you have a really nice view over Lion's Rock (this is the meaning of Sigiriya). This time Julia (a German girl living in Colombo) and Stephan (a German man who looks like Putin and is fucking hilarious) also joined us.

    It's been very nice to meet all this people in the hostel. We teamed up quite a lot. Actually I'm gonna share a tuk-tuk drive to Anuradhapura with Div.
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  • Day9

    Ederagala Wana Senasuna

    December 19, 2021 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    As soon as we arrived at Roy's we met him and offered us to go see the sunset from a buddhist monastery he knew. The place sits on top of a rock, so we had a 360º view. The red colours of the Sun, the evening haze and the siluette of the hills and rocks around made the moment pretty magical.

    Better than the sunset itself we had the chance to meet the 3 monks 'community' living there, taking care of such an old temple. Ederagala Wana Senasuna is more than 2000 years old. We even joined a monk who befriended Roy in their sunset prayer.

    We are gonna have dinner soon, so I'll go and join the crew. They are warming up with some 660ml Lions already.
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  • Day9

    Polonnaruwa

    December 19, 2021 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Sigiriya, 7am

    I just woke up at Roy's Villa, a super cool backpackers hostel, chosen as the best small one in the world last year. It's surrounded by nature: jungle and rice fields. The morning sun is just rising... Awesome!

    I spent yesterday's afternoon and evening in this place hanging out with Roy himdelf and the other guests, very cool people. We shared some beers and cooked our dinner together: rice&curry. We also shared a cake brought by two funny Dutch buddies that arrived late as they were kite-surfing in the West Coast.

    The whole day had been rainy so I switched a bit the plans for today: I am going to Polonnaruwa! But I need to have my laundry fixed first.

    Sigiriya, 7:10pm

    After having my breakfast today I jumped into a Jeep with Div (an Indian boy living in London), Tom and Erik (the two Dutch buddies) and our driver to Polonnaruwa. Both on the way there and on the way back through Minneriya we saw big elephants crossing the road before passive Sri Lankan drivers.

    Polonnaruwa itself is a bit disappointing: it's basically the ruins -badly preserved- from the ancient capital of a Sinhalese buddhist kingdom from the 11th and 12th Century. It was interesting to learn about the history and to share the bike ride with some friends. The four of us actually spent several hours visiting the sparsed ruins, but the humid heat and the Sun made me feel tyred at the end.

    On the way back to the hostel we stopped for lunch and saw some more elephants. Actually one of them started chasing us as soon as we pulled over for some pictures.
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  • Day8

    Kandy to Sigiriya

    December 18, 2021 in Sri Lanka ⋅ 🌧 23 °C

    Sigiriya, 4:20pm

    Today couldn't have started better. After a delicious 'dosa' breakfast I was picked up to go have an 'ayurvedic' massage in the outskirts of Kandy. It was so ridiculously cheap that I took a foot massage on top of my full-body one. The location wasn't as great as advertised, because they recently moved to a cheaper place due to Covid. The massage itself though was super relaxing and pleasant.

    After that I took the bus 41 towards Polonnaruwa, that drives along the A9 road. This road is the nerve of Sri Lanka (it crosses it North to South) as I learned from my readings of 'This Divided Island' by Samanth Subramanian, the book I'm reading during this trip. During the war the army used this road towards Jaffna to fight the Tigers. It's shocking to consider that such civil conflict ended only in 2009 and that there were still some riots afterwards. I'm super interested in the religious conflict and the situation right now.

    I've seen a mosque next to a hindu temple, literally *next* to it. Every person I talk to, every bus I take, every tuk-tuk driver I meet... I just want to kow what's their identity and their view about the conflict. This tuk-tuk driver -whose mobile wallpaper said "May Allah bless you"- I asked him "Are you a Tamil?", he answered "I'm muslim". Only after he added "I speak Tamil". I find it very interesting to see that the sense of identity is specially based on religious perspective. And this applies to every community in Sri Lanka. I wonder what would they think about me if I told them I'm atheist.
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  • Day7

    Kandy

    December 17, 2021 in Sri Lanka ⋅ 🌧 23 °C

    Kandy, 7:40am

    I'm sitting in a hindu restaurant waiting for my 'dosa' breakfast. Kandy has a big Tamil population (both muslims and hinduists) but is also particularly sacred for the buddhist as it's home of the Tooth Relic temple.

    Today is 'Unduvap poya' -full-moon day- and many shops close. I was recommended not to visit the temple today as crowds congregate there to pray, so I went yesteraday. The temple looks nice from outside as it stands by Kandy lake -a human made reservoir for irrigation from ancient times- but it's still more impressive from the inside. After attrending a traditional dancing show I went to the temple for the evening ceremony. It consists of a sequence of drumming sessions and some flower offerings by the many devotees wearing white clothes (lucky me I was offered a 'sarong' to cover my knees so I could go inside). The temple and the poya ceremony was an impressive ans moving sight, I really want to do some more research about history in my upcoming days in Sigiriya.

    In the late evening I went back to my hostel. I shared the room with Jalisco, a Philipino american who's lived in India for 10 years. We had a very interesting chat about politics and society. Around 10pm I fell deeply asleep.
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  • Day7

    Haputale to Kandy

    December 17, 2021 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Train to Kandy, 8:30am

    Haputale wakes up with the chants of different temples. The one next to my guesthouse was a buddhist one. The morning mist looked incredible. I went to the station, the train was running late (surprise!), so I took advantadge and had my first sweet breakkie in a cafe.

    Kandy, 4:40pm

    The train ride it's been great. The landscape kept changing as the train was going through: from misty forest to hills full of tea trees, and then to lushy jungle with coconut trees (in cas we had forgotten we were in Sri Lanka). The train ride was accompanied by the singings of different groups of yongsters.

    On the train I met Musheen, a worker from a hotel in Anuradhapura who was going to Colombo. He wasn't super talkative but gave me some tips for my trip. During the ride to Kandy I couldn't help thinking of colonialism, past and present. The railway system was built to bring all the tea from the plantations to the sea ports. The British-style stations where still remains of that colonial era. But the feeling of the workers' present-day situation -still living in hardly bearable conditions- was quite disturbing. The way big Western corporations operate in third-world countries made me feel ashamed of my privileged situation.
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