Sri Lanka

Sunday, November 08, 2015
Colombo, Sri Lanka
A month in our trip, how time flies. We flew off the 13th of October, right after explaining the new inhabitants of our apartment the coffee machine, to start with a proper detox. Two weeks of Ayurveda retreat: vegetarian food, no alcohol or coffee, daily massages, oil treatments, sauna, steam bath, purgation and a flower bath bring us in a different state of mind. The recently renovated complex in Induruwa on the west coast of Sri Lanka is small scale, 14 rooms, and has a homely feel. The staff and doctors are super friendly and really make an effort. Its right on the beach and when we arrive there is a killer wave right in front, if only I could locate a surfboard. There are a few surfspots in Sri Lanka, but apart from that the surf infrastructure is still small-scale and not well-spread. After several attempts I find a leaking surfboard without fins, not really the proper tool, so we keep it to relaxing and reading many many books.

The two weeks fly by and the next destination is a little south, Hikkaduwa, which gained tourist attention in the 70-ties by hippies and is now a long strip of hotels, B&B, cafe's and restaurants. There is a big reef in front with a beautiful point break, and as we arrive the swell does too, funny enough nobody is surfing it. This time it's easy to find a board, and after a short explanation of the surfshop owner where to go and what to avoid, I jump in the channel leading out to the point break. Slow rolling, 1,5 meter waves that go left and right. After 30 seconds I try my first wave and almost surf back to the shore on a perfect wave. I paddle back in and suddenly see a head popping up next to me, a giant sea turtle. Instant joy and happiness fills me, this is the life. I repeat this a few times and it doesn't go unnoticed, after an hour ten surfers join me in the line-up, but there is plenty for everyone. We have 3 days of good surfing, 3 sessions a day, making the body exhausted but the mind revived.

It's time for some culture, we move inland to visit the former cultural capital of Sri Lanka, Kandy. Our train trip going there is one to remember, we were reluctant to reserve ahead and find out there are only 3rd class tickets left with no appointed seats. Before we know which carriage to board its already fully packed, leaving us on the train balcony almost hanging out, for a couple of hours. Well, at least we could enjoy the scenery and had a proper breeze to cool us off. We visit the temple of the sacred tooth relic, one of Buddha's teeth to be precise, confiscated just before Buddha's was burned, and then the tooth was transported to Sri Lanka. In the evening we witness the offerings and the procession past the tooth, which is kept in a golden stupa and heavily guarded (and is possibly a replica to safeguard the real one). 

Next base is Sigiriya, the town where the Lion rock is situated, a big lump of stone and once the center of the kingdom of Kassapa in the 5th century. The garden around is already impressive, with water channels and fountains, but the climb up along the steep facade really reveals its beauty. Halfway there is a cave, the mirror wall, with very well preserved fresco's of the kings concubines.And on top are the remains of terraced gardens and palace buildings that come alive with some imagination. From here we also do a day trip on the bike to Dambulla, with cave temples filled with a 150 Buddha's and impressive wall paintings. The scenery on the bike past the lake is wonderful, except maybe for the snake that is crossing the road straight through Carolina's wheel, evoking not to joyous screams.

The last stop is Anuradhapura, the capital of Sri Lanka for a long period (and a long time ago), resulting in a large complex of now crumbling temples, ancient pools and enormous dagobas. If only we could see this in its glory times.

We are now wrapping up our Sri Lanka experience, time to move on. Sri Lanka is a mix of old and primitive, combined with modern and rapid development. The best illustration is the vehicles: there are many polluting 2-stroke tuctucs and very old diesel buses, but at the same time we see a lot of electrical/hybrid vehicles, even the new model Mitsubsidie Outlander. This is caused by the (recent) tax regime, just as in Holland there are tax benefits, the tax is less then half of normal petrol cars (but still a decent 50%, making the car as expensive as in Holland).
We (again) enjoyed Sri Lanka, mostly because of the people and the atmosphere. Warm,friendly, interested, polite and service oriented. Always asking our nationalities, requiring often some explanation for Venezuela, but some do remember it as the beauty queen nation ;-)


Erik Draijer

Leuk om te lezen Frans, herkenbaar allemaal van mijn trip naar Sri Lanka vorig jaar al had ik Pidurangula ook graag willen zien. Mooie reis nog, geniet ervan!


Lieve kinderen, erg leuk op jullie reisverslag te lezen en zo weer
prachtige indrukken met jullie te delen, lieve groetjes van
tante riet en oom frans (Geniet ervan!!!!!)

Lieve Carolina en Frans,
Jullie reisblog gelezen en leuk dat we dezelfde tempels en natuurparken in Sri Lanka hebben bezocht, we kijken uit naar nieuwe verslagen en wensen jullie nog een goede fietstocht in Laos, wij inmiddels weer thuis in een regenachtig Holland
Liefs pa en ma