ultramarinus – beyond the sea

SRI LANKA TRIP: 2019.12.05 – 17

0_map

Our most recent travels have been focused on short trips to Japan and South Asia.  These experiences offered us two distinct views of Asia.  In Japan, the minimalist beauty in fashion, food, and architecture, the strong sense of community and respect to local traditions in villages and urban centres, and the Shinto attitude on harmonic coexistence with the nature captivated our admiration.  On the other hand, the pungent spices, mystic incenses, vivid costumes, bizarre rituals, exquisite temples, majestic landscapes, and mythical folklore of Tibet, India and Myanmar offered us some of the last glimpses of truly unique and centuries-long traditions in our ever-changing world.  After an invigorating journey to Hokkaido in early summer, we turned our eyes to the exotic dimensions of South Asia once again.  We picked the “tear drop” in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka, as our destination for a 12-day trip.

2019 marked the 10th anniversary of the end of the Sri Lankan Civil War, a devastating conflict between the Sri Lankan military and the rebel force of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or simply known as the Tamil Tigers.  The conflict lasted for 26 years.  15 years have also passed since the horrific 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the natural catastrophe that has devastated the coastal area of Sri Lanka and claimed 35,000+ lives.  In the past 10 years, tourism has boomed exponentially along with the rapid growing economy.  2019 was on track to become another record breaking year for tourist numbers until Easter Day, when Isis terrorists attacked hotels, churches and residences in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa, claiming 259 innocent lives.  The incident caused a disastrous blow to the country’s tourism.  The government immediately tightened national security, attempting to restore international confidence.  Despite of the attack, magazines and newspapers remained affirmative to endorse Sri Lanka as a top destination of 2019.  After learning about its diverse attractions, affordability, ease of travel and communication, pristine natural scenery and unique cultural experiences, we were not surprise at all to see why Lonely Planet selected Sri Lanka as their destination of 2019.

As a small country about half the size of England, Sri Lanka has a lot to offer.  We planned for a loop journey starting in Negombo on the western coast, then moved north to the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya & Dambulla before heading up to the hill region.  In the hills, we stopped by the historical capital Kandy, took the “world’s most scenic train ride” to the tea plantations near Ella and Haputale.  Leaving behind the hills of Ceylon tea, we ventured into the wilderness of Udawalawa for wildlife safari, and arrived at the beaches of Mirissa and the colonial port of Galle to embrace the Indian Ocean.  Before leaving Sri Lanka, we stopped by Colombo for a delicious crab dinner.  This trip was filled with lovely moments: joining Buddhist pilgrims at the 2300-year-old Bodhi Tree, hiking through Sir Thomas Lipton’s tea terraces, facing eyes-in-eye with elephants and leopard on safari jeep, spotting whales and dolphins in the open ocean, candlelight dining on the Mirissa Beach, not to mention devouring delicious curry and seafood, meeting the friendly and curious local people, and taking in the laid back atmosphere that we could always smell in the air.

1_NegomboOur journey embarked from the beaches of Negombo.

2_Ancient 1At Anuradhapura, we circled the 2300-year sacred Bodhi tree,

2_Ancient 2and visited several ancient Buddhist dagobas (stupas) where pilgrims burned incenses and offered lotus flowers.

2_Ancient 3At Sigiriya, we climbed up a rock opposite to Sigiriya Rock to watch the best ever sunset.

2_Ancient 4Visiting the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy offered us a chance to see the century-old rituals that once symbolized the political and religious power of the nation.

3_Hill 1At Kandy, we stayed at the magnificent Villa Rosa Guesthouse overlooking the Mahaweli River,

3_Hill 2and visited the famous Royal Botanical Garden to check out the large flying foxes.

3_Hill 3“The world’s most scenic train ride” took us up to the hills of tea plantations.

3_Hill 4In Haputale, we followed Lipton’s footsteps for a half day hike.

3_Hill 5In Ella, we were rewarded with the peaceful and lush green scenery.

4_Beach 1Onwards to Udawalawa where we had close encounters with Asian elephants.

4_Beach 2Reaching the south coast at Mirissa signified the final leg of our journey.

4_Beach 3Mirissa offered us moments of relaxation right by the Indian Ocean.

4_Beach 4The seaside resort town is also renowned as one of the world’s top spot for whale and dolphin watching.

4_Beach 5We enjoyed every moments by the sea at Mirissa and Galle before heading north to Colombo.

2 responses

  1. I have been to Sri Lanka twice, and it still remains one of my favorite travel destinations in Asia. I love how sometimes it reminds me of India, but on the other hand it’s a much calmer and less aggressive version of its giant neighbor. However, it has its own character and identity which is unique to this island nation. Your lovely photos bring back some fond memories from my past trips to this country.

    February 27, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    • Hi Bama, thank you for reading our blog. We totally agree with your comment on Sri Lanka and India. While we admire the exquisite cultural heritage of India very much, traveling in Sri Lanka was as you said a much calmer adventure. The island is a great destination for backpackers with all sort of travel budgets, experiences and time.

      February 29, 2020 at 2:46 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s