Don’t try change my smile,
Life is long enough,
We will put this flesh,
Into the ground again!
Greetings “Into the Wild” people!!!!!
Another week is behind us. We just came from 10 days trip though north of Thailand and just arrived to Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur. But before we let you know how it was in Thailand (was amazing BTW), I still owe you the 2nd part of Sri Lanka.
As I mentioned last weeks, this week’s post is covering 700 km of beautiful tea plantations and surf beaches of Sri Lanka. The road took us from where we finished last week – Kandy (point A) and led us to Nuwara Eliya (point B – 6 h train ride) than further to Ella (point C – 4 h train ride), then for some relaxing on the beach at Arugam Bay (point D – 5 h bus drive) later on to Galle (Point E – 6 h car drive) and finally to our last destination before taking the flight to Thailand – Negombo (Point F – 5 h train ride).
Nuwara Eliya is a city in a hill country of the Central Province of Sri Lanka. The city name meaning is “city of light”. The city is administrative capital of Nuwara Eliya District, with picturesque landscape and temperate climate. It is located at an altitude of 1868 m and it considered to be the most important location for tea production in the country. The city is overlooked by Pidurutalagala, the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka.
We stayed in Nuwara Eliya just 1 night and we think that is more than enough. We arrived in the afternoon and took a tuck – tuck drive to the tea factory and plantation “Pedro Estate”. There you can see how they produce tea, try it, buy it if you want it and climb a small hill above te plantation to the water fall – easy walk and amazing views on tea plantations and water fall, therefore recommended.
I mentioned before that we took a 6 h train ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, amazing ride through mountains and tea plantations and definitely on of the highlights of the tea country.
To be honest Nuwara Eliya itself is not a must, if you’re in a hurry you can just head directly to our next destination – Ella.
Sri Lanka was gifted with beautiful views and Ella has one of the best. The sleepy village is nested in a valley peering straight through Ella Gap to the plain nearly 1000 m bellow. And as if the views weren’t enough, Ella is surrounded by hills perfect for walk trough tea plantations to temples and waterfalls.
We stayed in Ella 2 nights and to be honest I wouldn’t be angry to stay a day or two more. It’s a very small town with probably more guest houses than inhabitants but with beautiful surroundings. We all climbed on top of Ella Rock – 4 h up and down walk – with a beautiful view on the whole valley and surrounding mountains. Afterwards me and my father stayed in town and again had some quality time alone, rest of the ‘team’ went to Adam’s peak – 2 h walk up and down – and famous Lipton’s tea plantations. From photos I saw, both look amazing and once again I have reason to come back ;).
Eating in Hill Country is another blast. We found a nice and cozy restaurant with typical Sri Lanka’s food, where I had a chance to cook with the chef, traditional dish called Kottu – how it was you should ask to the guest who received it 🙂 The chef said that after 6 month free training he would take me in :). It’s an easy tasteful dish and since now I know how to make it, everybody are invited to try it once I come back – if I come back 🙂
Next day we took an early 5 h bus drive, to our next destination Arugam bay – arguable one of the nicest spots for surfing in the world.
Arugam Bay is the east cost’s most traveller – friendly destination of Sri Lanka. It’s basically a single laid – back strip of beach accommodations and restaurants with a surf and reggae vibe.
From April to October it has the best surfing waves in Sri Lanka, but Arugam Bay is also great place to chill out, eat great sea food and enjoy a mellow party scene. During the low season (November to April) things get very quiet, but at any time of the season surrounding regions and it national parks offers some superb opportunities for viewing bird life, crocodiles, elephants…
To see that wild animal life for ourselves, we went for a safari to nearby natural park – Yala. About 45 min drive at 5 in the morning gives you a chance to see water buffalos, bears, dears, birds, peacocks and supposing elephants and leopards (which we didn’t see :(), in their natural environment. If you haven’t been at any safari yet you should do it but otherwise there are probably plenty better ones in Africa :).
After morning safari we took a 6 h car drive to our next destination Galle – in my opinion the most beautiful city of Sri Lanka.
Galle is a living time capsule. It has a vibrant commercial district and nice, already touristic beaches in surrounding area, but pass through one of the Fort gates and you are transported back to the Dutch colonial era. Build by Dutch, beginning in 1663, the 36 – hectare Forth occupies most of the old part of Galle. Just wondering the streets at random you will get one architecture surprise by another – after all Unesco has the fort on its list if you don’t believe me.
There is definitive energy in the air of the old part, and tourism still takes a back seat. However, this maybe not be the case for long. Some excellent hotels have opened and locals are busily selling their often amazing unrestored vintage buildings to foreigners and speculators. Fort is definitely one of those places that in few years will have people saying “Oh you should have seen it before” – so hurry up before “before” is past!
With Galle our stay on Sri Lanka was coming to the end. What was left was a 5 h train ride to Negombo.
Negombo is a modest beach town located close to International airport and around 70 km north of Colombo. With a stash of decent hotels and restaurants to suit all pockets and a reasonable beach (locals are saying that they are cleaning it – so I guess in near future it will become a popular destination for Colombo residents since they don’t have their own) Negombo is more convenient point to take a late night or early morning flight, which was our case. If not, don’t bother to stay there since there is literally nothing to do… hmm maybe besides trying the best Kottu we had in Sri Lanka – well actually maybe that’s a good reason to go :).
Me and Maja had a late flight to Bangkok and our parents the next day, so Negombo was also a good-bye point for all of us. Once again I would like to thank all our parents to take time to share part of our “Into the wild” experience and maybe with this they understand easier why and how we are doing this adventure 🙂 – we love you.
Since this is the end of Sri Lanka reports I will as usually give some interesting facts and +/- of the country.
– 19 days of Sri Lanka’s adventures
– 700 EUR/person
– traveled 1100 km with buses, cars, trains, tuck – tuck’s
– 9 different hotels
– the most spicy food so far (I loved it)
– the most expensive entrances for sightseeing I have seen in SE Asia so far
– the nicest beaches for surfing I have seen so far (I know that there are better ones in the world)
– very laud and pushy people trying to sell you even their grandmother
– very decent beer Lion
– the most tea plantations I have ever seen in my life
– most tea I have ever drunk in my life
– very different climate through the small island
– very impressive meditation caves all around the country
3. Arugam Bay
5. Train rides through tea plantation
1. People (although with exceptions)
2. High prices of entrance tickets
3. Scams we were dragged into
4. Crazy bus drivers
5. Saying good-bye to our parents
Until next time – love and peace!!!
Maja & Andrej