[Sri Lanka 2014]: Snippets of Sri Lanka – Part 1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFINALLY blogging about my trip to Sri Lanka! I was very lucky to be able to attend one of the dimsum dollies’ wedding in her home country this year. You may have seen my updates on instagram during that time (@cscc28). Sri Lanka actually never featured high on my travel list, but my friend only gets married once and who knows when I’d see her again since she has relocatedย  from Perth =(

Her wedding fell within the months where I was inundated with bills. It was pretty stressful financially, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!

There was A LOT of planning beforehand – flights, accommodation, tours, etc. I wanted to keep costs down so I travelled alone rather than with my friend AS who was on a largely all-inclusive tour. Granted, I did hire a driver to take me around, but it was cheaper than other organised tours.

After weeks of planning, I finally decided on my route:

Colombo – Kandy – Nuwara Eliya – Dambulla – Sigiriya – Anuradhapura – Negombo

I’ll be splitting my posts into 3 parts so here’s the first!

 

Shophouse in Colombo
Shophouse in Colombo

 

Streets of Colombo
Streets of Colombo

The wedding was held in Colombo so I stayed there for around 3 nights with AS. I didn’t quite like Colombo. I suspect it was because of all the construction going on but I just found it so chaotic and hazardous.

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Traditional Sri Lankan meal

I arrived a night before AS, and decided to book a dinner with some locals through Eat With Locals. As you know, I love to cook, and this was perfect because I learnt some techniques and flavour combinations that are traditional in a Sri Lankan kitchen. We ended up cooking turmeric rice, pappadums, a herb sambol, coconut/carrot/onion sambol, dhal, dry eggplant curry, tuna. For dessert, we had kiri pana which is curd with treacle (a bit like yoghurt actually). The family was a lovely couple living with one party’s mother. We ate with our hands, chatted, and before we knew it, it was getting pretty late and I still had to make my way back to the hotel!

It was so good when AS arrived because then I had someone to explore with. We went around exploring, taking pictures, getting lost, reorienting ourselves, risking our lives crossing the roads, and getting told off by the guards for taking pictures of the Presidential quarters =P But they were soooooo pretty! hehe

The day of the wedding reception, AS’ driver took us on a city tour which was great! He was very knowledgable about the city, and Sri Lankan history and culture in general, so it was a great way to learn more. There was a bit of information overload though!

Colombo
Colombo
Colombo
Colombo

Sri Lanka has quite a rich history, both culturally and religious which are reflected in the architecture. Within the main cities, you would get traditional Sri Lankan architecture, rundown houses, and also elements of the different settlements which occupied Sri Lanka (e.g., Dutch, British).

After the beautiful wedding ceremony and reception, it was soon time for AS and I to part ways the next day. We made sure our drivers had each other’s contacts should anything go wrong. But worry not, we had wireless at most of our accommodation so we were whatsapping each other each night sharing stories. I was so grateful to be able to contact her despite our different touring schedules, and even now, I am so grateful and amazed at how close we felt to each other yet so far (geographically)!

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Paradise – exotic fruits en route to Kandy

My driver was great. He was laidback and quite flexible to my spontaneous stops and changes to our planned route. I’m an avid fruit fan, especially the tropical fruits in SE Asia! Thankfully, my driver was happy enough to stop whenever I exclaimed “oh that’s cool! Can we stop here please?” (which I said quite often).

He also randomly stopped and bought me cashews. I can’t remember the name of the area we were in, but I seriously cannot stop thinking about those cashews! They were huge, sweet, crunchy and none of that nonsense overly-roasted with no cashew taste! Too bad we didn’t pass through that area again =( Oh well, the durians kept me happy too haha.

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Pinnawalu elephant orphanage – en route to Kandy
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Pinnawalu elephant orphanage – en route to Kandy

Elephants feature A LOT throughout Sri Lanka, and if memory serves me correct, they symbolise strength and greatness. When I visited the elephant orphanage, I managed to catch them during their play/bathtime which was really nice to see. They behaved like they were in their natural habitat, and just splashed water at themselves and each other. This area is just a short walk from the actual orphanage.

I didn’t enjoy the orphanage itself. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. The elephants were chained around their hind leg and their neck, and honestly, I felt a bit annoyed. I’m not a strong animal activist or anything but it definitely shocked me to see them chained up.

Kandy lookout
Kandy lookout

After a couple of hours driving, we finally reached Kandy. We headed to Kandy lookout first and it was beautiful! I loved this place instantly! Doesn’t it just look so quaint and beautiful?

Kandy is actually my driver’s hometown and he also brought me to his home to see. It’s very humble and small; in comparison to what we have in Perth, it would be considered quite dilapidated. As part of respect for his privacy, I won’t be sharing photos of his home or family.

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Traditional Kandyan dance

After seeing snippets of a traditional dance during the wedding, both AS and I were extremely excited to see the dance! Without fail, I messaged her exclaiming how awesome it was right when I arrived at my hostel! haha.

The dance is actually comprised of many different dances, each with a different meaning. The costumes differ for each dance, and sometimes it’s all males, all females or a mix of both. This was truly eye-opening, and definitely recommend anyone seeing if they visit Sri Lanka! You get a little factsheet that explains each dance so you can follow it.

Kandy Lake
Kandy Lake

I generally wake up very early, and this didn’t change during my travels so before my driver picked me up in the mornings, I usually went around walking and exploring. One morning, I decided to walk around Kandy Lake which was a lot bigger than I imagined. Pretty much for 3/4 of the walk, I was thinking “Great idea, CC! Now you have to walk ALL THE WAY BACK!”. But it was worth it because it was beautiful! Just that I had to take a shower, again, when I returned to the hostel because it was hot and humid =.=’

Kandy - rice paddies
Kandy – rice paddies

Since Kandy is his hometown, my driver had a few friends there and I was happy for him to pop by his friend’s place as we set off to our next stop. On the way to his friend’s house, he showed me some rice paddy fields. I was so surprised as I didn’t expect there to be rice paddies in an actual city area! It was like there was a farming village right next to a city – absolutely amazing! I love the juxtaposition of the living in Sri Lanka!

So, there you have it! Part 1 of my Sri Lankan trip this year. Stay tuned for more, as we head out to see & taste some tea!

Thanks for reading! ^^ Happy Monday all!

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