My Sri Lankan Journey – Lubomír Jiřišta
My first day in Sri Lanka started at Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake (aka Colombo Airport) after eleven hours of flight from the Czech Republic. After a short time I was sitting in a Tuk Tuk (three-wheeler) to Colombo Fort Railway Station. That was the place, where I met my girlfriend Klara, who was teaching English as a volunteer in Mahawilachchiya village for Horizon Lanka Foundation. Our journey started there and it was big! 🙂
We came back to Negombo for a one night stay near the beach. There were very nice and huge waves, but there were also plastic bags everywhere in the sea. In the morning we rented a motorbike (Yamaha FZ 150) for one week and started our sightseeing tour to Mahawilachchiya, where we should meet all Klara’s friends and host family. Our day was sometimes filled with rain, but we were lucky to meet so many good people. One family invited us to their house and made us a cup of hot tea during our stay under the palm tree no rain spot. We ended in Ridi Vihara Temple, which is carved into the rock with lying Buddha statue. We met the Buddhist monk of Ridigama, who offered us food and place where we could sleep. He showed us their second temple in the forests, which they usually use for meditation and a biggest sitting Buddha statue in Sri Lanka. Thank you very much, Ridigama!
After this we moved slowly to Dambulla. This city was a bit dirty and very crowded. The GoldenTemple on the top of the hill, which is also carved in the caves, was full of tourists and entrance fee for foreigners was so big, that I can’t recommend it.
Next day was awesome. We started early in the morning and headed to Sigiriya Rock. If you don’t like crowded places like us, go about five more kilometers to Pidurangala Ancient Forest Monastery and climb the hill. It has same height as Sigiriya rock, but there was no one in the morning. There is an amazing view to Sigiriya with crowded upstairs and whole landscape.
After Pidurangala we went straight to Trincomalee for some beach relax. 🙂 This part of Sri Lanka was hit by tsunami wave in 2004. It looked like we have no chance to stay here, because all accommodation places were totally full. We finally found a last free room in Nilaveli resort near the beach. The hotel was a few days before opening and we were so lucky to meet the owner here. Nilaveli beach was so clean and nice!
Our next point was a nice historic city called Anuradhapura. We met Klara’s friends Ramani with her husband Udaya first. They are a very nice couple. 🙂 We slept in Kalhari’s (student from Klara’s and Ramani’s English class) family house. I will always remember our night trip to Jethavanaramaya pagoda, Anuradhapura and a great talk with Kalhari’s father Susil, who is a psychologist, about differences between our countries. It was perfect, because it is nearly impossible to go to the city centre without buying a ticket for $25 per person and day only for entrance.
In the morning we started our trip to Ritigala (temple in woods) and it was full of new experiences. I met for the first time Bathiya, Sisira, Jeewan, Jeewani and Janaka. We drove through the forests with high risk of wild elephant appearance. Everything was fine and we had a tasty lunch from palm leaves. After this hot day we swam in a big reservoir called Nachchaduwa Wewa. It was very nice refreshment after the whole day. I was little bit scared from the elephant danger in the morning, so message about possibility of crocodiles didn’t please me much. 🙂
After our whole day motorbike trip we got at early night to Mahawilachchiya to house of Wanni’s family (Wanni is a teacher and founder of Horizon Lanka.) He and his family have a nice house with a beautiful garden. Classes where children can learn subjects from English to computers are very near. Our stay was full of discussions, meetings of new people from the village and delicious meals! Yeah Jeewani is a great cook. 🙂
If you are interested in volunteering, (teaching English or computers) I can totally recommend you Horizon Lanka Foundation. All the people here are very friendly, kind and bright.
It was very hard to leave, but we had to. We had two thirds of our trip in front us. We went back to Negombo to return the motorbike. We caught an early morning bus to Kandy (city in the mountains.) We got a tip from Wanni to meet his friend Mahesh, who offers accommodation. We stayed there two days and really enjoyed our time with Mahesh and his family. There is a very nice Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya and the Temple of the Tooth (Dalada Maligawa) in Kandy. We also saw Kandy Esala Perahera procession. It was so beautiful! We sat on the pavement with local people and there wasn’t any mistake, except our stone bottom 🙂
From Kandy we took a train to Hatton. After that we took a bus to Delhouse. The trip was full of views to valleys with tea plantations. That was our starting point to Adam’s Peak. It was 5500 steps to the top, where is a temple, but it is worth the effort. Even for reaching the top feeling. You can ring the big bell on the top. We weren’t allowed to see Adams foot in the rock, because it’s hidden.
Back to Hatton, which is not so nice, but we visited two nearby waterfalls and a tea museum. I finally got a local Gun Powder tea. 🙂 From Hatton we moved to Haputale planning to visit the Lipton’s Seat the next day. It is a shade that it was cloudy everywhere.
Our last point on our train tour was Ella, a small town, which is full of bars and restaurants to satisfy all tourists’ needs. We climbed the Little Adam’s Peak and Ella Rock next morning. View to the city and down the valley was delightful. That was the end of our trip in the mountains.
We looked forward to our last days on the beach, so we moved from Ella to Arugam Bay. We were lucky to catch a cheap Tuk Tuk, which traveled the same way and wanted someone to go with him. 🙂 On the other day we got a surf lesson from a local guy. That was my most successful day for sliding down the waves, because he pushed us in the right moment. Klara was better and slid few waves like a pro during next days. After our surf session we started to return to Colombo through the south coast (Tangalle, Galle and Kalutara). On our last day before the flight we met again Mahesh with his two boys. It was a perfect surprise!
I want to thank everyone for the hospitality and kindness. Wanni and Udaya for our talks. Jeewani and Ramani for tasteful meals. Thanks also to Bathiya, Sisira and Jeewan for our discussion. I think you won’t get lost in this world J I had luck to meet you and I wish you the best possible future. I also want to thank to Mahesh and his family for a nice accommodation, tips and present we got!
I hope to see you all again. This holiday is on my personal top because of you. – Lubomír Jiřišta