My Trip to Sri Lanka
I had a very nice 10-day trip to Sri-Lanka at the end of March, 2009. Though it was almost two months ago still I keep on remembering those days with great pleasure!
My friends and I had discussed the places we wanted to see in Sri Lanka with a tailor-made Sri Lankan travel agency via email (firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; www.destinationsrilanka.co.uk).
I arranged my tickets with Cathay Pacific (I assume they could have been cheaper if I had booked them a bit earlier…) My friends had arrived a couple of days before me. On arrival in Colombo I was warmly met by the operations director of the Destination Sri Lanka Travel agency, Nimal de Silva, with his air-conditioned microbus. As I came late at night, I stayed for a night in a small but cozy hotel in the town of Negombo, which is very close to the international airport. The next morning we left for Hikkaduwa, where one of my friends had been taking diving lessons. We stayed there together for a day, enjoying the food, the great view (the hotel was very close to the Indian ocean) and the local shops. During the other days we visited lots of places, such as the Yala National Park, Galle, Ella, Kandy, Anuradhapura, Pollonnaruwa, Mihintale, Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Adam’s peak. I cannot even say which of the places was the most exciting. Actually all the places were really worth while visiting and probably the only thing I still feel sorry for was the little time I could devote to each of the places. We rented a jeep and went on a safari in the Yala National Park. A few years ago I was on safari trip in India... Well, the safari in Sri Lanka was a lot better! We saw loads of birds (some of the species had migrated from Siberia to wait through the frosty winter! And for me as a Siberian it was like meeting friends all of a sudden in a far away country!). Also, we saw leopards, crocodiles, elephants, water buffalo, hares, spotted deer, mongoose and lots of other wild animals… In Galle we had a nice walk enjoying the colonial architecture of the buildings, and we visited a very nice Catholic church with real catacombs under it (though we did not dare go inside of the catacombs :) ) and the Galle fort. In Ella we stayed in the guest house of the Sun Top Inn. The house was clean and the food we were provided with was great – always fresh, spicy (they could cook less spicy food of course, but my friends and I love spicy food!), and diverse (I could not have imagined that there were so many types of curry!)! The owners of the guest house were very hospitable! Nimal arranged some cooking lessons in that guest house for us! While staying in Ella we also did some hiking as the area has lots of hills and mountains from the top of which you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the central part of the island. In Kandy I went to see the temple of the Buddha’s tooth and also the amazing botanical gardens. In the ancient capitals of Anuradhapura and Pollonnaruwa (starting from Pollonnaruwa just myself and my tour guide, as my friends went back a couple of days earlier then I did), I visited a number of Buddhist temples. The ruins of Sigiriya Rock fortress were definitely one of the most interesting places to visit – it has a mirror wall and very well preserved frescos depicting very beautiful women, besides from the top of the Rock I saw another breathtaking view! I was impressed by the cave temple of Dambulla, which has lots of statues and paintings of the Buddha… A night before I left Sri Lanka I climbed Mt. Sri Pada (Adam’s peak). I started climbing around 2 in the morning to reach the top of the mountain around 5 A.M. – just in time to see the sunrise! It will not be an exaggeration to say that I hardly ever saw anything more beautiful in my life… The sun was rising slowly painting the rocks in the valley below, the little lakes and the people’s faces into different shades of red, yellow, purple, lilac and orange… The sunrise was accompanied by the drumming and praying of the Buddhist monks… After the sun rose for almost 20 minutes we could see a very interesting phenomenon – the shade of the mountain in the form of a triangle reflected on the valley on the western side of the mountain… As the shade does not reflect the actual form of the mountain, there are a lot of legends about what it might mean or symbolize… The shape of the mountain itself is far from ordinary, what made it a pilgrimage destination for people belonging to various religious groups…
Literally during 10 days we managed to see most of the country except for the troublesome northern part (at the end of March the Government of the country was finishing the anti-terrorist operation in the north of the country). I should say that all the places we visited during our trip were very quiet and without doubt 100% safe. I believe our trip was a success thankful for Nimal de Silva, the tour guide who took us wherever and whenever we wanted, who arranged all the hotels, hiking, safari and all the other activities. He is absolutely trustworthy, a skillful driver (the local style of driving is kind of not easy to get used to…), a good manager, and a professional tour guide who knows everything about his country. I am sure that everyone who is interested in doing sightseeing, climbing, hiking, safari, eating great food at a reasonable price and meeting very friendly people should visit Sri Lanka! And if you go there I highly recommend Nimal de Silva to be your tour guide.
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The people in Sri Lanka were always more than polite, smiling and very friendly. I hope someday I will go to Sri Lanka again, and next time I hope to see the northern parts of the country too!