A Travellerspoint blog

Farewell words and pictures


View Sri Lanka 2017 Summer on FierceOrc's travel map.

A country of extreme poverty with oxen-drawn wagons and the most basic of bicycles and bicycle repair shops to match, but widespread cellphone ownership and coverage on the most distant of mountain tops. All over the place, new buildings are constructed with fancy glass facades, but most of them seem to be in a permanently unfinished state with all floors above the second generally missing. Endless miles of road where every other building is either a little shop or has a vegetable stall in front of it selling homegrown produce, and where every fourth building is a temple, a stupa or a Buddha statue, varying in size from minuscule to giant, not a few of them with cheerfully flashing lights. There is agricultural transportation equipment on the road that I remember from when I was young but have not seen in over 50 years. Along with Singalese and Tamil, English is the third official language, but despite a literacy rate of 97% and English classes and international schools advertised all over the place, young people in the hospitality sector barely understand or speak a word of it; and it’s not just them. Open-air butchers sell their wares alongside satellite dishes. A “hotel” is not necessarily a place where you can spend the night, but around popular attractions everyone appears to be letting rooms, AC and non-AC. The last thing you can get at a “wine store” is wine. The photoshoots for weddings (there are lots of them on a daily basis) start at 6.30 am and a wedding is not complete until the “homecoming” after the honeymoon - a big feast, as I understand it. A hammer and a horn get most of the work done.

They’re betting on tourism now, with plenty of hotels being built. A second international airport was opened in the south a couple of years ago. Innumerable gem stores will be pleased to draw more people in. It’ll be interesting to see where the country is ten or fifteen years from now. It won’t be me doing the seeing, but if you’re going, keep me posted.

Anyway, here's a couple of videos:

https://youtu.be/3emZzRJBpJw
(Elephants at their watering place)

https://youtu.be/WksgxJ4Kr1c
(Bandarawela, street life)

https://youtu.be/gFA360HaVXk
Beruwala, wedding

And here's a couple of pictures I didn't get around to posting before.

Road signage - 1

Road signage - 1


Road signage - 2

Road signage - 2

Sigiriya, Lion Rock. In reality much more impressive than here.

Sigiriya, Lion Rock. In reality much more impressive than here.

Sigiriya, Lion Rock. The white line in the distance is a big Buddha.

Sigiriya, Lion Rock. The white line in the distance is a big Buddha.

Sigiriya, Lion Rock. The guy in front is our guide, who thought I was taking a photo of him.

Sigiriya, Lion Rock. The guy in front is our guide, who thought I was taking a photo of him.

Yala National Park

Yala National Park

Big Buddha - 1

Big Buddha - 1


Big Buddha -2

Big Buddha -2

Roadside Buddha - 1

Roadside Buddha - 1

Middle-of-the-Roadside Buddha - 1

Middle-of-the-Roadside Buddha - 1


Middle-of-the-Roadside Buddha - 2

Middle-of-the-Roadside Buddha - 2

Posted by FierceOrc 04:46 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged temples tea sri_lanka windlife Comments (4)

August 30/31 – September 1


View Sri Lanka 2017 Summer on FierceOrc's travel map.

The next stop is the coastal town of Galle, in particular the old fort. The Dutch took the town from the Portuguese and later handed it over to the British. The remnants of the fort, no. 200 on the Unesco World Heritage List, are spectacular, the historical town is a little underwhelming but cute (it’s always nice to find Dutch street names and gravestones dating back to our colonial past), the humid heat is almost unbearable.

Galle Fort, gate no. 1

Galle Fort, gate no. 1

Galle, the old Dutch Hospital, now gem stores and restaurants

Galle, the old Dutch Hospital, now gem stores and restaurants

This region was severely hit by the 2004 tsunami, and while parts of new Galle were inundated and badly damaged, the fort, and the old town along with it, never gave an inch and remained untouched.

Then on to the final hotel: The Palms, three nights, two days of relaxation in the sun. The room is a disaster. I will spare you the details. Suffice it to say that on the second day we are offered a palatial suite with bubble bath and our own private veranda with sunbeds in compensation, where we can keep the air-conditioning (did I mention 32 degrees centigrade, feeling like 48? Every time I step outside my glasses fog up) and minifridge running. Still, the spa and gymnasium are being renovated and, due to a wedding taking over the restaurant, for two out of the three days, the meals are served in what looks like a conference room. Like always, the staff are immensely friendly and helpful.

Posted by FierceOrc 00:32 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged temples wildlife tea sri_lanka Comments (2)

August 29


View Sri Lanka 2017 Summer on FierceOrc's travel map.

The Great Udawalawe Safari Resort, where the wooden stairways are being sanded, so quiet, it is not. Lovely room. We order some white wine for lunch, and find we have a reserved table for dinner. We have noticed this before: ordering a bottle of wine buys you privileges.

Posted by FierceOrc 00:24 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged temples wildlife tea sri_lanka Comments (0)

August 28


View Sri Lanka 2017 Summer on FierceOrc's travel map.

Yala National Park jeep safari. 30 degrees centigrade, feeling like over 40. We may or may not have seen a leopard chasing a deer. I am going to say that we have seen a leopard chasing a deer. Lots of birds, buffalo (not bison), mongoose. One eagle. One elephant. One wild pig. Two crocs. Two mongoose. Lots of buffalo (not bison). All in the distance. One night at the Hotel Chandrika. Twenty rooms, greatly recommended. Buffets, but with finesse and imagination.

Posted by FierceOrc 00:24 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged temples wildlife tea sri_lanka Comments (0)

August 27


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Today, we go up to Lipton’s Seat, the favorite spot of the man who made the tea. Beautiful vistas on three sides around of lush green, trees and tea plants. The last 7 kilometers to the top is a one-lane road, the surface of which used to asphalt. Three-wheelers are much better equipped than cars, pickup trucks, and minibuses to round the curves with great speed and agility. Their drivers also tend to be overzealous overtakers, so on the way down we get out and walk the last couple of kilometers back to the car.

We have lunch at the Hotel Ella Mount Heaven, which serves up a fantastic bedeviled prawn dish and a glorious panorama on the side, including Little Adam’s peak.

Hotel Ella Mount Heaven, view over the Ella Gap

Hotel Ella Mount Heaven, view over the Ella Gap

Posted by FierceOrc 23:24 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged temples wildlife tea sri_lanka Comments (0)

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