Last time we blogged we were in the Sri Lankan highlands, amidst tea plantations. But Sri Lanka is an island, and we haven’t seen any beach yet in the time we spent here, so from there we went to the coast for a bit of beach time.
The sea along the coast is quite rough on a lot of places. Actually swimming at a lot of places is quite dangerous. The beach were we stayed (near Tangalle) had a ‘natural swimming pool’, a part where rocks in front of the beach broke the waves, leaving a small area of relatively calm water to swim in. Behind the beach was also a beautiful lagoon. It was a great place for some relaxation, and to do some planning for the rest of our trip. Since it turned out we wouldn’t be getting our Russian visa, we had to change our plans. More on that later.
During our time here, there was also the Sinhalese new year. This was also quite fascinating. The old year ends at a time that is determined by the stars. This year it was at 19:40. And the new year started the following day at 7:05. In between it was neither the old or the new year. This meant that at 19:40 there was fireworks. And at 7:05. And a couple of times in between for varying reasons, but not at midnight. Then there was a specific time where there was the first financial transaction of the new year (people wrap a small bill in some sort of leave and give it to someone), the first work of the new year (just do a little bit of work depending on their profession), and all kinds of other stuff. There was also a traditional breakfast, which the owner of the accommodation shared with us. It contained all kinds of sweet things with milk rice. It was very different from our new year. During those days all the shops were closed, most of the restaurants were also closed, even the days after the new year. A lot of busses didn’t run. It really did affect our travels. We even had difficulty finding places to eat.
After some beach time, we visited Sinharaja rainforest. A nice national park were we did a nice walk and also visited two waterfalls, one of which had a pool which contained those fish they also have in some spa’s. The ones that nibble on your feet. Lidewij did have a lot of fun with those. We also had our shoes covered in salt, against the leeches, while our guide just walked in flip flops. There were quite some leeches there, but our guide did not mind.
Next destination was Galle, an old colonial town, built by the Dutch. It was a beautiful town and a pleasant place to be. It was not a very local experience since almost every building in the old town was either a restaurant, hotel, or souvenir shop. But the locals still dominated the small beach, and the cricket field. And there was a fun museum with all kinds of random crap.
Then there was Lidewij’s birthday, which of course had to be celebrated. I secretly arranged to do abseiling from a waterfall of 35 meters high. It was quite exciting and a lot of fun. At the end of the abseiling adventure, we had a lunch where we had a happy coincidence. We encountered an old man, a musician by heart, playing beautiful songs, accompanief by a lot of enthusiastic Sri Lankans. Lidewij also enjoyed gorgonzola, which she had not eaten for months.
And there was a final day we spent in Colombo. We enjoyed the Pettah (the central market area), the fact that we could eat decent pizza there, and loathed the traffic. I really have to say: nowhere we travelled was the traffic as suicidal as in Sri Lanka. Bus drivers overtake vehicles in corners and generally act like they drive a fast agile car, everywhere there are drunk tuk tuk drivers, driving around like maniacs, and people just don’t seem to pay attention to anything. Did you know a lot of tuk tuk drivers have a bottle holder in the front, holding a bottle of hard liquor? It’s crazy.
All in all Sri Lanka was a nice destination, with a lot of beautiful nature and culture, but also a little bit hectic, with a lot of people, smells, traffic, sounds, etc. There is a lot to do, and distances are generally small, which enables you to see a lot of things in a short time. This can be an advantage, but it also makes the travel pace a little bit too much rushed for us, since a lot of the attraction did not really require a lot of time to visit. We found it telling how a lot of other travellers here seem to stay only 2 weeks, while in Africa most seem to stay months. Still, we did a lot of fun things, but were feeling we really have to recharge a bit now. So where do you think we are now? It is a relaxed place, with uninhabited islands, and supposedly world class snorkelling. Wonder who can guess our destination? Leave a comment with your guess! (PS don’t spoil if you already know the answer).
And from here we will go to Japan, since we still really don’t want to miss that. We will end up in Rome, where all roads lead, so there is no other option.
So going there we had a full day stopover in Kuala Lumpur. We visited here before so we knew where to go: little india for some delicious food. And then some shopping in some of the malls so we could buy some stuff like a guidebook for the secret destination and a pocket knife since the last one was confiscated since I forgot to remove it from my handluggage (oops). Kuala Lumpur is a quite pleasant place and Lidewij enjoyed a little street photography.