Sri Lanka Trip Notes - Nov / Dec 12
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Mar 18, 2013 1:51 AM Last Post By: percycasa
Mar 17, 2013 4:00 AM
Sri Lanka Trip Notes - Nov / Dec 12Hi all
Thanks for the help with my trip to SL late last year. Finally got around to putting some notes together, and hope they're of use to people.
Trip Notes -
Day 1 arriving - Negombo
Bit of a queue for immigration (20 mins) but spent time on free internet
Passed through extensive duty free shopping precinct
Collected bag from belt straight away and straight through customs (don't have to show duty free purchases despite the signs telling you to do so).
Then collected map and cash from ATM and bought a travel SIM from Dialog booth near the airport exit - very straightforward.
Then hassled by tuk tuk drivers who inflated price to Negombo (so caught local bus instead - a 500m walk north of the airport terminus). Ask for the bus stand. Then a half hour bus ride to Negombo bus station, passing the railway station en route.
Wandered around Negombo and along main road, passing into various churches - very busy but relatively clean and friendly. Checked into New York Beach Club - on wrong side of road but clean and helpful. Then off to beach to feel sand beneath my toes and watch a glorious sunset.
Back to hotel to wash and launder and decamp after being in same clothes for 24 hours! Then headed to adjoining restaurant where ate spicy baked fish with salad and tried to work out how to use my phone!
Day 2 - Negombo
Woke at 8 after 11 hour’s straight sleep - first time I'd slept so long in a while! Felt tired but certainly needed it! Then wandered back to Negombo along beach, diverting into local villages and eventually arriving at smelly fish market - most activity had finished in the mid-morning but then wandered south along the coast road, catching a bus to Bompitiya and eventually finding the Mutharajaweda wetlands info booth - not much to see and certainly too hot to go on a tour in the midday sun.
So retraced steps back to Negombo for lunch / internet and now working out plans for next few days. Another dinner at the nearby restaurant and some clearer ideas around an itinerary for the next month exploring the island.
Day 3 - Galle
Left at dawn after brief walk along the beach - chose to head south to watch test match at Galle between Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Got into Negombo bus station around 8, 1.5 hour further bus ride to messy, crowded hot centre of Colombo - continued journey south at 10 with smelly, diesel polluting govt bus - arrived Galle around 2'ish. Close to cricket ground. Easy access to Galle Cricket Club members stand - a motley assortment of Kiwi (and other cricket) supporters were enjoying the banter with the locals in amongst the songs and dancing of the local band in the corner. Great fun.
Used the tea break to seek accommodation in the nearby Old Town - lovely spot, before hurriedly returning to watch the after tea session. There was a lot more action as the Sri Lankan tail collapsed and the Kiwis had their 2nd innings. Sunset as play finished and headed back to battlements of Old Town for gorgeous sunset over Indian Ocean. A relaxed and friendly place.
Day 4 - Galle
Thought I'd spend all day back watching the cricket test match between Kiwis and Sri Lanka, in the shade of the members club. Far fewer people (being a Monday) and didn't get much of a match as the Kiwis collapsed for 118 all out, and the Sri Lankan openers polished off the runs in the first hour after lunch! Was at least able to write postcards in between the wickets falling! Not much else to see in Galle (the National Museum was closed), but another lovely evening spent wandering around the walls and streets of the Old Town - very evocative.
Day 5 - Mirissa
Spent the morning finishing writing up my postcards over a tasty Western breakfast provided by the guest house - coffee came in best china and eggs anyway you wanted them. Lingered around Galle, visiting the maritime museum in the Old Town - well worth a detour, before heading to Matale. Wandered around old fort for an hour, visited Hindu temple just off the shore. Then continued onto Weligama and then Mirissa - loads of development (planned?) heading in both beaches - good sand but spoiled by the six storey concrete monstrosity being erected opposite the no name GH I stayed in.
Wandered along both beaches and enjoyed sand under my feet. Turtle hatchery was interesting to visit near the coastguard base. Stopped for dinner at beachside restaurant with the incoming sea lapping at my feet for the dessert course! Starry night and not too popular at the moment (wait for Xmas!)
Day 6 - Tangalle
Whale watching in the morning (and early p.m.) Pick up at 6, drive to Harbour, board boat around 7 - dozen fellow passengers on relatively large vessel. Early in season and spot whales 3 days in 7 at moment - but we didn't see any, but crew kept us out on the ocean for 6 hours in the blazing sun. Lovely to see pods of dolphins but was mightily glad to return to dry land. Will take a soft cushion / pillow next time!
