Posing in front of a huge Buddha statue, riding the most beautiful train ride in the world, watching the elephants wash themselves in the river, climbing the huge Pidurangala rock and chilling in the pool. It’s only been 3 days, but so much has happened again. Today is our last night, 10 days in Sri Lanka was a blast but waaaay too short. It’s truly paradise here, the most friendly locals, beautiful beaches, stunning nature and impressive Buddhism temples. Be aware, read this at your own risk, you might want to spend 600 bucks on flights to Sri Lanka right after reading this blog post. 😉 All I know is that I def want to come back to this amazing place, it’s just too beautiful and there is too much to explore.
The adventure continues in Ella, where we’d go from Ella to Kandy by train. This is supposed to be the most beautiful train ride in the world, lots and lots of greenery, an old school train and people hanging out of the doors and windows. We read online that it’d be important to book first class tickets online, this way you were sure you’d have a good place, next to the window, perfect for taking photos. This, ladies and gents is the classic example of how to exploit or basically bullshit on backpackers. Not only did we pay about 10 (!) times more than the 2nd class, we also got in the class with AC, which means no open doors or windows, no fun ‘local’ experience. And we were lucky enough that the food vendors would charge us 100 rp for 1 samosa, while they’d charge everyone in 2nd class only 15 rp. Conclusion: we paid 10 times more, got 1.5 times more comfortable chairs but had 5 times less fun. We ended up moving back to the 2nd class, where things were a lot better. We hang out of windows, screamed at the top of our lungs and enjoyed the view of the green rice fields, high palm trees and beautiful mountains. The train ride was 7 hours tho, which was a little too long… We wrote our blogs, we read books, we talked with others and watched the train passing through paradise. The train ride was still absolutely beautiful, but the greenery got all the same after a while and boredom kicked in.
We arrived in Kandy by 4 where we would meet up with my parents again. Things ended up going wrong, we waited about 2 hours for my parents. We both had no internet or any other way to communicate with each other, which didn’t make things easier. After a while, all food vendors and guys working at the station knew our names and what we were doing there. They gave us food and we talked, most locals are so genuine. They were worried about us being stuck in the station all night, they would let us borrow their phones and told us we could stay at the Don Bosco home in Kandy. We finally reunited with my parents at the end of the night, said goodbye to the locals and thanked them for their help. By the time we arrived at our cabin somewhere hidden in the woods we were so tired that we either needed 6 shots of vodka and an XL coffee to go explore the city or just a really good night sleep. We ended up choosing the second and left Kandy for what it was.
We woke up early the next day, ready to explore one of the bigger cities in Sri Lanka. The first thing I noticed was all the Buddhism influences in Sri Lanka. We saw monks dressed in saffron robes everywhere, and the city was covered with Buddha and monks statues. We posed in front of a 88 meter white Buddha statue on top of a hill and we enjoyed the view. Later that day we drove further to Sigirya, the place which is known for its Lion rock. Thousands of tourists pay 40$ each to climb up the rock, like black ants. Tidy lines of people inching up the climbing trail looking like insects on a mound. We decided not to, instead we went to climb the Pidurangala rock. We paid $3 each which is way a way better deal and the best part: us and some Australian dudes had the rock all to ourselves. The view was by far the best view we’ve had in Sri Lanka, the photos we took look like absolute postcards, so so stunning.
After spending an hour on the top, we climbed back down. Literally climbing, because there was no clear path. I was hoping none of us would break their ankles, however this was all part of the experience and made it a lot more fun. We ended the climb with fresh bought mangos, which is something the monkeys noticed as well. Within 3 seconds, a monkey stole one of our mangos and the rest of his monkey gang followed. All of the sudden we were surrounded by 30 lice-picking fellows who would look cute whiling swinging around the trees, but looked a lot less cute once sitting next to you with huge, sharp teeth. We left quickly, I might have ran away… kinda. We ended up driving to Pinnawala late at night and took a good night of sleep there.
We spend the last day well, visiting an elephant orphanage in the morning and spending our afternoon at the swimming pool. Our first swimming pool in 2.5 months! Seeing the elephant orphanage gave me mixed feelings. It’s a good cause, helping elephants who were abused etc. However, the organization has to make money in order to take care of these 80 elephants, which they do by making it a tourist attraction. Seeing tourists giving bottles of milk to baby elephants and taking photos was something that both Karlijn and I didn’t feel to good about. We heard a tour guide saying that these elephants have to be fed with a bottle of milk by the staff anyway, so why not let tourists do it and make money to take better care of the elephants. I’d only be 2 elephants a day that would be fed by tourists, so the others ones could still have rest all the day and be fed by the staff. It seemed fair, but I still didn’t get the best vibes. We went to the river afterwards, which was way better. The elephants were bathing, freely on their own, no chains or people around. We watched them enjoying the refreshing river water on this insanely hot day and decided we needed a dip ourselves as well. We drove straight to Negombo, spend the entire afternoon tanning, swimming and chilling. Knowing we’d have to get back to Indian food for the next couple of months, we ended the night with the best Italian vegetarian pasta and delicious cheesecake. Cheers on an awesome holiday, Sri Lanka!