Sir Lanka

Sri Lanka was a beautiful country. Initially booked as just a chill out holiday at the end of my travels, I soon fell in love and wished I could stay longer. The country had lots to offer, there was so much to do! I climbed mountains, lazed on beaches, explored Tea Plantations, visited religious relics, met some amazing people, got caught on Google Street View, played some cricket and ate some great tasting food. I would go back here in a heart beat and would seriously recommend any of my friends and family to take a visit!

 

 

Vesak, Buddhas Birthday – Colombo

During our time in Colombo the Sri Lankan holiday of Vesak was taking place. The country wide festival is held in celebration of Buddhas Birthday. It an evening festival with a beautiful display of colour and light that reflected over the central lake of the city.

Floating display on the lake

Floating display on the lake

One of the many displays

One of the many displays that lined the streets

 

Galle

Taking the local bus from Mirissa to Galle was an interesting experience. The bus driver drove off after the attendant put our rucksacks in the boot and before we’d got a chance to board! A few shouts later and we were on board the tiny cramped bus for a short pretty journey along the sea front.

I was so surprised when we reached Galle. We decided to stay inside the old city fort area and it was beautiful. I did not expect it to be as picturesque as it was. The streets were lined with artsy and quaint little shops, cafes, restaurants and museums. The sea front was gorgeous and just didn’t compare to anywhere else I’d been. (The town had the same charm as Hoi An).

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We took a short walk outside of the fort walls and found ourselves stumbling across so many locals playing cricket matches. We also went and had a nose at the Galle Cricket ground, no matches being played there though. It was much smaller than I expected.

That evening we had a nice meal but not a drink… We couldn’t work out if Galle was a dry city.. or if the whole country was dry for their up and coming festival that weekend.

Whale Watching – Mirissa

Mirissa is an absolutely beautiful place. Lovely beaches, trendy beach bars/restaurants and is the place to be if you want to sight a Blue Whale. I met up with my travel friend Duncan and within hours we had arranged to go whale watching 5.45am the next day. So after a short laze on the beach we had an early night.

I loved Whale watching, (Duncan not so much)! The sea was really choppy that morning but we did get sight of and follow some dolphins who were putting on a bit of a show for us. We eventually came across a small group of blue whales, they are so much bigger than you’d imagine and swim so fast!

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That evening we hit the beach bars for some food and drink. I had the most amazing Grilled Sea Food, probably the best I’d had in SE Asia!

Ella

We took a beautiful train ride from Haputale to Ella. It was really quaint and had some spectacular views.

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I only spent one night in Ella, but really wish I could have stayed longer. There were plenty of things to do and it had a really nice backpacker vibe. There were also lots and lots of walking routes around I wish I could have tried!

Horton Plains National Park

After an eight hour night hike up Adams Peak the last thing I thought I’d be doing is going on a 5km walk around Horton Plains the next day…. Because you know… We all thought that was a great idea!

You have to visit between 6am and 10am as the clouds roll over the plains making the visibility at the view points pretty poor. Night Hike aside we set off to ‘Worlds End’ and we were pleasantly surprised by what we saw. It was a truly beautiful park and worth a visit even despite the fact we were all battling  limited movement in our leg muscles.

On the Edge of Worlds End

On the Edge of Worlds End

Adams Peak Night Hike

Adams Peak was by far one of my most treasured achievements from my trip. At 2243m high Adams Peak is a highly religious mountain with many of its legends surrounding the ‘Buddha’s foot’ impression in the rock at the top. Considered a Pilgrimage for most of the locals, as a tourist it was a chance to see some spectacular views and to participate in a wonderful experience.

At first I did take some convincing to do the hike…. which is surprising for most who know me. But I am so glad I did.

The Start - 1am

Team Photo – Start – 1am

With a 1am start, my group of six was told we wouldn’t be needing torches or a guide, which seemed puzzling for a night hike, but they were right. I think our biggest challenge was finding our way out of the car park! When we finally found the spectacularly lit path we began on our slow and steady hill climb. (After being blessed by several monks and ringing ceremonial bells).

Catching a breath in a TeahouseEven in the dead of the night the route did not disappoint. The thousands of people climbing with us were fascinating and more than happy to share their stories. We encountered people well into their 90s making the trip bare foot. If you looked up you were guided by lights to a view of the top. Along the route we stopped at an unbelievable amount of tea houses and found some incredible mini shrines.

Mini ShrineThis might make the trip sound rosey, but it did have it’s downfalls. After our small hill incline we were faced with 5200 steps to the top….. Now if you have ever climbed an endless staircase you will probably be wincing at the thought of the pain those steps caused, and for those of you that haven’t… It’s gruellingly tough. (I thought my Annapurna endless stair case at 3280 steps spread over two days was bad enough). To top it all, at about 3am it chucked it down with rain. This meant that by 3.30am my waterproofs were no longer waterproof and I was soaked through. Taking refuge in the teahouses didn’t help much either as most of them leaked!

However 5 hours and a lot of perseverance later we made it to the top, where we were greeted with a sea of people all trying to visit the temple and to get a look at Buddahs footprint. Removing your wet socks for a trip inside the temple was a step too far for some. After ceremoniously ringing the bell many of the locals would begin to make the long journey back down. Although the tourists all stayed put waiting for the sunrise to hit at 6am.

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I cannot put into words the truly stunning view that revealed itself as the sun rose, It took our breaths away. I honestly stood there speechless, I have never seen anything like it. Once the sun had fully risen we allowed ourselves  a moment to soak it all in before making the long decent back down to the car park.

Adams peak didn’t disappoint us in the pitch black and it only continued to surprise our senses in the daylight. We all got split up on our decent and I found myself invited to a free breakfast buffet hosted by some Monks. By about 8am we had all reached the bottom and regrouped. It was a long challenging night, but well worth it. I would highly recommend doing it if you ever get the chance.

Team photo at the bottom

Team Photo – End – 9am

Kandy

Kandy was a really nice city. I took a visit to the Tooth Temple, which makes claim to housing Buddhas only remaining tooth, (but I’m pretty sure I visited a temple in Singapore that made the same claim).

I mostly spent my time having lazy exploitive walks around the city as I needed to conserve my energy for my ambitious walk up Adams Peak Mountain that night. However whilst I was lazing around in the Hotel I got to witness a Sri Lankan Wedding, which was beautiful with all its theatrics and colourful dress.

Sri Lankan Wedding

Polonnaruwa

Went to visit the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. I was like a really small and not as impressive Angkor Wat. It was however really fun renting a bike and cycling around the ruins of the city.

Buddha Polonnaruwa Stupa