Staggered back to GH to collect my gear and continue journey eastward with connecting (slow) bus rides to Haparan Harbour and then onto Tangalle - a crowded, dirty town, but with a saving grace of lovely lagoon and beach to the east. Dropped into friendly place near river mouth entrance and spent rest of late p.m. / evening admiring the sunset over the palm trees as I walked back from the extended stretch of beach.
Day 7 - Tissa
Woke at dawn and returned to Tangalle to eventually catch bus north, for excursion to the rock cave temple complex of Mulkirigala in morning. Worth the effort as no one else around (would miss the museum with scraggy exhibits) but the views and peaceful surroundings at the top of the rocky outcrop were sublime. Returned back to cabanas for last walk along beach and some late breakfast before checking out at 12, and returning for eastward bus to Tissa.
One place where I suffered a lot of hassle from touts who board the buses. Escaped for local lunch before ringing Travellers Rest House who said a safari was leaving for Yala NP (with spare seat) in 20 minutes!
So dashed to their place, dropped my pack, paid my money and boarded the jeep with 2 Germans, 3 Aussies - very fortunate as we arrived in Yala around 2.30 before most of the other tours (many only with a couple in the jeep). We drove past the lakes into the NP around 3ish. Checked in to the NP and then drove quickly along dusty roads, we stopped inauspiciously a few minutes later with a flat battery. Quickly on our way again though, and soon spotted plenty of birds (including presenting peacocks) and a herd of wild elephants near the lagoon. There were a few babies and infants protected by the herd and matriarch and enjoyed viewing from a distance. Plenty of spotted deer and water buffalo also present.
Stopped at deserted beach, site of a hotel that had been swept into the sea when the tsunami struck 7 years ago. Very poignant memorial to those who died. After a wander along the beach, we came across an animated driver and passengers who'd just spotted a leopard and her juvenile in the bushes ahead. They were stalking a herd of spotted deer only 30m away, and we chanced to see the pair dart for further cover in pursuit of their prey. They spotted deer didn't seem that bothered, but were alert that something was amiss.
It was most likely the 20 other trucks that zoomed up and soon we were corralled by vehicles as each driver tried to give his passengers an optimal view. Needless to say the leopards didn't reappear, and would much prefer to have been driving around the rest of the park as we would have had it to ourselves! Eventually persuaded the driver to leave and he drove us to the riverine border of Yala Stage 2. It was getting dusk by the time we left there to drive through the length of the park to be outside by nightfall. It was a frantic but good safari - reminded me of Africa.
Day 8 - Ella
Hired a bike from the Travellers Inn that morning to ride to Weka Weka wetlands about 6km away. The bike was very rickety but didn't need to pedal too hard to arrive at the lakeside, stopped to watch a local canoe out to round up his buffalo on the other side of the lake and head back to the nearby pasture. Lovely spot and plenty of birdlife - just a very peaceful area. Returned to friendly Travellers Inn, their reputation is well founded. Had a tasty breakfast around 9 and organised myself after the hectic previous day.
Took buses (3) to head into the hill country - all worked out with an air or unhurriedness - you don't want to be on a deadline taking public transport here! Arrived in the picturesque (but touristy) hillside town of Ella around mid 1 p.m.
Checked into hotel, gathered map and wandered eastward to Little Adams Peak - views obscured by cloud. Enjoyable diversion to 98 Resort - had an (expensive) taste of how the other half tour the island! Wandered further along the ridge line of Adams Peak but the valley floor was soon obscured by cloud. Countryside that I could see looked fantastic. Hiked back to Dream Cafe restaurant for a tasty curry before just escaping a monsoonal shower! The hills are certainly fresher than the south coast and give a welcome respite from the humidity!
Day 9 - Haputale
Walk along railway tracks at 6.30 for 2km east to eventually locate track up to Ella Rock - 2 hour hike. Have to be careful to work out when trains are dashing around the corner! Loads of eucalypt plantations but had the place to myself and the views from the lookout were majestic. Returned to GH around 10.30 for breakfast before catching 11.40 train over to Haputale (3rd class) - took 2 hours to travel 30km (due to stop in Bandariwella for lunch) but an interesting view of Sri Lankans and lovely views of the Hill Country and picturesque tea plantations. Chatted to curious locals in 2nd class - started to get uncomfortable after the first hour!
