Negombo, Sigiriya and Anuradhpura: from the beach to ancient cities

Hell, already 10 days on the road!

Right now I am sitting in a lousy guest house in Kandy (since I am staying here for one night only I will survive it) and the best thing about this crappy place is the stable wifi ;-) and electric sockets, where my apple-fitting-adaptor fits. So finally I can write about my first stops. No worries, I won’t write an essay or endless stories copied from a travel guide, but some nice infos for all out there who will visit those places too.

Negombo:
Well…. If I return to Sri Lanka, I will definitely stay there for the first nights. The holiday area is only a few km from the airport and for a first relaxing day, the beach and the many international tourists are nice. Not so much cultural shock like I had… I stayed at Marine Guest House, which was ok, a clean room with a mosquito net above the bed and a big bathroom. The host was nice, the breakfast could be improved. Close to it is the Icebear guest house – I think the rooms there are cool when they are only a bit like the wonderful garden with restaurant and bar. I had an afternoon tea there and an evening beer and it was very calm. Except this, there’s not much to do in Negombo. You can visit the fish market – if you want to get up at 5 in the morning. Which I didn’t (especially since it was raining).

Sigiriya:
My next stop was “only” an intense bus drive of all together 5 hs away. I was lucky, because I met a french couple and we managed this adventure together. We had to switch buses in Kurunegala and took a Tuk-Tuk from Badulla to Sigiriya together. There, I stayed at Liyon’s Rest, a rather new lodge consisting of bungalows and my cabana, everything very quiet and hidden in the jungle close to the main road. The host Lakmal is very young and tries everything to please his guests. There was no air condition but that was ok and don’t be scared if you wake up next to some frogs and geckos, they squeeze in through the smallest holes, but: they eat mosquitos!
In the afternoon, I hiked up Lion’s Rock, it was not super hot anymore and less people than during the day. Also the atmosphere in the low sun is amazing. Bring enough water, you will need it. Afterwards, Lakmal’s mom cooked Sri Lankan rice and curry for us and two girls from Belgium and I fixed our safari plans for the next morning.
Lakmal organized an experienced jeep driver and we drove to Minneriya national park. And guess what? Besides a lot of other animals, we met elephants. Whole families, just 15m in front of us! A baby! It was amazing! Even though daddy elephant got angry after a while, it was an experience I will never forget. We returned after 5 hs in the jungle and a Sri Lankan breakfast waited for us, before I packed my bags and moved on to Anuradhpura. I didn’t stop at Dambulla and the golden Buddha. If I had a car or driver or more time, then I would have done this, but I wanted to move on and therefore I had to set priorities.

Anuradhpura:
Lucky me I catched a AC mini bus and was rather relaxed when I arrived at my next stop. I found a room in Milano Rest. Best price/performance ratio so far! The hotel is a little old 50ies style, but it was clean and the restaurant was good. The guys there were very helpful in organising food, TukTuks and so on. I had a nice night and on the next day (after dealing with my lost credit card and getting money with my Maestro) I grabbed a bike and discovered the ancient and sacred city, full of temples, dagobas, stupas and so on. If you’re not 100% fit – take a TukTuk tour. It’s incredibly hot and the distances between the monuments are far, while the bikes are small and have a driving comfort like a go kart. I was very exhausted when I returned and I think I drank about 5 liters of water during the hours I spent there. You’ll need a day for everything – better to stay another night.
My last stop on that day was the famous Bodhi tree, the worlds oldest tree and holy shrine for the Buddhists in Sri Lanka. Definitely visit it at the late afternoon. The atmosphere is very calm and it’s not so hot anymore. I brought some flowers like the other pilgrims and got blessed by a priest (who could have worked as a bollywood actor, definitely). Afterwards I carried my tired body back to the hotel for a nice dinner and some hours of sleep, because the trip to Trincomalee was waiting. Well, actually first of all I didn’t even want to go there, because it’s so far away. But then… and it was definitely worth it! More on it in the next article soon.

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