Our final stop in Sri Lanka was Bentota a holiday centre on the coast between Galle and Colombo. After two busy weeks exploring the country we were looking forward to a couple of days R&R at the Club Villa hotel, a small boutique hotel promising a good restaurant and a pool in the gardens.
Odi picked us up from Galle mid-morning for the drive to Bentota, on the way we stopped at a centre specialising in wood carving to look for some souvenirs we wanted; after some hard bargaining, we got what we wanted and the salesman threw in a box of teabags as a gift!! From there we headed up the coast road, along the way we saw a lot more evidence of the impact the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. There were graves along the side of the road, memorials and a lot of houses that had been destroyed by the force of the water and never rebuilt, presumably because there was nobody left alive to need them or repair them. Continue reading Bentota→
After all the outdoor excitement of the National Parks our next destination was the historic town of Galle on the south west coast. Originally founded by Portuguese and then taken over by the Dutch and eventually the English the old town is sited inside Galle Fort an imposing stone fort situated on a peninsula of land with ocean on three sides. Our hotel, the Fort Printers was right in the middle of the Fort. Galle Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site, we are beginning to think we may have seen them all on this trip! Continue reading Galle, Sri Lanka→
From Nuwara Eliya we were heading through the central highlands and down on to the coastal plains of southern Sri Lanka, safari country. We broke the journey to the coast for one night at Uda Walawe National Park, famous for its elephants. Because of the delay getting the car repaired our afternoon safari in Uda Walawe was rescheduled for the following morning with a 5.45 start to catch the animals at sunrise; so we headed straight to the hotel for an early night. The Grand Uda Walawe Safari Resort was the first hotel on our trip that we weren’t happy with, not a bad hit rate! Although it is a relatively new hotel all the public areas were very dark making it difficult to use the stairs or read any of the signage, even in daylight! We were shown to our room which on arrival reeked of petrol (who knows why!), we were advised to turn up the air conditioning and it would clear in 10 minutes, over an hour later, after a walk around the hotel to explore it still smelled the same so we asked to be moved, the next room was much better but there was still a whiff of eau de gasoline. Dinner in the restaurant was distinctly average and it was hard to see what you were eating. We were really glad we were only there for one night. Continue reading Safari Country, Sri Lanka→
From Kandy we headed further into the central Highlands to Nuwara Eliya, the main town in the tea growing region and historically the place the English escaped to during the hottest months attracted by the cooler climate, golf course, Hill Club (think Indian Summers) and an endless social whirl.
We left Ellerton and drove to the nearby town of Gampola where we were due to catch a train to Nanu Oya, the station nearest to Nuwara Eliya, recognised as one of the classic railway journeys. The station was very clearly modelled on Victorian stations in England but it has seen better days; this can be explained, and excused by its history of flooding. Flood markers on the platform showed water levels rising to ten or twelve feet in the first half of the C20th, and in 1947 the station was completely submerged. The last flood was in 1974, after that a dam was built on the river to create a reservoir and control the water levels. Continue reading Nuwara Eliya→
We have had a few days without internet access so we are getting a bit behind with the blog, sorry about that. We will try and catch up now so stand by for several new posts!
After our adventures in Habarana it was time to move on to Kandy, cultural and spiritual centre of Sri Lanka. We broke the journey at Dambulla where we visited the Buddhist cave temple (what do you know, it was at the top of a steep staircase…). A series of caves in the rock feature statues of Buddha and remarkable frescoes telling the story of his arrival in Sri Lanka, the earliest of these cave temples dates from the 1st century BC and the caves have been sacred to Buddhists continually since then. Each of the caves was established at a different time and this is reflected in the materials and styles used to create the statues and the style of the paintings. Continue reading Kandy→
The next morning we left Colombo and drove to Habarana, a town with lots of hotels serving tourists visiting the Cultural Triangle defined by the ancient cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy. The journey took about six hours and we stopped on the way at a simple roadside restaurant where we had the Sri Lankan staple of curry and rice which consists of a meat or fish curry served with plain rice and five vegetable accompaniments, it was a feast and we particularly enjoyed the eggplant curry and the lentil daal. Eventually we arrived at our hotel the Aliya Resort and Spa, we climbed the steps to the open reception and were greeted with the most amazing view across a huge infinity pool and over the landscape to Sigiriya Rock. Aliya has only been open a couple of years and it is a very modern but very lovely hotel with rooms set in blocks of four around a garden filled with trees, and paths which are lined at night by hundreds of lanterns. Continue reading Habarana, Sri Lanka→
A flight from Penang to KL and another from KL to Colombo brought us to Sri Lanka, known as the pearl in the Indian Ocean. We were greeted at the airport with garlands of Orchids and introduced to our new driver/guide Odi, who will be with us for the whole of our three weeks in Sri Lanka, Odi transported us to our hotel, the Kingsbury down on the waterfront in the centre of the city and arranged to meet us in reception at 10.00 the next morning. After a day travelling, and a two-and-a-half-hour time difference we decided to have dinner in our room, watch a film and get a good night sleep. Continue reading Colombo→