Met by tuk tuk driver at station who drove me through what was then pouring rain to the Sunrise GH - with lovely views. Markedly cooler than Ella and much more so than the south coast. Clouds and rain started to settle and just spent rest of the afternoon watching the test between India and England. They love their cricket here! Wandered around Haputale for some street food for dinner.
Day 10 - Haputale
Sunday morning but no lie in. Enjoyed a breakfast made up of just English breakfast tea, as didn't have time for the meal before the 7.50 train arrived at Haputale - it continued westwards for 11km to a picturesque (albeit fog bound) train station at Idalgashinna. Alighted there to walk back along the tracks, chatting to the friendly local gangers working on the line. Weather conditions were quite misty but lifted in the mid a.m. as arrived at the Benedictine Monastery, situated in an old tea planter’s mansion. Glorious views once the fog had lifted. Glad to arrive back to Haputale soon after lunch, as rain and mist settled in early p.m., so settled into read the Sunday Times (Sri Lankan editions) and watch England v India test match on the satellite TV. Browsed around town in the evening once most of the showers had finished.
Day 11 - Kandy
Early morning walk up to False Worlds End (about 4km to various tea estates to NW of Haputale). Clouds and mist cleared and then sprang up again from the valleys. A pleasant promenade for a couple of hours. Leisurely breakfast and then caught 10.30? train from Haputale to Kandy - an all day trip through amazing landscape. Chatted to French backpacker Patrick next to me in observation car - got 2nd from back seats so great to view through the massive windows, Fantastic views but it was slow going and it took 9 hours to get to Junction, at wich time swithed to local commuter train - very wet by this stage with - massive flooding on arrival - my shoes nearly swept away getting into a Tuk Tuk!
Arrived at GH where a fellow Aussie mate Kane was staying, and enjoyed a meal and some beer with him while catching up on his travels around Sri Lanka for the previous fortnight. He only had a further few days in Sri Lanka, and opportune to catch up with him here. Investigated treks to the Knuckles (including overnight) but the rain hadn't subsided and so decided to defer a decision to only a day walk!
Day 12 - Kandy
A lazy day wandering around the holy town, as well as trying to arrange a trek to the Knuckles Range the following day. Caught tuk tuk up to Uduwattakale Sanctuary - a forested area just north of the holy temple (and surrounded by army camps). It was a pleasant enough place to pass a few hours in the morning. Spotted a couple of deer and birds. Then returned to Kandy town - saw temple elephants making their way up the main drag. Then wandered to Buddha statue and then just browsed around town and leisurely lunch near the lake. Attended night time puja ceremony at Temple of Tooth relic - visited on poya day (so no booze despite being Kane's birthday!) An early night, as we'd arranged to meet up with Amad the next day from Sri Lankan trekking.
Day 13 - Kandy (Knuckles Trek)
Knuckles trek with Kane and Amad (guide). Up at 5, left at 5.30 in private car for village where we stopped for lunch around 7. Conditions overcast and drizzly - up through tea plantations for half an hour, before reaching the jungle proper - then a slow, leech bound ascent up to the 2nd Knuckle. No views as the weather had still clagged in Reach top around midday and then started to clear - giving glimpses of great views.
Return was slippery and tore my trousers in several falls. Refreshing swim in waterfall towards the end of the trek, and arrived back at trail head around 5.30. Drive back to Kandy at 7 and then some beers to farewell Kane and celebrate a great day out in the bush (although I felt it the next few days!)
Day 14 - Nalanda
Kane was flying off to the Andamans while I wanted to get started exploring the north and east of the island. Didn't get too far, as spent the morning wandering around Kandy, a touristy albeit very friendly place. Then caught train up to Matale, slow trip but delightful as the locals and school kids embarked and alighted at various stops enroute. Caught a bus to Aluvihara, a rock temple complex just north of the town - a d delightful spot, but a difficult one to leave since many of the buses leaving Kandy / Matale already jammed packed! Eventually caught one north for the 20km to Nalanda - where I alighted to visit the Hindu temple (Gedige), a km detour from the main highway.
It was a delightful spot, and found that there were rooms available in the Nalanda Govt GH, so stayed there the evening, dining there as well as popping down for ginger beer at the various desultory street stalls on the main road. Monkeys gambolled along the roof, and couldn't leave washing out for fear of not getting it back! A friendly relaxed place to recover from the previous day's exertions!
