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rebeccaf’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 22 Dec 2012

Location: Sri Lanka

MapWith Amila getting married in Sri Lanka, this gave us the perfect opportunity to explore this beautiful country and travel somewhere totally new for us.

Our first evening we caught up with Amila and Chammika over dinner and a bit of a night time drive of Colombo. Departing early the next morning on a 5 day whirlwind tour our first stop was at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. There were over 70 elephants here of varying ages, injuries and orphans. We also watched as they walked to and bathed in the river. Nearby it was our opportunity to ride an elephant, walking through trees and stopping in the stream.

We then stopped by a herb and spice garden on our way to Kandy. We concluded the day in Kandy visiting the Temple of the Tooth and a Kandyian dance show. The other charcteristic 'charm' of Kandy were the monkeys. Our hotel balcony had a sign on the door saying ‘beware monkeys’, didn't think much of it at first until when we had the door open one decided to pop in!! We promptly got it out and then kept our door closed!! We then had another four at once in the morning on our balcony and popping heads into restaurant window at breakfast! Some towns have stray cats or dogs, Kandy has monkeys!!

Departing Kandy we stopped by and saw local demonstrations of Batiks, gemstone jewelry making and wood carving. We spent some time wandering the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens before hitting the road for a very pleasant scenic drive into the hills and past valleys of many tea plantations. Naturally, following the valleys of tea plants, we had to then visit a tea factory and see the process and sample some fresh tea! Our final stop was at Ramboda waterfalls before staying in Nuwara Eliya at height of 1889m. Being in the hills meant it was now cooler in the evening despite being a beautiful hot 30+degree day, in the evening it was cool enough for our guest house to provide us with 'hot water bags' when we finished our dinner!

The next day we started with a morning walk into Nuwara Eliya town and past Gregory Lake. For something a little different today we then got the train from Nanu Oya to Ella. We enjoyed a very scenic train ride through the hills, past forests and tea plantations. Our stay in Ella was very relaxing starting with a massage and then resting in our guesthouse settled among the trees in hills in a peaceful area with a beautiful view!

The following morning we climbed to the top of Little Adams Peak with a lovely view of the surrounding valleys. During this walk and even as we drove today we saw an array of animals including snake, iguana, Kingfisher, water buffalo and monkeys and that was even before the safari! Moving on we headed towards Yala stopping on the way at Ravana Ella waterfalls. Arriving in Tissamaharama after lunch we headed out on a jeep safari in Yala National Park. We saw quite a selection of animals including crocodiles, water buffalo, warthog, deer, iguanas and various birds. Our highlight of the safari was the appearance of mum and baby elephant who walked right beside our jeep!

The final day of our tour included driving along the south west coast through Galle, Galle Fort and a glass bottom boat ride in Hikkaduwa over the coral and included passing a sea turtle and then stopping off at a turtle hatchery.

Returning to Colombo we met up with Louise in beautiful Mount Lavinia relaxing along the beach and preparing ourselves for Amila's wedding the next day. We’d even arrived for St Lucia day celebrations at the hotel with a chance to enjoy some free drinks in the courtyard with some of the other Guiding friends. The wedding day was a beautiful day and set in a lovely location, it was great to be there and to be able to share a part of their special day.

We did one last day tour up to Sigyria rock and the Dambulla cave temples. The climb up over 1200 steps up to the flat-topped rock formation at Sigyria was challenging but sure worth the view. Sigyria (Lion’s rock) was used as a rock-shelter mountain monastery from about the 5th century BC. The Dambulla Rock Temple had first been constructed over 2000 years ago, they’re located at an elevation of 340m above sea level rises a massive rock from the surrounding plains of Dambulla of over 180m high and over 600m in length and are full of paintings and statues related to Lord Buddha and his life.

Our last day in Colombo saw us taking in some of the local sites including the hustle and bustle of Pettah and the Fort area, Galle Face Green and catching up with Amila and family one last time at their homes and then to dinner at a delicious all you can eat Sri Lankan buffet!! It had been a great trip in a beautiful country :)