Day 15 - Sirigaya
Headed back to the Gedige for an evocative dawn chorus of birdsong - a beautiful tranquil setting. Then left Nalanda GH for onward bus to Dambulla - admired the massive Buddhist temple complex there before heading onwards to Sirigaya. Got met by friendly local who took me back to his B&B, located in the Sirigaya village - a bit of a trek to the nearby World Heritage Site, aided by another rickety Indian bicycle - don't think there's a bike newer than 20 years old here!
Spent the afternoon cycling and hiking up the Sirigaya palace complex. A beautiful spot and well worth the effort to visit. Tremendous views and amazed by how they were able to build such grandiose buildings in such a precarious position. Gawked at the cave frescoes, situated in overhangs, and wonder how they were made and for what purpose! The infrastructure was good enough to allow easy access, but it would have been pretty precarious when they were created - just ropes and some prayers! The rock garden and lakes below were also fascinating and the product of huge effort centuries ago.
Cycled around the complex after leaving at dusk and enjoyed a tasty meal on returning to my informal GH. Slept well despite the mossies!
Day 16 - Trinco
Enjoyed a breakfast with the local kids and dogs at the GH, before heading to junction for bus back to highway. From there, boarded a half full bus heading to Trinco, so decided to remain for the rest of the journey. The roads were far better than expected, and arrived around 3 hours later in the historic coastal town. Admired the ornate Hindu temples - reminded much more of South India so far than anywhere else in Sri Lanka. Headed down to the polluted town beaches under the blazing midday sun.
Arrived at historic Fort Frederick and passed through heavy military presence (still used as a camp / barracks for the Sri Lankan army) up to the promontory where a picturesque Koneswaram Kovil temple was situated. There were nearby grottos full of Hindu gods and goddesses, abutting the cliff face with fabulous views along the coast. A puja ceremony was in full swing and enjoyed the ambience and the shade!
Wandered back into Trinco, and caught a tuk tuk north to Uppeveli Beach - a backpacker base and a place I could have stayed much longer! There was little evidence of the devastation wrought by the tsunami, just a quiet (it was rainy season) and picturesque stretch of sand. Wandered up to the nearby evocative Commonwealth War Cemetery - a beautiful spot despite the nearby road, and very well maintained.
Went for a much needed swim once the sun had started to set, and just enjoyed watching the herd of cows mooch along the beach, whilst fisher folk ended the day repairing their nets from the morning haul. Clear night and delightful panorama of the night sky.
Day 17 - Trinco
Had a day off a bus (apart from one that took me up to Irrakandy, around 12km north of Uppeveili Beach. Spent the rest of the day wandering back down along the beach to Nivehli (although this involved a detour around the SL Naval base right on the beach). Spent all of morning and early p.m. returning by foot to Uppveli Beach. Got badly sunburnt despite the overcast conditions. as didn't take sunscreen with me! And wore shorts for the 1st time. There were boats available to Pigeon Island just off the coast, but the cost for a single passenger was prohibitive.
Rested for the rest of the afternoon in the hammocks slung up between the palm trees, and read and ate - still recovering from my trek up to the Knuckles!
Day 18 - Jaffna
Spent most of the day on a bus - caught a local one to Trinco centre bus station, then left on 8.15 bus (stopping at Hindu shrine first) for 7 hour journey along good road to Jaffna. There was one police checkpoint 25km north of Vavuniya, but it simply meant filing a declaration and showing my passport - no copies required and all very straightforward. Roads were in good nick, and slept for quite a bit - missed crossing the much disputed Elephant Pass causeway.
Jaffna was a busy bustling town, although the derelict / destroyed town hall showed what had occurred just a decade or so before. It was overcast and slightly drizzly as made my way to accommodation. It cleared later, so went for a stroll down to the seafront and along the promenade to the harbour and fort. Passed the Tamil Library and various churches before eating at a street stall near the bus station and heading back to my digs.
Day 19 - Jaffna
Bus trips - KKM and a ferry over to Kayuts (poignantly deserted town overtaken by jungle). Then another trip in p.m. to Point Pedro - end of the line in so many ways. Friendly but reserved locals. Over-run by military bases and police checkpoints. The place is still certainly in lock down, but the situation seems peaceful enough. Water is everywhere and causeways link most of the islands. Some Dutch remnants still around (forts and churches) but the memorable scenes were of deserted houses overtaken by jungle creepers and palms.
Day 20 - Mannar
Tried to get bus on direct route but to no avail, so another long day on bus to Vaivanatu - lunch there after 5 hour trip, and then a further 2.5 hours up to Mannar. Then caught local bus after eventually locating friendly GH, up to Thalimannar - the end of the road but the start of the Adams Bridge across to India. Just a desultory fishing village with SL Naval depot offering tours (but not for impoverished single travellers). Back to Mannar and wandered to famed Baobab tree, planted by Arab traders in the 15th century. Friendly place and enjoyed some hot chilli supper!
Day 21 - Arunadhapura / Mihintale
Caught 7a.m. bus to Colombo, and got to Arunadhapura around 11 o'clock. Checked into lake View GH shortly afterwards (in amongst rain showers) and then hired a girls bike to ride over to Mihintale, 10km to east. Taking cover in some of the many shops / stalls en route to avoid the downpours.
Weather eased up when eventually arrived in Mihintale - and spent an enjoyable 3 hours or so wandering around the temple, viewpoints, Buddha statues and neighbouring hills. Good signage and a smattering of other tourists, but overcast conditions put many off. Was still able to get good views of surrounding countryside. Easier bike ride back to Arunadhapura and settled in to bakery for some delicious snacks and fresh juices.
Day 22 - Arunadhapura
Spent today touring around the World Heritage sites dotted all over town. Headed south to lake, temple and gardens, and then to Sri Bodhi - early morning so not too busy. Then the rest of the day was spent cycling between ancient stupas, temples, monasteries and ponds. A lovely day and good for cycling. Interesting places and not too crowded (apart from Sri Bodhi which was filled with local pilgrims (and police).
Day 23 - Pollanurewa
Caught early bus from Arunadhapura but it still seemed to stop at every possible point (there are no bus stops in SL, you just wave your hand out and if the driver deigns there is still room on the bus, he'll pull over - and there is always room, no matter how crowded...)
Dropped in the Pollanurewa old town, from where, after checking into local hotel, it was an easy walk across to the tourist office / museum to purchase my entry ticket. After a cursory look at the king’s palace nearby, took my hired Indian bike south along the lake levee to Potgul Vihara, spotting elephants grazing on the other side of the lake in the distance. It started to pelt rain so sheltered there for a bit, before riding north up to the main palace / temple complex once the weather front had passed. These were superb and reckon it was the best site I visited - the massive Gal Vihara rock carvings were simply superb! But lots of other stupas, temples, palaces and reservoirs to visit, and it was nightfall before I returned to the hotel.
Day 24 - Arugam Bay
Caught bus around 7 to new town where train station was located and was just in time to catch the rail bus to Batticaloa. It simply was a couple of bus carriages, run on the train lines. It was empty so scored a seat with the conductor in the back cab, with great views as we passed (and stopped at) the numerous Tamil and Muslim villages along the coast and hinterland. Very lush and green, a mark of the rainy season, but the day was brilliantly warm and sunny.
The journey took 3.5 hours to arrive in Batticaloa and alighted there to wander around the town and riverbank. Still quite a police presence but couldn't see any of the damage caused by the war / tsunami. Lots of building going on. After a quick lunch, got back on various buses heading down the coast - they only seemed to go to the next town, so it was a hopping tour of the region! Eventually arrived at Pottuvil, where collected some groceries, ate another curry, and caught tuk tuk to friendly Beach Hut. Nabbed a family sized tree house overlooking the beach, and then went for a stroll at sunset - seas were rough, and surprised by how dirty the beach was (leaching diesel oil - not surprising given the number of fishing boats in the village).
It was a lovely spot to spend the evening and again get a full view of the Milky Way. Fantastic.
Day 25 - Badulla
Another early start as booked a tour of the nearby Pottuvil lagoon. So tuk tuk driver met at 5.30 for driver to the access point. Boarded rickety canoe paddled by Muslim local who spoke no English. But pointed out the various birdlife as they came into view. Crossed the lagoon to a village on the coast, where I had time to walk along the beach and take photos of the locals. My ferryman used the time to take cyclists / locals across the river as it poured into the sea.
It was very hot by the time the cruise finished around 9 and would thoroughly recommend it - a great alternative to the rough ocean and loads of flora and fauna. Met by friendly tuk tuk driver who returned me to Beach GH, as well as chasing after bus after it had come through earlier than expected! Boarded it around midday and headed west up into the hills again. Passed lush countryside on the slow plodding journey, eventually arriving in Badulla in the NE part of the Hills District in the late p.m.
Eventually found a motel to put my feet up, and then explored the town and local churches.
Day 26 - Dalhousie
Got up early to spend a fruitless couple of hours trying to locate the nearby Dunhinda Falls, eventually catching a tuk tuk driven by a retired SL army sergeant, full of stories around his fighting experiences against the Tamils. It was an easy walk from the access point to the falls, and they were quite impressive, despite not having had a great deal of recent rainfall. Glad to have gone early before the persistent souvenir sellers started hawking their wares!
Returned to check out of the Badulla Motel and caught bus to Hakgala Gardens just outside Nuriwa Eliya (NE) - they were pretty but not worth the pricey admission entrance. Stopped at NE to catch a bus south to Dikoya through spectacular countryside, dotted with tea plantations and reservoirs. The bus journey dragged though, stopping for an hour at Dikoya, and so my expectations of getting to Dalhousie before dark were unfounded. It was a tiring journey and trek to get to White GH, where enjoyed a tasty meal provided by friendly host. Loads of information on hiking up to Sri Pada (Adams Peak) and the weather forecast was favourable.
Day 27 - Adams Peak & Colombo
Too tired to rise at 2a.m. to undertake the hike and get to the summit for sunrise (besides, I was carrying all my gear as was heading over the hills down to Ratnapura, where I could catch a bus to Colombo.)
So left a hour before dawn from Dalhousie, and it was only dawn before I found the right track out along the path - loads of trails leading to temples, monasteries etc. But wasted a lot of time and effort before eventually getting on the right path. Plenty of water en route, but it was deserted as the pilgrim season wasn't starting for another month. Still, a very peaceful climb amongst great scenery, mainly on stepped paths.
It was dawn as I ascended the rocky outcrop and arrived around 20 minutes later. There were numerous tourists starting their descent back to Dalhousie, but glad I had delayed as it was still quite cool, despite the sun's rays! A peaceful, contemplative spot, with fantastic views in all directions, the mountain cast a pyramided shadow over its western hinterlands. Stopped at the rock where Adam was supposed to have left his footprint, and rang the bell once (for the only time I've climbed the peak).
Most people had left by the time I descended south, around an hour after dawn. And it was then a steep, sometime muddy descent through the southern foothills of the range. Plenty of workers repairing huts and stalls for the pilgrim season that was about to start, but glad to have gone in the north / south direction. Took about 3.5 hours to eventually meet up at village - totally exhausted after the exertions of the past week, and glad to see a bus stop shortly afterwards. It wended its way to Ratnapura, and detoured to the interesting National Museum, before catching a bus to Colombo.
It seemed to take ages (as all buses do in SL) and eventually alighted in mid-town Colombo and walked over to Galle Road, to catch a bus south to Mt Lavinia.
Day 28 - Colombo
Shopping day, walk along beach to Deliwela Station - went to zoo but the price gouging on the entry fee for foreigners put me off. So headed up by train to Fort and Pettah - found the markets quite a hassle, so stopped around shopping malls and govt emporium as a much more pleasant place to browse (and know what the true prices are for goods).
Enjoyed a lengthy chat with jeweller who'd studied and worked in London - he was Sinhalese and had interesting views on the civil war with the Tamil Tigers. His market for precious gems was now China, rather than the West.
Wandered around the rest of the desultory city centre - some old British raj style precincts now dwarfed by modern skyscrapers. Enjoyed a cocktail at sunset at the Old Galle Face Hotel (and watched the sun set over the Indian Ocean). Wandered across to the parade ground to enjoy some excellent fish at the many street hawkers based there. Caught a bus back to Mt Lavinia and eventually found where a hotel I wanted to stay in was located. Stopped at one of the eateries along the beach but was quite sick shortly thereafter - dehydration or just bad food?
Day 29 - Negombo
Walked along Mt Lavinia beach in morning - then train to Negombo - stopped in Fort and was able to wander back to tourist emporium and streets around Fort for an hour before continuing on trip north to Negombo. Arrived 2p.m. and wandered to Rest House, before finding a cobbler to repair my ragged backpack, as well as do some more washing. Glad to be away from the hassle that is Colombo. Undertook some internetting to arrange things with friends in Dubai where I'm flying the next day.
Day 30 - flight to Dubai
Very straightforward transfer to airport (by tuk tuk) and having checked in on line the afternoon before, had plenty of time to peruse the duty free sections and hand in various tax refund forms to the shops.
A great trip, and would be particularly good for families as the locals seem to love kids. They speak good English and love their cricket, so always plenty to talk about! The food was fresh and enjoyed the chiilis they added to their meals. Spectacular hiking, interesting cultural and historical sites. Would recommend hiring a car and driver from the airport since it is very slow going by public transport! A month was just enough time, but it was still quite rushed to see all regions.
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